Thursday, December 24, 2009

preparations

The last few days have been a real trial for my husband and I, our two children have been suffering from the worst stomach bug I've ever seen. It's been 5 days of many loads of washing, cleaning, not sleeping and sitting holding small children who seem a mere shadow of their former selves. I had a big list of things I had planned to do over that time, but I quickly realised I never would be able to achieve them, especially when the baby came down with it too. But all is not lost, so the gingerbread house didn't get made, the matching PJ's also didn't come off the sewing machine, but we did make it to a local Christmas display with the most amazing display of Santa decorations. We also made it around a few friends and family delivering cakes (some wrapped in recycled cereal bags, washed and sewn together) and other baking done before the children got sick ( so we weren't passing on anything nasty). A special apple cozy was made for Miss E for her stocking, my mum always put a apple in my stocking each Christmas and I have carried on that tradition to my children. I managed to made some snobe unit decorations to place on the tree filled with special little treats.

Other preparations included putting out some food for Santa and his reindeer and sprinkling the lawn with our magical reindeer food I had a very willing helper to help in those preparations. Now our little ones are tucked up in bed and all that is left to do is fill the stockings and pop my weary mummy body into bed and let the magic of Christmas take over.

I wish you and your family a very merry festive season! Meri Kirihimete! (merry Christmas in Maori)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a little deer

I love this time of year, you never know what will greet you at the letterbox. This week we have received many treasures via the letterbox. A dear friend from Germany sent me the wooden candle holder above, it will be treasured for many years to come and I think it will be on display all year round. I love it! I think that I live in the wrong hemisphere as I love the idea of a winter Christmas where you gather around candle light in the dark. Today miss E received a card from a friend with some magic reindeer food in it and it has caused much excitement. I've never seen this little rhyme before and already I'm thinking to next year and the little ones I could send some to. I'm thinking, red gingham little bags tied with some rustic string and the handwritten rhyme. Not to give away the magic recipe to any little ones who might be reading, but I think it's rolled oats and some glitter. Oh how I love the magic of this time of year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

angelic

The last day of preschool for the year came and went last Thursday, which was celebrated with a Christmas concert and shared morning tea. My little angel looked very angelic in her angel costume and was so loved that she wore it for the rest of the day ( be still my heart). The children had practised a number of songs to preform for many weeks and they sung them beautifully especially considering their ages range from just over three to nearly five years. Part of my contribution to the morning tea was the little teddy biscuits above, they were a big hit and not at all difficult to make. Basically any white dough recipe could be adapted with half the mixture made darker with some cocoa powder added, and then the teddy bears are made by rolling different sized balls together. A little bit of melted chocolate make up the faces with M&M minis for the eyes. Had I not been so busy the faces would have perhaps been a little better formed, but they disappeared too quickly for anyone to notice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

looking back

This time last year I was heavily pregnant and all my Christmas presents were bought/made and wrapped by the end of November just in case my baby made and early arrival (I was due on the 31st 0f December). I needn't have worried as my little bundle of joy was 10 days overdue. It was at the beginning of December that I won tickets to visit Lynda Hallinan's garden, what a thrill. Lynda is the editor of the wonderful New Zealand gardener magazine, she's a guru in urban vegetable gardening. She has transformed her garden into a edible oasis, it's an inner city garden on a quarter acre site (with two dwellings) and all sorts of exotic and not so exotic things grow in it. I love the New Zealand Gardener magazine and Lynda's column about her home gardening efforts are an inspiration to me. I may not have as much land as her to put to planting use but a scaled down version is I think achievable, I might not dig up the little lawn that we have however to plant barley or have the room to plant an olive grove.

This year is in stark contrast to last, I am still making presents, not much is wrapped and my to do list before Christmas seems to somehow be growing not shrinking. As a consequence not much blogging has been taking place lately. I had so many ideas to share, they will have to be put into action next year. I do love this time of year however and all the making involved, very little is store bought on my Christmas list ( the Lego on Miss E's list is the big exception) and that's the way I like it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

weekend

I love this time of year, berries ripen, everything looks so green and healthy and it's a lovely feeling to be outside in the warm weather. I managed to make this little mosaic this weekend as a Christmas present (for someone who won't be reading this, so it still will be a surprise) but it seems quite at home in my garden, I might have to make one for myself too. It's made from broken ceramics, the wings were a beautiful vintage bud vase that sadly got broken recently.

