If you have a preschooler anything like Mouse, you will know that 2 year olds create a lot of art! We have big rolls of the stuff that we bring back from playgroup week after week.

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It seems a shame to chuck it out after so much creative energy has gone into making it. But sometimes the art drawer is full to overflowing!

So I decided to save some for our walls and for the grandparents to keep.

I got a 9 pack of square box canvases and painted them black with acrylic paint.

The ones I used were 10cm x10cm on 3.5cm deep.

Then I found some great art Mouse had done on black paper and cut it out to match the 10cm x10cm top of the canvas block and stuck it down carefully with PVA glue.

They turned out really well and I'm sure you could paint the canvas boxes different colours 

 
 
I have had my seventh form ball dress in my wardrobe now for 14 years!!! It has sat there waiting to be worn and I never had anything to wear it too.

My mum actually made it for me after all the dresses I looked at and wanted were about $200 more than I could afford. I think in the interests of modesty she kept it rather loose fitting around the torso and very long.
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Unfortunately the best photo I have to prove I wore it to my school ball is the one to the left..... I know, really this is the best! I don't know who was taking photos, but I think they may have had a few too many pre-drinks!

So last month we got invited to a dress up Halloween Party and I raided my wardrobe and the dress up box (I'm a theatre person, we have dress ups for adults at home!).

I found some angel wings and some hardcore bling and my ball dress so a fallen angel I was.

Unfortunately the dress needed to be spiced up a little to make me truly fallen.

So I took to it with some scissors and chopped it just above the knee. Due to the type of fabric it didn't need hemming.

Then I took it in on both sides to give it more of a pencil skirt slimming shape not so much A-line as previously.

It worked really well, even with me having trouble with the lining getting a bit tangled. Nothing a bit of unpicking couldn't fix!

I'm not sure when I'll wear this dress again, but considering it hasn't been worn in so long I'm glad it got another outing, although I definitely didn't have as much to drink this time around. I must be getting old and responsible!



 
 
We have a tradition in my family of us kids making a Gingerbread house for Christmas with Mum. We've been doing this since I was about 7 years old and now it has become a bit of a competition between my brother and myself on how each of ours turns out!

The Recipe is just delicious and uses golden syrup instead of treacle or molasses which I think makes it nicer for kids to eat. But then I've grown up on this recipe so I think it is Yummy!.

Gingerbread House Recipe


150g Butter
90g Castor Sugar
600g  White Flour
2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
9 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Egg yolks

Boiled sweets - (about 5 needed)
Sweets and chocolates to decorate

Icing

700g Icing Sugar
4 Egg whites

Heat Oven to 160deg Celsius
Cream together butter and sugar.
Add Golden Syrup and mix and then Egg yolks. Mix well.
Add Flour, Spices and Baking soda and mix well. Add a little extra flour if a bit sticky.

Roll out mixture with rolling pin until about 5mm thick.
Then carefully cut out shapes below with a knife.
Transfer onto baking tray covered with non-stick baking paper. 
In the window holes you place the boiled sweets so they melt and form a stain glass window effect.
Bake in batches in oven until golden brown.

Cool on cooling rack til you are ready to build. ( The sweets will be very hot so watch out!)

Its helps to keep the dough evenly rolled so the gingerbread stays evenly crisp otherwise you can end up with too thin/brittle parts which is very hard not to break when constructing the house.
I would probably roll the pieces out slightly thicker if you were concerned.

The shapes below are the sizes as follows

Base - A5 size paper
Roof - 2 x A5 size with notches 
Back - A5 size with peak cut out as shown and window cut out of centre
Front - same as above with door cut out of centre ( Don't worry too much about the roof angle as long as the front and back match)
Sides - 2 x A5 cut in half vertically with 2 windows cut out on each side.

You can make these pieces as big or as little as you like. My Mum makes small ones to give as gifts at about 1/4 the size of our original.
Then its time to make the icing - which glues the whole thing together.
I'm sure you could find another recipe that doesn't use raw eggs if you were worried about them, just look up Royal icing and you can find some that use egg white powder that you can get at cake shops.
This recipe is old school so we use the real stuff and have never been sick in 20 years of making it.

