Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boys zip front jersey - Merino

Boys Merino Jersey
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Well this year I am on fire as a mum!! I have actually made both the boys a new merino jersey for the year before winter is out. Wow normally I am sewing in September and spring has sprung. But this flush of very cold weather got me enthused. As much as I love knitting the boys wont wear knitted jersey's anymore as they are "itchy". I do have to agree BUT since discovering that I sew Merino OK (about 3 years ago) I can now make them good wool tops for very little $. This was made from two women's Op Shop (Thrift Shop) jerseys - cost of $7.50. The zips cost me $7.80 - so really for $15 they have a really well sewn, will hold together through rough wear and lots of washes, good warm Merino top. I have learnt that I need to go for the heavier merino and therefore it needs to be good brands as the cheaper brands lightweight jersey's just stretch and go a bit wonky.

I have had the jersey for Eli cut out for ages but have been trying to finish older stashed things. In between quilting my hourglass quilt, I used this jersey as time out from that heavy work.

Eli was thrilled last night when I got him out of bed (10 minutes after lights out) to get him to try on a finished jersey. He wanted to wear it to school today - so it must have the seal of approval.

Up until now I have just used my own pattern in my head. Lots of measuring of the boys and umming and aahhing. One top just was not successful, the hood was too big, the sleeves too short. The boys have always loved hoods but this time Eli did not want one.

I had a light bulb moment at the end of making Jakob's hoodie and remembered all the kids pattern books that I bought in the 1990's. Top Kids. They were amazing patterns, great finishing - I made a lot of kids clothes for my friends kids, nieces and nephews. This really upped my sewing skills and was when I got a lot more proficient at finishing and sewing. Thanks Top Kids. I had stopped sewing as my things looked homemade rather than professional. But slowly my confidence has increased as it doesn't matter if the kids stuff doesn't quite fit - they will grow into it.

The pattern I used
Anyway I pulled out the old patterns, found one for my boys size and used it as the base for this top. Putting a zip in the front and facing it properly etc took a bit of time. I find that I used stitch 15 on my Bernina 440 as that is really good for the give and stretch needed for Merino. My first tops I used the overlocker (Serger) but it did not have enough give in the seams.

Yippee all done - warm boys for the winter!!!
Happy Eli

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The facing inside the zip

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cold night

Lights off, candles on.
Tonight (and today) has been cold. Sleet, rain, wind and snow - it is all happening here.

Aaron has been doing a lot of work lately. Did three hours last night finishing at about 2am, then today was over an hour later home than usual. When he rang to say he would be home in about 40 minutes I set up some comfort time for him.

We have bath candles but I also lit all the dining room candles and put them in the bathroom too.

We love Living Light candles and they burn for mega hours!
The bubbles are from Lush.  I think I might sew!!!
Living Light candles
Bubbles in , candles lit, all ready for a tired man.

A new quilt is on my bed

Free motion quilting

Large stipple over the main blocks
Well finally last night I finished the quilt. This was a long time in the making as it languished under my desk for almost a year. Does that happen to you? You almost finish and then for some reason get disillusioned or dissatisfied with it.

But now I am in love love with it. The pattern is so easy to do and when I did it I put a pile of tips on my blog - check out here how easy it is.

I link up to Finish it up Friday - over at Crazy Mum quilts. I love it because it pushes me to finish things. Well I had hoped to link this up as a finish last friday but in my late night haste some things went wrong!!!

The gorgeous scalloped free motion quilting
I quilted this quilt over two nights - till about midnight. The main quilt I just did a very large stipple pattern. But my "piece de resistance", for which I am so proud, is the gorgeous scallop which I free-motion quilted around the edge. I am so so happy with it and it turned out so much better than I hoped. I have been trying not to do the same stipple on everything. But more intense quilting takes so much more time.

