Monday, September 29, 2014


I had honestly never heard of these ...... not even in stories that my Granny told. So when I came upon THIS PASTRY CLOTH TUTORIAL on Pinterest, I was intrigued.

I decided I needed one ..... hands up, if you hate those little sticky bits of pastry and cookie dough you find stuck to your counter top, no matter how much you flour the surface before rolling it !!!!
Let me tell you, this little ( or not so little, as mine turned out to be) beauty has revolutionized cookie baking for me .... it's genius !!!

Check out the tutorial link - the blogger lists all of the reasons you need one, and here's another reason - I'm telling you they work ... they work .... they work .... like a bomb.
They're dead easy to make too. You do need to use the type of fabric she recommends (although in my research, it seems that painters drop cloth would work too). I got my fabric at Joann's. It was $6-99 a yard, but I used a 40% off coupon, so it made it reasonable. At Joann's this fabric is kept where you find all of the utility fabrics .... yes, I walked around looking for quite a while !!!!

One of the two sides of the fabric is kept plain (this is the side you roll on), while the other side I decorated ... just to pretty it up.
As per the tutorial instructions, I painted some stripes with fabric paint. I decided to take mine a step further ....... my mason jar rubber stamp .... love it !!!! I used special ink for fabric (Hobby Lobby keeps it), With some alphabet stamps, I then named the jars ..... Cute :-)

See, mine is quite large. I think I bought 2 yards, or perhaps 3 yards, cut it in half, and that was my fabric depth, while the length was the width of the fabric. TAKE NOTE ... dont skip pre washing your fabric .... this stuff shrinks like no other !!!!

When you're ready to roll out your dough, dust your pastry cloth with flour, and get rolling ....

Look how beautifully the dough lifts from the cloth .... it makes cookie cutting a breeze !!!!

Your pastry cloth does not need washing every time you use it. - in fact some articles stated that these cloths were never washed back in the day. Once you're finished, dust off the flour, and roll it up. These articles, suggested that the best place to keep your cloth, when it's not in use, is in the freezer, so that's where mine is ... rolled up in my freezer. Something to do with the residual oils and fats.

I thought one of these would make a lovely gift for the cookie or pie baker in your life. Wrap it together with a few cookie cutters, or a spatula or two .... and there you have it :-)

Thought I'd end off, by showing you the finished cookies ..... it's time to play around with some Halloween cookie ideas ..... Doing the Monster Mash !!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


This is the last of my zombies for Halloween 2014 !!!
This was my response to a challenge given to us by my friend (and our Zombie Doll Swap Mama) VAL ... Create a Zombie Doll for our own collections !!!
I love Jack Skellington ... the character from Tim Burtons movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Such a dapper chap. The theme of this years swap was animated zombies ...... it was a done deal !!!!
I promised some of you that have asked me how I create my dolls, that I would explain in a little more detail, my creative process .... so here goes !!!

- Paper Mache ball
- Aluminum Foil
- Masking Tape
- Piece of Dowel
- Lengths of Chain
- Sculpey
- Hands from a plastic skeleton

- I glued a length of dowel into the paper mache ball. I then rolled sausages of foil to create his body shape ... wider at the shoulders, more slender at the hips (don't I wish that was a description of me !!!). Once I was happy with the shape, I glued the other end of the dowel into the foil, and I covered his whole torso with masking tape.
- Time to condition your sculpey, and roll it out to an even thickness ..... now start covering his head, neck and torso. This takes a little time to do, but the sculpey is very easy to work with, so press, roll and smooth away, until your happy with the look. At this point I added his nose, his wounds and his eye sockets too.
- Happy with the way he looks .... Good !!! Now it's time to cook him !!! I put him in the oven at 275 Deg F for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes is up, take him out of the oven and let him cool completely.
- Once cool, I painted him. Gave him an all over coat of white paint, then accented his eyes, mouth and wounds with black and red paint. Leave him to dry, and then give him a coat of varnish.
- I screwed little circle hook things (you attach them to the back of pictures - they're what you tie the wire onto before you hang them), into both shoulders and both hips. The only way that I could think of to create his skinny legs and arms, was to use lengths of chain. Attach those lengths to those circle hook things ... Voila arms and legs !!!
- Attach those skelly hands .... make some sculpey boots ..... and Jack is born !!! He's in need of some clothes now ....

- Black Felt
- White Button
- And lots of patience, because sewing those white strips onto the black felt was laborious !!!!

I cut a pattern based on his shape ..... you'd need to do the same for your guy (each one is unique). Constructing his clothes was done pretty much the same way as you would construct any garment ...shoulder seams, side seams ...... there's no hems, facings or closures though .... now isn't that a bonus !!!

I finished him off, by crocheting lengths of chain stitch with red yarn ..... No zombie is a real zombie until he eats some brains :-) Stick them into his mouth .... yum !!!!

