Monday, December 31, 2012

#blog12daysxmas Dec 31

I have no desire to see the new year in - I hope to be asleep! So just a quick post.

A lovely breezy day so we mowed the lawn which was starting to get complacent and uppity. We soon fixed that attitude.

Laundry was done and soon dried in the breeze. Much folding of same also achieved.

I iced the cake... To answer Rachel's questions, yes it's a silicon "tin" which works quite well. I don't think that icing it completely looks that nice so I just put some around the base to hide the munted bit at the bottom where I trimmed off the raised part so it would sit flat. I also did some blobs on the towers and around the battlements. It looks quite nice with just icing sugar sprinkled over it like snow.

We spent the evening at my mum and dad's place for a kind of Christmas/ birthday/ New Year / farewell to visitors dinner.

My panna cotta worked well. When I turned it out of the mould my sister and I decided it looked like a slug so we turned it into one.

My sekkrit Santa got me an ice cream maker! I have always wanted one! The bowl is in the freezer as we speak :-)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

#blog12daysxmas 30 Dec

So. 2013 draws to a close. Just what will the new year will bring?

Well, I do know it is going to include cake!

Also, I am trying the Blogger app for the iPad so have no idea how this going to format!

Today I did the domestic goddess thing and made a birthday cake and honey and vanilla panna cotta.

And I also felted a bag. And a bangle, sort of. Not sure who or where it will go yet. I think I will do some embellishment on it to make it a bit sparkly.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

#blog12daysxmas 28th-29th Dec

DH has a new phone - a Sony Xperia S. Do you think it would be easy to find a cover for it? The answer is no. We traipsed all around West Auckland yesterday trying to find one with no joy. Using the internets we found a place finally to get one today.  Because the phone is white which was a bit too bright for my understated man... black wasn't available at the particular place he wanted to get it from. :-)

Miss5 managed to wreck my washing line by swinging on a rug I had hanging up.  So I had to go on a mercy errand to get some line to mend it.

It is so hot and humid right now so I was very happy to spend my Christmas money on this ice block maker!  Very exciting :-)  If you have something like this, tell me your favourite flavours.

 Ice block maker!

I felted a scarf for a friend's birthday next week.

 Scarf for friend

Close up

 Scarf for friend

I'm very happy with the way it has turned out.  She is in the northern hemisphere so it will be useful right now.  As for me... it's far to hot to wear wool!

Speaking of birthdays - Miss5 turns 6 on the 7th and I'm trying to sort out her birthday bash.  So many people are away on holidays and I don't have her school friend's details.  I'd be very happy for a quiet dinner, but Miss Social Bunny is not so interested in that.  Having said that, I think this will be the last year for a party per se.

I am really enjoying my Kobo Glo.  I purchased one book to try out that side of things and successfully downloaded two ebooks from Auckland Libraries Overdrive offering.  So now... tell me your suggestions for ebook places that epub formats available (free of otherwise).  I know I've used a Sci Fi place before but have forgotten the name...

It's too hot to cook but the lions are clamouring for their dinner.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

#blog12daysxmas 27th December

Arrived back home!  Hooray for wifi! Hooray for my own bed!

Hooray for photos!

 Waiting to open presents

Hooray for Christmas dinner!

Christmas Dinner 2012

 Hooray for waterslide!

Water slide!

Even whale sized me had a turn... it is shorter than the one we had as kids.

 Even I had a go

The rain and humidity has had the expected effect on the garden.
The dark fleshed plums are ripening. We've already had a bumper crop of the early plum (Hawera).

 Plums ripening

 I have 2 nice green cucumbers growing.

 Cucumber on the vine

I'm getting more zucchinis by the day.

 and hooray for home grown tomatoes!

Black Krim tomato ripening

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#blog12daysxmas Boxing Day

Having been rudely woken in the night by some moron vandalising the letter boxes in the street we're staying on the day dawned grey and drizzly again. Fortunately, FIL's box is a massive sturdy box that requires more than brute force to destroy... 

Following breakfast we had a play fight with SIL (who likes to provoke her bro') which resulted in her being put in the shower with it turned on icy cold as revenge.

Then a visit to town to purchase a camping light for her and perchanced upon a good deal for a camping gazebo that will mean I don't have to cook outside in the rain. Yay!

Starting to get antsy about going home to my proper bed and decent wifi (3G sucks the battery on the iPad and phone) so I can set up my new KoboGlo! The best present from Santa.

Besides, I have finished all my books.

#blog12daysxmas Christmas Day

I was hoping to make it to 7am before the children woke but no... 6am had mr9 crowing like a rooster in the lounge! A rainy, gloomy day dawned with plenty of happy noises from the children though.

SIL and I turfed MIL out of the kitchen and did the celebratory dinner which was delish even if I do say so myself.  A post-prandial nap and then some zert!

