31 August, 2009

Sunday Brunch Jacket in progress

Jacket for Hazel, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

Despite the fact this was a few items down on the list of sewing projects, I started cutting it out the other day when I needed something I could do in fits and starts. Of course, once it was cut out I just had to start sewing it! Plus I tell myself that it's now seemingly spring about a month early and Hazel needs a lighter jacket - in this case out of denim.

The pattern is the Sunday Brunch Jacket from Oliver + S and I've really been enjoying putting it together. I don't know if it's the pattern, or just kid's clothes in general, but it's so fast! I got this done last night and it just needs the sleeves, side seams, hem and buttons done. Very satisfying!

I've also cut out a hat for me which will be the next thing, it's time to stop fooling myself that the UV index isn't through the roof during winter too and start setting a good hat-wearing example for Hazel.

Oh yeah, and I did some stunning bias binding so my bias mojo is back - such as it ever was!

28 August, 2009

An inspirational fashion collection

I'm really loving the clothes designed by Milli over at In My Shoes (In My Shoes: Fall collection in progress). Not only are they the kind of thing that Hazel would love, but it's nothing short of an inspired idea and I'd really like to give something similar a go this summer. I have no idea what kind of clothes Hazel would draw, she's never shown much inclination and most of them at the moment are of dinosaurs, cats, fish and mermaids; but I'm sure by the time she comes to start school in a year we will be at the stage creatively (both of us) that we can try one or two items!

26 August, 2009

Hazel's paper "dolls"

Paper animals by Hazel and Jacqui

The other day I cut out the little girl and her clothes on the front of a couple of my Oliver + S patterns and Hazel was really taken with the idea of making some paper "dolls" for herself. I gave her a stack of 250gsm paper and let her loose. When she was done she came back and I did the cutting out for her - at just 4 she's very keen on the scissors but not quite accurate enough to satisfy herself when it comes to delicate operations like this! I eyeballed where the centre of balance would be and from that where the 'ground' was for each of them. I cut that straight with an extra flange off to each side with a vertical cut from the bottom to half way through it to slot the stand into. It was all pretty much by the seat of my pants but with a bit of thought about where the base would go I got them all balanced quite nicely, even the big guy in the back.

Paper animals by Hazel and Jacqui

The stand was simply a length of paper trimmed off one side of the sheet so there was at least one straight edge on it (my cutting skills are sometimes lacking in this direction!). I folded them in half and made corresponding vertical cuts, starting from the top this time.

Paper animals by Hazel and Jacqui

She was delighted with the whole exercise and I must admit they're pretty charming as a group! There's something about seeing your art in '3-D' that is very appealing. I have visions of a chess set made this way, or a really big one made out of cardboard - say a tracing around a child stood upright with a big triangular wedge like they do for those ones of film stars in video shops.

Paper animals by Hazel and Jacqui

The one in the foreground here is a self-portrait of her as a mermaid - I'm loving those lips! The rest are dinosaurs I think, I know the one on the far right in the top photo is a Parasaurolophus, and the other two in the back look pretty dinosaurish, though the chap centre front up there looks vaguely octopusish so who knows. I need to get her to tell me again!

25 August, 2009

The Great Napkin Debacle

In the spirit of public confession and baring it all so popular these days, I have to admit I just sewed two of the worst napkins the world has ever seen. Never has bias binding been so screwed up in application. Never have mitred corners looked less mitred. The sewing was wonky, the stitches uneven and I don't know if I'll be able to face using them! LOL. I'll try and post a couple photos tomorrow before I attempt to fix them. I seriously have no idea what went wrong, or why it kept going wrong - perhaps the linen is just too wrong for these napkins (I had trouble with it last time too), perhaps the bias binding I bought was too narrow, perhaps I should have been concentrating less on Facebook where I was engaged in a debate on the literary merits (or lack thereof) of The Da Vinci Code and whether it was Foucalt's Pendulum for dummies. Considering I enjoyed the former much more than the latter (pretentious twaddle) I was somewhat distracted perhaps. BUT. The napkins really do suck.

