Monday, April 27, 2009

Craft Camp

Once or twice a year, my craft buddies and I take off for a weekend of hard-out craft. It is extremely busy. There is wine to be drunk, chocolate to be eaten, cable tv to be watched, magazines to be read, chatting to do, and frenzied craft activity. It's a big job to fit it all into 42 hours.
We don't go far, oh no, driving for more than, oh, 25 minutes would seem like hard work. So we go all the way to Mapua, where there are good shops and cafes and lots of cute holiday houses to rent.
This time I really did get some serious crafting done. I knitted a little, mended my favourite winter trousers, and sewed two matching pillowcases. Here is one of them.

I like to do a wee ziggeditty zaggeditty thing down the seam, see?

And I was going to cut out skirt C from this fabric, but I had doubts at the 11th hour about the fashion sense of it all. My craft companion said, with a furrowed brow, "I think you are right to be worried."



Hmmm, yes the entire skirt in brown and blue woollen plaid might have been a bit matronly, but I still love that sweet and slightly dorky woollen fabric, and I so want to wear it in some form. What are your suggestions, readers? Make the skirt using the wool only for the front the panel, with the rest in corduroy? Add a trim? Bias tape? What are you thinking?
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Anzac Day

Tomorrow is Anzac Day, which New Zealanders know all about of course. For those of you outside NZ, it commemorates the first landings of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli during World War I. The battle of Gallipoli was a failure for the Allied Forces and troops were evacuated 8 months later after heavy losses.

You know, I am as wholesome as the next Mum. I don't give my children toy guns to play with and I don't approve of war games, but I couldn't be prouder of my two grandfathers, both of whom went to WWI and fought at Paschendale, the Somme, and Gallipoli. This was my mother's father, Douglas Rawei McLean. He was a machine gunner. He went first to Gallipoli, and then to France, fighting at the Somme. He returned to NZ at the end of the war in one piece, his only enduring injury being a piece of shrapnel lodged in his skull, which made the hair surrounding that part turn white.

We still have his letters, certificates, leave notices, postcards, and photos from the army. This morning I was reading the letter in which he describes the fateful moment of his injury.

"Last Wednesday when were were in the (censored) a bomb landed between the chap on my left and myself. I dived for the corner but was not quite quick enough and got a piece in the back of my head. It pulled up against the bone and I've suffered only a slight wound which does not prevent me from carrying on. There is some consolation in having a thick head after all."

Good to see he kept his sense of humour throughout!

It's a sad, sad thing, reading through his letters. All those sons, brothers, and fathers who didn't come home.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Highlights, lowlights.

Tomorrow is the last day of school holidays. It's been a lovely couple of weeks, I must say. The perfect antedote a term that was too busy, and too sad.
Lowlights of the holidays: Two skinned knees, a grazed hand, and a standoff over the eating (or rather, not eating) of carrots. The 5-year-old threw a terrible tantie. His mother threw a worse one. Oh dear.
Highlights: We spent a good couple of days looking for things for this scavenger hunt...

We had a lot of fun designing and baking a new cake together...I now bring you...a vanilla boysenberry chocolate cinnamon cake!

Actually it was quite nice. In spite of the fact that the cake flavour was their idea, they would not eat a single bite. Sigh...
Still, they ate plenty of the mixture. Check out the almost-clean pot.

And another highlight today, seeing a lovely friend, who brought us little yellow daisies.

Have you had any holiday highlights? I'm all ears.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Le Montage

Lemon montage. Le montage. Pah ha ha! Ah I crack myself up.
Anyway, here's what I did with 25 lemons.
Lemon and sultana muffins x 2 batches: 5 lemons.
Plain old cooking, like lemon wedges with fish and lemon juice in vinaigrette: 5 lemons.
Four went mouldy before I did anything with them. I'm being honest here.
And I used 11 to make lemon squash. The recipe I usually use has epsom salts in it, which I didn't have, so I made a different one that turned out just as good, or maybe even a little better.
Here it is: 1 c lemon juice, 2 t tartaric acid, 2 t citric acid, 1 and 1/2 c sugar, 1 c water, finely grated rind of 3 lemons. Heat together everything except the lemon rind, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon rind, cool a little, then bottle. Make a cute little label if you are going to show it on your blog. Yes, I admit it, I made that label just for you. Makes about 750 ml concentrate.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

For the craft executive

Craft friends, I am so proud. I have had a spectacular knitting success and I'm full of the joys of craft. Remember this wool, which I bought because of its beautiful raspberry colour?

Well, I knitted this pattern up, because I needed a cover for my laptop. I'm just not a vinyl laptop case sort of a girl, and I'd been looking for something crafty but cool crafty for appropriate computer storage.

Ta da! Here's the front. I got the sweet little belt buckle at the junk shop for 20 cents...

...and here's the back

I knitted it up just as the pattern directed, although my tension is a little looser than in the pattern. But then again, my laptop is a little bigger than theirs, so I figured it would all come out even stevens in the end. The only thing I didn't figure on was that I used more wool than they said, so the foldover flap isn't quite as long as I'd like. I felted it at 60 deg C in the washing machine- very effective! And I stopped the cycle mid-way because it had felted enough.

