Sunday, June 30, 2013

not quite

This past week was not quite how I had planned it to be. You know how it goes, you've got a list, got a plan, expectations - then the universe has other ideas.

 Ill children recovering, then kindly passing their ills on to me, nothing too major, but enough to throw the whole week out.

Soon I realised the biggest thing bringing the mood of the week down, was me! I released all my expectations and lost the lists and things seemed to improve from then on in. Putting most of the washing in the dryer helped too.

There were some bright moments though, a meet up with a blogging friend and her darling daughter, some sunshine emerged and I received some flowers picked for me by my little man. These "all weather" shoes that I picked up at "The Warehouse" brightened my mood - However I've spent the week convincing the children that they don't quite go with every outfit! Trying to ease their disappointment at me not wearing "the most beautiful shoes in the world!" everyday, whenever we went out.

There was another bright moment of the week, luckily that did go to plan! I'll pop back tomorrow to tell that story.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I seldom follow a recipe or pattern, sometimes it's because I don't quite have all the ingredients or materials required. The results can be hit or miss, it often ends up very different to the picture in the book - that's for sure! But sometimes the "tinkering" is because the recipe or pattern just doesn't do what I need/want it to do. That is exactly the case with this bag I made over the weekend.
excuse the pics - with no assistant they are "selfies"
 It's the my version of "new mama every thing tote" from Sweet and Simple handmade by Melissa Wastney. Many years ago now I did a swap with Melissa, one of her tote bags in a gorgeous Ikea fabric and in return I sent her a large bundle of vintage linens for her to turn into baby shoes. I used it lots and still do, although mostly these days as a "crochet project" bag. The main reason I don't still use it? It's straps don't go across my body like a messenger style bag. But I love the style and the deep pleats (which don't really show up well in my pics - but they are there!)

So I made the bag with a long strap, perfect to sling over my shoulder on my bike (that mr A and I use on school and preschool runs). Also because I wanted it for wearing on my bike I added a flap!(with a magnetic clasp) To keep all the contents of the bag on the inside, rather than flying out and off down the road as we bike along. I used an old belt for the "D rings" for the strap and thrifted leather for the flap and strap. My sister gave me the vintage Sanderson linen that forms the shell of the bag. So my bag hasn't turned out as the pattern dictated, but it suits my purposes perfectly! 

By the way if you are ever looking for claps and other findings like that, I can recommend - Craft Runner . I've always found them to deliver quickly and have really good prices, an amazing range of craft products, it also kind of helps that they include a tiny bit of chocolate in each order too! Or maybe that's just for my orders? Either way it's good to support local companies right? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Matariki Crafting

Have you been following along with the Matariki blog hop? I do hope so, as each blogger has come up with amazing projects and things to share, I've been blown away by the creativity and diversity of each project. I had a go at Stella's snowy day photo tutorial, turning my kids and I into fair isle wearing, snow lovers! The kids were super excited to see the transformation as they have never actually seen snow! (It's not perfect photo transformation, but only I probably see the bits I'm not happy with)

The linky is up on Juliet's blog, so if you have been working on a project (not just the ones from the blog hop) link it up! There are some great prizes up for grabs (drawn randomly) - get linking! There are still a couple of  projects next week to enjoy as well. Happy Matariki!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


 Recently I was super lucky to win a voucher to spend in this lovely felt shop - Beautiful things, made by the super talented Rhiannon, you can also read, and be inspired by her blog - Toast and Life. Not only does she some how manage to sew all these creative things and look after her family of three kiddos, but she seems to find time to put on amazing themed dinners! This dinosaur one is my favourite so far.

I was planning to get one of the kids something with my voucher, Rhiannon makes such cool kids clothing, I should know I've bought some already! But for the longest time I've wanted one of Rhiannon's flower brooches, so I went for the selfish option! My generous win allowed me to choose not one, but two brooches! I was wearing this yellow one today, nice and bright for a gloomy rainy day.

Rhiannon also does an amazing job of wrapping her orders when she sends them to you, wrapped in vintage wallpaper and a handmade card, super sweet! By the way Rhiannon didn't ask for me to give her a review, I just wanted to spread the word about the lovely lady and the amazing things she makes! Rhiannon is also part of the Matariki blog hop, you should pop over and see her post about upcycling thrifted merino, it's cute stuff people!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

tie on

My Nana had a purple and white gingham apron, a bib type apron, with ruffles around the edges. I remember being able to wear it when I was helping her bake, it made me feel so dressed up as a wee girl. Nana often sewed aprons too, I remember seeing lots of them being gifted to family members over the years, often made with left over fabric from the dresses and other sewing she was doing. I'm pretty sure my fascination with these domestic items stems from my amazing Nana.