We are chemical free as much as possible in our garden and that means that sometimes things don't look so picture perfect as the season progresses, but I'm sure it means that it all tastes better!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

dear santa

I started writing to Santa in 1984 when I was five years old. Over the years I wrote many more letters, each year saving the replies that he sent (thanks NZ post). Miss E has also been writing to Santa and this year all the post offices have special "Santa mail" boxes to post the special letters in. So what was on her list, Lego and a fairy. I was just glad she wasn't asking for a horse! I'm looking forward to her reply from Santa arriving in our letterbox.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

advent


A work in progress, it was the last day of November when I decided to make an advent calendar for miss E. I was given a beautiful felt table runner a few years ago, it never made it to the table but I've had it decorating one of our doors ever since. It seemed like the perfect backdrop for 24 little bags of treats. I made the bags out of some festive looking tea towels, they are without numbers this year but hopefully by the time Christmas rolls around next year I'll have some numbers on them. I popped some natural sweets in them and a few little notes with special treats written down, like making play dough, going to the park, feeding the ducks and other things I know she loves to do. The patience of a three year old is limited and while I wasn't looking a few extra bags got opened up this morning, Christmas is getting closer!

Monday, December 7, 2009

hooked

Be still my heart, I snapped this shot on the way to preschool this morning. That's miss E walking along with crochet hook in hand and some yarn, trying her hand at some crochet like mummy. I'm left handed and she is right, so I'm finding it hard to show her how to crochet. She is very keen to learn so I'll have to find a right handed crocheter to teach her. I taught myself to crochet when I was twenty using a mirror held up to a book to reverse the image, that was 10 years ago now. Now there are some great books out there for left handed people learning to crochet with excellent diagrams. I felt such a connection to crochet once I mastered the basics (and many scarves later!) and I really hope that she will continue to have an interest in the craft. Maybe she has given me the perfect idea for a stocking filler, a special hook and some yarn.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

button up

I got this lovely card in the mail from the Moriah College, thanking me for the buttons I sent for their Holocaust Button Collection that I posted about here. They aren't too far off their aim of 1.5 million buttons which is pretty amazing considering this is a school of only 30 odd pupils. So search those drawers and send some buttons in.

There is still time to enter my little Christmas giveaway, just leave a comment here, I'll draw a name on Friday evening.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

getting cozy

I've been making quite a few of these apple cozys (is the plural of cozy, cozys?) as part of a present for the teachers at miss E's preschool. The pattern is generously provided free at Ravelry and is by Theresa Grant. A quick internet search revealed a knit version here . Although they seem more of a novelty than anything really useful, I've found the one I made myself really handy. I often pop an apple into my handbag when I'm heading out with the kids so I have a healthy snack at hand for them but I had found that it was often a bit battered against all the things in my bag by the time I would get it out for them. Now with my adorable apple cosy I find it in perfect condition! The best part is how fast they are to make, mine are made with a soy and cotton blend and a bamboo and cotton blend yarns finished off with vintage mother of pearl buttons.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

quick gift idea #1

I'd really like to share a few quick gift ideas over the next few weeks, OK that's the aim, the reality could be a bit different, this might be the only one.

Cards can be expensive to buy so most people welcome a gift of pretty cards. This idea is super simple, cut a picture out, could be from a thrifted book, old calendar, magazine page etc and stitch it on to the card using a sewing machine. The stitching really makes the difference, it transforms the card into something a little bit special, rather than just a page from a magazine stuck on.

A few tips;
Put a little bit of double sided sellotape on the back of the picture to stop it moving when you stitch.
A jeans or a denim needle for your machine is a must, easy and inexpensive to buy at your local fabric store.
Adjust the tension on your machine as stitching on card is quite different to stitching fabric, do some testing first.

Tie a few cards together with a pretty ribbon and matching envelopes and you have yourself a quick handmade present that is also a form of recycling! Great for school teachers and other hard to buy for people.

Happy stitching

Monday, November 30, 2009

tis the season!

