USA road trip

USA road trip

Our USA Vacation and Fabric – of course!

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon from the southern rim
Road trip across the USA
Dawn at Monument Valley View Hotel

Recently my husband and I travelled to the United States. We had an amazing time, and didn’t want to come home. We drove across the country from Los Angeles to Miami. We saw some amazing places along the way! We started in Los Angeles but drove to Las Vegas as a starting point and were greeted with some freezing weather! We drove from Las Vegas to Zion National Park but we couldn’t get in because of the icy roads, so we crossed both Zion and Bryce Canyon off the list! So we drove back down to Vegas to stay the night again (lesson learnt – double check weather before we spend 9 hours driving to come back to the same place!) we then went through the south rim of the Grand Canyon and stayed in Monument Valley at Monument Valley View Hotel, which is the only hotel in Monument Valley. At -15 it was a tad fresh but worth it to wake up to this!

Monument valley sunrise
Our view from “the view hotel” monument valley

We then spent a couple of days driving to New Orleans, a city that I cannot speak of high enough! We LOVED it! Everyone is easy going, the city is beautiful and the FOOD is AMAZING! If you are going we visited EAT NOLA on our first night and joked we were going back every night after! thats how good it was! I had the Chicken Fried chicken and loved it, this place is a must do! http://eatnola.com/ We also did both a plantation house and a swamp tour which we loved, but the visit to Louisiana State Museum for the Katrina exhibit was just best thing we did, really makes you appreciate what an amazing city New Orleans is!

Oak Alley
Oak Alley Plantation House

From NOLA we drove to Memphis, we did a Sun studio tour and Graceland! We then drove through Atlanta to stop off at the Coke factory! Because that was a must do! From there we stayed in Savannah! WOW we always wanted to move to the USA and now I know exactly where I would live! I LOVED IT! It is a beautiful, stunning city and we had perfect weather while we were there!

Savannah
Forsyth Park Fountain

While we stayed there we visited a fabric shop called Fabrika, if you are ever in Savannah and need a fabric fix this is the shop for you! It was gorgeous and I picked up some amazing flamingo fabric – which thrilled me even more! I love flamingos! I just now have to decide what to do with it! https://fabrikafinefabrics.wordpress.com/

From Savannah we drove to Orlando and did DisneyWorld which was massive day, we both agreed we are NOT taking our kids here! It was way too big, we got tired and grumpy – so DisneyLand will be our limit! We also did Kennedy Space Station, a bit of a drive out of Orlando but so worth it! And if you were planning to go with kids even more so! It was very interesting and their new exhibit Atlantis was amazing and very very hands on, so great if you had kids, you could spend half a day just there. We then went to Miami to relax for a couple of days! We drove through the everglades and saw lots of gators! And we even saw flamingos! My personal bird of choice! But the our highlight of the trip was seeing the Miami Heat play, I’m not into Basketball at all but the atmosphere there was awesome! It went into overtime and they WON! It was electric!

Everglades
Gators in Everglades National Park
Flamingo
Flamingo Gardens

We spent our Christmas in New York and we even got a tiny bit of snow on boxing day while we were walking through Central Park! We lunched at the Loeb Boathouse, walked the High Line, saw the Knicks play, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, hung out in central park and saw the funniest comedy show we had ever been to! And of course as we were staying in the fabric district, I hit the fabric shops (what a NERD!). I went to MOOD fabrics! http://www.moodfabrics.com/ WOW! I have never been more overwhelmed by a fabric shop, but in a good way! I had nothing in mind but still brought some awesome green printed cotton I thought would make a nice maxi dress. Mood is the shop that the contestants from Project Runway shop at. 3 levels of amazing! A must for a sewer visiting NYC! They also ship international, just in case you are wondering I asked while I was there :-)

USA road trip
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Alley Central Park NYC
The Alley Central Park
View of NYC from Highline
Street view from the Highline

From NYC we flew to Las Vegas to relax and see the New Year in. We saw Maroon 5 on NYE and then celebrated on the strip with 300,000 other people! Packed but it was worth it!

Then soon after we had settled in it was time to come home again! And now it feels like a distant memory, but I have a peanut butter cup addiction to comfort me! Still no white christmas, so I will have to plan another trip! xx

All these amazing photos are my talented husbands works, so please don’t steal them for your own personal use! He does sell prints if you are interested in any of these photos!

How I made this wedding dress – part 1 custom pattern

wedding dress pattern
How to personalise a pattern for your wedding dress

How I made this wedding dress – part 1 custom made wedding dress pattern

So, as most of you know I made my sister in law (to-be at the time) wedding dress. I have shared with you before my 15 top hints on how to make you own wedding dress and you can check that out here – http://wp.me/p3WXOW-3Q

But today I’m going to explain how I went from old 90’s bridesmaids dress pattern to vintage inspired gorgeousness!

