Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Ornament swap roundup and Merry Christmas

Group 1 ornaments

I thought it was time to post a collage of all the wonderful ornaments I've received in this year's swap. Above are the ornaments from my group. The owl is from Lily's Make Believe, the knitted star is from Melly Muse, the Christmas purse is from Seven Stitches, the sequinned Christmas pudding is from Miss Millie and the embroidered heart and patchwork flower (actually a brooch that I'm hanging on the tree for now) are from NZFloss.

I've also received a few "bonus" ornaments from people to thank me for organising the swap. A collage of those is below. The pink bird is from Norma Tika, the blue bird is from Therese who lives in Palmerston North and the two knitted ornaments are from Minimiss. In addition, Cat Taylor sent me a lovely recycled paper garland which is currently adorning our mantelpiece.
Bonus ornaments

Thanks ladies for the wonderful ornaments! It was fun receiving all those parcels and getting a little surprise everytime I opened one. My tree is looking very festive and full of ornaments this year. The handmade ones don't quite out-number the bought ones yet, but they're getting close.

You can see more handmade ornament goodness in the ornament swap Flickr group.

I've got a few things on the Christmas to-do list still to complete, so I'll be starting my Christmas break from the computer today. Wishing you all a happy Christmas and best wishes for 2010!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas craft

If anyone is still in the mood for Christmas crafts, there are a lot of tutorials and templates being posted in blogland. Here are a few I've favourited:

- 3D globe ornament made from recycled magazine pages at How About Orange.
- Another paper ball ornament from Design*Sponge
- Gingerbread houses made from milk cartons at Maya*Made
- Advent calendar made from cardboard tubes at Maya*Made (a bit late for this year, but maybe next year)
- Paper pieced patchwork ornaments at Petite Purls
- Circular Christmas Cloth Napkins at Craft Sanity
- Dragon Boat wrapped thread ornaments at Craft Sanity (video also here)
- Kiwiana gift tags at Simone Quentin de Manson
- Paper bow from recycled gift wrap at Momfetti
- Felt mitten ornament pattern from Oliver + S
- Easy Christmas Card ideas from Kids Craft Weekly (I've saved this to use with my class next year)
- Embroidered felt tree ornament from ghostmyst (she made these for last year's swap and then generously provided a tutorial)
- Crochet star ornaments from Odd Pear
- Simple knitted mini stocking ornaments from Little Cotton Rabbits

I don't think I'll get through all of these this year, but I'm going to try some of the simple ornament ideas in the next couple of days. I'll let you know how I get on...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009



Although it has been unseasonably wet recently, I think it has at least been good for the garden. It's just exploded with green in the last week or so.

raised vegetable beds

We moved our vegetable garden to a much sunnier spot in the backyard this year and it seems to have paid off. The raised garden beds are slot-together ones that we bought off TradeMe and they have been fabulous - much easier than building your own beds (at least for DIY-incompetents like us!).

In the bed in the front of the photo there's various lettuces and herbs, baby carrots, baby beetroot, kale, capsicum and wild strawberries. In the far bed I've planted beans, more capsicum, zucchini, tomatoes and a big 'ole rhubarb that I got from my Mum. The rhubarb is one that my Poppa grew from seed when my Mum was a baby. Various family members have kept it going for 50-odd years and now it's in my garden as well as my Mum's. Poppa swears it is a much better variety than the ones you can get from the garden centre today. And by the way it is taking over the garden (see below), I'd have to agree!

rhubarb taking over

This year I've also planted potatoes in plastic grow-bags, an idea that I think I first saw on Jamie at Home. You roll the sides of the bag right down when you first plant the seed potatoes, and as they grow, you roll up the sides of the bag and add more soil - much easier than mounding up the soil around them in an ordinary bed.

potatoes planted in grow-bags

I'm looking forward to harvesting some homegrown veges for Christmas dinner this year.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Handmade holidays