ETA: here's proof (clicky for larger)

Actually they didn't look quite so heinous in the gentle light of day, but damn they're still not great! :))

24 August, 2009

I finally made croissants

I'm not doing anything crafty that I can take photos of yet so to fill in the space I'm giving you photos of the croissants I made this weekend! I've been talking about doing this for ages and ages and finally took the plunge. I was motivated by my essential cheapness that forbids me from buying them very often because they're so expensive and the feeling that "I could do that" for much cheaper.

I made them on Saturday night and the recipe said I could put them in the fridge to prove overnight. When I took them out in the morning not only had they not risen, they'd dried out on top. So I brushed them with milk to soften them and put them in a slightly warmed oven where they did their thing slowly and came out looking slightly dodgy from expanding while being slightly dry on the surface. Still, they look like croissants don't they!

Making croissants
(I salvaged the extra bits of dough and made little rolls with them which is why some don't look particularly croissanty.)

The oven was supposed to be at 200C which proved to be much too hot and I almost burned them, luckily I realised in time, turned it down, and they only came out moderately brown.

Making croissants

They were perfectly acceptable croissants and with a few adjustments in the recipe and technique I think I might achieve pretty damn good croissants. It's labour-intensive but instead of paying $2.50 a croissant I'm guessing these cost at most 20 cents. My plan is to make a couple of batches and freeze them prior to the second rising, then just pull them out as needed. Imagine having a freezer-ful of pain au chocolate or almond croissants as well as plain ones!

ETA: The recipe I used comes from Alison and Simon Holst's Bread Book but there are lots of recipes online too. I'd be a bit reluctant to post the recipe up anyways, but you need all the diagrams to show you how to fold everything and there is no way I'm drawing all those out!

21 August, 2009

At the beach

This morning I asked Hazel what she wanted to do on such a glorious sunny morning and she said "go to the beach!" At first I was a bit reluctant because it's about a 3/4 hour drive, but then I thought stuff it! and off we went. We headed to Muriwai Beach on the West Coast which is where we mostly seem to go. First we stopped at Maori Bay because usually it's fun to potter around the big rocks there but the tide was higher than I'd expected so we just stayed up on top and watched the surfers and gannets for a bit

Muriwai, August 21
(all photos and video from my phone camera unfortunately!)

and then we walked around to the viewing platform to see what the gannets were up to at their nesting site. They're at the nest-building stage it would seem.

Then we walked down the other side of the promontory to Muriwai proper and braved the big waves washing across the bottom of these stairs much to Hazel's horror once we were actually doing it. It was actually quite safe!

That effectively killed her desire to be at the beach when there was a tide - any kind of tide, low, high, inbetween, clearly a tide was not to be trusted because it makes the sea move! Aieee! , I think she was convinced we were all about to be washed away if it got any higher. Little landlubber! So we went inland for icecreams.

Muriwai, August 21

Muriwai, August 21

Muriwai, August 21

It truly was a beautiful morning. :)

19 August, 2009

I have a crush...

...on Sweden. Does everyone have a country they secretly think they could live in but know for practical reasons that it's unlikely? Well mine's Sweden. I've always been quite keen to visit Scandinavia as a whole, I think dating back to when I was a kid and read a book about Norwegian kids during WWII who were part of the resistance movement. Don't laugh, every love affair has to start somewhere! I had the opportunity to go to Sweden a couple years ago for a Easter Island Foundation conference held on Gotland and I totally fell in love with the country. I'm keen on the handicrafts, the landscape, the cities, the archaeology, the people, the food... I suspect I could be unfaithful with Norway and Denmark too but don't tell Sweden. I've actually been to Denmark many years ago with my parents but remember very little except topless beaches and the Little Mermaid. Hey, I was 10! Oh, and Elsinore. I was reliving the memories as I looked through my photos and I came across some macro photos I'd taken of plant communities in a field near a major archaeological site Uggarde Rojr , a giant Bronze Age stone cairn. I'd intended to use them as screen savers so did a bit of work on them removing some pesky out of focus grasses, and sized them up for my computer.

Uggarde Rojr plants 1440x900

They're sized at 1440x900 and available over at Flickr if they take anyone's fancy.

Uggarde Rojr plants_2 1440x900

I swear it's a coincidence that there's a rock in the top left corner of both! I took them (and several others) because the diversity of plant species, even late in the summer, really intrigued me. You just wouldn't see that here in NZ.

