Friday, 30 September 2011

More and More Eco Dyeing

Eucalyptus leaves on wool needle felt, wrapped in iron

Eucalyptus leaves wrapped in old woollen nappy covering

Eucalyptus leaves again wrapped in woollen needle felt fabric

Top:  Oak leaves, Mexican Daisy leaves, Kowhai seed pods on woollen fabric
Bottom: oak leaves, flowering cherry leaves, robinia leaves on silk fabric

Oak leaves and rose leaves and various others on silk fabric

This was dyed with eucalyptus leaves about 6+ months ago and hung in a sunny window - no fade!

If you want to learn more about Eco Dyeing, check out this book

See what other creative people are up to over here

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Thrifty Finds This Week

A new woollen jacket for Wilfred

Cute, hand embroidered mushroom tray cloth......

A small jug, a silver plated teapot in desperate need of a polish and a plastic covered cane basket...

A gold coloured, cotton satin curtain, love the hexagon shapes, its like a big sheet of honeycomb....

And 4 super market bags full of these squares in various colours.  I just love, love the leaf shape in each squares corner.  They will make a lovely big blanket when I have sewn them altogether.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Creative Fibre Diary

This is the annual pocket diary put out by Creative Fibre New Zealand  
Ella and I belong to the local Spinners and Weavers Guild.  We joined 2 years ago when Ella and I attended a spinning course.  Each year the national organisation, Creative Fibre create this diary for its members around the country.  The diary contains photos that have been contributed by various fibre artists around New Zealand.  It features beautiful works of weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet and felting.
Ella was approached by the editor earlier this year to submit some pieces that she had created. 

 Ella's knitted and homespun hat (with crochet flower), woven bag and felted bag feature

We thought it might have featured on the back page somewhere, but a full page spread towards the middle was a great thrill.  Ella was rapt.  Thanks Creative Fibre.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Books To Inspire

I have been flicking through these gorgeous inspiring books:

I think this ones my favourite.

Then this book:

Oh the possibilities!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Work In Progress

This weekend I've been working on this:

This is the fabric Ben chose for a hexagon cushion for his birthday, based on  Laura's .  His birthday is due in about 3 weeks, so I should have plenty of time to finish.  I work better when I have a deadline.

Its very meditative making hexagons.  I like to use writing paper because its reasonably stiff but not too stiff and pulls out really easily as you go. (its also great recycling) I'd like to get a picture from the back this time to look at all the stitching and the papers still in once its finished.  I imagine in those lovely quilts made a hundred years ago all the paper hexagons made from letters written to a love one and what wonderful stories they would tell.  Some of this paper has Ben's writing on it.  Although, I do love pulling out the paper as I go, so I will have to remind myself to WAIT.  I'm going to call it my What If Project, because inspired by a comment from Ben I've written a poem which I'm going to somehow incorporate into the pillow.  Thought maybe stitch part of it onto the front above the hexies, and put the rest in the pocket on the back.  I love Pip Lincolnes's idea of using the front of an old shirt as the back of the cushion cover, so that you can unbutton it and wash it.

The bird fabric I bought years and years ago features a New Zealand bird called a Pukeko.  Ben chose the colours on his own and made sure "they weren't too flowery".  I think he's made great choices.

I've almost finished all of the paper, ironing and pinning of the individual pieces.  Just a few more of the outside  blue flower ones to go and I'm ready to start stitching.  I love making things for my kids.  They are always so thrilled and it does make a Mother's heart feel good to see them gush over what I've made.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Homegrown Honey

There is no comparison with home grown honey and store bought.  Just like the flavour of tree ripened fruit to that found at the shop.  Cut comb honey from our hive still has all the floral aromas, maybe some pollen and propolis and is the ultimate taste of all that Mother Natures does.  It is alive with the taste of sunshine and flowers.  It doesn't get any better than that.
I started beekeeping approx 3 years ago.  That season Varroa (bee parasite) invaded my hive and I tried most things chemical and natural to try and rescue them.  I couldn't, they died, later that same year.  The following year Ella got a hive for her 11th birthday and came with me to the hobbiest club.  We learnt heaps.  She lost that hive within 6 months of getting it.  I thought there has got to be a better, more bee friendly and natural way of keeping bees.  Last year I discovered the Warre Hive.  Tony made me one for my birthday and last September I shook all the bees (my god there were so, so many of them) from the Langstroth hive into the Warre.  The Warre hive emulates how the bees live in the wild.  They are given a box with a small strip of wax on the top bars of each box and the bees produce their own comb for brood and storage of honey.  Usually wax sheets are given to bees in frames and the bees draw it out (make it bigger).  These can carry chemical residues and disease.  My Warre colony died out after the earthquakes earlier this year and we are left with one small colony.  Why do we keep going after year after year of losses?  There is magic in keeping bees.  There is a saying that 'you're closer to God when you're in the garden', but to have your head in a beehive with 50,000 bees in front of you, reminds you of the deepest respect we humans need to have for these insects.  It is such a priviledge to keep bees naturally with no chemicals, in tune with them and Mother Nature.  When you keep bees you become a philosopher, a conservationist, an organic gardener, a teacher, a carpenter and a student, because the bees are always teaching you.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Time For Play

Every little girls loves tea parties and Laura is no exception.

Theres plasticene cup cakes and acorn cup biscuits and walnut shell jelly floats and lots of other 'delicious' things

The perfect accessory for any tea party besides the cups and saucers is of course the pinnie.  This one is  made from a recycled linen tablecloth.  Laura is at that gorgeous age where "I can do it too, I'll help you Mummy"  So Laura is often my right hand girl when I'm baking or cooking or needing/not needing someone to stir.  If theres beaters or a spoon involved, she's there.

