Monday, October 31, 2011


With spring rarking itself up into summer the pace of life has picked up too. Fairs, markets, town friends we don't see out here all winter popping up, playdates, birthdays and barbeques...and it's lighter 'til later at night. It's harder to go home when its utterly gorgeous out.
It's that more outgoing vibe of the warmer weather.

Friends are where it is at. Leaping... ...and disappearing, completely held in the green softness...until a head pops up...then two. Grinning. At home in their bodies, swimming naked in the stream, building, tree climbing, running wild through the sand dunes...creating whole worlds in secret caves. These two small folk played together non-stop for over five hours. No structure, no mama interventions, no drama. So beautiful. Friends.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Hoorah! I finally made it to 'The Bread and Butter Letter' on New North Rd in Auckland's 'almost city'. Sans child i could potter to hearts content. Vintage and handmade loveliness. And, everything (well, mostly) is between 10 and 30 dollars. I walked away with a vintage housedress, a pair of Zak shoes (and yes, i am old enough that the shoes i wore in my girlhood are now considered vintage.) and a little mint green vintage typewriter. Hoorah indeed!

I have been on the look out for one for awhile and it was all i could do to not do a little dance of joy when i saw it sitting there. I may have wiggled excessively waiting for the cross signal at the traffic lights with it tucked under my arm though. Possibly.

Perfect timing...the small one is picking out words he knows as we read together and is beginning to write. (And, regularly asks me definitions of ludicrous words at 6am pre-coffee...'mama, what does presumptous mean?' etc. Sheesh.)

Mama has been having great fun too. I grew up in the era of girls being encouraged to take the domestic arts and typing and shorthand at school. I point blank refused. I was a closet typewriter user.
It works perfectly and came with a carry case. I am tempted to travel with it and plonk it on cafe table among all those laptops...tee hee!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

woolly walk

I had heard rumour of a 'Woolly Walk' in Auckland and i kept meaning to ask some crafty types (who are more in the know than my rural dwelling self) where it was. On a recent town adventure we came off the ferry (Jed's first boat ride!) across the harbour at Devonport, wandered outside...and lo, the 'Woolly Walk!' It's a mighty fine bit of knitivism. Perfect for racing alongside (that wee bit of info for my four year old readers and those mama's into running alongside wild small folk.

So much to explore in this culturally diverse geographically strange city of ours.

Next up on the wishlist is the freshly unveiled new art gallery and the new section on NZ wildlife at the city's zoo 'Te Wao Nui'. Although the trainride in is enough entertainment for us country folk ...we could just ride it into town and back and be content.
Auckland harbour on a sunny day is a beautiful backdrop to this little meander of crafty goodness.

Nice to stumble across displays of colour and creativity. I like being taken unawares by art and beauty in unexpected ways.

it has begun

Labour Day in NZ was yesterday. The surf lifesavers are back on patrol from now on. Great excitement for the small people in our midst. Buggies, flags, the surf lifesaver's all being replayed in mini-fashion by small versions of surf lifesavers at the stream and on the beach. This winter has been, well, crap, to put it lightly and i'm not talking exclusively about the weather. Roll on spring and summer i say.
This time last year it was blazing hot and we'd all been swimming lots already. Lets just say it's still wetsuit temperatures in there. I have yet to go in. Jed would swim (and does sometimes) midwinter wetsuit optional. They're on a different thermostat those small ones. Being back down at the beach had me thinking alot about friends who live in Mt Maunganui and what's happening there with all the oil washing up from the Rena. So sad.

Labour Day also sees a local beach community's annual market that their community pre-school puts on. It's a great day and yesterday was no exception. Apart from their being many people moving slowly and with dark sunglasses on due to excesses of celebrating NZ winning the world cup. GrowMama was there and i had a blast. Thank you to those who came out to see me. Always a pleasure!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

stop. go

We have had footpaths being excavated and built in our neighbourhood. Yup, alot of orange cones, diggers, friendly workers in flouro vests, concrete trucks...happiness for a small person. I wondered how long it would take for Jed to ask for a stop/go sign of his very own. Yesterday.

There was no peace until he'd gathered all his gear and headed out for some action. That dress up drawer is a heavy traffic zone in our house, second only to the fridge among small folk.

He got the go-ahead from the guys to look after the truck for them. Oh the happiness.

It's rugby world cup fever here in New Zealand and the fervour has reached even our wee hideaway, it was hilarious to see all the world cup tourists driving down to the beach and doing a double take at the small workman 'working' alongside the big ones.

Hours of fun. Note to self: always have a book to hand. Ah well, it was one of those mornings he will likely always remember. Some of the neighbours even stopped at his stop/go sign and waited until Jed said they could go. Oh the power!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

mini scientist in the kitchen

I declared today a home day. It was a ferocious weather day, the ground out there is so waterlogged there will be no gardening for awhile. There were waterfalls down the drive and a pond appeared at the front door. Great weather for ducks. Not so great for little folks wanting to go on adventures. I thought i would share a few things we did today. I'm always on the lookout for new ideas of craft and projects and science experiments to try and i know from your emails some of you are too. We found this book at our last rummage at the library...

...Mini Scientist in the Kitchen by Lisa Burke. All sorts of fun experiments you can do with kids....all with stuff you likely already have in the kitchen. I really recommend it. Great photos and layout for kids. Plus a fold-out section on each double page with the scientific break-down of each experiment in launguage kidlets (and non-scientific mama's) can understand. Very cool.

This project was a look into solids and liquids and the task was to mix up some goop and play with it, running various experiments (will it flow through a sieve?) to determine if it was a solid or a liquid. Answer: neither, its a colloid. Hilarious word for a four year old to be fluent in using! Love it. Oxidation got a mention today too. Ha!
For those who want to try at home, goop is just pure fun to mix and play with even with no science attached:

Two cups of cornflour

One cup of water

few drops of natural food colouring optional but fun.

Add the water very gradually and mix well as you go.

It's a wierd scoop it up and it runs through your fingers but if you grab handful and press it'll act like a solid then run through your fingers again when you release the pressure. Fun stuff. We started off inside but as the play got more vigorous we moved outside to the covered deck. This is another one we tried recently. It involved marshmallows so was sure to be popular. Though it does involve some self control so the experiment doesnt get eaten before time.

We built a huge tower by piling several cubes on top of each other and topped it off with the pyramid. Good clean fun. Perfect for a rainy day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


When in our local organic shop awhile back, i asked Jed if he would like to choose a treat. He chose little violet and pea seedlings. We are enjoying watching his little spring garden grow and blossom in one of the wine barrels on our deck.

Slowly the vegetable and herb gardens are getting their act together too.

A slug habitat. We got to watch the cavorting of Jed's baby slug for the day and then released her...far away from Mama's patch.

My favourite part of the weekend? Giving up (temporarily) on my list of things to do and just sitting with Jed in the spring sun at the bottom of the garden. Jed was chatting to the slug who was crawling all over him, and the cat stretched out in the sun. I was making daisy chains. Just chatting, idly, sitting...thinking, chatting some more. Magic is so often found in those quiet moments 'in between'.

And someone just reminded me that the Piha Labour Day market is a week away...eek, i thought i had two weeks. No prizes for what i'll be doing this week! (Now, if i can just locate that missing week....)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the sun shone

Couldn't see a few metres off our deck the rain was so heavy this morning...and then, at rest time...clouds lifted, we saw the sea and blue sky and got all excited. We raced down to the beach and climbed and sat and thought and marvelled in the sun.

Jed made a new friend. One very friendly sparrow. That could have been hours of entertainment...but the rain closed in again and chased us home. That's okay, springtime in New Zealand will do that to you on occasion. Small one got to race the raindrops and come home to share a meal and a bath and a bit of mayhem with his friends.
But not before the GrowMama re-usable snack bag got to come out. I just love these, ours are used daily. Apologies to those who've been asking for them. More will be stocked in my felt store soon, it's a sluggish week. There is one set left in store now. Link to the right.


Monday, October 10, 2011

vintage sundress

I found this vintage sundress the other day. I have a thing for green, i have a thing for sundresses and i have a thing for vintage. Lucky it's a perfect fit. It was a rotten day and it made me smile when i saw it. I figured that alone, was enough reason to bring it home with me.
It needs a little tweaking. The hem is a bit wonky and the interfacing needs tacking down so i have set it to one side to fix once i get through this next wave of market sewing. The carrot.

I have been doing a bit of thinking about procrastination and the art of avoiding one's 'to-do lists' lately and spotted a brilliant little clip about just that via Bleubird Vintage's blog. Click HERE for Miranda July's 'tip for the easily distracted'. Artful brilliance. And, how is this for the hostess of the mostess summer uniform?! That apron!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

apple spirals

I get many comments about this newly acquired piece of kitchen equiptment. Kitchen utensils are pretty simple around here...i'm a mortar and pestle and swiss whip kinda gal. Even when i cooked Friday nights for 100+ fellow communards and guests at Twin Oaks Community i still made my pie crusts by hand. I just like it. This one fits the bill for being powered by elbow grease.

Impale the unsuspecting apple, turn the crank and it peels, slices and cores the apple. Plus you get a few 'magic drops' of apple juice on the board. Yum. Magic indeed. Anyone with fruit phobic children (you know who you are down the hill there!) might want to give this a whirl. Kids love it. They eat the peel as well as the apple.
I wouldn't have known what this was, except Jed did some visiting at our local beautiful Steiner nursery for awhile and they have one there. Then, on a rare occasion when we were in a 'new goods' store together (instead of an op shop) we spotted this on sale. It came home with us and is much loved.

Did i mention the apple gets sliced in a complete spiral?

I find much kitchen gadgetry superflous and slightly mad. This one is slightly mad in a good way. I'm sold.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

7 days of blogging 7/7 - introducing terence

So, in any one day, i am mama to many. Today it was a builder, a pirate, a mama bird on her eggs, a knight, an All black (NZ is deep in Rugby world cup fever),and Terence the sparrowman. I'm sure i am forgetting a few. Terence is around alot these days. We've just finished reading Gail Carson Devine's Fairies and the Quest for Neverland which Jed spotted at the library. Fairies, pixies, sparrowmen, dragons, high adventure and magic in general. Fits right in around here.

Then Jed wangled the Tinkerbell movie. Oh my! We're not used to screen time and perhaps thats why we got so spirited away by the story. Anyway, heartfelt request came for a Terence outfit. 'Turn the sewing machine on pleeeeaase mama'. Oh, okay! Twist my arm!

The under tunic is a basic shift medieval style with just the two seams, one running down each side. And jersey doesnt fray so i just cut the neck line out and no edge finishing to do, hoorah! The vest is the remnant of a brown men's t shirt that had already been partly used for another project, the pocket essential and the tassles from scraps. The brown 3/4 leggings, hat and wings were already favourites. I'll try and get a better picture.
Terence has been busy bringing in Spring. I came downstairs to this:
Fairy paint made from the juice of blueberries (the small one defrosted them overnight, i wondered what they were for) and fairy dust (gold glitter from the craft box).

I couldn't have come up with a more exciting and magical project myself. I love where kids take me if i allow myself to go for the ride...i recommend it. Jed worked out that the skeleton leaves from his nature table painted up beautifully.

Monday, October 3, 2011

7 days of blogging 6/7 - fast food good

It's nearing dinnertime, you are tired, small ones are tired and you have no idea what to make for dinner. It's the witching hour in many families. Sound familiar?
Here's one of my go-to fast food recipe's:

Sesame noodles.
-handful of chopped rinsed spinach
-half a block of firm tofu
-two eggs
-mushrooms (i used two large ones here)
-egg noodles
-sesame oil
-sesame seeds
-olive oil
-soy sauce or braggs

1)Throw on a groovy looking apron. That always makes me feel like a domestic goddess, even if i am just making it up as i go along.
2)Take a few eggs, beat them and cook them.
3)While the eggs are cooking, chop some spinach.
4) Slice and fry some mushrooms and tofu in oil, garlic and soy sauce (or Braggs). Chop the cooked egg up or scramble it as it cooks.
5) Meanwhile, have some noodles on the boil.
6)Ten minutes later, when the noodles are cooked and rinsed throw everything together with a dash of sesame oil and a handful of toasted sesame seeds and a splash more soy sauce or Braggs (i prefer Braggs) and serve in a big bowl. Leave some serving spoons out and ask the smallest one to serve everyone.

It's pretty popular and I've got it down to fifteen minutes til it hits the table now.

The meat-eater's version of this recipe is to marinate thin slices of schnitzel beef (this is a very economical dish) in soy or braggs and sesame oil and swap that in for the tofu. I make either.

Well, i don't eat meat for various reasons and neither did Jed for his first year until we went to a Christmas work do and there was a carvery catering the meal...i was thinking oh no, what will i feed Jed when we ran up to the serving tables crying out 'meat, meat!' in total joy, grabbed a leg of something and proceeded to gnaw it enthusiastically while looking around for more. Yeah. I didn't imagine myself a mother of a meat eater but it is clearly the small one's body type. Meat is probably served once or twice a week around here. I buy organic meat from a local butcher. Four years in, the small one still runs in there, flings the door open and cries 'meat!' They know us by name and we get to talk about the farms where their animals come from. I am conflicted and i know i have likely opened a can of worms in terms of the meat-eating vs vegetarianism vs veganism debate and there is so much more to say on the topic but i am not going there today. Like many parenting decisions, this one is a personal one to make. Whichever version of sesame noodles you make, enjoy...i have heard both are delicious. What do YOU make when you're tired and dinner time is looming? I could do with some more culinary fast food tricks....leave a comment and tell us!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

7 days of blogging 5/7 - fundies

I have been wanting to make underwear for the longest time. Uh huh. I know, i know.
It's just that i like to have a go at making well, pretty much everything. And you all know how much i love upcycling, right?

