Friday, 25 December 2015

My 2015 Christmas and Secret Santa's!

This year I decided to participate in 2 online Secret Santas!

Firstly is the Sew Retro Rose's Lovely Ladies Secret Santa. I believe this one was only open to those of us who have participated in Sew Retro Rose's Sew-Alongs in the past. I was matched with a lady in America, who I sent a few Enid Gilchrist books, a Vintage Dress Pattern, some Australian Animal printed cotton and a few other bits and pieces to. I used Beccie's address as the sender, so she still doesn't know who it was from. Just call me Secret Santa Ninja!

At first I thought this one was my Chronically Vintage Secret Santa, but the lady who sent it contacted me on Instagram to let me know it was the Sew Retro Rose one. The gift I received from this Secret Santa left me speechless. She had put so much thought into my present, I cried a little. Firstly, remember how excited I was to get my first Erstwilder brooch a few weeks ago? Well now, not only do I have my Second one, IT IS A CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Secondly, I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned this on my blog, or even on Facebook, but for some years, I have been searching for Christmas themed fabric with cats on it. There always seems to be plenty of dogs (there was one at Spotlight with dogs and cats, but not just cats) and lately a lot of owls, but I have not been able to find Christmas Cat fabric, at least not any within my budget. Well guess what I have now. Secret Santa, I don't know how you knew, but Thank you! I have already been trying to think of what I am going to make from it for next year's Christmas Outfit.

Now if that wasn't enough, I was also privileged enough to get some great notions as well. 3 cute little black cat buttons, a Cheshire cat button, a vintage cat appliqué and a set of 2 cat eyes and a nose for making a stuffed toy.

But wait, there's more! Turns out my Secret Santa is a Lilyann consultant, and she put together an awesome charm necklace for me. The charms she included are a paw, a cat, a charm that says I love my cat and a sewing machine!

Now at this point I was already feeling incredibly blessed, but then I received my Chronically Vintage Secret Santa gift and it didn't disappoint. The package contained a good length of gorgeous printed cotton, a handful of cream buttons and a Vintage dress pattern from 1959, that while it was not in my size (the sender was apologetic about that) it was in a 38" bust, so is still quite a few sizes larger than I usually grade from, so grading it up will be a breeze. 

I can't wait to have a chance to sew something from all of it (although probably not all in the one dress) I love participating in these Secret Santas, as the presents are always so well thought out. You may remember my Sew Retro Rose Secret Santa gift from last year that I made my first skirt for 2015 from.

I also got a quite a few lovely gifts from my friends and family, the highlight of which would have to be this Vintage Holly Hobbie sewing machine from my dad

I also got a few home journals and vintage patterns, perfume, jewellery, a handbag and much more

We had a fabulous family Christmas feast at our house, with most of the food cooked from scratch by myself. Even the jelly for the trifle was made from scratch with vegetarian jel-it-in, sugar, flavour and food colourings. Due to circumstances out of our control we have our Christmas meal on Christmas eve, and MOST of the family respect that, but each year there is always someone who has to be an inconsiderate ass, but I guess that's every family, right?

So today is being spent doing nothing particularly important and drinking wine (and waiting to go home)

Merry Christmas everyone.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Miss Dixie's picks for a hand-made Christmas - Cooking

Now that we are only a few days out from Christmas it's time for Part 3 in my hand-made Christmas series, Cooking!

One of the absolute classic desserts that are always served at my family's Christmas's, and is a pretty iconic Australian dish and that is Pavlova. I have taken over the responsibility of making the pavlova at Christmas time, and while it can be a tricky thing to get the hang of cooking, its well worth the effort over the store bought ones, and I think I am getting pretty good at it. For something a little simpler, that will still add Christmas cheer to any table, why not make these adorable little Meringue Christmas tree's that have been all over pinterest lately? These adorable ones and their instructions can be found here.

2011's Gingerbread mansion 

Another great Christmas Tradition the world over is Gingerbread, and for the adventurous bakers (or those who bought a kit) a Gingerbread house. For the past few years (excluding last year I think) I have made a Gingerbread house using this template which is based on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Paris! For longevity, I traced all the pieces onto cardboard. When cutting out each piece, it can get pretty fiddly, so I actually like to roll out my dough between 2 pieces of baking paper, then lay my template pieces over that and cut straight down through the paper and dough with a sharp knife. The paper helps keep everything in shape as you transfer it to baking trays (especially some of the long verandah pieces) Any firm Gingerbread Biscuit will do, my favourite is one from a free pamphlet from Coles from about 4 years ago. When making your gingerbread dough, you want a nice firm biscuit, so half the recommended bi-carb soda and make sure each piece is baked thoroughly. I didn't one year and my house collapsed. I told everyone a tornado hit it.

Recipe here

Another Traditional dish for my family is Trifle (seeing a recurring dessert theme here?) I am not certain if this is a big Christmas dish or even that big in Australia for that matter. We always have it, but my Husband thought it was weird. It's a dessert that seems to get mixed reactions, some people love it and some people hate it. There are many variations, but they are all based on the same sort of base ingredients. In our house it was traditionally sliced jam rollies for the first layer, sprinkled with couintreu (I think you're supposed to use sherry) then fruit salad for the second layer (just the regular canned type) third layer is custard (we make it so it has a thicker texture than store bought) then jelly and if there is enough room in the dish (We used to have a great deep flat sided trifle dish until I broke it last year, oops) another layer each of custard, fruit salad, custard and jelly, then topped with whipped cream and a crumbled chocolate flake.

