Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More rain, and something to do.

It's still raining outside, but at least that gives us a good reason to do some fun building this afternoon. We might stick to blocks and the train set, but if we are feeling adventurous we might print off these buildings illustrated above and build them. Aren't they cool? They're free and you can download them here at Meddybemps.

Or if you feel like something VERY cute and gorgeous you could print off and build this wee Japanese fish shop. You can find it here, and there are lots of other beautiful little scenes too. Google translator will help you navigate the site, because it's all in japanese. Again, these are all free, you just print them and off you go.

Have a great wet windy Wednesday everyone!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tomato relish in the dead of winter

I like making stuff. It tears my very soul out when I have to purchase jam or relish, so you can imagine my consternation when summer came and went without me getting around to making to making tomato relish. "Well Miss Smith" I thought to myself on Sunday "you will have to try making tomato relish with canned tomatoes." Strangely enough, this thought occurred to me after I saw a recipe for tomato chutney on the side of the can of tomatoes. I didn't fancy their recipe as I don't like it tooooooo sweet. So, I made it the way I like it, and do you know what? It's pretty delicious.
Tomato Relish with Canned tomatoes:
4 cans (400 g each can) tomatoes in juice
2 c brown sugar
2 c wine vinegar
4 onions
1 apple, peeled or not, however you like it
1 head of garlic
fresh ginger, about 5 cm, peeled
2 t curry powder
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
Salt to taste (1 T)

Peel the onions and garlic, place in a food processor with the ginger, apple, and half the vinegar and process until finely chopped. If you don't have a food processor just chop these ingredients up finely. Combine with all other ingredients and simmer until reduced and thick (90 minutes, approximately). Bottle and seal. Makes 5 x 500 g jars.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Back to sewing

There's been a lot of diversions from sewing lately, what with 5-year-old's parties and cakes and so on. It was so nice to leave the children to their new toys yesterday and get back to some sewing. I made a tote bag from the herringbone fabric I got at the recycling centre. If you think it looks quite subtle and mannish then that's a good thing, because it's for my Dad. He is a spritely 78-year-old, who is soon to be 79, so I made this for his birthday. It will be just right for library books, and "a few wee things from the supermarket" (this is a catchphrase of his that is stuck in my mind, and I find myself using all the time). He will be delighted to know that everything in this bag is a repurposed material. All my junk shopping tendencies have been inherited from him, he can out-junk-shop me any day. Happy birthday to you, Dad! Love from Miss Smith
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The day of the party

The day of the party has arrived. Another lightning mcqueen cake, same recipe as last time, same toy plonked on the top. Nyah ha ha! Harry assembled the guest list for his party this year, and we have 10 children coming. It should be fun! I'm thinking calm thoughts. Lucky we are having the party indoors, because it's FREEZING outside. Still, the daffodils are convinced that spring is on its way...

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time for Grandma to visit

Yay! It's time for my Mum, Harry and Sylvie's Grandma, to jump off the plane and spend a few days at our place. The children are very excited and I am too. I have worn my fingerprints off with all the cleaning I've done this morning. Last time she was here she said "Well, you're such a neat and tidy person,..." Simon was so surprised to hear me described this way he nearly choked on his dinner. I smiled at him smugly and said "Mothers know best". Anyway, I have to maintain this neat and tidy illusion because she doesn't know what a slob I really am.

By the way, can you believe my next door neighbour Joy was gonna throw this clock away? I flippin love it.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Harry turns 5

Five years and nine months ago, Simon and I were sitting having a very late breakfast in a wee cafe in Blois. "Hey we could ditch the rest of our travel plans and buy a house" I said. "Good idea" said Simon, "and we could have a baby, too". So we did.
Our little baby is 5 today. We are SO proud of him! This afternoon when I asked him what he would like to do, he wanted to go with Sylvie to the toyshop so they could both choose a toy. Sweeeeeet!

Here is what he has asked for for dinner "Pasta, cheese, and broccoli, Mum. No sauce. I mean it, no sauce". Doesn't it look speccie?