I'll let you in to a little secret ..... this time yesterday, he was headed to the dustbin !!! He came out of the oven, and his head was sooo squishy and the sculpey had cracked in places ....... the ball that I though was paper mache was actually plastic, covered in a thin layer of paper, so it melted !!! SOOOOO check what your ball is made of  .... it must be 100% paper mache to avoid squishy brains !!!
I'm glad I didn't chuck him out, and decided to use him anyway, because I love the final result !!!

October 1st is not too far off  (oh, I'm excited !!!).... I'm trying to decide how best to display my zombie patch this year ..... I'm wondering if I have time to make some paperclay trees before it's time to decorate ? I still need to get my Halloween wreath done, and  ..... and ..... and ....

Friday, September 19, 2014


I'm a traditional Disney type of animation girl .... Mickey Mouse, Dumbo ..... you get the picture.

My friend Val over at Yarnigras, recently hosted her Annual Halloween Zombie Doll Swap, we're busy wrapping it up now. The theme this year was Animated Zombie Dolls !!! We gave our secret partner some ideas of animated characters we liked, and it was up to them to create and zombify a version of them. It was possibly the most challenging zombie doll swap so far, because my partner chose (A) An animal character, and (B) A character I'd never heard of ...... It was Sparky, the dog from Tim Burtons movie Frankenweenie !!!!

Google Images became my instant BFF ....

Paperclay it was going to have to be, as I saw no other way of getting the shape I needed to create him. Cone shaped styrofoam, styrofoam balls, sculpey,  and lots of scrunched up aluminum foil covered in masking tape was used to get the shape. After a bit of trial and error, I got it, and I was very happy with him !!!!

His back view ....

His front view ....

His right side ....

His left side .....

His two big, rather infected (yuk) looking wounds were made from sculpey, that I glued onto the body, after they'd been baked.

I hope my partner liked him ..... I had a blast creating him, and learned a lot through the creative process :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I did a bit of apron sewing recently ........ quick, cheerful, and a great way to feel as though you've accomplished something in a short space of time.
This little sewing exercise was not without its drama however - I had finished the one apron, and only had about 1/4 yard of binding to sew on the second apron, when my sewing machine died !!!! No LCD display, no response from the foot pedal .... it was truly dead !!! I was sooooo mad !!! It has faithfully served me for 10 years, we have sewed many many miles together, and I loved working on it .... the least it could have done was go out with a spectacular show of fireworks and smoke, not just seize up and die !!!
A plan is underway to rectify the situation .... thanks so much Mom and Dad, I appreciate it more than you know :-)
Until I've decided exactly what I'm going to do, I've dusted off a little, beginner, basic machine that I had for Brittany (I thought she may one day like to sew ...... who was I kidding), and I'm getting by with that.

But, enough of my tale of woe, and back to the aprons ......
This time I used SIMPLICITY PATTERN 1936. I've used it before, and like it a lot. It has a flouncy bias cut skirt, and is very economical on the fabric yardage it uses.

This daisy apron, was one my Mom asked me to make for her. She wants to give it to a friend as a birthday present. It says 1950's housewife too me. I think that must have been a really fun era in which to be a young housewife. Everything was made from scratch, you'd have dressed for dinner .... I find something oddly appealing about that. I have some recipe booklets from that era, that have been handed down too me. Every now and again, I pull them out, and look at them. I find the illustrations particularly charming.

This one is my new Halloween apron. I needed a new one, and when I saw this fabric covered in cheerful, funny faced jack o lanterns, I knew I had to have it. I can't wait for the 1st October to roll around, so that I can pull out my Halloween kitchen goodies (I'm going to try and get some new kitchen towels, and maybe even a new pair of oven gloves made in time), and just enjoy the fun month that October always is. I have a few plans for some new porch decorations too ....  I may have already decided on what we'll be handing to our Trick or Treaters this year, and I have a few new recipes pinned  that I'm hoping to try ....

Time is flying by ....... I even begun making my first Christmas gift today !!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Most of us know all too well about comfort eating ....... I'm a big comfort eater !!! I've discovered another trend in myself lately .... I'm a comfort sewer. At times I find myself with a longing to create something just for the pure joy of creating ..... for the time it gives me alone with my thoughts .... To remember ..... To think .....
I've noticed a pattern, this normally happens either when I'm feeling overwhelmed or homesick. Today was one such day .... Today it was a combination of both feelings (and I suspect 44 year old hormones that are going totally wacko, as I've read they do at around this age !!!)....
I took myself off to my "office", put my MANGO GROOVE CD on, and begun to create (ok, and I shed a tear or two  - it was cathartic). I'm sure most of you have no clue who MANGO GROOVE is ...... they're a South African band, I just love. Click on the links if you want to have a little listen.

These creations were just fun ..... no purpose to them, just time to play with fabrics and trim ..... and they're really quite cute :-)

I pulled stuff from my stash ... it looked like a bomb had gone off in my "office" by the time I was finished.

