The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Time for a review.

I got a little bit done during the last week. I embroidered two more little tops and I am working on a navy, grey and cream blanket. That is a bigger project but the evenings are cold and once a blanket is a reasonable size it becomes a project and knee rug at the same time!

I am also posting some more pictures of Mum's recent rugs and hats.

It is three years since I started making Christmas gifts in January and worked at it all year. The first year I learned some big lessons!  That year my cupboard filled up and up and in November I was feeling quite smug when I decided to get everything out to have a look at what I had.  As I spread things all over the floor I was amazed at what I had. And how much! I even took photos! There was only one problem. I had enough pink, rose and pretty things for every woman on earth and virtually nothing for men!

The next year I did better. I had a mid year review. Armed with a list of everyone I need a gift for I got everything out and grouped things into gifts. I used large snap lock bags with peoples names on them and made up gifts from what I had. Then I wrote a list of who I had a partial present for and who I still needed to make something for.  That gave me direction for the next months.
So that is where I am up to now. It is almost mid year (already) and time to assess what I have and what I need to do.
It is amazing to do as already I have forgotten things and it starts to come back to me that I have a lot of soap gifts and I know for sure more presents for women than for men.

I know I am not the only one on this, several of you have said how men's gifts are harder.
So next week we are going to have a post just on ideas for gifts for men!

If you have ideas and have had success stories with mens gift then please add them into the comments next week and hopefully between us all we will end up with a massive number of ideas! That will be so helpful.
If you have photos of gifts you have made for a man (we will include teenagers) then please send them in and I will include them in the post.
You can do this via the Facebook page or email me at

So my suggestion is to have a review of what you have so far, sometime in the next month. This gives you the rest of the year to fill in the gaps.

And we will try to come up with lots of ideas for men that are achievable and suit different interests.  I look forward to seeing some of your ideas and hearing your success stories. I just gravitate to making pretty things and if I don't stop and realise it I end up with nothing for the boys.

I hope you are having a great week! Can you believe we are almost half way through the year?
Today I am grocery shopping. I don't need much as I am using things up from the freezer. We have had some creative meals from bits and pieces so that's progress!
See you on Friday! xxx


  1. You have been busy as usual and your gift cupboard must be growing. I love the little embroidered tops, they are so pretty. Your Mum has been busy too.
    Men are hard to make things for but cooking or food gifts are always enjoyed. I have made a coupe of jumpers for men or made something specific that they asked for.
    Looking forward to hearing everyones ideas.
    Hope you are having a great week. Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      Your knitting is so beautiful that jumpers, vests etc would be a beautiful option. I love to do foodie gifts. That is my go to mens gift.
      I hope the moving is going well. When you are settled into your new place life will be easier... moving is a big job! With love

  2. Annabel, I can well imagine you have lots of pink and pretty gifts in your gift cupboard :-) You have been doing some lovely embroidery too and Harper will be the best dressed girl in town...all done frugally of course.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, I do have, I need to get on to the boys gifts and some other colour schemes I know various relatives like. At least I have the next half of the year to go.
      I hope you are having a good week! With love

  3. Love, love, love the little top embroidered with the bullion roses, Annabel. I'm sure it will be a hit, just as I'm sure all those lovely rugs will be much appreciated with winter in full swing.

    Finding/making gifts for men is certainly a challenge. Some things that could be sewn include laptop/tablet covers, toiletry bags (there are plenty of free patterns for "boxy" style patterns on the internet), wine bottle carriers, BBQ apron or travel first aid pouch. Perhaps for a gardener, a bucket containing some potting mix along with seeds and some seed labels, gardening gloves and trowel.My DH used to love receiving anything hand knitted by my DM, unfortunately, I'm a hopeless knitter.

    I look forward to hearing other ideas - men can be so difficult ;-)

    1. Dear Janine, Thank you for the suggestions!
      My Nan knitted everyone jumpers etc and the men loved them. I am not that good either!
      I find men that garden a bit easier...
      I hope your week is going well! With love

  4. Lovely items there in your gift cupboard, Annabel. This isn't an idea for a handmade gift for men, but my friend has always bought gifts for all the males in her family, after Fathers' Day when shops clear stock left. She's got some great buys that way over the years. The same in the 'chuck out' sales after Mothers Day for the females.

    1. Dear Maria, That is a really good idea and way to add to the present cupboard. I had some luck after Valentines Day and Mothers Day. After the event shopping is a really good time to look!
      These kind of things can really help build up present supplies and complete a gift. Many thanks Maria! Love

  5. The stag embroidery! That is absolutely gorgeous. Your mum's crochet is just amazing, what a generous lady. I received some knitwear that had been donated to the hospital when I had my daughter and it is such a lovely feeling, knowing that there are such kind people out there willing to knit for people they don't know.

    Look forward to getting some ideas for the men too!


