Sunday, October 31, 2010

up time and down time

It's been a beautifully crowded ten days. 'Up time'. Going, doing, seeing. Sunshine. Friends. Long weekend. Family. Deadlines. Two markets. Much crafting. (More on that shortly)Two special birthdays. Adventures galore. The first swim of the season. Did i mention the sunshine?

It's not as 'nature boy' as you think. The digger is just out of the frame!
This is no ordinary box. It is a surf lifesaver boat. Jed was so tired he spent an hour in this boat the other night. He is very good at finding his downtime when he needs it.

He'll be in the thick of a party...then i'll find him in a quiet corner tucked away from all the ruckus, reading a book. Or our favourite, sitting and having a think.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

boxes from france

Three boxes arrived. I packed them ten years ago. They have been kindly stored, five stories up, in a friends attic. My whole (material) life in St Laurent de Cerdans in the French Pyrenees distilled down into these boxes. It had taken me this long to get the money together to get them shipped. A huge thank you to Barbara and Hernan for keeping my treasures safe. I wasn't sure what i would find after this long in storage. Temperatures in that attic go from minus fifteen celsius, to high forties in the summer. I had the lists i had made of the contents but nothing prepared me for the opening of them. Memories poured out. I loved my mountains, my tribe around me and my animals. It was a sad leaving, although it was time.
And so, i bring you, some blasts from the past:
Beautiful is too light a word for this hand embroidered piano stool cover. I just love it. All those hours and hours of work, the colours just sing.

The 'menu' from one of my ventures, selling herbs and natural healing and pamper products.

Two enormous handwoven pure wool blankets, one crocheted and currently making me happy on my bed. This china set was given to me by my dear nana when i was a wee girl.

I am not sure where this cup came from, but i do not remember a time when i did not have it.

A folder full of recipes and preserving methods collected from my sixteen years of life living away from New Zealand. Creme Catalan, yum.

Books i could not be parted from. My treasured tomes, thesaurus and oxford dictionary. Photos, journals and art books, letters, hand woven fabric, shoes, a few pieces of clothing, sculpture and artworks. It is the first time all my 'things' have been in one place for twenty years. Am i here to stay? Gulp! Has the gypsy landed? Seems so.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vintage pillowcase? No, a shopping bag!

Take a vintage pillowcase. Cut like so. Make the handle by sewing a seam, joining the two sides of the 'handle' together. Use your iron to turn over and pin a hem on your raw edges. Sew. Press. It could be as easy as that.

I have been using some of the scrap pillowcase fabric to fashion a little inner pocket and using a soft velcro to stop it from gaping and keep your purse/phone secure. Oh, and i box the bottom corners to give it a little shape. I love mine and use it all the time. It folds down tiny.

This is the top few of a pile of these shopping bags waiting for the markets. And etsy.
For Aucklanders, the annual Piha Labour Day market is on, yup, you guessed it, Labour Day...this coming Monday, the 25th of October. 10-2pm. Held at Barnett Hall and carpark at North Piha, its a lovely day out. Good food, coffee and loveliness, plus second hand rummaging to be done. I'm in the back left hand corner of the hall, come say hi. Last few stalls available, contact me if you want one.
Update from 2012: I posted a full tutorial for transforming your vintage pillowcase into a bag HERE. Enjoy!
And thanks for stopping by. So very many of you have said hello from this lovely. xx
Update from 2013: Hi all, great to have so many of you stick around for more GrowMama designs and adventures and YES! I have put a Pinterest button on to make it easier for you to share. Stay tuned for another pillowcase bag giveaway...x

Friday, October 15, 2010

too good

These are too good not to share.
I wanted to do some homebaking but i also wanted them jampacked with goodness to balance out the butter and sugar, y'know?

This is what i came up with. Something totally new. I followed a recipe. Well, okay, i tweaked it a little and cut down the sugar and sneaked in quinoa flakes. They came out insanely good. Disappeared fast and a request for another batch for the weekend followed thereafter.
I give you...Chocolate Nut bars. (I need to rename these, what a lame name, any suggestions?)

