The ladies of HML ask for your forgiveness today. We didn't compile any best of 2010 lists or do any NYE related crafting. We couldn't even be bothered finding a nice 2011 jan desktop calendar for you all to download. It's not that we don't love you and our blog, but a combination of sickness, laziness, summer sluggishness and post Christmas fatigue has finally kicked in. We'll be back on Monday full of vim and vigour!

Happy New Year everyone

Beck and Ramona x



top op shop

I am not a big op shopper. That's not an easy thing for me to admit but there you have it. When Beloved and the Intern decided they wanted to go to every Salvation Army store in a 10 KM radius I was exhausted just thinking about it. I put on a brave face and off we went. It's true what they say, another mans trash is a two year old's treasure. When the Womble spotted this home made wooden train he just started doing laps of the store with it and if anyone came near him he would clutch it to his little chest and exclaim 'my train!'
I figured it was made by someone's dad or grandpa, maybe even an industrious aunt or woodworking cousin. It's not overly complicated and certainly isn't decorative. I may strip it and repaint it. I may not. It cost $5. The Womble thinks it's the greatest thing ever. 

I got a little more excited about this tin toy money box. Maybe they'll make me an op shopper yet. RAMONA
PS If you'd like to buy some plans or kits to make wooden toys yourself this website looks pretty helpful.



This is the last Christmas related post I promise but its so funny I had to share it with you. As a clan, food is what really unites us. We all love to eat and we all love to cook. but its still weird that every single present we gave each other was food related. teapot, cookie cutters,  pie dish, salad servers, cupcake papers,tagine, Elizabeth David, Frankie Sweet Treats, The big Book of BBQ a Moomin mug (thanks Beck!), a wok and some lovely shortbread (thanks Beck again!). We used the dish last night to make a turkey and leek pie - lovely!

The intern isn't a fan of Christmas but is a great baker and decided to spread some classic adolescent cheer with these crazy gingerbread cookies.

Without the use of a proper piping bag and after 5 hours of baking they kind of matched her mood.

The Womble was thrilled to get a chance to cut some stars out with the Intern. As hard as she tried, it doesn't get Christmassier than that! Does anyone out there know how to use a tagine? RAMONA



tourist in your own town

The period between Christmas and New Year is a strange nebulous space where not much happens and not much gets done. Being devoted list makers, the ladies of HML love Jan 1- the resetting of the clock to zero is very satisfying. But in the meantime, with all the small spaces closed for the holidays, its a great time to catch up on what the big institutions are doing and perhaps take a couple of road trips. I've been meaning to see Australian Made:100 years of Australian Fashion  at NGV/A since it started way back in May (!) It finishes on the 23rd Jan so this is a good week to check it out. It covers settlement to 1950 - a period of self definition and adaptation to our new country.

Stretching back further in time is the Lace in Fashion exhibition at NGV/I. Looking at the 16th- 19th century history through this ubiquitous textile will either be really beautiful and brilliant or incredibly dull. I don't see how it can compete with the stunning lace show that was held at the Immigration Museum some years ago.

The Intern and I are planning a couple of road trips over the next couple of weeks so I'll get to see Carole Wilsons beautiful stitched collages at Ballarat Art Gallery .

We are also super keen on the London touring show now on at Bendigo Gallery called The Art of Chess. It sounds terrible i know but with chess sets designed by Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread (above) it will be pretty amazing.

I'm also going to sneak into Melbourne Museum to see their collection of vintage Christmas decorations - because to much Christmas is not enough for me. Sadly friends and family don't share my continued enthusiasm for the season once the season is over so that one I'll be going to alone! RAMONA


And to all a good night

Well I spent last night watching Meet Me in St Louis and potato printing butchers paper and glittering tags. Took  4 hours but the wrapping is done. I can also now reveal what I made for Beck

I had this lovely old tea towel with chefs on it so I covered a big notebook for her to write recipes in and tied up a couple of nice spoons and made a Xmas tree card with the off cuts. Somehow I forgot that the tea towel itself was actually a gift from her to me a couple of years ago - so I've re-gifted! 