No photos because I didn't bring any connectors for the iPad.

I noted with some interest that the presence of wifi in the house is something I have got used to and now take as a given.  The lack of same limits my communication with friends and family owing to my reliance on social media. My SIL however relies on her phone, landline and txts. Different style determined by different life habits.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dirty deeds done..

but not cheap!

When we first bought our house one of the projects we tackled soon after settling in was re-doing the garden beside the driveway.  It was seriously overgrown and had become a dumping ground for all kinds of weird things.  We tossed out a whole lot of scraggly lavender shrubs, old pots, rubbishy bits of gardening odds, covered the garden with weed mat and then bark.

Now, 12 years later we decided to re-do it again.  A few of the trees had got too tall and were tangling in the wires to the house.  Some of the shrubs were dying off or getting past their best.  You can kind of see what I mean in this photo.  It's the garden on the left hand side.

So off came the weed mat, down came the trees and after a lot of physical work we finally had a tidier garden.  We got a bunch of new plants - mainly natives - from Oratia Native Plants, Mitre10 and Kings Plant Barn.

Stuff everywhere! We filled up the garden bag and took a huge trailer load to the dump.  There were some stubborn stumps in there that required pulling out.  DH managed to pull 2 out with the car/tow bar/rope but the others we had to dig out.

Weed mat about to go on.

Finished look. DH was keen to make the garden more attractive to butterflies so there are some plants suitable for red/yellow admirals and coppers in the mix.

 I divided up the astelia and put them around the place.

We hope to attract some skinks with these stones and partially buried pots.

The vegetable garden is planted up too.  I'm hopeful of a big harvest!  That is the best part about this time of year... the anticipation and hope of new life, harvesting a crop of vegetables from your back yard.  We're already enjoying radishes, spinach and rocket.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Over Labour Day weekend we went up to camp at Tawharanui.  It was a bit of a rush to get away and in the process I forgot to pack a few things, namely chocolate biscuits and Earl Grey tea.  Disaster!  Fortunately a quick trip to Matakana rectified the matter.  That and a few questions I've had lately about what to bring when camping spurred me to blog about what we do.

Anchor Bay. Tawharanui
[Anchor Bay, Tawharanui]

We camp in a tent.  It's a three room + vestibule dome tent.  When we considered which tent to buy we preferred to get a lighter tent rather than the larger, heavier framed tents.  It means we compromise a bit in terms of size, but that can be advantageous too.  We have had no problems so far with it standing up to rain and wind.

[Our tent at Tawharanui a few years ago]

We mostly stay in camp grounds with minimal facilities (water and toilets) so we take a gas camping stove and have recently added a Cobb portable BBQ/oven to the mix.

How much stuff we take varies depending on the length of time we'll be away and what we're intending to do while there.  We take the family car, a trailer and sometimes add in a roof mounted travel container.  I do use a list, but we were in a hurry this time and I didn't, consequently... no chocolate biscuits.  My plan for next time is to create some storage containers with dedicated camping items in them that can be grabbed and put into the trailer easily.  We've done this with the kitchen gear and tent gubbings and it has worked really well.

Sleepy girl
[Sleepy girl on her stretcher]
Everytime we go camping we seem to think up ways to refine our experience.  Our next challenge is to work out some way to have a fridge. DH has plans for solar panels, batteries etc to achieve this.  We haven't quite reached the glamping stage though! :-)

Making a dam
[Making a dam]
Feeding the whanau is something that features strongly in my role and it can be a bit of a challenge. While my children aren't fussy eaters, they do fail to realise that while camping the menu changes from what they are used to.  I do not have access to an unlimited pantry!  So what do I cook?

This is a list of things I'll often have on the menu.

  • Cereal
  • Toast
  • Eggs/bacon
  • Olive filled pita

  • Sandwiches
  • Canned stuff like spaghetti, tuna
  • Fruit

I normally try and bring fresh fruit and vegetables where possible, but the dried vegetables are often convenient and aren't too bad in terms of taste.  Canned peaches are a favourite dessert.  I will sometimes pre-make things like pancake mix or a spice mix for curry.  Keeping meat fresh is a challenge if camping for any length of time so either I have to make a visit to a store, or go vegetarian.  The latter isn't always greeted with joy by my carnivorous family. 
  • Bacon, eggs and pancakes
  • Pasta of various kinds with various sauces
  • Steak, potatoes, onions, salad
  • Devilled sausages with vegetables
  • Curry and rice
  • Burritos or nachos
  • Nasi Goreng
  • Pad thai
  • Canned soup 
  • Whole chicken on the Cobb with roasted potatoes done in the base part of the oven
  • Anything BBQ on the Cobb e.g. hamburgers, sausages, steak....
Now we have the Cobb, I am keen to try other things.  We've experimented at home and so far have tried pizza, a tagine, and Medfouna with varying degrees of success.