And here is his cake, after being decimated by 20 friends, 6 teachers, 2 parents, and one next-door-neighbour at childcare this morning.

Actually this recipe is really useful for large, intended-for-sharing cakes, so I will write it down.
Fran's chocolate cake, with no eggs
Melt together 1/2 c milk, 1 c sugar, 125 g butter, and 1 large tablespoon golden syrup. Cool a little, then add 1 and 1/2 c flour, 2 T cocoa, 1/2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 t mixed spice. Stir in 1 t baking soda dissolved in another 1/2 c milk. Bake 30 min at 180 degrees Celcius.
Double the mixture makes a great big size that's perfect for decorating and sharing. You can use oil and soymilk if you want to make it dairy-free as well as egg-free. That way almost all the kids are able to have some, which is kinda nice.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Special guest star- Marg

My sister Marg makes all sorts of great stuff, she always has done actually. Some of my earliest memories are of Marg's art and craft projects. Actually I have lots of clever family members; three sisters, three brothers, one mother and one father.
This sumo pillow is one of Marg's latest projects. I think it is hilarious. I can think of all sorts of amusing ways that you could quilt it to bring out the details. Ha ha! I love the kiwifruit border too, it makes me laugh!
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Cemetery Fun

Good evening. Tonight's discussion topic is "Is jumping on graves irreverent?"

This complex topic is a pressing issue on a sunny Monday afternoon. After careful consideration, I have decided that if it was me lying under that headstone, I would flippin' love it if a small child climbed up and joyfully leapt down. It might have been the most fun I'd had in 150 years.

Thanks for all the great ideas for rainy day activities, I knew you Dunedin folks would have a plethora of fun things to do, being so VERY experienced in making the most of bad weather. We did go out for a walk as it happens, and I was busted, yes BUSTED, in my most hideous of weekend clothes by some of my most styley friends. Oh dear. Still it resulted in a fun afternoon trip to Max, where I bought myself some very lovely new clothes. Now I will never be caught in scuffed jeans and ratty old polar fleece ever again.
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

And model AER-6 makes six!

My robot order is complete! This makes the sixth flat robot for a lampshade, which my sister Marg is going to make. I can't wait to see it.

It's been RAINING all weekend and we have severe cabin fever. We've exhausted all our rainy-day inside games. We are sick of playing caterpillars in the sleeping bags, we've made pikelets, we played with playdough, and we've watched far too much telly. Yes, we have. This morning I think we might have to put on our gumboots and raincoats and just go out in the weather, creeping alongside walls and under trees to avoid the worst effects of the fresh air.

If you have some good rainy day games please share. I'm begging.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

12-minute pants for dolls

So anyway, I've now made a few clothes for our differently abled doll, Moana (left).

After a bit of experimentation, I now bring you....


1. Select a cute old t-shirt. This was one of Sylvie's ones that she'd grown out of.

2. Cut out this shape. I just did it by eye, but each piece is about half the waist measurement of the doll, plus 5 cm or so. The length from the crotch is the actual length of Moana's legs, plus 1.5 cm.
See how I just cut through the bottom seam instead of cutting it off? This means you won't have hem the pants. Yee ha!

3. Fold each piece in half, and sew the inner leg seam.

4. Sew the crotch seam.

5. Chuck some elastic around the top, and you're done. In 12 minutes, if you're racin'.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good news! Another robot!

Sylvie would like to type the caption for today's robot "bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbhh hhhjuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuj jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjuuuuuuuuuujjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj"

Yes, that's right. It's a red one, with wheels.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


When I first got a digital camera I did lots of editing out of shots that weren't quite right, funny expressions, that sort of thing. After a few months I found that I just had a string of photos where everyone was always grinning, and I suddenly realised that too much editing out can leave you with a record that isn't really true.