Anyway the disaster was the binding. I had 0.5 metre of one of the matching materials to use as binding. BUT it was not enough. I cut it all so I had the right amount of length but that left the
binding too skinny (unless I went for a single layer - which I nearly did - but if you do not double over your binding then it wears really badly and frays quickly). So a big rethink and in the end the only fabric I had that was at all suitable was a $6 per metre sale piece from Quilters Quarters in Rangiora.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals - Kedgeree

Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals
All prepped and ready to go
Now I love Kedgeree, I think it is fantastic for breakfast lunch or tea. I got hooked on it when living in England.

As I have been doing some recipes from Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals - using the TV program, this was on my list. Last night it was what we had for Saturday night dinner. The only difference to his recipe was that I had to (as usual) get my veges and herbs from the garden and I cooked my own rice (in the rice cooker beforehand).

Now I have to say that it really took less than 15 minutes. I managed to also make self saucing chocolate pudding for dessert. All in about 20 minutes.

BUT - and here it comes. His 15 minute meals are starting to taste the same. He uses lots of chilli, lots of coriander and this tasted very like the chicken and cous cous meal. The boys were ho hum about it and I actually have decided that my Cordon Bleu recipe is a whole lot better and not really any more time consuming.

So - I do love that I can make really quick healthy meals using Jamie Oliver BUT I think I will just adapt what I do and use the food processor more etc, rather than his direct recipes.

I get my fish from the Fresh fish supply in Rangiora

Quiet Sunday

For some reason I did not sleep last night (well I got about 3 hours sleep), so we are having a quiet Sunday. Aaron is at church as he is singing today. The boys and I are home.
Washing is in the machine and I am about to go back to bed.

The boys are enjoying last nights self saucing chocolate pudding for breakfast
A bit of archaeology is going on - finding dinosaur bones.

The sun is shining. It should be a lovely autumn day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Organise my pantry, a 45 minute job - NOT

Well a while ago my friend Steff said that she finally got around to sorting her pantry out. "It only took 45 minutes, so I don't know why I didn't do it earlier" said she. So heartened by this I approached my pantry with great optimism.

Over the last 6 months I have been acquiring old Tupperware  I had a lot of glass jars but being round they just took up too much room. I have gotten tupperware from many sources - garage sales, op shops, trademe etc. Usually I try for the 50 cent bargains but sometimes have paid up to $3 a piece if it has been exactly what I wanted.

(Don't tell Aaron but now I NEED to get more - you can see that the pantry is not completely sorted yet!).

Well I started at 2.30pm, was I finished by 3.30pm - NO. Went to a work meeting, came back and started again - was I finished in an hour - NO. Went to prayer group at church and came home at 9pm and started again. Am I finished (now 10.15pm) - NO!!!!!
The after - Top half
The before - Top Half

So the top part of my pantry is almost all sorted. As you can see the right hand side needs some containers.
I haven't even tackled the bottom bit yet. One day I will - sigh.
I will now have to find a better place to hide the chocolate, it is too easy to spot now.

The bottom - before
The After - top half

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My go to quilting carry all

The outside of my go to bag

The inside with all the bits held in place
I have had a bag of Selveges hanging around for ages. I cut them off as they are good to show people how to colour blend. But I also love the funk of selvedge items. When I go out and about quilting I always dump everything into the bag that has the big mat in it. Now all is in order (except I have realised that I do not have a measuring tape in that lot) and I can just pick it up and go.

I used the same material for the lining that I used for my travelling iron. Nothing like a matching set! This was almost finished a week ago and it has taken me that long to get the last bits done.

The set together - my bits and my iron

All ready to travel

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wow look at my $5 chair

My gorgeous new chair. All finished
The back - before shot
On Saturday after rugby I stopped at the Op Shop (charity shop) in Rangiora called "The free shop". I got a  linen jacket (which you may see later in spring - I have thoughts in my head about remodelling it for my cousin and great friend - Kerryn - wedding) and I got a chair for $5. There were three of the chairs there, but the others had big cracks or bits missing or were wobbly. I can't fix those things, I can only titivate stuff. So I picked one that was solid and could see the potential.

