Monday, 9 August 2010

Our weekend ...

Finally got the top finished - woohooo!!!!!

Coconut, apricot and date loaves - delicious!

We had our fair shares of knocks and bumps this weekend

Drawing up a birthday list - and then literally drawing all over it!

A trip to the library yielded these lovely books

A little refashioning for Cassia

Hope you had a great weekend too! xx

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Blueberry picking in summer ...

I've been reading some lovely posts about blueberrying recently over at gardenmama and SouleMama and hearing the lovely things they do with them - blueberry buttermilk cake anyone?!  It's bought back memories from January this year when we went blueberry picking at a local blueberry farm.  I had never picked blueberries before, in fact I had never seen a blueberry bush, and although the day wasn't quite as sunny and carefree as pictured in the above two posts (in fact it was freezing - we got there very early, it was drizzling with rain and we were higher up the hill than we though) we had a great time and picked a whole bunch of blueberries.  It was great picking for the whole family because there were ripe berries at all different heights so none of us was left wanting and even Cassia at 3 was able to pick a lot.  We picked about 5 kilos (10 pounds) in just over an hour and they were quarter of the price of the little punnets available at the supermarket - and of course it goes without saying they were much, much tastier!

Lots were in our tummies before we left the farm, some were made into blueberry muffins that afternoon and a blueberry pie was baked shortly thereafter.  Still more were frozen for using during the winter - delicious gently cooked up to top a bowl of steaming porridge - and the rest were used to make blueberry relish.  It is so delicious, in fact that probably needs more emphasise - IT IS DELICIOUS!!!! In fact, although it's a relish recipe I also use it like jam.  I find the sweetness of jam soon becomes too much for me but this is just right, of course it's great with meats, cheeses, thrown into bolognaise sauces.  In fact the only limit to its uses is the fact that I only have one unopened jar left!!!!

The last remaining jar of bluebbery relish - don't you just love the Maia made label?!

And so the recipe:


1 kg blueberries
500g sugar
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ginger (instead of cayenne as stated in recipe)
1/2 tsp mixed spice (instead of allspice as stated in recipe)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Roughly chop 1/2 a lemon's rind and together with pips tie up in a little muslin parcel
Put everything in large pot
Stir over low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved
Bring to boil
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for 50-55 minutes or until relish is thick and syrupy
Spoon immediately into clean warm jars and seal
Turn jars upside down for 2 minutes and then invert and cool
Label and date
Store for up to 12 months
Refrigerate after opening and keep for 6 weeks (it won't last that long let me tell you!)

This made 3 jam jars full plus a bit leftover to eat straight away.

Now I just have to be patient for the next 5 months until we can go picking again! x

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

How lucky am I?

I recently participated in my 2nd swap via blogland and I received all this lovely fabric!

Amy and I had decided on a swap - I sent her one of my reversible sunhats for her little girl and a pencil/work case for her and I received the fabric.  Seeing as I was only expecting scraps you can imagine my great delight when I opened the package!  Many thanks once again Amy.

For my birthday in February I was given a book voucher by my in-laws.  Now as much as I love books it always takes me some time to use a voucher.  You see there are just sooooo many books out there that I would like that I never can decide and the books in NZ are sooo expensive, but that's content for another post!!  I had popped into our local PaperPlus a couple of times and eyed up a few books.  So you can imagine my delight when I see a book I would really rather like with 25% off - I ended up paying just $1.24 for this beautiful book:

although in truth that $1.24 will turn into much, much more because of all the lovely quilts I now wish to make!

The one activity that we have done every term for Maia is swimming.  This year Cassia started her lessons too.  We just go to the local aquatic centre and they both enjoy it tremendously.  The lessons aren't cheap so you can appreciate how happy I was to have won the draw for a term's worth of free lessons - theoretically they are Cassia's - but I'm not picky!