These aprons aren't my Nana's creations, they are thrifted ones, gathered up over many years of thrifting, ahem. Some have been gently worn, others look like they have never had a chance to protect any clothes, gifted perhaps and never worn? 

I love the different fabrics and I'm always a wee bit amazed at all the different styles that I find. The ones with tea towels attached are among my favourites, along with any with a scallop hem!

Do I wear them when I bake? Well these ones no, but I have a couple of thrifted ones that get a good work out.

Whenever I tie one on I wonder if there is a matching dress out there somewhere.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Over the weekend I finished off a stack of hottie covers for the Hottie Project.

Some I embellished with some embroidered linen, others with diggers and trucks left over from this project. A couple have sepcial little patches of Tiny Happy fabrics.

Have you seen this AMAZING giveaway by Emma Makes and Alexandra Mackenzie? - Go and enter, I've got my fingers crossed for you!

Thanks for all your lovely comments on my rustic bird feeder post, but if you looked at it and thought "I'll never get round to making that" - You know what? Just going outside and smearing peanut butter over a branch and sprinkling it with bird seed works just as well!

Not to mention the look of total amazement as your children watch you make "a special bird sandwich"!

Let's keep it easy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

ducklings - a recipe

"mum can you make those ducklings again?"
"um, what ducklings? and it's mum can you make those ducklings again, PLEASE"
"those ducklings you made the last week for pudding, PLEASE"
"Oh, you mean dumplings!, um, yes I suppose so"

We seldom have pudding, but over Winter seldom turns into about once a week, it's something about the cold weather and a cooked pudding that seem to just go together don't you think? So here you have it, the recipe for golden syrup dumplings! * just to make it clear, I've never served my family ducklings!

Dumpling ingredients
1C flour
1t baking powder
1T caster sugar
2T melted butter
1 egg
2T water

Syrup ingredients
1C water
1/2C brown sugar
3T golden syrup
1T butter

Combine the syrup ingredients in a microwaveable jug, I use a Pyrex glass bowl. Cook on high for 3 minutes, stir and cook again for 3 minutes. If you don't have a microwave you could heat the syrup ingredients on the stove top in a pot, it needs to be near boiling.

Now to make the dumplings: Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and butter together in a bowl, then add the egg and water. Mix gently to make a soft dough.

Drop small spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the hot syrup, cook on high for 30 seconds - 1 minute, till cooked. Cook in small batches, 3 or 4 at a time. Again, you can do this on the stove top too! Once cooked remove them from the syrup and serve with whipped cream or ice cream! Watch them disappear!



I had the extreme pleasure of meeting up with one of my blogging friends (and now a real life one too!) recently as she and her beautiful wee family made a whirlwind trip to Auckland. We sat and enjoyed a coffee with blankets on our knees, yes, the cafe supplied soft and oh so warm blankets to snuggle under! It was a lovely time and over too quickly as we both had other places to be (you can read Stella's take on our cafe stop here) On our way out I popped back into the cafe to buy some macaroons for Mr NZ Green Buttons and I to share over our after dinner coffee, they were delish! Just looking at the photo of them makes me want to eat some more!

Friday, June 14, 2013

for the boy

There was lots of jealousy over the hooded jacket I made for miss E to take on our weekend away. So, quite quickly once we returned I made this jacket for my boy (4 and a half years - not 4 years old any more he tells me).

The outer blue fabric is from a cashmere jacket/coat I thrifted a few years ago, ahem, it was just $2, in perfect condition and I loved the deep royal blue colour. It's sat in my coat cupboard ever since, waiting for a make over. I've often pulled it out, wondering what I was going to do with it, luckily I waited, well, cause it's just perfect for this jacket! I unpicked all the seams, I cut out the pattern pieces carefully, there was just enough, minus the hood which I cut out of a felted jumper. I made use of the beautifully constructed and lined pockets of the original jacket, making it looked like I slaved over the details, also making it look like I'm a MUCH better seamstress than I actually am.

