Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Gingerbread house

Kerryn came to Christchurch just before Xmas and the boys and I caught up with her on Tuesday. She had a great activity planned. The making of a gingerbread house. Lots of lollies, royal icing and laughter later (and a couple of house collapses) it was all up. The house survived the two big earthquakes on the 23rd so I declared it well engineered!!

School holidays - mosaic tiles

Sorting all the pieces into colours

Starting to pick up all the fragments

Still smashing it
Well last Monday the holidays started. Jorja and Spencer came for the day. A busy day we had too. One of things we did was to make mosaic tiles in the garden. But first all the broken crockery had to be smashed into smaller pieces. I think the kids had more fun smashing the crockery than doing the tiles. It was a great outside time.

The craft project I have not been able to blog about

Now that the Christmas presents have all been opened I can reveal what I have been busy at lately. This is the piecing of a quilt I was making for my Mother-in-law. We all drew just one name out of a hat and I got her. I finished it on the 22nd Dec, which is just as well as everything stopped again on the 23rd with more significant earthquakes happening.

The material was picked to go with their lounge suite and the colours in their new house. But was all by memory. My Mother-in-law called later today to say that it was on her couch and a great match. Can't wait to see it. I will also get a photo of it all quilted and finished to put on here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A School Day at Orana Park

The keeper gave all the kids a few pellets to feed the Llama

plotting and planning what they want to see

We saw Lions

and tigers

Yes it was end of term and the school trips all started happening. I took six year 3and4 children in my car (along with a convoy of other parents) to Orana Park for the day. We saw Lions, Tigers, native birds, fed Llama's, fed Giraffes, watched someone in with Cheetah's (actually stroking them like a domestic cat!!). A very excited but tired bunch of kids came home.

Jakob's term 4 award

The genius
Congratulations to Jakob who recieved one of only two awards for his class. He was awarded a certificate for excellence in Reading Comprehension and Maths. Woo hoo.. I clapped and cheered my little heart out. ( I do think I could have been the noisiest parent there).
A bit blurry but there are the syndicate award winners

What do normal people do on a Saturday night?

I think of myself as highly normally usually but tonight I am not so sure. I have spent the last 1.5 hours making jam. Yes it is now 10.25pm and I have just finished and bottled up the second batch of jam for the night. Even I think that is a bit strange!! But the fruit wont stay fresh through willpower. So there are 3 jars of Strawberry jam and 8 jars of Blackcurrant jam all made. Yummy yum yum.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kids Crafty in Dunedin

Ruth by the worst ever public sculpture

Alice and Eli working hard at their craft

My wool pincushion
Two weekends ago we went to Dunedin for a long weekend. Alice had learnt how to do crochet peggy squares so I was asked to bring all my remnant wool for her. Ruth got me inspired to do a wool pincushion. Using scraps from old jackets, some thread and collected buttons. Eli decided he should start stitching so he diligently started embroidering in a straight line on wool. He worked very hard at it. Ruth and I went to the worst craft show I have ever been too. Made us laugh. On the way home walking around the harbour we came to the worst ever Public sculpture. I said "it looks like teeth". Apparently it was meant to look like rotting teeth - the artist was inspired by teeth decay!!! Goodness me

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Suggest a name for my crafty business

Hi All,
I need a name. The craft fair was successful, I am doing patchwork lessons and designing patterns. They are all mixed on this blog. I need a proper craft based blog and cannot think of a name.
I was using J.A.K.E Creations (standing for Jakob, Aaron, Karen and Eli) but this is boring
I have tried using "The Changing Room" but is sounds more like clothes.
I have thought of "Karens Recreations" - not very inspiring.

So help me please. I want something that reflects the recycling, upcycling eco aspect as well as design and making craft and patterns.

Other names I like which are used by other businesses - Sewn New - Piece (for creative minds)  = see the play on words etc. Mine is a lot of sewing and stitching work but not all, I recover some furniture etc.