    1. Dear Jen, That is lovely that people were knitting for the hospital and you were a recipient. And it goes to show how appreciated it is! I hear people say they have no one to knit for, no one who likes handmade gifts... but the world is your oyster really as there are people in need, families that will benefit and be grateful.
      I am building quite a lot of ideas for the boys! With love Annabel xxx

  6. Hi Annabel,
    I'm thinking I might have to do some grub roses on some socks and some singlets for bubs for next summer. I might have to make some lacy bloomers and a little sunbonnet just to finish the outfit off. Oh my goodness. I see one thing and I am off thinking of what else.
    I've been developing a list of different male gifts since I went through my gift cupboard a couple of weeks ago and found there was plenty for the girls and very little for the boys. I'll be able to share this next week and see how many times the same ideas come up.
    I had hoped to have started on making some male gifts but injuries have stopped a lot of what I have planned.
    Your Mum's blankies look so wonderful warm and cosy. It's easy to see where you get your creativity from.
    Life is good.

    1. Dear Jane,
      I was a bit rusty on the grub roses at first but am doing better now. Mum saw little grub roses on sox and grub bumble bees on boy socks! This has given me an idea!
      I am looking forward to your ideas for the boys. Maybe you will have to consider just now planning time and looking up new ideas etc until your hand is better.
      Many thanks Jane, love

  7. Hi Annabel!

    Your embroidered roses are beautifully sweet! Do they have rose oil on them, too?!! Don't little ones look so cute when they smell a flower?!

    I can see what you mean regarding the difficulty surrounding making gifts for men. This means next week's post will be rather interesting!

    Your Mum's work continues to be wonderful. I can only imagine being surrounded by the soft, woolly ocean of her warming, beautiful work. Let her work praise her in the gates!

    I am glad that your latest crochet rug project will help to keep you warm. That's important!

    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel, You knitted hat was a great gift for a man. And the socks. I am working on having a variety for all skills plus different interests... the gardener, the foodie etc.
      Thank you so much for your comment on my roses! With love

  8. Annabel,

    Your embroidery is heavenly. Wow! I love those that bullion stitch? So beautiful.

    Yes, men are tough...especially 1) those that "have" everything and 2) those that live far away and we have to plan for flat and light items and 3) those that are on restricted diets (which doesn't help the "food" gifts).

    I think I will go and have a review, too, today or tomorrow. I have it down on paper, but it will be better to see it all physically and reorganize.

    Love, Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      Thank you! Yes this is bullion stitch also called "grubs" as they look like little grubs!
      Thank you for mentioning the posting issue. The cost of postage is terrible and many of us have friends far away. I will put some thought into that.
      I bet you get surprises when you get everything out of the cupboard, I do. I forget half of it!
      I hope you are having a good week! With love

  9. I'm so impressed! It's amazing to me how quickly and well some of you can knit and crochet. I am still very, very slow at it and as such often prefer to sew to get quicker results!
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh, Thank you! This is something you get quicker at over the years. I like to have something in the evenings watching tv too. With the knitting the european way is twice as fast I have found. But sewing is beautiful! And so many things to make! I love both!
      I hope your floor is going well, I can't wait to see the results! With love

  10. An idea for men is a drawstring shoe bag for travel. I made these from a thick, soft knit fabric. Just make it large enough for their big shoes! I sewed it down the center so that there were two pockets which keeps shoes from rubbing on each other and making scuff marks. Use a thick cord for the drawstring since it is for a man. These turn out so nice and if you want you could even monogram them.

    1. Dear Lana, Thank you for that suggestion. This would be especially good for men who travel a lot for work etc.
      I am slowly accumulating ideas for next week! Thank you very much! With love

  11. Dear Annabel, I agree with everyone that your embroidery is dreamy. Just gorgeous! And your Mums crochet is an achievement in itself. She must just crochet constantly! As for mens gifts, I find that tailoring to their interests is always helpful. I have one son interested in Baseball, one who loves Hip Hop music and one who is a mad Japanese Anime fan, so for them, anything that encompasses those interests is a winner. I think it's easy to forget to tailor the gift in the rush of just trying to find a DIY, and it's always better to give some thought to what they'd actually use. It will be fun to see what everyone comes up with. Thanks for this. Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, Thank you. After a long break I am getting better and yesterday I got glasses so I can see better which will help.
      Mumstill works full time (in an on a farm kind of hours way) so her crochet is evenings but she goes really fast. Also I have seen her crochet or knitting in bed!
      You are right, if we know someones interests or passions we are set! I love anyone who has a collection as I can always watch for something for that too.
      I have fishing and hunting as two themes in my family and food. Thats a help at least.
      Have a lovely weekend Mimi and thank you! Love Annabel.xx

  12. Dear Annabel, I apologise, I am only just getting time and inclination to comment on this post now. as usual your gifts and your mothers gifts of crocheted items are gorgeous. I have an idea for men, the covered notebooks you do. You could do them in masculine colours and personalise them with initials ( alphabet stickers) and you could do them in their fave footy team colours or fave colour or the sky is the limit, you could do a small notebook A medium sized notebook and maybe a few cards for the man to give to his wife/ partner or children for their birthdays . My Dad used to get me to make cards for my mum for Christmas ( on Christmas Eve!!) . I think one year I even got one of my own handmade cards from him!!. For sending gifts to men , monogrammed hankies for older men would be nice . I am looking forward to next weeks post as I have 2 of the most difficult men to buy for / give gifts to ( my Dad and BIL ) .
    Thank you for your words of encouragement Annabel ,your roses are just delightful , your family and friends are very fortunate to have you do all that you do for them.
    Have a good rest of the week . I are done my first decorated notebook and just bought another pack of the medium sized ones today to give them a go, hopefully I will have one of them to show for show and tell as well as the small one I have already shown you.
    With love Barb W.

