Sunday, April 29, 2012


 Sorry to run off like that folks. I am still here, just the weather has been so good, the busyness of summer and my work has filled our days. Plus a bunch of crafting and dreaming up schemes...add in a bit of sleep catch up and somehow three or four days skipped on by. Sheesh.
 I was sad to miss the big Hikoi yesterday (literally, hikoi means 'walk' in Te Reo Maori...or in this case, a protest march) to try and give Mr Key and the rest of the National Party a little taste of just how many folks aren't happy with them selling off NZ's assets. Quite alot. But just about everybody i know was there marching. Go team!
 This one is growing up so fast. I got a voicemail from him today when i was at my market peddling GrowMama wares. Funny to hear his voice through the recording device, as others might hear it. Usually it's right next to me.
 Posted off a few orders from our lovely wee local post office. Watch those mail boxes.
Damper. Anyone remember that from their younger camping/adventure survival days? It hustles up fond memories of going bush for me.

Looking forward to the Plant Medicine workshop i am giving next weekend.
Grateful for the warmth of my little home up on the hill as the chill of autumn is on the increase.
Looking forward to a wood delivery - wood stacking is my most favourite ever job to do.
Grateful for coffee with beautiful connection and budding new friend and awesome mama Angela.
Looking forward to sleeping. More.
Grateful for my time out in the world today and for my huge welcome home again.
Looking forward to brainstorming a new business idea with a new accomplice.
Grateful for an incredible handstistching project, i had forgotten how much i like handwork.
I could go on.
And you? What are you grateful for? What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


We made a date with a friend and her boy to go eeling at one of our local streams. The day dawned clear and bright and spirits were high walking the bush paths to get there. Jed was excited for them to arrive so we used the time to pack an 'adventure bag' for each boy. Test pots to take stream samples, rope, magnifying glass etc. They loved that. Then as a stroke of last minute brilliance i threw in two wooden swords. Who knew such valient knights roamed these parts?!
 Great stuff...the stream runs alongside a big grassy clearing in the bush - the perfect place for kids imaginations to run riot and so for the mama's to do some much needed catching up.
And success! We caught an eel. There were only two little ones about today and i managed to net one. We popped it into the bucket to observe. Jed was very much into touching it. The eel meanwhile was intent on escape and very almost did climb the sides of the bucket. When we were done looking we tipped the bucket slightly and it climbed out by itself and made its way back to the stream. Fascinating to watch.
Did you know they swim all the way back to Tonga ( for those in the northern hemisphere thats a pacific island quite far from here) to spawn? Then come all the way back to their territories streams? When i was a kid you used to see them sometimes crossing roads or fields. Amazing creatures.
Sadly, these days i never see the big metre and a half ones that were common back then. Chemical residues from pesticides and fertilisers washing into streams must play a part in that.
 Two boys quietly fishing (i tied organic ham onto a piece of string and had a stick to hold onto - no hooks involved)...a beautiful thing.
A few days earlier i had taken Jed to a park in Auckland where there are hundreds of eels in a stream there.
Good times.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


We went on a rescue mission last week. Two baby guinea pigs have been with us since then.
One of their names is Princess Bang, the other is Charlotte Spider. But for the last six days they have been answering to the names Badger and Piglet.
Jed heaven. This animal loving little fellow has just been blissed out. He has sat (and this is a boy at the rip roaring age of four and 3/4) and cuddled these two little critters for HOURS each day. They were all skittish and he has them eating out of his hand now. Cheapest entertainment around.
He is smitten. I have to admit to being a weeny bit smitten too.

