Thursday, April 28, 2011


Argh! Darn beautifully crowded life.
We're off for a breather, a bit of a wander and a soak in some natural hot pools.
Back before you know it.
With alot to say too.


Monday, April 25, 2011

emerging from the pile

There have been piles of fabric haunting my crafting corner for oh, a few weeks shall we say? It's the seasonal sew time. Whereupon small people who grow like weeds choose the very softest of fabrics to be transformed or upcycled into winter clothes. Also lurking in a corner was an overlocker with a clean bill of health from my ballroom dancing servicing dude. (A Bernina Bernette 334D -for those sewing geeks out there, you know who you are!) It was given to me and i have been too scared to use it. Until now.
The excuses went like this: 'I don't have space for another machine', 'I don't have time to learn new skills right now'...etc. All of which are true, but there comes a time when you just have to jack in the reasons why not and just let rip.

Er, and from this side of the excuses, may i just say how incredible overlockers are? Especially for knit fabrics, which i use more and more these days. The finish is so clean. Mostly though, it's the time saving that has me hooked. I don't think there is anything wrong with using zig zag or french seams to finish seam edges. Or sewing knit fabrics with a ball point needle using a zig zag stitch for that matter. Jed and i have been wearing garments sewn like this hard for years on end with no mending required.

But to save a third of the time i used to spend on sewing a simple tunic for myself and some kids trousers? That means alot in my life right now. Thank you dear benefactor of overlocker!

Some crazy retro striped cotton jersey i picked up for a few dollars turned into...

...a tunic overdress. I did try to match the stripes at the side (i am not generally a match stripes sort of a gal when sewing for myself), but i have to admit that at 11.30pm my commitment slipped slightly. I used New Look 6731, View B but with View A's length. I think i came across this one on Amy Karol's blog, Angry Chicken awhile back.

Still to emerge from the pile are Jed's winter trousers, a first attempt at the 90 minute shirt,
commissioned bunting flags and a bunch of wintery GrowMama gear to be listed on Trademe and quite possibly placed in a few stores around town. Ahem, that's the main pile anyway.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

easy easter crafting

This is a simple bit of quick crafting that you could use for any occasion. I am already plotting birthday place settings with each child having a different one to open out. You could use cardboard from your paper recycling bin and paint them if you don't have coloured cardboard.

Take a piece of coloured card. Fold it into an even number of pieces. Draw a picture, (in this case easter related), making sure to go all the way to the edges at a few places so it can stand up. Cut along the lines of your drawing and open up to see the finished product. Thomas and Petra Berger's Easter crafting book was the inspiration for these. Well worth buying or borrowing from the library!

Jed's face lit up as he opened each one and saw what it turned into.

Jed likes how the rabbits are nuzzling each other. And they needed grass to eat. Easy enough!
I used two pieces of standard size card and used the first design as template to do the second one. I just traced around it. I used sellotape to join them together.

Here's the mama chicken design in case you want to copy it.

This one just has one fold.

And, of course the mama chickens needed baby chicks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Four Seasons Exchange

So, i think it was on Janelle's lovely blog Heart Felt that i saw the link to The Four Seasons Exchange. Newly involved with the Steiner community here in West Auckland i signed up.
How lovely to learn how to craft new gorgeousness and send a parcel each year's quarter to someone i have never met before. This time round i was partnered with the organiser herself, Pia, who runs Nalina Design. These pictures all show Pia's stunning work.

I have to admit to struggling a little with Easter in the southern me it is all about beginnings, new growth, fertility and well, Spring. Yet here i am stacking firewood and putting the garden to bed at the very tail end of summer. Sixteen years cavorting in the northern hemisphere and four (five?) years back in New Zealand and i am still a bit lost in the seasons. Sigh.

In the middle of his pizza party this evening (where he invites his friends, we make pizza together and general mayhem and spontaneous music making sessions ensue) Jed asked me 'what this Easter thing' is about. I asked if i could get back to him.
And i fully intend to. Not just the facts about why it is special to Christian's, but what it means to me. Its that second part i am a bit stuck on.

But thank you Pia for the beautiful package. I can see such love and care in every stitch.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

pixies against deep sea oil drilling

I was outraged when i heard about the National Goverments plans to drill for oil off the East Cape. There seems to have been no consultation with local iwi - Te Whanau-a-Apanui. (Please excuse the lack of macrons on the a's...i can't do that on my computer.) Atrocious. Greenpeace is doing the right thing by supporting Te Whanau-a-Apanui people in opposing these foreign interests pursuing an antiquated source of energy, never mind the potential for harm to these deep sea areas and nearby coastline. Click HERE to find out more. April 20th is National Day against oil drilling. There are activities planned all over the country, go HERE to see how to get involved. Jed and i will be there. I have a special place in my heart for the East Cape. And my heart goes out to the people who live here who are kaitiaki to this beautiful wild land.
A pixie activist in the making. Instructions on how to make craft wire frame pixies comes from Petra and Thomas Berger's Gnome Book. At a library near you.

