Making gifts, Brown Owl Kris Kringle & a treat for me

I've been at it again!  Being a craft machine that is.  I've been crafting away making some little gifts for some wise women in my life.  Each one took me about 3 hours to make.  I was surprised at that as they look so simple don't they?  I am really pleased with how they turned out and I'm sure the three wise women will appreciate their cute little owl cushion this Christmas.

I gave the little owl ornament I made in the semi tutorial as a Kris Kringle gift at craft group on Wednesday and the recipient seemed to like it.  And look what I got as my Kringle gift....

Isn't she just adorable?  I was totally chuffed both at the cuteness and at the fact that she fits with my tree colours perfectly.  Go Brown Owls and go crafty chicks! 

And one last thing I have to document, as it is kind of sadly monumental for me.  I found Mollie Makes in a newsagent's last weekend!  I am totally super excited about that.  I had looked everywhere (or I thought I had), then I thought I'd try a new shop and there it was.  Tada!  "Here I am Jo, buy me", so I did.  They were a real treat as I hardly ever buy new magazines, instead I pick them up at op shops and I'm more than happy to part with 50c.  I didn't even hesitate when I saw these though, straight up to the counter I was, happy to hand over my cash.  I got so  much pleasure from reading them; doing the quick flick through and then going back for a slower second look.

the craft machine
A.K.A. Jo :)

Inspirational blogs to offer a new perspective

I have found some amazing new blogs that have totally inspired me and have left me feeling a little bit greedy and superficial in many ways. 
The first of these is Kristin’s blog 'Time won't wait for me'.   I found this blog last week and haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  This is the story of a strong, passionate young woman who is working in India as a nurse and is also making food to give out to street kids.  I was just taken aback by the difference that the dedication and selflessness that one person can make to others.  I admire this chick a LOT for standing up for what she believes in and DOING.  I admire do-ers a lot!
Then earlier today I came across another blog 'Simply Martini' about a woman who is following a voluntarily simple life.  I was totally inspired by Kristen’s (I only just realised that these two women have the same name but different spelling!) choices to live a different way and to opt out of an inauthentic life in order to live as simply as possible.  I was inspired by her spirit of conviction.
It did make me feel slightly spoilt and superficial and put my excitement about Bruce the Spruce into perspective.  But that is by no means a bad thing, I like keeping things in perspective and a little help here and there is always accepted gratefully!  Pop on over and check these chicks out if you want to get away from the Christmas hype and to see life from another perspective.
Hope you are happy doing whatever you are doing today
Jo J


A new type of christmas tree for me

In continuing with the Christmas theme I wanted to write about my choice of Christmas tree this year.  Since I moved out of home I have had a real Christmas tree every year and I've gotta say I love them.  I just don't know that I could have an artificial one.  Some people bring their tree down from the loft or out of storage every year and for them that is just what they do and I can see some benefits of doing it this way.  But for me, I want the real thing.  I want the smell, I want the pine needles on the floor, I want the sticky sap on my hands and I want to have to remember to water it.  It feels a bit special having something real too; a bit of beauty to adorn.

So anyways, that being said, this year I must have gone to about five different places in my area to attempt to find my tree.  As I've mentioned, it'll just be me and the dog at home so I only wanted a small tree (I also wanted it to look just like the one in Lorne).  But try as I might I just could not find a small tree that fitted the bill.  They were either too wide, too tall or looked brown and didn't look like they'd make it til Christmas day.  I was beginning to think that I may have to go down the artificial route and I was feeling a bit disappointed about that so I did my usual thing and sat back and waited and decided not to rush into any decisions just yet.  

Then coincidentally, I went to have a wonder around a garden centre that I hadn't been to before, and lo and behold, there was the cutest little pine tree I ever did see, sitting with its spiky branches sticking out in perfect form in its own little pot.  However, when I looked at the price tag I got over that idea rather swiftly.  I loved it, but at $85 I decided there are limits to my love.