During the holidays we went away for a few days.  One day we all head into Levin and I scoured the op shops whilst Craig and the girls went to the Adventure Park.  For sometime now I have been looking for a grater which can be fastened to a unit and that the girls can use themselves.  I've even been into a couple of 'proper' kitchen shops but to no avail.  So I was very excited to see this in a new second hand shop I popped into:

Now I ummmmed and aaahed about whether to get it.  It was $8 which to me, being so used to $1 bargains at our local Sallies, seemed quite expensive!!!  Crazy really as I would have paid upto $40 in the shop if I had seen one.  Then the grating drum it came with wasn't really the one I wanted ......  But it was so retro and so pristine I bit the bullet and bought it.  I figured I could look on TradeMe for the other drums that go with it.  Now, of course, finding it was lucky but what came next was more than luck.  It was like op shopping karma - is there such a thing?!!!

I popped into a wee little op shop, the type that has very limited hours, only takes cash but can yield some real treasures.  And what did I find in there ..........

Can you believe it?  The other 4 grating drums all in mint condition.  The price?  50c each - that's right 50c each.  So for the grand total of $10 I have the whole set - woohooo!!!

And finally (this really has been a pretty full post eh?) this month is my month to be the Queen Bee at the Bee Seam Piecing Downunder.

So I've sent out the parcels and now just have to sit back and wait - sounds good doesn't it?  I made one practice block and then a couple more to check I'd put enough fabric in the parcels.  Good job I did that as it turns out because there probably wouldn't have been enough - ooops!

So as you can see I have had a lot to be grateful for recently.  It's really helped putting this post together because I'm currently suffering from the horrid bug/virus that Cassia had last week and feeling rather sorry for myself!  Hope you're having a good run of it too! x

PS The dinner I posted about earlier was just delicious!!!!!

What's for dinner tonight?

Gingered Beef with Bay a recipe from the Ultimate Slow Cooker book by Sara Lewis

Much as I hate frying beef and onions at 8 o'clock in the morning when it comes to the middle of the afternoon I LOVE the fact that dinner is done, quietly cooking away and will be ready as needed.  I had thought I would do some ginger egg fried rice with it, with the rice leftover from last night's tea, but as it's been cooking today I realise that, although there is a lot of ginger, the dish is more meditteranean with the bay leaves and balsamic vinegar.  Maybe couscous, maybe jacket potatoes?  Both easy and effortless!

The crock pot came out of the garage last week and I have been busily looking for recipes.  The local library had about dozen books on the subject, of which 8 now sit on my unit!  I wasn't aware of crock pots, aka slow cookers, until I came to New Zealand and my repertoire is somewhat small.  I plan to try out a few of the delicious sounding recipes over the coming weeks and hopefully there'll be some winners in there.

And for pudding?

Fruit and greek yoghurt topped with homemade granola - yum!!!!

What are you and yours having to eat tonight? x

Sunday, 1 August 2010

I thought I must be mad ....

I was having a good sort out earlier this afternoon and came across this jigsaw.

I found it at an op shop ages ago and loved the retro kiwiana feel.  So with the wind blowing, the rain lashing and the fire roaring it seemed like the perfect time to start the jigsaw.

With a little bit of hindrance and a lot of help from Maia we got going.

I thought it would take ages and had been thinking where I could keep it whilst working on it but it's done - finished before tea!

I love how kitsch it is and because Craig's a picture framer I'm going to frame it and hang it on my wall!

Hope you all had a great weekend. x

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Just in time ...

July seems to have whizzed by and I had a lot to do in it!  The last couple of days have been spent catching up with all my quilting bees.

For Sarah in the ANZAC Bee.  This was the first bee I signed up for and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sarah was the last person in the bee so I would like to say a huge thanks to Amy over at Seven Stitches for organising it and introducing me to virtual quilting bees (VQBs).

Nova, in the Australsian Bee, wanted some wonky star in July so I happily obliged!

The newest bee I'm part off is the Bee Seam Piecing Downunder and Bec sent out the fabric with the wish for something traditional with a twist.

