Happy Halloween!

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Instagram is my new addiction, I am seriously hooked! My insta-feed has been full of Halloween crafts lately, which have been inspiring me. Unfortunately I didn't have any time for a big project (seriously buried under a mountain of custom orders, lots and lots of late nights here - yawn). So I decided to start a new tradition and make a few super-quick Halloween-y ornaments. I am planning to add to these every year, until I have enough to decorate a tree (and by tree I mean a collection of bare black twiggy branches).

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These are really quick to make, took me 15-20 minutes each so they were all done and ready to hang in an hour. I mean seriously, how cute is that baby ghost?!

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Pattern credits and links as follows: the baby ghost is by A Morning Cup of Jo, Jack Skellington is by Little Things Blogged, and the witch hat is by Lion Brand Yarn. Enjoy!

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Alice turns two

Two years ago this cheeky girl was just a few days old, and had already won our hearts. Look at her now, baby no more! (Every now and again that fact hits me when I'm looking at her photos or when she does something really really grown up).

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If you were to ask her what her favourite food in the world is, she would reply 'those'. 'Those' is her word for mini marshmallows, the little ones from the baking aisle you put in muffins and rocky road.

"Mummy! Mummy!" (pointing at the pantry door)
"What do you want Alice?"
"Those." (cheeky grin)

So I simply had to make her a cake covered with 'those' for her birthday this year. Who knows what she will be into next year, but this year, it's marshmallows. Now, I am no Nigella in the baking department, and it's been a while since I made a cake. Luckily for me decorating a cake with marshmallows is HIGHLY forgiving. I am quite pleased with the overall effect (don't look too closely!).

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And then a couple of weeks ago I was browsing in my local Target and I spotted this chiffon dress. At the risk of being disowned by all my dress-maker friends in the hand-made world, I put it in my basket. It was too good a match with her (at that stage, planned) cake not to.

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We had a little family celebration just amongst ourselves. As predicted, she LOVED the cake, and was picking marshmallows off it before it even hit the table.

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As presents she got a doll, a little pram, and a straw hat. All of which were huge hits. She was also going to get a little wooden bed for her doll and a patchwork mini-quilt and pillow, but I couldn't finish them in time (sorry, my love!). She will get them for Christmas.
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My gorgeous little girl, my sweet Alice - happy second birthday darling. Thank you for choosing us as your family, and for all the laughter and joy you have brought into our life.

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Spring | Scrappy bookmark

I blinked and spring is here in South Australia! One day we had the heating on and were still sleeping in flannel PJs, the next the kids were running around in summer clothes and sandals! The change in seasons has come upon us very quickly this year. The kids are absolutely loving it though. They are inspecting the leaves on our local vines daily (did I mention we live in wine country?) - we are all looking forward to this year's grape crop.

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I have made some lifestyle changes recently, and one of these was to get back into book reading. I have been a book worm ever since I learnt to read. My husband is the same, we have a big library in our house, floor to ceiling bookcases, brimming. We are quite old-fashioned I suppose, no e-books or Kindles here, we both like the solid feel of a book and the pleasure of turning real pages.  Before I had kids I would read at least one novel a week, often two (thanks somewhat to the loooong commutes to work in London, where I used to live before moving to Australia). But since having kids and setting up Down Grapevine Lane I get so little spare time, and when I get into bed at night I am so tired I just collapse in a heap. Without books something big was missing in my life. And then I discovered Good Reads a few weeks ago - I must have been living under a rock not to have come across this website before! It's a social networking site for book reviews and discussions, where readers can upload their libraries by scanning them and give them star ratings and so much more. It re-ignited my love of books, so I picked up a book I have been looking forward to reading for a long time - Tracy Chevalier's latest novel: The Last Runaway.


The Last Runaway is set in Ohio in 1850 and is about the story of an English Quaker girl who emigrates to America and her experiences of adjusting to life in her new country, and how she gets involved with the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves from the south escape to freedom. The best part of the book is - it has quilts in it! The heroine is a quilter, and there are wonderful comparisons of English patchwork style of quilting versus Ohio applique quilting - quite fascinating. I get the impression that Tracy Chevalier must be into sewing as one of her previous books, The Lady and the Unicorn, featured tapestries.

When I had a spare hour last week I sat down and quickly sewed up a zakka-style scrappy bookmark, to make my book-reading experience doubly enjoyable. I took some pictures during the making of it so a tutorial will follow soon.

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In other news, the cover of Homespun magazine's September 2013 issue featuring my umbrella and gumboots embroidery has been nominated for best magazine cover of 2014 in The Maggies awards! I couldn't believe it, what an honour for me! Voting closes in 10 days, I would be eternally grateful if you could click on the link and cast your vote for Homespun, it's a quick check box voting system.


And last but not least, I am finally on Instagram. I don't know why it took me so long to sign up, I love it already. Follow me there on @downgrapevinelane for more of an inside scoop and behind the scenes pictures of what goes on at Down Grapevine Lane headquarters.


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