Wednesday, April 28, 2010

dirt is good

Dirt is good, for so many reasons. But to my mr A, dirt is fun. He loves it and is keen to get into it every chance he can. He's 15 months old now and of course that means some of that dirt gets into his mouth too. I love that he loves getting dirty, even if that means that the first time he wears the pants I just made for him they get caked in mud. I have always "tried" had not to be too precious about the clothes that my children wear, allowing them to take in everything that means to be a child growing up. So when miss E comes out to me after preschool head to toe covered in all sorts, play dough, paint, sand, I just smile and say "looks like you've had lots of fun today". It's something that I feel is good for kids, just to let themselves go and not to be worried about what mum will say about their dirty clothes.

I've been going a little yoga pants crazy over the last few weeks, um yeah, I've made a few pairs. The photo doesn't show about another 3 pairs that are in the wash, or the other 3 or so pairs that I've cut out ready to be sewn up. I love the pattern and the kids seem to love wearing them so it's a win win situation. Miss E loves the green ones, great taste there they are made from merino and the waistband is made from fabric from my vintage swap partner that I finally got the courage to cut into as I love it so much.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the cupboard was bare

I am without eggs or butter (it's grocery day and I'll soon have my stocks replenished) and I needed to make something sweet for my husband's lunches. So I reached for this recipe that was recently given to me by my mother in law, it contains, you guessed it - no butter or eggs. It makes yummy little cupcakes that would be suitable for someone with an egg or dairy allergy or when you are like me and run out of a few things. A handy little recipe to have, here goes....

1 1/2 C flour
1 C sugar
1 t baking soda
3 T cocoa
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 t vinegar
5 T oil
1 C cold water

Preheat oven to 175 oC
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda in a bowl. Make 3 wells, place vanilla in one, vinegar in another and the oil in the last one. Pour the cold water over the lot and stir gently through. Pour into cupcake papers or muffin tins and bake for 15 mins or until cooked. I made mine in patty paper cases and cooked for only 10 mins. Ice when cool using whatever icing you want. Yum.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I love to crochet, but a love like that comes at a price. The price of yarn adds up quickly when you have hands that want to constantly crochet. So I often find myself crocheting all sorts of non traditional materials. The latest material I am crocheting with is factory fabric offcuts. My mum bought big balls of the offcuts (in all sorts of colours) many, many years ago for a few cents each.
Over the years we have used them for all sorts of things, plant ties, hooked rag rugs, wigs! and of course crochet. I love the look of big chunky crochet and I thought some would look nice next to my bed, it's not that easy on the feet but I enjoy coming up the stairs and seeing my little rug.
You can make a rug like this too, if you don't have a supply of offcuts you can cut up discarded clothing or fabric to use. Cut the fabric into strips approximately 1.5cm wide, or wider if you want something more chunky. Experiment with strip size and hook size till you get the look you want. Warning, it's much harder on your hands crocheting with fabric so make sure you give your hands lots of rest and do those finger exercises.
Written in American terms
ch: chain
dc: double crochet
ss: slip stitch
Ch 14, join to form a ring with a slip stitch.
R1: Ch 3 (counts as 1 DC here and throughout pattern) 13 dc into ring. Join with a ss in top of beginning 3 ch.
R2: Ch3, dc in same space as 3 ch, 2 dc in each stitch around. Join with a ss in top of beginning 3 ch.
R3: Ch3, dc in same space as 3ch. (Dc in the next stitch, 2 dc in following stitch) around. Join with a ss in top of beginning 3ch.
R4: Ch3, dc in the same space as 3ch. (Dc in the next 2 stitches, 2 dc in the following stitch)around. Join with a ss into of beginning 3 ch.
Continue the increasing pattern for each subsequent round. If you are making a much larger circle you might have to do a round that has increasing, ie dc in each stitch to keep the circle flat and not wavy. Sometimes it can be a little trial and error when working with fabric strips.
Edging: ch 10 (or less if you want a smaller edging), skip 3 stitches and ss in the following stitch, repeat around. Weave in ends!
Happy weekend, happy crocheting.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

one small change

Well the one small change is nearing a end and it's been a busy few months trying hard to make one small change a month. Some months have been easier than others and this month, being more careful with water has been the biggest challenge to date. With the weather turning cooler and with more rain I haven't had the need for most of the grey water I have been saving. I had initially thought that I would use the water that I was saving from the washing machine and a bucket in the shower etc for the garden. We have had enough rain over the last few weeks to water the garden so I've had to stop saving it in those ways. I have however been careful to only run the dishwasher when it was full and the same for the washing machine, something that I have been guilty of in the past. I have definitely found that it is very possible to save a lot of water just by putting a bucket in the shower when showering so I will be doing that next summer when I need water for the garden.

