Australian Home Journal Dress

The Australian Home Journal is an item very rare in Op shops these days – but you might find copies in your local Junk Shop. They are also available on Ebay for about $15 – or cheaper of late as Ebay seems to have slowed down in trade of magazines (as a friend of mine who is a reseller has found) – I negotiated recently and saved a few bucks.

I found a few in NZ at my favourite place in the Nelson district – Richmond Antiques Centre. They had a large pile and they were priced around the $10 mark. They also had an amazing stash of reasonably priced Art Deco mirrors – these are so dear in Sydney – often being at least $100 for an interesting Deco shape. I have also bought amazing fabric there in the past too.

Kat from the Sew Weekly in Wellington and I have decided to do our own mini challenge over the summer. Neither of us had made up a dress using one of these patterns – so wish us luck. The pattern pieces are scant on detail and miniscule for tall girls like us.

So which dress is your favourite? I have mine – all will be revealed later in the month! Have a lovely holiday if you get one – Christmas was all upon me before I had time to do a single Christmassy blog – might have to sneak a few on and pretend I wasn’t late again! My cards have not gone out this year either – I blame too much sewing!!


Free Stuff

I was woken up by dozens of screeching Cockatoos today – so Australian.  There is a large flock of them that fly around the bush near our home.  Sometimes they come to our window for food when it’s cold.  We don’t encourage them as they are very destructive to window frames!   We also have a family of magpies which increase by one in number each year.  We happily share our meat scraps with them – they can’t get enough!

Do you like birds?

Cockatoos on our neighbour’s roof.

I just found these gorgeous free downloadable bird gift tags- they are so cute – and did I mention free!!




Yes they are Northern Hemisphere birds – like the Cardinal and the Robin, but also the Sparrow – which we have in Aus!

You can learn more about Becca Kallem’s work here and there are two more sheets of designs there too.

You can download them and print them – how cute would they be on your gifts this year?!

How to look skinnier in photos

Nice to see you!

Today I am sharing my Tropical Dress – made for a party last Saturday night.  While we were at the party we took lots of snaps – some good – some terrible.  My friends and I were talking about how to make your body look good in photos – my  friends are tiny petite things, I feel like some kind of Red Haired New Zealand Giant when I am with them or especially when I see myself in photos with them!  So today I will share my tips learnt about how to hide wide hips and tuckshop lady arms and double chins from your camera!


Note the hips are square on to the camera and the fat arm held too close to the body!


Hips slightly turned away from camera with shoulders still square on to camera – A la Elle MacPherson – she always poses with her hips side on to the camera – shoulders square on – makes her bottom half – tincy!

But look at that double chin!

How cute is Mark in his vintage bark cloth Hawaiian shirt!!  He’s such a good sport.


No I didn’t have a nip and a tuck whilst at the party – my dear friend Zoe – a professional dancer and yoga teacher on my left shared her wisdom.  Here it is: CHIN DOWN !! Genius – those dancers know how to make their bodies look good right?  Kathy on my left is also a dancer and Martina, in her 70’s vintage glory on the right is just a beautiful tiny person.  Why are all my friend so small?


Here I am with my gorgeous friends Dori and Diana – IF you sandwich yourself in between a couple of them – you look half your size!  And chin down too!


If all else fails – just pretend you don’t have a bottom half – ahhh!

So ladies there you have it – you can look like a model too – remember these tips for flattering photos this Christmas and I do hope it’s a lovely one!

The Facts

Fabric: Ripstop (!!!??) Cotton Approx $14.95 per meter – Lincraft
Pattern: Buttrick 6164 top from 1999, and my go to skirt Vintage McCalls 9400 from the 50’s
Notions: drawstring for neckline, thrifted 1930’s sea shell belt buckle $5
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: December 2011
Wear again? Yes, but I may raise the waistline as I think it’s unflattering, and it would be great for the beach!

Total Cost: ~$A51

Right place, right time!

Have you ever gone AWOL on the way to the supermarket?  Late one Saturday arvo recently, I took a wrong turn and saw a badly drawn sign guiding me to a street I had never heard of.  Being an impulsive garage sale junkie – I obediently drove down a long road which then ran out of houses.  Then I was just in the Australian bush – driving, the signs had stopped.    Eventually I was back in suburbia and found the sale in a little Mid-Century Aussie house with a peacock-blue glass window near the front door – how outré and so much nicer than amber glass!

