Monday, September 30, 2013

A Makedo review and giveaway!

Have you heard of Makedo? If not, prepare to have your mind blown! I'm not kidding, every time we use this amazing stuff, I can't believe how cool it is and how I wished it had been around when I was younger.

So what is this Makedo stuff? "Makedo is a reusable system for creating things from the stuff around you".

 The system is really simple, a collection of clips "re-clips",  lockable hinges and a safe-saw. The safe-saw has a point on the back that you use to make holes in the cardboard (for the clips), it also does an amazing job at slicing through cardboard! The re-clip is in two parts, and can be used over and over again, you just squeeze the back to slide it off and reuse it! Genius!

an action shot - miss E and the safe-saw
I love that the kids can do most, if not all of the construction themselves, with a little help from me if needed. But without that safe-saw I would be there with scissors or a craft knife helping. I love seeing them problem solve to work out how and where they are going to clip, to make the "in their head" designs come to life.

We mainly use the system to make giant houses! Seriously take over the whole lounge type huts that have multiple rooms and spaces. The Makedo system means we aren't using a ton of sellotape to keep the structure together and we have been able to make big huts with small boxes too, something that I've attempted unsuccessfully in the past with sellotape (it's just not strong like these clips).

This morning we made this little/big house, we worked together on the main structure. I helped them form the roof, I had the height advantage there. After these photos were taken a little annex was added to the back and lots of shelves etc were added to the inside. All of the added extras were done by the kids, letting their imaginations run wild, I really love that part.

That is pretty much all you need with Makedo, imagination and perhaps a good selection of cardboard boxes! But you needn't stop at cardboard, you can use Makedo with all sorts of things, foam, plastic and fabric too.

So if you live here in New Zealand you might be wondering where you can get your hands on some Makedo, you can buy Makedo sets at the following places : Trademe, IQ Toys, Te Papa and the Auckland Muesum to name a few. You can buy themed sets, like for flowers, a play house, car etc, which include some stickers to turn your creations into something extra special. I do like the plain sets though, like the Makedo Kit for one. Makedo is also for sale on the Makedo website.

To get you inspired pop on over to the Makedo website, where they have an amazing showcase of customers creations. I would seriously love to have a go at making these bird wings over the holidays, lucky for me there are instructions!

This is not a sponsored post, but I do however have a giveaway for a lucky blog reader. I have bought a Flower set to giveaway to a New Zealand reader, because I really want more families to have some of this amazing Makedo at their own homes to pass on the joy of making something with things that you might already have at home! I really think that this is "magic" stuff.

So, leave a comment on this post telling me what you might make with Makedo! Extra entries for being a follower of this blog via GFC or Bloglovin, liking the NZ Green Buttons Facebook page, and sharing this giveaway via whatever social media you prefer! Just make sure you pop back to leave a separate comment for each extra entry.

I'll close the comments on this Friday - 4th of October. Good luck!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I love eggs

I love eggs. My easy  lazy family weekend dinners often consist of eggs, scrambled, boiled or  sometimes french toast. But for breakfast, not often, if ever. Certainly not on a weekday. Why? Well they take too long to prepare, or do they?

Well turns out that a couple of boiled eggs and toast are a lot easier to prepare on a weekday morning than I thought, taking about the same time to prepare as our usual breakfast options.

I was contacted recently to see if I would like some eggs to feed my family for breakfast during New Zealand Nutrition Week (September 23-28). It sounded great and I said "yes!". I've got two kids who love eggs, but with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for school/preschool we usually stick to muesli and toast and fruit. I must admit that by the time that Friday rolled around I realised that eggs were just as easy to dish up as our usual breakfast. I also found that the boy of mine who normally eats a three course breakfast and is still asking for food on the way to preschool, was actually full! Those normal nagging requests just didn't eventuate.

So in case you need any more convincing to try eggs for breakfast on a weekday, here are some points that I found interesting from a survey competed recently by Horizon Research on behalf of Eggs Inc.

"Adding two eggs to toast at breakfast time , provides over 20% of the daily recommended intake of protein alone"

"As well as containing over 11 essential vitamins and minerals, it is well documented that the high quality protein in eggs boosts satiety. A recent study in America has shown that people who ate breakfast were less likely to eat a high calorie lunch than people who ate cereal for breakfast."

