29 May 2014

The Hottie Project 2014

Dudes and dudettes, The Hottie Project is under way again in 2014. I took part in it last year and will be doing so again this time. For those new to the concept, the idea is to make as many snuggly hot water bottle covers as possible before 30 June. These will then be distributed, along with hot water bottles donated by KidsCan, to needy children of Christchurch. Many of these children continue to live in cold, damp and damaged houses over three years after the catastrophic earthquakes. They are a hardy, resilient bunch down there but the gesture of a practical gift would be welcomed.
Will you support this initiative too? The covers can be made in any mode you wish and you can make as many or as few covers as you like. The only requirement is that whatever you make is something that you yourself would be happy to gift to a loved one. All you need to do is register your interest and the information will be emailed to you. Patterns for crochet, knitted and quilted covers are provided by some really clever and inspirational Kiwi bloggers, as well as a handy generic sewing template created by the generous and caring instigator of this project, Lisa from Big Little.

Today, I sat by my toasty fire and cut out some covers from an old terry bathrobe. It is a good chance for me to use up some of my fabric scraps and to practice some appliqué and embroidery, techniques I quite enjoy but have not done for a few months. Be warned, making these covers is quite addictive; I think I will run out of terry fabric before I run out of enthusiasm. Next week, I will show you how they turned out.

I hope you will join me. Even if you do not consider yourself to be particularly creative, perhaps you could help by promoting the cause on your own blog or other social media pages. Any role you play, no matter how insignificant you think it may be, will be greatly appreciated.

* Photo used with permission of Big Little.

26 May 2014

Nanny Piggins costume

Is a costume successful if people laugh at it? Does it count if the costume maker is the only one that's laughing? I think so. I've been cracking myself up all weekend over my daughter's special costume request. It's all thanks to Book Week, which is happening at school over the next, erm, week. Each child is encouraged to come to school tomorrow dressed up as their favourite character.

When Sienna said that she wanted to dress up as Nanny Piggins, I automatically tried to steer her towards suggestions that could easily be assembled from items in our overflowing dress-up box. It's not that I am not excited about sewing costumes. It's just that I have learnt that it doesn't pay to be overly organised about these things as eleventh hour costume changes are common around these parts. Renee was not particularly enthused about dressing up at all, and while she seems happy with my suggestion to wear last year's Red Riding Hood costume, anything could happen.

In the end, my vision of a weekend afternoon spent watching netball on tv went up in a cloud of smoke and I settled in for a few hours of patternless sewing instead.

This is my reference image. Pleats. Peter pan collar. Pigs ears. I got this.
In my fabric stash was some blue knit. Knit scares me. My sewing machine doesn't like it at all and I knew the raw edges would curl up. After cutting out a basic dress shape and seeing that it didn't fray, I realised that having no seams would work in my favour anyway. I didn't need to hem the skirt and the sleeves wouldn't be seen under the bolero anyway so there wouldn't be much swearing at the sewing machine required after all. This kind of fabric does not seem to hold creases well, but I pleated it the best that I could before overlocking it to the base of the dress.

The bolero is made from an old dark blue hoodie that was in a bag of clothes to take to the clothing donation bins. Rather pleased I hadn't yet found the time to make that trip. I cut off the hood, removed the zip, curved the front panels and chopped off around 10cm from the bottom of the hoodie. I found that chenille frays badly if its not hemmed but the sewing machine coped okay with the thickness and making this bolero was literally a two minute job. I kept the sleeves long because its getting cold in this part of the world and if the school does a costume parade outdoors like last year, at least Sienna will be warm wearing it this length.
The peter pan collar was not as hard to make as I thought it would be. I drew a pattern freehand and cut it out using another old top. It's not perfect, obvs. The jersey knit fabric has got a good amount of stretch in it so once it was attached to the dress neckline, it pulls over Sienna's head easily.
Two triangles were cut from felt to form the ears and they were attached to a headband. The snout was troublesome and I had a few attempts at making it. It's still being tweaked as I type this. Thank goodness Sienna is easy to please.

To finish the costume off, I made an over-sized pearl necklace using beads from an old necklace in the girls' jewellery box. Renee was my little helper and painted them white for me. I think it's my favourite part of the costume. Wilma meets Nanny P.
Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be...
Everything needed to make this costume came from supplies already to hand. I would say though that if I tallied up the blue knit fabric and felt purchased a few months ago the costume cost a huge sum of $5.70 to make. I think the wearer is happy with it. Huzzah!

Joining in for the first time in a long time over at Leonie's place.

