Saturday, January 30, 2010

Waiting for the moment

I'm all for living in the moment, I really am. However, this week Simon and I went all by ourselves to Wellington for a concert, and as we made our way there I loved, loved, LOVED, the thrill of antipication that I felt about the day ahead. Looking out from the ferry the sea had never looked so sparkley, the song on my ipod had never been more catchy, and the sky was blue and infinite and open and seemed to be full of the future.

I know what you're thinking, you think we were off to AC/DC. Well, never say never, perhaps I will do that at some point in my life, but in fact we went to see The Handsome Family. Ahhh, The Handsome Family. They are just so good. This trip was our first ever night away together since we had children. It was kind of a wedding anniversary present to ourselves.

We had 24 hours of grown-up time. We had long conversations about nothing. At one point Simon said "Hey, it's really nice talking to you!" and I blushed. We had no conversation while we read newspapers and books uninterrupted. We went to a movie during the day, and it wasn't a cartoon. We went out for brunch and dinner. We went to the concert and loved it, and didn't get to bed till 2 am. Simon went and looked through CDs at the music shop for 2 hours straight. I went to the Day in Pompeii exhibition at Te Papa and got to read all the captions on the exhibits. Oh my stars, I love grown-up time.

I love time with my children, too. This week Sylvie, who is 4, and I have been working on bottling tomatoes in various forms. If I'm in a can't-be-bothered mood, I just peel the tomatoes, cook them up with a little salt and a little vinegar (to make sure they're acid enough for the overflow bottling method) and bottle them just like that. But this week I was in a rip-roaring haus frau frenzy and so we made a yummy tomato salsa, tomato kasundi, and spaghetti sauce with lots of fresh garlic and herbs from our garden. Sylvie really was a great help. She chopped tomatoes for more than an hour before she got sick of it. Here are the fruits of our labours:

What's that they're sitting on? Our souvenir teatowel from Taihape of course. It was one of our favourite spots on our North Island holiday. But that might be a blogpost for another day, I think.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Holidays, Volcanoes, and Back to Work

Sometimes my life has a certain symmetry with the lives of my sisters, like this week when my sister wrote a blogpost called "Volcanoes, Holidays, and Back to Work". My week could be summarized in exactly the same way.

Each year, we meet up with some old friends of ours, and our two families go for some beachy-bachy holiday somewhere. This year we went to a little bach in the North Island, about 90 min north of Opotiki. I hardly ever get to the North Island. The landscape looks so exotic to me, it's so different from the South Island. Not least of all because of the amazing volcanoes and the Rangipo Desert. Mt Ruapehu is like a kid's drawing of a volcano, don't you think?The bach was fantastic. It was all alone on a headland, surrounded by old pohutakawas that grow down to the water's edge. There was a little stony beach that was perfect for making a little fire to cook marshmallows, for swimming, and for listening to the sound of nothing but water and children.Our friend Matt, bless his little self, loves diving. He came back with two or three crayfish each day for dinner. It's what holidays taste like. (An aside: every where I go, there is a yellow formica table. Strange but true).I didn't take much craft stuff with me, because baches are traditionally for lounging around in and reading books, but I did take some yellow and black wool to make some little bees for Amy. I had best get my skates on and get these into the post. Aiyee!These were crocheted and I made up the pattern as I went along, but it was something like this: Chain 3 with yellow wool, then sc 6 into second chain stitch, forming a ring. Inc to 12 stitches in second round and 18 in third round. Alternate yellow and black wool crocheting sc in a round. Decrease 18 to 12 to 6 stitches over three rounds, the same as you cast on. Stuff before casting off. Embroider eyes and a mouth with black wool. Crochet rounds for wings (a ring of 6 sc increasing to 12 in the second round, and 24 in the 3rd round) and sew on.

My crochet instructions are very vague because I always just crochet by feel. It's just the way I am.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The elephant woman

My Mission: To sew something for myself. No crafts, nothing for the children, something just for me.
My selection: New Look 6807, which I had seen made up over here and thought it looked fab.
The fabric: A gorgeous slatey grey microfibre. Mmmmm.

I geared up for my mission on Friday night, and after a glass of wine for good luck, a phone call to my sister to sort out the tension issues on the machine (reduce the pressure on the foot, and change to a walking foot, in case you're interested in tricks for sewing knits better), I got started on my easy 2 hour top.
2 hour?
Ahem. Um. 4 hours.

