Simple Gifts – girl’s handbag, soap savers, dishcloths

I made these things to give as gifts this Christmas, finishing the dishcloths today.

<<< My sister told me her daughter would like a grey and pink bag like the one I gave her last year, but this time with a zig zag or polkadot pattern. So this is what I came up with! It’s my own pattern and required a second attempt, the first one was just to work it out, then it got unravelled! The pattern is basically a sl st, sc, hdc, 3 dc, hdc, sc, sl st repeated, every second row does the same pattern but inverted with the sl st falling on the middle dc, if you know what I mean! Two rows one colour then the next two rows the other colour result in these wavy stripes. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straight forward bag, with a row of dc in the handle. I think I used a 4mm hook, I really like the pink I used its a vibrant colour, and some dark grey wool.

>>>My favourite soap is the pink Dove soap, its a pink ribbon fund raiser and is very nice, soft and creamy. I decided to use some pretty pink cotton I have left over from the sun hat I made for my niece last year, to make some pretty soap savers! Again, I had to have a second attempt, the first go I worked out the pattern then had to unravel it and start again properly. I started at the bottom with 9 ch, then a dc in every ch, 3 extra at each end, then another 9 on the other side of the ch to make a round. After that there are 7 rows of lace, the pattern is 2 dc 1 ch 2 dc, sk 2, 1 dc 3 ch 1 dc, sk 2, then alternated into the sp, if you know what I mean! Then the top is 1 dc 1 ch, and a ch threaded through and sl st onto itself to make a closed tie handle. I used a 3.5mm hook and a 50/50 cotton and acrylic blend. I hope the recipents like these, I think they’re really nice anyway!

<<< Today I finished these pentagon dishcloths using up the last of the pretty 50/50 cotton acrylic blend. It’s so sad to see the last of it go! Again I used the 3.5mm hook, and my own pattern. This is like other pentagon dishcloths I’ve made, but slightly bigger as my husband has said they need to be! If I didn’t run out of cotton they would be even bigger! I’ve made these for people who mentioned they’d like home-made dishcloths, I hope they like these!

Merry Christmas!!!

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Five dollar limit on gifts a Great Idea!

There are so many cute little gift ideas under $5, especially for babies and young children, there’s no need for the gift giving ritual to be excessively expensive!

Now I’m a mum I’m making more of an effort with Christmas this year. Granted I could make more of an effort than I have, but this year I’m just warming up! Next year I’ll be even more organised! Today I brought in our living Christmas tree and decorated it, it does look a little small, scrawny and sad, but not as much as last year! And next year, if all goes well, the Christmas tree should look better and bigger after a year of growth. I couldn’t put much decoration on it at all, it started to lean over so much, so I could only put one small star on it, and the love heart garland I made last year.

All the gifts I’m giving this year, or should I say Thomas is giving this year, cost $5 or less. As much as I’m actually not that keen on Christmas, I don’t want to be the mean spirited parent who makes my son miss out on something that is an undeniably big part of our culture. So Thomas is giving everyone a small gift this year, especially considering all the generous gifts he got from them when he was born! But I do wish others were not so extravagant with their gifts, because we can’t afford to reciprocate. But there are so many cute things you can give for just $5 or less! Some ideas for this year include books and a toy car I found on special for the kids, gluten free chocolate biscuits for my coeliac brother and framed photos of Thomas for the grandparents. I prefer to buy children’s books second hand from the charity stores, as they usually only cost 50c. Sometimes I can pay $2 for a second hand book, which is still a lot cheaper than most new ones, but I found some nice ones for $4 at the department store.

Its not hard, and when Thomas is older I hope to teach him some graciousness when it comes to gift giving, even if his mum is clearly lacking in that department!

Homemade Gift Tag for a Young Child

I love this home-made gift tag made by our friend Lyndal for this year’s Secret Santa!

Isn’t technology great? To make this simple gift tag, perfect for a young child, all you need is a colour printer and access to the internet. Lyndal found a picture of Thomas on my facebook page, and printed it up along with a picture of her daughter, Isabella. And I just love the cheeky grin in this photo, when Thomas has chocolate custard smeared all over his face! This kind of gift tag is perfect for young children who are learning to read.

Thanks for this wonderful idea Lyndal, I think I might just have to use it myself this Christmas!

Two Barbie dolls from my childhood, Beauty Secrets 1979 and the 1975 Ballerina.

So how did all this Barbie doll collecting start? I must say, I’m not quite sure, other than to pin point it down to the moment I saw a picture of a doll from my childhood on the page of a Facebook friend. I recognised her immediately, and asked my fellow Barbie fan what she was called. She replied she was a Beauty Secrets Barbie from 1979, so knowing what she was called I then did a search on ebay, and I found her! This is the doll I had kept until my early 30s, and in good condition too, but sadly lost while moving around after my divorce.

The asking price for a mint in box starts from $100! But I wanted to see and touch her, so one still in the box was out of the question. I did bid on one that went for $15, but her hair looked terrible so I stopped bidding and someone else got her. Then I saw these two dolls in an auction for 8 dolls, the seller did not know what any of them were, other than to say some were Barbie dolls. I recognised the ballerina as also being from my childhood, and decided I needed to win the auction! I bid far too much, plus postage it cost me over $51! But now I have these beautiful dolls, and because they started it all off, I’m thinking I’m not sure I want to sell these two. As guilty as I feel for wasting money on such a silly thing, they were the reason why I spent the money, so maybe I should keep them afterall?!

When the dolls arrived in the mail, I was horrified. Their hair was terrible, they were very grubby and had a very strong ‘old’ smell. There were only 3 Barbie dolls, not 4 like the seller stated, and one Ken doll, and I didn’t know what the others were. I have since identified them all, which has been a very satisfying experience! It’s been a bit of a thrill to discover the proper name for each doll. I’ll hopefully find time to blog about the other dolls soon. But I’ve started with these two, as I knew from the start who they were.

I practised cleaning hair on some other dolls before cleaning these two. The Beauty Secrets doll’s hair was stiff and hard, like it had been ruined with some substance, I was sure it could not be saved. The Ballerina’s joints were limp and she sits delicately in your hand, her limbs are still attached but do not hold. Both their faces were incredibly grubby and dirty, I wasn’t sure I could clean them. But I used a toothbrush and some baby shampoo and gently scrubbed their faces and they came up very nicely. I rinsed the Beauty Secret’s hair and the stuff came out as if were aged hair conditioner, and her hair came up soft. The Ballerina’s hair is frizzed, perhaps as if someone has used a hair dryer on it, so I couldn’t do anything with it and now have it tied back with a band, inside the snood I made a while ago. I think I’ll practice on some other dolls before I try an intensive conditioning treatment on her hair. To wash their hair I first used hair conditioner, then shampoo, then carefully combed out the knots holding the hair firmly at the scalp, then more conditioner and left it in for a few hours, then rinsed thoroughly. On the hair of these dolls I didn’t put any baby oil like I might on younger dolls.

I washed the clothes, and because I don’t have the Ballerina tutu, I put her in a gown that came with these dolls, but was worn by another Barbie. My guess was it was a ‘proper’ Barbie dress, and my hunch turned out to be right! Its the dress worn by the Happy Birthday Barbie from 1980! A very fitting dress for my 1975 Ballerina with a missing tutu, I think! Because these dolls are special to me, I put some genuine Mattel Fashionista shoes on them, the Beauty Secrets even has some extra Fashionista accessories I had spare, too! I had to really squeeze the feet into the pink shoes, which is not a good idea as this could damage the feet. I’ve heard serious doll collectors remove the clothes and shoes for storage, to minimise damage over time. There is already some metal poking through the soft plastic of her legs, which can not be fixed and will continue to deteriorate. Inside the purple makeup case that came with the doll in 1979, are a hairbrush, comb, mirror and compact I found in the other auction I bought. I’ll write more on that ebay buy another day …