Monday, 23 February 2015

Plum Compote: A Summer Drink

As a child, I lived in a house with a flower garden at the front and some fruit trees at the back. It was not far from the sea and even closer to a river. In hot summer days, we would have some breeze due to the location and the trees, and it was such a treat to just settle with a book or a craft project in hand on the sofa on the balcony. I never thought summer was too sticky or unbearable at such a place as a child. It was one of my favourites to spend a good chunk of my free time on the balcony. I remember of reading without a break for hours and hours at a time. It was just a pure joy.

It is also a part of my sweet summer memories to have my mum's homemade compotes. The fruit that she used for the compotes was always organically grown, mostly homegrown fruit. It is the taste and the heart warming memories attached that made compotes always a favourable drink in my life. Not that I knew how to make it, well, up until a month ago.

Approximately a month ago, we had some heatwave here in Melbourne. Coincidentally, it was also the time when I was given a bagful of green plums that I did not know what to do with. They were too soft in texture for my liking and the taste was too savoury for me to handle. Since the rest of the family was not really enthusiastic about them either, I simply had a challenge in hand: somehow utilise them without wasting any.

It didn't take long for me to have the urge to try my hand at compote making. I simply searched for recipes online and then adjusted them according to my expectations and taste buds. All I used were 4 ingredients: water, plums, raw sugar and a cinnamon stick.

I don't quite enjoy sweet drinks and prefer my children to have as little exposure to added sugar in their food/drink intake as possible. Therefore, I simply reduced the amount of sugar suggested in recipes and added some cinnamon stick to it while boiling. I don't have a particular recipe to suggest but I strongly recommend you to try making it if you have not yet done so. It is easy, hassle free and a healthier option to most other summer drinks.

Homemade summer drink recipe

Recently, on the way back from an outing at a beautiful little country town, Woodend (VIC), we spotted a great organic farm, where we were lucky enough to get some totally mouth watering berries and some sugar plums. The plums were Mr. Hubby's idea and he didn't believe us when we said that we were unlikely to have much of it. He bought a generous amount just to notice soon after that he too couldn't handle it as they were more savoury than he thought they would be. Therefore, we ended up with plenty of plums to find a way not to waste. Luckily, the weather warmed up again after some coldish weeks and they too ended up turning into some much loved compote. Everyone in the family happily consumed it. No waste, much taste!

sugar plum compote drink

Easy summer drink: compote

Plum compote recipe

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

From Mama to Bubba Series (3)

Pattern made from an old dress

The dress in the first picture below was originally worn by my brother's daughter, then my sister's daughter and more than a few months ago, we were given it so that my daughter could wear it too. I assume it is at least about 15 years old, if not older. It is a special piece for many of us in the family. 

However, since I was given the dress, I just could not bring myself to put it on my little one, as I've always felt a bit anxious about ruining it. So, instead, I convinced my sister to take some photos of Miss Junior in the dress for keepsake and also make another dress for her using the same pattern. When I say the same pattern, don't get me wrong, we had no pattern, up until my sister and I got together a few weeks ago and after some hours' work, frustration and endless laughter, we came up with one. 

We simply laid down the original dress on some large pieces of paper, traced lines, then put the paper pieces together just to see that it looked awkward, and did it all over again, possibly a few times! Well, lets not get too much into detail, the idea is that eventually, our pattern making worked and worked wonderfully!

A special girls dress

We upcycled an unused and unwanted shirt for the top and used a new leftover fabric for the skirt. My little one was not quite enthusiastic about the dress most likely because of its colour, until, she got to choose the applique. We showed her some options but as soon as she saw the blue and yellow flower with a smiley face, she knew exactly what she wanted. She is often pretty decisive like this and I love it about her, well, most of the time. 

A twirly dress for a girlDIY dress

I am truly in love with the dress at this stage. It suits Miss Junior's personality and body type so well. She loves dancing in it and cannot stop watching her twirling skirt in the mirror as she turns around.

