Thursday, April 25, 2013

we will remember them

I know that there will be lots of ANZAC posts today, as we remember the brave souls that risked their lives to give us a better future.

Thousands will attend ceremonies around New Zealand and Australia on this day of remembrance.

Many will tear up as the last post is trumpeted (just as I did), a red poppy pinned to their clothing.

ANZAC day has a deeper meaning to me personally, it's the day that my grandfather passed away ( my other  grandfather passed away just two days earlier that same year - I can't imagine how hard that must have been for my parents, both losing their fathers in such quick succession). I was just 10. Not old enough to really know these brave men who left little New Zealand to go and put their lives on the line. Not old enough to appreciate what they and so many others did for our country. 

This year we made some poppies to place on the war memorial in our town. We used a poppy template by Fifi Colston (my childhood crafting hero! or heroine if you prefer). Once the ceremony was over and we returned home we shared the story of the red poppy, written by David Hill and illustrated by Fifi Colston (another great book borrowed from our local library!). I think I might do another post dedicated to this book as not only is it a great read, beautifully illustrated, but it's a heartfelt account of war time that seems age appropriate for my children.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

at the beach (or mudflats)

Today we went on another wee adventure, with a book along for the ride too. The book we took is a nominee for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, in the non fiction section. At the Beach, explore and discover the New Zealand seashore by Gillian Candler with illustrations by Ned Barraud.

"At the beach is a delightful introduction to the natural history of the New Zealand seashore. The stage is set with beautiful, factually correct illustrations (including detailed cross-sections) of three familiar habitats - the sandy beach, rock pools and mudflats. Many of the plants and animals that play a part in these rich ecosystems are shown in situ, and readers are directed from there to pages dedicated to detailed coverage of:
- Crabs
- Sea stars, Kina and Sea Anemones
- Shellfish
- Seaweeds, Sponges and Sandhoppers
- Fish, Jellyfish and Shrimps
- Birds

The book covers not only the sandy seashore, or "the beach" as my children call it, but also "mudflats", which is great for us as we live (like lots of New Zealanders) close to some. We often walk the little trail that weaves it's way around the edge of the inlet, yet other than a bit of bird spotting we haven't really "explored" it at all.

 We took the book along with the hope of identifying some of the "creatures" beautifully illustrated within it's pages. We searched for the movements of mud crabs, we saw lots of mangrove seedlings and we spotted quite a few of the birds pictured.

The bird pages where especially helpful (many of the birds were a mixture of black, white and grey) and there was some lively debate over what birds we had spotted! The book comes with a removable, waterproof, quick reference guide which unfortunately we didn't have because our copy is borrowed from our local library, but I imagine that would have been really helpful to have on our walk and perhaps even handier if we were exploring a "sandy beach". The children were excited to pour over the pages, spotting lots of things they wanted to see and find, a trip to a "sandy beach" was suggested, no surprises there! I particularly loved the cross section illustrations, showing a sneak peek into the daily lives of our local sea creatures. 

I love that inside the front cover there is a little blurb about "staying safe at the beach" and also "look after the beach and it's creatures". Very important stuff to teach our children and remind ourselves too! 

Click on the logo above to take you to the awards page to see what other great books are nominated, maybe like me you could find some in your local library or bookshop to take on a wee adventure of your own. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bend the rules - a giveway!

I'm having a wee clear out of my bookcase (well that's where I'm starting), crafting books at this stage. I've got quite a few listed on Trademe at the moment, all $1 reserve, if you are interested in crochet, sewing, beading etc go and bid on them please! More will follow as I work my way through. But I've saved one of my favourites to giveaway here, if there is someone out there who might want it!

It's Amy Karol's (aka Angry Chicken) book - Bend the rules with fabric. It's a really neat book with 25 projects showcasing 18 different fabric altering techniques. It's got some real fab projects in it. So if you would like the chance to own it, leave a comment in this post. I'll draw a winner on Friday - sorry only open to NZ readers.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to link your comments to your email - Google plus style!

