My first Sock Doll Sweetie

I just can't help myself. I just have to keep on crafting.


After enjoying making sock snowmen last year as gifts, and for charity, I have found another  cute way to convert those lost and lonely socks into a sweet little playmate.... aaah forget the lost sock syndrome - I just went ahead and bought a collection of cute socks from my local discount store and here is my very first sock doll. Thanks to a wonderful friend Lindy of Piggwhistles Blog for encouraging me to keep on crafting when we get together for a weekly chat and craft sessions! I will be making more for sure. My mind is racing ahead as one of my sock has leopard prints on it... can I make a leopard after I become accomplished with these simple dolls.


I started by following a tutorial I found on Plushie Patterns. Mine are a close copy but I still managed to make it mine mainly with the addition of a tiny nose. I have named her "Sweetie". I didn't want to use any stick on eyes, beads or even safety eyes as I want babies to be able to cuddle her. I used embroidery wool and french knots for the eyes. and added 2 tiny curls of the same wool for hair peeking out of the beanie which I tasseled. Sweetie can be thrown inside a pillowcase and into the washing machine when she gets a little grubby after spending a day with the girls.

My Sweetie is not good enough to sell, but she is definitely the first of many to come. I am sure my grand-daughters will love Sweetie in spite of her imperfections anyway. Can't you see her blushing with all the love she will get. (I used permanent ink and a cotton bud so it doesn't wash off)



I am in two minds whether to have a mouth on them. What do you think?

Time to stop

I think it is time to stop. It has been a good few years of posting and with my past health issues and now my husband is not well, I think it is time to call it quits.


It seems that there is an abundance of craft and home lifestyle blogs available and I am just one more. I am not complaining. Either you have it or you don't and apparently I don't. I don't need to post to keep in touch with far flung friends and family. A part of my would like to keep posting but there's no point if no one is interested.



It is hard to judge peoples' reaction to my blog and obviously I can't be objective. Statistics don't tell me much more than how many visitors and what country they are from. Rarely does anyone show enough interest to comment other than one or two close friends whom I see regularly anyway.

Don't fret though. I still have my RV travel blog and I will be keeping that blog going as long as we keep on traveling around this great country of ours. It will include some recipes and maybe those crafts that I do on the road.

If I have judge incorrectly and there are a silent audience that like what I see then please let me know in the comments at least this one time and I may yet revise my decision to stop posting here.


So here is my thank you card for any of you that are still with me. It has been a great learning curve and sometimes I have been challenged to do things I would not have done otherwise. (PS The card style is called an Easel Card. You can watch and learn with how to make your own easel card with this YouTube tutorial that explains it quite easily.)

Pop over and see me anytime on the Robbiebago Blog

POST SCRIPT: It is  now a few months later and what a difference this has made. I feel rejuvenated and I am encouraged by the improvement in my husband's health. He will never be 100% but he is leaps and bounds ahead of what last year seemed to indicate. This has reflected in my outlook and my own health is stable with no cancer noticeable in my regular 3 monthly check ups. Eventually I should be able to cut it down to once or twice a year if there is still no changes. So all in all life is good and God is in charge and I just have to hand everything over to him, the negatives as well as the positives.

Hobby Horses are loved by the kids

I was going back through some posts and discovered that I had neglected to post my hobby horses that I had made for my grand daughters and a niece.




The first one took a bit of time making it but once I had played around a bit and finally designed the pattern and tweaked it, then the project came together neatly.  I found a simple  sock horse tutorial here, but I really wanted pretty ones for my girls.





The girls loved getting them as presents and had many hours of pleasure from them.

Easy Picking Mulberries

Mulberries are a wonderful tree to have in an out of the way part of the garden. Hang on, I can almost hear you saying! Why out of the way? Well the down side is that they drop a lot of fruit and this can stain concrete, pavers etc. I haven't any problems with birds eating then pooping stains on my clothes line and it is only 10m from my line, but I have read about it as a complaint for some.

I just have to eat some along the way as I collect some for the table.