Around our dining table we have an eclectic mix of chairs. One is an original chair from the Earnslaw steam ship. (I worked on that boat years ago, as hostess, kitchen hand and in the school holidays I dressed as a dragon and did kids entertainment). One is a very expensive handmade, turns into kitchen stepladder, chair from a maker up near Motueka where my parents live. The one I am sitting on while typing I got from the dump shop for $2 and is bog standard, find it everywhere in NZ chair. The fourth was a chair for $1 from the Amberley recycle centre. It is an old school chair and quite raggy. Good to pull out when we need an extra but could do with being retired.

I had been on the lookout for a new chair for ages. I found it on Saturday. I forgot to take before photos and had already started some sanding when I dashed to get my camera. It required A LOT of sanding. Took me about two hours as some could be done with the machine but lots of fiddly bits had to be done by hand. I sanded with 60 grit to get all the muck off. Then I sanded with 180 grit. Then I have put on two coats of polyurethane. And I love it!!! It looks like a new chair and for $5. Thrilled, Pleased, Proud, have to show everyone who comes into the house.

I am also trying to action on the things I get. Rather than park them in the garage and think about redoing them in a years time. So am thrilled that this was purchased on the Saturday and finished on Tuesday.

Before - sanding had just started
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The last of the preserving.

GuavasteenOh my goodness, this year has been so productive with such a hot summer, that for the first time ever I got fed up with preserving. I got that way at the end of March. Normally I am still keen but now it is becoming a chore. Though I do know that we will all enjoy the gorgeous chutneys and jams etc throughout the year. And they are spectacular gifts.

So we are in the midst of the Feijoa season her in the South Island. Ohh I do love them. One of my favourite fruit. So last night I bottled some and somehow my thumbs and fingers went seriously black. Never had that before! The leftover syrup that I cooked the fruit in I have put in a bottle as put a bit of vodka and some lemonade and what a drink you have!!!!

I have a few more to preserve, will get on with one lot of roast feijoa chutney (from my sister in laws book) and will make some Feijoachello (my recipe I made up if you want to try it - follow the link on the word).

Here is a bit of information - Did you know that Feijoas in some places are called pinapple guava? But also they are known as Guavasteen? I did not!

How I preserve Feijoas
Into a pot put 6 cups of water and 2 cups of white sugar. Bring to the boil, stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. While the water and sugar is happening, use your potato peeler to lightly peel the skin of the feijoa. Put into a bowl of water with a squirt of lemon juice (to stop it going brown).
Ensure you have some clean jars in the oven at 100oC sterilising.
Once water is boiling and sugar dissolved then add the feijoas only (not the lemon water). Cook for approx 10- 15 minutes at a simmer. Then put into your sterilised bottles and seal tightly.

Enjoy later for breakfast with cereal, warm with some whipped cream for a quick dessert. Yummy

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cuddles (or not!) for Mothers Day

My Mothers Day was a lovely, albeit busy, one. The day started with someone packing a sad first thing in the morning, sigh, welcome to the reality of being a Mother. But all slowly came right.
I had extra cuddles in bed. My nephew was with us and he spent the morning in bed sharing my breakfast and chattering to me and giving me cuddles. I loved it. Eli and Jakob are deciding they are too old to cuddle but by the end of the day I was getting appreciation and hugs from them, I loved it. My boys (with the help of Aaron) made me fruit and feijoa juice and then bacon and eggs for breakfast. It was great.

I think the kids ate more than the Mothers!!

Sparkly lights, tablecloths, chandeliers - all so flash
Even our own live musical interlude.
We went to Church and it was amazing, they kept the service short so that you could go and spend time with your families. But they put cafe tables in, tablecloths, flowers, chandeliers, fairy lights - it was gorgeous. The men did everything. They gave table service from a menu of drinks, they took creche and Sunday school. The Sunday school kids had a video done on things about their mums. It was so fantastic, made you laugh.

The Sermon was done by our lovely new Pastors wife. It was all about encouraging women. She is Amazing.

