Saturday, August 29, 2009

Important weekend sewing

I have a very important sewing job this weekend: sewing nappies for Ella.

That's all well and good, but don't you hate it when you get little loops when you sew around corners of the velcro?

That is not supposed to happen.
I had to sit down with a nice cup of tea and think through what the problem was. Here is my explanation: every stitch on the sewing machine relies on a little knot being tied between the top and bottom threads. The loop happens when you stop the machine to turn the corner before that knot has been tied in the corner stitch. So, you have to stop the machine at the corner stitch only after the needle has gone right down and has begun to come back up again. I guess you all knew that already. Anyway, that sorted the problem out and now I have nice tidy velcro stitching. See?

And Ella has four new pairs of nappies, and Sylvie is happy.

And I'm just about ready for another cup of tea. How's your weekend going?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Matchy matchy

If you read my sister's blog, you might know that she likes thrift, resourcefulness, imagination, and sewing. Thus, she is doomed to receive thrifty, resourceful presents that are sewing-related when her birthday rolls around.
Exhibit A. Pincushion and matching needlebook. Made from junk-shopped fabric, yellow felt, and a button from the beautiful button box I was given by another sister, Marg.

Exhibit B. Once I had made one pair of matching items, I was physically unable to stop myself making more. So I made a card and then embellished the bejeepers out of the wrapping paper to match it. These are more pictures from the 1961 Woman's Home Journal.
Speaking of presents, is anyone else thinking that Christmas isn't too far away? What are you going to make for Christmas presents this year?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


It's birthdays left, right and centre at the moment. My sister Mary Anna's birthday yesterday, and my friend Phoebe's birthday this month too (two weeks ago actually, but no one's keeping score on late birthday gifts).
I can't show you what I made MA yet, because NZ post has selfishly neglected to deliver it on time, but for Phoebe's present I brought out an old favourite, the pair of pillowcases. Here is a photo with one showing the front and one showing the back:

I used material from my stash to make these (she said smugly, inwardly congratulating herself for her thriftiness). Basically, I follow the instructions in Lotta Jansdottir's Simple Sewing for making pillowcases, but I don't bother using her pattern, instead I just cut around an existing pillowcase adding about 1.5 cm seam allowance and a 20 cm foldover on the back piece.

Now I have a question to ask you, if you don't mind. If you were going to a country fair, would you buy pillowcases like these? Or a robot? Or pillowcases and a robot? Or lemon and orange marmalade? Some friends and I are having a stall there, and although I love to make stuff I have always been a little shy about selling stuff I've made. I just don't know what folks will like, I guess.

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Friday, August 21, 2009


This winter, I took "homemade" into the medicine cabinet. Following instructions from my sister Miriam (didn't I tell you I learn lots of great things from my sisters?) I made this vile garlic potion to treat sore throats.

I used to be a scientist in my old life, and I can tell you this for sure: Just because it's manufactured and marketed by a big chemical company, it doesn't mean it's any good. So, even if this garlic tonic doesn't do any good, it probably won't be worse than a bought one, and it could even be a lot better.

Here's what to do: Pulverize 250 g organic garlic (because that won't have been sprayed, you see) with 250 ml vodka (the alcohol is what's important here, so you can use another spirit if you have it. I used gin.). Leave the mixture for 2 weeks in the dark. Yes, I said 2 weeks. Strain and bottle, and keep in the fridge. When you feel a sore throat coming on, take 8 drops diluted in something yummy- I use fruit juice- morning and night.

Here's another medicine that I use to treat most anything. It is very effective and you don't need to dilute it.
Have a nice weekend everyone!
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Friday, August 14, 2009

No-nag thank-you cards.

I'm always learning good tricks from my sisters. My sister Miriam showed me a great solution to a problem that I'd been having re. making Harry get onto some thank-you cards: a meet-them-halfway approach. Here is a great birthday card she sent using pictures pirated from her children's doodlings.

See, I'd turned into a bit of a nag about this thank-you card thing. Harry got very generous and thoughtful presents for his birthday, and I really wanted him to send a thank-you card to people that he couldn't thank in person.
But in reality, it's quite a big ask for a 5-year-old to down-toys and make a heap of cards after the birthday has been and gone. It's a lot of work, and there are toys to be played with and trees to climb. I'm not going to stand over him and force him to do it, and I don't want to do it instead, because that defeats the purpose. Sharing the job is a perfect solution, but oddly enough, it just hadn't occurred to me.
Taking my cue from Miriam's birthday card, I ransacked Harry's artwork and then set about making some cards with it.

We chatted about each present, and I wrote what he said inside each card.

Harry's words and artwork make a lovely thank you card, with no nagging. Problem solved.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nothing to see here.

Well, no craft to speak of, anyway. My current craft projects are big and rather slow going, read "unfinished", so I have no craft to show on my craft blog.
Do you mind if I have a quick gloat about some recent thrift finds? You don't? Cool! First, four of these sweet little glass egg cups, $1 each.

Here is one modelling an egg as an accessory. Work that egg! Gimme boiled! Gimme breakfast! Gimme dippies! (Or "soldiers" if you're not from my immediate family).
A jelly mould. Ahhh, jelly moulds, one of my favourite pieces of kitchenalia. Usually $15-20 in stylish antique shops, but only $2 at the Sunday market in Montgomery Square. I think I might have hyperventilated a little bit as I stuffed this one into my handbag.
A feather and down duvet. I love its puffiness and snuggliness and the great paisley print too. This was $8 at St Vincent de Paul.
In "Special Guest Star" news, did anyone else see Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba? Wasn't he a delight? That got our day off to a fabulous start (and made me think about making a fluffy orange hat, just for good measure).
What craft items are You thinking about making?
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You want a pikelet with that?

Some of you have expressed interest in pikelets, not as in "I am interested in having a pikelet" but as in "I am interested to know what a pikelet is".
Well, pikelets are a bit like american-style pancakes, only smaller. They're scottish I think. Anyhoo, they are a main-stay of NZ home-made morning and afternoon teas, and occasionally they pop up in cafes too.
I always used the Edmonds recipe (The Edmonds Cookbook is found in nearly every NZ kitchen), but after reading about a million different recipes in various community cookbooks, I've come up with my own favourite. Here it is:

1 egg
2 T brown sugar
3/4 c plain flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 c rolled oats
1 t vanilla essence
1 pinch salt
1/2-2/3 c milk

Beat the egg and sugar until light and pale, then gently mix in the other ingredients. The batter should be quite thick. Lightly grease a frying pan with butter, then drop spoonfuls in the pan and cook for about a minute on the first side. Flip over, then cook about 20 or 30 seconds more.
(Notes: You can use 1 c white flour and leave out the rolled oats, if you like. I just put the rolled oats in to terrorize the children with added fibre. Also, if you're going to eat them later, add some melted butter to the mixture to keep them soft. Some people swear by using cream of tartar and baking soda instead of baking powder, e.g. this recipe)

I like mine with butter and golden syrup or jam, but the kids like theirs with peanut butter or even vegemite (Ew! Ewwww!). Two pikelets glued together with butter are a favourite lunch box extra, too.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Before blogging

In 1995, my sister and I went travelling together. Blogging didn't exist then of course, but we amused ourselves keeping a travelogue, where we took the mickey out of the all horrible, very cheap places we stayed. This was the entry for August 3rd, 1995.

And here's our version, with our own more accurate descriptions.

I still remember that night. We totally cracked ourselves up laughing at our own jokes. Yep, not much has changed in 14 years.
What were you doing 14 years ago?
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