Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sparkling Faux Beret Fascinator Headpiece...

I tell you, making dance costumes is challenging sometimes. I help out with my fourteen year old daughters school troupe costumes and of course, it's nothing like Studio costuming where everyone knows it's going to cost a bomb and takes out a second mortgage on the house to finance it.
Everyone wants something that looks a million dollars for under $50 in school dance troupe. Seriously. And it's certainly the case with accessories for dance costumes, that we usually have to make do with very few of those fifty dollars.
All the big money is thrown at the actual leotard bits, and headpieces are left to be put together by someone clever like me, who has a bit of imagination. I must admit I do love the challenge.
So after a day of research and a brief that said 'French, Cancan, Parisian, Cute, Blingey, Feathery Beret', I came up with this idea. My fabulous and clever blogging friend Flora Fascinata, will be about fainting dead away at this point for she makes far more gorgeous things for people who have more than a dollar to spend. Sorry Flora, Sweetness.
This little fascinator would get anyone through a costume party, dance recital or other occasion where a bit of fluff and nonsense on ones head is considered de rigeur. For any more serious event, I suggest visiting Flora.
So all you need for this is:
Some glittering Eva Foam or poster board coated with spray glitter, craft glitter or that really special German Glitter if you want to go all out.
A CD to use as a template.
A hot glue gun.
A tiny bit of ribbon for the centre.
Three ostrich plumes. Now I had an ostrich plume centrepiece for my Christmas table so I was fortunate to have some lovely plumes on hand. However I wasn't about to use them all on my one dollar fascinator, and my research suggested that three or more plumes were necessary to give my fascinator a bit of oomph. Well that wasn't happening from my centrepiece as my lovely plumes were more pricey than that thanks!
So I used just one from my centrepiece, and bulked it out with...shhhhh... two plumes pilfered from my feather duster....hahahahaha! They were just the right size and length, and added a bit of light and shade to the plumage on my 'beret'.
I simply used the CD as a template to cut out my beret shape, flipped it over and hot glued the plumes and a hairclip to the underside, and then glued my scrap of ribbon in place to give it a little 'French Beret' look.
Here it is modelled by my daughters antique bed doll, Evangeline. Evangeline is not life sized though, so this will look smaller and cuter on the humans for which it is intended.
And there it is. A glittering French beret inspired CanCan fascinator headpiece. Don't tell me it can't be done for under a dollar!
Feathers for my centrepiece sourced on sale from Feathers in Australia.

Real Dance Moms...#2

We do love dance here.
I'm sorry if I gave you the impression otherwise with my post a couple of days ago.
In fact, we loved the dance school where my daughter danced over the last ten years.
They engendered friendships of the type you dream of for your children. Friends who stand by you, who remain your friends for a long time, possibly forever. The Diva has retained friends from her very frantic dance school, and they are gorgeous girls who she is proud to call 'BFF'.
The standard of the costumes and choreography was second to none and the annual concert was a treat indeed. You'd have to travel far to see a more professional show.
And most importantly for a dancer, the grounding she received by training there in her early dance years, is invaluable. It remains obvious now, in her less frantic dance school, that she's been trained well from when she was a tiny tot. There's just those little nuances in her posture, her pointe, her core strength, that some of the other kids lack.
So it's a tough question. Do you send your child to the 'best' dance school when they're young, and wear the expense, including competition, costumes and craziness. Or do you sit tight, and let them find their own way, find their own passion, THEN do the big move to somewhere 'serious'.
I don't know, honestly.
I've seen it work both ways.
I think we've gone about it well, albeit completely unintentionally. Good grounding, move to a less stressful place in order to face the demands of high school, and allowing passion to take over from mere performance.
As Joan commented on my other post, we'd do it over in a heartbeat. I'd probably say 'no' a bit more often, and steal her away for a weekend from time to time. We'd stress less over that missing point or two in her ballet exams, and we'd stand up to the teachers when they were rude. And believe me, they often were.
The times when I should have simply looked them in the eye and said 'EXCUSE ME...what did you just say???'.
Because that's another funny thing about dance.
We let dance teachers say things to our kids that we'd NEVER say ourselves, and in fact if anyone but the dance teacher said them, you'd likely spin your child on their heel, and have them out of their faster than they could say 'pirouette'.
We let dance teachers say abominable things to US and get away with it. In my experience some dance teachers could do with a few lessons in communication to say the very least. They get away with it because of that bubble of untouchable that surrounds them. That mystique that tells us they can do something for our children that we cannot. But it also turns some of them into unpleasant souls, who must lose sleep at night.
I've had a dance teacher scream at me across a packed auditorium at an Eisteddfod. I did exactly what I've mentioned above. I spun my daughter who was dressed and ready to go on stage on her pretty little heel, and walked out of that auditorium with my head held high, and refused to give the teacher the satisfaction of any response whatsoever. I was shaking and my stomach was churning because I knew there'd be no going back. But I'd had enough, and refused to subject my child or myself to any further abuse. My daughter was crying quietly, but my dearest darling girl, held my hand tightly, and walked away proudly beside me and we never looked back...neither figuratively nor literally.
I'll add that this was not our long term dance school. It was one we bounced to due to it's reputation for ballet training. It was closer to home too, and initially appeared small and friendly. Well. The Mums and kids were friendly. That's all I'll say ;-)
It was from this interim studio, that we arrived at our current dance school. And each and every time I collect my girl from dance, and she leaps into the car, smiling, singing, and breathless with news, I know we've done the right thing.
Dance is her passion, her great love, and although she's a straight A student and could possible pursue any career her heart desired, we think dance will remain her passion. I think we've got a Dance teacher on our hands. Perhaps maybe, anyway.
And one thing is for certain. The role models she now has will mean she'll be a darned good one.
Thank the stars.

