31 March, 2011

Sewing perfect corners

This tutorial on producing perfect corners is a thing of beauty in its simplicity and effectiveness and I can't wait to try it out.  You can also see it in blog form over at Rag Pets.

I've got a couple things in the works at the moment, but nothing bloggable yet. I'm about to go and sand down some freshly stripped-of-all-paint windows, which will wreck my fingers and cover me in dust. Can't wait until all this is done and I can get back to more creative pursuits! Actually I find painting itself very satisfying but the prep work is such a drag when you're a perfectionist like me.

29 March, 2011


People often ask me where Hazel's blond hair comes from. Although she comes by it quite legitimately (Mat was blond and so were my dad and brother when young), I often feel like saying "the milkman".

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28 March, 2011

8:45am Monday morning

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24 March, 2011

A broken promise

Ok, so after certain excesses over the holiday period, I vowed that I wasn't going to buy any more fabric this year. Today I fell off the wagon. BUT! But. In my defense I'd since made another decision which was, in order to fit a couple pairs of new shoes into the budget I've decided to make all my clothes this winter. It's all about priorities people - priorities.* I have lots of knits to work with, but I wanted some wovens as well and I just happened to be out at Spotlight looking for an ironing board cover (fits most ironing boards my ass, now I have to return it!) and I remembered that Heleen had, out of the kindness of her heart (ahem), told me about these Liberty-like lawns they had so I had a quick look. They were nice! I could only find two prints and got 3 meters of the orange and 2 of the blue.

They're definitely not Liberty, in either print quality or feel, but jeez they're not bad. Not bad at all! I have a couple Burda blouse patterns in mind, although I have to say I'm tempted to try a dress in the orange. Just something simple with a bit of drape in the skirt, although I'd have to go and get another meter probably... Would it be too much do you think? It's not quite as bright as it appears in this photo, the orange is more muted and slightly pinker. 

It would look simply smashing with these shoes

*Listen to me justify here - how am I doing? Have I convinced anyone yet?

23 March, 2011

Voodoo dolls

Voodoo doll

Mat was walking past my little hive of industry the other day, picked up a doll-in-progress and exclaimed "Voodoo doll!" And unlike the ashtray, this time he's pretty much right on the money. Is anyone feeling unexplained pains?  ;)

22 March, 2011

Retro ceramics

When I found my beautiful little Rorstrand Picnick casserole in Edmonton I spent quite a lot of time exploring other Rorstrand patterns and one of the ones I particularly liked was Fenix. I've had a search in on Trademe (NZ's version of eBay) since we got back and a Fenix cup and saucer came up. As is often the case with me, I kind of got sucked into the bidding and my natural, yet usually restrained, sense of fierce competitiveness kicked in. I didn't actually expect to win but dammit I was going to make the other bidder pay dearly - and then, I won it. Woops. But really, how could I complain when I have this little bit of gorgeousness?

Rorstrand Fenix cup and saucer

Frankly this stuff runs a little rich for my blood, but I'll leave the search in and you never know!

Another bit of ceramic came my way on the weekend, and this one...well what can I say - I don't smoke, Mat doesn't smoke, Hazel doesn't smoke (I hope), I don't know anyone who does really and yet I ended up with this:

Retro blue ceramic and wire ashtray

The photo doesn't do it justice at all, the shape is just pure 50s, although to be honest I have no idea if it's actually old or not. It's in pretty good shape if it is, but I don't really care if it was produced last week because I love it! It was in the opshop and cost $7. I proudly showed it to Mat last night and he just looked at it with a little moue of distaste and handed it back. Sigh. The thing is that I really don't know what to do with it, short of taking up smoking, so here's the deal:-

*Leave suggestions as to what I could use it for - practical or otherwise - that might convince Mat to love it, in the comments and I'll choose my favourite in a few days and send them a little something in appreciation. Open to all and I'm happy to ship internationally.*

20 March, 2011

Looking for a Burda issue

I was wondering if anyone in Auckland has a Burda December 2010 issue that I could borrow to get a pattern out of? There is a cute little girl's nightie that I'd quite like but I don't really want to get the whole issue for just the one pattern.  I can't find an image of the small version, but here is the adult one (oh how sweet, Hazel and I could have matching nighties! Not)

I have to say that on the little girl it's rather adorable, but extremely forbidding and humourless looking in the adult version! I'd look like a tank in it, although I suppose I'd be warm. And then I could put on boots and stand on the front porch of my mountain shack with a shotgun, and warn off unwanted visitors.

ETA: Thanks to Megan's instructions, I managed to request the December issue from the library; but thank you so much to Amy for her offer, and the others who suggested alternatives and other places I might find it! You guys rock :)

19 March, 2011

9:30am Saturday morning

A pot of tea and a child's hot chocolate at Fuze while waiting for Family Day to get started across the road. I made some Triple Choc Jaffa Brownies for a bake stall for Christchurch and had to drop them off before things got started.