More Lecien

La fleur du lin Herb by Lecien, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I checked out a new quilt shop over on the North Shore the other day and bought these two fat quarters of La fleur du lin Herb by Lecien. So lovely! I'm hoping to make some fabric bins to put thread spools or somesuch in. I prefer the grey colourway, but thought the two colours together would provide some variety when they're made up instead of two boxes exactly the same. The only thing is that when I unfolded them to take the photo I noticed they'd both faded quite badly along the fold lines! I'm really upset about that but I'm still debating if I'm upset enough to take them back. You can see it particularly on that centre fold on top, it looks like highlights on the fold but it's mostly fading. Bugger! I suppose it's possible that would be the bottom of a container... you can see I'm already trying to convince myself it's not worth going back, such is the way of a lazy person ;)

17 August, 2009

Change is not good apparently

I had a look at the blog this morning and I just didn't like the new header in the hard light of day so I've taken it down and put the old one back up, much to Jess's relief no doubt! I'm glad my reaction to it this morning was so immediate because there's nothing worse than wondering if something's ok one minute and then being sure it's not the next. I still want to change it at some point but clearly need to put more thought into it.

Today is archaeology stuff so I bid you all adieu while I wrestle a journal paper into submission and do some editing on a report.

Fieldwork - trowelling, originally uploaded by Wessex Archaeology.

16 August, 2009

A new header

Who would have thought it would be so fraught?! I'm still not entirely happy with it so I expect there will be more fiddling around to come. Mostly it's the font and font colour that I'm finding hard, I'm totally respecting bloggers who change headers regularly! I actually started out with a photo of a bowl of flowers that Hazel picked a couple days ago, but after much fiddling and fun with Photoshop I decided that, while I quite liked what I had, it just wasn't me! In so much as a blog header can express a person's entire personality ;) It sort of looks like a menu header for a rather pretentious cafe. Love the font though, it's called Zapfino. I have no idea if it's always been there or if I downloaded it at some point or what, but I do like it.

So any suggestions or comments about what I've got so far would be appreciated! I sort of have a very unformed idea of what I'm going for, along the lines of "I'll know it when I see it", which is no help in actually finding it in the first place! I get the same way about shoes too.

ETA: Well as you've noticed if you are reading this on my blog, that new header is gone and the old one is back up! But this is what it looked like so if you have any comments I'd still like to hear them! You can see it larger by clicking on it.

15 August, 2009

More felt crowns, fairy wands and a skirt!

It was Hazel's very good friend Suzie's fourth birthday today so I made up this set for her.

Fairy crown, wand and skirt

She loves dressups and I'd been thinking this might be a good idea, so when she liked Hazel's crown and wand last weekend I knew I was on to a winner! Like Hazel's, the crown pattern is from Koala Brains and the wand from Little Birdie Secrets, the skirt is my own invention having seen a few with petals trapped in a tube before. It went down very well although I have to make the crown a bit smaller and return it at creche on Monday. She was a bit reluctant to let it go but even at four could see the sense in it not slipping over her eyes every 5 seconds!

Fairy crown, wand and skirt

It's fun dwelling in fairy-land, I hate to leave!

14 August, 2009

Felted Squirrel and other knitted wonderfulness

Felted Squirrel, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

This felted squirrel arrived by mail from my insanely talented knitter friend Jess, I just about died when I saw it! Hazel and I are currently negotiating ownership of it and darn it I'm standing firm in the face of her blandishments! He's MINE. If you want to check out some of her other stuff and you belong to Ravelry, she's Jessicat. She's sent Hazel some amazing stuff in the last couple years, the latest is this set

Hazels sweater set

but I think my favourite was this cardigan, we dressed Hazel in it for much longer than we should have, telling ourselves it still fit, because it was so gorgeous


The squirrel was my gift from the giftiness meme that was going around last year and it's reminded me that I need to get on to mine! This is what I had way back at the end of January:

Chef Messy

I've done Shelly (iPhone cover) and Jess (pincushion). So. Can everyone who is on this list please email me their snailmail addresses? That way I can just create and mail. And feel guilty enough to do it because now I have addresses. :)

Fiddling with the technology

When I put up my bunny and mask tutorials I set up a group to host them at Google Groups but I haven't been very happy with them there so I've put them up at Scribd. I'm not 100% convinced that was the right choice but Google Groups is just so clunky to use for just hosting a few files, plus I have no idea how many people are downloading the tutorials or even just having a look. It also appears so utilitarian. I like my utilities pretty if at all possible. So hopefully Scribd will work just like Groups and no-one will be the wiser - except me who likes her stats!

