Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I love books

Today I survived our last trip to the supermarket before Xmas.

I also received a new book in the post - and I love it when you read through something and go, "ohh, I can do that..." and you go off and do it.  And that's what happened today.  While I have decided it would be cool to buy some new flash pens to do it - we survived with the kids colouring pencils, plain white A4 photocopy paper, cheap cards and coloured paper from The W.  And I've solved the problem of what to do for Xmas cards this year.
Nadia helped with the colouring in on this one.

Also had a lot of fun!

I had also succumbed to the temptation to buy a clothing/sewing book:
Which has a variety of skirts based on the same simple pattern...

 Plus tops, tunics and dresses based on another pattern...
And lastly a variety of coats... but it's way too hot to even think about those.

Hmm, I have started another shopping bag, and I really should be finishing those things for exhibition... but I can see some more clothes sewing on the horizon.

Garden update: our 6 carrot plants have disappeared - tops, roots and all - nothing left.  Quite possibly a bunny invasion.  I have some more seedlings ready to plant out, but will need to think about some sort of fence.  We have also eaten courgettes grated into meatloaf and bacon n egg pie.  Still have a backlog in the fridge and more to pick on the plant... more ideas required!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not another BAG! Almost as good as a bought one

I had downloaded a market bag pattern from the BurdaStyle website and have been contemplating it for several weeks now.  Finally on Saturday, it all came together and I used some of that stash of mine that had no purpose, and have now after the finishing touches to the binding today, ended up with a great little, well, not so little, bag.

As I had 1/2 yard lengths, I needed to join the pieces to be able to cut the full size pattern, and used the join line as a sort of feature.  What I think is really neat about this pattern, and could be used on any other bag is the little pocket inside which allows you to stuff the whole bag away, and can be carried neatly contained in your handbag.  I admit I do pretty well at taking my reuseable grocery bags with me when I go shopping - but only at the supermarket.  If I call in anywhere else - I still get those annoying plastic bags, or alternatively end up having to carry awkward little things because the shop doesn't supply bags any more.  Now I will have no excuse.  And it is a pretty big bag. Big enough that the handles fit comfortably over your shoulder.  I chose to make a bias trim to face the handle edges, and next time I will make the pocket a bit bigger and I'd probably make the inside of the pocket more attractive and durable looking, perhaps with the bias binding. 

Just a simple folded pocket which is sewn into the side seam inside
the bag, with the wrong side of the pocket showing.

When it is turned through, the pocket ends up right side out,
with the bag tucked up inside it - a bit of a squeeze,
but it does almost fit!
I'm not sure if there is enough time to make some for Xmas presents - but what a good idea that would have been if I'd thought of it about 3 months ago.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Is it February yet?

Day Three.  I'd never own a cafe, I get too frustrated when people (I really mean my children) keep asking me for food.  Yesterday, honestly, every two minutes "is it morning tea time yet?", then "I'm hungry" - went on all day.  Yet, give them two sandwiches and half a dozen crackers to take to school and they bring half of it home again.  One of the mysterys of life.

We have had rain the last couple of days - off and on - good for the ground and OK for the tank - but hell for school holidays.  I ended up turning a blind eye to wet weather antics on the trampoline (too scary to watch), and sanctioned wee's on the lawn rather than have wet children inside - until it was time for a shower and jamies.  Did help to get rid of some of the boundless energy my children seem to have although I'm not sure they inherited it from me - as I seem to have lost the last of my energy the last few days.  Perhaps it has run away with the last of my patience...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday survival guide

This wee rocking raindeer was a project from a few years ago,
which turned out quite well I thought.
I have survived the first day of the school holidays!  I've been too scared to work out exactly how many days there are until school starts again... but I know it's heaps.  Our day yesterday was all planned out, then got turned upside down when Davey phoned up and announced that he had been rained off his job, so for us to wait until he got home before starting our adventures.  So we wasted half the day waiting for him to come home - no, I'm not bitter but I did start getting a bit pissed.   We visited The Warehouse and it's half price kids clothes sale and the kids also chose a new Xmas decoration each for the tree, then it was a treat at the Cafe, books at the library and groceries at the supermarket.  What an exciting day!  But we did get the Xmas tree decorated and while the photo doesn't do it justice - it looks adequately festive.