The lining fabric, was gifted to me earlier in the year at Fabric-a-brac, generously by the lovely Anissa from the Grow Mama blog (thanks again Anissa!). It's a  thick brushed cotton the sort you'd make some pyjamas from, I cut one of the little yellow bulldozers out of the fabric to embellish the front a little. The jacket is so super snugly and warm, perfect for wearing on the back of my bicycle as I ride him to preschool! He loves it.

* The pattern for the hooded jacket is from Sweet and simple handmade - by Melissa Wastney 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rustic bird feeder - a DIY tutorial

Welcome to my "Matariki crafting" project! When Juliet first suggested this Winter themed blog hop I struggled to think about a project to share, then I remembered our Winter-time tradition of making a bird feeder! Each year for the past three years we've been making bird feeders, each year a little different than the last, you can read about the past feeders here, "For the birds" part 1, part 2 and part 3.

But this year I came up with the best so far! (well in my opinion anyway). So lets get creating!

Gather up your supplies, you will need: soft bendy twigs (I used Silver Birch), wire or natural string or twine, scissors, insect mesh (sold by the metre at hardware stores - you will only need a little bit), Wild bird seed. Also helpful are secateurs and wire cutters. A wee note on the bird seed, I've had limited success with the home-brand seed, seems our local birds don't like the mix and didn't really eat it! For the sake of a few cents don't skimp! One packet goes a long way. No soft bendy twigs in your backyard? Gather up the kids and go for a walk in your local park, I'm sure you'll be able to find some twigs to use, say you are on "a hunt" and watch the kid's eyes light up!

First up, grab your scissors and cut a rough circle shape from your insect mesh - mine was around 20cm in diameter. Why insect mesh you might ask? Well Winter is often rainy here in New Zealand and I've found in past bird feeder making experiences that water can pool in them, creating a floating bird seed soup! This way the water can drain away, hopefully keeping the seeds fairly dry. Brilliant!

Wrap the twigs roughly around your mesh shape - don't worry about all the straggly bits, we'll sort them out in the next step. Cut off any large thick pieces with the secateurs.

Cut a length of wire or twine/string and start attaching the twigs to the mesh, because I used wire it was easy to thread through the mesh, but if you are using twine or string you might want to use a large darning needle to make the process easier. Work your way around till all the loose ends are tucked in and the mesh is attached all the way around. I used a blanket stitch, but you could easily just use short lengths and tie them at intervals.

Cut two pieces of wire or twine, each one around 60cm in length. If you are using wire, twist is as per the photo above. If you are using string, tie a knot around 10cm down, this is what will slide over the branch to hang the feeder from.

Twist the wire through the mesh and over the twigs at four equal intervals around the feeder. If you are using string, thread up a needle to make this step easier.

Find a spot in a tree to hang it! Keep in mind any local cats that might be able to get to the feeder! Put it high in a tree to keep the birds safe, we don't want to make a "cat cafe".

Fill it up with some Wild bird seed - or take the next step........

 Make some bird balls! You can really just clear out your pantry and make the birds happy all at once! You can use any of the following sorts of things to make your bird balls:

Stale cornflakes, rice bubbles, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc, stale - but not mouldy bread, peanut butter, malt (not honey), suet (animal or vegetable), raisins or sultanas, any other cereal that isn't full of sugar - like weetbix.

Some things that are bad for birds and you should try to avoid : Avocado, salt, honey (use malt instead), anything mouldy.

I used some stale bread crusts, peanut butter and some malt. Add all your ingredients into a saucepan and warm over a low heat. One of your ingredients will need to be a "binary" ingredient like malt, peanut butter or suet.

 It will look like a big sticky mess! With wet/damp hands roll into balls, then roll in Wild bird seed.

Pop in the fridge to firm up! Then you can pop them into your feeder, either by themselves or with some loose seed. It's better not to put too much out all at once, but top up regularly as needed.

Sit back and enjoy the sound of happy birds in your garden!

I really hope you have a go, either with this rustic feeder or one of the others that I've made over the years (links at the top of this post). Many birds do die over Winter months when food becomes scarce, feed the birds!

