Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer at the beach

Days can get pretty sunny and hot. And the sun is dangerous in New Zealand. There has been a hole in the ozone over New Zealand for a while, which means sun rays are not filtered as they usually are by this protective layer. So if you are living or traveling here, you've got to be very careful and splatter that sticky sunscreen over you thoroughly if you don't want to get sunburnt. A lot of people have commented on how they were surprised by the strength of the sun here!
Tahi's not very keen on putting sunscreen on, he just wants to run outside and play. So I made some kaftan style long sleeve tops with some light cotton fabric scraps I'd bought a while ago. Unfortunately I gave one away to a friend's daughter who really liked it and forgot to take pictures (a real bummer because she just looked sooo cute!), and I haven't got Tahi to wear the other top I made yet. So here are just some pics of the remaining top on a white background (and I didn't iron it, duh!). I am planning on making a couple more for him, and possibly another one for a friend's son's birthday we missed, so there will be more photos to come.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My creative space

I tried a new technique: shirring. I was always curious as to how to get that cool effect, and I was surprised to see how simple it is. There's a good video tutorial here on Grosgrain ( and check out her Halloween costume giveaway while you're there!)

I have also been rearranging parts of the house... sort of. The thing with living in a house in constant change is that there are a  lot of transitional states that can last quite a while. Our bathroom and kitchen have been in that mode for a few months now. The bathroom is not much more than a building site and the kitchen is awaiting restructuring, and there are boxes of food lying around along one of the walls. The problem with these in between phases is that we end up living in a mess. Now I'm not particularly a clean freak or anything but I like some sort of order. Especially when we have all sorts of cats and mice and toddlers walking around. So I upgraded the kitchen from transitional building site to student flat, and it makes me feel a bit better! I used some bits and pieces found in the garage, including one of josh's beer crates. He wasn't very happy about that but I said he could only have it back if he found something similar to use. We all know bribery works best most of the time, so now I'm hoping it can only get better! (either he swaps it or he upgrades the kitchen completely, no more cardboard boxes on the floor).

Head over to Kootoyoo for more creative goodness!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoe shopping

I swore myself a few years back that I would never buy new clothes or accessories without knowing where they came from. This actually goes for as much of the shopping I do as possible. I try not to buy something new if I can help it. I also try to buy things I know will last me a while. Why you may ask, it sounds like I'm making my life much more complicated. Well, maybe I am, but I have come to enjoy the part of shopping where I challenge myself to find what I need. It can sometimes take a while, but I do find it eventually. I have this mental list in my head that pops up whenever I walk into an op shop. What a thrill when what I've been searching for is sitting on a shelf waiting for me! I realize this might not be a very practical to shop for most people though. And when it comes to shoes, finding the right pair at the right size is near impossible in op shops.
We don't realize how much power consumers have. But we do, all of us. Consumers were the ones to put pressure on big brands like Nike, Adidas, Levis to be more responsible about how they produce their goods. There are so many fair trade eco friendly options for buying clothes and shoes nowadays, no excuse to at least give it a go! 
I thought I've share my little network I've been building up. This post will about shoe shopping. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful!
I am not a huge shoe collector, but I like my feet to be nice and comfy. I'm a big fan of sneaker type shoes, they are the best comfort wise and there are so many cool styles out there. 
In small towns like Gisborne, or in New Zealand in general, you'll find it hard to source even just one brand of ethically made shoes. Luckily the internet helps fill in the lack of local resources!
I go through phases of browsing on TradeMe (our local Ebay) for shoes, and recently bought a pair of sheepskin slippers for $11. They are ugly, but oh so warm. I found out when I received them through the post that they are from a NZ company too, Canterbury Leather International, and they look so much more durable than the previous ones I bought (Emu).

Ugly but warm!
I find that asking in stores some information about the product can be useful. I bought a pair of El Naturalista shoes in Paris, and the store owner happily explained to me that it was a company owned and based in Spain and that they source sustainably made natural products. The shoes are manufactured in Spain too, where there are strict rules for workers' rights. I felt happy to buy them, the price wasn't any different than any other pair of similar shoes and I found a color and style that suited me.

my El Naturalista shoes
Using search engines on the net to get more info about the brands you like is a good way to get informed too. You can also search for new brands too.

