Friday, January 30, 2009

New craft distractions

Last day of the summer holidays today, so we are sitting around together, learning french and doing counting games while we talk about how much we love eachother.
Lies, of course. In fact the kids and I have just been to the video shop because I am in desperate need of some quiet time to myself. They are now parked in front of the telly and I am on the computer and then after this I'm going to do some sewing while they watch all their new DVDs. Ha!

This marks the frazzledness of someone at the end of the summer holidays. Not that they haven't been great, but, know.

Anyway, wasn't I going to talk about craft? Oh yes. We went to the library yesterday and I got this great book out all about free-form embroidery. It was so inspiring, because apart from the rudimentary embroidery I've done on robots or whatever, I've always thought it didn't really suit my temperament because it looked so precise and you had to count and follow plans and stuff. But this book is all about winging it and that is just my cup of tea. See these sweet little brooches?

And this little dog...

These are the work of Sue Dove, whose gallery pieces can be seen here. Her book, Painting with Stitches, is very motivating, as the methods and techniques section starts like this "I am not obsessive about either techniques or materials..."
Now that's the beginning of instructions that I can really identify with.
Hey, and another exciting thing happened! Elle nominated me for a very lovely award over on Wardrobe Revival. Thanks Elle, that made my day. I am so happy that my silly robots entertain people other than myself. Technically I am now supposed to pass the award to seven other bloggers. But that's where it gets really tricky, you know, cos I read heaps of blogs. Not just the ones on my sidebar but the ones on their sidebars and the ones on their sidebars. And I couldn't really narrow down seven favourites because I just have too many. So instead, Elle, I hope you don't mind if I do a blanket "Thanks for being so clever and for sharing it around" to all the bloggers.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Something for you

Well Hi! Now, who among you have a secret little soft spot for New Zealand wildlife? I'm only asking such a personal question about your taste in fauna because I am doing this little giveaway of a sweet little New Zealand Wildlife calendar (Yes, my camera is still broken, hence my blog posts getting more and more lateral as I think of new ways to use scanned images).
The calendar is a little bigger than A5 sized, and it will be mailed anywhere in the world for free to a commenter selected at random. Here is a wee sample of the photos...

All you have to do is leave a comment about one thing that you will mark in the calender should you win it- a holiday, a birthday, an anniversary. I'll draw a winner next Monday (Nelson Anniversary Day actually- how do I know? It's marked on my calendar).

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Saturday, January 24, 2009


Sometimes when you make a robot you get a big surprise. I finished Nigel just in time for after-work drinks on Friday, and immediately he threw back several drinks with Les and then proceeded to jump on the photocopier and photocopy his bum. Oh, very mature. Who knew I was sewing the office wag when I started work on Nigel?

Anyway, then he rolled over and made silly faces, scanning himself frontways this time.

Sheesh! Silly old robots.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

There's thrifty, and then there's my parents.

Thanks for all your comments about my "time out" episode. Now I know I am in good company!
Do you wanna hear about our crazily thrifty childhood? I was the youngest of nine children (Mary Anna is the second-to-youngest) and our parents deliberately rejected the consumeristic lifestyle that they percieved to dominate the 60's, 70's, and 80's. My Mum sewed and cooked, and kept a huge garden that fed us most of the time. My Dad kept chickens and swapped eggs for honey and all manner of other things, and was a junk-shopper/recycler extraordinaire. I can see that I have inherited many of these characteristics, and they are oh so very satisfying!
Both parents were quite extreme in their way, but they didn't really make a big fuss about thinking the things they did about recycling and reusing. Here's an example: Mum saved all the mutton fat from the Sunday roasts and made soap from it. She mixed sand into some of it to make sandsoap (for washing the floor) and the rest she used for washing clothes, grating it into the washing machine on an old grater like washing powder.
Lately I've been making all our household cleaners, so I became interested in how Mum made that soap. She gave me this recipe, saying "It's pretty close, although I didn't bother with the Lux flakes".

