Friday, January 3, 2014

Sewing lessons for Mia/ lessons in patience for her mother!

Before I had children I was so excited about the idea of doing creative projects with them. Painting with them. sewing with them, nurturing their creative juices through encouragement and support. Then I had two of my own and realised just how constant the creativity and ideas of a 5 year old can be, how the "great ideas" can go on all day and just how much they can ask you to do in a 2 hour space. I also realised how frustrating it can be to get out paints and collage materials for a 2 year old, only to have them finished up with them five minutes later, leaving a huge mess for you to clean up. Its hard to support a child's creativity all the time!

Having said that, I do creative projects with my girls most days, I just can't sustain them all day, every day. You have to be proud of yourself for giving them opportunities to be artistic, even if they aren't as complicated as you previously imagined.

Mia has been bugging me on and off for weeks to "have a go on my sewing machine". I remember my mother showing me how to sew on her machine and creating Barbie doll clothes. I don't remember how old I was, but I am guessing in hindsight I was a little older than 5!

Yesterday I suddenly felt extremely guilty for not letting her use my sewing machine, after all wasn't this what I had dreamed of, sewing with my daughter!? So we decided to make a bag. Now if you ask Mia who made the bag she will say "I did and Mum helped a little bit". If you ask me I would probably say (out of her ear shot!) "Mum pretty much did all of it, Mia touched the fabric and fiddled with the buttons on the machine". But the main thing is that she learnt several skills and pieces of information she didn't previously know, she is proud of what she created, and it was a (mostly - the project did start with a heated discussion about how the needle was not going to go through her finger) positive one.

There were several challenges I hadn't anticipated:

- She couldn't reach the pedal of the sewing machine so I had to push it
- My sewing scissors were too big and heavy for her to use
- She had a real phobia of the needle going through her finger which we had to overcome before she would even touch it

But she did learn heaps:

- What several dials and buttons on the machine did
- Where the thread went
- That the machine did different stitches for different purposes
- How to "steer" the fabric through the machine (although I had to help with that one)
- That she could sew without losing a digit!
- The process behind putting on applique

As she gets older I will definitely encourage her passion for sewing, after all it gives me so much enjoyment!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Adventures of Sally and Tinny!

Oh the adventures that Sally and Tinny had today. Ostriches, bike rides, hiding in the grass, shoulder rides, playgrounds and watching the ducks in the river! You would never guess they were partying it up at a New Year's Eve Party last night, even if it was only until 9pm!

Those of you who know me will be aware that neither of my girls are called Sally or Tinny, but their dresses are. Both these dresses have been sweeping the blog world, and I was lucky enough to pick up both pdf patterns in reduced price offers.

The Tinny is a multi-version dress from Straightgrain that goes from a size 1 up to a size 6. I made Mia, who is an average sized 5 and a half year old, the size 6 and it fits well with room to grow. The pattern has 3 different skirts, 4 different collars and 2 different cuffs to choose from. I picked the pan collar, tulip sleeve and twirly skirt, and had my first attempt at putting piping onto the sleeves and collar. I did have to make the skirt shorter than it should have been, due to having less fabric than
 I  needed.

I used some vintage fabric I had been hoarding which was a orange-red colour with a blue little red riding hood character on it. It suited the style of the dress perfectly, and when it was finished Mia could have stepped straight out of 1974, which was the look I was going for. The only issue I had with making it was that I tried to put piping around the waist and failed miserably, so then I had to redo the waist making it a bit uneven and giving it a high-low look due to an uneven hem. I still love it though! The fabric I used also wrinkles easily, meaning I will have to iron it, and I am allergic to ironing. The zip instructions were particularly clear and I was really pleased with how the zip looks as zips and I don't usually mix.

The Sally is a simple sundress with a square neckline which fits straight over the head without a zip, and huge pockets perfect for collecting. I made Miss Ellie a size 2 but she is almost 3 and I should probably have made a size larger as it is a bit tight to get on. The pattern comes from Very Shannon and goes from a size 2 up to a size 8. Ellie loves this dress, and it is her go-to choice out of her wardrobe each morning. It was an easy sew without a zip or buttons, and the instructions are very clear. I put extra small details on it in the form of pink buttons and ribbon. The one thing I would recommend with this pattern is to ensure you don't use too heavy a fabric. I made Mia one out of a heavy linen and the weight of the fabric drags it down.

It is the first of January 2014 and we had an early morning outing to Otaihanga, a reserve five minutes drive from out house which is full of possibilities for adventures. I have made two New Year's resolutions. One is to spend less money on material possessions and more on experiences and fixing up our house. Compared to the majority of the population I am pretty frugal, but a year of earning money again after 2 years of earning pretty much nothing has meant that I have been tempted by pretty things. So I want to step that down. I would love to be able to take my girls on some overseas adventures, and have some myself, in the next few years, so I want to be more aware of where our money is going. Our house also needs several things done to it in the next few years, and house renovations are sickeningly money consuming!