Mulberries are wonderfully healthy for you as they contain significant amounts of Vitamin C and K, Vitamins E, B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin. They also contain a decent amount of iron, minerals, protein, fibre and even Omega-6 fatty acids. Mulberries contain high levels of reserveratrol, which is the same powerful antioxidant that is found in the skin of red grapes and red wine. Reserveratrol helps to prevent cellular damage by free radicals, reduces the growth of cancer cells, is good for maintaining a healthy heart and promotes longevity. Mulberries have been used medicinally by many cultures, especially the Chinese, to strengthen the kidneys, help with weakness and fatigue, reverse premature gray hairs, balance out blood sugar levels, promote restful sleep and to calm the mind. (Some of this is copied from http://www.healthyreader.com/wild-mulberries/ since I have no medical training what so ever.)

A bowl full of delicious Mulberries


They are sweet and rather mild tasting. I love to eat them fresh as well as to cook desserts with them. Others I know make jam but I never remember to collect jars.

These need a few more days before they ripen to dark purple black
 
Picking mulberries is very easy. You almost only have to touch the ripe berries and they will just about fall off with very little effort in your bowl. Ripe mulberries are dark purple, almost black. The under-ripe ones will have some red or pink and are little too tart for eating fresh off the tree. They wont continue to ripen. This year we had an extraordinary bumper crop. In just one day I collected 2.5 kg and that was only half the tree and the tree didn't even look like I had taken any berries off it.

Just a teeny handful

This was how I came to realize that there was a super easy way to get my berries. Since the ripe ones drop off so easily and you will have them fall onto the ground sometimes before you can get your hand there to catch it. So I thought I would grab a large but old bed sheet that I was keeping for a paint drop sheet and place that sheet under the branches I was working on. All I had to do then was wiggle the branches and most of the rip berries would drop onto my sheet. A few not so ripe berries would fall too, but they are easy to spot and I popped these into the compost. If they are just a it under ripe you can still use these in cooking allowing for the tartness.

Note the sheet on the ground. I also garden in my old cut off jeans

Mulberries have a very short shelf life. If eating fresh, they are best consumed within 24 hours else they go mushy and mouldy. Mulberries are fabulous for freezing. Rinse them if you desire, however since I never spray my garden, I tend to spread a single layer of berries on a cookie tray and freeze them whole. When they are frozen then I scoop them into zip lock bags as they will separate easily into the quantities you desire. They will defrost all soft and mushy ready for use.

Mulberry Muffins

Mulberry Buckle
Mulberry Pie

Try these wonderful mulberry recipes: My husbands' favourite is a Mulberry Pie. My favourite is some super tasty and light mulberry muffins. My daughter tends to add them to her healthy smoothie and my son adds them to his breakfast yoghurt. My sister in law just sent me a recipe for making a mulberry sorbet, so guess what I will be trying next?

Mulberry parfait.


Did you know that you will also get a smaller second crop when autumn comes around? 
So what's your favourite berry recipe?

More Sock Snowmen and an angel too!

Hooray! After a few false starts, I am finally getting a roll as far as my crafting goes. Here's some more snowmen I have made lately.


The Olafs are very popular at the moment. I have sold a few of these and the ordinary snowmen  and will be gifting the rest to a charity that's close to my heart: The Illawarra Cancer Carers. These wonderful craft ladies were the reason why I didn't completely lose my sanity on the long road to health after my cancer diagnosis.
 

I even started to get serious and had a production line sort of set up going. It certainly makes it faster when you are doing half a dozen of similar jobs at the same time. These snowmen are really starting to come together quickly. I have even been asked to show & teach a small group of ladies at a local craft group. I haven't taught crafts for years. It is great to be asked again.



I wanted at least one of my snowmen to have a hat and so I played around with my felt and made my own little felt hats.


I also played with the idea of making a sock angel and though my first angel looks a tad startled, (I was aiming for a singing angel) I am quite pleased with how she turned out too. I will certainly be making more angels but hopefully not quite so startled! LOL.



I hope you enjoy looking and maybe even become inspired to make some for your loved ones or for charity.


Christmas is only a couple of months away. 
Have you started making any Christmas crafts yet?

Finding my crafting mojo

Having been sick with cancer and the corresponding fatigue that comes and goes after that, really sapped my energy, brain cells and motivation.

I had tried to pick up my crocheting but I am just too tired to concentrate on learning something new at the moment. (I have yet to pick up how to join the squares.