Christmas is sneaking up very fast and I want to spread some Christmas cheer so I've gathered together a few little decorations for one lucky reader. The little tree fairy is by fibre artist Helmi Thompson, she has a website here . I have bought many of her little fairies over the years to send to friends at Christmas time, I also put some of her pohutukawa fairies on my tree each year for little ones to find. The wooden star is Rimu a native timber from New Zealand and I've also included one of my crocheted sterling silver stars, I still have some available for sale here. There might be a few other little surprises included too. I'll close the entries on Friday the 4th of December hopefully in time to make it to the winner before Christmas.

So just place a comment and you are in to win. I'll draw the name out of a hat old fashion style on Friday evening.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

time out

I'm about to ignore my very loooooooooooooooong to-do list in favour of sitting down with a cuppa and reading this little mag that has just arrived in my letterbox. It's "extra curricular" a limited edition of 500 (all hand numbered on the back, mine one is #64/500), printed on 100% recycled paper using vegetable based inks. A quick flick though makes me think I won't be able to put it down till I've read it all. I see a few names I know including Melissa from Tiny Happy and a few new names too. I have a little advert for my felt shop in there too. A cuppa awaits.....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

sunday sorbet

We have been enjoying this sorbet recipe for quite a few weeks now and I thought it was time to share. I often read recipes for sorbets and other frozen delights and I get to the part where you have to take it out and stir it and that's when I lose interest. That is where this recipe is different, no stirring, yay. So here it is. enjoy

Lemon Sorbet

250g sugar
250ml water
500ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 egg whites

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low temperature and stir until the sugar is dissolved, bring to a gentle simmer and then put aside to cool.
Once cool add the lemon juice (I've made it with less lemon juice and it was still great, just a bit sweeter, it takes a lot of squeezed lemons to get 500ml so it's great for those with a big lemon tree)
Pour mixture into a container with a lid and place in the freezer overnight or for at least 8 hours.
Take out of freezer and put the frozen mixture into a food processor with the egg whites. It should be lighter in colour and increase slightly in volume.
Place back in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
Serve

Perfect on a hot day, lets hope there are more of those to come

Thursday, November 19, 2009

felt

Felt has just put out some gift guides and my little donuts above feature in their 50 fabulous stockings and stocking fillers. There are some great items featured in this list and for sale on Felt, well worth a look especially if like me you are trying for a handmade Christmas this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

angel

It wasn't at the top of my very long "to do" list, but I really wanted to get it out of the way. Miss E has to be dressed as an angel for her end of year preschool concert. I had some white calico and luckily I have a great costume book in the Australian Women's Weekly series of books. The pattern is actually one for a medieval dress but I just loved the sleeves much more than the other more simple tunic (the sleeves don't photograph well with out a little one wearing it, but they do look oh so cute on). Once it was finished it looked too plain so a quick search through my stash of vintage linens and I found some lace and a doily. The pattern is just perfect for an active little one as it's shorter at the front and longer at the back so hopefully there will be nothing to trip on.

Now that I've finished this I feel like making a medieval version too for the dress up box and maybe a spare in case a friend wants to dress up too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

some history

We live on a small town section, it's about 400sqm total, including the long drive as we are behind another house. The house in front is a bungalow built in the early 1900's, our house was built around 10 years ago to put things in perspective. I am always digging up little bits and pieces in the garden that belonged to people who lived here many years ago, mostly broken crockery and glass bottles but I have found a little porcelain doll's foot and arm. Many homes in the early 1900's had a bottle pit, or a little rubbish pit in their back gardens and remnants of that is what I dig up I suppose. I always get a bit excited as I see a little bit of something poking out and I'm nearly always disappointed when I find it's broken. Miss E and I are trying to to dig up a stump of a palm tree that we have cut down to make way for a tyre sandpit, Miss E dug up the lovely and perfect little glass bottle stopper and I dug up, you guessed it, the broken one! She was so excited and has shown everyone her "treasure" I've been saving all the little bits of crockery that I've dug up, I'm hoping to return them to the garden in the form of a garden paver.

I found these two great patterned ceramics, the left one is a little English pot with a plastic cork like lid, the other a German jug, missing a lid. They are on display on my windowsill making me feel like spring is really here and summer just around the corner.

Friday, November 13, 2009

from the garden

I love this time of year, everything seems so green and new and alive. I'm loving taking a short walk to the garden each morning to grab some raspberries to add to miss E's preschool lunchbox. They can't get any fresher than that and more delicious than store bought. There have been brief sightings of ripe strawberries, as they disappear into a certain mouth. Rather miss E eating them than the birds.