"Perceived lack of time was the biggest obstacle to considering breakfast options with a higher nutrient content"

Well I can certainly bust that myth about time, it didn't take much time at all to pop some eggs in a pot! I love eggs!!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

me and MY feet

So if you have followed this blog for a while, you probably would have noticed my Saltwater Sandals pop up now and again, oh and of course on my header! I've just invested in another pair (an early birthday present, that's them above! patent turquoise!). They are the pretty much my all year round footwear, it's pretty mild here in Auckland, they are so hard wearing too. My first pair, in red is still going strong 3 years later, other than some thinning on the soles the tops look almost brand new. I don't drive so my footwear needs to be comfortable and long lasting, I do a lot of miles, and these are perfect in every way.

They break my "buy local" rule as I get them from Me and My Feet in the United States of America, they make the rule worth breaking. I first noticed Saltwater Sandals on the Soulemama blog, instantly fell in love, but after a short local search I abandoned my hope of owning any, they were way out of my price range and shipping from a supplier in Australia was almost as much as the shoes themselves.

Then I discovered Me and My Feet, their shipping to here in New Zealand is SO reasonable. It's a bit nerve wracking buying shoes from so far away, but with four orders under my belt I can tell you it's not as scary as you might think.

Me and My Feet was founded in 2007 and started out only selling children's footwear, but they branched out into selling other items too, like women's footwear, skin care and bags, things to make parent's lives easier, seems they must listen to their customer's needs.

 So if you are looking to invest in some Summer shoes (and yes I totally think they are an investment) I can recommend Saltwater Sandals from Me and My Feet, I LOVE mine! You might be thinking why would I need so many pairs if they wear so well? Well, you'd be in good company there, seems my husband has the same question. If I chose the black pair, I'd probably just have the one pair, it would go with everything right? But I think that's a bit boring, considering all the fabulous colours the Saltwater Sandals come in! Do you have a favourite?

*this is not a sponsored post, I was so impressed with the service I have received from Me and My Feet that I wanted to spread the word. I did however contact them to gain a little bit of background information. All opinions are my own. 

*A little update, with all the comments and emails I've received about shipping costs I want to share that info here. This info is current as of 4/10/2013, the shipping cost of one pair of Saltwater sandals cost me $17.95 US dollars. The total cost for one pair was just a little over $70 NZD with the current exchange rate. Any more questions feel free to email me or the lovely people at Me and My Feet! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

mini makeover

It's not unusual for my children to have quite different ideas about what they would like to bring home on our op shopping trips than I do. This spice rack/cupboard was a treasured find a few years ago now by my daughter who was five at the time. I'm certainly not it's biggest fan, I'd even relocated it to the garage, ahem. Once it was discovered in the garage I gave some sweeping reassurances that I had a plan for it, a makeover. I wasn't so sincere in my reassurances if I'm being totally honest, I actually had serious plans to relocate it to the opshop. 

But when these little mini grocery items started appearing at hour house (a giveaway with purchase at a local supermarket) I found some inspiration. I removed the doors and gave it a quick sand down. I had some white spray paint and gave it a couple of quick coats before I ran out of paint.

It's not perfect, but the kids seem to be having a great time playing with this mini food, taking it on and off the shelves. It keeps it off the floor too which is a bonus.

Now if all my "relocated" projects were so easy to finish and transform I'd be happy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


There was a little visitor in our garden today, he was a bit shy.

I was lucky to have a chance to get up close to the wee fellow. Watching quietly as he stopped to sniff the daisies.

Something scared him off though, and he frolicked off into the wilds of the meadow. Hope he visits again soon.

If you want to crochet one too, you can find the pattern in the "Simply Crochet" magazine issue 6, or the designer has a book too. It's called Simply adorable crochet, by Maki Oomachi. This little one is crocheted out of some my handspun Alpaca, it's so super soft and even though I made it as a gift, I want to keep it!

I've also got a wee sale in my Felt shop. Use the code SALE25 to receive a 25% discount on anything in my shop! The code can be used until this Sunday evening.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I have a love for green ceramics, two shelves in my lounge can attest to that love. This ginger jar that I bought many, many years ago at the Titirangi markets was the start of the collection. It had no lid but I loved it and bought it anyway. 

Image from Valerie Ringer Monk's new book - Crown Lynn Collector's handbook, on loan from my local library.

Then I found another at a local op shop a few years later, this time with a lid. I was excited. A third one followed, this time, no lid. My count was three jars, one lid,my husband wondered how many I actually needed? "Odd numbers: I told him.

It was then that I discovered by a random internet search that what I thought were some new-ish made in China ginger jars - were actually Crown Lynn in disguise! Not made in China at all.