Anyway, it's the same sort of thing with a blog. You only write about the blogworthy moments, and you don't get round to writing about the stuff you really do. My weekend check-list is a case in point. I really did do those things, but I also lounged around in front of the telly, told the children off for whining and then did plenty of whining myself, drank too much coffee just because it tastes so good, didn't bother doing most of the sewing I had planned, chatted on the phone to my sister for a couple of hours while sauteing myself on the electric blanket, and avoided vaccuuming the house. You didn't see THOSE things on the check-list, now did you?

Okay, that's enough honesty for today. Now you might like to see some of my recent junk shopping treasures.

1. This cute 1970s flight suitcase. This makes me think of beautiful air hostesses with great hairdos and shapely legs.

2. These fabrics from the recycling centre. Four shades of herringbone, and a great retro print.

Tra la la, I love junk shopping.
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekend check-list

Weekend check-list:

1 x night out for me
2 x parties for the wee ones
1 x trip to wavepool
1 x trip to cafe
3 x young fogey baking episodes (anzacs, raspberry jam, pikelets)
1 x sleepover by one of Harry's friends
1 x sick husband
1 x sick child

Oh yes, and 1 x yellow robot.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Hair ties for Grace

We are off to a party for a wee friend of Harry's this weekend. Her name is Grace. I didn't know they were friends actually, and when I asked Harry about her he said "Oh yes, Grace loves me". So I made her these wee hair ties, as a present. They are just felt and beads etc. They took about 15 minutes each. Easy!

Have a great weekend everyone!
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Lucybot

It's robot time again. This model is called the Lucybot. It's for a little baby called Lucy, and it has a wee loop so that it can be dangled from a babygym. Lucy's parents and I were speculating that programming robots is probably a little like sign language, in that babies can do it long before they can talk. Hence this little Lucybot has a dial that indicates what Lucy needs most at anyone time; nappy, sleep, cuddle, or food. Welcome to the world little Lucy, and here's a robot to help you on your way. Love from Miss Smith xxoo
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Texture cushions, round 2

A while ago I made some "texture cushions" for the childcare centre my children go to, and before I knew it I was making some more for another childcare centre. I finished them off last weekend, and I hurriedly took these photos without doing a final iron. Tsk! the creases stand out a mile! Anyway, these cushion covers have ric-rac trim from a vintage fabric shop in Auckland, a tea towel that I burnt a hole in and salvaged the good pieces from, some red and brown corduroy fom Spotlight, different trims from the Penroses closing down sale, and a fabric banner from a Japanese fish shop. They were so much fun to make. I might even make some more, just because I love to thrash a good idea. Have a good Wednesday everyone!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nope, still not sick of robots.

So here is robot no. 3 for the lampshade. If you are thinking that it looks a little like a saveloy then I forgive you, because I think that too. Still, there's nothing to stop it being a saveloy robot; the lights are indicating the cooking program and the graph shows the temperature fluctuations as the savs are cooked and then dispensed into clammy white bread with tomato sauce and mustard. I didn't stitch on any saveloy dispensing unit so you'll just have to imagine where they come out. Pah ha ha ha ha! I know what you are thinking and you are very rude! Pah ha ha ha ha!
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Monday, July 7, 2008

I never get sick of robots.

Hellooooo out there! It's amazing how well rested and relaxed I feel after two nights with two good friends over in sunny Mapua. We stayed in this bach (or crib, for you lower South Island readers), which was very cozy and comfy and was the perfect setting for making robots. I made these two little flat robots, the first two of six that will eventually be used on a lampshade. I may still put some more dials and lights on them, I'll see how I go. Other than making robots, all I did was read magazines, go out for lunch, and throw money down the toilet, laughing as I did so. Oh my goodness it was so fun. I can't wait to do it all again.
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Friday, July 4, 2008

Teenage-man-boy craft

Okay, here it is, a crafted birthday present for a teenage-man-boy. Two pillowcases, each with one side in boyish stripes and the other in metrosexual polkadots. I just measured up a normal pillowcase, added 20 cm to make the foldover bit at the end, and sewed 'em up! I am rather pleased with them actually.

I am going on a craft retreat this weekend, and guess what, so far the only craft in my suitcase is a bottle of wine and a good book.
Have a great weekend everyone!
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