Base dress pattern
The pattern I altered to create Jess’s stunning dress

I am not a professional seamstress but this is how I made that pattern become this amazing dress it was on the day! You will need a rough pattern of what you would like your dress to turn out like, but differences can be made such as lowering a back or adding sleeves. I also used cheap cotton to make toile (basic rough draft of dress), traditionally calico is used but I used poly cotton because it was cheaper, even cutting up a sheet would do if you needed to cut costs!
1. First of all measure yourself, you want to make sure you are accurate! Write down your measurements, as you may need them later.
2. Cut out your pattern, cut out your largest size. So for example if you bust is a size 10 but hips a size 14, you will want to at this stage cut out a size 14.
3. Sew together your toile following you pattern instructions. You don’t need to overlock or edge anything, you will be ripping this apart. You also don’t need to hem or finish anything properly so make it easy on yourself and sew it together as basically as you can, at this point leave out putting a zip in or however it will be fastened.
4. Try on the dress, this is the first of many so get use to it!
5. While you have your dress on, this is the time to work out what you would like to change. Hopefully if you measured yourself correctly it should fit or be too big for you. Preferably on the seam lines or at darts, pin fabric in to fit. If the only other person around is the groom, grab yourself a lead pencil and draw on your dress where your seams or darts should be. I find drawing on yourself also makes it easier if you need to make adjustments where your zip should be, instead of trying to get out of a pinned up dress.
6. Repeat 4 & 5 until you are happy with fit of the dress.
7. Try dress on, armed with your pencil, start drawing on any alterations such as lowering neck lines or changing sleeves.
For me I had to add length onto the bottom of the bodice so it was higher cut, I also had to take a lot in under the bodice so it was firm fitting because Jess is teeny tiny (lucky thing!). We also cut the straps down to make them thinner.
8. Once you have drawn on these alterations start cutting down your pattern, make sure you still leave enough for a seam allowance. Once happy pin down all around the neck and sleeves to give yourself the look of how it will be once finished.
9. Try it on again! Just to make sure that your alterations are what you want! Take a photo front and back of dress just in case you need it for reference when sewing.
10. Once again write on each piece of dress, such as back middle etc. What ever as long as you know where it will go on your dress, this is important especially if your intending to put lace over your dress. I also wrote “top” on my dress pieces so once again I knew which was was up, which is important again if your doing a lace overlay.
11. Once your happy, unpick all your hard work! Yep all of it! You now have yourself a custom pattern for your own wedding dress!!!
When starting this process, please don’t try to alter a strapless dress to backless as well, think logically! (ie how are you going to keep up your dress). Also keep in mind your sewing experience. If you can find a pattern close to your dream dress as possible, that will only make your life easier! I buy a lot (some may say too many) of patterns on eBay. You can get bulk patterns that old ladies have cleaned out their cupboards for cheap prices. This is how I found this pattern, and I think it cost me less that $1! For the adventurous ones you could also put together a top of one pattern and a bottom of another, but once again start with the same size pattern and make sure the patterns have similar seem lines where you are going to join the two together. Stay tuned for the next two parts of making your own wedding dress! xx

The other 2 steps are now here

Step 2

Step 3

 

Summer outdoor dining – aqua

Summer outdoor dining - aqua

Summer outdoor dining – aqua by monaandolive featuring tall back dining chairs

Fire pit
frontgate.com

Outdoor stool
allmodern.com

Fake plant
silksareforever.com

Serving tray
grandinroad.com

Oiva toikka
$15 – royaldesign.com

Glass drinkware
$16 – roullierwhite.com

Pols Potten ceramic plate
$16 – heals.co.uk

Flamant accent table
$8,005 – flamantshop.com

The Best potato salad EVER!

easy and delicious potato salad
easy and delicious potato salad
Best potato salad ever

Howdy! How are we all doing in the heat? After coming back from the USA, I was looking forward to the heat and now we are in the heat, hmmm not so much! But the one good thing about this weather it is perfect BBQ weather and that is where we are off to this afternoon! So I was going to share with you my boiled chocolate cake recipe which is amazing! But our oven is still broken so I had to buy a dessert instead, what a shame. I love heating up the whole house when its already in the high 30’s! haha. Anyway instead it is time that I am sharing my World Famous Potato Salad Recipe. World famous may be a stretch but it is by far the most asked for recipe in my repartee! And it is easy peasy, but rather filling! So here it is, it will change your life! This amount makes enough for about 20 people at a BBQ.