Now, this would be an easy thing, if it were a simple holiday care arrangement, but Jed knows the owners are going to re-home the guinea pigs. He has been asked if he wanted them. Which of course, he does. The great carer of all animal kind here cannot stand the thought of them going to 'rough' kids. Besides which they (or one in particular) have a piece of his heart wrapped around her wee claw.
And me?
-Head swirling with thoughts of not liking animals in cages, then heart melting to see how gentle and concerned Jed is with them. Knowing too, they are already IN this tamed life no matter what we decide.
 -Head full of the work involved in caring for small animals and the responsibility of caring for more little lives around here, then seeing how much Jed is learning.
-Head calculating that if we were to do the small animal thing, which Jed so dearly wants to do, probably now is the time. (They live 4, 5 years maximum and any older than ten i imagine Guinea pigs might not be first on the entertainment list.)
-Head calculating the cost of hay and imaginary vet know, doing that thinking things through thing.
It should be a simple decision but lets face it, things of the heart just aren't.

Hmmm, a time share arrangement perhaps? Fob the boy off with chickens?
For now i am grateful for the up-close chance to get to know these beautiful funny little critters.
They go back in a day or so...eek. Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

phone cover Growmama style

I designed and sold a version of these as vintage fabric ipod covers at the GrowMama stall a few years running. They sold well and i still had a few drifting about in my stock. I inherited a fancy phone (well, fancy for me) recently and dug one of the covers out. Et voila! Fits like a glove and it is so handy, i can't believe folks aren't beating down my door for them.
Seriously. I mean fancy phone + my action lifestyle with small child = recipe for breakage surely?
Not with this nifty phone cover.
Plus, i can thread it onto my belt if i am going bush with no handbag, or thread it onto my bag strap.

You don't need to beat down the door, i just listed my latest phone covers (they work just as well for your ipod - i don't have one, i like to keep my technology to a minimum, besides i haven't inherited one OR seen one at the thrift shops yet) on New Zealand's answer to etsy like behaviour.
Go see the GrowMama felt shop HERE. (Just listed a bunch of new vintage fabric headbands too, for those of you asking.)

And, forgive me if it's getting old to my regular readers but if you haven't voted for GrowMama's picnic placemat rolls in the 2012 Handmade Olympics 'Most innovative' section please do so HERE.
Heartfelt thanks. Just thinking about that nomination brings a smile. And possibly a wee wriggle. 

Hope you all had a happy weekend. We had glorious glorious SUN! (An event in itself here after a pretty dismal summer weatherwise)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{This moment} is catalysed by Amanda Soule. Click HERE to be zoomed on over to her moment and be linked to hundreds more magical moments from folks links in her comments....

And, if you haven't voted for me in the 2012 Handmade Olympics yet and would like to...hop on over HERE to event one/most innovative design and five down, you'll find GrowMama's Picnic placemat rolls. Thanks!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

a simple thing

 In a late night internet fog i got lost somewhere in blogland and stumbled across a post about a Montessori salt tray. Kids were playing with writing letters or drawing in the salt. They had laid brightly coloured paper on the bottom of wooden trays to contrast with the white of the table salt.
Somehow that image stayed with me.
 Something we have in abundance is sand. Black sand. We live just up the hill from a whole lot of it here on the West Coast of New Zealand. It gets EVERYWHERE! sand tumbles out of pockets, out of the cuffs of jeans, it sticks to our scalps on windy days and is pretty much always in evidence after showers.
So, last we were near the stuff, i scooped up a container of it.
I sprinkled a layer in these retro melamine dinner trays and voila, sand trays. I love these trays. I found them while rummaging in a secondhand shop when Jed was still in a carrier and we use them so much. Picnics, dinner outside, sorting for collages, craft projects in the making, or lego. These two trays are esconced on the deck now and a few times a day a small one is hunkered down busy writing.
A simple tool for learning. The best kind.

And thank you so much to everyone who has voted for me in the Handmade Olympics! I was in tears reading some of your reactions on Facebook last night, such kind words my friends. Heartfelt thanks. x

Oh, and if you haven't voted, you still can! Go HERE and tick GrowMama's Picnic placemat rolls. Or click on the Handmade Olympics button above. Event one: most innovative design!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GrowMama shortlisted in the Handmade Olympics!