Icing -
Beat the egg whites until peaks form and add the icing sugar and beat till well combined.

Then place the base of the house on the board you want to serve it on.
Put icing on all edges using a knife or piping bag.
Add the sides, front, and back, icing at all joins. 
At this stage it is good to prop the walls up with cups, or egg cups etc and leave it to set for a while before adding the roof. I have tried to rush this and it can all come crashing down.

Once the four sides are stable add the roof, icing all the edges and top. 
Prop it up like the egg cup picture above and let it set hard.

Then is the fun decorating part which we loved as kids and our cousins and kids love now.
Add icing all over the roof, and sides of House.

Add what ever lollies, sweets and chocolates you want, making sure to taste test.
We use Chocolate flakes to look like logs of wood.

Let it set. Then for dramatic effect before eating you can put a little tea light candle inside the house.
Light it up and the stain glass sweet windows light up from the inside!

Yum Yum Yum - then you get to eat it!!!
We have a family rule that you must take a bit of gingerbread when you take a piece, otherwise all the sweets get eaten first!
 
 
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Mouse has just a small Thomas the Tank Engine obsession! When we go to playgroup the train set is the first thing he goes to and will quite happily play there for what seems like hours.

We decided in the interest of space not to get a set for home, but decided that he did need a Thomas cake for his birthday and Thomas toy to go with it.

I managed to hire a huge Number 2 cake tin from the local cake shop for $5. There was no way I was going to try and cut out the 2 shape with a knife! Shaped cake tins are awesome!

I used my go to Annabel Langbein Chocolate cake recipe.

Yum Yum.

I then made a huge batch of butter cream icing and just kept on adding the green food colouring til it looked green enough but not so much to make Mouse bounce off the walls.

Then to decorating....

I had found some great long liquorice straps but when they were on the cake they looked huge. Luckily my lovely Aunty is great with sweets and was able to cut them lengthwise to make them thin enough. She also made sure they tasted ok!

These straps we made into the train tracks going up and over the number 2.

A couple of lego trees, a way out sign and Thomas train added and the cake was ready for the Party.

Mouse was thrilled that he got his own Thomas and that the cake was a "Chocho" cake. It tasted delicious.



 
 
A lovely work colleague gave me this light cotton dress to have when I was pregnant with Mouse.
It was lovely and cool to wear during the Hawkes Bay summer, but then the belly got too big and I was worried I would stretch it too much.

It did end up getting all out of shape, so I haven't worn it in about 2 years!

As you can see from the before picture I unpicked the top bit from the skirt.
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I then over locked the top of the skirt and folded it down about 5 cm. I sewed a straight line around the top to make a tunnel with about 5 cm gap at the back

I then threaded some 2 cm wide elastic through the gap with a safety pin and sewed it shut.

I think I have worn this skirt about 10 times already, which is about a 100% improvement to it gathering dust in my wardrobe. I think it could be made to be a bit more fitting, but it is super comfy.

I still have the top bits and straps which I'll have to find something to do with.
Any ideas?

 
 
I have been working on making my blog a bit prettier in the last few days.
Thanks heaps to Lauren from The Thinking Closet for some great tips!!!

Also have tried doing some Link partys so will be linking up lots more.
I think I'm getting addicted to this blogging business.
 
 
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Tigger was a much more dribbly baby than Mouse ever was.

My Brother in Law had got us these really cool Star Wars Dribble bibs that he found in Wellington, But two were not enough!!

Tigger was getting them drool soaked by 10am.

So I thought I'd give it a go at making some.

I traced around the shape of the original bib leaving a 5 mm sewing allowance.

The original bib had cotton on the outside and toweling/fleece on the back.

I then cut out the shape on some cool stars, and fish material I found, some denim looking fabric from an old pair of maternity pants I had, and also some blue toweling fabric.
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I sewed the patterned fabric and toweling fabric right sides together, leaving a small gap on one of the edges.

Then I turned it inside out through that hole so right sides were now on the outside.