Potato Salad Recipe!
2 kg of potato (I use the cheapest ones on the day! But pontiac are good)
4 eggs
1 cup of good quality whole egg mayonnaise
1 cup of sour cream
2 tablespoons seeded mustard
200 grams of diced bacon
juice of a lemon
parsley to garnish

method
1. Put eggs into saucepan and cover with cold water, place onto stove on high, once boiling, continue to boil for 10 mins.
2. Clean potatoes (wash and/or peel depending on potato) cut into
1 1/2 cm pieces, it is a chunky potato salad.
3. Place potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with cold water, place onto the stove to boil, depending on potato size it will need to boil for at least 20 mins.

boiling
boiling eggs and potatoes

4. Once eggs have boiled, drain and place into bowl and place into the fridge.
5. Start making the sauce, mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream (you can use a different quantities but you want the end to yield the same amount eg 3/4 cup mayo and 1 1/4 cup sour cream). Add the lemon juice and mustard, stir until all combined.

sauce
Stir until combined

6. Place diced bacon in frypan and fry until crispy. Drain on paper towel if needed.
7. Once eggs have chilled, start to peel and cut into quarters.
8. Check potatoes, choose a larger piece of potato, pierce with fork – if it is easily inserted they are ready, if not allow to boil longer.
9. Drain potatoes well, place half into bowl that the salad will be served in.
10. Pour in a quarter of the sauce and stir through.
11. Add existing potatoes and sauce, stir until evenly combined.
12. Scatter cut up eggs on top, and finish with bacon! Add parsley if you have some on hand!

Finished potato salad
Finished and ready to eat!

My New Years resolution

So, we are back from our amazing adventure across the USA. But this time I got a little bit home sick, around Christmas. That quickly evaporated when I remembered I was in NYC! Still not a white Christmas, but on Boxing Day we walked around Central Park and it started to snow, so still pretty amazing time of year to be in the big apple! Anyway, while we were nearly the last people to celebrate the new year, so while everyone was putting up their New Years resolutions online I was still not quite thinking about it! But since we have gotten home and I have done 5 of my 10 loads of washing I have started thinking about 2014. 2013 was a great year for us, and I am incredibly blessed with everyone I have in my life, so how could I make 2014 better? Tough question! My only thought is to focus on what I have already and not what I want or need. So not only my relationships but also material possessions, mainly my (some my say -out of control) fabric collection. I am truly my mothers daughter in this respect! Fabric everywhere, sewing room, spare bedroom, under my desk, currently on my bed, everywhere!

Xx

20140107-161118.jpg

And so, 2014 I hope I will be able to sew a lot more, and start to use up some of my fabric. As it is is so easy to get so caught up and focus what you want instead of what your already have! Hopefully without it being something too overwhelming I can at least stick to it this resolution, and if I get off track it is easy to get back on! What was your New Years resolution? Was it as easy to keep as mine?

Easy no-bake cheesecake

no-bake berry cheesecake

This recipe is easy to use and so versatile! you literally can use any fruit/filling that you have on hand to make it your recipe! But make sure you don’t add too much fruit juice (beside lemon) otherwise you will be upsetting the balance for the cake to set. So fruit such as frozen berries or mango pieces are perfect especially if you mix with another texture such as nuts or chocolate pieces!

Ingredients
1 pk of sweet biscuits
100 g butter
1 large lemon
500 g cream cheese
400 ml condensed milk
250 ml thickened cream
250 g frozen raspberries
200 g white chocolate chips

Method
1. Crush biscuits in a food processor or blender
2. Melt butter, and mix into the crushed biscuits, press into spring form tin
3. Put into fridge to set while making filling
4. Beat the cream until forms soft peaks
5. In a separate bowl beat together cream cheese and condensed milk until it becomes thick and smooth
6. Juice lemon and stir through the mixture.
7. Carefully fold through the cream into the cream cheese.
8. Add fruit or other flavours, stir through. I used frozen raspberries which I run under hot water to defrost and separate but also to help drain off any extra juice, which may cause the cake to not set.
9. Pour over crust and allow to set for 3-4 hours.

NB – please do not be tempted to substitute the lemon for lemon juice in the bottle or leave it out completely – the acid in the lemon helps the cheesecake to set.

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Ironing board DIY

DIY Ironing Board

diy washing machine
Perfect size for the top of your washing machine!

How annoying is it when you starting sewing, you come to a point where you have to iron, so you have to go down stairs to iron then back upstairs to sew. The down, up, down, up all day long! My craft room is too small to move the iron board up when I’m sewing. So I made myself a ironing board, it fits nicely on top of my washing machine so perfect for the quick ironing job without lugging out the big ironing board! WIN WIN :-) and perfect for sewing days, it can sit on the floor or on the ground.

What you will need for my DIY iron board
Piece of wood or chipboard cut to your desired size
Wadding, scrap pieces are fine as long as they cover the wood.
Think woven fabric eg drill
Staple gun
Spray glue/ glue gun

DIY Ironing board
Board, glue, wadding and fabric of choice!

1. Cut wadding to size of wood, plus approx an inch over each size, to fold over the edge. Depending on how thick you would like the ironing board. I used two layers. If using scraps just make sure that the wadding is nice and even.