I have had in mind all my previous changes as the months roll on, consume less, use less - recycle more paper and to grow more food. Consuming less is by far the hardest, especially when faced with a secondhand book sale! The bags I made to hang in certain rooms so recycling paper is easy have made a big impact and was one of the easiest changes to make. Now all my paper waste gets recycled in some way, packaging for parcels, cut up into notepaper or actually putting it out for recycling.

My growing more food change in march has also made a big impact, I had never bothered to grow much over the winter months before, some silver beet or swiss chard, lettuce and that's about it. We haven't harvested anything yet, but there is some cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and broad beans and peas to come! I am really looking forward to having a winter harvest. The hardest part of that change is controlling all the white butterflies that attack all these winter crops.

I'm looking forward to making some more changes that will help to less the impact my family has on the environment and working more on the changes that we have already made.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

new finds

I love book sales (secondhand books that is). I love to have a rummage and find some great new books to add to our collection. At a sale recently I discovered some old crafting books, well they are more like little pamphlets. There is "plastic bottle fun" printed in 1965, it's filled with ways to recycle plastic bottles, a curler bag! model church, piggy bank, my goodness some of the projects are "interesting" but inspiring at the same time. There is one on how to make realistic looking flowers from crepe paper and my favourite "aluminum flowers from cold drink cans". It makes my fingers nervous just reading it (I get the feeling I'd cut my hands making these) but I really want to try some, I'd have to track down some cans first. It has the most beautiful 70's photography of the flowers and some really 70's wallpaper too. I also made a great find of some vintage golden books for the children, I love these books and I'm always looking for more to add to our collection, they are the perfect length to read before bedtime.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

from the weekend

Life seems to be very full at the moment and the weekends around here are no exception. I have been making lots of these comfy yoga pants from Heidi & Finn. The weather all of a sudden has gone from us swimming in the sea at Easter to looking for warm pants all in the space of a few short weeks. These pants are super easy to make and the pattern is suitable for a boy of a girl. So far I've made a pair from knit merino, some polar fleece and some other knit fabric and they all have turned out great. You can also make them in a lighter weight cotton for PJ's, this is a pattern I will be making A LOT of, imagine some pants in this fabric.

I'm frogging a large cushion cover that I crocheted many years ago with factory fabric off cuts to make.... well I"m going to share that in a few days once I'm finished, nearly there.

We have been thinking ahead to ANZAC day this weekend and miss E and I made these ANZAC biscuits on the weekend. Well to be honest I just supervised and let her do most of it, she was so proud and was telling everyone about her biscuits. They were amazingly yum and I hope she'll be keen to make some more soon, as they all have disappeared already.

I mentioned above that I made some of the yoga pants out of merino. If you are in Auckland you must visit Designer Textiles . They have a huge range of merino and other fabrics at great prices. I got some heavy weight 100% merino for $15 a metre. They have a great range of knit fabrics and they have a huge selection of fabrics at only $3 a metre. Lots of fabric bargains to be found there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

snip snip

Miss E "I want short hair like daddy"
Me (after a long pause) "um, that would be very short hair for a girl to have"
Miss E "I know, but I really want short hair, just like daddy"

later at the hairdressers........
Miss E to the hairdresser "I want short hair just like my daddy"
Me to the hairdresser "daddy's hair is cut like a long bob" (OK a big fat lie - but who could blame me)

After a few short minutes my girl's hair that was nearly waist length resembled the long bob and was in miss E's words "my hair doesn't even reach my shoulders now mum!" I will forever remember her stamping in these leaves looking so carefree, and my relief that she didn't get a haircut just like her daddy's.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I was given this Temuka casserole dish by my sister (lucky me - now I have two of them). Now that the weather is cooling down we all felt like a hot dessert as a treat. I made this chocolate self saucing pudding from this book. super duper yum. The Temuka dish was a little on the small size and the sauce bubbled up and out, my poor oven now needs a good clean. Here's to more hot puddings, the cooler weather does have some bonuses!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

hook in hand

I'm finding little time these holidays for crafting. I have a little bag of cotton in the lounge just in case, amongst all the chaos I can find a few spare moments to crochet a little something. The time I have available is such that anything that requires a pattern will not do, so I've been crocheting some little cloths. I had thought that I'd use them in the kitchen, but after I added the trim they look that much more special and maybe they will find their way into the bathroom instead.