The ornament swap was featured in a lovely article in yesterday's Dominion Post. Kimberley was writing a story about handmade ornaments and asked me if she could write about the ornament swap. It's great to see craft getting more and more of a profile in mainstream media. The craft revolution is gaining ground!
Here is a photo of the article. Click here to open a larger version that will allow you to read it on screen (use the magnifying glass button). Special thanks to Helen and Miss Smith, whose ornaments from last year's swap feature in the pictures, and to Kimberley of course, for including the swap in her story.
Edit: thanks to those of you who let me know you couldn't see the version on Flickr. It appears that if you are not a Flickr member, you can't see the large versions. Grrr. I hopefully have resolved the issue now by using Picasa web albums to host the large version.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Christmas Matryoshkas

My ornament swap group should have received their ornaments by now, so I think it's safe to write about what I made this year. Way before I announced the swap, I'd decided to make little Matryoshkas, but I didn't really know how I'd make them. I toyed with the idea of knitting them, but sewing seemed much easier. I tried out a couple of ideas using felt, but they didn't quite look like I wanted. Then I stumbled across a pattern in a book from the library called Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle. The pattern in the book was for little stuffed dolls to sit on a shelf, but I modified them to hang on a tree. I also significantly changed the method of construction to make them a bit easier to put together. I think they turned out pretty well.

Matryoshka ornaments for swap
I used craft cotton for the main parts of the dolls and felt, embroidery thread and seedbeads for their faces.

I also made some little gift bags to package them in. The bags and tags are made from brown paper (reused from packaging) and decorated with pieces of paper doily that I painted.

packaging them up

ready to post

I've started receiving some ornaments in the post and they are fantastic! I'll do a blog post next week with pictures of all of them. In the meantime, check out the wonderful ornaments already in the flickr group for the swap.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Cuteness for the kitchen

Matryoshka measuring cups

I picked up those Matryoshka measuring cups this week at Wanda Harland in Petone. I went into the shop looking for a birthday present for a friend and ended up buying a present for myself as well. Each half doll is a different sized measuring cup. As well as the standard 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup, the set includes 2/3 and 3/4 sized measures which is pretty handy. They can be nested to save space, but I like the look of the three of them sitting on my kitchen windowsill. And in case you're wondering, that's Molly the cat making an unplanned cameo in the background.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Christmas Mince Pies

One non-vegan Christmas treat I missed last year was Fruit Mince Pies. My nana used to make the scrummiest made-from-scratch mince pies, but of course the pastry was full of butter and the fruit mince probably contained suet. This year I decided to try and make a vegan version, and was pretty happy with the result:

Vegan Christmas Fruit Mince Pies

I used a super simple Alison Holst fruit mince recipe that contained dried fruit, apples, spices and brandy - all whizzed up in the food processor. For the sweet shortcrust pastry, I used this recipe, also made in the food processor. I used normal and mini muffin tins to make the two different sizes. They're not quite as buttery in flavour as I remember my nana's ones, but still pretty delicious. And great for an afternoon pre-Christmas treat along with a hot chocolate. And no, I did not eat all four by myself...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Vegan Truffles!

vegan chocolate truffles
Now these are seriously more-ish. And all they contain is chocolate, cashew nuts and water, plus icing sugar to coat. How's that for easy? Back in my non-vegan days I made similar truffles using cream, butter and chocolate and I honestly think these taste just as good, if not better. The recipe is here at Vegan Zest for Life (another great NZ vegan blog), and the only real kitchen equipment requirement is a grunty food processor or blender to ensure you get the cashews and water blended really smoothly. I made a one-third batch to try out the recipe and I used my favourite dark chocolate, Whittaker's Dark Ghana, which, with 72% cocoa mass, turned out to be too rich. Next time I'll use their Bittersweet Dark chocolate (only 47% cocoa mass) and maybe add some flavourings (mint or orange maybe) and try out some different coatings (chopped nuts, chocolate hail, coconut). I can see this being a great go-to recipe for Christmas thank-you gifts this year.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Another Craft2.0 next week

