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Monday, July 25, 2011


I've been sewing these baby bibs for a few years now...I found a great pattern online, from Nicole Mallalieu. She sells bag making supplies, and other pattens too, but this pattern was free to use.
These 3 pink ones are for my new niece, and I have to say I love the un-baby-ish-ness of them.  My sis picked out the materials she wanted (good quality cotton), all in coordinating colours, so I could use one material for the bias tape. I used good quality terry cloth on the back, which makes for a thick and sturdy bib. They feel so nice!

These are older ones I made 3 years ago, which are cute, but I can see how I have now changed to a simpler look; less cluttered, more streamlined. I also have changed the pattern to suit a less crafty-looking bib too - I use less bias tape, depending on the materials' patterns, and I also do the arm holes differently, depending on how much sewing I want to do.

Then I have a few others I made late last year to sell at some markets. I also really like these designs as well. I keep making more than enough, so I can one day put all my stuff on etsy, but for some reason, I just never do it! And in the meantime, everyone just keeps having babies, so I just keep giving more away...5 more (not including my sister) to give away over July/August, not to mention a few earlier this year already.

The black ones below have a pattern of little grey skulls all over them:


Monday, July 18, 2011

Some Sewing...Gift Bags

I've been very busy with work, but have been managing to have a day to myself every few weeks, for the most part, to get some sewing projects done. Feels nice to sew for me. Well, for me - for others in this post...but I am working on a dress, and also a new retro-style blouse, which I will share here too. 

The following projects I finished a few months ago, and gave them away in April. I had planned to sew these for stocking stuffers for my sisters, and mom, but it didn't happen on time! I also normally give the exchange students my in-laws take in a gift before they go home, but I also didn't get that done before Christmas either! So, everything was sent late. I made these little pencil cases / make-up bags from some scraps I bought ages ago. For the students I bought cute stationary supplies and some little toiletries, and for my family some soap and candles. 


The bags are made from a simple pattern I quickly drew out myself with skills learned from a super cool book called "The Bag Making Bible" by Lisa Lam. I also used this tutorial as a base to work from. I have many of her free tutorials (all on her blog), and have followed her blog for years. This book has so many patterns, and teaches so many skills. I altered her tutorial slightly to get a cleaner look at the zipper ends, and I also added a layer of clear vinyl to make the bags a little more substantial, and suitable for make-up.

I bought a silicon foot for my sewing machine to sew over the vinyl, and then realized I needed a silicon ZIPPER foot, which I didn't have, so I placed tissue paper over the vinyl, and sewed that, tearing away the tissue paper after the stitch was done. Not simple, but still worked well. Otherwise, your foot will stick to the vinyl, and your work will not slide through the machine.

Here are a few I have made so far:


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mexican Pizza

I have to admit, this idea didn't sound all that great to me, but now I am convinced you can add anything to a pizza and be happy. I think the sour cream makes it.

Here's what I did...

Ground Beef, browned
Onion, diced
Red Pepper (Capsicum), diced
Garlic, diced
Taco Seasoning
Tomato, thinly sliced
Green Onion, diced
Olives, sliced
Pizza Sauce (or make your own with tomato paste, garlic, pepper, salt, onion powder, rosemary & Italian herbs)
Pizza bases*
Sour Cream

* not the best photo, but food photos are hard to take here, as it's always dark by dinner time
1. Brown beef, onion, red pepper, and garlic in a pan until cooked through. Add taco seasoning and cook as per instructions on package (or make your own, add some water, and let the mixture simmer until reduced).
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C (and pre-heat pizza stone if you have one).
3. Cut up all other toppings.
4. Prepare pizza base with tomato pizza sauce (we also used a BBQ Tomato sauce, and it worked nicely)
5. Top pizza with some ground beef, and then add the other veggies, and then the cheese.
6. Bake for anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes, until cheese is beginning to brown.
7. Remove from oven, and top with small dollops of sour cream, and serve immediately. Only add sour cream to the pieces you will eat now...not too sure how left overs would look tomorrow...

*I used a thin-crust store-bought pizza crust base. It wasn't too bad. We wanted to try a thin crust, as my usual recipe is hard to get nice and thin. But, if you want a homemade taste, go for the handmade base. It's simple, and quick. Here is the recipe I always use.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Be Right Back

I want to blog. I really really really do. I think of fun things to blog about all the time. I just don't have the time :( I am working almost non-stop. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I don't even cook or clean at all anymore. I work, sometimes do exercise, eat and sleep. Maybe that will give you an idea...working on a new business that is getting busier and busier, while keeping your "day" job is rough. Right now, I am not busy enough to quit the day job...I hope I will be soon,  but until then I continue to juggle. And not do anything for myself (I know, I'm going to burn out, I'm trying to pace myself). I have not baked since...I don't even know when... I have sewing projects sitting on the kitchen table, that I don't eat at, for months now.  I really want this new business to work, so I have to just push through. I might fail, but I have learned a lot along the way. I was tempted to delete the blog...but I WANT to come back...Thanks for looking in on me, hopefully things will slow down a little soon.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vintage Finds

I've gone through too many kitchen timers than I care to count (teehee). It seems like I buy one every time I go to Ikea. I guess they don't last all that long, do they? My built-in oven timer doesn't work, so I needed something else. Gooey hands using the timer on the laptop wasn't cutting it. I love vintage, and have a few vintage kitchen items, so I looked for something on ebay. And I found the cutest little timer for about 10 bucks. It will never run our of batteries, nor does it require any power. It's a good old fashioned wind-up single bell timer, and so far I have never had a problem. I love it. The simpler, the better, it seems.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Banana Cake with Hershey's ganache

I made this one again. It's such a nice recipe. This time I tried a chocolate ganache, and it was really good.