These jars were made in a range of colours, a plum, a royal blue and yellow too! (I'd really love a yellow one!). Knowing that they were in fact Crown Lynn didn't make me love them anymore, but I did find the idea interesting that there was a time when "Made in New Zealand" wasn't enough, and "China" seemed a more inviting prospect? I think the tide is perhaps turning? I hope that we would always be proud of something "Made in New Zealand".

Imagine my surprise at a local church fair that I arrived very late to (pretty sure all the best pieces had been snapped up already), there on the table was a lid that I was missing! For the grand sum of $0.10c I was able to complete another jar!

I'm not sure if I'll be that lucky again, but in the meantime I'll keep using the one without a lid as a vase.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Over the course of a week I managed to sew a little something for myself. I spotted this amazing fabric while on a shopping trip with my mum recently, do you like it? It's super soft, light weight viscose, it's hard to tell from the photo (I still haven't taught my kids to be willing photographers) but the top is this pattern from the Pattern Postie, view b.

While the pattern itself is easy to sew, it took a few days to cut out and sew, using pockets of child-free time. I  do vaguely remember I time when I had the chance to sew a project from start to finish in one go, vaguely. I'm mostly happy with it, so I'm hoping to make a few more for the warmer months ahead. I must admit to seldom being happy with a "sewing for me" project, always things I wished I'd changed once finished, I'm fussy like that.

Do you sew for yourself?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The memorial garden for mr A's preschool teacher was blessed last week. I missed the ceremony due to a sick boy, but I'm told it was lovely.

Glennis, or "Mrs Stewart" was the most amazing early childhood educator, in her twenty plus years working at the preschool she touched so many lives. I was always amazed at her ability to know just what each child needed, a hug, some encouraging words or even on the odd occasion a firm word. I hate to think how busy her days were as a supervisor at preschool, interrupted many, so many times during the course of the day, yet whenever you asked her anything, she'd stop to help you out. Always with a smile. We miss her terribly.

It's so nice to have this little place of remembrance, in what was a mostly unused corner. I had an idea to make some bunting with pictures that the children had drawn, similar to the Japanese wishing tree idea. I thought it might be a great way to bring the children into the garden, I love all the little drawings that they did, each so unique for a very special lady. I left all the edges raw and sewed each picture to ribbon, backed by a slightly larger piece of botanical type of fabric. It was so fast to make and I think I'll make something similar for our garden this Summer too.

 I can't wait to see how this garden grows and watch the children play in it, it's a special place.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

another green

Today in the "a handmade Christmas"  seriesI am having a chat with Clare from Green Valley Crafts.I'm sure you already know her, right? If not you should head on over to check it out, her blog is a lovely read, Clare has mad speed knitting skills, shares some great recipes, she does all this and more with two small daughters. If she lived closer I'm sure I'd be sharing a cuppa or two with her on a regular basis! 

Instead pour yourself a cuppa and enjoy this little chat........

So Clare, do you have a favourite thing to make and give at Christmas? 

It's hard to chose a favourite, but I do like to make fabric bags to pop other gifts into.  More useful than wrapping paper and less cleaning up!

image source: Green Valley Crafts

image source: Green Valley Crafts
Do you have any favourite Christmas traditions? Any that you will do when your children are older? 

 I like to make a new handmade decoration each Christmas, usually out of felt.  I add one as part of the wrapping (or gift bag - see Q.1.) onto the gifts of close friends and family.  My eldest daughter and I bake and ice biscuits, and she wraps them and makes cards and then gifts them to family, friends and teachers.  Also, we get a new Christmas themed picture book to add to our collection each year.  These books are only out in December, and then put away for the rest of the year so they are that bit more exciting and special.

Ooh I like that book idea! Have you received a handmade present in the past that really stands out in your mind? 
 My mum makes me a tiny Christmas cake all of my own every year (no one else in my house likes traditional Christmas cake!  What?!)  I love this and look forward to it all year!  Yum yum!!

I was wondering, do you have a gift making/buying philosophy for Christmas? 

 In our family, we mainly give gifts to the children.  They get a sweet selection of wants and needs, usually a mix of handmade and bought items.  Adults exchange small gifts (our max spend would be about $15-$20 per adult), and we try not to buy each other 'stuff' we don't really need.  I usually turn to our fantastic Saturday market for the adults gifts, or online (felt or etsy) and those hard-to-buy-for-blokes usually get yummy food/drink type treats.

image source: Green Valley Crafts
What is on your making list this year?

