Monday, November 30, 2009

our kind of school

Today, someone walking along the beach said to me, "Shouldn't your boy be in some kind of school?"

I flung my arms out to encompass the wildness of the beach, expanse of sky and bush around us, and Jed busy exploring and replied, "He is!"
And, besides, he is only TWO.

Sigh...i just love these moments alone but together.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

new digs

This is the view from the new digs for my sewing/crafting table. Bush and sea.
Blessed? Why, yes! If only you knew the gutters and squats i have crafted from in previous years....

Until now, i whipped out my sewing machine and basket from under the stairs and set it up on my son's wee table as soon as he was asleep. See here.

THIS just feels so luxurious. The view is a tad distracting (and soothing) and yes, i am aware that's a high class problem. Shelves and more organising of the space is to come as i trawl secondhand shops and the occasional dumpster.

The shirt is a trial one i made from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing. A book i got out from the library and couldn't bear to give back, so i bought a copy. Fabulous. Not sure about this vintage fabric for this shirt but love the pattern. The fabric doesn't fall right for the lines of the shirt and well, yellow, hmmm, yellow and i don't know each other very well. It's all about green these days. I made my first bias binding from scratch for the neck finishing, which was a disaster. Truly. Sigh. Learning, learning and moving on....already scheming the next attempt. I know where i went wrong. Partly faulty equipment, partly operator error.

There is much crafting to come. Mostly sewing. Some to sell, some to gift, with a tote bag from Weekend sewing all cut out and ready to go at the bottom of my pile of sewing. The carrot, anissa-style.
No shortage of ideas here. And, i found a gorgeous vintage thing for 10 cents at a thrift shop. I have used the basic idea for the pattern and have ten in the production line. You'll see....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

gravitating to water

All dreamy and needing bed, but it was too nice a day to go home just yet.
A purposeful walk. Making a beeline for rockpools and splashable places....
....and straight into the water. They found the queen of all rockpools...perfect for a small persons plunge. Or even two small people.

And back at home. We don't usually get bagels (J calls them 'baggles') or cream cheese but we found Moosewood's cookbook for children and a variation of these bagel faces were in it and Jed took a fancy to them. He cracked up laughing when we put them on the table and much fun was had throughout the meals proceedings. The book is great, she does seperate pages for recipe instructions in picture form especially for children. How great is that!?

Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson- Pretend Soup: a cookbook for preschoolers and up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

critters keeping it real

We human critters can get a tad us-centric, me included. So, i love it when nature crashes into my orbit. Like the night when i lived in the French Pyrenees and i couldn’t get to sleep for all the rustling and moving round some critter was doing in the dark. Presuming it was one of the kittens, i turned on the light only to see that an enormous toad had managed to climb up, and was sitting, front and centre on my altar. My neighbour, who used to live in that house (it dated back to 1670 something), swears it had been living in my garden for eighty years.

Or in the summer, when i’d go to water my pots outside the frontdoor and the plant would be on the ground and there’d be the toad buried in the moist soil up to his neck, waiting for a free rainfall.
Anyway, this wee corner of the world is no different.
Here’s a few of our critters from the past week.

Biggest one i've since i've been back in NZ. Came in from the bush one night, right above the toilet...(i peed outside that night)

We called it a leaf slug. In that same window.

Jed and i were sitting in the first of the morning sun on the steps to the garden. He picked up a hollow stick and broke it. A very stunned looking gecko fell out and promptly fled, leaving us his tail to marvel at. So cool they can do that. It must've wriggled for half an hour after its owner abandoned it. Jed's face was priceless.

We have a fabulous animal encylocpaedia and an insect book out from the library, i’m learning as Jed does. There are wonders all around us, if only we can stop long enough to notice....
Who knew stick insects can drop a leg if something grabs onto it? And that they grow another? Saw one extricate itself from a spider’s web today.
Pretty wild, that Nature.

Friday, November 13, 2009

healing salve - and how to make one

I love making an annual batch of spring salve.

A herbalist trained by old women in Eastern Europe who learnt from their mama’s, who learnt from their mama’s, salvemaking is part of how i celebrate the seasons and the healing powers of plants.

Magic salve is wonderful as a night time regenerative moisteriser, on any sort of skin irritation (chickweed, plantain and calendula sooth upset skin), encourages fast and complete healing of ‘owies’ (comfrey and her allantoin at work), as a lip balm, to ease the callouses i have on my knees and feet from so much playing with jed on the floor and it works wonders on the occasional flare of excema.

It smells divine. Green magical goodness of the comfrey, calendula, chickweed and plantain peeks through the sweetness of bio beeswax, and lavender, rose, benzoin and pine essential oils add their aroma and healing powers. The benzoin acts as a natural preservative.

Store in glass jars away from direct sunlight or heat and the healing powers of summer are yours in a jar for a year or more. Certainly beats paying ridiculous prices for a tiny pot at the organics shop and you know exactly what’s in it and it is all the more effective when you pick the plants yourself.

Here's how to do it yourself. No precise measurements in sight, because thats how i learnt, and well, thats how i am. It’s easy! No pharmaceutical company in sight and your skin will thank you for it. Try trading friends for the plants you don't have in your garden or growing wild near you. Or to identify the plants if you aren't that way inclined. All the plants i have used are all fairly international and commonly found.