The original Olafs: You can see the 'recycled' sock was used on the larger Olaf.

I've reconnected with Lindy, my crafty friend, I think I have started up again. I just love seeing something come to life from one medium to another whether it be a tangled ball of yarn turning into something beautiful or socks and a few bits and bobs turn into sock snowman.

I really needed to get back into the swing of crafting regularly.

It really started with one of my grand daughters needing the Olaf  repaired, that I made for her last Christmas when we were in Tasmania. I was foolish enough to recycle an old odd sock the first time but with time, the material was beyond repair so I had to make a duplicate.

Olaf all fixed


I mentioned this to my friend Lindy. She had never seen even a sock snowman, so I offered to show her how to make one. I had left the materials out on the table with the hope that seeing it there would motivate me to make some more since I had bought lots of socks on special earlier in the year for this express purpose.

Lindy & I had such a grand time making a couple of sock snowmen that we have decided to recommenced our weekly crafty afternoons. At least this way we will make some thing weekly as well as have a good old chin wag.

Here are the 2 Olafs with their cousins!

Come back and see what we will make over the coming weeks and months!

Cheese stuffed meatballs in easy tomato sauce

Such a simple easy dinner that comes together with very few ingredients. It is unbelievably tasty and it is one of our family's favourite dinners and I love it too as it is so quick to make. Our family actually just call it cheesy meatballs.


Ingredients:

½ cup rice
90g processed cheddar cheese*, cut into 1cm cubes
425g tomato soup
½ cup water
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
500g mince
1 onion, chopped
1 egg
salt & pepper






  1. Precook rice in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes in microwave. Strain, rinse in cold water, set aside to dry as much as possible before using.
  2. Combine soup, Worcestershire sauce and water in baking dish. Set aside.
  3. Cut cheese into 10 – 12 cubes. Set aside.
  4. Combine rest except cheese including drained rice.
  5. Form into 10 –12 meatballs.
  6. Add 1 cheese cube into centre of each ball, enclose cheese thoroughly
  7. Place meatballs into soup mix.
  8. Cover dish with lid, alfoil or baking tray
  9. Bake @ 180o C for 1 hour (350o F)
Serve with mash potatoes, spaghetti or steamed rice


Hint: 


* The cheddar cheese is the long life type as shown below. It is such as what cheese sticks are made of, only we can buy it in blocks off the shelf near the preserves/jam and vegemite section in Australia. Mozzarella might be substituted instead. Regular cheddar cheese can be used but you'll find it has a habit of melting INTO the meatball rather than remaining as a lovely blob of molten cheese.
 
If you wish to cook this recipe in a thermal cooker such as a DreamPot or a slow cooker then fry the meatballs after forming so that the balls maintain their shape.

Granny Squares - Many squares needed

Wow! So many granny squares are needed for a single blanket.  You might remember that I taught myself how to crochet on the last big trip in 2012 in the caravan starting with these tiny christmas stockings.

Picking a colour theme

The colours of these granny squares were chosen to match the caravan.  However, it has has taken much longer than expected and getting sick with cancer in the meantime didn't help. I just had no energy or brain power for most creative pursuits for more than 18 months. Anyway it was a project that got left on the back burner for so long. We are now selling our beloved caravan and it is not quite the colours I envisioned for our converted bus/motorhome that Rob started even before I got sick.

Crocheting outside my caravan on a trip


Resuming crocheting

Lately I have resumed the project especially as it was an easy project to do at night keep the hubby company whilst he watch TV and I sorted of watched TV and crochet at the same time. One thing I love about crocheting is that it is easy to do in dribs and drabs as my attention span tends fluctuate at times. I know many of you can crochet and watch tele easily but being profoundly deaf and reliant on captioning, I can't effectively do both... but there's always lots of ads and if the show is boring I can concentrate more on my craft. There's always 2 sides to a coin.


The next step

Well now I think I've reached the point where I'm ready to start joining them altogether. I have made 100 squares in burgundy, pink, hunter green and soft green.I haven't done this before as all my previous crocheting have just been one giant granny square. I know I can whip stitch them, but I am going to trial a few crochet joins and see what I end up with. I have already decided against one method as it looked too untidy and uneven.