"mummy I want to wear a skirt today" it's not something I hear often (my little girl is very much at home in pants and the sandpit) so I thought this was a great opportunity to make some little skirts. So far it's just the one above made from some super soft floral cotton from my vintage swap partner Adrie (thanks again Adrie, it's lovely) and a vintage doily sewn on. Apparently pants still need to be worn underneath skirts but it doesn't matter how she wears it. Luckily for me skirts like that are very quick and easy so I'm sure I can fit a bit more skirt making in over the weekend.

Happy weekend to you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

silver stars

I did a little update at my felt and Etsy shops. I added these sterling silver stars that I mentioned here. Hopefully I'll find time to do a few more updates in the coming weeks.

thomas

On Saturday we took a trip to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, they were having their annual Thomas the tank engine day. They add Thomas faces to all their trains and other machines. It was so fun, I loved seeing all the little "big" Thomas fans decked out in all their Thomas gear, hats, T-shirts and a sea of Thomas backpacks! and all the little ones so excited to see Thomas and all his friends. We rode on the trains, waving to all the animals we passed on the way and really enjoyed ourselves. I spotted the little teddy on the platform strapped to the vintage suitcases, he's made from a stocking. the railway is run mostly by volunteers and we were very impressed by how well the day was run and how many people were there.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

friday finds - a day late

A little raspberry stealing monster came to visit on friday, eating any raspberries that were pink, or even only slightly pink! Rather the little monster than blackbirds.

This week I managed to get a few pair of summer pants sewn for miss E, some vintage sheets and some old clothes were used. Do you think it's too "von Trapp" to have your daughter running about in pants made of vintage sheets? She loves them so it shouldn't matter really I suppose. A friend of a friend was moving house and getting rid of a lot of old clothes. I was asked if I was interested in having a look before they were given to charity. Most were from the early 90's and rather out of date, however they were mostly long dresses and skirts with mountains of fabric just perfect for sewing for little ones with. I've made four pairs of pants so far which should be a good amount for getting dirty in at preschool. I feel quite good recycling fabric in this way, I read such horrible statistics about growing cotton and all the chemicals involved to get the clothes to the stores in the first place, so if we can make these textiles last longer (and buy less in the process) it's got to be good.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

kokeshi love

I have a small collection of Japanese wooden Kokeshi dolls, so when I saw this pattern from a local crochet designer, Lisa from Holland Designs I had to make some for miss E. So far I've only made the one above but I plan to make a few more to pop in her christmas stocking. Lisa also designs lovely baby shoes and slippers too, I've found her patterns are really easy to follow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

saying no


I am very good at saying "no thanks" to plastic bags here there and everywhere. But one place where I don't say no is where I buy my fruit and vegetables and I thought it was about time for that to change. I've seen a lot of different produce bags on the Internet and I was lucky to be given Sewing Green by Betz White as a birthday present and that has a produce bag pattern, but none were really what I was looking for. I wanted something very light weight (who wants to add extra weight to the cost of their fruit and vege?) and see through so my checkout operator could easily identify it's contents .I found a length of pretty net curtain fabric in my stash and that seemed perfect. I used a plastic bag from the fruit shop to make mine the same size and I added a length of ribbon folded in half in the seam near the top to act as a tie. I'd love to say I bought the above apples and oranges in these bags, but I forgot to put the bags in the car! They will definitely get a work out next time though. I made a few extra for a present for my mum for christmas ( she doesn't read this blog so I should be safe) because she likes to say no to plastic bags too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

for treasures

I made these many weeks ago, I didn't want to post about them till they were tested out at the beach. They are treasure bags a project from my favourite book Handmade Home by Amanda Soule. They worked a treat for me and my little shell collector who is actually more of a rock collector. I made mine from a thrifted curtain and I crocheted some shells with nylon fishing line into shell "flowers" and sewed them on front. For the little one I found a set of 4 Kina napkins at a thrift store for 50c and I used one for the front, binding and handles, it seemed an suitable print for a beach bag. I used insect netting from Mitre 10 for the body of the bags, from memory it was around $4 per metre and was enough to make around 3 bags. These will get a good work out this summer, hopefully not too many rocks though! we might have to start a rock garden.