Anchor Bay, Tawharanui
Anchor Bay, Tawharanui

I will try and take a variety of snacks.  It always seems like the family is extra hungry when we camp.  We can go through a loaf of bread in a day.

  • Trail mix 
  • Nuts
  • Chips
  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • I will sometimes bake a cake or cookies to take

What do you eat while camping?

Making sand walls
[Making sand walls]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A shorter book - no appendix

I've been on an adventure to hospital land.

On Thursday 13th Sept I had a stomach ache all day. I thought it was a bug but it didn't go away and I didn't vomit.  So Friday 14th Sept I went to the doctor first thing.  He sent me to North Shore Hospital and I was admitted.  I spent a short while in the admissions area before getting sent upstairs to the surgical ward.  There I was instructed to shower and put on some disposable undies.  That combined with the hospital gown, surgical stockings and funny hat completed my fashion disaster!

At 6.00pm that night I had a laparoscopic appendectomy.  At 7.30pm I woke to an irritatingly cheerful recovery nurse calling to me... just want to sleeeeeeeeep.

It was all a wee bit dramatic! But I'm glad I did go when I did else I might have had to wait longer.

I didn't feel like eating until 3pm the day after the operation so ended up staying another night in the ward.  This was my breakfast the day I came home.  Hospital food isn't too exciting.

I spent the week at home recovering, doing nothing - felt so lazy, but as the surgeon said I had been stabbed in the stomach three times so I did need to rest.

Now I'm back at work and ticking along.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Koru Lounge for cats

I finally got Baa Baa's fleeces washed and carded so I can felt with them.  Being a Romney (or Romney cross) the fleece is coarser than the merino I've worked with before so I wanted to do a project with it whereby the result wasn't too critical.  I wanted to check the amount of shrinkage I was likely to get and basically how it would work.

As it turns out, it shrinks less than the merino, but felts up into a firm felt.  It is definitely harder to felt with.  I had to do some very firm rubbing and it seemed to be "fluffier" than merino but perhaps I needed to work it more.  Rolling it was very physical and I got tired and sore. 

My choice of project was a pod/cave for Mum's cats. I made a huge resist shaped like a tear so I could do some concentric folds at one end and I made a tail to attach to it.

Mr8 decided it should be called the Koru Lounge for cats.

Here's Tiger inspecting the new accommodation.

It got his seal of approval.

Further inspection was required by Midge.

I left it the plain cream of the wool itself, but I might try dying the next one.  I only used 2 layers of wool for this one - more layers would be better for firmness but a lot harder to work!  Perhaps a smaller version next time.

Apparently I talk too much about food

Trying out some visualisation stuff for work and came across this one - What about me?

How about you?  What does yours look like?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

New Look 6000 again & Simplicity 2675

Mine is made from a wool crepe, Miss5 is a corduroy that my mum sewed mostly and I finished off. Miss5 chose the fabric and insisted on the Hello Kitty stockings ;-)

I like the dressiness of this pattern. I was able to use some black textured fabric I got free from a seamstress who was shutting up shop for the collar. I really wanted a larger silver button feature but couldn't find one as big as I liked. Might have to go searching on Felt ( for a brooch.

New Look 6000 & Simplicity 2675

Also made some hand warmers for Hannah on request.

 Handwarmers for Hannah finished

Thursday, July 05, 2012

June? There was a month called June?

If there was such a month it went by so busily there was no time or inclination for blogging!  So no #blogjune for me.  Now at least I have taken a week off for school holidays and can breathe a little even though I haven't quite achieved all the craft things I wanted to do!

Have done some baking though.

Anyway, June... what happened?  Pies were made and consumed - excuse the phone photo but that's all I took. It's a Squab and Apple pie but instead of the alleged squab you use lamb instead. This one was particularly good.

I went to the Love Vintage and Retro market and scored 2 metal pie tins (one seen above), a dress pattern and a orange Tupperware jug with the top that seals on - the one with a star burst pattern underneath on the top.  I'm using it for felting because the start burst pattern is an excellent tool for rubbing the wool!

The children are doing fine at school.  Mr8 has started piano lessons which he seems to enjoy. Miss5 got graded for her yellow belt in karate and passed.  She isn't wearing it in the photo because they ran out of belts in her size and she had to wait until they sent hers to the dojo.

I read some books.  These are the ones that are recorded on my reading history but I've read more via the Overdrive ebook provider through Auckland Libraries and some from work.

The painted lady / Maeve Haran.
Sixteen-year-old Frances Stuart arrives at the Restoration court to find her innocence and beauty are highly-prized commodities, envied by the women and desired by the men. Before long, King Charles II falls passionately in love with her and will stop at nothing to make her his mistress. But Frances is no conventional court beauty.~ from the blurb. Lovely writing, interesting story.