The picnic placemat rolls i designed for the last issue of Extracurricular magazine has been shortlisted in the 2012 Handmade Olympics for the 'favourite handmade goodie with an innovative design' category. Event one.
So exciting to see GrowMama's name up in lights! (Okay, maybe not up in lights yet but y'know...pretty cool!).

PLEASE go vote for me. Click HERE, scroll down and tick the picnic placemat roll. Or on the Handmade Olympics icon down below there. It only takes a minute. And, spread the word. (please!)

Just this morning i was having a rare mope about how hard i work to get my little writing and making endeavours going i was especially thrilled to find the nomination news in my inbox. Hooray. I am just a teensy bit sad the main photo of the picnic roll isn't of one open as well, so folks'd get the idea at first glance, but hopefully most will click through and see the whole story.

But i digress. Go vote, go vote, go vote! Voting is open from the17th - 27th April. But do it now!
And check out the other events...there are seven in total- all amazing creations and creators to support.
PS: Those of you yet to visit The Rik Rak Studio blog are in for a treat too.

{PPS- i can't for the life of me find any of my official picnic placemat photos so have used pics of some recent commissions, you get the idea!

The Goodbyn lunchbox

Now, i am not known as a spendy sort of a person. Er, no. Unless paying $1.50 for jeans is your idea of spendy. But. There are times when i spend. I mean really spend. I supported 2 mama's small home business by buying a complete set of groovy cloth nappies when Jed was born. I figured that i was going to be seeing them ALL the time, washing the blighters, looking at them hanging on the line...pretty much be surrounded by them for years potentially, so i wanted good quality, i wanted groovy and i wanted to support good people (this was a dry period of no sewing machine or you better believe i would have made 'em!).
Along the same reasoning, i have bought a Goodbyn lunchbox. I figured we'll use it so much and save long term on the wrapping of snacks, it'll be worth it.
I have been eyeing them up for ooo, a few years now and was tired of throwing away the paper i used to wrap food. Tired of rummaging around looking for our various tins i housed our snacks and lunches in.
I have gone plastic. I know, i know. I still use tins for most other food storage but i was looking and looking for a good food storage system that would work as a lunchbox.
I went Goodbyn. From what i researched, its about as clean as plastic can get.
You don't have to wrap anything, each of the compartments seals seperately. This is a biggie for me. I can put a salad in one section, dressing in another. Or dips in one, vege's in another. So cool. I no longer use the screeds of paper to wrap the various food items. They just go in their compartment. And it keeps things super fresh. All day.
The drink bottle can also be frozen to keep the food fresh.
It comes with loads of stickers so the kidlet can personalise their lunchbox.
It's easy to open and close.
Everything is visible at once.
They come in two sizes, ours is the larger.
It sits nicely on Jed's lap when we're in the car. We live off the beaten track a bit and while we try not to use the car much we do have classes and errands to do in town and so spend a bit of time in the car. Being able to manage the lunchbox without me having to open things is revolutionary.
And, so, yes, it cost a pretty penny but we're loving it. It is one of those purchases that just makes sense.
 And with all these stickers to choose from i was kinda tripped out by this wee fella's minimalistic approach.
 (He doesn't get that from his mama, i would of gone a little crazy with the stickers i think)
Goodbyn. Good stuff.

And, not available in New Zealand yet. I first saw them when i lived in the USA and they've been all over blogsville lately. I tracked an Australian family run company called Biome down who stocked Goodbyn. Tracey very kindly offered me a little discount when she checked out the GrowMama blog. That was the catalyst to finally getting our lunchbox dilemma sorted. Thanks for that wee nudge Tracey. Life changing i tell you! Well, in a small utilitarian sort of a way.

Now, i want one for me. Birthday present perhaps?