These fabric pieces were left over from last years State Fair Apron entry. Felt, Ric Rac, buttons .... None of the embellishments were precisely cut - it was a fly by the seat of my pants type thing.

The body of this guy is made from a dish towel I found in the clearance section at World Market, who knows how many moons ago ...... I cant turn down 100% Indian cotton dishtowels that only cost $1-05 !!! This owly is my favorite of the two ..... love her tulle eyelashes. She has a bit of a Halloween feel to her too.

I followed a basic tutorial that I found online (the owl pattern was included too) - I thought I'd pinned it to Pinterest, but looks like I didn't - I will keep looking for it, and as soon as  I find it, I'll post the link to the tutorial .... the lady haD made a number of them, and some were so stinkin cute !!!!

Until next time (or until I find the link to the tutorial) .....

Friday, September 12, 2014


Ghouls ...... Ghosts ...... Zombies ...... All things Halloween !!! This to me, is a day to let loose and have some fun. It's a day to do things that if done on any other day, would have you labelled a little odd.
It's a celebration that's "new" to us .... we've only known what it's really about since moving to the States. I do like to put out some fun themed decorations for the month of October .... The ordinary old dish towels are replaced by ones covered in ghosts, witches and all things skellybones. I don my Halloween apron .... I treated myself this year, by making a new one :-) And like all homes (I'm hoping), there is more candy lying around than usual. This year I decided that our candy needed special fun containers of their own, so out came the aluminium foil and the sculpey, and I set to work. Oh and by the way, I now know why I keep all of those empty fruit and jam jars ....... I just knew  they'd come in handy one day !!!!

I started with a ball of foil, and from there, cover it with sculpey and added my features ...... I love the versatility of sculpey, you can do absolutely anything with it. Once I was happy with my heads, to the oven they went, to be baked ........ Just look at them staring out of the oven !!!!

Once cooled, out came the paint, varnish and dolls hair .........
I do love the creepy results. Perfect for holding the Halloween candy :-)

To cover the lid of the jar, I first sanded the lid a little. Mine had a plastic coating on it, and I thought by ruffing it up a bit, it would make it easier for the sculpey to adhere to it. I rolled out the sculpey, and pushed it onto the top and sides of the lid, I cut off the excess at the edge, and baked it as I did the heads, just for a shorter time. Once the lid was cool, I glued the head onto the lid with some strong glue.

I want to make a few more in different sizes before October begins ...... I really want to try a Jack Skellington one next - that could be so much fun !!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I think every one of us remembers where we were on this day 13 years ago .....
We were living in South Africa, it was a warm, sunny afternoon, and I was nursing our youngest baby, our little girl was playing at my feet .....
We had no clue at the time, that a move to the USA was in even in our future, or that our children would be raised here ...... What we did know however, was that the events of that day would change the World forever - and I firmly believe they did.

I heard this piece read on the radio this morning, as a tribute and in remembrance of the events of 9/11. It gave me goosebumps ....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I remember vaguely seeing these scattered over the internet, but to be honest, I've never paid too much attention to them ..... that was until I today.

It is nearly Halloween (yes, we just have to accept that the latter half of the year is upon us). Halloween means Zombie Swap time ..... Oh yes it does, and you know how much fun that is for us Zombie Doll creators !!!! Part of the swap, is the inclusion of three Halloween themed tuck ins ....... this particular part of any swap, can only be defined as creative heaven to me. The chance to try new and exciting techniques and products .... Oh Happy Day !!!!

Walmart have just unpacked those kitchy $4 Halloween T Shirts they sell every year ....... not hard to guess that I'm no fan of them !!! BUT, today that changed (well for this purchase anyway) !!!!
In the mens section, I saw two Zombie themed T Shirts ..... Too perfect to pass up, I bought one of them, not even knowing what I'd do with it ...... only that it was going to become a tuck in of some sort ..... Ping ..... Light Bulb Moment ...... A T Shirt Tote !!!!!

Diving into the Pinterest archives, I unearthed THIS TUTORIAL ..... about an hour later (and I'll explain why it took me that long in a little bit), The Zombie T Shirt Tote was born ....

It was dead easy to make !!! The side seams (sides of the shirt) are already done, as are the handle (shoulders) seams, so all that's left to sew, is the seam along the bottom, and to turn in a small hem around the handles. It really should be a 30 minute project at the very most.
I decided that I prefered to encase the edges with binding .... I cut strips of the T shirt off cuts, and made a quick binding .... it finishes the edges off nicely, I thought. That's why mine took a little longer to finish.

It is so roomy ...... you can fit LOTS of stuff in there. It's also surprisingly strong !!!

They would make such cute Trick or Treat bags too ...... the kiddos could collect tons of candy in them. The added bonus to this particular bag (and a great safety feature for Trick or Treat night), is that parts of the design on this bag, glow in the dark ....... Now how awesome is that !!!!!