If you've got people left to buy for on your Christmas list, go along to Craft2.0 in Lower Hutt next Thursday night. Sounds like it will be a good night, with live music on at the same time.
Craft2.0 all about uS

Monday, 23 November 2009

Nice view

A couple of weeks ago, we went for a walk in the area behind Day's Bay, out on the way to Eastbourne. Our walking guidebook said the walk was 5km, "steep in some parts" and would take 2 - 2 1/2 hours. "Pffft, whatever", we said, "those guidebook times are written for people who stop to have a rest and eat some scroggin every 10 minutes. Surely we can do 5km much faster than that." Boy were we wrong. You see, we should have interpreted "steep in some parts" to be "there is a very long, very steep, sometimes scrambling climb to the top of the ridge". This ridge runs behind Eastbourne and the neighbouring bays, and eventually becomes the Wainui Hill. Here is Alex having a rest on a park bench we came across about half-way up the climb to the top. A great place to take in the view and catch your breath. That's Wellington city in the distance and Matiu-Somes Island in the harbour off to the left.

Above Day's Bay

Oh, and our final time? Two hours, ten minutes. Next time we will believe the guidebook...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

New Bibs and Tag Blankets

I managed to snatch some time last week during exam study to do a wee bit of sewing for a much-needed update to my Felt shop. New bibs and tag blankets now online.

Bibs and Tag Blankets

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Handmade Christmas ornament swap for 2009

Edit: Sign-ups now closed. Thanks for all the interest! We have 56 participants this year. You should have an email with the details of your group by Sunday night.

Last year I ran a handmade Christmas ornament swap for kiwi participants. I had been wanting to participate in some of the US-based swaps, but the cost of international postage had put me off. The swap ended up being quite successful and I have decided to organise it again.

Here are the guidelines:

1. Sign-up by sending me an email to twentycentmixture at gmail dot com. You need to include your name and snail mail address, plus your blog if you have one. Signups will close on Friday 6th November. Sorry, but to limit postage costs, this swap will only be open to New Zealand residents.

2. I will assign you into a small group of 6-7 people and send you the addresses of everyone in your group. I will not send your address to anyone else.

3. You need to come up with an ornament design that you can easily replicate – it can be crafted however you like (knit, sew, crochet, embroider, print, gocco, paint etc), but it must be handmade (you can use a sewing machine though!).

4. Make enough ornaments for your group, and post one ornament to each person by Friday 11th December.

5. Sit back and wait to receive some wonderful handmade ornaments in the post just in time for Christmas.

If you need some inspiration for ideas, have a browse through the flickr groups for last year's NZ swap and the 2008 US swap.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Craft2.0 this Saturday

If you're in search of some crafty goodness this weekend, Craft2.o is on again in Lower Hutt. Details are below. Judging by the sneak peaks people have posted on Flickr, the email discussions on the Craft2.0 mailing list and the conversations on Facebook, it sounds like it's going to be a cracker. I'm not doing a stall this time, but I am definitely going along for a spot of shopping and a catch-up with some bloggy people. First 100 people through the door get a free goodie bag.
P.S. I'm planning on running the handmade Christmas ornament swap again this year. Stay tuned for details of how to sign up in the next few days.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Weekend fun

We had a weekend away visiting my family for my niece's first birthday party. Much fun was had, including:

Decorating (vegan) cupcakes and an elephant birthday cake:

Watching this little cutie enjoy her birthday party:

Having some Aunty-Niece bonding time:

Friday, 9 October 2009

Peggy Squares for Samoa

I've been at a bit of a loose end recently when it comes to crafting. I'm in the middle of a large assessment round - 3 major assignments followed by 3 exams - so I don't want to start any major new projects, yet I need something to help me wind down when I've got a few precious moments of down-time. I got an email today from Knit World that suggested the perfect simple no-brainer project that also helps a worthwhile cause - peggy squares for Samoa.

