Saturday, December 31, 2011

Having a break to just be.....

 This past week I have been enjoying some unplanned time away from the computer, spending time with my two girls, playing new games received at Christmas, going on walks, sewing up a storm, eating way too much chocolate and just generally enjoying this past week without any demands on my time. It's been nice to just take a step back and enjoy what comes along each day.

Caitlin and I once again did our favourite coastal walk to take in the beautiful crimson flowers of the Pohutakawa trees which really does mean summer has arrived although as I write this it is pouring down outside for the second day in a row. 
For some reason that I have yet to figure out these trees don't all flower at the same time. It would be nice if they did but I guess it makes their flowering time that much longer which is a good thing too.

Our walk this particular day wasn't the best of experiences as it rained about halfway along, thankfully it was a quick and light shower and we were able to shelter in the bush. Then Caitlin got an allergic reaction to we think some grass seed that she rubbed into her eye which swelled up just a tad along with itchy hives on her legs. To top it off my jandal broke just as we were starting back so I had to walk barefoot the rest of the way. 

A couple of days before Christmas I took some time out from my gift making to make this handmade decoration with Caitlin out of old Christmas cards. This little heart house is a great way to re-use and preserve those lovely cards that are received over this holiday season that always seem too nice and special to just throw away. You can find the very easy tutorial over here on Michele's blog. The only thing I did differently was to stick all the hearts together (cut out from middle of the houses) and string them to the bottom of the house. The beads on the top and bottom are from a bracelet of one of the girls that broke some time ago and I had never quite gotten around to fixing it so I guess they were just waiting for that perfect project or 2 :-)
So if your  in the midst of packing up your Christmas decor save those cards to make this ornament for next year.
Now I did say at the beginning of this post I had been sewing up a storm so now that the gifts have been given and received I shall be back here soon to show what I have been busy creating these past few weeks.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Years eve!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nearly Christmas eve, eve...

Yes according to my youngest daughter its Christmas eve, eve tomorrow which I guess is a good way of making Christmas day seem like its a little bit closer. Actually I'd like an extra day to do all the things I'd like to have done but I'm sure what's left on my to do list that doesn't get completed won't really matter on the day. We spent yesterday doing a whole lot of Christmas baking for edible gifts and also to fill up the tins for the coming holiday season. Above is Christmas shortbread stars which contain red and green glace cherries and are then dipped in dark chocolate.

 We make these fresh ginger and spice biscuits each year using various Christmas themed cookie cutters. Not only are these delicious but they make a lot as in 60 + biscuits...

and then I just couldn't resist this recipe that I saw on Pinterest  and then around a couple of blogs this week. These are seriously yummy and worth my search for candy canes which my local supermarket and in the next town along were out of at the beginning of the week?!...
and finally we made these peppermint creams for my Dad which we also do each year. Here's the recipe if your in need of a last minute gift or just want something yummy to nibble on each time you visit the fridge :-)

You will need:

  • 25 grams butter
  • 1/4 sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups icing sugar, approximately
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint essence
  • few drops green food colouring
  • 200 grams dark chocolate
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until it forms a firm paste. Roll into small balls then chill for several hours or overnight.Dip in melted chocolate and place on a baking tray to set. Keep chilled in fridge. I doubled this recipe and I think it made 30 to 40 small balls.

My house is now all clean and tidy after today's effort, shopping is pretty much finished so it's present wrapping tomorrow otherwise known as Christmas eve, eve. How are your preparations coming along?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giveaway winner!!!

Before I announce the winner I just want to say thank you to everyone who entered and are warm welcome to my new followers too! I was a little overwhelmed with the number of entries and had a hard time trying to keep up with the reading of them. Thanks to all those who included some great links to tutorials out there. I've pinned some of them for future reference so check out my Craft tutorials pinboard on Pinterest if you need any last minute gift ideas. Like many of you I have been busy sewing gifts for family this past week and will be able to show you a couple of items I've sewn soon. I can't show you many as the recipients are visitors to my blog and we don't want to spoil any surprises do we :-)

Okay now onto the winner of  my SewMamaSew giveaway.....

The Random Generator chose Number "14" which is Karen who said:

A very nice collection of goodies! this past weekend i just finished making grocery bags to put gifts in. I used the very cute pattern from Keykalou (link is It is a great pattern. 

Congratulations Karen!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sew mama sew giveaway time!!

Yes it's that time again, the SewMamaSew giveaway day! Not only can you be in to win great prizes but it is a great way to find new and inspiring blogs. If you are a new visitor here, welcome!

 For my giveaway this time around I have a pretty little charm pack of  "Ruby" , the latest fabric collection by Bonnie and Camille for Moda. This collection is oh so gorgeous and I really need to get some myself now that I have seen it in person to touch and see the lovely colour palette they have used.
Along with the handmade gift making that is going on in my sewing attic lately I have whipped up a sweet little birdie pincushion and a matching needlebook. The Birdie pincushion was made using this free tutorial here and is really so easy and satisfying to make. I think I will be making more of these in the near future. The needle book cover is made up of tiny little 1" squares of shabby chic fabrics with some coordinating wool felt pages inside taken from my precious stash of Heather Bailey felts.