Handmade dress

We altered the original pattern a little and made the skirt a bit longer by adding an inch to each skirt piece to suit her better, used a ribbon at the back instead of fabric, used three buttons only and sewed up the rest of the dress until the last skirt piece and used an iron on applique on top as opposed to using pockets. Thanks to this project, I tried my hand at making a buttonhole on my sewing machine for the first time too and it was not as scary as I thought it was.

Handmade dress for a preschooler

If you would like to see my previous 'From Mama to Bubba Series' posts, click here for No 1 and here for No 2.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Gone Knotty Again

Remember my French knot addiction (click here for a tutorial on French knots) ? Well, not much has changed since then and I am still totally addicted to it.

French knot tutorial
I had made the half of the bib with the French knots on it a while back not knowing how to finish it until recently, then one day, I found this gorgeous red fabric that compliments it well in my ever-growing stash. Once I saw it, I knew just what to do and this is what I came up with.

French knot - Scotty dog

Almost every time I make a new design, I keep staring at it for a while and then walk off. After a while, I look at it again and see whether I am still happy with it. (I actually keep doing it for some time.) Every time I look at this design since I made it, I still LOVE it. I guess it is a good sign that it is ready to be shared with you as well, right? I find it to be unique, cute, stylish, fresh, elegantly colourful, and yet, still babyish. The yellow ribbon on the side adds a character to it too. Do you agree?

Unique boy bib by MADE BY Y

Friday, 16 January 2015

DID YOU KNOW ...? (78)

The first graded sewing pattern was invented by a tailor named Ebeneezer Butterick in Sterling, Massachusets in1863.

The idea or the articulation of the need came from his wife, Ellen, who was the main person to sew their son's clothes at home. She told her husband, Ebeneezer, how much easier it would be to sew for her son if she had a pattern correctly sized for him and Ebeneezer came up with the concept of graded patterns as at the time, patterns came in one size only. He also was the first person to use tissue paper in pattern making too.

Friday, 9 January 2015

RECIPE: Bite Sized Chocolate Coconut Balls

This is something that reminds of my childhood and my early days in the kitchen. It is something from the past for me and has a warm feel attached to it. As far as I can remember, this is one of the first and mostly tried recipes of mine since much younger. It is a recipe that has not failed me, not even for once. I am sure you can find several recipes around for this delicious treat but I can guarantee you that this is one of the easiest and most successful ones ever!

chocolate coconut ball recipe


250gr finely crushed arrowroot biscuits
250gr melted margarin or butter (I use butter)
3 tblsp shredded coconut
1 cup caster sugar
2-3 tblsp cocoa
2-3 tblsp finely chopped hazelnut or walnut (optional)

homemade dessert recipe

Place butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix well. Add biscuits, cocoa and the nuts and keep mixing until it forms a dough that sticks together when squeezed. Make balls in a desired size using this mixture and then roll through coconut. Place the chocolate balls in the fridge at least for half an hour and serve when nice and cool.

bite sized coconut ball recipe


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

While Waving Goodbye

It is that time of the year once again that we are able to say goodbye to a year and welcome a brand new one. Most likely, we have been who we are throughout the year and we will be who we have been tomorrow regardless of the change in the year. However, we can take this end of year/beginning of a new year as an opportunity to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses, have more organised thoughts and plans for our personal and professional future and take a breath and share our best wishes with our families, friends, and even strangers. It is also a reminder that regardless of what one has gone through, life continues on and will keep bringing on more and more... hopefully including many cherished moments.

Warm wishes to you all and may 2015 bring a healthier, happier, more peaceful and fulfilling year than ever for us all regardless of our gender, and cultural, racial, lingual, socio-economical, educational or religious backgrounds.

Focusing on the positives, here are some of the many beautiful experiences life has brought me, my family and my business, MADE BY Y, in 2014.