Apparently Knit World are running a nationwide appeal to knit peggy squares to make blankets for those in Samoa affected by the recent Tsunami. A shipping container has been organised to go to Samoa at the end of October. Knit World are trying to get as many blankets knitted before then to go on that container.

Instructions for a 20cm x 20cm peggy square: Using Double Knit Yarn and 5.00mm needles cast on 35 stitches and knit in garter stitch for 20cm. Cast off leaving a long length of yarn to sew up. If you are knitting more than one peggy square, just knit a long strip to save on sewing up.

Peggy squares can be dropped off at any Knit World shop. If you don't live near a Knit World shop, I'm happy for you to post completed squares to me and I'll drop them off to my nearest store. Just email me to arrange.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Today I am One or, my first veganniversary

Today is world vegetarian day. It is also a year since Alex and I started our new vegan lifestyle. We had been vegetarian for 3 1/2 years at that stage, but I was still a bit daunted by the full switch to veganism. How would I bake without eggs, milk or butter? Where would our protein come from? How would I survive a life without cheese? And most importantly, could I still eat chocolate?

In the end, it has been so much easier than I expected. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I couldn't be happier about it. Yes, I do miss some foods, but not as much as I had expected. And the peace of mind that comes with this new lifestyle far outweighs any cravings I might have for dairy products or eggs.

This year we have discovered some wonderful new foods that we might otherwise never have tried. Quinoa, kale, buckwheat, tempeh and agave nectar are just some of our new staples, and we are continuing to discover new foods. I have learnt how to bake without eggs or dairy (including making the most delicious vegan cupcakes from this book), cook beans from scratch (much cheaper than the canned ones), make a pizza without cheese (not as weird as it sounds) and make my own soy yoghurt. And I have discovered that, yes, I CAN still have dark chocolate (Whittakers and Richfields have the best ranges for vegans).

Below are a couple of favourite easy recipes that now often feature on our weekly menu.

If any of you are considering a vegan lifestyle, or want to know what is so bad about dairy and eggs, I encourage you to check out the wonderful podcast Vegetarian Food for Thought, which played a significant role in our decision to become vegan. There are also some vegan FAQs here.

Baked Tofu
We mostly eat this in sandwiches, but you could also have it diced in a salad, in a stir-fry or even in sushi.

Shake the following together in a screw topped jar:
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar (you can get agave in Wgtn at Commonsense Organics)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (see note below)

Preheat your oven to 220 degC. Slice your tofu (I use Hings brand extra firm tofu in the 250g packs - this gives about 10 slices) into slices about 5mm thick.

slicing the tofu

Spray an oven proof dish lightly with oil (make sure the dish is big enough to fit the tofu slices). Lay the tofu slices in the dish and pour over about 1/3 of the marinade. Use a pastry brush or your hands to spread the marinade around and ensure the tofu is covered on both sides. If you have time, leave the tofu to sit in the marinade for about 10 mins (optional step).

tofu with marinade - before baking

Bake for approx 20 mins, turning over the slices halfway through cooking. When cooled the tofu should should be chewy but not crispy. Great for sandwiches. The marinade makes enough for about 3 batches and keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

baked tofu

**A note about liquid smoke - this gives a great smoked flavour to dishes. It is really concentrated, so you only need a very small amount. I bought mine online from Nelson Naturally.

Easy Bean Salad

easy bean salad
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together:
330g can mixed beans (or the equivalent of home-cooked beans)
1/2 small red onion, diced
3 tbsp water
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Great as a side dish for dinner, or by itself for lunch. You can also add diced capsicum or celery if you wish.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Jackson Pollock, kids-style