Salted Caramel Fudge from

For a super easy dessert, or you could even give some as a present like I did last year, microwave fudge never fails to impress. While I did post the recipes I used last Christmas, I'll post them here again anyway.

Chocolate fudge:
400g can of condensed milk (395g will do)
100g butter cubed
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
100g dark chocolate finely chopped

Line a 20cm pan with foil.
place condensed milk, butter, sugar and syrup in a 3L glass bowl (I use my trusty pyrex bowl from the op shop) cook uncovered in the microwave for 10-12 mins, stirring every 2 mins, until bubbles appear over the whole surface while cooking (honestly my old microwave needed 8-10 mins, but my new one cooked it in 5) Stir in the finely chopped chocolate until it is melted through, then pour into your tray, and refrigerate. When set, lift out the fudge with the foil and cut into small pieces. One time for valentines day, I even used cookie cutters to cut out fudge hearts.

Cookies and cream fudge:
395g tin of condensed milk
1 cup castor sugar
125g butter
2 tbsp glucose syrup
200g white chocolate chopped
1/2 of a 150g pack of oreos chopped

Follow the same steps as for the chocolate fudge, but after the chocolate is stirred in and melted, add the chopped oreos and mix.

For Strawberry fudge, I used the cookies and cream recipe, but left out the oreos and added some strawberry flavouring and a few drops of pink food colouring

I am terribly behind in my gift making, and haven't had the time to make my family's traditional Christmas Crackers that I have been doing since my Grandma decided it was too much work for her, so I am a bit upset about that, but I am sure I will have a lovely Christmas anyway. I don't know if I will get any other posts up between now and Christmas so I just want to take this chance to wish all my readers a Wonderful Christmas, and thank you for reading my blog. I get warm fuzzies every time I see a new comment!


Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Crochet Garland Tutorial with pattern links

Since posting about my picks for hand-made Christmas Decorations, I have been going crazy with the Christmas Crocheting.

It all started with the Granny Tree pattern from The Royal Sisters, then I looked on Pinterest for an easy crocheted snowflake pattern and found this one by Sarah London

Then came these gorgeous little stars, using this pattern and made from a lovely vintage yarn with a gold metallic thread running through it.

Trying to think of other Christmas-sy motifs to hang on my garland I found this cute pattern for Gingerbread girls and boys. I left the detailing off mine to keep it simple. Apologies for the shocking photo quality (worse than usual) my tablet really isn't good for close up shots.

At this point I really felt like I needed something red to add to the mix, and not wanting to fuss about with anything fiddly like holly berries or candy canes, I chose this lovely simple Granny Square Heart pattern from Ravelry

I strung them together in a repeating pattern, on a crocheted chain. On each end I had 75 chain stitches and between each ornament I used 15 chain stitches. Each ornament was attached using a double crochet. I used a strange silver metallic yarn I purchased discounted at Big W a few years ago that I had no idea what I could use it for, so I am glad I finally found a use for it.

It even looks nice strung up at work. I have only just noticed
I managed to line up the snowflake underneath the Scenic
Tours Christmas brochure with snowflakes on the front, ha!

Each little ornament makes up very quickly, and is a small project I can work on during lunch at work, and even while I was away on a cruise, so is a great use of my time and makes an easy gift for a friend who likes hand-made decor (I have already given 2 in Secret Santas) Plus I have made an extra long one for myself, I'm just not sure where I am going to hang it yet.

I would love to know if anyone else has made a crocheted garland for Christmas (or any other time of year)


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Newcastle's First Pinup Picnic

Back on Sunday the 6th of December, I attended Newcastle's first Pinup Picnic in the Park!

It was a lovely day full of beautiful women (and a few gents), music, competitions and a best dressed parade. I entered the baking competition with Blueberry muffins, dark chocolate Fudge and chocolate Macarons, and I won! My Prize was a stunning Ice Cream fascinator from Gigi's Retro Closet, my very first Erstwilder Brooch and an Ice Cream from the Ice Cream van that was there on the day.

Find this and other photos on my Instagram!

We were lucky enough to have the lovely Warren from Double Take Photographics taking pictures of all the lovely ladies. Hear are quite a few of his shots:

The girls from Heels for Combat Boots

The dedicated organisers Madelynn and Larissa

Hilary Anne from Gigi's Retro Closet with her other half

Me with my Baking Prizes!

Tee Jayne with her Star Wars dress and matching Boba Fett
The following Photos were from the Best Dressed Parade

This girl's shoes and handbag matched and they
were awesome!

I really struggled walking down that slope in those

And some Scene Shots

All the best dressed and Raffle Winners

Miss Vee Dub winner of Best Dressed

I am really looking forward to the girls making this a yearly event as I really enjoyed it. We even discussed other activities we could offer, such as craft lessons. Larissa mentioned that they thought about doing Crochet, and I mentioned that I actually had my Crochet in the car. It was the end of the picnic by this point, but it looks like I might be teaching everyone to make little crocheted Christmas Trees next year (if they want me to) I have been going a little crazy with crochet Christmas Decorations since my post about handmade Christmas Decor, which I will show you all later.