Thursday, February 28, 2013

Local Goodness: POD Gardening

Local Goodness. It's a new series here at GrowMama.
I'll be profiling or taking a peek into various cool businesses, products and places aroundabout here. 
We're talking eco-minded, progressive smaller endeavours, with a definite more'ish quality.
How to define the boundaries of what is local to me? I'm going to take liberties there.
Even if you don't live around here, we can all do with a dollop of inspiration and a dose of voyeurism into someone else's heartfelt worklife, no?! 
If you need to buy something, shop local and give your money where it'll count...give it to the good people! Support local goodness.
This is a local business everyone can tap into, no matter where you live.

One of the lovely local folks out West has teamed up with some like-minded friends and launched Pod –easy edible gardening. They sell good seeds. They share information about gardening. They make Pod TV and feature interesting folks and their gardens with beautiful photos and interviews. 

The POD mission is to help anyone and everyone to grow their own produce. Wherever possible with subtle  organic sustainable bent. 
Go see. POD: easy edible gardening. Superb stuff. 
Plus, you’ll meet some of my gorgeous friends and neighbour's in their Pod Gardens section.
Nice work Paul Thompson and team.
 I know where i will be going with any gardening questions...straight to Pod HERE

There are such good people, creating such GOOD works and projects in the does the heart a wonder of good, no?! I'm getting all tingly thinking about all the great leads and projects you all have been sending me for the Local Goodness series, keep it up!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I may have the best intentions to take photos during a workshop but once folks start arriving and i start talking, well, those intentions don't translate into photographic documentation. I have given many many Plant Medicine Workshops over the years. When will i learn?! Next workshop I am hiring a photographer. There. I said it out loud, to about a thousand of you. Hmpf.
Lack of photographs aside, it was a lovely day and a wonderful group to work with. I love this work. I am told that my hands fly around, my eyes are all lit up and that everyone had a great time, as well as learning alot. Success. It feels good to be teaching this. Thanks to everyone who came. And to the glorious keeper of MacAndrew Hall, whose space is just a joy to teach in.

I did take a bunch of photos before folks began arriving but there was some strange film across the lens of my camera that made them all blurry. Kids aye? I am sure i could smell a whiff of peanut butter. Sigh.

That first photo is a pot of healing salve brought all the way from France. It was made by friends who sell their own range of herbal and beauty products. They learnt how to make salve from me quite some years ago now. So lovely to have that in my medicine cabinet.
For all those who asked, here is the link to the tutorial I posted on how to make a healing salve. Hop along back in time to 2009 HERE.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

i got mail

I LOVE getting mail. I always have, ever since I was a wee girl with pen pals (remember those?!)
I received a surprise package from one of you lovely readers this week. This beautiful orange, lemon and green themed pile of vintage and handmade deliciousness. Thank you so much Lisa, your giving spirit lifted my flagging spirit no end this week! Every time i see those vibrant colours in my kitchen they make me smile. 
This little guy hitched a lift in from the mail box....
...s/he was artfully arranged on this lovely postcard. Sent by the lovely Ellie May, editor of Extracurricular magazine on Valentine's Day to say thanks for all my work on the magazine since Issue #3...awww, sweet!
It's been a blast Ellie, so proud to be part of the EC crew. It's my favourite magazine. 

I have a good line-up of posts jostling for attention this week. See you then.
Happy weekend folks. x

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The GrowMama superhero cape towel

Dressing up is big around here. 

We live near a beach and one day last year, after a swim, the little guy fastened his towel around his neck like a super hero cape. 
Hmmm, thought mama...and promptly got busy late into the night. On Solstice morning the little guy found a pixie hooded towel cape under the tree. He was stoked. So was mama! Nothing better than have someone's eyes light up at first seeing something you made, no designed and made especially for them! 

They use the cape's towelling super hero capabilities to dry themselves after a swim, then can fly all over the beach/puddle/bath/pool side, while keeping a teeny bit warm and keeping out of the hot NZ sun. 

Oh yes, our super hero towel cape gets ALOT of use and brings smiles to all who see it.
Next up: to make a mama sized one!

 (How many handmade items can you spot in this picture?!)
The cape towel is one of those spur of the moment designs that will forever live in our memories many good times. 
I just listed a cape towel in the GrowMama felt shop. More to come. Or you can commission me. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

wilderland and reStore

 I brought home a jar of this. Raw manuka honey from Wilderland Community in the Coromandel.
 Jed and i stumbled across their stall in the wee Whitianga market place.
Beautiful fresh organic produce.
 It's a good feeling to buy delicious organic produce from the good people who grow it.
Smiles all 'round. 