The picture below (featuring one of my MADE BY Y bibs) belongs to a father-to-be. When I was sent this photo all the way from Italy, it just made my day! The comment said that both the mother and father-to-be LOVED their MADE BY Y set but were a bit unsure whether the sizing was right. As much as it looks good on him, I think they are right that the bib is a tad small for him, don't you think? Joke aside, wishing this excited dad-to-be, his partner and everyone else that is expecting a safe and easy arrival of their child in 2015.
A MADE BY Y bib on a dad-to-be

As for the pictures below, I took them this morning and they are from a cactus plant that we have in our front yard. We have had the plant for over 9 years and this year is the second time it has ever flowered. It is pure beauty! We have noticed also that they always open in the evenings or at nights and stay open for one and a half to two days. Before it flowers, the plant starts giving a dark round fury/hairy bud around the side on top, then that bit starts growing longer for some days and then it turns into this unique flower in about 5-6 days or so. These three marvellous flowers opened up all in one day yesterday and we woke up to them today! Before this lot, we had four more but all on different days and one after the other, never together.

unique flower

unique cactus flower

beauty in nature

Stay safe and happy New Year!

Friday, 19 December 2014


By Jane Blanchard

There's no other place like home for a child in his or her own bedroom. Children have great personalities and wild imaginations; having an incredibly designed room that goes with a certain theme or fantasy they harbor makes for fantastic childhood memories. Designing a fantastic children's room doesn't have to be brain-wrecking and difficult. Simply take a look at ideas, cartoons and imaginary games your child is obsessed with, and build from there.

Here's a collection of 7 incredible kids' rooms we've found. Draw inspiration from these, pair up with your kid and create a gorgeous daily memory that will last a lifetime.

1. Princess-Themed Bedrooms

Every little girl dreams of being a princess, right? Make your precious jewel the princess of your kingdom with this fairytale-themed bedroom design. You can easily bring this to life in a number of ways. Paint shades in jewel and pastel pinks, blues, purples and other shades can be purchased at your local home improvement store. Getting the bed can be as simple as shopping specialty stores. Rooms to Go, Rilane and even eBay have Cinderella style beds for your little princess.

2. Pirate-Themed Bedrooms

Ahoy matey! Allow your little rascal to live out his dreams of sailing the seven seas in this pirate-themed bedroom. Spruce your design with skull and crossbones wall art, pirate flag carpets, treasure chest toy boxes and other d├ęcor. You can even find pirate-style bedding, beds and decor on Etsy, eBay and cull ideas from Pinterest.

3. Space Theme Bedrooms

Let your child experience the wonders of being on the moon or in outer space with this themed bedroom. Space themes are for the child whose big dreams reach beyond our mere little atmosphere. Design a solar system on the wall, infuse the bedding with galactic star-studded sheets and comforters. Rockets or spaceships can be painted on wall murals or added with appliques. Let your imagination run wild by cultivating ideas on Etsy, Pinterest and Pottery Barn Kids.

4. Under the Sea or Mermaid Theme Bedrooms

As a child, my friends and I were obsessed with The Little Mermaid. We dreamed of trading in our land legs for sea legs and being completely immersed in a sparkly underwater world of fun and excitement. You can design a beautiful underwater or mermaid themed bedroom using a number of methods. You can cultivate mermaid theme ideas directly from the movie, complete with Ariel, or you can switch things up and make it completely unique.

5. Jungle and Safari Themed Bedrooms

Let your child be king of the jungle with a cute, safari themed bedroom. This is a really fun theme to use, as the options can be as tame or as wild as you'd like them to be. There are an abundance of jungle-themed items for a child's nursery too. Beso also has some super cute finds.

6. Super Hero Bedroom

OMG! Aren't these rooms the coolest ever? Who doesn't love the idea of being a superhero? If you want a superhero bedroom for your child, the choices here are pretty endless. Batman. Superman. Spiderman. Hulk. Wonder Woman.

7. Sports Themed Bedrooms

Encourage your child's desire to become the world's next greatest athlete. There are sports of all kinds. You can mix and match decor and design themes in conjunction with sports they participate in, or centralize the design around their favorite professional sports team.

For more kids room ideas and inspiration visit Modernize!