Jackson Pollock lesson 1
I promised to share some art that I did with the kids while I was on placement. The year 4 class (8-9 year olds) was doing a unit on art while I was there, so I did some lessons where they discussed their reactions to a range of famous paintings. We also did some brainstorming around topics like "What is art?", "Why do people create art?" , "What types of art do you know?" and so on. I was really surprised at some of their answers and their reactions to the paintings were quite insightful.
My Associate Teacher also did some lessons about several famous artists and then allowed the class to make their own artwork in the style of the artist. Here are some pictures from the Jackson Pollock lesson. The kids first watched this video showing how Jackson Pollock painted. They then looked at a few examples of his artworks and we discussed them. Finally they planned and created their own masterpiece. The kids had a lot of fun dribbling and flicking the paint and finished pieces looked fantastic once they were mounted. I will definitely be trying this idea with my own class at some point.
Jackson Pollock lesson 2

Jackson Pollock lesson 3

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Art for all

If you haven't discovered it yet, you must visit Feed Your Soul. Each week you can download art prints from up and coming artists for free! Print one out, frame it and smile at your new piece of art. This is one of my faves, by artist Sarah Golden.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Long time...

It has been a full-on couple of months here at casa 20c mixture. After our holiday in Auckland, Alex started a new job that is keeping him busy and I have been occupied with assignments and teaching. I'm currently in the middle of another 7 week teaching placement at a primary school in Lower Hutt. This time I had to plan and teach several weeks of classes, which has been both exhausting and rewarding. I have had a lot of late nights up preparing resources and polishing lesson plans, and broken sleep worrying about how it will go. Thankfully my preparation paid off and the last three weeks have gone relatively smoothly, albeit with the help of strong cups of coffee at lunchtime to get me through the afternoon.
The final two weeks of my placement will be a lot quieter, as I'll be sharing the teaching with the classroom teacher, meaning I'll hopefully get more time for crafting and gardening (I still haven't planted the new vege garden).
I'm hoping to get back into posting more regularly now that this current busy period is over. I've taught a few art lessons with my class and they have done some great work that I'd like to share. I've also got some plans for new designs for my online shop that have been brewing in my head and need to be sewn up. In the meantime, here is my first FO in a very long time, a soft knitted ball for my niece. The pattern is from Knitted Toys by Zoe Mellor. A simple pattern made up of six separate sections, which required a lot of sewing up at the end, but I think the finished product was worth it.

knitted stripy ball

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Happy stripes

I managed to finish the stripy socks while we were in Auckland. I love how the Wendy Happy bamboo yarn knitted up. They are soft and silky and the bright stripes make me smile.

stripy socks and mary janes

I used the Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula Knitty pattern (Ravelry link here), which I highly recommend, especially if you have irregular-sized feet (mine are quite wide). You measure your feet first and then plug the numbers into the pattern to make custom-sized socks especially for you! The toe-up method (using a crochet/provisional cast-on) means you can try them on as you go to ensure that they really are going to fit. For the cast-off at the top I used a stretchy sewn cast-off method that was recommended on Ravelry. It is from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters Almanac and there is a video here showing how to do it. Very useful bind-off for areas where you need stretch, like the ends of sleeves or tops of socks.

stripy socks

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sale time

It's time for an update of my Felt shop. That means a winter sale is in order. There is at least 20% off everything - bibs, baby shoes, baby tshirts and bags. Check it out here.

Home again

I'm back from a lovely week away in Auckland. I've never really spent any time as a tourist in Auckland, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Normally I'm intimidated by the size of the city and all the crowds, but we went armed with a GPS for the rental car which helped with the navigation, plus holidaying in winter meant the crowds weren't too bad. There were only two other people at Karekare beach when we visited, so it almost felt like we had it to ourselves. We also made lots of time for relaxing (reading for him, knitting and reading for me) and I really feel like my batteries have been recharged. This week Alex is back at work and I have two weeks of holidays remaining. The to-do list is getting longer almost by the hour - just how much can I fit into two weeks? Yesterday I made two batches of jam (feijoa and plum) and a double batch of pasta sauce. Today I'm trying to sort out some new things for my Felt store. I'll be back tomorrow with some crafting photos.

In the meantime, here are some favourite photos from our week away.