After I publish this post I'm off to finish the ladybeetle skirt for Hazel to wear to Suzie's party tomorrow, and to finish Suzie's fairy wand. I've also made her a tulle skirt with a few petals trapped inside (pics tomorrow, too dark right now!) While I was poking and prodding the tulle in Spotlight yesterday a lady with a very pretty little girl in a cart came up to me and asked if I was Jacqui. It turned out to be Jo from Crazy Crafter, the neighbour of one of the mums in my group. I probably looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights when she asked me as I desperately racked my brains as to where we might have met in the past and how insulted she was going to be if I admitted I couldn't remember. Luckily it wasn't the case! Sorry if I did seem a little distracted Jo, I was just a little overwhelmed at being recognised! Mat's appalled I have photos of myself on my blog, I don't know if he's envisaging insane blog stalkers or what. :D

Ok, back to crafting and catching up on 'This Way Up' podcasts from last weekend. I want to find out if onion weed really IS edible. I have my doubts.

13 August, 2009


I had a bit of a fabric-y day yesterday and then again today so I thought I'd share them and what I want to do with it all.

My favourite fabric shop here in Auckland is Global Fabrics (having said that I haven't visited a new shop on the North Shore that stocks Japanese fabrics yet ;) ) and they specialise in selling end of bolt/run fabrics from high quality manufacturers and designers. You never know what you'll find but there's guaranteed gems and deals. And when they have a 30-50% off sale? HEAVEN ON A STICK. I went looking for fabric to make a new girly-girl skirt for Hazel who has grown out of her previous one. She came with me to make final decisions. So we ended up with the one on the left for the skirt and the one on the right for a shirt


Although I wouldn't do it myself, I imagine little girl style dictates they'll be worn together.

I also bought this denim to make a jacket for her and a hat for me. I have such a big fat head that I mostly can't buy women's hats in stores and am in dire need of one for summer! The circles are about 1.5cm wide

Spotty denim

Then we spotted this ladybeetle fabric that is composed of panels with a stripey border, so I got two panels-worth and that'll make a really neat simple gathered skirt for her. She's really excited about it and I'm excited because it's not pink!

Ladybeetle fabric

And finally, my friend Shelly in the States sent on some fabric I'd had sent to her from Fabric.com (I highly recommend American friends for this exact reason). I had birthday money and they had given me a 30% off voucher so it seemed destined if you know what I mean. I got several yards of two of Heather Ross's Mendocino fabrics. I got so much because Mat says he wants a summer shirt made out of the fish one! I'm really excited about that but how stupid am I for spending my birthday money on fabric to make him something :)) I'm hoping there will be enough to make Hazel a dress or something for me.

Heather Ross Mendocino

12 August, 2009

Party Favour bags

A couple people expressed surprise that there could be debate over such innocuous little things, and I guess it's because it's not a long-standing tradition here in NZ from what I can gather, but has been imported wholesale from the States (like Hallowe'en) and therefore garners a certain amount of resistance in some circles. You know, the whole consumerism/cost issue. I can see both sides but since I bought up with them on a moderate scale that's where I'm choosing to be as a mum. It's hard to not go OTT though, I can totally see that being a big issue for me!

I'd been tossing a few ideas around in my head even from several months ago, but they really crystallised when I saw the Birthday Goodies and papercraft download post over at Chez Beeper Bebe - she'd used lots of things I already had sitting on my computer, like the stickers, and had put them together in a really fun way. So I shamelessly stole several ideas :)

I started with stickers from Lotta Bruhn - the animal ones for the girls and the space ones for the boys. I don't think I actually needed to do that, the animal ones would have been good for everyone but I wanted an excuse to do the space ones too!

I printed them off onto repositionable sticker paper and then cut and peeled them off and put them onto plain paper and stapled them in one corner. This was the bit that took all the time but I couldn't bring myself to leave them on the original backing as it was so ugly! I think they'll work well on windows and walls but haven't had any feedback yet on how good they are.