So a few months ago, very late at night decided to add a gadget to my side bar of this blog. A little box popped up as I went to do it, telling me to upgrade to google plus - sure I thought, not really reading it or thinking too much about it - it was late at night - never a good time to make blog changes it turns out! When I changed over it seems that my email address was no longer linked to my blogger account - and I had no idea! Until, the lovely Sophie posted a great  tutorial about linking your email address to your comments. I made a comment on that post lamenting with her about how sad it is to get a great comment on your blog and not be able to reply to the lovely commenter! (that happens a lot here!). The funny thing is Sophie sent me a lovely message to say that I was one of those  "no reply" comment leavers!!!(oh the shame!) How can that be I thought as I had linked my email right from the get go? Well the answer was the change to google plus! So if you like me are on google plus and you want to link your email follow these steps!

On your google plus page click on your profile image, a little box will pop up and click on "privacy" .

Scroll down until you see "Google privacy" - Click on "sign in to Dashboard" - The next screen will require you to put in your password.

Scroll down until you see "Blogger" - You then need to click on "edit blogger profile"

Then the last step is to click the box "show my email address" - scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "save". Now if you leave a comment on a blog, the blog owner can reply directly to you! It's so disappointing to get a lovely comment that you can't reply to.

If you aren't on google plus, and you use blogger you can follow Sophie's tutorial to link your email!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So over the weekend in Christchurch I was hosted by Nin of Sailor Spy! I was lucky to have a comfy bed that belonged to her daughter, it was in a very pretty room with lots of lovely handmade details. I was referred to as the "big girl" by the lovely miss 4 who was very excited to meet me.

On the Friday afternoon I was dropped off at Nin's studio/showroom - the Orange Tree Cottage. I only managed a few quick snaps of the beautiful space, the light was fading and I really wish I'd taken more. Nin and her family have worked hard to make it such a beautiful wee space, you can see some of the before pictures on her blog here.

Nin is an amazing dress maker and pretty clever at upcycling too, just look at her clothes racks! They are chairs that her daughter's kindergarten was wanting to get rid of. They wanted to pay her to take them to the dump! My little snaps don't really show how amazing they look in this space, I'm super jealous as I'm looking for one to do something similar in my laundry garage laundry space (argh why don't modern homes have a laundry?)

When I found out Nin was my host I asked her to make a tunic for me (as I've long admired her beautiful designs), I wore it to the Saturday night dinner at the conference. I'll have to take a pic of it soon, I love it! Just have to wait for all this rain to clear (yay hopefully the drought has finally broken). I might have to even join in with Stella and her curvy style Friday. Her clothes are beautifully finished and I think it was lucky there weren't too many things in my size on the racks otherwise I might have come home with some more pieces!

the lovely quilt/wall hanging above my bed
Thanks again for having me Nin! 

the one where I tell you how AWESOME CHCH bloggers are!

It's easy to turn up to an event like Around the table and not give all the behind the scenes much thought. It was so well run that you could be forgiven if you thought maybe little fairies were running around making everything run so smoothly. I mean, you arrive at the airport and "ta da!" there is a smiley face there to pick you up, thanks Treena! 

A lovely family home is there to welcome you, with a lovely bed and a lovely host too. Thank you again Nin for welcoming me into your home! 

the week yarn bomb organised by Leonie

You arrive at a conference and there is a jam packed goody bag, morning tea and great workshops to welcome you - all those things don't just happen without hard work and lots of juggling of spreadsheets. There are people getting ferried about in many different vehicles off to different venues all without any body being left behind (to my knowledge). All amazing. There was a great walking "tour" of some of the earthquake damage (yes I do believe it was a "tour" Miriam!) It must have been as we started to get extra people join us along the way, a couple of ladies were listening intently to the words of our tour guides as they shared their personal experiences and knowledge. Then at the end of it all there was someone to take me back to the airport too! Thanks Sophie!

I was blown away by how generous the hosts of this event, and the people of Christchurch were. I know that there was lots and lots of behind the scenes work to make it all happen and for that I thank you! Christchurch bloggers you are AWESOME! You opened your hearts and homes and your city to us out of towners and gave up your time to make the weekend such an amazing event - THANK YOU! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ups and downs - around the table

I'm going to keep it real, it was NOISY, NOISY - NOISY! - 60 women talking all at once can do that. At times it was overwhelming, it was fun and it was tiring. I missed my kids, I knew I would. At times I felt a bit out of place (I knew I would too) but it was EXCITING and quite amazing too.