In order to be in to win this wee collection of pretty sewing supplies just leave me a comment sharing one or more of your handmade gifts for this holiday season or perhaps a link to your favourite tutorial.

This giveaway will be left open till 16th December when a winner will be drawn randomly.

Overseas comments are most welcome and also please make sure I can contact you via email :-)

Feeling Christmasy

Yes it's starting to feel that Christmas is just around the corner now. I have been madly sewing up some handmade goodness for most of my family. I have 3 gifts left to make and this morning I just added to 2 more gifts to make to the list that is in my head but should really be written down even if to make me feel good when I cross things off as they are done. 
Caitlin and I put our tree up yesterday and it certainly felt like Christmas as we opened up the boxes of decorations and fondly remembered all our favourite ones, from the vintage to the precious handmade ones. I do have plans to make more decorations but that will have to wait to next week when the gift making will hopefully be finished.

After the tree decorating was finished we went for a wee coastal walk in the hope that the New Zealand Christmas tree aka 'the Pohutakawa' was in full bloom but we were still a week or so too early. I did manage to zoom in on this early bloom though to whet your appetite.
How are your preparations going?

Oh and a giveaway is coming soon!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Newly acquired

I've been wanting to get my hands on this magazine ever since it's first edition. I was so very pleased and surprised the other day when I saw a few copies in our local bookshop. I had thought I'd have to get them to order it in specially for me like they do with the American magazine "Stitch". For an overseas monthly magazine it is quite well priced and full of crafty goodness and inspiration inside. I feel like they put this magazine together just for me and I can't wait for the next issue. Check it out at your local book shop if you haven't already! 

For my Mother's Christmas present this year she has asked me to make her the Blossom bag by Amy Butler so last week we went shopping and I got her to pick out some fabrics. I was very pleased when she choose some Denyse Schmidt prints as this means I get to keep the leftovers! I really enjoyed making my version of this bag and also love using it with all it's handy pockets and dividers.

Sadly our towns little craft shop is closing down which means I won't be able to nip down town to get that perfectly matching shade of thread to go with whatever sewing project I have going on. I shall really miss being able to get basic sewing necessities at a moments notice. On the positive side the owner is having a closing down sale so I stocked up on just a few different shades of thread to keep me going :-) The Molnlycke reels of thread were only $1 a reel! 

These are the fabrics I'm currently working with...for a little giveaway gift soon. What do you think? Do you like their shabby chic prettiness?

Little birdie pincushion
And finally I sewed this cute little birdie yesterday. It's a free pattern found here. I'm not sure whether to let it fly away to a new home as it looks quite happy where it is. Perhaps I'll  make another one...
Is your week going as fast as mine? So many gifts to make and so little time...

Monday, December 5, 2011

I have been....

...making and eating homemade ice-cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yoghurt with this new toy...

 ...taking photos around my garden after all the rain we've experienced in the last couple of days...

...which has given me a break from the daily garden watering ...

.....everything is so clean and sparkling...

....and in full bloom in the mid morning sunshine... spring onions are starting to bolt and flower, best I start using them up soon... strawberries are getting bigger and more abundant....

.....and it won't be long before we have sweet cherry tomatoes to snack on....

...our rainbow silver-beet is doing so well that we could feed a few of the neighbours as well...

..but I had an idea yesterday that it was time to get out my juicer and make the most of our fresh produce and feel a little healthier too.

While it rained and rained I worked in my Sewing Attic on a Christmas present for a family member, gathered supplies to make something to go with a giveaway here soon, and played "The Game of life" with my eldest daughter.
Today I made a wee brooch out of some Bliss fabrics scraps to be sent away with my Bliss quilt to its new owner in Australia. Yes I sold my first quilt through my Etsy shop on Saturday and may have done a little happy dance when that purchase email came through. I hope the new owner loves it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beached Whale...

A sad sight on our beach Saturday morning was this dead beached whale. The above photo was taken by my husband on his phone because I forgot my camera :-(  The whale was washed ashore on Friday afternoon and of course half the town was down on the beach to look at this unusual sight. It had quite a large gaping  hole in its side so presumably it had been hit by a passing ship which is not a nice thing to think about. We had also heard that someone had come in the middle of the night and hacked off its jaw bone??!! Again not a pleasant thought :-(

 Apparently there is quite a few whales around at the moment as they are on their annual southern migration down to Antarctica. To give you an idea of its size and weight 2 diggers struggled to drag it further down the beach to a burial site and ended up having to roll it along.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chocolate and peppermint cream biscuits - the Recipe

This is the third batch that I've made of these biscuits and I think they are near enough to perfect to share the recipe with you all. The biscuit recipe is roughly based on a Donna Hay recipe but I wanted it to have a more intense chocolate taste because my favourite chocolate is the very darkest kind and also because I think dark chocolate goes better with peppermint. Anyhow here is the recipe!