Speaking of the growers to buyers connection...I was thrilled to find some dear friends project online. Check out reStore in Chennai, India. It's a wonderful example of bringing organic produce straight to the consumer without waste. This is advanced fair trade. Sangeetha's parenting blog is in the Inspiring side bar over there on the right. Or click HERE, to be taken to: Love, Fresh Air and Sunshine.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

spontaneous travel

We bunked off on Friday afternoon (me still working remotely in the passenger seat enroute) and headed for the Coromandel. Jed's grandparents were on a (most out of character) road trip, this was the furthest north they were coming and would we come down? It was last minute and it was sandwiched in between two busy weeks. It wasn't ideal. But, y'know, it's family. You stretch a little sometimes for family. 
We rocked up to little down-to-earth motel they'd found, right across from Whitianga beach, and it was perfect. Extreme toothache, fatigue, grumpy child and all. The grumpy child recovered immediately upon arrival, which was a relief. I had never been so glad to resort to pain relief, and the fatigue faded in the excitement. I had never been to this area. My nana, who i was close to, spoke often of Whitianga, it was her favourite place in New Zealand, so she was very close to my thoughts as we explored.
Local markets, darn good coffee, the classic NZ fish and chip supper by the beach, late night chats with granny and granpa, many swims and collections of seashells. Jed was stoked that it was flat (unlike where we live) so he was out on his scooter every possible moment. 
We visited the Mill Creek animal and bird park. There are usually animals involved somewhere in our day, no matter where we are. This little guy is big on animals. He was most intrigued to meet a possum (above)...the only we see around here are road kill. It ain't quite the same.
Friends were made. Jed also discovered a kotare (kingfisher) with a broken wing hiding in the bushes at the motel. The Mill Creek Animal and Bird Park took rescue birds too, so we called the Bird Rescue people and they came and scooped up the little guy. THAT was super exciting. Jed plays animal rescue all the time, so to be really truly finding a bird that needed help was incredible for him.
After a day of stopping for swims and exploring enroute home we've arrived exhausted, sunkissed and salty, happy to be home and eyeing up another very busy week. And feeling grateful to live in this amazing country... i have travelled alot in my time, mostly internationally (for those who don't know, i lived 16 years away from little ole NZ) and i am often gobsmacked by how beautiful some corners of New Zealand are. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

crafting with children (for the brave)

I got the idea for this craft project from Meg's lovely Sew Liberated blog. It's a great way to use up all those old crayons that every household with young children seems to accumulate.
I have to say though: this is not a project for the faint hearted, for those with very small children or for very hot days (or the crayon gratings that inevitably get scattered melt)
You grate the crayons (i managed to grate myself a few times and i had to look away when Jed was doing his), sort them into colours...
 And sprinkle onto wax paper in whatever design or colour formations you like.
 Fold over and iron. The heat of the iron heats the crayon gratings...
 ...into a sort of stained glass effect. 
 And a great cue for conversations about liquids and solids and the effect of heat in changing some substances (for those scientifically minded among us!).
 I sewed a purple piece of bias binding along the top to hang it, but you could use tape or even staples. 
A beautiful way to decorate outdoor spaces. I didn't get a good picture to really show them off...but you get the idea. Plus, we didn't want to put them in direct's summer here and so hot we thought the sun would melt the crayon art and we'd get waxy drips all over the freshly cleaned deck.

I am hearing from friends in the Northern Hemisphere how wet, deep in snow or cold it in New Zealand, we're baking, with no rain in sight for weeks on end. Surrender, that's what my plan is...let go of the garden baking hard and cracking and just enjoy. 
Have a beautiful weekend people. xx

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

garden woes and plant medicine workshop -spaces left!

                                          Borage flowers and seeds.

The garden has been a bit neglected of late. It is always like this. I start off with a hiss and a roar in spring and more than often than not, peter off into a sort of whimper by mid-summer.  It’s amazing what the garden can produce under such negligence....the harvest is in full swing, despite my neglect.
It’s also incredibly dry out there. There is a fire ban on and no rain in sight for ANOTHER ten days. A toddler could safely swim in my water tank at the moment. Sigh. I’m eyeing up the number to call for the water tanker.