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The sale was run by two sisters, selling off their dear mum’s stuff as she was going into a nursing home.  The eldest sister asked for $4 for over 30 patterns ranging from the 50’s to the 80’s.  I gave her $20 – that made her kids smile – they were getting a cut.

What do you think?  Should have I given them more money?  Or would they have just ended up at the local charity shop and they were lucky to get anything for them so late in the day?

Anyway – I am so grateful and I am sending that special lady (oh so stylish!)  blessings and happiness in her new home.  I am kicking myself for not finding out more about her – and what fabulous events she wore those divine pieces to.  I bet it wasn’t the  buy groceries!!

Divine Carrot Cake

Well hello there!

As promised, here is a recipe!  It’s my favourite cake recipe.  Yes, it’s retro – my Auntie Raewyn’s from the 80’s.  It is genius and better than any cafe will serve you with soggy walnuts and insipid icing – bleuchh!  It’s moist and crunchy – how clever.  This recipe is foolproof and easy!

A chef friend had a great saying “it smells cooked” obvious but true – if you are afraid of baking – don’t be!  It is simple if you;

– heat the oven up to temperature first

– follow the recipe (unless you are one of those gifted intuituve cooks – I am not!)

– once you have mixed the dry ingredients with the wet – do not muck around! get it in the oven – fast!


Turn the oven on!

Use a 25cm square cake tin – grease, then line with baking paper – do this first!

All measurements are Metric.


1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon all spice

2 cups plain flour ( you could use wholemeal flour if you like – it gives a granier texture)

2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups grated carrot (ab0ut 3 carrots)


2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups olive oil

Sift dry ingredients together then mix in grated carrot

Mix the sugar and the eggs together, add the oil

Mix all the ingredients together

Bake 1 hr 20 mins at 325 or 170 degrees.  Test with a skewer to ensure it’s evenly cooked.


Ice the bottom of the cake – to cover the ugliness!

2 tablespoons cream cheese (light is fine)

1/2 cup butter

2 1/2 cups icing sugar sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

and a small (start with a teaspoon) amount of BOILING water to blend

This makes a tonne of icing – could be reduced if you can do maths – I can’t.

I defy you to stop at one piece!

Calendar Girl – Teatowel Apron

Hey!  Normally I don’t do purple, at all, not even a little bit, not even a scarf or a piece of jewellery.  I once bought a 60’s handbag in a very bright shade of purple – it had some great gold hardware on it.  I gave it away when I moved to Australia.  So this week I am doing purple, cos the Sew Weekly told me to.

I searched my stash, no purple.  No purple thread either.  I visited the opshop and nearly bought a particularly hideous ikat scarf/sarong thingy.  But it was so vile i coulden’t bring myself to pay money for it!  So glad I didn’t ‘s cos the Salvos came through!

Isn’t she a beauty!

Teamed her up with the calendar teatowel, and as sewing time was short after last weekend in the Hunter Valley – an apron was the obvious choice.

So below is my recipe for a really easy apron


Take 2 Vintage Aprons

Slice the ugliest one finely

Make a cup of coffee.

Use orange thread for a citrus burst.

Sew the pieces of the straps “in a chain” – this saves time and ingredients (thread).

Mix the strips together, anyway you like.

Hold your threads before you start sewing – saves your threads from getting all tangled up – and hours of work and service man fees!

Enjoy – it’s probably time for another coffee!

The Facts

Fabric: Purple 60’s teatowel $4, Calendar Teatowel $2
Pattern: None
Notions: Just Thread
Time to complete: 1 hour
First worn: December 2011
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$6

I hope to share a real recipe with you next time – it’s a cake – in terms of cooking – I think I am ok at cakes, used to make sweets like toffee and fudge all the time as a kid.  I only cook because it’s good for my family.  If I didn’t have them I think I’d live on my friends Simone’s “Cake Diet” – cake for lunch every day!

School holidays in a week – can’t wait – lotsa sewing planned – how about you?

Who noticed there are no tiles in the kitchen?  That’s because I married a tiler!