One of my favorite shoes sites of the moment is Toms shoes. They are not particularly eco friendly but for every pair you buy, they give one to a child who need some too. They also make sure the shoes are produce in a good working environment for their employees. I loved the idea, so I bought a pair in a shop in Melbourne, and recently ordered another pair online. They are very comfy!
Bodas by Toms shoes
So here's a short list of other brands I found searching through the net and in like minded magazines:
- If I was rich, I would definitely buy a pair of Po-Zu, they make the coolest sandals, shoes and boots
- Terra Plana, heels, sneakers and boots
- Autonomie Project, flip flops and sneakers
- Common Soles, flip flops
- Keen, lots and lots of styles, mostly casual wear
- Groundhog, shoes and boots
- Wombat, simple and casual styles, sell gumboots! (Also do clothing)
- And of course handmade websites such as Etsy are good ones to browse. I currently have my eyes on this neat pair of mocassins...
Handmade mocassin by willymocs

More articles about choosing "green" shoes: Green Your Sole, Economically Sustainable Footwear, Tracking the Future of Sustainable Footwear, Fashion from Spain (an article about Pikolinos and El Naturalista).
And if you're keen to do some more reading on the subject, here are a couple of links: Fair Trade Sweatshops? article and Organic Clothing and Eco Friendly Fashion Sources.

Giveaway with a twist: the winners!

Two pairs of baby tights for two lucky mamas. And the winners are:
Gillian and NorraSud by Roroism. Congratulations to you both and I'll be in touch soon!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Growing child

Here's what Tahi's been up to lately:

- Learning to cycle. Some friends gave us a little bike that just needed a couple of learner wheels. Tahi took to it straight away and loves going cycling. We usually go around the block in the evenings and spend some time playing at the Marae (maori meeting house) behind our house.

- A new obsession: dinosaurs. After planes and skateboards, this is the new subject of interest. I'm not sure how it all started or how the first spark of interest might have occurred. We have nothing at home relating to dinosaurs, all I can think of is the ones he plays with at playcentre. How he worked out they were different from the other plastic animals there I have no idea! It started a few months ago, and now we have a pile of books from the library and Tahi's granny on the subject, managed to find some little dinosaurs at a local op shop and Josh even bought him a big one called Giganotosaurus. I have never known so much about prehistoric animals until now. Feels like being back at school but in a good way!

- Taking interest in his surroundings. We had a couple of camping trips, sleeping the three of us in a tent. What a nice way to discover new places. We also saw a steam train, that was up in Gizzy from Wellington. It was beautifully restored but very noisy! Tahi loved it but was too intimidated to go in the engine room.

- We have also been enjoying the garden, with its beautiful flowers coming out!

mini art journal challenge: weeks 25 and 29

Week 25 was "a photo that means something to you". Since I don't use my film camera that much anymore and we use a little digital camera instead, I chose one that was taken with the said digital and it took me ages to sort out the printing side of it. But here it is. One photo, no need to comment I think...

Week 29: "Define perfection". I can't see anything more perfect than nature. I have so many times been in awe of what nature can produce and how everything seems to have its own purpose, from the smallest microbe to the cycle of life itself. Nothing is wasted, everything has its place and the slightest change can bring everything off balance. Have you ever looked closely at an orchid or any other flower? There's millions of years of trial and error, natural selection to get to what we see, smell, taste and hear today. In my world, nature knows best.

I used a photo of a flower taken from a magazine, then cut out some letters from another picture and used a silver paste type pen to make the contour.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My creative space

This week I'm updating from the past few weeks really, and I have been very creative, yes!
I made more singlets, this time out of the beautiful organic fair trade tee shirts KowTow kindly donated me.  This one is for a friend's little boy who just turned 3! Perfect for summer.
I also made some sun shading tops out of light cotton, but no photo yet, soon soon. My boy hates sunscreen...

Pop over to Kootoyoo for some creative goodness!

Some catching up

While we were living the simple life away from technology I got crafty and did a bit of sewing. Some for Tahi, some for myself and some for selling.
I'm all about comfort, and I could live in loose tee shirts and track pants type pants all year round if it wasn't for my need for more style. The problem with op shops is that it's very hard to find nice comfortable pants that don't look like your grandma's. So well I resort to getting the grandma type pants and use my sewing machine to get them looking decent. Even in my own house I wouldn't go as far as wearing that totally doesn't suit me.
I found a pair of XXXL (yes!) track pants brand new, tag still on, at our local op shop. The fabric is bamboo, which is sooooft and so comfortable to wear. So I bought it and used a pair of pants that fit me as a pattern. I'm pretty happy with the result!
XXXL= a lot of fabric!

Lounge around pants in action... and the growing bump!

