Monday, 8 April 2013

Postage Stamps & Caffeine

The realities of stepping away from a full time and full on corporate gig to be at home with a newborn are starting to hit home on the financial stakes. The costs of raising a child in an urban centre like Sydney is a challenge and I have taken all the advice I can of other families that have endured it and come out richer for it thanks to their creativity and ability to seek out pastimes that whet the appetite.

Sleepless nights, bedraggled appearance and neverending list of things that need to be done has meant that I have to find pleasure in little things that can give me short bursts or daily doses of bliss during “me time”.  Even though my daughter’s delicious giggles and smiles are immeasurable on the “bliss” stakes.

IMG_20120825_133112My weekly budget these days extends to coffees (other than what I consume at home). Coffee dates these days aren’t as much about dining out as seeking out adult company and different scenery to occupy an active baby.





The second item is postage stamps. Odd as it sounds in this day and age, I am experiencing considerable joy penning a note to loved ones whether it is a birthday, condolence or a simple ‘thank you’. In a few short weeks (11 to be exact) I have sent more mail than I would have in probably 2 years! And it has given me so much joy which I hope in turn it brings a fraction of that to the recipients.  I wear a smile on my face every time I seal an envelope and affix a stamp. I get the same buzz when I put them in the mail box or drop them at the post office.

I was inspired to take this up thanks to this beautiful TED talk which I still think is a marvellous gesture but it made me question “why not love letters to those you love?”.  While I am not exactly sending love letters, they are symbolic of “I remember you and honour you”. 

Please watch the talk, your heart might thank you for it.

What simple act brings you a daily dose of bliss? Especially when you have had a life change?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Baby Bouquets– Make a Gorgeous Gift

Given I recently shared what I gave as a baby gift (Cupcake Onesies) I thought I would have a couple of posts for things that I received quite recently for my new arrival. Basically items that I have loved, found really useful or unique that you might like for gift ideas.
One commercial baby gift specialist makes these gorgeous “baby bouquets” in lovely gift sets. Perfect for corporate gifts etc. I was so intrigued by the “bouquet” itself that I was curious to work out how to do it myself and thought I would share it with you. The photos amuse me largely because they were taken in ‘reverse’ order  - the unwrapping, which I found just as useful to learn how to do it!
This is the gorgeous gender neutral gift box that also featured a little bouquet of singlets and socks.
2012-12-17 14.05.16
What you Need:
  • Selection of newborn clothing – singlets, socks, bibs, onesies
  • Floral wire
  • Artificial foliage – flat leaves
  • Floral tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Tissues
  • Coloured tissue paper or wrapping paper
Fold the item of clothing into a narrow flat rectangle by folding in all sides.
Take approx 30 cm length of floral wire, and fold in half.
Take the wire (folded end) and place at one end of the rectangle fabric. Take the rectangle - start by folding down a corner to form a point at the end over the wire then start rolling around this point to form a rosebud shape.
Hold in place with a rubber band
Wind folded tissue tightly around the base of the bud, leaving enough fabric above the tissue to resemble a flower and enough to tissue at the bottom to elongate the bud and form the head of the stalk.
Tightly wrap sticky tape around the tissue paper & garment.
Spread 2-3 artificial leaves around the base of the bud and squeeze the metal stalks down the base of the bud so there are no protrusions. Sticky tape around the bud tightly.

Taking floral tape, wind from the tissue line all the way to the base, making sure as little of the base is visible at all.  Keep winding all the way down the base of the bud and down the length of the floral wire to create a uniform green layer and form your stalk. Might not be achieveable with the single length of tape but try to give it a go, the tape wraps itself nicely and you can add a piece without it being noticeable. Wrap the tape up and over the end of the wire as well to cover up the end. That should be your first bud complete.
Repeat for as many flowers you desire having in the bouquet and whatever clothing items you wish to display this way.
Once completed place all buds in a tight bunch, making sure the head of each bud will sit nicely in a bouquet. Then wind all the stalks very tightly around each other in one direction to form one thicker stalk. Tape the bud heads tightly together with sticky tape. Wrap the flowers with coloured tissue paper or wrapping paper.  Admire your work before preparing it for giving!
Thankfully all these items are fairly forgiving and there is no permanent damage to the materials if you make a mistake so practice to your heart’s desire!

The author is unaware of any intellectual property rights to either the method these items are made or the idea itself and does intend to harm the commercial interests of the businesses that trade in this product.

*Updated assembly instructions 9/4/2013

Monday, 1 April 2013

Cupcake Onesies – Easy Presentation Idea for a Cute Baby Gift

A friend of mine was expecting a baby a few weeks before mine and I had been crocheting a pram blanket for her and wanted to add a little something to make it extra special. I came across a great little presentation idea that turned simple little onesies and socks into gorgeous little “cupcakes”.

Detailed instructions and assembly pictures can be found here. These folks enjoyed making these as much as I did and I really like the idea of presenting them in cupcake boxes – very cute. Next time!

Sourcing onesies – without a doubt we’re still paying too much for baby clothes in Australia and individual onesies are still fairly pricey. As you need a few to make up a set of these(4-6 ideally)  I ended up sourcing them from Amazon, as I was also after lots of plain white ones for painting at my baby shower (that never eventuated but I did end up with plenty of handy white onesies to put under rompers and dresses etc). You can get decent US brands like Carters, Oshkosh etc and I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cotton in the Disney onesies I bought.   Amazon had a selection of ‘bulk’ options and sets and now that we’re on a budget facing a single income in Sydney, even with paying a premium on freight meant it was cheaper sourcing them this way. I also grabbed the socks from there and now wish I had bought more for my own girl.

If you’re even the occasional baker I am sure you have cupcake wrappers/sleeves in the pantry. You will need to secure the “cupcake” in order for it to hold its shape with the standard fan variety of wrappers. I used the deeper cup style as they are much firmer and as you will see below I didn’t need to fasten any aspect of the “cupcake” to make it sit.

For convenience I prewashed everything (and popped a little note in the gift letting Mum know) so if she wished she could go ahead and start using them straight away.  I did a bit of a ‘mod’ and avoided using tape to brace the onesie – instead I used the ankle of the sock to fold up and over itself and the suit to hold everything in place in the “cupcake”.  You may see in one of the photos below that I allowed the edge of one to come up a little higher to add a layered effect to the top of the “cupcake”. It fit snugly into the wrapper that way. Because the gift was being posted I couldn’t really trust that heat from sorting machinery wouldn’t cause the tape to leave residue on the clothes.

The “cupcakes” accompanied a pram blanket I had crocheted in a cotton blend (summer baby) and I thought it made for a lovely gift to welcome a new baby (she had a gorgeous wee girl!).