The type of join I decide with also affect the end size of the blanket. I wonder just what size it will end up being. It has now grown from being a lap rug in the caravan a few years ago when I started it to being one I hope will fit across the bed in the motorhome. I'd love to know how people work out how much wool to buy without buying too much but certainly no one wants to run out of wool so close to the end either!

Too many UFO's

Like many of us crafts people, I've got a huge list of UFOs. (Un Finished Objects)  However I am starting to tick them off bit by bit.  If only I would stop starting yet another project.


My next project

I can't wait to show you what I made for my grand daughters' last birthdays. I am very happy with them. So pop on back in a few weeks and see what it is. Here's a teaser! I have sewn it and they will be able to play with it!

A teaser of what I made for my grand daughters!

A reminder of my cute little Christmas Stockings I made back in 2012.

Just one of my Christmas Stockings



Decedent Chocolate Fudge

I came home from a trip to Tasmania having one cooking ambition and that was to find a simple but perfect chocolate fudge recipe. It took a couple of experiments but this version adapted from Repeat Crafter Me is the closest one to the perfect fudge that I fell in love with at Chudleigh, Tasmania. I wanted to make it quickly and yet ensure that it is silky smooth. I hit the jackpot with this combination. Try it. I am so convinced that you will love it too.


 

MICROWAVE CHOCOLATE FUDGE


680g (2 bags) milk chocolate chips
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the chocolate, condensed milk, vanilla and butter in a microwave safe bowl & microwave for 2 minutes stirring once or twice, then zap in 15 second increments until the chocolate is melted. Be careful not to let it seize. Allow it to cool a bit (30 minutes) and then beat until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened about 5 minutes.
  2. Carefully pour the mixture into a lightly greased tart lined with non-stick baking paper and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
  3. Set aside until set . A couple of hours at least, overnight if possible.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut the fudge into 4cm squares and wrap each piece in non-stick baking paper. Makes 16 squares

VARIATIONS:

Do you want to try different flavuors? Use different flavoured chocolate chips.
Or when you pour your fudge into the pan, first add a layer of candy or cookies
Try some sieved rasbpberry couli!
There are lots of different ways to add to this recipe!

MY NOTES:

My 1st attempt: I first tried it in the slow cooker: as per repeat crafter me. The original recipe calls for 30 minutes in the slow cooker, mine had been going for 60 minutes and there was still tiny blobs of un-melted chocolate about the size of a pearl head on a pin or smaller. I was scared of it over cooking and took it out at this point. It was still delicious and had a little texture of minute chocolate bits in it which didn't detract from the fudge as a whole. Beaut flavour.
My 2nd attempt: I decided to use the microwave and beaters as per above instructions. I used 100% milk chocolate. Beautiful texture - so smooth though I tried to 'pretty' the top and thus I disturbed the crusty skin so it didn't look as good.
Next time I want to try 50:50 dark:milk chocolate with or without some Raspberry couli


What flavours would you want in your fudge? One son wants caramel fudge and another says his wife adds crumbled honeycomb to hers and he loves it.

Some simple handmade cards

I have so many card making supplies left over from when I was teaching and publishing cards. I found I had lost a lot of motivation with being sick for months after the cancer diagnosis and then travelling in our RV when I was up and about at last.

Twisted Easel Card and co-ordinating envelope

Eventually I had to try and sort out my craft supplies and found I have so many half made cards and many beautiful background papers that I have made using various techniques. Both of these will make it very quick to make a bundle of cards in next to no time at all. As much as I generally prefer to make flowers and three dimensional cards, sometimes, it is just not practical nor appropriate. I will be looking for some charities to gift these cards to as I have far to many for my own needs and gifts and I doubt I will hold any more markets stalls in the future but certainly not any time soon.

Twisted easel card 'flat' for posting

So take a gander and see the variety that is possible even with simple quick cards especially once the background papers have been made. Feel free to ask any questions re techniques.

background is paint dry brushed with embossing powder effects


Lavender layer is from the side of a tissue box. "Love" is stamped under the vellum

Multiple stamped background on fabric dyed coloured card

Simple ripped card for a distressed effect

Pretty scrapbooking papers make cards very quick to do. I love my cuttlebug for dry embossed backgrounds too!