Thursday, November 29, 2012

Extracurricular magazine and plant handbook giveaway

Extracurricular magazine's Issue Ten is out! And it's a good one. The theme is self-sufficiency and there are articles on bee-keeping, sourdough making, slow fashion, homebrew, soap making AND a feature by me called, The kitchen sink school of herbalism.
I also wrote a field guide of three commonly found medicinal plants beautifully illustrated by Melissa of tinyhappy....
...and also to be found within EC's most excellent pages are tutorials for two simple herbal preparations. Vanessa from Box Brownie photography took the photos for my work in this issue.

It is always a thrill to see my work published, no matter how many times it happens or whether i see the proofs beforehand, it's like a seed germinating... there is something magical about holding the actual pages in my hands.

I have a copy for you too. To have a chance to win a copy of your very own, leave a comment below. I will pop a copy of my Plant Medicine Handbook in the parcel as well. Blogpost about the GrowMama Plant medicine handbook HERE. Giveaway open to you, wherever you live. Winner drawn from names in a hat by the smallest member of the household next week.

(PS- the SewMamaSew giveaway day is on December 3rd, i'll be participating, so stay tuned for another giveaway of GrowMama handcrafted gear soon.)

Update: Giveaway is closed folks, and the winner is Georgia. Yay! You can still get your copy though...hop along to the extracurricular blog for a list of stockists, or buy one on x

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

colour experiments

We have a cupboard under the stairs, and in it, i keep a collection of craft supplies, science equipment, games and projects. Some get brought out for various homeschooling sessions. Mostly all secondhand, this is a treasure trove of ideas, learning and fun. Lately, when Jed is at a loose end, or is looking for some inspiration, he'll go and rummage in that cupboard and i am loving witnessing what comes next.
I was busy upstairs when i heard the squeak of the cupboard door. (We live in an eighty metre square house, it is hard not to hear everything!) Absolute silence followed. For a very long time. Now, this boy can disappear into books for a mighty long time, but you mama's out there will know that any protracted silence is worth checking out.
 I found him on the deck, in the morning sun, very busy.
He has unlimited access to anything from the kitchen cupboards and has his own stash of white vinegar and baking soda and this time, he'd commandeered the food colouring. Busy trying to figure out how to mkae stripes of colour in test tubes and a very fetching turquoise.
The lab gear is real. I gifted it to him last Solstice, bought off trademe from another young scientist who had since gone onto university. The kid is more careful than me with glass ware. I could start a weekly feature on the blog entitled 'experiments'. One of us is usually brewing or investigating something.

Friday, November 23, 2012

market offerings

It's been a good crafting week. Preparing for tomorrow's Kraftbomb market and with an eye to re-stocking the GrowMama felt store this coming week. This little Steiner inspired doll is made with all natural materials and his/her boots and cape are removable.
 This rainbow gnome family is looking for a new home.
Window stars are a lovely way to involve the older children and a beautiful way to decorate. Have you tried making them? Forest folk, the little store in the Titirangi Steiner school car park sells the pads of coloured wax paper. You can order online HERE. Lovely little gift ideas too.
I-pod/phone cover and matching glasses cases. All in my trademark vintage fabric. I use my cover and glasses case all the time and if i had as many sales as i do admiring comments i'd be very happy!
 My reversible felt super hero mask. A great stocking stuffer idea.
I've been making these for gifts this year. Napkin sets, beautiful cotton prints backed with a soft vintage linen.

Auckland dwellers, come say hi at Kraftbomb market tomorrow. It's from 11-2pm at the Grey Lynn Community Centre. I'm having a bit of a clearance. The Grey Lynn farmers market is just across the road, plus a few stonking good cafe's in the 'hood, so it all makes for a good day out.

And if anyone is nifty on the design/technical end of blogging sort of thing...i need you! Get in touch, or if you can recommend someone to help me take the blog to the next level, i'd be awesomely grateful. x

Thursday, November 22, 2012


During a pit stop at a new favourite charity shop we unearthed a big bag of ribbons. All new, all very red and green and gold and all for $2, with a little tinsel thrown in for fun. That's our wrapping and decorating and crafting needs taken care of right there!
This elf came home with us too. We have a Solstice tradition of adding to our elf house every year and this wee fellow will be a lovely addition to our play. You can peek in HERE.
I love the weaving of family culture and tradition that comes with parenting. Jed is so excited. He's losing sleep already. (It could be a long month!). He knows what to expect now.
One of the things we do this month is have a good clean out of old toys, weed out those stubborn piles... a bit of a late spring clean. A sort of a making space for the festivities and presents to come.
Jed is also planning his parcels to give to charity. Presents to make or buy to wrap for kids who may not otherwise receive any. Food to put into a hamper to donate.
Finds like the ribbon bag make me feel the pinch of my own financial strain less. Thinking of the many people who are juggling two or three jobs just to make ends meet (some of which i went to school with) and hardly get to see their children remind me to appreciate the many blessings i have.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the first day of summer