To make Anissa’s magic salve:
You need:

One litre of good quality olive oil
Three bars of beeswax
Freshly picked herbs – i use comfrey, plantain, chickweed and calendula flowers. Pack a large mixing bowl full as a guideline. Handpick each leaf/flower and check for bugs and disease. Pick early in the day before the oils have dissipated with the sun but after the dew is dried. You need them to be dry.
Essential oils (optional)
Glass or porcelain oven proof dish.
Stainless steel pot
Stainless steel spoon for stirring.

Chop the plants into smaller pieces and put them in a oven proof dish. Pour olive oil over them until barely covered. Set in a very low temp oven for at least three hours and let sit overnight (or even a day or two) to make sure the qualities from the plants have transferred and are carried in the olive oil.

Sterilise your clean pots (wide mouthed ones) ready to receive your finished product.
Drain the olive oil into a stainless steel pot. Push the plant matter gently to expel all the oil but not hard enough to disintegrate it and sully the oil. You should have a lovely planty-green coloured oil. You can smell all the healing goodness in there! Sometimes i bottle some of this oil as massage oil.

Heat your healing oil at a very low heat. It’s important never to overheat the oil as this will destroy it and many of the healing qualities of the plants now held in the oil. Chop your beeswax into smaller pieces and stir in. Add it in separate batches and after each, test to see if the salve will set to the firmness you want by dropping tiny bits onto your cleaned and cooled (pop it in the fridge for a bit) oven proof dish. Test with your finger. Add more rather than less.

When you have your desired consistency, add a teaspoon of benzoin stir well and wait for your salve to cool down before you add 5-10 drops each of your essential oils. Then, pour your salve into your glass pots or jars, leaving the lids off until they cool completely. If they’re for gifts i like to use calendula petals to make a flower on the top of the salve.

Et voila!

Monday, November 9, 2009

GrowMama at large

My gorgeous nephew in his GrowMama bib.

There are a few GrowMama bibs up on Trademe at the moment (just for a laugh, not really the right place for them, but hey, it has been said i’ll try anything once. Not true. But, there are a few bibs, trousers and a groovy retro look single duvet cover and pillowcase listed on trademe at the moment).
Hopefully (and yes, shamefully i recall having said this before), i’ll have my etsy shop stocked up over the next few days. All you handmade and vintageloving people: If you haven’t been, browsed, been bemused, amused and blessed by its brilliance by it yet, go see it now.

GrowMama bibs at Let’s go Retro. 717 Swanson Rd, by the wonderful Simonne and SO worth a visit. Girls tunic tops in vintage fabric also stocked there.
So, three places to buy Growmama...four, if you are local and can make it to the kitchen table.

My latest retro sheet rummaged for in a secondhand shop. Keep your eyes peeled to see what beauties will come out of this fabric...tunic tops, bibs and a sundress?

Next blog post? I just potted up this years healing salve....mmmm green deliciousness in a jar for all your family healing needs. I'll post pics and a tutorial. See you then.

Friday, November 6, 2009

learning again, and again

Loving that its lighter later. Time for a good frolic and explore at the beach in the evenings after supper. We are so blessed to live here. Exploring. Tide out. Rockpools. Anenomes, little fish, crabs, critons, bugs, sea snails, different shellfish, patterns in the sand. Running, tumbling, and racing the wind.

The perfect balance to spending the morning in town. Running wild on the beach.

'Look mama, come see, come see what i found'

A seaweed tree.

I learn again and again that if i am present in the now, all my lists of things to do, orders pending, plans of business beginning, my complaints of never having enough time, and my resulting feeling of anxiety melt away. They only exist if i dream them into existence. Oh yeah. So easy to forget. Jed, upon observing me this morning, ' hey mama, you need a good cry?' So wise at 2 years old.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

my new baby

There she is...
TA DAaaaaaa!
I sold my brother for a more trusty workhorse and this is she. A Bernina 900 Nova. I worked hard to get this machine. My every 'spare' moment was sewing or sleeping the last few months and this is the proud result.
Ain't she sexy? I love that it's compact but oh so sturdy and check out the storage arrangement for the feet, bobbins and tools. Sigh. The sewing table extension fits neatly into the back section of the cover and whole cover lifts on and off easily. I keep opening it just to gaze and sigh contentedly. Sad? True!

As is my custom, the first sewing project when trying out a new machine, was for me. Well, actually, I have tweaked that rule (what are rules if not fluid and negotiable to stay alive and be respected? ...ask any child) to say, the first project on a 'new' machine must for for the household, ie not sold.
Jed refuses my help in cleaning him up at mealtimes and has been using a series of grotty old facecloths that have been in service for way too long and needed to be relegated to the ragpile. So...first project: NAPKINS.
I love beautiful things in everyday use. Hardwearing, soft to touch, easy to make and even easier to wash and dry. They had their first outing at tonight's dinner. Big success. I'll be making more.
I figure we can use them as placemats, or in lieu of plates, and to wrap picnic bits and pieces as well as napkins. Yep, i see more napkins in our future.

And the Nova? Sews like a dream.
Happy. List of things to do a mile long, nursing a severe case of fatigue and having trouble following a thought through to any sort of conclusion, but happy.