Just a basic pinnie and a last minute sewing job for a birthday surprise.

Hope you have time in your day for a tea party with your special little ones!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Thrifty Finds This Week

Sanderson Linen placemat

Alfred Meakin England
Lovely old carving knife


Candlewick Bedspread Queen, size I think

Fabric from somebodys work in progress

More fabric

Some lovely thick flecked natural coloured wool................

A pram for Laura.

Thanks Addington Sallies and Eco Store.

Monday, 19 September 2011


Despite the fact that its raining and feels like Winter today (and we have the fire going), it is Spring here.  Theres blossom galore, the days (and the soil) are slowly getting warmer.  The days are staying lighter just that little longer and the light, well the light is different.  Its hard to explain, its just different from Winter sunlight.  Its at this time of year when everything is waking up from the too long Winter that I feel 'the rush'.  Its as if my own sap has suddenly started to rise again and I notice the garden waking up.  From small seeds growing out of barren mud, to the sudden increase in weeds that weren't there a week or two ago.  A reminder that the time has come to get seeds into the ground.  I feel a sense of hurry, of a job thats 'got to be done'.  We've already started chitting potatoes and in the weekend Laura and I planted seeds.  I dug the bokashi compost into the glasshouse in preparation for the tomatoes and red peppers going in in about a month.  I've pulled back the mulch in the potato beds to let the sun warm the soil underneath in readiness for the potatoes to be planted in the next week or two and runner beans got planted behind the glasshouse door.  Theres peas to be planted directly in the garden and carrots and onions.  I always have big plans.  Plans give you a focus.  Theres more veggies going in this year because the chooks are going to be penned in down the bottom of our property and Tony has been busy fencing and building their shed down there.  Its all looking good for a great growing season.

My favourite Spring flowers, Match Heads (not sure of their proper name) and daffodils.

  Laura watering our seeds, just planted, she's so helpful.

 Satsuma Plum tree in blossom.

Even Louie is full of Spring

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Passing Of Time

Recently we celebrated the passing of the first five years of Laura's life and the ending of 85 years of our beloved Nana Lenore.  She is Tony's Mother, but she is also mine.  And there are quite a few people who would claim her as their Mother, Grandmother, teacher and dear friend.
When Lenore's time came it was a long and at times painful process for her and a helpless one for us watching and holding.  Her time had come, she knew that.  I have known this woman for 15 years.  I find I have never before been so aware of the passing of time.  A time that can not be relived, to savour for just  abit longer.  She is no more.  No more sharing our families life with her and hers with ours.  Lots of no mores.  For Tony it is the last parent death, so the no mores are stronger for him.
I miss her courage.  I miss her strength of her own life's esxample.  I don't miss how she struggled to eat, to talk, to breath.  I don't miss watching her struggle with yet another of life's challenges.  Throughout all of her many struggles; still born baby, down syndrome child, miscarriage, cancer, gratitude featured strongly in her life.  She never asked much from anyone, although there was never a shortage of friends.  I feel blessed to have known her.
She died with as little fuss as she had lived.  Modest, courageous with a strong faith in God.  Five years ago she traversed our steep gravel driveway to be at Laura's birth.  When Lenore died she had pink wool that Laura had spun 'just for Nana' entwined in her hand.  She would have found great comfort in that.  It was nice that something of Laura could travel with Nana.  We had a lovely funeral, just our family and a few of her friends.  Laura blew bubbles, we covered her coffin in Camelias that she had grown in her garden and after the service we ate her favourite ice creams.  I think she would have liked the way it went.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

More Eco Dyeing

Tops:  Eucalyptus leaves placed on commercially made merino tops, bundled tightly around a stone and simmered in a  pot of Mexican Daisy leaves.  Scarves are silk dyed with silver dollar gum on left, other eucalyptus leaves middle and right is flax, onion skins and kowhai leaves and seeds.  The black colour comes from wrapping the bundle in something iron.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

In Search Of The Perfect Pud

I'd like to think as a parent that one of my main aims is to serve up nutritional fare and the children in their adoration of me would love it and ask for more.  In this dream they would all yell yippeee at the same time to lashings of celery and brocolli and all those other lovely vegies that stretch our abilities as a parent to camouflage and make more palatable.  Our generation more than any other tries harder to make these said vegies more interesting.  My generation has memories of veggies being boiled and mashed and there is a collective cringe and a desire to make things nicer for our kids than was done for us.  Since my childhood woks can be purchased and cooking classes on how to use said equipment can be taken.  In our house we love Thai food, which is Tony's speciality.  Besides making meals that the children will actually eat without complaint, my secret weapon when dishing up something they might not be too keen on is to follow it by a yummy pudding.  Usually our Winter evenings are marked by the lovely puds on offer.  Theres the choccolate self-saucing pud and there are the fruit sponges.  This year because the earthquake took most of my preserves and Ben finished off what was left of the plums and apricots, our Winter puddings have been a bit thin on the ground.  So last night I thought I'd try and rectify the situation. This is my version of the Peach Sponge, originally found I think in The Edmonds Cookbook.  Any tin or jar of preserved fruit can be used.  Our favourite is plums or apricots.

Open tin or jar of fruit and empty into an ovenproof dish, place in oven at 180C for about 30 min until fruit is bubbling.  This step is very important, because without it the sponge will stay doughy in the middle.
Beat together 100g butter/margarine with 4 Tablespoons of sugar ( I use brown), add an egg and beat again.  Add quarter a cup of milk ( I use rice milk), 1 cup of flour (I Use gluten free)and 2 teaspoons of baking powder, beat altogether until smooth.  Take dish of hot fruit out of oven and put spoonfulls of dough on top of the fruit.  Place back in oven and bake for about 20-25 min.   Nice with ice cream ( of course), we usually have it with milk.

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