Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Homespun the year draws to a close...what was achieved!

I commenced 2016, declaring it my year of all things homespun. The word 'homespun' conjures up the beautiful, the warm, the giving, the hugs and love, the learning, and the failing.
This year, I've learned a great deal. I've pushed myself to adopt at least one new skill, or money saving strategy each month. I've shared my successes, and even a few that weren't so successful, with you all. I hope I've encouraged you to, in Aussie lingo, to 'have a go'.
Because really that's what it's all about. Anyone can throw a bit of cash around and find a random pretty. It takes a certain kind of determination and persistence, to craft a skill that's good enough to gift, and even more, to admit that the skill is a work-in-progress, and gift it anyway.
This year, I made Goats milk soap, seen above, and rustic Gingerbread cities, seen below.

I presented my rustic Gingerbread city in an oversized glass jar, white sugar at the bottom to hold my Gingerbread buildings upright, and embellished with a hand stamped and glittered vintage fabric ribbon tied to the top...

I made rainbow tulle bed tutus for my Granddaughters. That was a true labour of love, as I love and detest tulle in equal measure. All's well that ends well though, and they adore their pretty new bedroom décor...

I wish I had the energy to share how I made them, and maybe early next year I will. Suffice to say, if I never make another one, I'll be happy! In short though, if you're really curious, I used a fitted sheet, fitting it to a spare mattress to hold it firm, and pinned multiple layers of tulle that I'd pre-stitched for a rainbow effect to it, in the appropriate spot. I then wrestled the lot through my long suffering sewing machine. Not hard, but fiddly.
That hand stamped and glittered gift tie, made from a vintage sheet (an idea borrowed from Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting), used on my Gingerbread City, found it's way onto our gift wrapping this year. Seen below, I think it was a pretty departure from the traditional...

Cake baking and decorating was taken to another level, cupcakes frosted and decorated with little North Pole signs seen above, and my first attempt at a Christmas Bauble cake, seen below. Now THAT was a challenge! I'll be trying that one again next year, and perhaps not choosing red edible glitter with which to embellish it. My husband commented wryly that it looked like it had been injured...whoops! All the same, you try smoothing buttercream and fondant onto a's jolly hard! So I'm proud as punch! Hahahaha!

A Frozen themed cake was attempted early in the year, for Granddaughter number one, and declared a success, despite it's slightly more 'green rather than blue' hue...
and a Tie Dye batter cake, which was very pretty!
And likewise, the Topsy-Turvy cake, which started off simply looking Drunken, rather than Topsy-Turvy, ended up being the highlight of another special little someones birthday party...
The term 'Jamberry Nails' found it's way into my vocabulary, saving me time and money in the process. These little decorative vinyl stickers are heat activated and bond to the nail, lasting up to three weeks! At $11 for a mani and pedi, and ready to go as soon as they're applied, I'm a fan!

I resurrected an old skill for making bouquets, gifting many a generous floral, feather or greenery pretty over the year. Why not at a third of the price of a florists bouquet? Here, I also discussed how to keep fresh flowers, fresher, for longer....

I painted my own Scandinavian inspired Christmas artwork, and shared how you can do it too...
See how to package for a luxury presentation and feel here.
....treated myself to a 'new from my closet' wardrobe, with similar embellishments of fringe, sequins and give my clothes a more designer feel...
I trained my daughter, now nearly 17, to cut her own hair, and mine, using a Creaclip. Thousands saved, and no more tears because the hairdresser didn't listen when I said 'don't cut off too much, because curly hair bounces up!'.

Earlier in the year, I taught myself how to make Petit Fours and treated many friends to a lavish High Tea at low price. These dainty pink jelly cakes are simply bought sponge cake, cut into diamond shapes, dipped into chilled but not set jelly (jello), and rolled in dessicated coconut. Add a purchased sugar rose and who could imagine a prettier treat?

Our teas were held in our tropical garden, and included scones with home made jam and home made Clotted Cream, and nobody missed being in a high end hotel. Rather it was agreed all round that this was MUCH nicer....

