Friday, October 28, 2011

spring goodies

Yummy goodness from the garden, spring salad of broad beans, rocket, lettuce, celery leaves, avocado and haloumi (made using this recipe).

I also absolutely had to share this great juice recipe. A couple of weeks ago I went to a "know your weeds" workshop, held by Isla Burgess. It was a great introduction to knowing what "weeds" grow around us, I have been looking at our garden with a new eye. One recipe I tried and really love is a juice made with cleavers. Cleavers is a "weed" found in almost any garden here, and it seems to grow quite prolifically as well. It is full of good minerals, especially silica (which is what makes it "sticky"). While browsing to find a good photo of it, I found this website that also explains what the health benefits are. That much goodness and free to top it all, how could I resist.
Cleavers (photo from here)
The juice itself is really refreshing and tastes a bit like watermelon. I sometimes add a dash of honey, or just drink it as it is. I even tried it in a smoothie with banana and yoghurt, and Tahi liked it.

It's very easy to prepare, just grab a good big handful, put it in a pot with a bit of water at the bottom and pound it. The water turns dark green. I pour the liquid into a jar, fill it right up with water then add honey. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

my creative space

Some upcycled board shorts for a little boy turning 3... Shirts are great for making kids' pants and shorts, they already have features like pockets and buttons and as a result the pants look like I spent a lot of time adding little details!

The fabric on this one is perfect for hot summer days, light and soft. I added a turquoise waist band and matching bias at the bottom to add some nice contrast. After making Tahi's board shorts last summer I fell in love with the style, it suits little boys so well!

More creative goodness here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kids' bean bag; Who won?

OK, so I was expecting a bit more enthusiasm for bean bags, but hey, good for the 3 people who entered the giveaway! Maybe you all have bean bags already, or is it I scared everyone with my struggle to fill the bean bag? Or perhaps the perspective of having to make the bag that goes inside... Ah well, it would be good to know before I have another giveaway.
So I used to choose the winner, congratulations knightlight! Please leave a comment with you email address?
On another note, the All Black are world champions! Wow, well done, although I have to say the french played very well and probably better than the kiwis. As my friend said when I told them the french play better under pressure: "pressure makes diamonds". True that.
And here's what Tahi and I have been doing lately...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do you rugby?

We do! We've been following the Rugby World cup from home, we managed to borrow a friend's TV.  The semi finals took place last week end, the teams were ruthless and it was pretty exciting to watch.
The final is tomorrow, All Blacks vs. France... I've been counting down the days, I'm really looking forward to this game. Even though I'm french I have to admit I'm fully supporting the All Blacks. I think they really deserve it, they're playing so well as a team, it's been a pleasure to watch them play throughout the cup. So GO THE ALL BLACKS!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My creative space

Takes place in the kitchen this week.
Made cottage cheese for the first time, very very happy with the result, it tastes just like I remember it and I looooove cottage cheese. It's quite a long process but to my mind definitely worth it ("too many dishes to wash" is Josh's complaint).

I also tried out a recipe found while browsing my Pinterest, as one does. It's a recipe for an upside down apple tart here (from this pin). This one is a keeper. I'd been looking for a recipe for Tarte Tatin (the french name for this dish) for a while, and this is it. It just so happened that we had some apples lying around, too "fluffy" to be eaten by the local apple eater (Josh), so I had to use them up somehow. Plus I'd just made some butter that morning...

The cake turned out great, just what I expected, although a bit too much butter and sugar to my taste, but that's easily tweaked. And I'm using the left over apple cores and peelings to make some more apple cider vinegar. No waste, that's what I like!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Josh took some neat photos around the house the other day.
Apple blossoms

Chooks hanging out in the sandpit

Who's that cute little fella?

Peach blossoms and broad beans gone mad in the background


Spring onions going to seed

Tahi looking at a record

Guess what these are for?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

my creative space

My sewing machine broke down last night. Well actually, the motor did. It's a semi industrial, so the motor is a separate entity altogether, placed under the sewing table. Maybe that's a good thing, in case I have to change it... I'm a bit nervous though. I dismantled it last night after I heard a big "pouf" coming from underneath, saw a flash of light and the cap at bottom came off. It blew the fuse. Pretty impressive. I had been having trouble with the motor for a little while, it was definitely due for a check up. In the meantime I'll be cutting up a storm I guess. Or not!
Fortunately the breakdown happened after I'd finished making some clothes for my best friend's little boy, I was quite keen to send her a parcel (she lives in Germany) before her son grows out of the clothes I made him. She's been ECing him from birth so I decided to make her some special EC pants. From top to bottom, the traditional split crotch pants, and my two designs: the flip flap and the trapdoor EC Pants. I hadn't made any in ages so it was nice to go through some old patterns. The split crotch pants turned out better than I expected and look very cute. All three are made for winter wearing, since it's Autumn in Europe and only getting colder from here. I hope she likes them!