We also did up little colouring books following the tutorial at Chez Beeper although I didn't end up using her very detailed instructions on setting up pages etc. because we use A4 paper with different dimensions and I also have a husband who uses Adobe In Design :P Had to keep him involved in some way or other!

Goody bag contents

I popped in a few little coloured pencils for use in the car on the way home, and a bag of jellybeans to get them even higher on sugar. Because really, that's what it's all about right? Get them wired on sugar and hyped by running around screaming like banshees and then send them home when they start to crash? The favour bags are the best way to lure them out of the house and into their parent's cars I've found...

The pièce de résistence though were the little brooches made for me by Lyn at Belle and Rose - dinosaurs for the boys, icecreams for the girls. And yes, Hazel's desperate for a dinosaur! They really are to die for - thanks Lyn!

Felt icecreams and dinosaurs

They all went into spotty cotton bags with a ribbon tie. I really should have taken a photo of them together in the basket, they looked really cute!

Birthday preparations

Let's pretend I actually blogged about this before the party shall we? Great.

I decided that Hazel, being a four year old girl, needed a crown and wand for the party and duly constructed them.

Felt crown

The crown was made from the pattern at Koala Brains, with embellishments inspired by Woodcraft's felt crown and another one that had cute embroidery on it but I'm darned if I can find it again to credit it! I started with the big felt flower, and then had the idea with the button flowers, and then decided to round it out with some little plain plants similar to the ones I've been loving over at Tiny Happy. I don't often do things in that sort of organic way, I tend to be more planned, but I really enjoyed the process of just adding things until it looked right.

Felt crown detail

For the wand I followed the instructions over at Little Birdie Secrets and I think it came out ok, but perhaps would have been better with shorter ribbons and more of them.

Fairy wand

Whatever, I think it looks pretty good and I'll be doing another one for her friend Suzy so will get a chance to get it more to my taste. The best thing about making the wand was curling the ribbons - it's like magic! The only issue I had is a couple of my dowels exuded resins during the baking which soaked into the ribbons and ruined them. Next time I'll cover the dowels with foil before wrapping the ribbon around and that should solve that problem. Made the house smell nice though, like a pine forest on a hot day!

Hazel being four though, didn't really want a bar of either item! She spent most of her party tearing around the house holding model dinosaurs. This created a conflict in my heart - on one hand I was a bit crushed that she didn't appreciate all that hard work, but on the other hand I'm really pleased that she's into dinosaurs! Archaeologists don't dig up dinosaurs, but they really are the next best thing (or possibly even better to be honest) so I'll cross my fingers she becomes a palaentologist and takes her old mum on excavations sometimes.

10 August, 2009


Well we survived the birthday and the birthday party and ensuing sugar rush, but since the in-laws are here I've lost my sewing and computer room (ie spare room) and my proper computer access. I'm sitting in the living room using Mat's mobile connection which is slow and irritating. But oh I'm back on the internet after a couple days, checking my emails and I feel so fulfilled! Alive! In touch! So sad, just really sad, but there it is. I'm obviously addicted. No really, I can stop any time I want to. Anytime. I just don't want to. ;) So when I've got my space back I'll post up some photos and get back to doing stuff. I've got a few little girl presents to make for Suzie's party on Saturday so another couple days of high pressure and too much cake, and then I'm off the hook for several weeks at least.

See you then!

05 August, 2009


icy plants

Back from the snow and ice (and rain). The rain was a bit of a dampener on the proceedings both literally and figuratively, but fun was still had by all.

Hazel's first snowball (sans gloves the silly-billy)
Whakapapa Skifield

her first sled ride
Whakapapa Skifield

aprés ski chippies
Whakapapa Skifield

This week I will mostly be frantically preparing for Hazel's birthday on Friday and her party on Sunday. I'm currently working on the favour bags but constantly worrying that I'm being too OTT and wondering if I really need to include this or that. Last night I wavered between "no, this is unnecessary and way too much effort on my part" and "yes, think of their little faces lighting up when they see it" every 30 seconds. You'll know of what I speak when I gather everything together beforehand and take a photo. :P I have no doubt some of the mums will hate me and curse my name because favour bags are still a debated topic here - for or against? Only breast vs. bottle and attachment parenting vs. crying-it-out generates more heat in the parenting world at the moment. ;) I absolutely know which side the kids come down on though, bless their acquisitive little hearts.


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