Rangitoto island, taken from a harbour cruise boat. It is such a lovely symmetrical shape, and it really dominates the horizon.

Piha beach. I loved the dark sand and how the seaspray was making the air all misty looking. The surf was pretty good that day - there were a few surfers braving the cold to catch some waves.

Piha beach - Lion Rock. This photo was taken just before the previous one, but the beach doesn't look nearly so moody.

PS - the new banner up there is also a holiday photo - the remains of my coffee at Kokako, a lovely organic vegetarian cafe on Parnell Road.

Friday, 19 June 2009

On holiday

My last exam finished yesterday. In the 24 hours or so since then I have been embracing being on holiday free from the pressures of studying. Last night I knitted in front of the TV - what a novelty! Today I went for a run, sewed something for me (rather than a wholesale order), had a haircut and baked some cupcakes. Bliss. Now if I could only find a job that paid me to knit, sew and bake...

We are off to Auckland for a week tomorrow, but once we're back I'm hoping to be blogging a bit more frequently. And will hopefully have some crafty things to share too.

And totally unrelated, here's a photo of my latest wholesale order - some corduroy winter baby pinafores for Found My Way in Invercargill. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out - I think I might have to make some more for my Felt shop.

cord pinafores

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The "It's all about me" meme

The lovely Megan tagged me for this meme. It's all about me...

What is your current obsession?
Finding time to craft amongst the studying, finding the perfect pair of vegan red winter boots, winter pinafores, vegan cupcakes

What are you wearing today?
Well, I’m at home revising for my exams, and not planning to go out until the end of the day, so it’s jeans, a grey long-sleeved top and a blue hoodie. Accessorised with navy slippers. Nice.

What's for dinner?
Pasta, home-made tomato sauce and olives, artichokes and eggplant. Yum!

What would you eat for your last meal?
Ooh, that’s a hard question. It would have to involve pinot noir, lemon tart and Whitakkers Dark Ghana chocolate....

What's the last thing you bought?
Ummm, probably a coffee at uni yesterday. I gave up caffeine a few months ago and I’m quite proud of my complicated coffee order – “I’ve have a soy decaff flat white thanks”

What are you listening to right now?
Wax-eyes chirping in our olive tree and the swish of the washing machine

What do you think of the person who tagged you?
I’ve never met Megan, but I really enjoy reading her blog. She’s bravely facing some tough things at the moment and I admire her for it. I’m also jealous that she moved to the provinces from Wellington and is living the country life – one of my dreams.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
Given that I’m reading Under the Tuscan Sun, and obsessed with Italy at the moment, it would have to be an old house in rural Tuscany with a massive vege garden and loads of fruit trees – I’d love to be able to grow all the ingredients for a ratatouille in my own backyard.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Mood fabrics in New York. With a limitless credit card of course.
Or failing that, somewhere sunny and warm – a cocktail on the beach in Rarotonga sounds pretty good right now.

Which language do you want to learn?
Well, I should know French and Italian, since I studied them at uni, but I’ve been pretty slack at keeping up my fluency. So, either of those would be good. Plus Māori.

What's your favorite quote (for now)?
At the moment I really like a couple of lines from a W.B. Yeats poem called He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
“I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

What is your favorite colour?
Red, red and more red.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
A millefiore glass pendant I bought in Venice and a gorgeous red a-line skirt from Widdess in Ponsonby.

What is your dream job?
Ummm, well I’m really looking forward to being a teacher in my own classroom next year. And considering I quit my last job to go back to uni and train to be a teacher, I guess that must be my dream?

What's your favourite magazine?
I don’t tend to buy magazines much, but I have been subscribing to the wonderful World Sweet World the last few months. Frankie is also quite good – I like that it combines fashion, craft, music and books. I get my guilty gossip-fix at the hairdressers when I make a beeline for Marie Claire.

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?
So, about $300 NZD? A new hairdryer (my current one is going to die any day now), a pair of fantastically flattering jeans (the perfect pair exist, I just know it) and spend anything leftover at Borders on craft books.

