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.

Monday, 11 March 2019

The Tuesday Afternoon Club. Rebecca's Post.

Last week we had a report from Alison who along with Rebecca founded our Tuesday Afternoon Club with their get togethers to make all their gifts on Tuesdays!  You will find so many ideas in these posts.  This week we have Rebecca's post.  I love the way the girls approached this!  Over to Rebecca...

Motivated by Annabel’s discussions on making gifts through the year so that by Christmas we would have a stash available to give away, two or three years ago Alison and I started getting together on every second Tuesday to create and craft.  Together was more fun, we shared the work and doubled the motivation, and between us we came up with a much bigger range of ideas.  I think last year was our best, so I would love to share what we did and what we plan for this year?
Our first step was to actually go shopping – but not to spend - to research.  We visited some of the top end giftware shops and looked, examined, smelled and considered, seeking products that we could make with our skills and resources and which our recipients would want.  We took notes on the packaging and which scents we liked and what we already knew how to do. 

We also hit the op shops looking for resources – cups to make soy candles in, sheets for fabric and even wrapping materials.  We of course also got on our computers, looking for ideas and tutorials – Pinterest was fantastic for this.  Alison made us a shared Pinterest board to make it easy to share ideas.  
Every two weeks we tackled a new project – soy candles, lotion bars, lip balm, soap and cards, so that by October we each had a cupboard full of goodies to give away, and then we focused on  
presentation – and if I had to say what was the best thing I learned last year in this project, it was how important how the gift looked was when we gave it away.  For instance, I have come to understand that people assign a different value to “homemade” versus “handmade”, and we considered this when we made our labels.  The last few months of the year, our crafty Tuesdays were spent looking at ideas how to wrap our soaps and lotion bars, and how to label our candles etc.  We found a stash of beautiful paper and card that my husband had rescued from being thrown away several years ago, and this made boxes of many kinds, labels, sleeves for soap or sewing items and bags to put them in.  We bought little brooches like Annabel uses, and pretty ribbon – not spending much, but making our gifts look amazing!

I have had so many positive comments from our gifts last year, including several who suggested  
we could go into business – I took that as the ultimate compliment towards our aim of trying to look professional with our product. Also, having had a discussion about how interested he was in environmentally sustainable food packaging on a school trip, I was pleased to be able to give my son’s 62-year-old male teacher a washable sandwich wrap and snack bags – filled with homemade spicy nuts and fudges as an end of year “thank you” present.

It was exciting to see how well received they were and that we were able to give away "Artisan" products that didn't feel or look like "budget" items - yet they were.
As well as gifts we also had a few craft days that were just for us or our families - when our own card stocks were getting low for example.
We also tried a few new things like making cheese together - Alison taught me how to make feta and I taught her to make mozzarella - we must do that again soon.

So what do we have planned for this year?  I am pleased to say we still have lots of ideas. 

After last year’s success, we will be making soap again (I gave away nearly all of mine for Christmas), and we may be brave and try colouring some this year?  I’m also keen to look at making some good stain removing laundry soap?

I would like to try making vanilla essence – found these cute little bottles at an op shop (unused, still with price tags) I am dying to use.

New Zealand is banning single-use plastic bag from the middle of this year – so roll-up shopping bags seem like a good present.  I made some years ago that I use all the time, so we will be making some of these.  Lightweight, convenient, simple to make – and a good way of using some of my fabric stash, of which I have too much.  Some will also be made of shower-proof fabric, so useful for messier items like meat.

The lip balm (pictured above) was a success last year so we will make some again.  We will probably invest in some more of the tubes as they are so convenient to use, and it is nice to have a product with such lovely ingredients in them.

Annabel and other Bluebirds have created some beautiful gift tags, so we will be making some of these.

We have lots of fabric we can use, so as well as the shopping bags, there will be several sewing projects.  One of these is little pot plant bags.  I made some low bags (from the cut-off legs from a pair of jeans!) to fit inside a drawer to store my daughter’s hair ties in, but taller versions with a pot inside would look sweet.  We plan to do cuttings and seedlings of basil, parsley and rosemary, in time for Christmas.

 Also to be sewed are these bread storage bags. They exactly fit one of my breadmaker machine 

loaves, are quick and easy to make, and as Alison suggested, would make great hostess gifts (with or without a loaf of fresh bread).

Garden Pat has posted photos of her lovely soup bowl cozies – Alison made me this one for

Christmas a year ago and I love it, so these are going on our list to make.

