Family Time

Due to family commitments and an unexpected emergency I was unfortunately unable to get this post up the week it was written. Please transport yourself back in time a little and enjoy this wonderful post of Ellie’s with my apologies for the timing :) – Erika

It’s that time of the year – next Friday, or Christmas Eve as it’s commonly known, my husband and I will be travelling across the country to stay with our respective families for the holiday period. This may sound like a long trip, but being as how we live in the UK, it should only take us about two hours (snow permitting)! I love spending the holidays with my family, for the first couple of days at least, and in honour of this special time I’ve rounded up some fabulous, family-inspired handmade goodies. If you’ve still got gifts to buy, this little lot should certainly inspire you!

“Home is where the heart is” has always been my favourite cliched saying and in my case is certainly true. Although I haven’t lived where my parents are for nearly ten years, and although we own our own house here, I always describe going to my parents’ place as “going home”. So I’m really looking forward to spending some time there, catching up with old friends and re-visiting all my childhood haunts.

I may have mentioned once or twice that gifts for my family this year are almost all handmade, by me or others! I’m just a little bit excited about being able to offer my nearest and dearest totally unique items that are so different from the mass-produced goods I’ve bought in the past. I’m also hoping to receive a few handmade accessories of my own this Christmas – hopefully I’ve dropped enough hints with my husband…

Every family has its traditions for the holidays and mine is no exception. On Christmas morning, we eat avocado and bacon sandwiches while opening our stockings, then move onto presents before toasting the occasion with prosecco. My dad then makes the most delicious Christmas dinner you have ever tasted – no kidding – which we eat before collapsing in front of the fire to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special. It’s difficult to say what makes these simple traditions so special, but to me they really are.

I hope you all have a fabulous holiday period, whatever your plans are! I’ll see you in 2011, when I’m looking forward to discovering more wonderful handmade items!

Photo credits:
Preloved Penny Lane
Terrordome’s Extractionarium
Indira Albert
Cross Street Press

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Crescent Maille
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes

Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids

Does your baby love balloons? Are they just spellbound by how they magically float over head. Unlike a ball, a balloon moves slowly, gently, perfect for little hands & eyes that want to bat that thing back up in the air. But there is a problem with balloons and babies. They are a choking hazard. They can pop and eject the latex into the mouth, blocking the airway.

I’m always anxious when babies & toddlers are around balloons. Of course my kids have all adored balloons to distraction. Even though I sometimes wonder if my own risk of heart attack from the stress of watching babies bite balloons is worse than the actual choking risk, I still cannot get over the fear and worry every time I see an infant bite a balloon. Makes my blood run cold!

Fortunately, there is a simple elegant solution for us all, from SDK Designs that brings balloons back into play. Fabric balloon slipcovers! These are so clever I do wish I’d thought of it myself. The balloon goes in, you blow it up, you slip the knotted end inside and you have an attractive, covered, and safe balloon for baby to bat at. Genius. It’s a neurotic mommy’s best friend and a great gift as well!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Crescent Maille
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes

An Egg of a Different Color

I imagine the supermarket sales of white eggs soars this time of year. Soar may be a strong word, but I can’t imagine the increase is insignificant in any way. I’ve known even those with their own backyard chicken flocks to lament the need for supporting the corporate, commercial egg giants around Easter. I’ve overheard regular local shoppers, small farm subscribers even, who routinely add a dozen supermarket eggs to their shopping ritual just before the spring holiday, in fact.

Why? Because you can’t dye brown eggs.

Our Grandmothers would be rolling over that last statement. Absolutely rolling with laughter.

Of course you can dye brown eggs. Not only can you, you can do so with all natural dyes. And the result is stunning. Simply stunning. But somewhere, at some time, in the past fifty years or so that fact has been lost on America’s masses. Somewhere, at some time, in the past fifty years or so we’ve been conditioned to believe only the brightest, whitest, factory washed eggs are suitable for the spring-time ritual of dying eggs. And because of it, we’ve been missing out.

So gather your local farm fresh eggs, brown shells and all, boil them up, stack them in a bowl in the center of the table and summons the children — and children at heart. You’re about to make the most beautiful Easter eggs you’ve ever seen.

All you need is a couple of small stock pots, a little water, a splash of vinegar and whatever dying materials you can muster up. Beets make a striking red dye, while blueberries and their juice make the most vibrant blue I’ve ever seen and turmeric — such as the organic ground you can buy on Etsy, pictured above — makes an amazing deep, golden rod yellow.

Tip: Remember, keep it simple. From just the three primary colors your dying options are endless. No need to make countless dyes. Get creative and layer colors instead.

But you needn’t stop there. Onion skins, wine, coffee and tea grounds, and so much more can make excellent dyes. Use your imagination and what you have on hand.

Once you’ve chosen the items you’ll use to make dye. Add each to a small stock pot all its own, one at a time. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Maintain at a boil until dye reaches your desired depth and vibrancy. Strain into a coffee cup and add a splash of vinegar to help the dye adhere to the egg shell.

The dye will be, literally, boiling hot so if children are helping it’s best to let it cool slightly before using. Otherwise, you’re ready to begin.

Tip: Be patient. Natural dyes take a little longer than store-bought kits. The longer you leave the egg in the dye bath, the more intense the final color will be.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Crescent Maille
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Aisles and aisles of tiny boxes