Have just one beautiful thing in each room....

I'm trying to replicate this stunning lamp.
I can't decide whether to punch holes in the lampshade or paint it on in German Glass Glitter.
Either way, I think it will steal the scene in my living room.
When you have one breathtaking thing in the room, all else fades into insignificance, allowing you to declutter, streamline, and reclaim space for a calm heart.
All you need is one thing.
One beautiful thing.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The curse of a mind that won't sleep...

My brain does not sleep. I sleep. But I'm frequently awakened by a bolt of inspiration for something or other in the middle of the night. I keep a notebook next to my bed for this reason. This has led me to...
....recreate a childhood favourite, Frangipani Pie, which came to me in the middle of the night for no particular reason...(crushed pineapple and coconut cream, thickened with cornflour, poured into a sweet shortcrust shell, and topped with fluffy meringue)...

....make a Peppa Pig cake for my 2year old granddaughter, even when I do not know who Peppa is and have had cause to wonder how a show that runs for five minutes can engender such adulation...(Vanilla buttercake base, Rice Krispie and marshmallow set in a mixing bowl for 'hill', covered in tinted buttercream icing, and decorated with fondant numeral and figures, and bought sugar flowers)...

...work out how to make fondant figures for said cake, even though I've never made a fondant figure in my whole entire life..(fondant kneaded with food colour dispensed by toothpick, fashioned into figures, and painted with food colour pens)...
....make hand dyed muslin roses (although Flora Fascinata may have influenced that particular project...thanks Flora!)...(muslin hand dyed with half strength Petal Pink dye, folded and pleated into a rose)...

...and make a girly gift for The Divas BFF just because she needed cheering up...this is customised perfume, body spray and Sweet Dreams spray all in a pretty box...just because...(distilled water infused with essential oils, beeswax melted with more essential oils, packaged with shredded tissue and tagged with luggage tags)..
The curse is of course, that I'm never going to be good enough at any of these things to make a million bucks out of it.
But hey....it's fun :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Glamour Girl Party...

This lovely lady was the inspiration for my daughters recent 14th birthday party. She thinks it looks just like her. Blessedly, she is mistaken. Perhaps in 10 years Sweetheart.
Nonetheless, Glamour was the name of the game, and a glamorous cake was in order.
An Ombre effect was requested and whilst it ended up being more Gelati Rainbow, it was declared a success.
Colour palette chosen...
...buttercream whipped till fluffy...
...and rotating turntable employed to deliver the finished cake, with topper of a Pin Up Girl in a vintage teacup....
Add some plastic champagne flutes with rose coloured jelly beans, a vintage inspired cupcake and a pretty decoration hinting at a pinup girls swimsuit, and party favours were taken care of.
Finally, some special awards for the birthday girls special friends, designed and executed by the girl herself....complete with blush pink glittered clothes pegs....she's so sweet...
...I guess my baby isn't a baby any more...
Much love...


Real Dance Moms...