I then sewed a very close seam all around the bib and the turning hole making it all neat and flat and closing the hole.

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I then stuck on some sticky velcro on the  corners on the bib and sewed it on.

This made the needle very sticky and didn't work very well. I need to find a better way to do velcro!! Any hints???
Otherwise next time I might do non sticky velcro and just take my time sewing.

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I did about six of these and was super happy on how they turned out, and Tigger's clothes stopped getting so wet, which was great.

Now he has stopped dribbling even though he is teething so thinking about just using these for food bibs from now on.



 
 
I found a awesome red maternity merino top hiding in my wardrobe that I hadn't worn in about a year.
It was a bit stretched from my big preggy belly with Tigger, but still in great nick.

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I also thought it would brighten up my spring wardrobe, but decided I needed more cardigans than pullover tops.

So out came the scissors....

I chopped a straight line down the front and over-locked the edges.

I then turned the edge over twice and top stitched it down with red thread.



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Then I hand sewed red buttons on the right side about 5 cm apart.

I didn't bother doing button holes as I wanted to keep the cardigan open - maybe I'll do them at a later stage.

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These photos make it look pinker than it really is - Its bright firetruck red!

This refashion cost me nothing as I already had the buttons.

I have already worn this top so much more as a cardigan. It has been great to throw over t -shirts and singlets. 

I have also worn it with a belt, which dresses it up a bit.

 
 
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For Mouse's First Birthday we had a Pirate theme as we had some buried treasure to dig up.

We have some French friends who have a tradition that for their hens/stags party they would get all their friends over with a bottle of wine and bury it somewhere in a large box/coffin. It was to symbolise the death of their single lives. 

Then when their first child was born they would dig up the wine filled box and have a big party to celebrate the new life!

We did this when we had our house warming and what with being so tired from a new baby - (and it being the middle of winter) we decided to dig up our "treasure" a little later on his first birthday.

So for the pirate party,  a pirate ship cake it was.....

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I started with a large chocolate cake that I baked in a rectangle roasting tray.

This one from Annabel Langbein is awesome and very easy.

It does make a huge cake!

Then I cut it in half and then cut two squares shape for the front and back of the ship.
I then shaped the front 2 levels to make a pointy bowsprit.

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I then iced the whole cake with chocolate butter cream icing.

I used a recipe similar to this one.

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Then it was decorating time!!!


I used chocolate filled raspberry and black liquorice cut to make the cannons.


Then chocolate fingers for floor boards and bowsprit.


To make it more colourful I used M&Ms to edge the top and then  made the masts out of BBQ skewers.

The Sails were just plain A4 paper cut to shape with skull and cross bones on the back.

I would have used black paper but I ran out of time.

My Friend luckily had some Little People Pirates to add the finishing touch.


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Mouse did enjoy it ...
Not that you can really tell from this photo!

 
 
                         Before                                           After
I had splashed hot oil on one of my favourite Fleecey Hoodies. I was gutted! Oil melted bits all over the front. It had sat in my wardrobe for a few years as I couldn't bring myself to throw it out. Then we had a family reunion down in the South Island in the middle of winter and my new baby (6 months at the time) didn't have enough warm clothes to keep him snuggly in the snow.

My Mum had sent me a few old retro patterns that she had kept from when we were kids, thinking the overall one might work for covering my little Tigger up. This one was Knitwit pattern 6200 with child's overalls, dress and knit top.
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Unfortunately it was only in sizes age 1-6, so I had to be a bit creative with the sizing.

I used the sleeves of the hoodie to make the legs so I didn't have to hem the leg cuffs, and ended up having to lengthen the torso for my little guy by adding another panel front and back.
This was also my very first time doing button holes! (I am very proud of myself).

Sorry there is no step by step on how I did this but I will try to take more photos in the future. 

He is still fitting the overalls now at 10 months. I'm trying to get lots of use out of them before it gets too hot. It was 27 deg C yesterday!

Below is a shot of my Step mum in her Hoodie (we matched as we both loved it so much!) and Tigger in the finished overalls.