On our list also are bowl covers – we have both been playing with different ideas and ways to make them – I have bought some toggles to make some with, which will hopefully make them really adjustable.

We still have plenty of the PUL fabric which we made some snack bags and sandwich wraps with last year, so we will be making more of these.  Great for popping a snack in a bag or pocket and then throw in the washing machine when they get dirty.

We still need to plan some baby presents to make – always nice to have in the cupboard to bring out when it is needed.

So it looks as though we will have lots to keep us busy crafting this year.

Thank you so much Rebecca!  How exciting to have so much year ahead of us!  It is wonderful you and Alison have such a good friendship and you help each other so much.  I think both a deadline and regular dedicated days help with getting so much done.  Also having a buddy to work with is very motivating.  

The Tuesday Afternoon Club can be your buddy and we will all support your efforts to make your gifts and things for the home, set things to good use and use things up.  You can find us over here... 
The Tuesday Afternoon Club.


  1. Wow Rebecca. You really had me nodding and agreeing with you as I read along with you. I have been making soap for many years. A couple of years ago I made some beautiful soaps that I gifted to a few family members. Their response was very luke warm. A few days later we were out shopping and two of those who had been gifted my soap was ooing and ahhing over 'Artisan' soaps. I stopped making things for the extended family and started giving gift cards. Often this was cheaper than the cost of the gift I would have made. Presentation is the key to the difference between 'homemade' and 'handmade'. Thank you for putting into words and making this distinction so clear.

    1. Dear Jane, I hate to say it but your family are unappreciative! Although I know its not everyone and your parents have loved their gifts, for one...
      You soaps are as "artisan" as I have ever seen. You have a real talent for it. With love

    2. Thank you Jane - I think it was a bit of a Eureka moment when we were looking at all these products sold for ridiculous amounts in some fancy shop, and thought "well, we could do that". Lots of research at the shops to see how things were being sold, and then on the computer to find out how to do it! I hope that one day you try again - but maybe find some new recipients...?

  2. Fabulous ideas! There are some great suggestions here and your packaging makes all the difference. I gave a few handmade gifts last Christmas for the first time and they were well received so I am going to do more this year. It was Annabel's encouragement and example that gave me the courage to do it as I had lacked confidence before. Currently I am scouring charity shops for interesting/ pretty tins which I can use as containers for homemade goodies. I love these posts and will try to send my own photos in due course.

    1. Dear Penny, It is a big step and takes some confidence! I completely understand that and have been through the same thing. I am so glad things went over well at Christmas. I love pretty tins! They would make wonderful packaging. I am mad on cellophane bags, they are cheap and look professional and crisp. I am always on the watch out! Also labels... labels make things look really good. I would love to see your work, thanks Penny, love

    2. Well done for having the courage to try! I understand, as there is an extra vulnerability in giving something that you made yourself. I hope you have great success in your charity shop hunt, and look forward to seeing your photos when they arrive.

  3. Thank you Annabel for this post and also Rebecca and Alison for showing us all your wonderful handmade products.

    I like the way you have done a lot of research into handmade products and presentation. It all looks so pretty.

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

  4. Hi Annabel & Rebecca
    Thanks so much for sharing more of your lovely makes and details of the thinking and planning behind them. You are so right Rebecca, packaging and presentation is such an important factor and you girls are acing it!! Cheers, Kelly

    1. Thanks Kelly. I feel we are still learning with our presentation, but we have come a long way in the last year.

  5. Wow, This is a real motivator. It does help to have a designated day to set aside for crafting. I have been on the receiving end of giving a gift and receiving a lukewarm response also. So I pulled back from giving handmade items. I will rethink my presentation next time.
    Thank you Rebecca and Annabel for this post.

    1. Thanks Laurie, I hope you have a chance to look at how you present things and what resources you have to maximise your presentation, to give you more confidence with what you are giving.

  6. Everything is so gorgeous. I want to get home and start digging through my stash. However, right now, a lot of my time is spent helping with the care of my 96 year old mother. I do have a small list of things to make - and the soup cozies are on it. I want to make soup cozies with matching potholders, and jar openers for the family for Christmas. I will crochet a few dishcloths and make hanging towels to go with them. For the most part, I will live vicariously through all of you for awhile longer.

    1. It is a difficult stage of life you are in and I know first hand how much time that caring for aging loved ones takes. I was one of the "sandwich" generation who had an elderly father who lost his mobility and depended on me, while having a teenager, a child in junior school and a pre-schooler! It was not a period for getting much crafting done. I hope you have some time to get a few things that are on your list done - in the meantime, make the most of your time with your mother.