And here is another page from an old recipe book I remember well, and loved to cook things from. Can you tell it was well-loved by nine children all learning to cook?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Insanity sets in at my house

Okay, so the holidays are great, blah blah blah. But honestly, some moments I find myself going just a little bit insane. Last Friday, for instance, when my children ganged up on me for telling Harry off (for whining, which drives me totally nuts) and threatened to send me to time out, I took them up on their offer.
"Fine" I said "I'm gonna make a cup of coffee and go straight to time out!". And I did, too. I figured one minute for every year of age gave me free license to spend 36 minutes in time out so I took a magazine in with me and settled in to read it. Every few minutes the kids poked their heads in the door and said things like "Now, what shouldn't you have done?" and I said "I'm still in time out!" and kept on reading. After 15 minutes they'd found other things to do, and they'd stopped whining. Is that a success? I really don't know.
We have two weeks left of holidays. My sanity may or may not remain intact.

Disclaimer: I really do love my children. I really do.

PS. Because this is primarily a craft blog, you may like to know I cut out a new robot today. His name might be Nigel.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Robot roundup camera is broken so I have been trawling through all my old photos remembering the good times. Remember all these robotty friends? I was surprised to see how many I'd made actually, I even had to edit quite a lot of photos out because the mosaic became too itty bitty small to see anything.

Right now I'm working on one more christmassy robot for a swap, but I'm also sewing an item of clothing for myself. It's been aaaaaaaaaaaaages since I sewed anything from a pattern. It's actually quite fun. And, since The Fabric Barn in Nelson has all fabrics at half price until the 31st of January (Nelson readers, that's for you), I also stocked up on a whole lot of fabric for several other projects, including a patchwork quilt! Gasp! That gasp of dread/anticipation/nervousness is because the last patchwork quilt I made was hideous. I'm shuddering even thinking of it.

On that cheery note, have a lovely Sunday!
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flowers for You

Ah, hello! There you are. Here are some flowers for you. These are for you, Candleatbothends, cos you've been having a bad time with your roof and your minivan and various children's illnesses, but you still manage to write a hilarious blogpost each day, PaulNewmanShirtDays, because you have to travel the country just to pick up a metaphorical mouldy casserole, but you still throw a great blogparty, and AllThisTrouble, because I love that your children play in puddles.

These are Hebe flowers of some sort, one of my favourite native genuses.

Hydrangeas, because I like them too. And these flowers are for you, too, to say thanks for stopping by!
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Good morning everyone, thank you for attending the first meeting of the Gore Bay Crib Appreciation Society.

A question down the front there? Yes? A crib? A crib is a holiday house. People from the lower South Island of New Zealand call them cribs, while in the rest of New Zealand people call them baches. I am from the lower South so I eat my Boston Buns and Belgium in a Crib, thank you very much.
A really cribby crib is knocked together out of whatever you can find and is angled solely to appreciate the view, not the road, not the neighbours, and when you get a group of cribs together it's a higgledly piggledy jumble of funny old houses that people hang out in on holiday, eating tomato soup out of a tin and making mussel fritters for dinner from what they've found on the beach that day.

Ahhh...sigh...I love cribs. Here are some of my favourite funny old cribs from our most recent holiday destination, Gore Bay, near Cheviot, North Canterbury.

We stayed in a suped up crib with all the extras, and it was fab. Check out the best-placed bath in the bay!

And now I'm back home I'm still feeling holidayish because Mary Anna is here and is going to help me adjust my shirtdress pattern today! Yippee! Hope you're having a lovely week!

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things we made

Hello and thanks for all the birthday wishes! So far, 36 is a laugh a minute. Would you like to see some of the cool stuff my crafty friends made me for my birthday? Okay, here goes!