Before the struggle against oil drilling called him to protest at the sea's edge, pixie lived peacefully in the kawa kawa. One day he hopes to return. may see him on the streets on April 20th.

Friday, April 15, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words -capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment i want to pause, savour and remember - Amanda Soule

Thursday, April 14, 2011

a little time out

I have been pick up the pace with creating my work-based-at-home life now Jed is older. That dude will happily play in his room working all sorts of magic, for hours at a time. Which means i can work next door in my room, almost like being alone. Except for occasional requests for help and hilarious commentary ensuing from Jed's room.

I had the balance a bit off. Enter from stage right one cranky mama with far too much flying round her head. Enter from stage right, one sensitive old soul in a small body, shall we say 'acting out' a bit at Mama getting it all wrong. It's my old issue: trying to do too much on too little sleep (with anaemia thrown in for good measure). I know i simply can't get caught up in a busy busy stressy whirlwind and still be the mama i want to be.

So, on days when i am working alot from home, we take a breather from our different projects to hang out. We claimed a mama 'n' Jed HQ. We take a waterbottle, a blanket, some books and a spoon.

Our HQ tent is pitched a metre away from the feijoa trees. 'Tis the season. Mmmm.

We talk, we laugh, we connect. I get to remember what's important in life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

lucky me

Lucky lucky me. This beautiful piece of art arrived on my doorstep today. It is Kerri Devine's Peace screenprint on natural linen. She is super talented (check out her shop, Poetry and Cloth) and i was blessed to win one of my very own through a giveaway that Jannelle ran on her beautiful blog, Heart Felt. Thank you both! Ahhhh...(happy contented sort of a sigh)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

finding, keeping

We were headed home but eeked to a halt outside my favourite tiny church-run thrift shop. They had a sign outside. It said 50% off all stock. See, halt. Only reasonable course of action.
Disguised in an ancient jam preserve covers box were these gems. A vintage puzzle where you match the animal to it's home.
A Pooh bear and friends playmat for a small person we know.

You know, i don't have much money but i can't help but revel in how rich i am. In so many ways. I can make simple good food. I can hear the wild crashing of the surf as i go to sleep. I have special people in my life. I have lived my dreams, ridden them hard and fast actually. I know how to make cool stuff from next to nothing. I have the op shopping eye:

I need some soft stretchy sweatshirting fabric to make Jed some winter trousers, preferably sage green colour...i find it for a few dollars (then halve that). I forgot to bring handkerchiefs (big fan of those at this time of year) and find a great one freshly laundered for 50 cents (then halve that). I want polkadot fabric to create for my next Growmama market sewing spree, and thick vintage flannel sheets to upcycle into pyjama pants for everyone, and a floor cushion for meditating and, and, was all there. All material needs and a few wants thrown in to spice the mix. Thank you universe.

Friday, April 8, 2011

this moment

{this moment} A friday ritual. A single photo- no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment i want to pause, savour and remember.

Inspired by Amanda Soule, who is Soulemama. Click HERE to see her moment and links to many many others in the comments to her blog post.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

wardrobe: his and hers

I am reviewing making a book with for Kiwi Mummy Blogs. I have wanted to do this for ages so it's nice to have the kick up the butt to actually do it. Watch out for a future post about it. Part of the process has been sorting through my photo files. Which are, shall we say, er, large. In my rummaging i came across these pictures taken three years ago.. .. His and her sides of the same wardrobe. Spot the rock musician/accountant/surfer's side of the wardrobe and then spot the activist/crafty mama who loves all things handmade or vintage? He, just makes me laugh!
I just realised yesterday was the seventh day of blogging in a row. That flew by.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the bag lady returns

Once upon a time, back when i handstitched bags and purses from old pairs of jeans and rainbow colours of embroidery thread and sold them on the streets of Europe...i earned the name 'the bag lady' the nicest possible way i am sure. I was reminded of that moniker the other week as i put together a line of bags in time for last month's Kraftbomb. I am a little bit in love with the process of coming up with a new design. From seizing an idea, wrestling into reality and laying it out, finished on my crafting table...whether it be bag, cape, trousers or dress...just so satisfying. I am really enjoying that barkcloth monk bag. Simple design but it falls well across the body. Ah, yes, i had to make myself one too. Not that i needed another bag. Ahem. Something about the print of the barkcloth and the vintage corduroy that just sings out to me. Aren't we textile enthusiasts a peculiar bunch? This is the Little Red Riding Hood library tote.
That vintage corduroy print is just brilliant. It's a children's theme but the colours (er, and perhaps the wolf's tongue hanging out) make it seem slightly gothic.