...I finally found time to adopt an Heirloom of which I'm very proud!
Here's another glimpse of the Christmas festivities around these parts yesterday. Can you tell I'm a bit chuffed? ;-)

Candle making was big as a gift here too. Who would have imagined that little scented candles in thrifted sugar bowls could look so adorable?

An impromptu Easter gift yielded some Rosy Chocolate Bark, dusted with edible rose petals and glittering gold sugar...

At the behest of a favourite teacher, I learned how to make textile fibre collage, and managed to embellish several ghostly costumes for a spooky dance routine. This was far too complex a project to share as a tutorial. Rather I confined myself to showing you all some pretty pictures. Maybe next year, when I'm more adventurous. Or rather when I have more time! It's kind of fun!

Pretty romantic images were sourced to decorate gift bags and magnetised pegs for teen friends. At this link, I've provided the same images for you to use for your own project....
I found a way to make my own custom coloured edible sugar glitter, gifting it with cake baking supplies to many baking loving friends...imagine little jars filled with a harlequin rainbow of different coloured sugars. Super cute...
Book weights were made for book loving friends, and declared a hit....
And other friends with new babies, were lavished with hand crocheted sweet things, and home made Wool Wash in which to bathe them...
Fairy Crowns were made from inexpensive buttons...
Crepe paper streamers were hand dyed and stamped to create simple roses and the tutorial for those is here....
Hand made Dreamcatchers became the Gift du Jour amongst the teen daughters friends, and with the teen daughter making these herself, they were a special keepsake...
And new ways to organise all the paraphernalia that affords us the materials with which we work to create all this loveliness, were sourced and put into action. My instructions for these lovely lace organisers is here.
This is just a portion of what I actually generated and gifted or donated this year. I do not photograph every single project, meal, costume, garment or cake I create, nor have I shared everything I've blogged here. However, these are my favourites, and the ones of which I am most proud.
My aim has always been, to simply show you that things do not have to be perfect to be loved...or lovely. And that simply by starting somewhere, anywhere, that you too, can find the skills to create your own store of beautiful gifts, and a special expertise that is welcomed by your friends and family for any occasion. I hope I've accomplished that much.
As an aside, my newly honed skills and projects, have saved my family, and my friends and loved ones, thousands and thousands of dollars this year. A cake can be anything from $100-$600, a large dreamcatcher sells at our local homewares store for $175, designer candles are $60-$120, Goats Milk soaps sell for $7-$17, a jar of Gingerbread? $45 please. Dance costumes...$100 each and I was a big part of creating over 200 this year. Haircuts, manicures, pedicures...well that's over $1000 saved right there. And so it goes. I'll be sharing a grand total next week, and I think like me, you will be amazed at how much it is!
For more ideas and tutorials, please go to my tabs at the top of my page here, marked 'Celebrations and Gifts', 'All Things Homespun', and 'Budgeting and DIY'. I hope you'll find something to inspire you. Is there something you'd like me to share next year?
At the start of 2016, I invited you to join me on my road to a Homespun Year. Did you take up the challenge? What new skills did you adopt? Are they still a work in progress? Or are you perhaps good enough to make some extra pocket money from them?
I'd love to hear from you. Please share your stories.
Happy end of 2016, and all that comes with the celebrating of another year gone by....



  1. Ooh, Mimi, I must have missed the edible glitter post during the year - and guess what my 12yo baker child asked me for this afternoon? Yes, edible glitter! Thanks so much:) What an amazingly productive year you have had. Glorious and beautiful!!

    1. Dear Jo, I hope all is well at your sweet cottage. Thankyou for the comment and Merry Christmas. Have fun with the edible sugar glitter! Mimi xxx

  2. Fiona (ballerina teatowel)December 11, 2016 at 7:19 PM

    goodness Mimi, what a wonderful expose. Very very impressive!!!!!!!!! You never fail to impress. Have a merry Christmas. Fiona

    1. Dear Fiona, I use your ballerina teatowel almost daily. How funny to see you with it in your! I still have a pretty here for you that needs sending. Can you email me at with your address again? Love, Mimi xxx

  3. I'm so inspired by you and others to get with it in 2017. I often think I'm too old at 54 to learn so much, but I don't care! It looks like too much fun to pass up!

