The Wooden Blocks Pa Murphy made

Here are some simply delightful wooden blocks, and a special red and green wooden train made by Pa Murphy as a gift for Thomas!

Isn’t this collection of wooden toys just lovely? Its so much nicer than the mass produced blocks you buy from the store. All the more special are these toys because they were made for Thomas by his grandfather. These are something you would want to keep and treasure, and hopefully pass on one day, because no one has anything quite the same as these wooden toys. I’m not sure where the wood came from originally, but I think these are at least some what environmentally friendly because they were made from scraps of wood from Pa Murphy’s workshop. For something like this you really shouldn’t buy any wood especially, as any tiny bits of left over scrap wood of any shape will do. These were lightly coated with vegetable oil so a very nice, environmentally friendly toy for Thomas!

Another reason why I like these toys is because they are a classic and timeless toy that doesn’t have the branding you see everywhere nowadays. As much as possible, I’d like to help Thomas learn the true value of things, and not according to if they have some recognisable logo or image on them, as hard as I know that is going to be!

Definitely an addition to my collection of hand crafted family heirlooms! Thankyou Pa Murphy ❤

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My New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I didn’t have any resolutions, other than to survive my first year as a mum! The previous year my goal was to learn more about crochet, to try and learn how to read patterns. Well I did that, and my baby son is doing very well now too, so now its time to think of a new goal for the new year!

My goal for 2012 is to use up as much of the yarn that has accumulated around here as possible! I hope to make lots of useful items for friends and family, and perhaps try and sell some things on ebay. I really must try very hard not to buy any more yarn! I’m sure I have a lifetime’s supply here already!

My other goal is to sell a lot of other things on ebay, things that we don’t need or use and no longer have room to store. Our flat is pretty small and its made to feel smaller than it is with all the clutter. My goal for this year is to stream line my house, ready for a possible house move at the end of next year.

Of course, my other goal for the year is to be a good mum! I want to get Thomas into music lessons, and to take him swimming more. And we need to do some more socialising, too!

I think it’s useful to start the new year with a new goal, something that is achievable, and something that you will enjoy doing. A feeling of accomplishment is important as we look back over our past year, especially for people like myself who don’t work at a job. Even if you don’t achieve everything you set out to, it’s good to celebrate the gains you have made, even the smallest ones.

What are your new year’s resolutions?

Easy 1st Birthday Cake

I’d highly recommend a cake like this, not just for a 1st birthday, but for older children as well.

There are two great things about this kind of cake. First is, it’s fairly easy to make and decorate. Secondly, there is no cutting of the cake, nor plates and napkins to organise. Guests simply grab a cupcake as they wish!

My husband made the cupcakes using coloured cupcake papers in a muffin tray, and a chocolate cake recipe. Then I iced them using the icing recipe on the pure icing packet. I even got blisters on my thumbs from mixing it, that’s a dedicated mum for you! Then I used writing icing in bright colours to decorate the iced cupcakes. I highly recommend that product because it was so easy to write his name, I just needed a steady hand and sat calmly on a stool at the kitchen bench. It was easy to simply put one letter of his name on six cupcakes, making the cake nice and personal.

On a whim I decided to decorate a few with pink icing! I decided there was nothing wrong with having pink icing on my son’s cake, especially his first birthday cake, as it was us who were celebrating, and as his mum I decided I needed some pink! It has certainly been a hard year that I am glad to put behind us.I’ve been looking forward all year to seeing Thomas eat a chocolate cupcake on his first birthday. For a couple of months there I was worried he wouldn’t be able to do it. Feeding my baby and making sure he ate enough has been my main worry all year, although he’s never been technically underweight he’s always been a small baby and small eater. I was so happy when he finally devoured his cupcake for all to see, making a very big mess!

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the pink cupcakes went first. Most of the guests were mums, and we all like a bit of pink sometimes. They were very, very yummy!!

Handmade 1st Birthday Card for Thomas

Thomas turned one nearly a month ago, but we’ve been so busy catching our breath after a very busy Christmas season, this is the first chance I’ve had to blog about it!

This was our first ‘proper’ Christmas with Thomas, as his first Christmas was spent in the hospital nursery, and I was still in hospital that day myself. That’s why we decided we should make an extra effort this season, and visit everyone in the family, which we managed to do, except for seeing my sister and her family in Darwin. We hadn’t gone anywhere all year, with Thomas being so small I didn’t feel confident enough. So Christmas was a very busy season for us indeed this year, and we’ve decided we should spread things out a bit better next year so it’s not so overwhelming!

One thing we can’t change though is Thomas’ birthday, which is on December 14th, right when things start to get busy. We had to have a party of course, in fact we celebrated all week with visits from family and friends spread out so our small home would not be too crowded in case it rained. Thankfully it didn’t rain! My mum came to visit Thomas on the day though, and brought gifts and this very special handmade 1st birthday card.

I just adore my mum’s handmade greeting cards, don’t you? They are so special. I’m trying to convince her to try and sell some, I think they might be popular!

Monster Beanie for a Small Child

I made this monster beanie yesterday, thinking it was going to be a gift for a 1 year old boy next weekend, but it is sooo hot right now, I really think my beanie will be an inappropriate gift! I will just have to make something else that is more summerish! Inspiration for this beanie came from googling images of ‘crochet gift for one year old boy’ then ‘crochet monster hat’, none were quite like mine.

Using some more of the sea green I have left from the Wangaratte Mill, I started by making a beanie. I fitted it to my 1 year old son’s head, to make sure it would fit, using a 4mm hook. The first 6 rows are increasing, the very first round had 16 dc. The 2nd round increasing every 2nd stitch, so it’s 2 dc 1 dc repeated *, which makes 24 stitches in the round. The 3rd round increases 2 dc 1  dc 1 dc, repeated, the 4th round increases 2 dc 1 dc 1 dc 1 dc, repeated, the 5th round increases 2 dc 1 dc 1 dc 1 dc 1 dc. After that, each row just has the same dc as the previous row. To make a beanie for a larger head, you increase the number of increasing rows, to make a smaller beanie you decrease the number of increasing rows. I make rows until the beanie covered my son’s ears. You can make it slightly shorter, or longer if you want a turned up edge. I hope that makes sense to you, because it makes sense to me!

To make the beanie look like a monster I decorated it with two eyes and 4 sharp white teeth! The pattern for the teeth is 1 ch, 2 dc 1 ch 2 dc, 1 sc, 1 sl st, (1 sc, 2 dc 1 ch 2 dc, 1 sc, 1 sl st) x 3, for 4 teeth. Pull and pinch the ch at the tips slightly to make the teeth appear pointed.  For the eyes, I made 2 flat circles in white. 1st round has 12 dc, the 2nd round has 24 as it increases 2 in every st. Then I made 2 smaller black circles, using finer black wool, I threaded the ends onto a needle to sew the eyes together and onto the beanie at the same time. To finish, I edged the eyes with varigated yarn, also from the Wangaratta Mill, to attach the eyes more securely. I think the multi-coloured edge to the eyes makes the monster more friendly looking, as does the wonky tilt to his eyes!

I’m not sure what will happen to this beanie, I might give it away, or use it as a beanie for my son this coming winter. This was so easy to make, if my friends wanted some I’m sure I could whip up some more. I like making these as the colour choice is pretty open ended, which means I can use up some of this yarn that is piling up here!

* my apologies to my fellow Australians who read UK crochet, as this is in US crochet. To convert into UK crochet sc = dc, dc = tr crochet

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!

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