Sigh. Craft makes me so happy.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mary Anna is (not) coming for tea

Everyone has a favourite birthday cake, don't they? Mine would have to be chocolate, but Mary Anna's was always lemon sultana cake. As you know, I have a stack of lemons to use before they go mouldy, so this morning I pretended that Mary Anna was coming for morning tea, and made lemon sultana muffins.


I wish she really was coming for morning tea.
Now, where do I keep my sultanas I hear you ask. The Dried Fruit Tin, of course. It's another little gem from the Nelson Recycling Centre.

Would you like to try some? Here you go:

Mix together 2 c self-raising flour, 3/4 c sugar, and rind of 2 extremely fresh delicious Totaranui lemons or whatever lemons you have at your place. In another bowl, mix together 1 c milk, 1 egg, and 75 g melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients along with 3/4 c sultanas from your crazy old dried fruit tin, and mix briefly. Spoon into muffin tins. Bake at 200 deg. celcius for 10-15 min until golden. As soon as they come out of the oven, spoon over a mixture of lemon juice and sugar.

Pretend that your sister has come for morning tea and enjoy with coffee or tea.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At Totaranui

Oh hi! We are back from our Easter holiday, full of chocolate and good times.
We went to Totaranui. It's got golden sandy beaches, lots of forests, and a wee crib that we hire from time to time. The crib has a huge lemon tree, which has lemons so tasty that my children will sit down and eat them like lollies. See?

The lemons are so good I bought some back with me, so that I can make something delicious out of them some time this holidays. Lemon cordial, lemon honey, lemon marmalade, or a bowl full of mouldy lemons because I never got around to doing anything? So many decisions.

And since it's holidays time, we also dug out some old games. This one, which I found at the junk shop, is called Dogs and Sausages. How delightfully quirky is that? I got four of these games in one delicious shopping trip- all of them use this coloured dice, so that the children don't even have to be old enough to count. Cool hey?

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Instant gift gratification

Well, almost instant, anyway.

My sewing commitments are a little overwhelming at the moment, so I made a big batch of deluxe granola to give to my two crafty friends, Vicki and Linda, for their birthdays (which were a month ago, cough, cough). It's full of oaty-milletty-coconutty-almondy-pumpkin seedy-nutmeggy-cinnamonny-vanillaish-mapley-raisiny goodness. I got the recipe out of a book by these good people.

And my Mum, who is a very practical person, requested that I make her two oven cloths for her birthday. "And make them a decent size, will you?" she said. Okay then.

The swirly whirly sewn design is probably my favourite design feature on these cloths. I first saw it in Lotta Jansdotter's book, but I've seen it in many places since then. I also love that oranges print- it's a recycled linen tea towel that I got at the junk shop.

What are your favourite handmade gifts?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Instant craft gratification

Given my appallingly short concentration span at night, making cards is the perfect craft passtime. What's more, it's excellent therapy for treating craft "meh".
I made some cards out of my plant photos....

And some from an old Mr Men annual that I got for 20 cents at the junk shop....

And a couple of cards from some old knitting patterns. I love their dorkiness.

Would you believe I have a whole file box full of old knitting patterns, just waiting to be made into something wonderful? Yes, I think you would believe that.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The cure for craft "meh"

This morning I woke up thinking about my craft "meh", which I elaborated on last post. It's easy to get overwhelmed when your projects are large and time consuming, and then you forget that the fun part of being creative is actually the process, be it big or small. This morning I decided to rediscover the lurrrrve of creativity in small but meaningful ways. First on the list, a hot baked breakfast, since it's the weekend. I made scones in two flavours; date, and apple and sultana.
Quick recipe: 2 c self raising flour, 50 g butter, 1 t baking powder, 2 T sugar, 2/3 c milk mixed with 1 small egg. Mix dry ingredients, rub in butter, add wet ingredients, roll out, divide in two. Spread filling (stewed apple, cinnamon, sultanas, whatever) over one half, put other half on the top. Cut in squares and bake at 200 deg. Celcius for 15 min or until light brown.

Next, a card to celebrate our belated wedding anniversary. We decided not to do anniversary presents this year, but instead we each had to make a card and it wasn't to be too soppy. Hence, this borderline soppy card with a romantic couple on the front. I thought his nerdiness and her slightly snotty expression excused me from being too romantic. Around the edge are some tops of hebe stalks, which I cut out from my tramping photos.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Thanks for stopping by!
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Friday, April 3, 2009

A second delicious serving

You want more vegetable sheep? Another delicious serving of vegetable sheep? CAN YOU HANDLE MORE VEGETABLE SHEEP? That's my "hard talkin' coach" voice there, in case you didn't know. Here you are then, blog friends, with love from Me. The vegetable sheep are dotted up this hillside, a veritable flock of them, if you will.

And this is a wee alpine Dracophyllum. I call this one "Still life with tramper".

I know what you're all thinking.."where the frick has the craft gone?". I dunno blogfriends, lately I've been feeling all "Meh" about my craft. I'm sick of robots and I've run out of people to give them to anyway, my knitting projects have reminded me that I am too impatient to knit, all I seem to bake is the same-old-same-old, and the sewing machine keeps nagging me to finish those flippin' cushion covers. However, it's birthday month for me at the moment, so I'm bound to churn something out worth looking at once I drag my sorry arse away from watching New Zealand's Next Top Model. I hate myself for liking it.

Tell me, what are you feeling "Meh" about at the moment?

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