Later I decided I'd better buy something to take around to friends this afternoon, so Hazel chose... brownies! They weren't as good as mine though :)

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Hazel's been having fun with the rediscovered Hazel stamp. I would never have thought of doing this with them though, just goes to show how limited the adult brain can be at times!


I love how, despite her name being right there, she still needs to identify it as her with the arrow! I also love watching her depictions of bodies evolve - starting out as heads with arms and legs attached, through rudimentary bodies with stick arms and legs to stick arms and legs with round feet and long fingers. In the last couple days the arms and legs have gained some solidity (and some attitude, going from the arms in that top figure!)

18 March, 2011


These are a Christmas present - that I just finished making mid-March. I know, I know, you don't even have to say it.


They turned out pretty much as I had imagined them, except the wonkiness. Mat just rolled his eyes at me when I mentioned it and said they were fine, but I can't look past it! I don't do wonky. I have no idea why they ended up that way other than they're mostly made from linen and I've always have a b**ch of a time with that fabric, despite loving it so much. I look at it and it goes all skewy. Maybe if I closed my eyes and sewed? Anyways, hopefully the recipient won't notice and I'll make darn sure I don't say anything about it, though I'll long to make excuses and let them know I'm aware of it and am ashamed. Because that would be tacky right?


The linen is some that I bought years ago when we lived in Sydney to make Mat a shirt. However I'd just made him one that he didn't like and he wasn't that keen on another so it has languished in the stash. It's a very heavy cream, almost yellow. The other fabrics are Autumn by Sei from Nutmeg by Robert Kaufman, Eggs Dots Brown from It's a Hoot by Momo, Metro Circles in Brown by Robert Kaufman, and an unknown green linen that I got as a free FQ from SewMamaSew when I ordered a few other things.

17 March, 2011


Yesterday these

Uncooked cinnamon rolls

turned into these

Cinnamon rolls

And then I ate too many.

15 March, 2011


One of my favourite blogs is Vlijtig, and amongst other neat things, Kristel makes the most gorgeous personalised stamps. I'd always promised myself that I'd get around to ordering one for Hazel, so I got an awful fright when she announced last year that she'd closed her online shop and wouldn't be making them anymore! Luckily she also said that if people wanted one she would be doing one last batch in the new year. Saved! I sent this photo of Hazel. Well actually the one on the left, not sure we need the righthand expression immortalised ;)


The stamp arrived last month and I would have posted about it then except Hazel tucked it away in one of her little treasure stashes and then, squirrel-like, promptly forgot where it was. Last week she and a couple of her friends got out pretty much every single thing she owns and strewed it around her room, which was intensely annoying on one hand, but it did mean that several lost treasures were unearthed in the process!


It probably goes without saying that the stamp on the right is something Hazel and I made! She drew the panda and I carved it out of some great stamp stuff I got at the Daiso shop on Queen Street. Lovely to work with, and I enjoyed the process a lot, but boy it makes me admire Kristel's work even more! A panda probably isn't the easiest thing to render as a stamp when you're a beginner...

14 March, 2011

Simply Colours tshirt

Last month Sarah over at Kiwimummy blogs asked for a volunteer to try out a tshirt from a company called Simply Colors and I was lucky enough to get an email in first and here is the review. What attracted me was the fact that you can customise the tshirt with your choice of image and text, in a range of colours. We've been having a heck of a time with Hazel being insanely and illogically fussy about her clothes so I figured giving her the chance to make her own tshirt might be a way to lessen the drama involved in getting dressed for school at least once-in-awhile (when the shirt was clean!).

We sat down together and went through the various options and it was great. They have a 'girl' section with lots of girly girl stuff and after much to-ing and fro-ing between the horse and a couple other options she settled on the horse. I have to say that if there had been a unicorn or a Pegasus, or even better a Pegasus unicorn*, then her world would have been complete. As it was she managed a horse in red sparkles so she was more than happy. Then we had to go through all the fonts and she settled on the Hippy display font, which I have to say is pretty cool. She just wanted her name, but of course you can put anything you want on there (front or back). And naturally the tshirt was pink. Rest assured, if you don't have a girl then there are other colours to choose from!

This is what it looked like after we'd done choosing everything

Screen shot 2011-03-14 at 7.31.54 PM

The shirt arrived in the mail super-fast too, I think the second day after we ordered, so Miss Instant Gratification wasn't too put out by having to wait! She's really pleased with it and I'd have to say it looks exactly like what we ordered, although the red sparkles are not as glittery as they were online. She didn't seem to care though. We ordered a size 5-6 and it's on the larger side, so considering she's a perfectly average five and a half year old in terms of height and weight, I'd say the shirts tend to the generous side but not unreasonably so - and as every mum knows, the bigger it is when you buy it the longer it'll last!