I reluctantly watched an episode of Dance Moms with my daughter yesterday. We don't watch much TV and when we choose to do so, reality TV is not on our list of 'must sees'.
I was peripherally aware of this programme, as my daughter had danced since the age of 3 or thereabouts, so of course other Dance families watch the show and talk about it ad nauseaum.
Well, having watched it, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
I see shades of every dance teacher I've had the good fortune or misfortune, depending upon your point of view, to cross paths with, and shadows of many dance students and their parents, including myself and The Diva, in the unfortunate members of this cast.
And I've decided, that it's a bit of a disgraceful world really, this world of competitive dance. It never sat well with me, even when we were involved (we're not any more), and the deathly seriousness with which the coveted trophies of Age Champion or whatever they call the darned things, are pursued just reminds me of that movie Best in Show. In fact I've been known to refer to Dance Eisteddfods as being similar to a Dog Show, but in tutus. Naturally I do not refer to the kids, who are all beautiful, but merely to the format to which these proceedings adhere. The kids aren't named, the schools aren't named unless they win something or place, and no-one apart from the parents knows one little tutu-ed and be-sparkled child from another. And yet, each parent imagines that their child is the one who will become A STAR.
Naturally it suits the dance teachers to foster this belief and any question of whether my child should, from one year to the next, continue to dance is met with a long list of my childs glowing attributes, and promises that 'she'll get her chance to shine' dangled like a carrot in front of ones nose. I bought into it for a long time.
Then I realised that I had other children, frail and ageing parents, friends and siblings and other good folk with whom I wanted to spend my time, and who I thought were more important in my childs life than 'Dance'.
So we gracefully bowed out and my daughter now dances for the sheer love of dance. She doesn't 'compete', and she doesn't lose sleep over whether she'll get that extra two points that will push her up to a Distinction for her ballet exam result. She has an enviable poise and posture to die for, and I think she'll probably dance forever...for the love of it. Not because she's been falsely led to believe that there's a pot at the end of the rainbow in the form of a short lived career as a ballerina.
That woman who runs THAT dance school in the Dance Moms show, has the same attitude of many teachers I've met, in that she believes she is some sort of God with the power to bestow fame and fortune upon those she chooses to tutor. In my experience this is a thinly veiled excuse for Dance teachers to bully both parents and students to adhere to a punishing schedule of rehearsals and classes. In the end, it's not about the kids. It's about THEM. It's about the teachers seeking the fame and fortune that eluded them as young dance graduates and it's about them seeking to retain a shimmer of glory and mystique that oddly surrounds those even tenuously connected to the Entertainment world.
We all want that. We all want to be special. We want our children to be special and we desire a good and comfortable life for them. We want that bit of glamour too, lets be honest.
But for us, the glamour had a bit of soot around the edges, the glitter was a bit too jarringly sparkly sometimes, and frankly, my daughter is already special. The most special daughter in the world because she's ours, and we love her no matter what.
Thank the stars (no pun intended) for our new low key dance studio. The two ladies who run it are in their twilight years. Dance has been their life. They encourage students from the ages of 2 to 102. For them dance has no barriers. They have students who are vision impaired, hearing impaired and students with conditions that are terminal. They exhibit a simple passion and joy for dance that we found lacking for so long in the 'shiny' Dance studios where we were previously involved. I have no doubt that our old teachers smirk behind their hands at the news of where my daughter now dances. It's not shiny. It's not the best. It doesn't have swanky premises.
But we love it because there is joy there.
And isn't that what dance is really about?

Free blossoms at your door....

Honestly, why would you wait around for a man to give you roses.
Even in the sub tropical climate in which I live, I can have roses in abundance if I grow them myself.
This one, in the most gorgeous shade of strawberry milkshake pink, is a miniature rose, with a delicate perfume, and a bud that opens to a multi-petaled old style rose, just like the ones my Nanna used to grow at the front gate. I'd see her pruning them every afternoon, and it never occurred to me until recently, with Nanna gone for many long years, that she wasn't 'pruning', she was waiting for me to return home from school, safe and sound.

Precious memories in a small rosebud.

And roses for free, for as long as I can be bothered to water my little rosebush at my front door.

A five star treat, every single day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rose silhouette present topper....