I find the self sown plants the strongest in challenging seasons like these. Next best are the plants we grew from collected seed. 
We have been picking violets, calendula’s and borage to freeze into our ice cubes this week. It makes for such a cheery drink on these hot summer afternoons.
You can learn other nifty herbal tricks like these at next weekend's Plant Medicine Workshop. (How's that for a seguay? Smooth huh?!)

For Auckland locals: There are a few places left for the workshop. It runs from 10-1 on Saturday the 23rd of February. Homemade morning tea included. Sliding scale $ decide. Venue is in Titirangi. 
The Plant Medicine workshop covers the basics of using commonly found plants as medicine to treat a variety of ailments. You take home your own copy of my plant medicine handbook.  
Click on the Plant medicine link on the right on the sidebar there for more information and my email address.
Get in touch and come along. It is always fun.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

maths is just life

We have been loving the wind in our hair lately. 
Usually at top speed on our bikes.
I love that mine has a basket in the front...seems to me that bike baskets need to be staple for mama bicyclists. 
We stopped to pick the rabbit some greens, collected some empty bottles from the roadside, picked flowers, and for some reason a potato travelled with us. Now, what is a mama to do without a basket?!

I am learning to balance our homeschooling sessions with different approach's to learning. I try and build on what the boy is excited about, include lots of art and hands on experiments and step back and let the magic unfold. Kids have the best ideas, sometimes I can set the table up and am gobsmacked by where Jed takes the session. And in between there is plenty of play, bike time, crafting and outdoor adventure. 
Learning happens all the time everywhere.

About a month ago Jed said 'I don't like maths'. I think that line had come from a story he'd been listening to.
All that week, as we moved through our days we explored how we used maths every day...measuring when baking from recipe's, while crafting, how the animal rescue centre measured out medications, paying for treasure at the thrift shop, sharing cookies between friends. We'd just sit back and explore ways to work things out.
It was never ending. Maths was everywhere.
At the end of week, we were out and while paying for some fruit at our orchard, Jed sagely nodded his head and said, 'hmmm, yes, i see...maths is just life'. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

the changing face of GrowMama

So, this here is what you saw last time you popped by.

I had been planning to stage a blog overhaul and take this here lovely space in blogdom to a whole other level this year. And, well... work, health and fertility drama's have gotten in the way thus far.
Late last night i was fiddling about with the blog's template and Blogger suddenly threw me a curveball. They took my old template design away. GAH! (A note to self: Strictly NO fiddling about with html when very tired!) Cheeky minstrels. 
So, there was no turning back. If you look around...things have changed a wee bit. There is much more i want to do with the blog but it'll happen little by little. One of the benefits of having a more modern template is that i have been able to add buttons so you can easily share GrowMama posts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. A bunch of you have been bugging me about that: so voila...done! Share away. 

GrowMama's readership is growing in leaps and bounds which is so exciting and you all are inspiring me to get more serious about this place. I am having such fun dreaming up the year to come. Love to hear your ideas as always. 

In the meantime:

I have really been loving Stella's heartfelt posts HERE for another one for us womenfolk.
Have you met Erin over at BlueBirdBaby? Pop on over HERE.
And have you heard of the Living Root Bridges in India? Wow. I keep thinking about them. Go HERE.

It's the weekend tomorrow and before sneaking off for some mama-only thriftshopping and long walk-taking, i plan to make THIS breakfast. Mmmm. 
Happy weekend y'all. x

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Incredible Year Calendar and Workbook

Very late at night i bought and downloaded Leonie Dawson's 2013 Calendar and Workbook. Oh. My.
For those of you that haven't met Leonie, think bright colours. Think of a bright eyed mama living her dream. Think of bubbles and sheer determination. Think a very broad Australian accent and wild expressive hand gestures. And of someone who has much to share with the world.
Her calendar and workbook are just what i needed. About $12 NZ is so cheap for something potentially life changing don't you think?!
Working through the workbook (one of my goals is to be able to afford to get next years one copied in colour!), is helping me hugely. It's helping me get clear on what i want to create and it's giving me guidance on how to make those dreams come true. I have the Life Edition, so it's pretty holistic. I wish i had found these years ago. I feel like i am just shaking off the 'sleepless mother of young child' fog, and magical though this parenting time has been, it's time to shake off some dusty dreams and get back on it.
I wanted to share them with you. I was so inspired by the workbook myself that i signed up to be an affilliate. Every copy bought through clicking on the little 2013 Calendar and workbook link on the right side bar there or by clicking on the link below, earns me a commission...50% no less. But i would plug them for free. I'm like that.
May 2013 bring all the colour photocopies we need...and more. xx
No time is too late to start dreaming up a great year. Feel free to email me if you want to know more. 