    You've certainly done your part to make this world a more beautiful place!

    1. Dear Debbie, thankyou! I hope I have helped inspire you! I am 56, and I've learned all this and more this year. You can do it! Mimi xxx

  4. What a busy lady you have been! I clicked on the one for the book weights to keep your book open and it takes me to the glitter sugar. I was wondering what you used to stuff the weights with? Thanks.

    1. Oops! I've fixed that link. Sorry! And the book weights are filled with rice. Plain old white rice. Boring, but effective! Mimi xxx

  5. Gorgeous work Mimi. The dreamcatchers are something that I am going to have a go at next year. I want to crochet a mandala to go in the ring. My next challenge is to learn to present the gifts as something very special. Merry Christmas.

    1. Jane, I have come to realise that there are two key issues in gifting hand/home made. Firstly, make sure it's appropriate. Don't gift jam to someone who doesn't eat it, or liqueur to a non-drinker. Some people do not like candles or embroidered pretty things, they'd rather have home made cleaning products, or conversely a designer scarf. Tailor the gift. Very important. I made many a mistake before I twigged to that one, and I daresay much of my carefully home made paraphernalia, maybe did not hit the mark. I'm better at that these days though, and careful about what I gift to whom. I even lash out on gifts for those who are just impossible to tailor a home made gift for, and don't feel bad, due to the myriad savings I make elsewhere. And secondly, yes, the packaging. This can be a make or break. Some people love the Rustic look, and others really need to have lavish packaging to feel special. Again, it's about tailoring not just to the recipient, but really looking hard at how the expensive gift lines are packaged in the high end stores, and mimicking that look. Things like a personalised ribbon, or even just a look that is your own signature style can work well too. All the best for 2017, and Merry Christmas to you and your family. Lots of love, Mimi xxx

  6. Mimi, I truly enjoyed this series and was inspired by the creativity and warmth of your projects. Thank you for sharing with us this year! Love, JES

    1. Dear Jes, thankyou my lovely and Merry Christmas. Blessings of the season to you and your family. Love, Mimi xxx

  7. Oh Mimi, I am so inspired by the highlights of your past year. Every one is just beautiful!
    Isn't it fun that we live in the age of digital cameras and can record our projects so easily?
    Your gingerbead house cookies are so cute, and I am heading to their link to learn how you made them.

    1. Dear Rhonda, thankyou for your kind words. I am glad to have inspired you, and hope that you enjoy the gingerbread cookies. Merry Christmas! Mimi xxx

  8. Awesome Mimi! You got a lot of wonderful projects done! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

    1. Thankyou Sherry. It's been a joy to create and to share this year. I'm glad to have got to know you a little better too. Love, Mimi xxx

  9. Thank you for sharing all your creative efforts - please move in next door to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I hope you & the family have a wonderful holiday season and am sending good thoughts from the USA!
    Best wished, "the other" Mimi

    1. Thankyou my friend, the 'other' Mimi. I've enjoyed each and every project and I'm so glad to have made new friends, like yourself, in the process. All the best of the Festive Season to you. Love, Mimi xxx

  10. I've been talking to myself as I read this post...
    "Oh, I remember when Mimi shared that."
    "How cute! I'd forgotten that one."
    "I really do need to try those."
    And so on...

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and thanks for the good fun!

    Blessings, Leigh

    1. How lovely Leigh! You always say something sweet. I hope your Christmas is memorable and happy. Love, Mimi xxx

  11. Hello Mimi, wow I love all of the handmade items you have made. I love that you and your daughter can cut your own hair too! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for sharing at C&C with J&J! :)

    1. Thankyou Julie! I look forward to an even brighter 2017 with you and my new blogging friends. Mimi xxx

  12. You've been busy!! :)

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx