Thursday, December 22, 2011

festive fragments

This is my solution to the waste of buying gift wrapping only to throw it away. I bought a bunch of green and red cotton jersey awhile back and have cut various shapes and ribbons out to use as wrapping cloths. Love it. After Sunday we'll wash it, pack it in the Solstice/Christmas box until next year. I had all these complicated plans of sewing bags and i am so glad i did it this way. I like the look of them, they seem sumptuous to me. The gift tags we made from potato prints a while back.

Solstice morning the small person woke to this. A light sun shirt. Here in New Zealand the sun is pretty fierce and we spend a fair bit of time covering up in the summer. Especially given we live just up the hill from the beach. This beach hoodie is in lightweight polka dot cotton and the hood is lined in a vintage print i have been ogling in my stash. The pattern was from a burda magazine i copied at the library. Every now and then there is something i make that i am incredibly happy with. This is one.

Might have to be one in mama size in the New Year.

More happiness: summer has truly begun. We've been in a soggy ole world lately, and not so very warm either, but the clouds have cleared the last few days. Our favourite local orchard has it's first plums in off the trees. And goodness...are they ever the taste of summer!

Fresh blueberries, watermelon, the last of the strawberries...mmm...summer!

Happy Solstice everyone and have a Merry Christmas. We're off on adventures until just after the New Year. I'll be taking a little blogland break while i dream up some of the big changes afoot in the New Year. See you then - with tales to be told. xxx

PS -The winner of the Sew Mama Sew giveaway is Lemony Lucy who recommended Dustjacketattic blog. It made me think of you Jo. And other interior fetishists i know. (Er, i meant that in a good way!) I'll be in touch about your GrowMama goodies Lucy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

last minute gift guide

Before we get into gifts to buy...there's simple gift tutorials galore to be found online. Many folks have enough stuff and sometimes it's just silly to think about contributing to more of it.
But! Some handmade paper bunting for the Yuletide season might be just the thing.
We used red and green cardboard, a pair of scissors and some lengths of bias binding to make ours:
- we sat down and Jed thought of different seasonal shapes. I wrote down the ones i thought i could draw.
- cut out our shapes. Jed went off and did his own thing with his scissors at this point.
- Glued any embellishments on. Arranged the shapes on our binding then:
- Mama zigzagged the bunting onto the bias binding and DONE!
(Er, anybody else notice a theme of fast, simple decorations around here?!)
Er, anyone else notice a theme of handmade, fast and simple decorations around here?!

Jed's bunting is my favourite. Kid's art before all the limitations of the (potentially) boring adult mind set in are just wondrous.

This is Jed's centre-piece of his bunting. "my symbol of Christmas" - direct jed quote. to the last minute gift guide: We're going for local, groovy and easy on the earth and pocket.

Trash Footwear gift voucher. Based in Raglan and using rubbish from the tip and liberated from dumpsters, Ben makes kick ass footwear for men and women. I was lucky enough to meet Ben today and just take a look at my new summer sandals...

...These little honeys are made to last and are incredibly comfortable. Plus, Ben is an awesome guy. Click HERE to be taken to the Trash Footwear website. Aucklanders can hop along to the SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation) shop in St Kevins Arcade on Karanghape Rd.

Koanga Gardens - take a wander through the Koanga Online shop HERE...seeds, books, mushroom kits, tools, fermenting crocks, sourdough starters...whatever it takes to build a brave new world...and something for everyone. Koanga Gardens and Centre for Sustainable Living do a great job...get in there and support them while taking care of your christmas shopping. GrowMama has a store in's NZ's answer to online shop full of handmade goodness. Well worth a browse and there's still a day or so to allow for posting....well worth a virtual potter around. Go to Felt's home page HERE.

Sparkle stories. The gift of stories makes such a beautiful gift for any family/child. Sparkle stories are all-original, expertly told audio stories by subscription. Started a year ago by a homeschooling mama and papa. There are several story 'streams' you can choose from. They are beautiful stories about themes important to children and conveyed through characters they learn and grow with through out the year. We have been part of Sparkle stories for a few months and i cannot recommend them enough. Ideal for those who don't do screen time or want to lessen their screentime. You can also download sample stories for free. HERE.

Extracurricular magazine - give a subscription or the latest issue. Blog HERE (with a nifty piece on Ben of Trash Footwear fame)...and available to buy on Felt HERE.

And there's always GrowMama gear...HERE, as ever!

Merry days to you folks...stay out of those malls, put your money where your ideals are and support some good people working hard towards a better and get some truly beautiful gifts in exchange. Yeah!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blexbolex Seasons

I love this book.
And, last library visit i found it on the book sale shelf.
20 cents.
Happy dance? Yup. On the spot.
It's 'Seasons' by Blexbolex. Have a lookie at a preview on You Tube HERE.