2. Glue wadding to the board.

ironing board
DIY Ironing board

3. Once glue is dry and wadding is stuck, lay fabric out flat. Facing down.

DIY Ironing board
Inch of wadding extra on each side

4. Place the wood, wadding side down onto fabric.
5. Fold fabric up onto wood, turning raw edges under. Staple one side.
6. Repeat to following sides, making sure that the fabric taught. On adjacent sides, turn the fabric in creating a triangle edge.
DIY Ironing board
Fold excess fabric inward to create neat back and edge

7. Fold edges under to create neat appearance on the back, and so the board sits flat.
DIY Ironing Board
Finished back, with staple gun

8. Done! Enjoy not having to get the big iron board out every day!

DIY Ironing board- finished
Finished front

Personalised wedding dress bag (garment bag)

named wedding bag
Wedding dress bag
Personalised wedding dress bag

So as most of you already know, I made my sister in-law to be’s wedding dress. You can read about that here http://monaandolive.com/2013/09/30/tips-for-a-homemade-wedding-dress/ however, I thought it would also be nice for Jess to have her own garment bag (like you get when you buy a dress). But different! And you really shouldn’t store your wedding dress in a plastic type garment bag as it doesn’t let you dress breathe properly, which is especially bad for long term storage. So here is how I made a personalised wedding dress garment bag for the bride. But don’t stop there you could make one for the whole bridal party or your niece who is a dancer or actor! I chose to write “Mrs Tracey” on to Jess’s but after once I had finished I also thought “Happily every after” would of also been cool!

ANYWAY…

here is what you need,

1.5 – 2 metres of cotton fabric, at least 112 cm wide. (Depends on length of dress, I used 1.5 meters, but dress wasn’t pouffy)

a long zip, mine is 61 cm /24inch.

Matching thread

Approx. 20 cms iron on interfacing, (I didn’t have iron-on on hand, but it would of been easier!)

Approx. 20 cms of contrasting fabric (I used wedding dress scraps)

Decoration (I used scrap lace, also from the dress)

Scissors/pins/pencil/tailors chalk

Coat Hanger

Puffy paint (see bottom of post)

1. Wash and iron your bag fabric.

2. I wrote free hand onto the interfacing, but you could print off what you want to say and cut it out and pin that on. Write or pin onto the shiny side of your interfacing. Cut out the interfacing.

3. If you were smart (smarter than me!) and used iron on, iron your word onto the back of you fabric, shiny side down. If you didn’t use iron on, pin down each letter written on side down on to the back of the fabric. Cut each letter out.

Interfacing and fabric
Ready to cut out interfacing from the fabric

4. Lay out your bag fabric with selvedges meeting down the middle. This is the way your bag will go. lay your coat hanger on top of the bag, where it will sit. Use the side to mark approx. where you want the words to start, I marked 40 cm from the top of the fabric.
Bag layout
Lay the fabric out the way to match the way the bag will go

5. Turn fabric over and place flat. Position words and decorations on, move around until you are happy and start pinning down. Pin down only what you are immediately sewing down.
Wording onto the bag
Laying out the words onto the bag

6. Start to applique onto your fabric, once complete, lay flat again and pin on the next section. Continue until complete!

Finished Applique
Applique ready to be tied off

7. Turn back to form bag, with applique on the back. Pin in the zip, down the salvaged edge. Pin zip in as wanted, I pinned mine on the outside of the bag, for an exposed zip and because it was easier!

8. Sew zip in. Tie off threads and cut off.

9. Turn bag inside out with the zip down one side, sew the rest of that side together, from the end of the zip to the bottom of the bag. Unzip the zip!

10. While still inside out, sew together the bottom of the bag. (Check your zipper is down)

Bottom of bag
Sew together bottom of bag

11. Sew together the top of the bag, from one side to the middle, stop 1 cm short of middle, reverse. Do the same in on the other side of the top of the bag, stopping 1 cm short and reverse stitch. This hole is for your coat hanger!

12. Finish the coat hanger hole by either turning out the sides and sewing them down or by sewing bias-binding around the hole.

Zip sewn in
Zip sewn in

13. Turn bag through to the right side (this is why your zipper needed to be unzipped ūüėČ ) and iron.

14. Put your wedding dress in!

Finished bag
Finished bag

15. Wear on your wedding day and live happily ever after with your prince charming!!!

If this all applique seems too hard, you could also use puffy paints to customise your garment bag! I used a darker colour of the bridesmaids dresses to keep in the theme of the wedding but allow the writing to stand out!

If you love this idea, but can’t sew, message me and I can make one for you through my etsy store! xxx

If you’re interested here is the dress that I made for the bride! – http://wp.me/p3WXOW-4k
 

Neutral & natural master bedroom

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