  7. Excellent ideas!! Alot of thought has gone into your gift giving.
    I use Mica powder to colour my soap. Very cheap on ebay.
    What pattern did you use for the cute jeans pot thingy for the hair tie holder?
    Blessings Tanya xxx

    1. Thanks so much Tanya. Will be trying some mica powder I think - would add some extra pizzazz to our soap.
      The tutorial I followed was
      It was very economical as it used the cut off leg bottoms that I used to turn a pair of jeans into shorts - no waste there! And I always have too much fabric for the insides in my stash!

  8. I really want to say thank you for this... Annabel - thank you for inviting us to write for your blog, but even more importantly, thank you for motivating and inspiring us in the first place. We wouldn't have thought to try it if it wasn't for you.
    Thank you also to Alison for hours of fun crafting and lots of chat and laughter. Look what we have achieved together!
    And lastly, thank you to all of the other Bluebirds - old and new, who have shared their stories with Annabel and are sharing their crafts with the Tuesday Afternoon Club. What an amazing group it is!

    1. Dear Rebecca, Thank you so much and thank you for the wonderful post. The group is going so well and it has helped me enormously.
      This morning all I can think about is the trauma you had yesterday. Being separated from the kids in that situation would have been terrifying. I feel really sad. I hope you all can have a very nurturing weekend. I feel so upset and worried. Thinking of you. With love

  9. Hello Annabel, the "miracle spray" from Wendy's abundant life blog gets almost any stain out. Very simple and easy to make. Not to mention cheap !! Your day sounds just wonderful. Finally a break from Autumn heatwave in Sydney. Just terrible ! So I'm glad its over. I'm not a hot weather person . Look forward to reading your next blog. Sonia x

  10. Wow, one thing I really notice from this post is how much effort Alison and Rebecca put into the planning stage of their crafting...they are SERIOUS! I think this has really helped them make things that they know their family will like, helped them keep an eye out for thrift shop items they need when they're out shopping, and also helped to coordinate their afternoons together crafting so that the time they spend together is well organized and productive! Awesome. Thank for sharing all the photos of things you two have made!

    I've only recently started seeing these soup cozies around...can I just ask a question? Are they meant to be kind of like both a hot pad for the table surface and also a way to keep the soup warm longer? Just was wondering what their intended function was, as they are new to me! :)

    Thank you for the post!

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Thanks Jen,
      Excellent question about the soup cozies. I use mine partially as a keeping-it-warm-device but also as a safe way of holding a hot bowl and not burning myself :-)

  11. Thank you, so much, for sharing your gift ideas along with lovely pictures, Rebecca and Alison. It sounds like you are both blessed with an amazing friendship.
    Many blessings to you,

  12. What a beautiful site...I feel so bonded to my other sister crafters and gift giversπŸ˜ŠπŸ’•

    1. What a beautiful sentiment Mydearduane. It's exactly how I feel and could not find words for. Thankyou ❤️

  13. Well what can I add to all these heartfelt comments? I am so appreciative of all that Annabel does and continues to do for us, her fellow Bluebirds, though I do think of you as the Mama Bluebird Annabel!! πŸ’•
    Rebecca, your blog post is brilliant. All your crafts are so well made and beautifully presented. I feel this is perhaps the part many of us need help with. It makes all the difference in recipients seeing our gifts as "handmade, artisan" rather than homemade.
    I would really love to see more of us not only sharing our craft and giftmaking
    on the blog but our presentation and packaging of these as presents. It would certainly up the ante for a lot of us.
    Thankyou again Annabel, Rebecca and Alison for all the treasures and information you share. What beautiful, caring ladies you are. Annabel, you're my hero!! I want to be like you when I grow up!!! πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

  14. Thank you Rebecca for your wonderful post and to Annabel who has so kindly supported and encouraged each and every one of us. Rebecca, I love how you get together regularly, you plan things out, use materials/resources you have and price it all so it fits into the budget. I also love how a lot of time is used on presentation. I am not very good at that! But I am a willing learner. I love what you wrote about homemade versus handmade. It has always astounded me that people will willingly pay big dollars at shops/markets, but when given the same thing at Christmas/birthdays they turn their nose. It is about presentation. I don't doubt you could run a business! So fabulous! Annabel, I am always amazed at your presentation! Lots of love, Bridge P.S. What a beautiful blog to come to...this is such a happy place, thank you, Annabel.

  15. Such beautiful, clever work girls. Well done. Clare

  16. Such beautiful, clever work girls. Well done. Clare


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