Simple, striking and thought provoking.
The small one is getting into his reading, or 'magic with letters and words' as he puts it. This book is a fun time together.

The book's hardcover is a bit damaged and i did wonder, briefly, about using pages of it to frame. But i don't think i could.

Er, 'escape', 'contemplation'...not hard to infer where i am at!

A COMPLETE ASIDE: i had a few emails hurrying me up on the groovy gift suggestion front: yup, i'm on blog post will give you the solutions to your last minute gift acquisitions. Hang tight, it's coming!

Monday, December 12, 2011

SMS GrowMama Giveaway time!

Big ole Kiwi-style welcome to those of you new to GrowMama!

And to business...I make and sell my own designs made with gorgeous vintage fabrics for babies, children and accessories for the Mama's and Papa's. All designs are tried and tested in house. Hardwearing, stylish, simple, comfortable and easy on the pocket and the earth. Each piece i make is unique to you. The GrowMama blog is, well, snapshots of our daily life living in the bush, by the beach, crafting up a as large as we dare.

This time 'round i am offering a package of GrowMama goodies for the hardworking Mama

1) Vintage fabric headband. Perfect for those bad hair days (lets face it, every mama of small children should own at least one!). Can be worn folded over with hair peeking out vintage style, gypsy scarf'll find what works for you.
2) Vintage barkcloth glasses case - stop those glasses from getting scratched bouncing around in the bag.
3) Pocket tissue holder for the handbag. Every mama's in need of an emergency tissue from time to time.
4) A surprise gift. I'll get to know the winner a bit and pop something into the for one of your kids? A re-usable vintage fabric snack bag? Clues may be found in the
GrowMama Felt shop HERE.
Tame the chaos of your bag with a glasses case in vintage barkcloth. I loved my headband in this fabric so much i made one for you.

Plus, there's that surprise remember!

Leave a comment below. In your comment leave a link to a favourite blog and say why you love it. Try and give one that isn't quite so well known if you can. That way, we can all share the blog love...i love discovering a new favourite blog, don't you?! (Oh yes, have a wander through the GrowMama archives too and stick around...i have some great weekly features and some blog design tweaks to launch in the New Year. GrowMama readership is growing and Growing...hoorah and hi everyone!)

International entries very welcome. Giveaway closes December 16th, 5pm PST'ish. I read every comment and put my ten favourite ones into the magic hat and the winner is traditionally chosen by the smallest member of the household.
Happy Giveaway Days to y'all!

Now, head along back to Sew Mama for some more Giveaway fun. Link on my 'Inspiring' list on the right there....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

christmas cheer: fast

One rainy morning you and the small fry can set up a Christmas themed printing press in your own kitchen. And, if you live in New Zealand, i am suspecting there is a rainy morning in your immediate future.

Not just any printing. Potato printing.

We did stars, christmas tree and holly leaves/berries. Oh, and some free painting sort of magic by the small printer was in the mix too. Those were my favourites. These are our gift tags and some to make cards with.

And this fast made little bit of mama late night craft wizardry...Jed's advent calendar.

I didn't want to the shop bought ones. I figured we didn't need chocolate everyday. My mind went to elaborate heirloom handmade type of advent calendars. But, problem. Every time i thought of making one...well, it just made me feel tired. THAT, is a sure sign NOT to begin that particular project.

Then i stumbled across THIS idea in Amy Karol's Angry Chicken blog. Genius. And, whats more...simple genius. I simplified her idea even more. I cut down a bunch of standard size envelopes i already had, dug out a bunch of little craft pegs, golden string and a few gold bells i had leftover from last years yuletide crafting. Each year i pack away any Christmas cards into the decorations box. Then we get to chop them up and use the images the following i cut out images that would fit on the envelopes and glued them on. I mixed it up by adding a few with vintage red and green buttons (couldnt resist throwing buttons in there!), some with gorgeous christmas stickers we'd been given and filled in the remaining gaps with some christmas themed collage with green and red fabric. Inside each advent envelope went little things: stickers, a handmade wee book, craft pens, a tiny padlock and key, candle, tiny test jars of bath soap, balloons, all sorts of little bits of joy, vouchers for days out to favourite places. Even a few chocolate lady bugs. And a special gift for Solstice. The whole thing was done and dusted in an hour and a half.

The little guy was most excited to see it when he woke the next morning.

So there you have it, two easy peasy fast and furious fun Christmas ideas. Bring on the rain!

Friday, December 9, 2011

gecko and friends

Children see the world so differently. Try as i might, i don't see as much as them. Jed found this gecko over the edge of our deck a few days ago. It's been greatly exciting to see him/her come and go, bask in the sun, do whatever it is gecko's do best.