Describe your personal style?
Oooh, that’s a tricky one – now that I’m a student, it’s jeans and cardies mostly. And the occasional skirt and boots. Maybe I could call it student chic?

What are you going to do after this?
Hang up the washing and then study for my English exam.

What are your favourite films?
I have two types of favourite films – the ones I consider acceptable to admit to, like Donnie Darko, Juno, Eagle vs Shark, Garden State, The Princess Bride. And then the cheesy ones that I’ve watched over and over and are not exactly high art but I love them anyway, like Dirty Dancing, Notting Hill and Grease

What's your favourite fruit?
Feijoas, berries and golden queen peaches

What inspires you?
New Zealand landscapes, native trees, young children, people living the life they love, books, creative people

Your favourite books?
The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake, Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, The Eyre Affair

Do you collect anything?
Blue pottery mugs, buttons, fabric, cheesy fridge magnets from our travels

What are you currently reading?
Under the Tuscan Sun, The BFG (it’s research for my exam, honestly)

Go to your book shelf, take down the first book with a red spine you see, turn to page 26 and type out the first line:
"We are very grateful indeed to Mr Grundy, Mr Attery Squash, the Blue Baboon, Mr Pobble, Lola Vavoom and of course the Dong, who so generously agreed to entertain us with his luminous nose”
It’s from The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

What makes you follow a blog?
I follow blogs that inspire me, that make me laugh, that let me get to know the person behind the blog.

The rules:
1. Respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own.
2. Tag eight other people.

It seems like almost everyone on my blogroll has been tagged for this already, but if you haven't been, consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The perfect winter weekend lunch

weekend lunch

Delicious thick, hearty barley and lentil soup from this recipe, accompanied by homemade crusty rolls. The perfect antidote to wild winter weather outside.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Stripy socks

The drive to Rotorua for the marathon gave me an excuse for some guilt-free crafting. Reading in the car makes me feel sick, so I couldn't do any coursework. But, for some reason, I CAN knit in the car. Yay! I planned to start these socks as soon as we left Wellington, but they are knit from the toe-up and I didn't know how to do a crochet cast-on. Google saved the day once we got to my Mum's house and I was able to start these up there and do some knitting on the way home.

Stripy socks

The yarn is Wendy Happy, a new sock yarn made from bamboo and nylon. I was so happy to find a reasonably priced vegan yarn that is specifically designed for socks. Plus, Knit World in Lower Hutt (my closest yarn store) has started stocking it. The yarn is really soft and silky and is knitting up nicely. It comes in several colourways, all named after signs of the zodiac, that produce different pattern effects. This colourway is capricorn. I think they're going to look really cute worn with my mary-janes.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Marathon effort

Alex ran his first marathon in Rotorua on Saturday. I was the support crew, following him for some of the way on the back of my Dad's motorbike.

Here he is (well, the back of his head anyway) crossing the line in a great time of just under 3 hours 20 mins.
I'm proud of you my love.

Friday, 24 April 2009

New toy

When I blogged about my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I forgot to mention the birthday present I bought myself. It might not look like much, but it made me happy:

snap setter

My very own almost-power-tool - a brand-new snap setter from Greenbeans! After borrowing snap setters from other people, I finally shelled out for one of my own. The greenbeans site sells them for putting snaps in modern cloth nappies, but I've discovered they're great for easily putting snaps in the bibs and pinafores I sell. And I'm sure there are a whole lot more uses yet to be discovered...

By the way, those piles of bibs in the photo are for my first wholesale orders. They're now making their way to Found My Way in Invercargill and Rockabye Baby in Ashburton. I've added a stockists list over on the right hand side there ---> and I'll hopefully add more shops to it in the coming few months.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Happy Monday

spoils from fabric fair
I enjoyed the fabric fair on Saturday - the whole stash up there set me back about $20. Looking at the picture, my inner magpie was obviously drawn to stripes, spots, ric-rac and blue and green that day. Most of the cotton pieces are over 1 metre and a couple of them are over 2 metres. I really like the white and red floral - a skirt for next summer perhaps?