I really love painting this papier mache horse for Miss P. She's not a fan of Christmastime so I made the wreath of fabric flowers removable for a more austere steed! I gave him a lovely polish with furniture wax which hardens to a lovely soft sheen and is so much easier than spray varnish. 
Now I just have to work out how to cook a Turkey on a BBQ! RAMONA

Merry Christmas to all our readers
love The ladies of HML




Here we are with only a day and a half left before the big day. Ramona, ever the organised christmas elf has everything done and is now enjoying playing online scrabble and leisurely preparing edibles for Christmas Day lunch. On the other hand I have been stuck between day-job and social functions that have seen me leave virtually all my handmaking until the last minute. All I can say is thank god for that November trip to Japan so at least some peeps already have their OS christmas booty sorted! If you have found yourself in a similar situation to me here are some hot tips for last minute hand made gifts that may save both your bacon your sanity - let's face it do you really want to make a midnight run to your local mega mall . Today I'm handing over a selection of home baked gift ideas, tomorrow will be some last minute customising options... saddle up people! There are two things that couldn't be easier to make in big batches and which are always welcome - gingerbread and shortbread. There are about a million versions of recipes for each but i'll give you two simple ones that ive found foolproof   - over the last few years and let's face it when it comes to baking I am a little simple. I've also included Martha Stewart's spicy nuts (a favourite here at hml) which is excellent for dads, brothers or that distant uncle's KK present (unless of course he has an unknown nut allergy in which case you will win worst present of the year - best to check first)... AND a super easy but super delicious granola recipe which is pretty much an all round winner, especially if you team it up with a jar of home stewed fruit like rhubarb, apricots or plums.

GINGERBREAD - one for everyone

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup or if you like it dark treacle
2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons ground ginger (I like mine very gingery)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sifted

Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Place butter and sugar in electric mixer and beat for 8 minutes or until light & creamy. Add golden syrup or treacle, flour, ginger and bicarb soda and beat until a smooth dough forms. Lightly knead dough & wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. (I like to make my dough the night before and keep it overnight in the fridge) Roll out dough to 5mm thickness and cut into whatever shapes take you're fancy - stars, hearts, reindeer, pineapples...take you're pick.  Place on trays lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden. You can store gingerbread in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks  - not that it will last anywhere near that long because they are very addictive. Depending on the size of your cutter it makes around 24 biscuits. The great thing about this recipe is it's pretty accomodating to customisation - so eel free to embellish with icing if that takes your fancy, or to add some other spices into the mix to individualise the taste. 

SPICY NUTS (OOH ERR)  - one for the lads1 large egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups mixed nuts  - pecans, cashews, walnuts, and almonds all work well

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat egg white until soft and foamy. Combine all remaining ingredients except nuts; whisk into egg white. Stir in pecans until well coated; spread mixture in single layer onto an ungreased baking pan. Bake nuts for 15 minutes, then remove from oven. Using a metal spatula, toss, stir, and separate nuts. Reduce oven to 150 degrees. and return nuts to bake until medium brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; toss, and stir again. Place baking pan on wire rack to cool don't be alarmed if they seem a little limp they'll crisp up as they cool. Break up any that stick together; You can store your spicy nuts in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks - but like most of these recipies it's highly unlikely they'll last much beyond the boxing day test viewing.

VANILLA AND CINNAMON GRANOLA - one for your up-scale hippy mates
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole or slivered almonds
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried blueberries, cherries or cranberries depending on what you've got in the pantry.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container. Delicious.

Clearly there are endless ways you can wrap up your edible presents from glass jars to printed paper cones - personally I like to either fancy up a glass jar with some seasonal ribbon or use a cellophane bag similarly gussied up with a home made gift tag but I encourage you all to go crazy make up your own highly individual delivery system! Yummy food presents are always well recieved and so much better than a last minute dodgy gift voucher or hanky and sock set! BECK




Nearly there everyone! The ladies of HML are having a lovely time of it. Trees are up, decorations are made and there is the distinct smell of gingerbread in the air. And it's so cold we may as well be having a white Christmas! I'm doing my favourite thing of the year which is give the handmade presents to friends and family.

It wouldn't be a HML Christmas without some potato printed napkin sets (the ones that Beck did for me a couple of years ago are my absolute favourites- you can revisit them here). I hope Miss K and Miss S like theirs.

A simple gift is often the best. My friend K - who is a playwright and poet really really loved his little pack of HB pencils. I carved off the tops and wrote his name - old school style - and he was really touched. 12 pencils and a cool tag from Craft Victoria. It's all good. RAMONA



deck the halls

Ok so the ribbon isn't in them yet and they need to be spray varnish but really 12 handpainted  wooden decorations in one evening is not bad even for this Christmas elf.

Sorry about the gender specific colours but the girls are all very girly girls and love pink - as do I. Maybe no apology is necessary then? Every year one or two little ones get added to the list (welcome Wolfgang and Rueben!) and I wonder how many babies 2011 will bring? It's a sweet way to mark the year and has become one of my favourite traditions.  you can see past years decorations here and here  RAMONA



buzz buzz

You'll have to forgive our sporadic posting. One of the problems with our Christmas passion is that our work work is also crazy at this time of year so it can be hard to keep up. Above is a pic of the flowers I made using Beck's beautiful printed fabric that she created at Harvest Textiles.