So help me please

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fantastic food while camping - breakfast

waiting for the cooking to finish
Saturday morning dawned and we were hungry. So American style pancakes were made and eaten with great gusto. Served with Strawberries and banana and either maple syrup or lemons and sugar. Delicious
Very easy to do camping as can be cooked in any fry pan.
Now that I have my swift egg beater in the caravan it makes it even easier. It only takes a few staple ingredients always at hand. Eggs, Milk and flour

a plate waiting for it's pancake

the basic ingredients

The finished, ready to eat, breakfast.
Breakfast Pancakes

Into a bowl put;                                      makes enough for 2-3 people
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup of flour
Then get another bowl and separate 2 eggs. Put the egg whites into your new bowl and the egg yolks into the flour mixture.
Add one cup of milk to the egg and flour bowl and mix really well so there are no lumps.
Beat the egg whites till stiff then carefully mix them into the batter.
Heat a frypan or gridle to warm and put a nob of butter in the pan.
Make one pancake at a time by pouring at least ½ cup of mixture into the frying pan, when the mixture has bubbles popping then turn the pancake and cook the other side.

Serve with butter and maple syrup or lemon juice and sugar

Camping on show weekend

Well show weekend has just passed and we had a lovely weekend away camping at the Andrew's Shelter off Whites Bridge in the Arthur's Pass National Park. There were two other people in vans, a few sandflies (though not enough that we could not be outside), a little bit of rain one day, a lovely (but very cold stream) and our caravan. I have often looked at people who make bean teepees and though it looked easy. So we made that our mission on Saturday. Had great fun doing it but the result was a bit wonky and too big to fit in the car or caravan to take home. So Mark II will be coming up soon. The kids said we were like Bear Grylls but that he made better stuff!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beginners quilting lessons

Paula and Steff learning binding
For the last two months I have been doing a series of beginners quilting lessons. 4 friends get together once a fortnight and learn four different things. The quilts that are coming out as first quilts are amazing. The piecing is precise, the colour choices are varied and they have even all quilted their own tops together. Very brave ladies.

Lesson 1: how to cut using a rotary cutter and mat, patchworking strips of material

Lesson 2: making squares and the assembly of nine patch blocks

Lesson 3: half square triangles completed two different ways

Lesson 4: pining a patchwork top out with batting and backing, quilting a top

Lesson 5: binding.

Shirley planning her next quilt

Some of the results of lesson 3

All done

Asparagus and eggs with hollandaise sauce

Two weekends in a row I have made myself my favourite lunch. Fresh asparagus from the garden (literally picked 3 mins before going in the pot), a poached egg or two that were laid that morning by the chooks and lovely hollandaise sauce made on my stove using my Cordon Bleu Recipe from the days of training at the academy in London.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting ready for the fair

On Saturday there is a street fair at Leithfeild. My sister and I decided to buy a stall and are setting up (weather permitting - if it is not good then I get to sleep in!!). This is a tester to see if some of the things we do have a commercial value. We would love to do a stall about once every six months. Anyway it has motivated some fast finishing and last night I managed to paint and stretch material over a pin board and finish some lavender hearts. (Which had only been sitting around unfinished for the last year). They look a bit like bunny ears filled and somehow I did not get the tape right for hanging. But hey my pattern will improve next time.

I love the pin board and will not be disappointed if it does not sell - I have a perfect wall to put it on.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A virtuous day

cooking the curd
Well I have managed to get a lot done today. Apart from going to work I have been occupied in the kitchen.

This morning before work I started making a pasta sauce with a box of tomatoes that were seconds at the green grocers. I use Jamie Oliver's standard tomato pasta recipe, it is a staple in my freezer. ( It was one recipe that was in the original Naked Chef series) So we had that for dinner and I froze one lot.

I made "citrus slice" as I needed something for lunch boxes. I am trying to be healthier so I pulled a bag of frozen chickpeas that I had precooked and then frozen in portion lots. I made humus - page 91 of the Moosewood Coookbook. Yum. Jakob and Aaron have that for their packed lunches tomorrow with carrot sticks to use as scoops.
straining the whey from the cheese
Then I tried Donna Hay's recipe, from her current magazine, for making ricotta cheese. It worked really well, though is no cheaper than buying it ready made. One of the bonus's is the whey acts like buttermilk and therefore will be fantastic for using to make pikelet, pancakes and muffins. The one thing that annoyed me about her recipe was that you threw they whey out! What a waste!! So if you combined the cost of ricotta and buttermilk then it would be cheaper to produce.
I think I will make spinakopita pie with it. I have lots of feta cheese at the moment. YUMMY.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fantastic food while camping - dinner

A posh chicken rice risotto 

We have this on rainy days as it is nice and warming and it doesn't matter if the gas is warming the caravan during the cooking.