I have been making progress with my other more interesting activities - and am now doing the machine quilting on my totally over the top floral applique table runner.  Even though I have changed needle and tried a topstitch needle, I am still having trouble with my thread shreading.  It also has a tendancy to miss stitches so even though the needle goes up and down and goes through the motions, the bobbin thread hasn't connected and formed the stitch.  It's the sort of thing that just drives you mad!  I have added a hanging sleeve to the curved pieced flower and almost finished handsewing the binding so that will make two projects complete.  Roll on exhibition!  No, that may be slightly premature as there are probably three or four other things I need to finish, but you get the idea...

Oh, almost forgot - we have actually eaten things from our garden - well, other than lettuce.  So yesterday I found two courgettes (yellow ones) and about 6 bean pods - which were sauted up and eaten by almost everyone.  I must confess that I tend to grow things that I don't really like, with the understanding that I will probably never buy them - so if I grow them, there is more of a chance of them getting eaten.  It sort of works - and when you eat courgettes with coleslaw, you can almost not taste them.  Dylan ate all of his, and declared that they were nice - Nadia on the other hand tried and did not like, but that is OK too.  We have a lot of bunnies this year so I feel a bit like Mr MacGregor - but they are so cute.  Poppy (aka the Jack Russell Bunny Terroriser) almost sniffed her nose off this morning following the scents - which went all over the lawn.  We are getting two to three eggs at the moment, so hopefully the chickens will continue to behave.

I have already had small people making demands for food, so it must be morning tea time...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One more day of school

The kids had their prizegiving last night which was very entertaining.  Nadia got an award for achievement in literacy which was very exciting.  But we are all feeling a bit tired today - and the extremely hot weather doesn't help.
We have been and raided the roadside for our Xmas tree this year.  So far no decorations - but I have been reminded that I announced last year that the first day of the school holidays could be tree decorating day - so I guess we'll be doing that on Thursday.

We had artfully arranged sticks last year - plus a little ballerina girl!
The shelves in Nadia's room have finally been finished and they have helped to give her more space in her room.  Of course, getting her to put everything away in it's proper place will be another thing.
The top bit

The bottom bit

All a bit much for this little princess
 I have been and shopped and bought all of the bits and pieces I need to finish my list of projects.  So no excuses!  I have already quilted and added binding to my dragonfly tablerunner and the curved pieced flower so now I just need to tackle all those other projects.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Today, Snoopy (the cat) and I have been banished to the sleepout while our lounge and bedrooms are fumigated for fleas.  I am blaming the previous owners and the long dormant period that flea eggs can remain tucked away in all sorts of remote places - not obviously the fact that Snoopy probably has had fleas and hasn't had enough flea treatment over the course of the last year.  But then, I keep expecting her to die, so I tend to ignore some things incase she has died in the meantime!

I have been quite industrious in the last couple of hours, and have started sorting part of my hoarde of scraps into rainbow piles to be filed into little bags.  I have discovered that I have hardly any yellow fabric, and also quite an alarming pile of various blacks - even though I have only done two quilts with black in them!  I will also need to buy some bigger bags!  On the down side, I have only emptied one shopping bag of mixed scraps - there is still a box or two lurking...  I have also started piecing the basket block (see earlier post) - which is working out quite nicely.  Will have to wait for a photo - as I have just risked fumes to come and get an emergency coffee (and check emails etc) and need to evacuate for another hour or sew... I mean, so!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I did not resist

The weekend has been and gone.  We had planned to visit the Whangarei A&P show on Sunday - but Dylan was sooo naughty on Saturday, when I got given the option of staying home, and dear husband taking the kids for the day, I leapt at the chance for peace and quiet.  So what did I get up to?

Well, it all started when I bought two random fabrics from Calico Xmas.  You know the ones - just fell in love with them but not really sure what their purpose was...

And I also bought two other fabrics from The PowerQuilter along the same lines - you look cool and I quite like you...
And low and behold a baby was born...