PS: There are some lovely ideas for lunch packing in Bleubird's Kiddo Lunch series of blog posts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alabama Chanin

 I am a longtime fan of Natalie Chanin and her company, Alabama Chanin. You know me and my enthusiasm for upcycling? Yup, well Natalie and her stitchers have taken it several steps further. Oh yes!
I just got her book Alabama Stitch book out of the library. And am loving it. Another one (Alabama Studio Style) is waiting for me to pick up and the her newest book (Alabama Studio Sewing and Design) is on my request list. The subtitle to this one: Projects and Stories celebrating hand-sewing, quilting, and embroidery for contemporary sustainable style. I do love me some good crafty stories to go along with my projects!
 Click along to the Alabama website and you'll see the clothes and home products they make. Beautiful. Hand stitched, and made from upcycled t shirts and otherwise sustainable fabrics. Simple designs with the Chanin trademark cut away applique as embellishment. Natalie's journal (blog) is a lovely and sometimes thought provoking place to pop into.
 The books come with projects, patterns, stencils and are rich with local history, personal stories and run deep with respect for the living arts of stitchery.
So very much my kind of book. Many sighs of happiness were had on reading it. And i think, i think, i may try and hustle together the materials to work on a little something from the book this weekend. A beautiful friend (Hi Ange of Mermaids Purse) has organised a sewing retreat - a whole day in a beautiful peaceful space in the trees, by the sea - with ten other lovely women. And not a small child to be seen. Oof and Oh the luxury of it!
Wishing you a good week. x

Friday, April 13, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A friday ritual. A single photo- no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment i want to pause, savour, and remember.

Inspired by Amanda Soule. Go HERE to see her moment and be connected to hundreds more through the comments on her post.

Happy weekend to you folks.

no handknitted undergarments here

 The change of season is upon us and that chill is creeping into the early morning air. All attempts at my learning to knit have ended in tears and so i rely on thrifting finds for the handknits i love. Success! Actually, the wee fella has rocked some seriously cool handknits over the years and as a result there is a rumour that i am queen of ALL things handmade, even the knitted. Consider this post setting the record straight...undies, yes...handknits, no. And so, handknitted undergarments...certainly not!
 An unread copy of the complete collection of Enid Blyton's Wishing Chair stories. Yes please!
 Socks and sandals under halfmast trousers anyone?
 This Pacifica print shirt for the small. Denim shirt for the larger boy.
And this, the reason for foraying into thrift stores at all today...white trousers and a few metres of white cotton fleece for $1. To make an astronauts outfit. White usually doesnt fly 'round here. But this week has all been about space. But you'll see soon enough...a sense a bout of late night sewing on the brew.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

bits in the sun

 The sun has been shining. And i mean unencumbered by clouds. Those sentences have not been uttered much this summer. But the weather over the Easter weekend has been stupendously perfect. Swims were had.
 Picnics sneaked in whenever possible.
 Crafting was done.
 (Window art - to make the most of the glorious light. Cut your pattern out of card, use coloured tissue or wax paper to glue on the back. I embellished mine with some dried autumn grasses, Jed went for glitter)
My favourite 'egg' found at the treasure hunt...the first feijoa of the season! Now, if i can just keep the kidlets away from the feijoas so i can get my fix too...hmmm.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

jean fixin'

 Passing on a handy household hint today: how to rescue a favourite pair of jeans if the zip breaks.
This pair i found at the Salvation Army thrift store half price sale, so they were down to $1.50 NZ dollars. I was looking for jeans that fit. Not ones designed to fit someone 6 ft and model thin. I wanted jeans that fitted well, designed to fit my curvyness and stature. (Lets just say i have a large self image and am surprised when described as short.)