I did the same with another pair, some stripy white and red cotton from Country road that were very unflattering and a bit too big. So now I've got two comfy pairs of pants to wear around home all that for not more than $10! Yipee!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mini art journal challenge: weeks 27 and 28

I'm back, but only for a short while. Josh is going back to Wellington for work in less than three weeks. Better get busy posting!
Catching up on some cards, here are the last two.
Week 27: "Junk mail". We all get it, and we all know it piles up no matter how much we try to limit it. I hate it, I can't help thinking about landfills whenever I have something that is going in the bin. I try to throw away as little as possible and reuse most junk, but the truth is, it will end up in a landfill at some stage, I'm just buying it more time. A friend told me recently about a guy in the South island who came up with a machine that can turn plastic into bricks, what a great invention! Read more about it here.
Here's what I came up with.

Week 28: "Goal of the week". That one was easy to come up with, since we were away for a couple of weeks and the garden was really in need of a makeover! This being spring and all, everything is growing at a faster rate and it is the time to get the garden ready for summer. So a lot of work! Luckily my little helper was here and we had a week of good weather (followed by a terrible one). Still a lot to do, but getting there. Over the week end, we all went for a mission to the beach to get some seaweed and sand, and we've got a new horse next door, so Tahi and I will soon be going there with the wheelbarrow to pick up all his poos!
I used an old dishwashing glove and cut strips which I sewed onto the card to give a grassy effect to my card. Then I sewed some colored buttons to represent some flowers!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Old school

Josh is off for a couple of weeks, and as he usually takes our computer for work, we will be at home dealing with old technology. No blogging for me for a couple of weeks!
In the meantime, I will be busy sewing up some stuff, looking after Tahi and little flea in my tummy and working around the garden. I will have lots to share when I get back, including a giveaway!


Is probably my favorite season. The garden is looking amazing, with blossoms and flowers everywhere, bees happily buzzing. Our veges seem to get a boost from it too. And the weather finally warms up!
We are all loving hanging out in our back yard, soaking in the sun as much as possible.

 I'm into new experiments at the moment. We started getting raw milk, so I decided to try and make my own cheese. I've been dying to try for ages, but I wanted to make it with fresh milk. So I made some ricotta last night. It's super easy and so much nicer when fresh. I didn't realize though it takes so much milk to make a little amount of cheese!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mini art journal challenge: week 26

I realize this challenge is getting a bit messy and might be confusing. I haven't missed a number, but I am still working on week 26 card, so I'll get back to it when I sort it out.
This week's prompt: "Celebrating daughters..."
Ok, so I don't have a daughter - yet- and I didn't feel like celebrating myself as a daughter, so I decided to broaden the theme and make a card about women, or at least my idea of what a woman is. I grew up a tom boy, lived in jeans and tee shirts until a few years ago, and cherished my independence. I realized last year my vision of what it is to be a woman was changing. I'm not one for accessories, shelves and shelves of shoes, but I do like clothes. In the past few years I don't feel so awkward wearing skirts and dresses, I even like feeling sexy.
When I was living in Paris I always found that women there had a certain aura, they felt so superior in their femininity and I admire that. A bit like the women in Almodovar's movies.
Being a modern woman, I feel, is so different to what it meant 50 years ago. Nowadays a woman can be pretty much anything, even a man. There is no stereotype, no preconceived idea of what a woman should be. My card is an attempt to express what this modern woman is about: she has inherited ideas from the past and adapted them to her own needs, drawn on what is relevant to her. She is independent, strong but still feminine and very desirable.

I used a picture from a magazine representing a smiling 60s woman as a background, then cut out a piece of scrap lace fabric to make up a dress. I tried to get a similar pose to that of the Gitane cigarettes lady, if anyone remembers her. I always thought she looked mysterious and sexy (what a message to smokers!).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fabric storage bins: two winners!

First of all, my apologies for taking so long to announce the winners. I wanted to have some photos of the goodies to post along with this.
I was amazed at the response to this giveaway, I will definitely be having some more and putting the rest of the bins on Etsy. I will update the shop over the week end, so don't forget to stop by!
So here are the lucky two winners:
- Lydia @ Little Kiwis won the small storage bin
- Angelina @ The Norwood Walkabouts won the medium size one
The medium sized fabric storage bin

The small size fabric storage bin

Congratulations to both of you!
How About Orange has a good list of tutorials for those of you feeling crafty. and here's another one I thought was quite neat on Jcaroline Creative. Makes me want to make more!

(Winners selected using