There were people who were JUST as I imagined them to be, others surprised me (in good ways)

Some were MUCH sweeter than I imagined, like this little guy, who belongs to this lovely mama.

There were people I just didn't get to meet, others I really wanted to chat to, but they always seemed to be already busy chatting to someone else - like this lovely lady, next time I'll just jump in Deb!

These two were just how I imagined them to be, although Miriam, you were a bit more "Miriam" than I imagined- in the best possible way!

Christchurch I wish I had more time with you! I didn't even get to one op shop for starters! I've got another couple of posts about last weekend, like some of the great people I met and some of the things that I came home with me. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


After school today I told the kids we were off on an adventure, not  really an exaggeration on my part, certainly an adventure in kid terms. I'd packed a few supplies, a great book to read, a cake, picnic blanket and water bottles ( I don't really leave the house without the kids water bottles, you too?).

We didn't have to travel far, which initially bought some disappointment, "this isn't an adventure" - maybe I over sold it? We are so lucky to live opposite a large park/sporting ground. After finding a perfect spot under some trees, we set up our blanket and the cake was spied immediately! With cake in hand they sat, under the trees, with the late Autumn afternoon sun filtering through the leaves as I read, A great cake by Tina Matthews a finalist in New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.  I read it not once, but SEVERAL times - like all good books, you can't just read them the once! I had a totally captive audience, I should have bought more books along!

The cake! Made with the recipe in the back of the book 

Miss E is wearing pants by Croutons 

I don't want to give too much away about this book, but I'll share the little blurb from the Bookseller's website : "The essential ingredients in this book are family, imaginative play and simple pleasures. A must for every family with a preschooler. (I agree!)
Harvey wants to bake a great cake, but doesn't have all the ingredients. That doesn't stop him. Harvey can make cakes from the most amazing things"

Harvey has a couple of attempts at making a cake with some interesting ingredients, so once story time was over I sent the kids on a scavenger hunt to try and recreate the "cake" on the cover of the book, (yip I bought a wee bucket with me too, a well planned adventure!). I think they might have enjoyed scavenging around the park more than the actual eating of the cake! They found all sorts of things and even more on the walk back home. 

It made me think why don't we do that more often? Take a bunch of books to the park, or even set up in our back yard and have a read together. It's great just to get out of the house and forget about the housework, we came home all refreshed. 

I'd like to share a bit of back ground info on Tina Mathews the talented writer and illustrator of this book.
"Tina Mathews was born in New Zealand and now lives with her family in Sydney. She is an artist and designer who has worked in children's theatre and television for 25 years. Including on Bananas in Pyjamas, The Ferals, The Upside Down Show and Jim Henson's Labyrinth. Tina teaches puppetry at NIDA and is designer of the best selling Black and White Baby Mobile.
Her first title with Walker Books Australia, Out of the Egg won the Best First Book Award in the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards and Waiting for Later was a finalist in the Picture Book category of the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards" (info gained from the Booksellers website)

I was really impressed with the quality of the illustrations in "A great cake", after the initial reading the kids took great delight in pouring over the pages and looking at the little details in the illustrations. It's also got a "great" recipe in the back for making a cake of your own, delicious! Delicious I tell you!

This little adventurous outing has got me thinking of all, the other places we could take some books with us to read. Any suggestions? I think we'll  I'll abandon the housework and have afternoon tea/reading in the park more often.
A big thanks to Booksellers for supplying us with a review copy of  "A great cake"!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

kokeshi love

I love Japanese things, always have. So it's not surprising that I love Kokeshi Dolls. I started collecting them quite innocently many years ago, before they got all popular and started appearing all over stationery and things here in the western world. So I had a bit of a head start. The ones pictured are some, ahem, of my collection, I prefer the older ones, often with their varnish a bit yellowed. I've picked them up from opshops and a few on Trademe, mostly when someone has labelled them incorrectly and the other collectors haven't spotted them. I know this because I've got them for next to nothing compared to the "collector" prices I've seen some auctions go to.