Well, i flat out refuse to make muslins. What if i get it right and am stuck with an ugly old muslin i can't wear huh? Yep, most of my trialling of new patterns is done with the final fabric and i tweak as i go. Or to mock up the prototypes of my own designs i'll upcycle some secondhand clothing. Usually i make my own pattern up, or take it from a piece of clothing i own and love already. But...when i stumbled across three patterns for $1 on trademe, and one of them being a pattern for boyshort style underwear i couldn't resist.
Here we are, 'circus fundies' in the making. Cotton jersey in a dubious purple from the 20c bin at the op shop and a rainbow striped top from my upcycling bin provided the fabric. Fast and furious late night sewing ensued.

Ahem...the back view of my circus style 'muslin'. You didn't think you'd get to see me model them did you?!

As soon as i finished them i wished i had made my own pattern from a pair i already own. The legs on these ones were a tad big, despite measuring and following directions to customise the sizing. Good thing i held back on the special underwear fabric and used the dubious purple. Next time. I did learn alot about gusset construction from the pattern and it definitely de-mystified the whole underwear making process which was well worth a late night bout of sewing.

Oh yeah, then i remembered, belatedly, that Amy from Angry Chicken posted about her underwear making adventures HERE and HERE. Yep. I was right, make my own pattern ...that's number one on her 'how to' list. That sleep set is adorable. Something to aspire to. And now, i am diving into this rather large and teetering pile of vintage fabrics... month's Kraftbomb is creeping up and so is the Piha Labour Day market. A highlight for the community out there, it is run in support of the Piha Community Pre-school. It's a great day out...the food (especially those gourmet salads, wow) was amazing last year, i got many a great bargain at the market stalls and the kids area was much loved by the smalls. It is also the first day the Surf Lifesavers are back on duty for the season...very exciting for the smalls also. Go HERE to check out the dates/times and for info on how to book a stall yourself. I'm told there are a few left. Better be quick. See you there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

7 days of blogging 4/7 - mama style

So, i have received a few emails from readers asking if i had thought about doing a 'what i wore wednesday' kinda of a post. The short answer is no. Accompanied by a fit of giggles at the question. This is the woman who refused to wear pink or a skirt or a dress for nigh on ten years. Granted these were my radical days on the frontlines of social change and environmental work and i was living out of: 1) a backpack and 2) dumpsters, but still.
I live out in a fairly isolated community by a wild surf beach in the bush these, lets just say there is no flash or bling on an everyday basis out here. Plus, i'm like Jed...real big on comfort. Mostly our clothes are handmade or bought secondhand. Not that should stop you looking all high fashion if thats what you're into. Totally do-able on a budget if you ask me, you just need vision and a few op shopping and seamstressy type skills.
I do love putting outfits together, i take after my Nana in that, but what i love the most is how different i can feel and how that comes out in how i dress. Beach or no beach, if i want to dress up, i will. Or i can look like the picture above and wear discordant colours and legwarmers that i found in an op shop for 10c and i suspect started life as the sleeves of a jumper.
Oh yeah, and there's the wee issue on not liking to pose for photos. I'm big on the 'catching life as it flies' school of photography.
But i will share with you a few vintage finds from this season. I am very fond of vintage and handmade knits. The little guy is often sporting a handmade woollen vest. And the mama? Looking forward to ditching the jeans/dresses/leggings/cardigan winter combinations for the sundress/tunic and gaucho pants i favour in the summer months. Totally recovered from my aversion to pink, skirts and dresses you will notice!

These are all under ten dollars from op shops or online trading. As is most of my clothes.

I have secret desire to learn how to knit one day...i am always in awe of knitters. A few friends have tried but, well, here i am, still decidedly NOT knitting! Sigh.

Couldn't resist popping in this one of Jed proudly rocking his new favourite vintage knit: an astoundingly red vest with pocket and ladybird buttons. This lovely number set us back $2. The hat was $4 newly knitted, also from one of our favourite church run op shops.

Oh, and if you are looking for 'what we wore' type of posts...look no further than Ms Bleubird Vintage and family... someone sent me a link last styley are they?!