    1. Dear Barb,
      Masculine covered notebooks is a great idea Barb!
      Well done on your first covered note book too! These will make lovely gifts. I love all things stationary and they really appeal to me.
      The week has flown by! Much love

  13. Barb, I was thinking along the same lines as you!! Since Annabel has already made a head start on hankies, soaps and notebooks, I really thought that a section of men's gifts could be made as a sideline from these ladies' gifts already made!! Consolidation can be a good thing. For men I am thinking of, plain pages in a notebook would be good for sketching pictures and ideas, and for making their own mark on their world! A super large handkerchief would also be useful for tying as a bandana over the face in dusty conditions. Soaps, too, can be styled towards even the toughest men! Men would likely enjoy having a gift as stylish as the ladies'!! We'll have to wait for next week, though, to talk further on this! Can we wait?!!
    I always love to read your comments, Barb!
    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel , thank you for saying that about my comments. I tend to ramble a bit though!!. I love reading your comments to Rachel and how encouraging and inventive you are . I admire your show and tell projects every time, as I do of others too.
      Hankies and soaps would be great for men and it can be different soaps for men to women eg you could buy lemon balm or oatmeal soap for a man and cover it and they can use it nor if you decorate it in their favourite colours etc they may want to display it. Some of Annabels soaps look too good to use!.

      I was thinking too , even the pegs Annabel makes could be painted in footy team colours and favourite colours of men and would be good for young or older men who live alone and could be part of a laundry hamper with cleaning spray, wool wSh , washing powder, knitted or crocheted dish cloths etc.
      Thanks again for the kind words Rachel. Love Barb

  14. Annabel I must find the book I have in storage and sit and learn how to do grub roses - the book, from memory has loads of different ideas on how to use grub stitch - I think there was even a train.

    Shoe bags are great for either males or females especially those who do a bit of travelling. I have a book that pairs shoe bags with shoe stuffers for ladies.

    Barb I have seen the notebooks on a craft stall they wanted $15- per book. Don't know if they sold any. The one I noticed would not have taken much to become masculine - it was covered in cord fabric which was quite bulky on its own.

    I have our daughters boyfriend to think of something for Christmas - I know he likes to surf but other than that I am not sure - will have to put my detective hat on I think.

    Food is always a good gift for our son - recipes from his childhood worked well a number of years ago.

    Have a great weekend everyone, we are expecting another system to come in so I have changed my tickets to the ANZAC experience - if we get a lot of rain we may end up stuck in the city. I now have more time to prep for Monday's craft group.


    1. Dear Lynette, I have only decorated a small notebook so far ( about as wide but not as long as those shopping list pads you buy) . Gift shops and markets sell things for exhoribitant prices . I would probably under price my work thinking it was not good enough!. . The one I did is feminine but yes they can be easily adapted for men . A surf themed or beach themed pack might be good for your daughters boyfriend ,Lynette, maybe a beach bag if you sew and put in it some sunscreen, surf board wax etc. .
      For your son , a hamper of his favourite baked goodies in glass jars or cellophane bags , plus things he would not normally make or buy himself. Hope thT helps. Love Barb

    2. Dear Lynette, I saw weather is coming your way! Sounds like a lot of rain.
      Thank you so much for the info about the free cookbook. I am so pleased with it!
      Hopefully your daughters BF might have a certain food he loves as cooking is a great gift. Detective work is the thing!
      Grub roses and other designs made from them are really easy they just take practice. At first they look like way ward grums going everywhere, its forming them into the shapes you want that I think takes practice. I am doing little bees next as I used to do a lot of those. Also try you tube if you need any other help. Grub roses also worked on knitwear are lovely. I have knitted cotton wash cloths with grub roses in one corner. Gorgeous!
      Have a lovely weekend and many thanks, love

  15. Annabel your embroidery is beautiful, as always!
    Men are harder to find ideas for. A couple of years ago I followed Mimi's flavoured salt idea. I did a couple of flavours, and they last for ages. I know my dad is still working his way through his set, and tells me he loves them.
    Last year I made packs of microwave fudge, marshmallows, and your Nuts and Bolts. All went down very well!!

    1. Dear Fiona, Thank you! I love your ideas and especially the fudge... that is easy, yummy and so many men would love that. Thanks so much! Have a wonderful weekend! With love


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