The man who broke into Auschwitz / Denis Avey with Rob Broomby.
The extraordinary true story of a British soldier who marched willingly into the notorious concentration camp, Buna-Monowitz, known as Auschwitz III.~ from the blurb. Worth reading to get a perspective not often written about.

The skin map / Stephen R. Lawhead.
When Kit Livingstone learns that Britain's "ley lines" are not legends but pathways to other worlds, he's determined to find a map tattooed on a piece of skin in order to travel to the dangerous realms. But are the intricate codes more than they seem--can they really begin a quest to regain paradise? ~from the blurb. Am enjoying getting into sci-fi again after a long break.  This one is a nice mixture of alternative history, sci-fi and adventure/quest.

The cat's table / Michael Ondaatje.
"In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England - a 'castle that was to cross the sea'. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly 'Cat's Table' with an eccentric group of grown-ups and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another, 'bursting all over the place like freed mercury'. And at night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner - his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. As the narrative moves from the decks and holds of the ship and the boy's adult years, it tells a spellbinding story about the difference between the magical openness of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding - about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage, when all on board were 'free of the realities of the earth'."-- Publisher description. Recommended by the uber-boss of our unit at work.  Can't say I really "got" it.  It was interesting writing and a great vingnette of ship life and the characters involved.

The moon maze game / Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.
 Offered a dream job escorting a teenage heir on a fabulous moon role-playing vacation, Scotty Griffin, a personal security specialist, becomes embroiled in a violent reality game involving armed terrorists, psychological tests, and a large audience.~ from the blurb. Good old sci-fi yarn set on the moon.

In love and war : Kiwi soldiers' romantic encounters in wartime Italy / Susan Jacobs.
Non-fiction. It was interesting to read about the experience of the NZ soldiers and their romances in Italy and those who brought their girls back to NZ.

Here's a skirt I sewed (Symplicity 2411).  I really like this pattern but I think I should have used the view without the pleat in the front for this particular fabric (brown denim).

 Symplicity 2411

Yesterday I made some hand warmers. My felting teacher had given me the instructions ages ago but I hadn't yet made some. It was a bit of an experiment since I had to remember what she had said based on the diagram she'd drawn for me. The purple ones I made via her instructions. I ended up having to sew in a gusset for them to fit over my arms since they turned out so long.The sewn seams add a nice feature to them though.

The teal ones I made using a resist and in some ways I prefer that method for the simple reason I don't have to sew anything but it does mean more work to shape them and there is less room for mistakes in the fitting.  They are a bit thicker though - I must have laid out the wool a bit more generously and this means they are a bit less flexible.  Will need to watch that.  Still, they are going to my sister and she will appreciate their warmth.


Hoping to get some more felting done before I go back to work next week! But now, the fire needs to be lit... it's a foggy, grey day and I'm cold.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another dress.. New Look 6000

My interest in sewing has piqued again with the completion of my vintage style dress.  My lust appreciation of vintage style things has risen and I find myself rabidly subscribing to a bunch of sewing blogs where retro is the theme.  (Consequently the number of scrapbooking blogs is decreasing - the industry style ones I might add - the personal blogs of friends I've made are still there).

As a direct result of some sewists in the UK and elsewhere blogging about New Look 6000 I purchased the pattern.

I loved the collar detail and cuffs on the red dress featured.  I also confess that the fact the main picture is of a red dress influenced me heavily.

Of course, my luck with patterns from a certain large store starting with S is hit and miss so the day I asked they only had the sizing up to 16... "No problem" I thought, "I can deal", not thinking about my current state of tum bulges and thunder thighs.  So I got it.  Fast forward to my actually laying out the pattern and realising there might be an issue with my larger bust and Thunder Thighs. Fortunately there is a lot of ease in the pattern but I did grade up parts of the pattern to a larger size to accommodate the aforementioned.  I also lengthened the dress by a good 20cm - it still sits above my knees when seated though. [Insert moan about trend for short dresses]

Taking self portraits is so tricky!  Should have asked DH to help... impatient me. Here I am with a slice out of my head and the need for fill flash.

Sewing the pattern was straight forward enough.  I choose to do the view without the pleats this time, fearing it would accentuate my tummy bulges but I do like the effect the pleats have on others.

I think I mucked up cutting the cuff size because mine do not meet in the middle like they are supposed to.

The collar was surprisingly easy to do.  It's a bit wonky in the photo because I washed the dress last night and should have set the machine on a different setting as well as done a better job of ironing.  I love the oversized button.

The fabric is a wool/lurex mix I got from a sale.  It's nicely textured and a nice weight for autumn.

Although it would look vastly better on a skinnier version of me, I really like wearing this dress.  Makes me feel happy.  I am on the lookout for some red fabric of suitable weight for another make.