Going, going, gone.
Chocolate Nut bars
125 g butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp vanilla essence
2 tbls cocoa
1 ¼ cups corn flakes
¾ cup coconut
¼ cup chopped nuts of choice, we used almonds.
(We chucked in a few chocolate chips, chopped organic apricots and quinoa flakes.
I also forgot the egg first time round and it was a bit crumbly but still wonderful)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa together. Mix into creamed mixture. Add cornflakes, coconut and nuts, mix ing well. Press mixture into a greased 20 x 30 tin. Bake at 180 c for 30 minutes. When cold ice with chocolate icing (we went with drizzling melted dark choc on the top) and cut into bars. Makes 30.

Tweaked from the Edmonds Cookery book. (A famous NZ cookbook, we all have one) 1992 ed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Ha! I found a way to resurrect that favourite piece of vintage fabric that got sabotaged by a certain someone.(click here)
I managed to lay the pattern pieces in a such a way that i got a new shirt out of it afterall. I felt just a little pleased with myself. I used my old favourite pattern Simplicity 3835. A Built by Wendy pattern that does shirts, tunic and dress. I used the dress sleeves on the shirt body.

There wasn't enough for the entire shirt with my coveted vintage fabric so i used a lightweight navy blue vintage linen (i have metres and metres of the wonderful stuff, given or thrifted - i just know i didnt pay for it). I like the result. It breaks up the busyness of the floral and gives it a modern kind of raglan sleeve look with the contrast.
Now, i have to admit, that spring has once again disappeared from view and we are back to lighting the fire (WHO exactly is questioning climate change i ask you?), so i haven't actually worn the shirt for more than five minutes but i fully intend to the first chance i get. Oh yes! A little sneaky crafting for the mama. It was cut out and sitting on my craft table for a dastardly long time and it jumped the crafting queue, over market sewing and article writing and piles of washing and tending to small boys with head colds that refuse to go away... for shame..he he.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

vintage fun and games

I spotted this game at the op shop and the memories came flooding back. My sister and i played and played this game and its wonderful to be sharing it with Jed. Good motor skills in fitting the pieces together and great fun flicking the spinner. The idea is to make the longest caterpillar, but we just make the grooviest looking one.

This little box of treasure came home with us too. Theres the usual black and white dots domino style on the reverse of the animals.

Okay, so i wouldn't call this strictly vintage but it's a great box of fun. There are about eight different games to play, more if you have a fertile imagination, which we do.

This frame holds four different puzzles to put together, pretty wild designs too. I am so grateful for these op shop visits that yield such rich treasure.
This gathering of games is part of what got us through the last incredibly stormy soggy few months in a very small house.
But now, the sun is shining again, legs are bare, this insidious snotty head cold is beginning to recede, we've spent the morning spring cleaning and weeding the herb garden and we are heading down to the beach. Just as soon as i am done battling a sense of guilt at heading to the beach next. You know, instead of writing or's that work play balance thing. A high class problem.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

buddhism for mothers

Now, before you go rolling your eyes or click away thinking that you won’t read the post because you’re not Buddhist...
...may i just say that Sarah Napthali’s book Buddhism for Mothers just may be the most important book you will read.
There’s no hard sell to become Buddhist, no guilt trips.
What there is: wonderfully refreshing wise words on walking this mama path. It is written by a woman in the thick of it and she is honest about her own pitfalls and mis steps. It is all about being present in the moment, cultivating awareness, breathing deep. She uses stories from her own domestic frontlines and from other mamas to illustrate her points and the effect is like being a part of a huge network of mama's. None of what we experience is unique to us, we are all in it and sharing those stories is such a healthy thing to do.

I don’t want to do any meditation retreats until i am sure Jed is ready for that sort of separation. Reading Buddhism for mothers is the next best thing. Right now i am deep into her second book ‘Buddhism for Mothers with Lingering Questions’. And it is good. Just what i need right now.
What a good feeling it must be for her to know that she has offered the world the gift of these books.
When Jed was younger, i organised and attended a peaceful parenting workshop in my very rare 'free' time. A man close to me asked 'why don't you see some friends, get away from parenting, don't you do enough of that? There is nothing to learn, it's all mundane'. I had no witty comeback at the time (i blame sleep deprivation!) but how wrong they were. Mothering is a big part of my life, and it will be forever more. What work is more important than this? There is magic and meaning in the mundane. This is my spiritual path if you like. There is no escape from it and i might as well learn all i can. Not just about my mama'ing style, but to grow myself and learn about the world alongside my child.