I hereby proclaim today the first day of summer. The sun shone, the kids were swimming in the stream and a beer may have been imbibed on the deck before the dishes got done this evening.
The first beautiful warm day in ages and i was inexplicably grumpy. It may have been triggered by my sewing machine which is working overtime preparing for Kraftbomb market this Sunday. It started doing wierd things to my vintage linen and well, things spiralled into grumpy from there. I just kept making silly mistakes.
Mistakes amended, we bailed to the garden for a change of scene, taking the picnic blanket and a delicious simple lunch with us. Best decision i made all day. Sigh and big outbreath and curling of toes....
 We ate, we lounged, we chatted, we laughed, we made daisychains and Jed made friends with a baby mouse. I made half hearted effort to weed the vegetable garden and ended up just taking photos and enjoying the warmth of the day and the company.
Sometimes, letting go is required. And a nap. I love taking a nap, it's like a mini-vacation from the day.A little self indulgent sidestep off the treadmill that can be our days.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

an art installation: family

When i was busy doing outfit styling on our deck the other day, Jed was busy doing his own thing.
This is his art installation. He called it 'family'.
He worked on it more during the afternoon. I love how he built whole people. Us.
There was quite the pile of clothes dragged out. 'to inspire him' he said.
I won't show you the pile. I certainly wasn't going to pop his creative bubble by getting him to tidy. Well, not until later anyway. When the project was well and truly done.
I love how kids will work alongside you, but with their own twist.

Friday, November 16, 2012


It is a wild life. I have ridden it hard. Done good work for the world. Had a darn fine time and plan on continuing to do so. I have lived in many countries. Met many beautiful people. Worked to know myself and be at peace with the more challenging bits of me. Problem is, there are many disparate chapters of my life and not much to weave these different era's together. Just me. And you know, the human brain is a fickle ole thing. Just lately i have been writing biographical pieces trying to reconcile them all. Somehow these different parts of my life feel like other lives and lately, i kinda do a doubletake when they meld.
The other night i was finishing a feature article that was due and an old flame messaged me. I sat and stared at the screen. The words seemed like out of a dream. My life today as mama, writer and craftster trying to eke together a living based from home, is so many worlds away from the fancy free me before having a child biologically and shaking up mischief living rent-free in various colourful edges of the universe.
There is still colour. There is magic. But i miss my people. I miss those i have shared so much with over the years. I miss their input in the daily dance of parenting. I miss the easy dance of the likeminded, those who know and love you and have been with you through the dark nights and joys. I want to find ways to weave my different worlds. I want to find ways to be present to those i love but who dwell far away.  You know who you are. Yes, you. And you, and you. 
I think this is perhaps an internal shift and change of perspective. 
Part of it, is being at ease with the choices i have made.
Guilt at leaving. (Useless i know)
Bridging the gulf between me then and who i am today.
I am getting there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

outfit styling fun

I had just got back from town and a friend dropped by. Her mouth dropped open when she saw what i'd just found at the thrift store. I unearthed some more goodies i had found secondhand in the past month and we had great fun doing some styling on the deck. It was very girly, very giggly, very unlike me and VERY fun. I like to push edges from time to time. (This is the woman who spent ten whole years not spending any money whatsoever on clothes and never wore a skirt)
Here we have the current denim on denim look.

Denim shirt $4 from Salvation Army.
Baxter Moto jeans $30 from Finders Keepers.
American moccasins $12 from Trademe.
Beaded bracelet $6 from Salvation Army.
Straw sunhat $4 from the Hospice shop.

I am not sure if i'll wear this handmade vintage linen skirt or if it'll get upcycled into a top. The linen is super soft and lovely to wear. $2 from the Hospice shop.
 Oh yes, Chester sees all straw hats as potential snacks. Good to know.
I have spent years wearing ill fitting jeans held up by safety pins or velcro and it has been a revelation to find a style and brand that i like and fits well. These are the shortwaisted, curvy, small-statured ladies dream jeans! Top Shop's Moto baxter for others of you out there. Once i had the brand and size I found another pair on trademe for $10. Sorted.
The red theme continues, with a bit of black and white stripe thrown in the mix. 
I love this cardigan. I am big on cardigan's. This one is a beautiful wool and i love the little details...the silver bead buttons, teeny pocket and this little detail at the back.
A close up of the bracelet. It's a kid magnet, they love it.
It's hard to see the detail in this skirt, but it's gathered into a waistband with two side pockets and falls to just below the knee. A classic fitted Hanes tshirt in my size finished off the haul. With the sandals, this summer outfit came to $13.50. I shudder to think what it would cost all new.
Pretty much all i had dreamed of...just waiting for me.