So I looked for something in my price range (around $50) that would float my boat, but nothing appealed and I feared I may have to end up with a woolly bush. I kept thinking back to that beautiful little tree I'd seen and just wanted it, really badly.  So at the weekend the hubby and I went up to my Mom's place and I drove round to a number of garden centres trying to find one like the one I had seen last week but wasn't so expensive (and maybe a bit bigger).  It took me five garden centres but in the end I found it....

And I LOVE love LOVE it!

I know it's tiny, but it's perfect.  It is just what I wanted.  When we got home from Melbourne yesterday the hubby got the couple of boxes of decorations down from the loft and I dug out the white and silver ones to add to my op shop finds, popped a Bing Crosby Chrissy album on the turntable and away I went. 

I had intended to just go with silver and white but I thought it looked a bit too bland and needed a bit of red to bring it together so again I sifted through the mahoosive bag of baubles and found some cute as a button retro satin red ones. 

I really like the skinny tinsel, it suits the tree perfectly I think.

Reasons why I love this little tree:
  • It reminds me of the type of Chrissy tree I used to have in England
  • I don't have a million and one decorations to take down in January
  • I won't need to saw it up so it'll fit in the green waste bin 
  • It can go outside in its pot and come back in next year
  • It feels really special to have chosen a tree just for me; I'm always happy to go with the old traditional style but this year I made a choice to have exactly what I want, and it feels good.  No compromises.
It's called a Norway Spruce or a Picea Abies if you prefer.  I've called it Bruce the spruce.

Over and out
Jo :)

Handmade owl ornament semi tutorial

I've been going along to the Brown Owls craft group and I am loving it.  It's so great to meet a multitude of people who all have an interest in craft and are at all different levels of expertise.  There's something so comfortable about being with people who share a common interest, even if you don't know more than each others' names. 

So in the spirit of handmade crafts, we are having a Kris Kringle ornament swap this week.  Now with this comes some anxiety... what to make... how big.... what colours.... what if they hate it.....and all that jazz that I am sure everyone else thinks too, no doubt!  

Whilst I was making my little felt ornaments last week I thought that it might be appropriate to make an owl ornament as it is indeed a Brown Owls group.  So after a bit of pondering on the cornyness of this, I did indeed decide that an owl (corny or not) was what I was going to make.  I took photos of the pieces that I cut out prior to making them so that should you want to make one too, you can see what you'll need.  I wouldn't go as far as to say it's a tutorial, but maybe I can get away with calling it a semi tutorial! 

From this...

To this....

Do a bit of this....

And you end up with this.....

Made with love and joyful thoughts

Jo :)

Felt christmas tree ornaments

Golly gosh where has the time gone? 

December 5th already! 

In what seems to be my feast or famine style of blogging, I have several things I want to blog about today....

The first is these little felt Christmas tree ornaments that I made last week.

This year the hubby will be flying back to the UK to spend Christmas with his parents and I will be staying at home and will be spending Christmas with my family at my Mom's house.  This comes with mixed feelings; I'm of course happy for the hubs to be seeing his family but I will miss him loads.  I usually love putting up the Christmas tree, listening to a Chrissy album and spending hours on adorning it with my ever growing collection of ornaments, but this year I hadn't been into the idea so much.  I suppose I thought it was a lot of effort for just me and the dog.  Then the other week I was out with a girlfriend for the day in Lorne and saw the cutest little green tree with just silver and white decorations on it and I thought to my good self that if I was going to have a tree this year then that was the tree I wanted. 

So I set about gathering a smattering of silver and white ornaments from op shops, big stores and little stores and found it surprisingly hard to find white decorations that weren't super expensive.  So ever the improviser, out came the white felt, a bit of silver thread that I'd acquired and never used and a bit of stuffing and I made these...

I took inspiration from last year's Better Homes & Gardens mag and a copy of Homemade Living that my dad in law sent me in November.  I used blanket stitch round the edges and found these super shiny little sequins that I've had for umpteen years that were big enough to cut and shape for the owl feathers. I think my fave has to be the little bird.  I'm not so sure what I think about the angel though.  When I showed these to my sister she didn't even know what the angel was supposed to be!  I am still chuckling about that as I type.  But hey ho, craft doesn't have to be perfect. 
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