Just with a little bit of help from my stash... and there are two more blocks to make a very pretty table runner...
Yes, those are my feet standing on the chair to get high enough to try to fit the entire thing in frame... I really must get some sort of design wall happening.

I also straightened and put borders on the curved pieced flower I did some time ago...
So I have quite a few things piling up that will need quilting once my machine has returned.  Can't wait. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday morning madness

Well, Saturday already.  Had a bit of a sleep in and breakfast in bed while I read my Nora Roberts library book.  Chickens fed - have started to enjoy our quiet time together in the mornings when it still feels crisp outside before the humidity hits.  Have pegged out the kids togs and towels from the weeks school swimming... and put on another load.  Organised slave labour to fill up my saved toilet roll tubes with potting mix, to sow carrot seeds into.  I really dispair about my seed sowing enterprises - don't believe the books that say carrots are one of the easiest crops to start with - I have never had a successful carrot grow, in fact, I usually can't get them to do anything!   (I did splash out on the seed tape one year, which the cat then proceeded to dig up).  So, when I decided to do my big seed thing back in October, and filled up my little grow house with all sorts of things - I did eventually end up with 6 small sproutlings - which have now been planted in the big garden, and are watched and loved, uncovered when the dog decides to dig holes... you get the drift?  However, 6 carrots do not a salad make - so with my handy helpers occupied filling the cardboard tubes up, we will plant some more seeds, and hopefully have another 12 or so to plant in a few weeks time.  So OK - I'm not going to be famous for my massive carrot production, but it would be nice to have a few fresh from the garden.

I am pondering my next sewing mission.  Progress report so far: dress has had one sleeve attached and fully finished, second sleeve attached but handsewing required to finish hem and to tack lining around zip - then it just needs hemming and finished!  I am in the process of adding borders to Dylan's no longer needed snuggle quilt - and have ordered some backing fabric from Needlecraft who have a big sale going on at the moment... more about that later when my package arrives.  I have a couple more inches of blanket stitch to complete around a flower and then I will have done one quarter of my humungous floral applique quilt.  I try not to think about the entire picture with that one - just one shape at a time!  My actual quilting progress has been hampered by the fact that my sewing machine I do my freemotion and blanket stitch stuff on is presently getting serviced, so I am doing other projects on my smaller workhorse machine.  I can't wait until it comes back and hums!  I will also be trialling my new supreme slider and hoop on the next thing I freemotion so will keep you posted on these experiments.

It seems to have been a busy week but there is little to show for it.  I keep wanting to cut up new things, but I MUST RESIST!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My productive garden...

When we bought our house, there was nothing on the section apart from grass.  We put up a fence to keep our dog in, and cut off the back of the section to make the fence smaller and more financially manageable.  I always had the intention of making it an orchard/kitchen garden - and even bought some books about such things. 

Well, we finally got some fruit trees planted and put in some raised beds.

This is the chicken enclosure.  We used the old fence that we had removed - put our chicken house inside it, and ended up putting mesh over the top to keep Houdini from escaping.

We have potatoes in the lower bed, kumara struggling along in the middle bed, and every thing else in the top bed - tomatos, capsicum, lettuce, beetroot, spring onions, perennial spinnach, sweetcorn, pumpkin, zuchini, and beans.  Check out "One Magic Metre" for planting schemes where you squeeze it all in!

Nothing to do with gardening - but aren't they cute?

I am enjoying the fact that everything is growing, even after the chicken invasion.  We are already tucking into the lettuce, and the tomatos, pumpkin, beans and zuchini all have flowers.  The corn have whatsits growing - what are they called?? - I feel like a little farmer.  We also have teeny tiny apples and peaches, and the mandarin, orange and lemonade all have little fruitlets (you know, the little green bit that looks like a wee fruit).  Will have to see how the summer progresses - we got through last years drought with moderate watering, so fingers crossed that everything survives this years summer.

I made a list of jobs to do before January's patchwork exhibition.  Last year we moved house which upset all my plans for finishing quilts, and really I'm not all that much better organised now that we've been here for over a year.  But, if I'm good and follow my list - I should have several things finished in time.  So far, I've tutu-ed around doing other things, so must keep on track! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

A mothers work is never done, wobbly bits and all.