Last year we spotted a bigger, darker gecko sunning itself on the deck. Click HERE to see that wee beauty. You can read more about native NZ geckos HERE. Any ideas on what kind of gecko we have please let me know. It looks like a Duchavel's gecko but they are very rare and aren't meant to exist here, so, hmmm, maybe not.

When it disappeared, i was looking for it in the nearby trees, on the wood, you know...natural geckoey sort of places. It was Jed who figured out it's hiding place. Inside the hollow pipe of the TV satellite dish (we're not TV watchers but if you are to get any channels out here, a satellite is needed). So, if you look very closely at the photo above, you'll see a little foot and nose...I guess no birds can snap you up in there!

Along the creature theme...the stick insects are back. All summer long they hang out on the deck walls. We have Titoki trees along the back of the deck and the stick insects seem to like them, alot. Last year i counted 17 stick insects on one tree.

And this bizarre little beauty that Jed came running in to tell me about. Call me a geek but i had to get the insect identification book out for this one. I have never seen any like it. It's a male giraffe weevil. They live for about 2 years in rotten wood feasting, to finally emerge as an adult.

Thing is, they live only 2 weeks in their adult form. Crazy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

seasonal trees

Signs of Solstice and Christmas are popping up all over the house here...and the garden. Here in New Zealand where Christmas means shorts, salads, swimming, picnics and possibly even a surfboard, the beautiful red flowers of the magestic coastal pohutakawa tree is also synonymous with this time of year.

There's a little tree IN our little house too. There was much conversation about a tree this year...i tried to sell the small person on the idea of making a tree. Of course. But that idea didn't fly. Neither did he like the idea of having a tree that was cut down. Small one asked for a living tree in a pot. One that "we could be friends with all the year round and bring inside to help us celebrate". So, thats what we have.

It is a little tree so i had to do some quick thinking about decorations. I bought some lightweight red and green ribbon and dug around in the craft box. Out came the glue gun and some tiny pompoms and some sequin stars in red, green and silver. Hey presto...some little tree decorations.

One crochety morning that needed some focus Jed and i made a tree to hang on the wall too. The gold glitter 'streamers', cutting out of the tree and help with sticking down the green tinsel tassles were my contributions, the rest was Jed work. The symmetry of his crafting and arranging of artwork is amazing me at the moment.

I was happy to see the tree bunting come out of hiding again. Link to last years blog post (with link to tutorial) HERE. The season is looking pretty handmade!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Keep it simple, keep it simple is sort of my mantra at the moment. Especially as we heal from this icky sickness we had 'round here. So much going on. The garden is no exception. Our strawberries haven't quite begun yet (for us anyway...the birds got a few before i remembered the glass jar over ripening fruit trick)..but we've been enjoying them nonetheless. I made my annual special trip to our local strawberry farm and was sad to hear the farmer, whose been in the business for years, upset about the increasing impossibility of being a small producer of quality strawberries. Sigh. Still, they made a most beautiful simple supper tonight (i give the small one supper before teethbrushing and bed each night...otherwise he wakes hungry at a hideous hour) - with a bit of the Great Co-operative Dairy's Black Plum live yoghurt on the side. It's the taste of summer.

My raw vegetable intake is pretty zingy with all our salads in our garden, the wild chickweed and red clover and nasturtium flowers i eat as we pass by... and Jed's amazing peas.

Green goodness. In Jed's words: "MMmmm, my body is so happy i ate that".

Yup. Mine too.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The season has begun. This was the GrowMama stall at my last market. Green and red predominating over all that retro floral huh?! Hmm. Call me a recovering Christmas grinch!
Jed's advent calendar went up last night, a little pine tree in a pot has joined the family, the solstice fairies have been unpacked and are busy exploring their new tree. There'll be peeks of these in the time to come.

I've been fielding a few questions about my newly designed Christmas decorations since i had them at last month's Kraftbomb here they are. I am sorry, i have lost my notebook i had with me that day so for those of you wondering where to buy them online: Go to my GrowMama felt store HERE.

Solstice/Christmas elf hats in three sizes: baby, toddler-school age and large child/small adult.

Pop them into the dress up box and you'll see them during the year as various fairies, elves, gnomes and pixies. Reversible - and with bells on.

Fabric holly with vintage button berries. A GrowMama designed special. These have a craft wire and pure wool inner to them so you can shape them as you like.

An aside: I think half my community is down with a nasty sore throat/glands up/phlegmy/cough/malaise sort of a lergy and i was no exception. Darn it all...i am usually so hardy. So, if i am a wee bit late replying to your email or your order is possibly a day off schedule, i am sorry. Know that i am trying my best to catch up!