And while you're here, don't forget to enter the giveaway...
More creative goodness here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kids' bean bag: Tutorial and giveaway


I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now. Somehow my brain seems to be wired in the pre kids mode (still!) and I can never get things done in the timeframe I assign myself. Sometimes this results in much frustration and late nights, until I remind myself this is just a hobby.
I got asked a little while ago to come up with a tutorial to make a bean bag for kids. Instead of going for the classic tear drop shape I decided to make up a bag that would look more like a seat.
It came out great, Tahi probably spent a week sitting and/or jumping on it. To my relief it’s still in one piece,  you don’t know how evil these little plastic marbles used to fill the bean bag are! It took me three or four goes to get all the beans INSIDE the bag, and I chased little white marbles around my very untidy workshop for a good hour (I am still finding stray white balls here and there). I felt quite drained afterwards. Lucky I had a good seat to have a rest on!
Crash test. Will the beans stay inside?
I have to say this has been the reason I never before ventured into making one of these bags. I don’t believe in using non recyclable material such as plastic and try to minimize the amount of plastic waste we generate around the house. This means reusable fabric shopping bags, homemade food, buying second hand whenever possible. I have been doing this to the extent that if I am shopping and have no fabric bag I will just pile the shopping in the car and put it in a bag when I get home.
I tried to think of other things I could fill the bean bag with, but I was trying to get the prototype done so for once I gave in. If anyone has any good ideas on an eco friendly material that could be used to fill the bag, please leave a comment. Here’s a little list of what I thought of:
-       Beans, rice, coffee beans,…a couple of problems though: too heavy and attract rodents, insects…
-       Fabric scraps. I’ve tried it before, doesn’t work, heavy and stays in shape. Would work for ottoman style pillows though, if very tightly packed
-       Dead leaves (was the wrong time of the year for me!)
-       Styrofoam packaging peanuts. It’s still some kind of plastic, but at least it’s second hand. Would need to find a good supply of it
-       Wool. Lots and packed tight. Problem is it would cost a fortune if buying it, otherwise need to find a good supply
I made a first prototype (the one you can see in the photos with the kids), and then I decided to write a tutorial so I ended up making a second one. Since I have no use for a second bean bag I am offering it to one lucky reader (this does not include the insert, you will have to make that one yourself!). Instructions for entering are at the bottom of this post.

Now, for the tutorial:

You will need:
-       Good quality fabric, upholstery type. I used some thick cotton and woolen blanket scraps.
-       Some corded trim, or bias tape. This will help reinforce the seams
-       A zip, about  55cm long.
-       Some lighter fabric (I used a bedsheet) for the inside bag that will contain the filling.

1- Cut out pieces as per diagram. The bottom panel is not on the picture and should be 70cm long (instead of 75cm).

2- Pin corded trim/ bias tape on the right side of the bottom and top panels, and one of the side panels then sew, about 1cm from the edges.
Make sure the corded trim overlaps at the end (see picture)
overlap trim ends
3- Pin each end of the side panels right sides together, the corded trim should be sandwiched between the two. Sew 1cm to 1 1/2 cm from edge. To make it easy, follow the sewn line you just made keeping slightly on the inside of it. Sew the hem onto one side (see picture)
Sew hem onto one side
4- Fold the bottom panel in half and pin each end to each end of the side panels (the straight side). Starting from a pinned end, pin around one side then the other. This will help getting the sewing even and make the bean bag look straight! Again, the corded trim should be sandwiched in between. Sew as in step 3.
5- Now we can sew the zip on. First fold the zip in half and align the folded edge with the middle back of the side panels. This means your zip will be centered. Pin it to the bean bag, with the zip opening centered on where the bottom and the side panels are sewn together. Make sure you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine, you want to be sewing quite close to the zip opening. Sew the zip on. Make sure both ends of the zip are sewn on strongly, I go over both parts quite a few times.
6- Using an unpicker, unpick where the zip has been sewn on and clean up the loose bits of thread. Now you can open the zip, make sure it is working properly (nothing worse than a zip that gets stuck or is really hard to open and/or close!).
7- Pin the top panel to the other side of the side panels, right sides together and corded trim sandwiched in between. Pin and sew as in step 4.
8- Pull the cover through the open zip to turn it outside in.
9- Repeat the same steps to make the insert if you wish to have one. Make sure you leave a 10cm opening to put the filling in (with the insert inside the bean bag) then sew together once it’s full.

Voila, I hope the instructions are clear enough!

If you would like to enter the giveaway, here are the ways you can enter (each worth one entry):
-       Become a follower
-       Leave a comment
-       Blog about the giveaway

Make sure you leave a comment to let me know how you’ve entered, one comment per entry. Entries close on the 22th of October.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My creative space

Not much time to sit in front of the computer lately. I know I know, I'm repeating myself. I had a bad cold on the week end, then I sprained my ankle yesterday, I wonder what's next!
Here are some pics of my latest creation... it took me two months to make 9 dresses, I kid you not. I drew patterns for five sizes and that took me absolutely ages. I'm happy with the result but after taking that long I'm very over them and ready to move onto something else.

I took them to the local shop that sells my creations and two have already sold, so I'm pretty happy.
It has given me a lot of other ideas, and I'm very keen to keep experimenting with tee shirts. I'm trying to get rid of the bulk of my fabric and when I achieve this I think I might start stocking up. 

More creative spaces here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's going on?

My posting has been somewhat sporadic lately. Many reasons to that: sunny spring weather, lots of garden jobs, lots of waking up at night, lots of sewing and Josh working lots on the computer.
All good though, and I've got a few posts I'm hoping to get online in the next couple of weeks, in the meantime here's our past few weeks in photos...
Marble run, with blocks. Wild.

Blue cheese, not turning blue yet.

Broccoli from the garden. Yum!

Tahi loves bananas at the moment. 

Kaiti ham