For the ganache, I heated up some cream in a double boiler, and added some squares of Hershey's milk and dark chocolate, and stirred until the chocolate was all melted. I then beat in some icing sugar until I reached the consistency I wanted. I think I added too much icing sugar though. It was still nice, but could have been a little softer.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

I don't have a lot of time to cook usually. Lately I've been so busy, I don't have time to do most things. We're growing a small business, and it's hard to work full time, and then have that to do too...but I have been trying to make more meals, meals that don't come out of packages. One of my goals for this year is to eat more vegetables. We do eat them, but they tend to be the same the same dishes...and it gets very boring. So, as busy as I have been, I'm proud that I have still been able to add more veggies to the mix. And recently, our favorite way to eat them has been like this:

Roast Vegetables
1. selection of vegetables. I've been using a combination of Japanese pumpkin, potato, carrot, red pepper (capsicum), red & white onions, garlic, sweet potato...
2. olive oil
3. seasonings, such as rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, sometimes I also add balsamic vinegar, etc...

1. Preheat over to 450°F / 230°C
2. Cut up all vegetables to about the same size. I usually cut up red pepper a little larger so it doesn't get too soggy. You could always add softer veggies a little later in the baking process.
3. Pat dry with a paper towel to get most of the surface moisture off the veggies.
4. Throw into a bowl, and add your oil and seasonings. (To make a tray of veggies, I end up using about a 1/4 cup of oil, but this varies. I probably use about 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1-2 tsp rosemary, but do whatever you feel like. I added about 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar to the mix in these photos).
5. Add some crushed garlic. I usually just lay a wide bladed knife over the garlic bulbs, and pound the knife to break the bulbs. Peel off the wrapping, and then cut into smaller pieces if you want.
6. Mix to coat veggies, and spread on a baking tray or dish in a single layer. You'll need to roast the veggies for about 45mins to an hour, checking on them every 15 minutes, and stirring them.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vintage Hairstyling - Beehive

Here is one of the 'do's I tried from a lovely book, Vintage Hairstyling. (Looks like the site is down at the moment, maybe google it and find a cached site) I did this about 6 months ago, and I cannot even imagine attempting this now. It's insanely humid here, and hot rollers in the hair for 45 minutes? I'd rather die. BUT, when I did attempt it, it went really well. I had to try the first step twice, and you can see from my photos, it's still a little messy, but I think it worked well. There is a lovely variation of this, where you leave half of it down, and once the weather behaves, it's something I am looking forward to trying.

Here is a shot from the book. I blurred the instructions, but you can tell that it offers a lot of step-by-step photos.

I love this book! I wish I had more time to experiment, and become fluent in styling my hair nicely.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Pay It Forward

***UPDATE. ONE spot left...*** 

I signed up for this cool little thing, I'm sure a lot of you have already heard about. It's a Handmade Pay It Forward. I joined on facebook through a friend's status update. So, I posted on my status, and only one person agreed :( How sad. So, I'm bringing it to the blog :) I don't have many readers, but I figure I can round another 4 people up on here, right?

So, here's the deal. You can copy this quote below, and post it on your blog, or facebook, or whatever. The rules are simple:

Pay it Forward 2011: I promise to send something handmade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. They in turn must post this and send something they make to the first five people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your five people sometime in 2011...

Then, get to work :)

If I get any replies to this, I will email you and get your address, or feel free to email me: ishouldbecleaningup at yahoo dot com

And, if you want, send me photos of what you make, and I will put a little post together here with all our handmade items...

Spread the handmade love!

***UPDATE. ONE spot left...***


Monday, January 24, 2011

Banana Cake

This recipe was so amazing (lots of compliments). I've had banana bread before, but this was...cake! I couldn't find a recipe online that was close enough to this one, so I have to post it for you.  It's from the Women's Weekly Easy Baking cookbook. Great buy, by the way. There are appetizers and things for kids too. This cake is very moist, and very tasty.

160g butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (you need about 4 medium sized bananas)
1 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp hot milk
1 cup all-purpose flour / plain flour
2/3 cup self raising flour

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2-4 tbsp passionfruit pulp

1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C (160° fan forced), and grease a cake tin. I used a round tin 8" / 20cm, and some fun small shaped tins, but square will also work. Line with baking paper.
2. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.
3. Mash banana together. I used 4 over-ripe bananas. I needed to use some old ones I had in the freezer, but it's best to use really soft fresh ones in this recipe, I think. Stir into mixture.
4. Combine hot milk and baking soda together, and add to banana mixture.
5. Stir in sifted flours, and pour mixture into baking tin.
6. Bake 45 mins, approx. Leave it to cool a few minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Make icing by adding passionfruit pulp into icing sugar until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cooled cake.

I think a lemon or lime icing would also work really well with this cake. Or add choc chips to the batter, and a chocolate ganache icing to make it really decadent.