 This year I have to make my baby her Christmas stocking, that's priority number one!  I'll make a set of decorations for the year, I'm thinking this year will involve a bit of cross stitch again, like last year.  I'd also like to make my girls new outfits for Christmas day (maybe matching, maybe not!).  There will be some kind of foodie gift for the kindy teachers.  If time allows, I'll make gift bags, otherwise we'll paint/stamp some brown paper for our wrap.  I would like to make an advent calendar with pockets, but I don't think I'll have time for that this year.   Whatever happens, there will be peppermint bark (probably at least two batches, cause I usually eat at least one!)

image source: Green Valley Crafts
I think there will be several batches of peppermint bark here too! So have I missed anything? Last thoughts?

Thanks for having me Louana!  I can't wait to follow your Christmas series, and get some new ideas and hear about other people's family traditions!

No thank you Clare! It's been great gaining a little insight to your Christmas traditions, I hope you share some pics of your baby's stocking once it's done - no pressure or anything! I think I'm going to steal that Christmas book idea too. I love that you consider you mum's Christmas cake a stand out handmade gift, it goes to show that you don't need to spend a fortune to create a really good memory for someone near to you. Don't you think?

Monday, September 9, 2013


It's been a long time since I've been excited by an op shop find! Today was the exception, a Cathrineholm pot! I've long admired them and they look particularly good en mass (google Cathrineholm to see what I mean), but for now I'm just so glad to have one. A few chips on the enamel on the lid still can't dampen my enthusiasm.

Made in Norway I wonder how many made it to New Zealand? The design on the pot is "Lotus", it instantly transports you to the 1960's don't you think?

There is an amazing fan blog of Cathrineholm, you can find it here, it's quite an interesting read.

I think I'll use my new find as a fruit bowl and enjoy it on my bench each day! Have you had any exciting thrifting finds lately?

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Here's a quick and easy tutorial for a towel turban! Most of the ones you can buy in the shops are made of micro fibre, I don't know about you, but it feels funny on my hands and I'd much prefer cotton towelling. I made this one from a bright vintage towel, but you could choose a plain towel perhaps? I've seen towelling for sale at my local fabric store, might be a good option if you want to make a few.

Here's how you can make one:

Cut out the pattern, I often cut out my patterns on vilene, the plain stuff, not iron-on. It tends to hold up better than paper, especially if you are using it lots.

Cut out two pieces,(1cm seam allowance included) if you are using patterned towelling make sure the right sides are together. Zigzag or overlock the edges to stop it fraying. With right sides together stitch around the edge, leaving the bottom open, I used a 1cm seam allowance. (I only have the right edge turned back is to show that the "right" sides are together)

Turn it right side out. Turn up the long edge that you left open. Slip in a hair tie or elastic at the seam of the short "tail" end of the turban. Stitch the hair tie/elastic in place, going back and forward a few times to secure it. Carry on stitching right around the bottom edge.

It should look something like this. Almost finished.

Sew a button on the middle of the front seam (opposite end from the hair tie/elastic). That's it you're done!

Try and take a "selfie", hope you do better than me! I seemed miss the turban 99% of the time!

To wear the turban, but the larger part, the one with the button at the back, twist the front up and flip it to the back. Slip the elastic over the button and you are done! (another selfie! Really need to teach my kids to take great pics!)

This one is for my daughter, for school swimming. Perfect for when she comes out of the pool, she can quickly get her wet hair up while she changes back into her uniform. I'm going to team it up with a new towel for swimming too. Ticking off another hand made Christmas present!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

almighty power

The almighty power I'm referring to is the internet. It's kind of mind blowing to think about the power it has in modern life, both positive and negative.

I remember in 1993 or 1994 (being a third or fourth former student at the time), a girl in my class had "the internet" at home! Wow, I was jealous, it sounded so exotic and she was one of the special few that had such a thing at home. Fast forward a few years and WiFi is everywhere, you can connect on your phone (notice I say your phone, I'm not that fancy yet), pop into your local cafe and you'll probably find they have WiFi too! It's hard to find anyone who doesn't have some access to the internet. 

It's shaping our lives in all sorts of ways, I know for myself blogging has opened up a new world. I've made connections with people both online and in real life too.

It's those real life connections that I love, and when I was recently on Pinterest, spotting a pin from an online friend that a real life connection came into play. It was for a bakery that she wanted to visit in a town near us. It looked great, so it wasn't a hard sell to my husband that we should take a drive on the weekend.

It's a town that I'm not a stranger to, but I don't think I would have found the bakery on my own. It was a good find, everything we had was yum and a loaf of sourdough came home with us (wish we'd bought some more). We also had a chance to view this special tree with an amazing history that I'd also seen featured in a NZ botanical book.

So I have the almighty power of the internet or Pinterest (take your pick) to thank for a very pleasurable wee outing. What "in real life" internet connections have you made lately?