I made the mistake of telling Hazel that they now offered sparkly rhinestone pictures on tshirts, so we had to go back and look some more! She's very keen to try their singlets and summer dresses, so I guess that's her birthday taken care of :) But really, it's a great idea for a present and you could have a lot of fun making up a personalised tshirt for every kid you know.

*Note to all retailers: Pegasus unicorns are your sure-fire way to capture the 5-6 year old girl market.

12 March, 2011

Kumeu Show

A lovely day at the Kumeu A&P show. Hazel rode the carousel three times because she is all about the ponies these days.

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07 March, 2011

Monday morning, 7:30am

Walking to the bus.

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06 March, 2011

I've got to go, my monkey needs me!

Hands up everyone who thinks Captain Mack is hot. And yes, I'm really going to miss him now that TV6 is gone, sort of like I missed Steve when he left Blues Clues... Us mums have to cling to something to retain our sanity while watching kid's tv don't we?

Mabel and Brian monkey

Anyways, all of that is a digression from the REAL monkey topic here, decent photos of Mabel and Brian monkey. The pattern is from the Softies book, and is for a girl monkey named Mabel. But I really felt that there had to be a boy monkey too, so he's called Brian.

Monkey butts

Unlike the Maisie doll from the same book, I loved making these little guys a lot and am really pleased with the results. Hopefully they bring some comfort to a child in Christchurch.

Monkey blush

I thought I'd like to add pink cheeks to Mabel (Mat said Brian didn't need that kind of carry-on) but had no idea how to do it short of pfaffing around with fabric paints which seemed a recipe for disaster. After a bit of casting about I came across the brilliant suggestion of using...blush. So that's what I did - got out the Avon mineral blush and blushed that monkey with a cotton bud. I don't know how long it will last, certainly not past the first wash, but I think it's super-cute and perhaps I'll investigate more permanent blushes for next time.

05 March, 2011

Monkeys for Christchurch

Monkeys for Christchurch, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I'm so ashamed that these two have been sitting on my desk for a couple of days now instead of on their way down to ChCh as part of the 'Softies for Christchurch' drive. Hopefully I'll get a couple of better daytime photos before they go but if not this will have to do! Hazel keeps lurking around the girl one saying wistfully "I really REALLY like this one mummy" to which I blithely reply "I know you do sweetie, but they're for kids in Christchurch" all the time knowing what she really means is "I want you to make me one just like this". Sorry darling, your bed is so full of stuffies already there's barely room for you to fit in!

03 March, 2011

The menu...

Front teeth, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

...does not include corn on the cob for foreseeable future.

01 March, 2011

Chocolate sauce

Chocolate milk, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

There are a lot of basics that people make for themselves instead of buying them - crackers, marshmallows, deodorant, spreadable butter to name just a few that I've either done sporadically or plan to. But the one thing I do make and will always make and will never, ever buy the commercial alternative to again is chocolate syrup. I used to think that the Hershey's syrup was great, and then I went for several years without having any, until Hazel began to like chocolate milk and since it's the only milk she'll drink (me too, can't imagine anything more disgusting than a glass of plain milk. Ugh!) I dutifully bought the Hersheys. Now I don't know if my tastes had changed in the intervening years, or their recipe had, but it was awful. Teeth-achingly sweet, not very chocolatey, and fairly expensive. I remembered that when I was a kid Mum used to make chocolate syrup for icecream and milk and I thought I'd give it a go again. People, you NEED to make this yourself too, it's the best! And really easy to make. There were masses of recipes online so I grabbed a few and started experimenting. Here is my recipe:

Chocolate Syrup

1 slightly heaped cup of cocoa*, sifted
1.5 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1.25 to 1.5 cups water (depends on how runny you want it)
1-2 tsp vanilla

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan and whisk together. The mixture will start out foamy but will end up lovely and thick and glossy by the end. 
  2. Bring to the boil over a moderate heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Take care not to let it boil over or burn on the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Let cool and stir in vanilla to taste. 
  4. Keep refrigerated.

*Use the best cocoa you can, it really makes the difference! My dream is to make this up using the Valhrona cocoa, but that's not really in the budget at the moment so I buy the Trade Aid cocoa which has a lovely flavour (but is slightly grainy). Plain old Cadbury's is perfectly fine too.

This recipe is infinitely customisable, want it a bit sweeter? Add more sugar. Less intense? Put in less cocoa. Runnier? Use a bit more water. Chocolate peppermint? Put in peppermint essence instead of vanilla. Boozier? Slosh in some rum or Baileys.  I guess it goes without saying that the last option is for the grownups :)

Our sauce never lasts long enough to worry about sterilising the jar beforehand, but if you were making it as a gift or planning on storing it for awhile, it would be a good idea.


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