The one in the top picture I picked up last week for $2 at my local Salvation Army store, the one in the bottom picture is my current favourite - but I really try hard not to play favourites! (in case their feelings get hurt) I've got some shelving in the process of being upcycled to house them all, it would be great to have them all out on display.

Joining in with Max again with the Op shop show off!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


So, it's kind of exciting that I'm part of the media team for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards! 
It couldn't have come at a better time for our family, because we've gone a little off track with our book reading. First of all, I'm a BIG book lover, children's books especially. When we are op shopping, I'm always encouraging the kids to choose a book to take home over a plastic toy, they don't need too much convincing on that by the way, they love them as much as I do. There is a big basket of books in our lounge that they read and lots more in their bedrooms. Books, books, books! Our house runneth over with books! But somehow we've stopped reading them to each other, or more accurately I've stopped reading to them. The kids both have readers each night from school/preschool that they read to me or Mr Green Buttons, they are allowed to read in bed and I every night I pull books off their little asleep faces and tuck them in.So I'm not sure when the reading to them stopped, it was something that I cherished, getting cosy on the couch with a child on each knee, getting lost in a book.

But we are bringing back the book reading! Over the coming weeks I'm going to share with you some of the books we are reading from the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards finalist list and some of the activities and ideas we get from them. I hope you'll join me! You can find a list of the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards finalists here. Do check them out at your local book store or library and support New Zealand writers and illustrators.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Quick restyle

To say that I'm a little anxious about packing for this weekend is a slight understatement! I hate the change of seasons (although I'm totally pleased to be heading into the cooler months), it's like I forgot what I wore last year at the same time. Did I wear this top with those pants? OR this top with a skirt? Add to the mix the yoyo nature of my waistline and it's panic stations! I'm only taking a few things away with me so I hope I get the mix right! 

This week I finally got around to restyling a merino jumper that was given to me (by a generous friend's mum) over Summer, with the aim to take it with me this weekend. It fitted nicely and I loved the inky grey colour, but I tend to overheat rather than being too cool so I prefer cardigans for letting in a bit of cool air. In a few easy steps I restyled the jumper into a great layering cardi and used up a favourite thrift store find - beautiful vintage trim. 

That's the before pic, v neck 100% merino knit jumper - pullover.
You'll have to excuse the beautiful Autumn light streaming through my workroom bedroom window. I turned the jumper inside out and ironed on a piece of visoflex along the middle of the jumper. Visolfex sticks to fabric with an iron, with a paper backing that you peel off, you know the stuff?

With the paper backing still on, I cut up the middle.

I peeled the paper backing off and ironed each side over onto itself creating a nice ironed seam, that won't unravel. It also creates a edge that won't stretch too much as you sew it.

I pinned the trim around the ironed seam. The neckline had a finished edge so I didn't put visoflex around that. I stitched the trim on, trying not to stretch the knit as I went. I know that I wouldn't be able to get the trim fitting nice and flat around the neck, so I pulled the knit as I stitched, creating a ruffle effect which I love I'm learning to live with!

That's it! I'm looking for a closure for the front, just to stop it flapping in the wind on a windy day, but otherwise it's good to go! (special thanks to miss E who took the after pic for me!)

It's got me looking at some other jumpers I've got that I don't often wear due to that "heat" factor. They might be next in line for a make over? I think next time I'd like to try a crocheted edge. So are you a cardigan or a jumper/pullover girl?

and the winner is ......

The winner is number 6, Clare from Green valley crafts! - Congratulations Clare! Thank you to Penny Scallan for supplying the lovely - wipe-able!- Art Smocks!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

weekending + last chance to enter giveaway

Finding the first Guavas on my little tree was the highlight of the weekend! It will take a few years till it produces enough for some Guava Jelly, but I can't wait! The last of the "wild flowers" are flowering, not many left now but just enough to have a pop of colour in the vege patch where the kids and I scattered some seeds in Spring - they survived the drought. I'm working on a special something for a special someone and  amongst all the goings and comings this weekend I managed some time to make a little something with this silk/merino that I spun, the first time trying to add beads when I piled it up! It's deliciously soft.

Last chance to enter the Penny Scallan giveaway! I'll draw it sometime tomorrow morning.