After church the boys cooked lunch for me and tidied up. How spoiled am I!!!
earthquake art

 Then we went in the afternoon to my sister in laws. We had a lovely afternoon tea for Gran, mum, grandma. Well done sister.

When out walking this morning I looked at this artwork, completed by some youth in our town, on one of the many vacant lots from demolished earthquake buildings. Doesn't that just sum up Mothers day and the importance of being as good a mum as you can.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I've been goldmining

Well to be real, I have been in the creek at school trying to find salted "gold (Lead covered in gold nail polish). Jakob has been completing a module on gold mining in NZ. They have looked at the hard life that it was, who made money (if any), how terribly the Chinese miners were treated. Living conditions etc.

So today was the big wrap up. Everyone was to wear costume and spend the day as a miner. Jakob was the banker so got paid a wage. Some miners found no gold, some lots. They learnt how damper used to be made with hops and then one of the very energetic mums cooked damper for them all (2 classes of kids) so they could taste that old fashioned flavor. The policeman was busy putting people in jail for claim hoping.

All in all it was fantastic. Lots of little bits of reality - Kids cold from the wet water, kids not wanting to stop mining because they had not yet found some, some segregated off and had to be on the other bank as they were Chinese. Jakob's school has done Very very well.
Jakob's teacher
So keen to find gold that the dresses got WET!

Learning about damper


The mining settlement

The Banker and the policeman
What I wore

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Travelling Iron case

The iron all parceled up
Last year I found a Russel Hobbs travelling iron at a second hand store. We tested it in store and it worked well, even the steam function operated as it should. So for a princely sum of $6 I bought it. Ever since I have been worried about travelling with it if it had not cooled down completely.

On one of our trips south I found some heat resistant fabric at Annie's Country Quilt Store in Ashburton. Then I found some gorgeous material at Sew Pretty online store.

So last night I finally got around to starting and finishing a case to keep the iron in which also substitutes as an ironing board when I am travelling. It has thick cotton batting in the middle, heat resistant fabric on the inside and gorgeous sewing themed material on the outside. Finished with a covered button.

At the back of the photos you will see some sewing of selvedges I have been doing today. This is going to be a companion that will hold my rulers and cutters etc when I go out and about. Just finished putting the selvedges on using "quilt as you go" method.

The iron ready to wrap

The heat resistant side. Ready to iron on when out and about

The outer 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Climbing mountains

Routeburn Track
Being united on Key Summit. Thrilled to bits
Very cold at the start

Walking up together for the first bit

One of the huge bonuses of going on an Autumn holiday was completely unforeseen. I walked heaps and the most amazing gift of the whole holiday for me was being able to walk for much longer periods of time, with a mountain top experience.

I climbed Key Summit. I did it in quicker time than the DOC sign though not as quickly as I used to. When I got to the top I just could not stop smiling. The boys and Aaron were so surprised and it was fantastic to be on the top of a mountain as a family.

The weather was clear but cold. The cold really really helped me. My heart is so poked that I cannot walk and get hot or puff. I have not been able to go uphil for a long time. But because it was cold my blood vessels stayed restricted which helped to alleviate some symptoms.

I started the walk intended to just do the first 10-15 minutes with the guys until I had to start puffing. So then I stopped and they went on. I was heading to the car to do some knitting. But I was feeling OK and not puffing or anything after the break, so I went to the next corner, then the next, then I stopped, then went to the next. All of this was very slowly plodding like a tortoise. Then I saw the view, then got excited and thought I would make the Key Summit turn off and wait for the boys.

I hit the turn off to find a highly upgraded track from what it used to be, I still was not puffing so I kept going.  I now want to live back down there. I loved it. I loved being able to be out in the bush and walking again. I loved that mountain top experience. I thought I would never have it again. I still smile when I think about it.
The boys at the turnoff to Key Summit

Getting cold again walking down
Routeburn Track
All of us at the top
Routeburn Track
They ran to me when they saw me arriving at Key Summit

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....