Despite my big crafting plans for the school holidays, I've not managed to achieve much in the first week. I caught a nasty head cold last week (just after I'd gotten over the last one), and I didn't feel like doing a whole lot of anything for a few days. I've also been working on a couple of wholesale orders of bibs and tshirts for some shops in the South Island (exciting - somehow selling in shops seems much more glamorous than selling online!), so my personal crafting has been put on hold.

I have managed to fulfill one of my aims for the holidays though - running every day. I'm planning to run a 10km event in June and am way out of practice. The holidays seemed like a good time to kickstart my training. I really questioned my sanity this morning though, when I was out running in the rain, in a strong southerly...

Thursday, 16 April 2009


I tell you, I think crafty people have some of the coolest ideas. Here's one I've just discovered - fabric-a-brac. A craft fair dedicated to selling fabric, buttons, trims and patterns. Sellers get to clear out their stashes, buyers get to score some crafty bargains.

It's this Saturday, 18th April from 12-4 in the Brooklyn Community Centre, 18 Harrison St, Brooklyn. I can't wait!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Easter Brunch

We were all set to go out for brunch on Monday, until I thought to check that our favourite cafe was open. Unfortunately they were closed for the Easter weekend. Instead I whipped up some french toast at home, using the great recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance. I served it with berries (reheated from frozen), banana, soy yoghurt and agave nectar. Yummo! Critical brunch tragedy averted.
vegan french toast

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Craft2.0 this Saturday

If you're staying in Welly, or coming to the capital for your Easter break, don't forget to head out to Lower Hutt on Saturday morning and check out Craft2.0 at the New Dowse. There will be lots of crafty goodness for sale plus some hands-on activities too. Check out all the details and read some profiles of the sellers here.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


I've been out on teaching experience in a primary school for the last 3 weeks, hence the lack of posts, but today I had a day at home to try and shake off the cold I've had for a couple of days. It just so happened that today was also my birthday. I felt better by this afternoon so I managed to cook a celebratory dinner - ratatouille on quinoa and chocolate cupcakes for two. Washed down with a glass or two of bubbly of course.

veges for ratatouille

chocolate birthday cupcakes

Looking forward to the school holidays and some long-awaited crafting time.

Friday, 13 March 2009

We are learning to knit

Gosh, it has been two weeks since I posted. I am buried in assignments and coursework and I don't think it's going to let up anytime soon. Suffice to say, I'm not getting much crafting done these days. But I'm getting my craft fix where I can. One of my assignments for this week was to design and deliver a 10 minute lesson to a small group of my peers. We could chose anything we liked. I taught my group to knit. The knitting army has hopefully grown by three new members...

Friday, 27 February 2009

Quilt top finished

quilt top

This has been sitting in the to-do pile for far too long. Earlier this week I finally dug it out and realised that I only had to sew the strips of triangles together and add a border for the top to be finished.

This quilt came to me in pieces via a Trade Me auction (and the person I bought it from told me she had bought them at an op-shop) - the pieces were already cut out and I had to try and figure out what pattern was intended. In the end I opted for large triangles, with lots of white in between. The white fabric also has a history - it played a part in our wedding 7 years ago. We got married in a forest clearing in Rotorua and I walked down an "aisle" of white fabric strewn with rose petals. I'm slowly using the 20m or so of white cotton in my craft projects.

In retrospect, triangles were not an easy choice for a first quilt - it is really difficult to line up the triangles with each other without loosing the points in the seam allowance. There are rather a lot of truncated triangles in this quilt, but I think it just adds to the charm...

Next up, backing and quilting. I think that in keeping with the thrifted/re-used theme, I should really back it with a vintage sheet. The hunt is on for the perfect sheet to use.