My other resolution is to say no more. I had a year of saying "yes" last year to some pretty big things and it left me, and my family feeling pretty strung out. I am awful at saying no and I feel terribly guilty if I do, but I am beginning to realise that both myself and my family deserve for my to say "No". Hopefully these two things together will give me time and motivation (to use my fabric stash downstairs rather than buying clothing!) to sew and share these creations on my blog. After at least a year and a half of not going near it I also have a convenient back log of creations to tell you all about.

Happy New Year Everyone and may 2014 be your best year yet!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Okay so I haven't blogged since the time of the dinosaurs!

 I am not sure why I stopped blogging for over a year. I have still been creating, including a stage of selling from kids clothes at markets and online, but I have decided that is far too stressful and time consuming to continue doing alongside raising a family and other work commitments! I loved putting my creations online and keeping a record of all the things I created for my family, so I am going to attempt to resurrect my blog.

Mia my eldest and all her friends have been turning 5! Here in New Zealand children start school as soon as they turn 5 which seems crazy if you are American or English, but its just the way things have always been here. M had a Fairy Tale party which I will try and share photos of another time, but her friend Belle is having a dinosaur party. I decided (or M nagged me until I gave in!) to make a dinosaur tail each for Belle and Mia to wear to the party. My decision to make two was mainly made by the fact that the two girls have known each other since they were babies and are highly competitive, so Mia turning up to Annabelle's party with a dinosaur tail while Belle went without was highly likely to end in boasting on Mia's part and tears on the birthday girls!

My girls tested them out yesterday. They stomped around like dinosaurs, had tail fights by wiggling their bums and Mia even went for a jump on the trampoline in hers and wanted to wear it to bed.
The tutorial for the tails can be found at the awesome Running with Scissors blog. It was very easy and clear to follow and I just converted all the measurements to cms for us metric minded folks. One piece of advice if you ever want to stuff something, go to the Warehouse and buy cheap pillows, much cheaper than buying stuffing from the craft shop!

I can see hours of enjoyment being had by my girls with the tail, although I think I may have to make another one for Ellie to avoid fights!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I haven't been blogging!!

I have had other things on my mind! I am having another year off work so have come up with an idea that will hopefully give me some pocket money (once I pay off all the supplies I bought to start it!!). Check out this link for my new project and the new blog I will be focussing on, not just for my new project, but also for other sewing projects I am hoping to have time to do!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apricot Jam

On the way back from Gisborne after Christmas we stopped and got some stonefruit in Hawkes Bay. I got a big box of apricots to make jam with:

I often have real problems getting jam to set, even marmalade, so I have since resorted to adding pectin to the mixture just to be safe. Here is the recipe I followed. It made 7 big (750 or 800g) jars.

Apricot Jam

2.75kg apricots, halved and stoned

10-12 apricot kernels removed from the stones (I still don't know what the point of this is - any ideas!?)

2 1/2 c water

12 c sugar

70g packet of pectin (from supermarket)

Put kernels, apricots and water in a big pot and simmer slowly until fruit is pulpy. (At this stage I had to measure out half the fruit and add half the sugar and half the pectin in 2 batches as it makes a huge batch and my pot just wasn't big enough. Jam boils up a lot and makes a huge mess I have learnt by experience!). Add the sugar and pectin and boil briskly for 20 mins. Check that it has reached setting point by putting a little on a plate and putting it in the fridge for a couple of minutes. You should be able to draw a channel through the centre with your finger and the jam stays separated. Pour into sterilised jars. Yum!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Basil Pesto

The basil is flourishing in the garden at the moment so time to make one of my favourite things in the world to eat - basil pesto! Yum in so many things, pasta, pizza, tossed with veges for a salad, in sandwichs. The list is endless.

Basil Pesto

Place 2 packed cups of basil leaves, 2 large cloves garlic sliced, 3/4 c olive oil, 1/4 c grated parmesan, salt and pepper and 1/4 c toasted pinenuts or walnuts or cashews (pinenuts are sooo expensive I used cashews). Puree to form a smooth paste. Store in fridge or freezer. Unless you cover it with a bit of olive oil in the fridge it will oxidise and the top will go brown.

Garden update

Although the summer veges are not producing copious amounts yet, they are flourishing! Here is an update of what is happening.

Corn getting higher and higher!

The first zucchini:

I planted 3 types of tomato seeds and then didn't have a clue which kind actually germinated and were planted in the garden. All the tomatoes appearing seem to be romas:

Purple dwarf beans are flowering away and starting to produce beans:

Strawberries still going, although not producing enough for anyone except Ellie!

I am very proud of my red cabbages. They are so huge and quite pretty. We have been eating a lot of coleslaw this week! Still have 5 more cabbages to go too!

When we were in Gisborne it was interesting to see how much further ahead my family's gardens were there due to the warmer climate!