A job well done and all off in the post winging their way to Australia.

I am the queen bee for August in the Bee Seam Piecing Downunder so I've also had to get organised with my fabric choices and patterns.  After discarding a couple of options I've decided on a traditional log cabin block made from fabric from vintage sheets and pillowcases.

I've been collecting vintage sheets since we returned to NZ and am very happy to seem them being put to some good use at last.  I think these blocks will be alternated with a simple square within a square block and maybe it's time for me to try some free motion quilting!  I already have a place earmarked for this quilt so hopefully it won't be too long in the making. x

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

So what's the news?

Well that break was a little longer than anticipated but here we go again!

So what was my news?  Well I've had my first order!!!!!!!!!  Now this is very exciting for me and a realisation of a long held notion.  Remember the market?  Well, the person sat next to me knew someone and that someone happened to have a shop in Palmerston North and the person who sat next to me talked to that someone who has a shop and hey presto!!!!

Obviously a little more was involved but needless to say the someone with the shop now has some little grubs clothes hanging in it!!!  Aaaaarghhhhh how excited am I?!!!!

The shop is Stork on George Street in Palmerston North - if anyone is passing have a look.  They have the egg Maternity franchise, stock truly beautiful merino items by Nature Baby and now they have little grubs!

There are more photos over on my flickr pages if you fancy popping over.

It's so great to finally be able to share such good news after all the support I have had on these pages.  Thank you so much once again! x

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A few days away ...

We went away to the beach for a couple of nights last week.  I don't have many photos because the battery on my camera ran out but I do have lovely memories!

We had tea out the first night there which is a rare occurrence and so was wonderful!

Candle lit concerts by the children by the fireside

A walk along the beach into the southerly which could almost hold me up

No TV, no mobile and no computer

Op shopping in old and new stores and finding an absolute treasure - more on that later

A husband who did all the dishes

Being read to in the evening whilst crocheting - something I would truly recommend!

I didn't really want to come home which is quite good really because we're going back again tomorrow!!  Why did we come home?  Because I had some work to do.  Work.  Proper work.  Consisting of sewing.  For someone.  All very exciting and I'll let you know soon.

Hope you all had a great weekend. x

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Australian Damper Bread

Thank you to all of you who left a comment on my last post.  It's been really interesting to read what people are doing in their daily lives.   I'm going to make the products tonight so will keep you posted.

I got this book out from the library on the weekend and it's full of delicious sounding breads - all without yeast so without all the waiting.  Yeah, yeah I know that 'proper' bread making is great (having only recently discovered how to do it I have to admit I do love it) but these are breads you don't have to think about in advance.

The Australian Damper Bread caught my eye yesterday and it was the only recipe for which everything was in the house (not that hard really because it was only flour, salt and butter!!!).

Unfortunately we didn't have any prawns on hand to throw on the barbie!  I made the cheese version and it was delicious!!!

From page to bowl to oven to table in 40 minutes - wonderful.  It tasted great on its own and then with blueberry relish but would be really great with a chunky soup. x

Monday, 5 July 2010

Taking some baby steps ...

We try to live lightly on this earth but we are a long way from perfect, the fact that we fly long haul will attest to this!  But I think we have come a long way and take for normal what other people would see as, well not abnormal but more effort than they are perhaps willing to put in - does that make sense?

Whilst visiting a variety of blogs I like seeing what other people are doing in their efforts to be greener (not that I really like that word but I think you all know what I mean by it).  Some people seem so far down the road that I think I could never catch up.  But it's not really a race is it?  In my opinion it's about doing what you can, when you can and fitting it into every day family life.  I know that something that doesn't fit into the rhythm of our day won't last for long.  We tend to have spurts of improvement and then reach a plateau doing all those 'normal' things until I read or see something and then I get motivated all over again to make some more changes.  I'm always fascinated by those things that people find easy to do without/find an alternative for and those people struggle with - they are all so different, something I find easy and normal is difficult for another family.