I subscribe to the American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, which I find interesting as it isn't too hard core American - ie flags, thanksgiving, eagles etc (although they do have some sometimes which I can handle), and they always show the projects in different colours and sizes and give details and sometimes even patterns for the quilting design.  Anyway, I digress... there is a small article about a lady who has her own quilt pattern company, she only looks like a teenager but has three kids... and I think the quote for the day should be "I really love being a mum, but part of that job is doing things that need to be done again and again - cleaning, laundry, bath time.  When I quilt, it's something that can't be undone, and I see progress every day."

So far today I'm still up to the again and again bit - my laundry pile has taken over the sofa - no picture sorry, but you can imagine it (in fact, you probably have something similar somewhere in your own house!) - and I can hear the washing machine still spinning around and around.  BUT I have something in mind to play with, which if I'm good and get cracking with the rest of the mess, I can play before the kids come home.  Yipee.

On another note, I weighed and measured myself this morning.  At the beginning of this term I committed to trying to eat a bit healthier and practice some sort of exercise routine to increase my fitness and hopefully my wobbly bits would reduce and become a little bit less wobbly.  And, I haven't lost any weight pretty much at all, but my body fat has gone from being up around 32% to 28.5%, and my bust has gone from 40" to 38.5", waist still same, hips 40" to 39".  Cool - it must all be worth it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day from hell

You know your day is not going to be a good one when your son calls out before 7am and announces that he accidentally did poos in the toilet - not the bowl but the room.  So once the necessary bits and pieces had been stripped, washed, disinfected... the day carries on.  Go to feed chickens and round up escaped chicken number one.  Say good morning to dog.  Go back inside and look out window a few minutes later to find dog has broken dog run wire and is now wrapped around a flax bush (a nice one that was specifically planted to look beautiful).  Go and sort out dog.  Load daughters bike into car for wheels day at school.  Wash arms to get rid of dog and bike residue.  Notice dirt on freshly laundered and Ironed (did you read that - ironed!!) white shirt.  Grrr!  Make lunch for same daughter and do the school run thing.  Have kept Dylan home today due to the tummy business - so have spent the morning cleaning the bathroom and sorting the linen cupboard.  Coffee sounds good...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Escape

Spoke too soon... Houdini and her lovely assistant flew the coup (literally) and discovered the vege patch... it seems that onion and spring onion don't stand up well to chicken invasion - likewise beetroot seems to have taken a hammering.  My short wick is getting shorter!

Strike While the Iron's Hot

 A busy morning so far.  I have folded three baskets of washing!  Done another load and hung it out.  Well done Suzanne.  My work against evil continues...
I have also disappeared into my "shed" and cut out the Amy Butler tunic.  Size adjustments as follows: cut using size M for below the waist, which then merges into L up through the bust and top area, have added an extra 2" into the length at the waist which should bring the hips down closer to where my hips appear to be.  I must remember that doing this extra length adjustment requires a longer zip - not just adjusting where the bottom of the zip sits - as you still need to get in and out of the garment, and it is around the hips that the extra opening aids with this.  I have now done as much as I can do without getting the lining.  I also realise that it is almost impossible to take a photo of yourself!  There is still the sleeve to attach and doing the lining will finish off the neckline.  Satisfaction scale so far - OK - I like the way the skirt part sits, and this would make a nice straight skirt pattern with a yoke waistband - could do pleats etc falling from the princess seams in front.  The top part seems to sit alright, although it will depend how tight the sleeves make it across the shoulders once it is finished. The lining is supposed to me "muslin lining" but I think I'll use pongee lining so that is has a bit of slip inside.  The pattern required about 3 1/4 yards of fabric - so I bought 3 mtres - but I must have at least 1m left - hmmm, interesting.