Not sure if Red Riding Hood and the barkcloth bag are going on etsy or possibly the mythical GrowMama shop that i 'own' but have not stocked yet.

(Oh yes, I am on a mission at the moment. More about that soon)

This was for Aunty Brenda's birthday. The colour reminded me of her and i had been saving the inner lining (aka a new vintage pillowcase) for a special project.

I made rosette flowers out of some vintage ribbon and buttons from my stash. First attempt. I think, next time i need to tack down the edges of the petals as well as sewing the centre of the flower to the bag.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


So, we have had monarch butterfly caterpillars living inside on their swan plants this season. We brought them in as they were getting eaten by something outside. Watching them grow and caring for them has been a job Jed has taken very seriously. He watched one caterpillar make its chrysalis and then watched it hatch. Magical. He named this butterfly, 'Fred'. Fred is long gone to fly free and enjoy the last of the summer but one of his fellow hatchlings is still around. we named him Doofus. I am not sure who came up with it but it certainly stuck. Monarch caterpillars usually spend two weeks or so in caterpillar form. Doofus spent eight weeks as a caterpillar. This guy would crawl onto a tasty big leaf, then turn around and eat the stem. Yup. And fall. Er, not just once either. And Doofus kept wandering off...we would find him earnestly trying to eat a sofa cushion on the other side of the room, or in a shoe. I did not hold high hopes of Doofus making it to a butterfly. I had gently prepared Jed for this. But he surprised me. In spite of not being quite as chubby as most are when they make a chrysalis...he did it. His chrysalis was a little bumpy at first but Doofus pulled it off. Usually monarch caterpillars spend two or so weeks in chrysalis form but not Doofy. Making up for lost time he popped out this morning, 9 days after he went in. It is safe to say i just about fell over in surprise to see he had all parts a butterfly should have. I would not have been surprised to see one wing or purple and lime spotted body, such has Doofus's path been a truly unique one. But....after a few hours and on closer inspection I realised his tongue was in two parts and one was most definitely stuck on the chrysalis shell. Poor dude. I helped (heart in mouth and so gently) a bit and freed him from it, but he still begins his butterfly life with a piece of dry chryslis on the end of his tongue. As Jed says,' it makes him look a bit funny'. Tongue accessory aside, he is beautiful. No longer called Doofus, Jed has named him Buttercup. We are hoping these strong chilly winds have abated in the morning, so Buttercup can join Fred and their fellows in the skies.

Monday, April 4, 2011

thrift shop happiness

I had been meaning to make some cushions for my couch upstairs (in my bedroom/studio/library) for ages. Dodging into my local charity shop last week with tired cranky small person in tow, i found these beauties. I was in and out of that shop in 5 minutes tops i reckon. Long enough for my practiced eyes to spot these: three original vintage print cushions with feather down inners. In perfect enough condition. They smell like roses too. Their only drawback is that the feathers are stuffed directly into the cases. So, one day there is going to be a potentially interesting and messy process as i decant the feathers to put zips in the cases and make an inner to corral the down. One rainy winters day. The afternoon sun comes streaming onto that couch. It's a good place for a book or a think about the world. Happy. Uh, would that qualify as 'retail therapy'?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

a reminder

I bought this as a New Year's gift...for myself. I love that it asks me to strive to live my best life, the juicy passionate one my heart always sings out for.

And then, on the other side, reminds me that perfection and beauty and magic are all around at all times, and to be grateful for who i am and where i am, right now.

I wear it when i need reminding.

An aside: Four days into 'Seven days of blogging'...i could get into this daily posting milarky. If only someone would pay me for it!

what a tart

Three days into this 'seven days of consecutive blogging'...i bring you...THE lemon tart. Actually, i threw blueberries in at the last minute and that was perfect: We were expecting a large family of friends over for dinner. The dinner was cancelled, so we got landed with eating the whole lemon tart. Bother! I had felt daunted by making a lemon tart and it was so satisying to give it a go. That it turned out so delicious and professional looking was a bonus. I loved how the blueberries gave this little burst of sweet berry flavour in the midst of all that lemony goodness. The tart didn't last as long as i thought it would. Lemon and Blueberry tart You'll need: 400 g of homemade sweet short pastry Handful of fresh blueberries 5 eggs 1 cup sugar 4 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice 2 tsp lemon zest 2/3 cup cream Line your flan tin with pastry and bake blind. Beat eggs and sugar together. Stir in cream. Pour into flan case. Sprinkle blueberries in. Bake at 150 c until set. Approx 40 minutes. Easy Peasy. Really truly. I took the recipe from Lesley Christensen-Yule and Hamish McRae's, The Cooks Bible.This is the main text book for chef's training in New Zealand and is a great all round cookbook. The blueberries was my addition. Jed made these little old fashioned jam tarts with the leftover homemade pastry. Perfect for a mouse's teaparty, ala Brambly Hedge.