I know it is a small thing. But it feels good to have clothes i feel good in.
Puts a little spring in the step.
It's kinda new for me, previously having matching socks with no holes was a revelation.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gabrielle's Katipo costume- The Dress Up Box

This is a guest post for the Dress Up Box series by the lovely Gabrielle of 'Life in Our busy household'. She is one crafty lady. If you haven't checked her need to!

With 4 children ranging in age from 3 -17yrs there has been, and there still are a lot of Dress Ups in our house. Many of the costumes our eldest played in are still worn by the younger children. I think we have a costume for almost every Harry Potter character as well as witches, ghost, most animals and quite a number of super capes. I’ve found the best way to inspire the children to dress up is to hang the costumes on a bamboo pole in their room, changing the costumes every few weeks.

The main times we add to this collection are for birthday parties and especially at Halloween. The small people get to tell me what they want to be and I do my best to make their costumes from thrifted materials I have at home, or ones we look out for in the Oppy’s and the occasional prop from Geoff’s Emporium , which is my go to place for ribbon, ricrac, cottons, and all sorts of haberdashery essentials.
Today I thought I would share the pattern for the little Spider Costume I made Arlo for Halloween 2 years ago.
In the picture Harriet is wearing a Dorothy Costume I originally made for her elder sister and Billy is wearing a thrifted 70s polyester suit with a cape made from some thrifted fabric. We are quite partial to a vintage themed costume around here.

Isabella in the costume 7yrs previously with Harriet as Alice in Wonderland – also a handmade costume.

Today I thought I would share the pattern for the little Spider Costume I made Arlo for Halloween 2 years ago.
 The main bit of the costume was made from a vintage romper pattern.
The front was cut from a shiny lining fabric and the back from a textured fabric.

Before sewing up the back I cut a red cross from felt and stitched that onto the centre back. Katipo’s actually have a stripe but I took a bit of designer license and made a cross instead.
The legs were made by cutting 4 rectangles, 18cm x  40cm, folding them in half sewing along the side and bottom seams then stuffing them.
I then sewed them into the side seams of the romper.
He wore the romper over black tights and a black long sleeved all in one with little black converse and I made a hat to complete the look.

The hat was made by measuring round his head and cutting 2 semicircles each half the circumference of his head, or you could trace round an existing Beanie, and using the hot glue gun to attach 8 eyes I found at Geoff’s.
Off Trick or Treating, the costume has fitted for 2 years now. I always wonder what costumes they will come up with next.

See...isn't she clever? Gorgeous katipo costume. So very much nicer than any you can buy. And i just love that photo of the Dorothy costume 7 years earlier with the littler Isabella and Harriet. You can find Gabrielle's blog HERE. Thanks for guest posting at GrowMama Gabrielle, you and Ange are some of those mama's i look to for inspiration. xxx

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

$14.50 plus postage

I am a firm believer in an alternative economy. Those of you who've been around awhile know my reluctance to buy anything new. There is enough stuff in the world already. If you haven't seen the story of stuff animated short film, please do. The link is at the end of the post.
Aside from the morality of our consumerism, there is the financial reality. I simply can't afford to pay $135 for a pair of Birkenstock sandals, no matter how long they will last.
Turns out that is okay. Because i can pay $7.50. For a silver pair. That fit perfectly! Whoop whoop!
And the other pair i wear ALL the time at the moment? $7 unworn. From a lady on who bought the wrong size from a boutique in melbourne. $14.50 for my two dream pairs of sandals. Sorted for summer i am. I am rocking this alternative economy i tell you!
I have had incredible luck in thrift shops lately, with finding everything we need plus some fluffy goodness like the summer shoes i fancied.
It is rare, but sometimes i can get sucked into thoughts of despair that we don't have the money for this or that. But really, we are so rich in this simple life. Most of the time i just feel grateful.

To be taken to the story of stuff - click HERE.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

mojo lemons

We have the teeniest best producing little lemon tree around. She is propped up on wooden crutches but still belts out the most delicious lemons year after year. It's a wonder.
And, it's finally been warm enough and i am finally well enough to make the switch from hot lemon-ginger-honey drinks to iced lemonade. Truly that is the drink of summer. (Possibly with a wee splash of gin for the grown-ups from time and time).
After all this rain i am ready for some sunshine.

I am hoping the combination of lemonade and sunshine will kickstart my blogging mojo again. I hope. Been deep in deadlines, job applications, sleep deprivation and several flavours of adventure here.
Out the other end, i am pretty excited for the times ahead. I look foward to sharing them with you.