I bought Snoopy (the cat) a flea collar yesterday, complete with bell!  She is not too fussed about the whole thing but as she is deaf I don't think it is the sound that bothers her, more just the movement.  The problem is that the dog now thinks that she is some sort of squeaky toy and there have been a few altercations!  Snoopy is coming up 16 - with possible altzheimers or at least dementia.  Close encounters with the dog do not feature in her calendar.  In case anyone was wondering  - she does still drink out of the fish tank.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Additions

Gosh, so much to catch up on.  We have had our two new girls since Friday.  Was a bit worried that there would be some angst with the three older birds we already had - but after quite a bit of cheeping and booking, Chicken Little and Mighty Whitey have settled in quite well.  Our 3 original chickens have never had names - partially because two are identical so we would never know which was which - and partially because I couldn't be bothered.  However, I am considering calling one Houdini as it keeps jumping the fence - as long as it stays out of my vege garden I'm OK with it - but it doesn't seem to realise that there is a real friendly Jack Russell over the other fence (yeah right), and if it wanders far enough - nothing survives the Why did the chicken cross the road - if the road is State Highway 1!

Sewing which is all Charlotte's Fault

Where has the time gone.  It is already at least a week since my last post and (you'll be glad to see it is now Monday and my post say's it is Monday - thanks Charlotte) I'm wondering what I've been doing since then.  Well, since viewing Charlotte's sewing enterprises - I have wasted an enormous amout of time looking at free sewing patterns online - some of which I have downloaded.  I have also pulled out my Amy Butler pattern for a long tunic which I have always drooled over, but have never found any fabric I could really imagine using.  So with bad weather predicted for Sunday, we traipsed down to Whangarei and sent hubby off with both children so I could browse in leisure at Spotlight.  And I actually found some fabric that I like.  Also another pattern for a dress which could be resized into a top or tunic... can use either woven or stretch fabric for this one so thought this was quite flexible.  So today I have spent my morning firstly doing groceries, which unfortunately are necessary every now and then, and also pegging out washing (which is also unfortunately necessary).  Then I spent a few hours photocopying my pattern so I could cut it out without disturbing the original and trying to decide what size to make.  According to the instructions, my waist is almost Medium and my hips are slightly smaller than Medium, however my bust is more like Large.  Oh, and my waist-back measurement is at least two inches longer than the pattern sizing.  So this all requires adjustment before any actual fabric cutting occurs.  Is this why I have long since ceased sewing clothes??  But I have faith and I will wash my fabric first because my pattern says so, and then I need to remember to buy some lining fabric because although I have read through the instructions I had not noted that a lining was required and maybe another day I'll tackle the rest of this one.
While in Whangarei we also visited Bunnings, and have started buying the bits necessary to make a desk/organiser/wardrobe for Nadia's room.  All sounds a bit complicated but when we moved into our much smaller house, she was the one that lucked out on the smallest room (something to do with being the smallest).  So she has no wardrobe and very little space.  So this was the big idea.  We will add more shelves now that we sort of know what it looks like - but she has some hanging space, a desk and some room for books... all tucked into a little alcove in her room so looks very flash!  Although we did have to have the "thou shalt not draw on the walls" discussion... fingers crossed!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Does anyone know why my date shows as yesterday?  The last post was done on Monday, 15th Nov so not sure why everything shows the day befores date?

A bit of everything

Well, we've survived another year at the Waimate North A&P Show - extremely hot, but friendly faces everywhere and it's exciting to see the kids artwork being displayed in the hall.  I bought a handmade pair of leather sandals at a very reasonable price, and didn't get sunburned - so came home very happy.  I am in kitchen mode at present and I should share that although Dylan expected me to enter MasterChef when it comes to NZ - my cooking skills are adequate at best (although I did burn our sausage rolls on Friday beyond being edible).  So, when I look at my Soda bread (recipe c/- Rachel Allen's website) - I do feel like gloating a wee bit.  I am a bit Dough-a-phobic and tend to make a big mess with very dodgey results.  However this bread which we had with our dinner on Thursday was a masterpiece!  Basic recipe: 3 2/3 cups flour, 1tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1tsp baking soda - put in bowl, make well, add 425ml sour milk (I add a good splosh of white vinegar to my ordinary milk at the beginning so it has gone all lumpy by the time I've done the dry ingredients), mix very roughly, then sort of pat into shape - scone like or flat like foccacia, and bake at about 220C for 15-20min.  The website also gives you all sorts of variations.  I sprinkled finely chopped onion and cheese on top with some tomato slices... YUM!