19 May 2014

Alex Fulton Design Mini Masterclass

One of my favourite television shows started last week. House Rules, for the uninitiated, is a reality show pitting Australian couples against each other to renovate each others homes with the winning couple having their mortgage paid off in full. I love these kinds of programmes, and the part I look forward to most is, of course, the final room reveal.

I have no interior design qualification, but my interest in it goes right back to when I was a little girl making floor plans of my dream house (which was the floor plan of our family home since that was all I knew), what colours I would use in each room and where the furniture would go. I grew up in the country and whenever we travelled into town, we would drive past an old homestead that was well and truly beyond repair. I would tell my mum with absolute conviction that I was going to do it up one day and she would just laugh.

Fast forward a few decades and that lonely house standing in a paddock has probably long been demolished, but I have renovated two other houses with my husband and I absolutely loved the experience. Now we live in a new house that he designed. It is still a bit of a work in progress but that is how it is when our focus has been on expanding and raising our family.

So where am I going with this? Well, as luck would have it, I won a ticket to attend Alex Fulton's Interior Design Mini Masterclass last week. I felt like Charlie with the last golden ticket and thought I would show you a few images from the night.
Alex is a successful interior designer and magazine columnist, who is renowned for her use of bold colour in her own home and in her clients' interiors. She is such an inspirational woman, having launched her career without any formal qualification but largely followed her instinct and her passion. Her unique and identifiable brand, like most success stories, is the result of years of her hard graft and dedication.As you can probably tell from the photo of her below, Alex is no shrinking violet. She is as vivacious and engaging as the clothes she wears and she loves to share her knowledge about interior design with others.I did have to hide a smile when wallpaper feature walls were briefly mentioned by an attendee - I have had a wallpaper feature wall in my house for a few years and (gasp) I still like it. And so do my girls. It's a reminder of my husband's first ever wallpapering effort after I spied a roll with hot pink, purple, grey and white squares in a remnant bin, bought it on the spot and stored it away for when my babies outgrew their nursery decor. Don't judge me. And there's the lesson. A home reflects the people who live within its walls and their tastes, and is not based on a trend or to meet someone else's approval.The class was held at Tea Pea, which was a great setting for the occasion. Owner Meg understands the importance of good customer service and her eye for design is obvious. Tea Pea has grown from being a market stall to an online business which is now complemented with a bricks and mortar store in Khandallah, Wellington. The shop is so bright and cheerful and stocked with gorgeous homewares and gifts for adults and children alike. It is definitely worth a visit for lovers of bright, whimsical and quirky products.It was such a great night. I was in the company of complete strangers who had one thing in common - a shared love of design and colour. Although I am, and likely will always be someone who loves white interiors with pops of colour, I left the class feeling so inspired and itching to explore with colour, pattern and texture. Look out grey lounge, your days may be numbered.Disclaimer: I won the Interior Design Mini Masterclass ticket through a competition run by Tea Pea, but all opinions expressed are my own. I am not being compensated in any other manner.

18 May 2014

And the winner is

Somewhere in Illinois, someone is doing this right about now:
Congratulations Erin at Sew at Home Mummy. Little Apples will be winging its way to you.

Thank you to you all for entering my giveaway and leaving your fabric suggestions. Holy shuzzabulluzah, there are some really cool fabrics out there.

I also want to welcome my new followers, here and on Pinterest and Instagram. I'm having a bit of a Princess Giselle-y moment myself. No matter how you follow, I hope you will enjoy popping in and seeing what I'm getting up to.

12 May 2014

{Giveaway}: Aneela Hoey Little Apples


Move along, nothing to see here folks. Or is there?
If you have just found me through the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day, what took you so long? I am a Kiwi who loves to sew, crochet and participate in this biannual event and I invite you to do some creating of your own with my giveaway offering this time around.

The winner will receive 40 charm squares (13x13cm) and 1 fat quarter (45x57cm) of fabric from Aneela Hoey's Little Apples collection.
How'd you like them apples?

Some of you might be wondering why there are not 42 squares. Well, if you win, you can tell everyone that you're two squares short of a charm pack. Guffaw. In truth, I have children, who are a little like zits in that they're annoying but if you pretend they aren't there they will eventually go away. No, I do love them. I just love fabric a little more. On one particular day my girls found one of my charm packs in my fabric stash so I guess I, and by association, you are pretty lucky that 40 squares are still salvagable.

It hasn't been confirmed but I think it is fairly certain that I have a small fabric addiction especially to anything designed by Aneela Hoey, Sarah Jane and Tanya Whelan. To enter my giveaway, leave me a comment telling me what your favourite fabric collection is. International entries are welcome.