Don't forget to hop along to Stella's blog tomorrow to see what she's been up to!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

black and white

Our op shopping adventures over our weekend away were a bit disappointing. Before we came across any op shops, we found lots of antique and vintage type secondhand stores, a very real sign that the local op shops (or thrift stores) would be well picked over by the local owners of those shops. I wasn't wrong, there were very slim pickings! We came home with just a few small treasures, a Crown Lynn colour glaze butter dish, a Pyrex mug with a design I'm sure I've seen somewhere before, but I can't put my finger on it? I also picked up this cushion in excellent/as new condition for $2! The label from the shop suggested it had marks on it? I couldn't spot any and after a quick run through the washing machine, it now sits happily on my bed.

Check out what other keen op shoppers have found over at Blackbird has Spoken

Monday, June 10, 2013

a winner and crafty adventures

First up, congratulations to Elaina from "a little bit country" the winner of the Stuck on You $25 voucher! 

Secondly today marks the start of something just a wee bit exciting! The start of  the Matariki crafting blog hop! 

Juliet came up with the wonderful idea about getting some bloggers to share some Winter crafting ideas to inspire others to get crafting over the dreary Winter months. Check out the link above, there is a list of all the bloggers taking part (quite an amazing line up if you ask me!) and information how you can be a part of the fun too! A link up at the end, where you can show off what you are working on over Winter, there are even some amazing prizes on offer!

I'm sharing a project this Wednesday so do pop back to see what I've been up to. But tomorrow it's Lisa's turn from Big Little, so make sure you stop by to see what she's been crafting.


My first introduction to the world of craft blogs was Melissa's blog - Tiny Happy. I remember clearly picking up a copy of NZ House & Garden at the supermarket and finding a wee article on Melissa and the beautiful things she was making. That lead me to finding other clever crafty people blogging about the things they were making and inspiring me to start my own blog. 

I've bought lots of things from Melissa over the years and her handiwork can be seen all over our house, bags, a forraging satchel, framed printed cards, a velveteen rabbit and brooches to name a few. So I was really excited to hear last year at the Auckland art and craft fair that she was writing a book - Sweet and simple handmade, that would include patterns for all the beautiful things she's made over the years. I quizzed her for most of the fair (we were stall neighbours) about her book (sorry Melissa!) and the thing that excited me the most was that the patterns were going to be printed on tissue and kept at the back of the book. I love that so much! I've grown tired of getting books out of my library only to find I have to copy out the patterns to start creating, I find I never get around to making the things. 

I couldn't wait to start sewing from this book, here's the first project completed ......
The Winter climate here in Auckland is mild (no snow for starters), so those beautiful woollen coats made from vintage woollen blankets aren't necessary, very disappointing. But I've been lucky enough to pick up a couple of vintage lightweight woollen pleated skirts, a perfect weight to add warmth, but not overheat. All those pleats in the skirts mean there is lots of fabric. After unpicking all the stitches I washed the fabric to remove the pressed in pleats. Melissa suggests looking for clothing that you can "upcycle" in her book, making use of textiles that are in thrift stores, so this skirt fabric seemed the perfect choice for this project.

  The instructions for the "Hooded Winter Coat" are simple and easy to follow, which helped me lots when I decided to whip this coat up for taking away with us on the weekend, ahem, I started and finished on Thursday night! I lined it with some soft brushed floral cotton that I had thrifted a long time ago, it seemed to fit well with the wool.
I made only a couple of changes, I added a pocket on the inside for secret treasures that I know my girl likes  to take with her and I added some pleats on the shoulders, a nod to the past of the woollen fabric. At the moment it's a bit "over sized" but I love that it's something that should be a favourite and see her through a few Winters.

So what else can you expect to see in this book, well it's separated into sections of, "babies - 0-12 months", "little ones - 1-4", "Children - 5-10". Each section featuring an array of wonderful simple projects that would delight those little ones (and their mamas). I especially love the babies section, now that my little ones have grown up (a little bit) this is the section that I'll be turning to, making presents for friends. The soft stretchy pants and modern bonnet being top of the list!

If you are time poor and not really into sewing yourself, you can check out Melissa's Etsy shop - Tiny Happy where you will find beautiful things handmade by Melissa.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

weekend finds

We had a surprise weekend away. We found we blended in well with the surroundings, we found lots of yummy things, we found interesting window displays and some clear sunny skies (one day anyway). We also found things that fascinated the kids. Fish carcass = kid magnet, "take a photo mum!". Did you find anything this weekend?

Don't forget to enter this giveaway - your chance to win a $25 Stuck on You voucher to spend as you wish!