I think this is my favourite one??

I have also finally finished all 6 of my placemats - 3 of which have been finished for months and months, and the rest have laid forgotten in my "will come back to at a later date" drawer.  I am so chuffed!!  Here are two all of them (I have now worked out how to make my pictures little-er) - made from 6 fat quarters, with each placemat having 5 of the fabrics in it.  One day I'd like to sell this in kit or pattern form... one day.
I have also made jelly this morning - no not the real kind - just the one in the packet that you add boiling water to.  This was as a result of tidying up my pantry and wondering about the life span of jelly crystals as they don't seem to have an expiry date?  And finally, I have an Apricot and Date Loaf in the oven as we speak, looking suspiciously like afternoon tea.  Can't wait!  I have also washed the cat, which was not enjoyed by either of us, done a load of washing and plan to do a little reading before the kids come home.  Ah, Bliss.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Solar System, Calico Xmas & Garden

For his birthday, Dylan got given a solar system kit - this makes it sound as if I could blame some other parent for buying something that requires real effort on my part to end up with a result - however it was actually me that bought it in a moment of insanity forgetting that I have practically no patience what so ever when it comes to spending "quality time" with my son.  After some particularly bad behaviour on Saturday, we spent about an hour covering the sun and saturn with tissue paper - paper mache style (technically only half of the sun is covered - but we're getting there).  I'm using the colours suggested in the instructions although I'm not sure whether there are actually any planets that are pink?? (guess Nadia will cover that one) and quite a few seem to be orange.  I'll keep you informed of how we get on...

On a more exciting note, we spent a total of 6 hours driving to and from Auckland to go to Calico Xmas on Sunday.  Managed to leave the camera in the car so didn't get any photos - but as my lovely husband took the kids to Albany shops and bought a total of 3 pairs of shoes which were desperately required (how did Dylan end up with 1 pair of jandals, plus two shoes one black, one white - but both for the right foot??) - and I could just wander around the displays and merchants to my hearts desire...

Now that summer is approaching, my flowers are once again doing their thing... the colours make me happy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Not a Honey Bee to be Seen

So OK, it's not a honey bee block - but I have also been gazing wistfully at a particular basket block - a little bit of imagination required as there is also a handle to applique on each basket (for those of you who don't realise it - the bit with all the triangles is a basket) and it does have the three tearshaped flower petals (resembling the corners of the honey bee thing) which peek up from the basket between the handles.  I spent about half an hour with my children looking at the block and creating different colourways as well as different layouts - Dylan's version had halloween fabric with green bats, ghosts and such things which was very interesting and certainly different.  Then we came across the exact fabric that matches Nadia's book bag fabric... certainly something to think about.  Best thing was that Dylan piped up some time later and said "I like your quilt Mum!" 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm feeling almost saintly

Well, I have been in the shed, and returned from the shed.  Have I achieved anything in the shed??  Well, probably not quite as much as I had hoped.  But, I have finished (well finished in the broad sense of the word in that a quilt top has been created) a project that was started maybe 6 years ago and has since layed dormant in a box all pinned together, having long since lost it's "nowness".  So, the grand reveal - spot the different between the unfinished and the finished:

And the big bonus, I now have a heap more pins in my pincushion!  Decisions, decisions - what do I do with this particular piece.  I could add borders as it is still a bit small, however this would require the purchase of fabric.  When it was planned, Dylan was probably about 1 - and would have appreciated the colours and pictures, but not so much as a 7 year old - so really it no longer has a purpose.  So I could finish it and sell it, or repurpose it as something else?  Any ideas??

Back to the shed/fabric reorganisation.  The only other grouping of fabric was one that started with the remnant from Nadia's book bag - to which I could add one metre of white on white, plus assorted oddments and fat quarters of semi-matching (good enough) prints.  What do you think?  I am thinking honey bee blocks - mostly white with some prints and three little teardrop shapes appliqued at each corner.  Will need to find my book that has something along those lines... WATCH THIS SPACE!

Meanwhile, while I don't think the Pope will be phoning in a hurry - I shall pat myself on the back for achieving something, and carry on with a positive frame of mind tomorrow.