We presented them to the lovely Donna and Kulja at RRR along with Beck's brilliant gingerbread.

I've been trying to finish up final Christmas orders for flowers, wreathes and reindeer so I can finish all my little projects. Today I'm finishing the decorations for all my small friends - 12 of them this year! I'll post pics of them tomorrow (unless I get some mad stockists calling me with an order for tags or something eek!)

I hope that Max, Silas,Sunday, Rueben, Clancy, Wolfgang, Kye, Alani, Audrey, Georgia, Toma and Finn like them. RAMONA



who listens to the radio!

Well it's that time of year - the last time I'll be on 3RRR to talk up all things in the craftiverse. I will be without my compadre Beck - who manages to squeeze in a 'real' job between doing everything else and is tied to her desk at Craft Victoria. I'll be talking up the wonderful Harvest Textiles and their special Christmas market. If you listen in at 10 am there is an amazing give away for RRR subscribers. You'll note I'm on the poster too - but I've piked due to market making exhaustion post hatch! I'm still going to visit tho as it looks awesome!

I will also be talking a bit about the Fresh exhibition at CV -  the best of the best graduates as hand picked by a committee of craft and design professionals -it's a great show this year and is open right up until Christmas eve.

And my own Christmas mania continues...I know you are all sick of it.2 weeks to go and then we are done people! RAMONA



in print

Ramona and I were approached to talk about handmade Christmas decorations by the Suzanne Robson of the Northcote Leader not too long ago, apparently she's a regular reader of HML and so has been privy, over the years, to the many extremes of Christmas madness we so like to indulge in. Madness like the scheduled 100 day run-up preparing the vast array of handmade gifts for ALL our nearest and dearest, Ramona's now infamous Christmas list which starts Boxing Day, and rivals Santa's, as well as my own particularly crazy hard-assed rule of handmaking new Christmas decorations for the house and tree in different themes each year.  So she was pretty sure that we'd have a hint or two on how to have a 'Crafty Christmas'. I'd actually forgotten about the interview so nearly choked on my coffee this morning in Palomino when I opened the paper and saw us in print! We sound like regular Tonya Todmans. Hilarious!



so much on!

We are really excited about the opening this week of the new Pieces of Eight store/gallery in the city. We are long time fans of director Melanie Katsalidis and her crew. It will be great to see this space finally open! 
300 Russell Place in the big smoke of Melbourne.

It's also no secret that the ladies of the HML have a crush on Megan Herring - director at Handheld gallery. What a weird locale, but what fantastic shows. We really think illustrator Chloe Vallance is top stuff as is jeweller Melissa Cameron  so we are looking forward to seeing their new work. 

And you can catch us at Craft Hatch at the City Library on Saturday - yes the ladies of HML have a stand. We'll be selling our Christmas cards, decorations, wreaths, badges and zines while catching up on all the gossip. Beck and I can only see each other now if we book a stall at a market! So crazy.

ps there is lots on - so more events tomorrow! RAMONA



This week has seen the ladies of HML in a bit of a frenzy. In between work (and more work), getting ready for Craft Hatch next week and juggling the timetables of our two chaotic households we've been trying to finish some of our little gift projects. I've been making these fabric flower pins for a while so to make it more special I painted a box inspired by the carefully chosen fabric.

I tried to match them to the personalities of my friends - both very stylish girls but very different. I hope they like them!

I'm also heading to the coast this Sunday to give this wreath to the loveliest little seaside family we know. But first I have to do an afternoon shift in the Cottage - very exciting!

This is in fact where all the wreath madness started. The very first one I made was this little sweetie for Miss P. It will be nice to spend Saturday afternoon with it. Do you think I'm allowed to bring Christmas music? RAMONA




It's no news to everyone that both ladies of HML absolutely love Christmas. In fact I am a bit of a Christmas bore- I think my new years resolution for 2011 should be to not mention it until October rather than July which is when I start my Christmas plans! Just received a surprise order for 12 wreathes and 24 bunches of fabric flowers so it's all systems go for work - but I prioritised this week and completed our family wreath first.

I've tried to include the womble in as much of the Xmas crafting as possible - he is still a bit bemused by the whole thing but has become an excellent glue and glitter man.

The wreathes I've been making for sale are very sweet hand painted stiffened calico in a pastel and neutral palette. None of that for me - its red and green glittery Christmas fabric all the way!

It was lovely to get it on the door by Dec 1. Our Christmas tree arrived too - but there is work to be done first! Better pull out the Christmas music cd drawer...RAMONA