I have been reducing our exposure to chemicals for many years and this took a huge step forward when we had children.  I periodically go through the house trying to reduce our chemical footprint but then some do slip back in and some I have never tried to substitute before.  I have two products which I don't like having in the house and I don't let my children anywhere near due to their toxicity, and that is dishwash powder and washing powder.  I've just realised, as I've typed that, how weird it sounds: 

"I don't let my children anywhere near them"


I use one to wash our dishes, which my children eat off, 
I use one to wash our clothes in, which the children wear each day.

Doesn't quite add up eh?!

So inspiration has come from blogland once again.  I have seen various recipes for household cleaners over the years but this one from ecoMILF caught my eye last Friday and on Saturday I went and bought the ingredients.  It's nice to know someone's using it and likes using it so I thought I would give it a go.  It will also be interesting to see how much it costs as that is a factor for us.  However, even if it does cost a little more but we're reducing chemical consumption then that has to count.  Of course I've also got to make it!!!

So, on the shopping list were bicarb of soda, washing soda, borax and Dr Bronner bars of soap.  I made a substitution - the Dr Bronner soap was $8.49 each and the ecoSTORE were $3.50 each.  I guess they'll do the same thing - we'll have to wait and see.

The other item in the photo is my knitted dishcloth, which I made over a year ago and haven't used yet!!  I was so pleased with it that I didn't want to get it dirty - pretty silly really as that's why I made it.  But now that I am a knitter (in the loosest sense of the term) I have decided to use it and make some more!  And I also want to make some scouring clothese which I have seen recently over here, via Norwoods Walkabout (who by chance is making her own deodorant which I will have try later), and here.

So I have decided that for the month of July I am going to try and take some baby steps on my journey towards living lightly, or at least a little lighter


As I mentioned earlier, each person and family is unique and each do things in different ways so I would love to know what you do to make your environment less toxic, to reduce your waste, to live lighter?  It might just take a different slant on the same issue to make me see that it is something I could incorporate into my daily life.  Maybe you have already posted about some issue and could leave a link in the comments, maybe you too are incorporating some new changes to your life - I would love to know how you get on.

I'll post again once I've made the products and costed them out and then again once we're using them - I have to say I am very excited by it all!!! x

Thursday, 1 July 2010

My creative space ....

This week the focus has moved from fabric to yarn.  I have crocheted up a whole load of flowers to make into a scarf for me, I've knitted a scarf for Craig and I have knitted a dress for Cassia.

So here it is, being modelled (in the very loosest sense of the word!) by someone who really didn't want to put it on this morning and certainly did not want to put on clothes that it might actually go with!!!!!

There's a few mistakes and I didn't really follow the pattern strictly but I'm so PROUD!!!  I've always been very envious of people who can knit so I thought it was about time I taught myself.  I've been able to make long, straight rows of knitting (aka scarves) for a while but was a bit daunted by shaping, however I took it slowly and achieved this!!!  On to bigger and better things I think.  I guess the knitting bug could be pretty addictive eh?! x

For lots more lovely creative spaces head over to kootoyoo x

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

What have I been up to?

Can you guess what's been keeping me busy the last couple of days? xx

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The last couple of days .....

have produced a lot of highs and a few lows!

On Thursday morning Cassia woke me up with this beautiful picture:

"Mummy, it's you and friends when you went to Fairyland when you were younger.  You went over the rainbow.  That's a cricket ant on the rainbow.  He just slides around."  HIGH.

Spending Thursday morning on my own with Maia - going into the city, to the library and out to lunch.  HIGH.

I decided to bake and thought I could improve the standard ANZAC biscuit by adding sultanas and chocolate chips.  You would have thought it would work right?

It didn't!  But that could also be due to the fact that butter goes from "melt slowly" to "boil vigourously" very quickly - whoops!  Oh and did I mention they burnt a little in the oven too?!  LOW!