Also close at hand is the last EVER issue of World Sweet World, sigh, I'm a bit disappointed I never got around to submitting a few little ideas I had for their craft section ( I'll post them here instead, soonish) and of course I'm disappointed that there will be no issues following this one. I've enjoyed every copy, reading a little bit about other like minded NZers and finding inspiration by the little projects that lie within.

The dress I'm wearing in the photo above was a recent thrift find, it was in the fabric section and I thought I was picking up a curtain and was surprised to find that it was in fact a dress. I like the fabric and thought I'd turn it into an "Anne of Green Gables" inspired bag, the dress I thought looked too small to fit me. Once home I decided to give it a try on, with my husband at hand in case I got stuck in it. But it fits much better than I anticipated (didn't need his help after all) and I will be wearing it as the weather cools down more. However at this stage it's just for around the house as my post Easter/Christmas/2 children tummy is sticking out a little too much in this dress, maybe with a generous cardi it might get a trip out of the house.

Monday, April 12, 2010


We made a very short stop in KeriKeri on our way up north. We called into the Stone Store which is the oldest stone building in New Zealand, built in 1832-36. It houses a small museum and a store where you can purchase souvenirs and in my case - a little bit of fabric! They have a selection of reproduction fabrics from the 1800's and I chose a little patch workers selection of a few fat quarters as I really couldn't decide on what I liked the most. Miss E chose a little fat quarter for herself too, I'm going to make her a cover for her drawing book. You don't have to visit the store in person to purchase the fabric you can go here and they sell it online. I also picked up some lovely vintage looking postcards with cute cut edges and delicate looking hand colouring to send to some friends.
You can pay to have a tour of the Stone Store and Kemp House which we decided against this time around (the kids had been in the car for four restless hours at this stage of the journey and they were more interested in chasing seagulls) but it's something I really want to go back and do. Seeing how people lived in that time fascinates me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

holiday mode

I'm still in Easter holiday mode, we took a trip out of Auckland for a few days. We travelled to the northern part of NZ to stay with my father. The weather was fantastic and our holiday included many trips to the beaches nearby, fish and chips eaten on the beach taking in the beautiful view, ice creams, collecting shellfish for fritters (Tuatuas), drying off after our swims in the warm sun. It was perfect weather and so many adventures were had by my little ones.Now that we are back I'm still feeling like I'm on holiday and not much is getting done around here at all - it's a nice way to be.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April change

My March change was to grow more vegetables and especially grow some vegetables over the coming winter months, something that I've never done before. I got busy (with some help from my 4 year old daughter) and planted quite a few different varieties of winter vegetables, a few details can be found in this post. So far so good and nothing has died so far and they are growing well. Hopefully in a few months we will be eating them! It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, the biggest problem so far is keeping up with the white butterflies that are laying eggs on everything that I've planted, as I try and keep the garden organic I've taken to keeping up with the caterpillar population by hand. After a few days away at Easter I've come home to some big holes and a few fat caterpillars.
A change for our family this month is to be more careful with water. While we are careful there are more steps that we can take to be more careful with this precious resource. I sometimes tip out the water in the children's' water bottles at the end of the day, this could be used to water the garden. I do try and save some grey water from the washing machine - but could save more. The list goes on really, so I'm going to try and change some bad water habits this month.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

happy easter

While the northern hemisphere is warming up, we are cooling down, it's always seemed wrong to be celebrating Easter in Autumn not spring. So to keep the spring feeling going this Easter I made this little dress for missE (doesn't the print seem so spring like?), it was made from a thrifted child's dress with a very full skirt and a big splash on paint down the front. Other than the paint it seemed to be in excellent condition, luckily because the skirt was so full there was still a lot of fabric to work with after the paint was cut out.

I was in charge of making the Hot cross bun dough for my local playgroup, that's mr A there making his first little hot crossed bun. The children had a great time making the buns, I think I had a better time watching all the little hands and the looks of concentration on their faces.

Have a safe and happy Easter.