So i tried these jeans on and they fit perfectly. But, bother, the zip was broken. I bought them anyway.
That night i cut out the broken zip and machine sewed velcro in it's place. Genius. Thought it mighta been a little, erm, bulgy but that wasn't the case. I took the above photo as proof for you.
I have since fixed a few other pairs in a similar way. And you know, i prefer the velcro. I am a big velcro fan. There is something satisfying about ripping open your jeans as opposed to unzipping in a civilised manner. Strange for a vintage queen i know, but true. I have had these jeans for a few years now and the velcro is still holding up. Still one of the favourite jeans.

Friday, April 6, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment i want to pause, savour and remember.

Inspired by Amanda Soule. Go on over to her blog to see her moment and in her comments, be connected to many more from all over the world. It's a lovely way to go on a heartfelt blog tour. xx

Thursday, April 5, 2012

upcycled edge

 This is a recent secondhand acquisition. Worn as soon as it arrived in the post and a perfect fit. I may or may not have slept in it - but that would only have been 'cause i loved it so much. It has a gather, a sort of empire line to it that flatters the mama you see, plus with the kick ass cowboy edge, the hardwearing-wipe off-child-splatter sort of vintage fabric and the snap closures which makes getting undressed so much more fun.
A cowgirl style shirt upcycled from vintage fabric. Seems a label in the US (Urban Outfitters) has an vintage:upcyling:remade sort of sub-label called - Urban Renewal. I love the idea.
Lets hope it takes off and more labels get into it...goodness knows there is enough stuff in the world. Plus, i can see upcycled labels like this with a potential to buying off crafty folks like me and you. Good plan.
And i love the quirky little detail in the back, hidden under the collar, where you can see the embroidery from the original shirt disappear under the seam. Clothes like this have history. They have attitude.
I like that.

Oh yes, and it's time for Rikrak studio's Handmade can nominate your favourite creations and crafty blog in seven handmade events. It's one of those fun community building bloggy events. Check it out and nominate what inspires you HERE. I think they close tonight. I know exactly who i want on that list...see you over there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

from my former self

 Awhile ago i finally sent for three boxes that friends had kept for me in their attic. For about ten years.
These were the pieces i had salvaged from my life on the outskirts of the French Pyrenean village, St Laurent de Cerdans. I had thought i was there to stay. I was not. And so, on i went, leaving behind beloved animals, dear friends, herb gardens and fruit trees and 'my' much loved mountains. I took a backpack plus another bag. At first my material life distilled down to eight boxes. Then, on a return visit, i got ruthless and gifted many wonderful things to wonderful friends. Goodbye thrifted Le Creuset kitchenware! Goodbye vintage gowns! Books, my dear Dremmel drill...they all went to new homes. I felt lighter for gifting the stuff but left a small piece of my heart on that land, and three boxes.
A few weeks ago i came across a little bag. It is made from the fabric woven in the oldfashioned factory still operating in St Laurent de Cerdans and my dear friend Mihuk made it for me. So many memories just in those colours and stripes. Then i opened it.
You know, the wave of memories when you unearth artwork or writing from ages past? Uh huh.
It's like a visit from your former self.
 These are a bunch of lino cuts i had made for the book i had written, the Plant Medicine workshops i was running and the herbal products i was making and selling, literally, off the kitchen table.
In 'my' little stone house dating back to the 1600's. (The back wall of the house was the mountain, the terracotta tiles were laid directly on packed earth and the walls were over a metre thick. They built 'em to last back then!)
 I love that they have come to light just when i need them. These prints will be used in the new version of the Plant Medicine Handbook i wrote. It's being used in class at UCLA this year, and i have it back on my market stall.
It used to be everyday household knowledge for women to know the basic herbs to treat common ailments like coughs, colds, cuts and bruises. Hopefully it will be once again. By demand, i am giving a Plant Medicine workshop locally next month and i'm looking forward to doing more. The old women in the Czech Republic and Croatia i learnt much of my herblore from, taught me freely (their daughters and grand daughters were 'modern' women and did not want to learn) but asked that i keep passing on this knowledge. I will do this.