Being invited out by some girls and sharing a bottle of wine with them.  Feeling like I'm part of the real world again - definitely a HIGH.

Cassia wanting to sleep with me on Thursday night.  It could have been a HIGH but it definitely turned into a LOW when she was unsettled all night and I hardly got any sleep.

Feeling so tired on Friday was a LOW but sitting on the sofa with the girls and doing some crochet was a HIGH.

Receiving this delightful pincushion from Nova HIGH, HIGH, HIGH!

Figuring out an easy crochet flower pattern and being able to turn one:

into a bouquet even in a sleep induced stupor.  HIGH

Husband deciding to do some jobs that needed doing around the house.  HIGH.

Husband causing a huge water leak and not knowing where the stopcock was - so, so LOW!

Getting a knock on the door at 5.30pm and being invited to play hooky with two girlfriends by going for a coffee.  A much needed HIGH. xx

A wonderful swap ...

The great thing about blogging is finding people who make things you like and who are happy to swap their things for your things!

This was only my second swap and I love them.  That reminds me that I must show my first swap to you because I was very, very lucky (when I received it my computer had died a horrible death and was in the shop all week!).

So how did it happen?  The lovely Nova, over at a cuppa and a catch up, mentioned that she liked my rainbow bunting and I know how much I liked her pincushions so I asked if she would like to swap.  I felt a little cheeky  but luckily she loved the idea.  She gave me the choice of what I wanted (how cool is that?) but I said I would love a surprise.  And what a surprise it was!

How cool is that?!!!!!!

And the back's wonderful as well.

It is sitting very proudly right next to my machine with just the 3 pins in!  I have to let you in on a little secret - in all the years I have sewn I have never had a pincushion.  So now I have - and what a pincushion it is!

Thanks so much Nova - do you get the idea that I L.O.V.E. it?!!!!!!! xx

PS I'm totally open to the idea of swaps - for TOTALLY OPEN read WOULD DEARLY LIKE TO DO MORE SWAPS!!!  So if anyone sees anything they like maybe you'd like to do a swap - I know I certainly would.  Let me know! x

Thursday, 24 June 2010

My creative space ....

Having seen some of the crochet loveliness that has been around the creative spaces the last couple of weeks (to see more this week head on over to Kirsty's, our lovely host) I was very tempted to get hooking again.  So last Thursday evening I  dusted off my hooks, found some yarn and made these:

Unfortunately in my haste and with both girls tucked up in bed I winged it on the size.  The result?  Too big for Cassia and too small for Maia.  Very quick and easy to do so will make them both some more this coming week once I have finished what has really been taking up my week!

My creative space this week is all about hearts.  I joined the ANZAC Bee earlier this year and for my month I asked for hearts, hearts and more hearts.  This is what I received:

1. ANZAC Bee March block 2, 2. ANZAC Bee March block 1, 3. hearts for Abi, 4. heart block, 5. Abigail's blox 001, 6. Abigail's blox 002, 7. Abigails heart block, 8. Abigails heart block, 9. Abigails heart block, 10. IMG_3382, 11. Abi's block, 12. Hearts 006, 13. Hearts 003, 14. Hearts 005, 15. Hearts 002, 16. Hearts for Abi <3, 17. ANZAC Bee - March Blocks - Blue Heart, 18. ANZAC Bee - March Blocks - Brown Heart, 19. ANZAC Bee - March Blocks - stripy detail, 20. ANZAC Bee - March Blocks - Stripy Heart

Aren't they all just gorgeous?!!!  (And thanks to Nova for telling me how to do a mosaic - I think they could become quite addictive!).

They were all returned to me by April and have been languishing on the shelf.  So this week has been all about making the most of the blocks.

This is where I'm at as of today:

Phew!!!  What a job it has been but one that I'm really enjoying.  I've still a few blocks to make and then I need to join the rows and then I need to .........  OK so you won't see it finished in this space next week but it shouldn't be toooo far away!

Hope you've all had a great week creating. x