Or click HERE to be taken to Leonie-land.

(Apologies to those who tried to link through the ad on the side bar and couldn't....all fixed now, click away!)

Monday, February 4, 2013

all time favourite play things

The shop Jed got for his third birthday made another comeback. It was set up for more than a year in his corner of our little house at first. Now and then it comes out to be set up on the deck. It is still as popular as ever. I love toys the kids play with differently as they get older. If i buy anything, i like to think it will still be around and loved, years later. This shop had already been well loved by a family before us. It came complete with european little boxes and tins of 'food', scales, cash register, phone, shelves and drawers. Even if Jed grows out of it, i am not sure i will. It may have to be integrated into a shop or market display in the future!
photo circa 2010

My other all time favourite play items for the 1-5 year olds:

a set of wooden bowls and spoons 
tea set
lengths of rope
train set
magic wand
silk and muslin play cloths
wooden swords and shield
our drawer of dress-ups 
homemade playdough
a wooden marble run
magnetic fishing game 
brainbox set
homemade doctors kit
big cardboard boxes to transform
Thunderbird's vintage Tracy island and rockets
Jed's collection of vintage cars and building machinery
Child's broom
Little gardening tools
 craft box 

Most of these things are still going strong. Some don't see as much action these days. 
He's five going on eight you know. End of an era.
We're big into games, inventing, building and science gear's another chapter unfolding.
And books, oh, books! We'll have 80+ books out from the library at any one time. 
Er, and our own library. Book fiends! I love it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

outfit post - the summer edition

They are popular, these outfit posts. I get a bunch of emails after each one. An over-riding theme is cash-strapped mama's amazed that i manage to put together these outfits on so little money. Yup, folks...second hand and vintage is where it's at! Kinder to the wallet and the earth. It's win, win.

This cotton jersey black and white stripe dress is by Bauhaus. Hospice charity shop. $6.
(It's one of my favourite summer dresses this year. So soft and i like the flow of the skirt.)
Red wool cardigan by Claire Patterson. Save mart. 
Straw hat. Left behind by my sister when she moved house.
My favourite ever shoes: clogs by Lotta of Stockholm. 
 The favourite summer earrings: silver anchors from Presentz gift shop on Auckland's Richmond Rd. $9.
 Bunny optional.
Vintage navy linen raglan sleeve top. Made by me. 
Country Road boy style shorts. $4 from Salvation Army. (They still had original tags. over $100 new. People pay that much for shorts?!)
Moccasins. $12. Trademe.

Lots of primary colours this year. Simple clothes. Comfortable clothes. Red clothes. Clothes that can go from homeschooling or the beach to a client meeting with a quick change of accessories. 
Next up in the outfit dept? Polka dots and pops of colour.

What are you enjoying wearing this season? It's all summer dresses and togs (swimsuits) for us down south but those of you in the northern hemisphere must be all layered up?!

crafting with the boy

We are about to plunge into our homeschooling term and while looking at some new resources online i came across a cool project on Activity Village: making a set of russian dolls that fit into one another. Great for storytelling.
However, i knew the pretty doll thing wasn't going to fly with the boy.
 So, i made them a monster family.
I traced around the general shape of the doll and free form drew some monstery sort of details, went over them in black marker and presented my idea to the boy. The doll page came out and the eyes rolled. i had suspected, then i pulled out the monster pages...and his eyes lit up.
We decorated them and cut them out. Glued on the supports (also downloadable from Activity Village) and i also added a strip of paper to reinforce the head of the monsters. I suppose you could use card for a more robust monster or doll.
Jed was very proud of his samurai warrior monster. He will often get frustrated with writing and artwork because his brain is way ahead of what his hands can do. But this one, he was so happy with.
Makes a mama's heart sing to see that.
 They all fit nicely together.
You can find Activity Village HERE.

Some other sites i have found lovely, inspiring or useful for Jed projects and ideas are:
National Geographic Kids,
Living Montessori Now ,
and the Magic Onion.