Take all the left over veges that you have in your caravan or tent 
Enough rice for the people you are cooking for. ( I used two bags of rice for four people)
Some oil 
A packet of green thai curry paste.
1 tin of coconut cream.
I packet of chicken drums or whatever you managed to pick up last time you went into town.

Method - Put a non stick frypan or large pot onto your cooker. Place the chicken in and brown. As the chicken is browning cut up an onion and put it in too. Once browned add 2 tablespoons oil and the green curry paste. Let the paste cook for a minute. Add 1 cup of water and bring to the boil. Add the amount of rice you need. Stir well and start adding veges as you chop them up. Once all the veges are in (do lots) then add the tin of coconut cream (or milk) and another cup of water. Let it simmer while you watch a DVD with the kids. Keep cooking until the rice is done and make sure that the chicken is cooked through to the bone. Add more water if needed. Serve in a bowl with rice and vege on the bottom and a drumstick per person on the top.

Vege selection - use anything that is looking like it will not last too much longer as well as what you have fresh
Rice - I keep the boil in the bag only in the caravan as it is tidy in a box and it makes no mess when cooking (which is a big deal when camping - the easier the better)
Oil - I have rice bran oil as it is square and so easy to store in the caravan or your food box and it has a high burn point so will do for everything you need when camping.
Thai green curry paste - I love the Asian Home Gourmet brand as they are very authentic. Also camping they are the right portion size so there is no waste or no bottles etc that you have open that could go off in the summer heat. This is quite spicy for kids. You could use red curry paste which is much milder if you wanted.

The new FINISHED Quilt

Well, earlier this year I took the process challenge.(thought I have not been able to attach the button to my blog). As part of this I have been teaching a beginners quilting class). I started this quilt as I was looking at various blogs and people talking about "strings" of material. So I made some. Then some more, as they were so quick I got addicted and made more!! (see previous blog).
While I have been teaching beginners quilting I have been finishing this quilt. Pining it together etc. Now they all want to do one like this too. Which would be great fun.
photo 1 - quilting the strings
Anyway. I quilted the strings with a synthetic quilting multicoloured thread using a heart and swirl pattern. (see photo 1). I wanted to do a specific centre in each plain block so cut a shape from freezer paper (see photo 2) and when I stitched around it I added a wee twirl at each centre. Freezer paper was really handy for this as it meant each centre was pretty much the same (which is difficult for me on my domestic machine).

This is the only quilt that I have made that did not have a specific destination in mind. I just loved making it.
photo 2 - freezer paper template
photo 3 - the quilted result after removal of freezer paper

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yes we all watched the Rugby World cup final

Stephen, Aaron, Jakob, Eli, Friend, Jess
What a tense game!!!

Teddy Bear made from a fat quarter of material

I made this pattern specifically to give as presents for baby showers or new born. Because it was for littlies I could not put on buttons etc so instead of doing easy jointed legs and arms I had to sew them. It was not the easiest to put the head onto the body as arms and legs get in the road. But in the end it worked out. I still can't decide whether to go to the trouble of drafting a proper pattern up to sell or not.
Anyway this wee teddy went to Steff at her baby shower on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upcycling an old step stool

The before picture

Ta Dah, the finished look
Well I feel that I am getting better at my upholstery. This stool has been the best finish yet. I was particularly proud of the fact that I managed to get a binding around the edge of the stool seat. I also don't like the way that upholsterer's just staple underneath. Even though the round head tacks look glitzy I think they are better than a furniture staple.
after, underneath

Monday, October 17, 2011

School holidays hut making

Jakob and Eli spent the sunny afternoon outside. Primarily making a hut. Take all the stools and chairs out of the house, all the quilts off the bed and you have a hut. Then start picking herbs and making drinks. I do have to say that the mint, lemon, honey, sugar and water drink worked quite well and was tasty enough to drink.

Backing Black

Eli getting wiped out
First day of the school holidays saw us go into Christchurch to the Telecom sponsored "Backing Black" activities. We got there at 12 noon and the boys got all blacks balloons and rub on tattoos. They played hard. The blow up obstacle courses and wipe out balls were great fun. It slowly got windier and windier and at 2pm they closed it down as the blow up things were lifting off the ground. But we had already had a great time.
This was Jakobs favourite
The boys after their first race
Jakob could not get his rugby ball through the gap - but he did get himself through that one!!

A gorgeous break in Rarotonga

Woo hoo, A holiday with no kids for 11 days. Bliss, relaxing and warm! BTW it was an early 20th wedding anniversary present to ourselves....