Existing followers of my blog will qualify for two chances to win. New followers are always welcome, but don't feel obligated. I live too far away to chase you down and make you sign up anyway. Just leave a second comment telling me you follow. Anyone cheating the system will be hunted down and made to watch reruns of Charmed (geddit?) - wait a minute, I just said I live too far away to chase people. Or am I?

A winner at the close of the Giveaway Day will be drawn randomly and announced on my blog. In the unlikely event of being unable to reach the winner after three days, I will redraw.

Giveaway closes at midday Saturday 17 May (NZST)/Friday 16 May 5pm (PST).

Important: if you comment anonymously, I will be unable to contact you and your entry will be invalid so please leave an email address in your message. I reply to everyone who gets in touch with me, provided there is an email address link in their profile, but Giveaway Day can get a little crazy, so please take this as my personal acknowledgement to all you fabric hounds for stopping by.

Don't forget to visit all of the other participating blogs. To help you on your journey:
May the blogs rise up to meet you
May your chair always be at your back
May the computer screen glare shine warm upon your face
and prizes fall soft upon your mailboxes
And until we meet again
May your smartphones be held in the palm of your hand.

It's a lesser known Irish blessing. Look it up.

06 May 2014

Postcard from {Wellington}: Orongorongo Track

School holidays have come to an end and for the first time in a while, I was quite sad about it. We spent time with family and friends relaxing and doing a few planned activities which culminated in our very first group camping trip last weekend. This overnight stay was arranged a few weeks ago so the girls had been counting down the days until they could go camping with their friends. I'm not talking about driving to a powered site with full amenities either. This was a carry-your-body-weight-in-food-and-clothes-and-sleeping-bags-two-hours-into-the-bush-with-no-cellphone-reception-or-hot-showers-or-flushing-toilets-waiting-at-the-end kind of excursion. Brilliant.

The Orongorongo Track (we have the coolest place names, don't you think?) is quite a popular route in the Rimutaka Forest Park, which is about an hour's drive from Wellington. With Renee and Aimee unaccustomed to walking long distances and none of us particularly fit, I had some misgivings about how we would handle the trip. It started ominously with Renee asking if we were driving to the hut and lying down on the track still in view of the carpark when told we had to walk.

Once we got moving, she surprised me with how well she coped, including tackling some decent climbs towards the end and I think it had alot to do with the fact that she was in the company of other children. It was quite nice to watch little exchanges between all of them as they walked together.
I don't know why I took these photos of the trees. You expect to see a couple of those when you're in the bush but I was struck by the pattern and rich colour of the palm trunk.
The track is really well maintained with lots of little bridges to cross and twists and turns and slopes to keep things interesting. Plenty of short stops were needed especially for our 4 year olds, but generally, I was really quite impressed with how well they handled the two hour walk, and even with how we coped with our packs giving us plenty of resistance training. It was a different story on the return leg though. Aimee provided some resistance training of her own and refused to walk out so we took it in turns to carry her. So fun.
Does my pack look big in this?
Our friends organised the accommodation, a DoC hut overlooking the Orongorongo River, which is where the first photo was taken. As far as huts go, Turere Lodge is a great facility and well worth the $80 fee per bunk room. There is cold running water, a fantastic wood burner with easy access to chopped wood and a really spacious communal dining and kitchen area that worked so well with our large group. There are four bunk rooms that sleep up to eight people and we were lucky to have the whole lodge to ourselves even though we only booked three rooms.

We did discover that there is lighting on a timer in the kitchen area, but the ambience was great in the hut with just the candles lit, the fire roaring and the children running around with their glowsticks and torches.

I was reminded of how the night sky is so beautiful when there are no streetlights to dim the stars. The older children were very excited to go possum hunting and managed to spot three of them in the trees just a short distance from the hut. Even using the longdrops is an adventure in itself when darkness falls. You'll have to imagine that as there are places not even this intrepid blogger will capture in photos.

This experience has shown me that I must stop placing limitations on my children and be more open to these kinds of adventures. I wondered if the trip might be too long, too wet, too cold, too too. We encountered these issues, but they were easily resolved with some proper planning and (serious injury or death aside) by keeping a relaxed attitude when things don't go according to plan.

If anyone has any tips on how to get children to sleep longer than 5.30am, even after a massive hike and later-than-usual bedtime, I am all ears.

* All of the photos in this post were taken on my phone. Pack space was limited so it was a toss up between taking my big camera or lollies. You understand.