I finished my top. It looked great on the hanger. See below, where it's looking great on the hanger.

I put it on and looked in the mirror and, well, what with the gathers making the wrinkly folds and the slatey grey colour and my, well, generous torso...I looked elephant!
"I am not an animal!" I shouted into the mirror. The mirror said nothing, but looked at me accusingly.

I hope whoever buys it at Savemart likes it. Meep.
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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lotta and the very silly hat

Once there was a wonderful designer called Lotta, who wrote a book of simple sewing and included in it a pattern for a very styley sunhat.

"I'll make that" I said.

The hat was carefully cut out and even more carefully constructed, because as I said, it was very styley.
However, the hat pattern was actually for a very silly hat, because the brim was far too long and far too steep. In fact, it was more like a lampshade. A quick google search found that there were plenty of creative types cursing this very pattern. The hat was so silly that all you could see when wearing it was its insides.

My old Dad used to say "laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone". Not on this occasion though. I had a good old whine about the very silly hat over on Miss Flossy's blog, and she very kindly sent me a much better hat pattern. Much much much better. Using the new pattern as a guide, I trimmed down the Lotta hat's brim by a massive 5 cm. That left a rather ungainly edge so I made a strip of bias binding and sewed it on. Then I took a photo of it so that I could show it to you, yes, YOU.

And that is the end of my story.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The view from 37

January 5th has been and gone, which means that I am now 37. Good lord, 37. It sounds very grown up.
My very favourite thing is a nice long sleep in and then a cup of coffee and a piece of toast in bed. So that's what I got.

I also got a lovely new cookbook and a magazine subscription and lots of lovely flowers and cards. Simon made me a card with some knitted undies on the front. Now that's love.

In craft news, we've been busy with the flower press Sylvie got for her birthday. Real life Botanists still use these you know. Maybe that's why I took Botany in the first place? There's lots of crafty stuff as part of the job. Not to mention all the amazing botanical art.

I thought Sylvie might like to glue her pressed flowers onto some cards, but no, the 4-year-old craftsperson's tools of choice are sellotape and photocopy paper. Oh, and a hole punch. Still very beautiful, and a much better idea in the end because she gets to keep this, whereas cards are for giving away.

I wish I had some craft news of my own to share, but I am busily finishing things off that don't qualify as craft, like curtains for instance. Very boring, but very satisfying to see my to-do pile shrinking at such a good pace. Next on my list is...unfortunately...more curtains.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 and the craft forecast is fine

Hello and Happy New Year to you!
At the end of last year I set out to finish things I'd started, get rid of things I don't need, and de-clutter my brain and my house. Whatever I did on that front must have been good for me, because on the last night of 2009 I had the most fantastic dream:

I was rushing to a maths exam, which I hadn't studied for. I knew it would be hard and I would fail. When I got to the exam venue, there was a sign saying "Choose your own exam". There were lots of bedding plants, all laid out in boxes, and one exam option was to use them to make some kind of design. I made mine into a robot with blue pansies making up the body and yellow marigolds for the eyes.

One of my sisters loves doing dream interpretations, but I can read this one pretty well myself. You can choose not to do the maths exam. You can do whatever you like. What a nice end to a garden-variety anxiety dream, don't you think?!

So- lets talk about craft! Okay! This pink fabric was chosen by Sylvie way back in October and I promised I'd make her a wee skirty. This morning I made that wee skirty, more or less following these instructions over at Two Little Banshees. I know, I know, hers has two layers and mine has three, but I'm just wild and crazy like that sometimes.

Next, the last incredibly practical item made from the repurposed old jersey first featured here. This is an ovencloth that will stop Kelvin and Beatrice burning their hands while roasting their very own sheep off their very own farm.

And finally, since the little felty boxes I made keep getting comandeered for dolls and morning tea and goodness knows what other treasures appeal to a 4-year-old, I ripped up an old book and made these little origami boxes to sort out our craft supplies. They fit two-deep in our craft shelves like they were made for it. How satisfying.

Oh yes, and my Christmas was fine, thanks, just fine. Ate too much, got some lovely presents. What about you?
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