First, the orange kiwiana pillow, here modelled with Les reclining against it. Vicky made that from two placemats. Les is a sweet robot, but oh so lazy! Next to that, some delicious blackberry Jam made by Kay. The owl fridge magnet was made by Katie, and the purse in beautiful Japanesey fabric was made by Linda. The chopping board underneath was made by Phoebe's Dad, and it's beautiful aged rimu timber. It's going to be kept for Show and Tell because its Too Good To Use! Didn't I tell you I got some lovely stuff?! Hmmm? Didn't I?

And here's what we've been doing this afternoon. Even though it's about a billion degrees celsius outside we've had the oven fired up baking crackers. These are the Olive Oil Crackers from 101 cookbooks, made as directed but with 1/2 c sesame seeds. They're virry nice.
We are off on holiday for a few days tomorrow, off to a sunny beachside spot a little further south in North Canterbury. I'm packing my christmas books, a little craft, a nice bottle of wine, one husband, and two children. That's about it. See y'all soon!

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thirty-six (clicketty click)

Well I was far too busy to post anything yesterday because it was my birthday. I am now all freshly turned 36. That number sounds quite grown up, but I laughed heartily at a really childish, puerile, silly joke this morning, so I've managed to avoid maturity for another year. Whew! And look at all the beeeautiful cards I got! I got lovely presents, too.

In our house, birthdays are marked by breakfast in bed (a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee), the children ripping into any presents that are within sight, and a special dinner that everyone likes (spaghetti and meatballs, and chocolate cake with hundreds and thousands on it). What do you do on Your birthday?
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Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Spo-Ran" a.k.a. "Les"

And in 2009 a new age of robots dawned. It was the age of the machine-constructed robot, larger than before, wonkier eyes, and goofier fabric. And he was named "Spo-Ran" (which is a tribute to my sister's post all about bilious tartan fabric and sporran construction).

That's my story about my newest robot, but when Simon looked at him he pointed out that the fabric is houndstooth, not tartan, and therefore not befitting the scottish handbag name, even in its sci-fi'ed form.
In fact, he thought that the tones of beige, the mother-of-pearl button eyes, and the woollen houndstooth had connotations of a more civil-servant-type robot. He named him "Les".

By the way, I can't tell you how much it cracks me up when I find out that word I've taken for granted all my life is a nz/aus peculiarity. So, for all my american readers, a "slice" is kind of like a "cookie" in that you could say "chocolate cookies are my favourite, sorry, favorite type of cookie". All our cookbooks have sections labelled "biscuits and slices" or even "cakes, biscuits, and slices". I think we've all learned something very important today.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Favourite things Saturday

This is my new favourite cookbook.
I love the embroidered table cloth.
I love the doily.
I love the title.
I love the photos.
I love the recipes.

This is the one I love the best. Caramel slice is my very favourite slice. It's how I judge a town, the quality of the caramel slice in the cafe. So far I've had the best caramel slice in Fox Glacier and in Dunedin, although I also had a surpisingly good one quite recently at Auckland Airport.

I hope I'm not ripping off the copyright showing you these beautiful pages. If I am I guess this post will mysteriously disappear, leaving a strangely delicious taste of caramel and chocolate behind it.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good morning, 2009

Good morning 2009. How are you today? Good? Feeling fresh? Oh that's good. Me too. In fact, I am feeling so very holidayish because I've been doing practically nothing. No sewing, no robots, no housework. Just lots of DVDs, picnics, and books. The only thing I can show you on the craft front are these cards that I threw together this morning. They are New Year cards, because I never did get around to Christmas cards.

Now onto the serious business of New Year's resolutions. Instead of making grand promises to myself that I inevitably reneg on, this year I am going to tackle one small thing, just one bad habit each month, and make small changes that will add up to be significant. Am I going to rattle on about this on my blog and make you all read about it? You betcha!

So without further ado, my bad habit that I am going to eliminate this month is....eating leftovers off the kids plates. No more of that. Nope. It's no way to eat.
What are your New Year's resolutions?
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