This is an idea I was playing around with at Christmas. You might remember that post where I had topped gifts with simple shapes cut from glittering Evafoam.
Since then, I've toyed with a few other shapes and ideas, and this one is a firm favourite.
It's a rose silhouette, and each one I've done has been slightly different. Some people 'see' the rose straight away, and others have to squint, but it's there...ha!
If I can remember to photograph them, I'll add more rose silhouettes as time goes by.
I also did this lightning bolt for my nephew which he thought was pretty darned cool...er...wicked...er...sick....I don't know what the terminology is these days. But he liked it anyway.
Basically all you need to create these, is a piece of card or this glittering Evafoam stuff that's now available at the $2 stores, a Stanley knife, and a bit of imagination. If you're stuck, just Google 'silhouette' and the shape you're after, and you'll find lots of food for thought.
Remember too, to put two little buttonhole type slits in the centre of your silhouette, through which to thread your tie. Thin ribbon, yarn, kitchen string or butchers/carpenters twine seems to work best as the garland, as does the plain background of butchers paper, brown paper or any other plain coloured wrap. I love this effect and it has real WOW factor when placed amongst a bunch of other gaudily wrapped gifts.
I would have done a heart shaped one for Valentines Day to share with you, but I left the sheet of red Evafoam on the countertop at the aforementioned $2 store, and a black heart just didn't seem right to me.
I'm now experimenting with a Chanel inspired interlocking black 'C's topper, a reindeer, a teddy bear and a few other little ideas.
So stay tuned.
One sheet of Evafoam costs just $2, and will yield dozens of Present Toppers so it's a fun craft, and really gives your gifts that sense of anticipation that comes with a classily wrapped package.
And it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway as all good Mums would, PLEASE exercise caution when working with Stanley knifes or craft knives. Those little beggars are sharp!
Much love...

Be restrained and it will bring you peace...

Show restraint in word and deed and welcome the peace it brings to your life.
Be restrained in your consumption of food and alcohol and enjoy a more energetic and productive body and mind.
Be restrained in your consumption of goods and enjoy financial prosperity.
Be restrained in your judgement of others and enjoy more enduring and loving relationships.
Be restrained in your home and enjoy the freedom that comes with an absence of clutter.
Be restrained in condemnation and gossip and be blessed with a clear conscience and a happy heart.
Find peace in restraint.
A true luxury in life.

Authored by Mimi...all rights reserved. Please feel free to reproduce but link back to here.

Many thanks.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Life is good...

 Chanel-esque roses...
...poetic sunset..
What more could a girl want?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hand dyed muslin roses...

Hand dye a length of muslin by using half as much dye as recommended on the packet (or even less for a baby pastel shade) in a bucket of hot tap water.
Immerse the muslin for just 20 seconds, remove, and drip dry.
Cut into 1 metre lengths.
Fold strips in half lengthwise.
Roll your rose as per these instructions.
Secure with glue or a couple of stitches.

Use as a hair ornament, wrist corsage, brooch or gift embellishment.


Be sure to check me and all the other lovely bloggers out at Brambleberry Cottages Linky Party...


...more dreamy ideas there!

Hand dyed muslin roses for Valentines Day...

My hand dyed muslin rose. Photographed on a page of French roses in a favourite book :)

I used half a packet of Petal Pink dye in a bucket of hot tap water, and immersed strips of muslin in it for just 20 seconds. I then rinsed them and allowed them to drip dry.

I would have liked them paler and next time will use just a fifth of a packet of dye I think.

The strips are about a metre long by 25 cms wide. I folded one strip in half lengthwise for this rose.
To make the rose, I used one of the many rolling methods online. However what they were saying about 'twisting' the fabric just didn't make sense to me. So just kind of rolled and folded the strip and it came out fine. I'd roll around half the rose, then fold the free end of the strip down to form a corner, and continue rolling to form that pleated effect, if that makes any sense.

More like this method here....


I'll take some photos of my method when I have The Diva Daughter here, and a spare pair of hands...lol!

This made a large one but I'm making all different sizes and gifting them to friends for Valentines Day as brooches, hair clips, and card embellishments :)

Happy Valentines Day everyone!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tell thyself...Thee art Fabulous!

If you don't say it, no-one else will.
A bit o' French Script-ish writing on a hallway mirror to remind daughter (and sometimes, self), that she is fabulous.
Every single day.
No matter what.
A quick peek in the mirror on the way out the door in the morn, is greeted with the message....
Beautiful, my Darling!
Treat yourself to a sweet message on your mirror, and walk out the door each day with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.