Chocolate biscuit.
You will need:
  • 130 grams butter
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 5 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (best quality you can find or afford)
  • 2 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 180 C. (350 F.). Cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy then add egg yolks and beat until well combined. Sift dry ingredients and add to butter mixture mixing in to form a firm dough. Rest in the refrigerator for 20 mins. Either roll into small balls and flatten with a fork or use a biscuit press (as I did) using the smaller size. Makes approximately 25 filled biscuits.

In a food processor process 1 cup icing sugar, 25 grams butter, 1/4 teaspoon green food colouring and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavouring. Add 1- 2 tablespoons cold water to form a spreadable icing.  

Sandwich the biscuits together with icing and enjoy!

Hint: Make sure your oven is set to 'bake' not 'grill' as I did the other day! I had baked a batch of biscuits then switched it to 'grill' to dry roast some peanuts to make some peanut brownies. Unfortunately when I went to bake the peanut brownies I forgot to switch it back to 'bake' resulting in some biscuits being perfectly cooked but burnt on top! Just thought I should keep it real here so you don't think I'm some perfect Martha Stewart type cook :-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another something just for me...

Summer skirt
A quick and easy summer skirt made up in a "New York" themed print. I am not usually drawn to buying themed fabrics but this one seemed to stand out to me as one that would make a unique skirt. If it had a New Zealand theme or Kiwiana theme I would have steered well clear so if you're from the US I can understand if it's not your cup of tea.
Anyway I'm really pleased with how this skirt came out and how quickly it came together as it took only 2 - 3 hours to whip up. It is quite a flattering style that sits nicely on my hips and therefore not cutting into my waist. The only thing I changed is to make it a little shorter so it comes to my knees.

For a bit of added interest I added some mini blue ric-rac around the bottom edge of the top band and normal sized red ric-rac around the hemline. I used an invisible zipper on the side seam using this tutorial which shows just how easy these zippers are to install. The pattern is  "New Look" no.6595 if you're interested in making this skirt too. Now all I need is a couple of tops or three to go with it! 

Monday, November 28, 2011


 We had almost perfect weather this past weekend except for the strong winds that are hanging around at the moment. On Saturday afternoon Caitlin and I went for a coastal walk to see if the Pohutakawa's were flowering. This walk takes in the coast line between Onemana and Whangamata. We did this same walk last year but this time we walked 20 - 30 mins further to another beach. The above photo is looking north and out to Slipper island.  

 Looking southwards down to Whangamata

The water was a beautiful colour and amazingly clear.

 Our first glimpse of the beach...not a sole in sight. 

To have this beautiful beach all to ourselves and so close to home reminded us of why we are lucky to live on the Coromandel.

 A little starfish enjoying the quiet waters amongst the rock pools...

...along with these sea snails that Caitlin had fun re-arranging.

Some sweet and tiny wild forget-me-not flowers growing along the pathway.

Sunday was spent weeding in my garden and picking these roses for inside.
This coming week I have numerous sewing projects to get on with, some just for me, many that are Christmas gifts, one for a giveaway and something for my shop. Best I get on with it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A pretty summer top...

A summer top
I've been doing a bit of sewing just for me for a change and I'm really enjoying  it. I haven't sewn something for myself for about 3 years so I was feeling a little out of practice but it didn't take long to get into the grove.
Last Monday I had a day out shopping with my Mum and bought 3 different prints for a top, a skirt and a dress. I almost always are drawn to the blues and greens but this time I picked different colours without even realising although its fair to say there weren't many blue/green prints to be had. Anyway Spotlight had 40% off all fabrics so for less than $70 I will have 3 new pieces to add to my summer wardrobe.  I used patterns that I already had so that also saved a bit. This pattern is 'New Look 6179' and the fabric I used is a really soft Swiss cotton that drapes beautifully. 

The one thing I changed to this pattern was to add 5 rows of elastic shirring approximately 5 inches up from the bottom. I used to be scared of doing elastic shirring until I saw this video on Heather Ross's  blog about how easy it was and it is very easy and satisfying.
The pattern uses bias binding around the bottom of the armholes and for the casing around the neckline.  I just happened to have some perfectly matching red bias binding in my sewing box. I also added one of my wee labels to give it a little professional touch.
 I'm looking forward to wearing this top and feeling more feminine as I'm a little tired of my shorts/t-shirt wardrobe rut that I seem to be in at the moment.
Next up is the skirt!

Monday, November 21, 2011

This weekend I...

Spent lots of time in my garden, planting, re-arranging plants, weeding and harvesting a crop of carrots. They don't look as uniform as carrots that you buy but I'm sure they will be much tastier.

 Filled up the biscuit tins for the coming week. I made Chocolate Chippies (with big chunks of dark almond chocolate) and Chocolate mint cream biscuits, a recipe I put together myself which is just a plain chocolate biscuit sandwiched together with peppermint icing. This is the second batch I've made because they disappear very quickly!
...noticed some unusual cloud formation out our kitchen window on Sunday afternoon. 

Made pizza for Sunday night dinner which is become a family tradition in our house this year. I actually make two, the other one has garlic/potato(thinly sliced)/fresh rosemary & Parmesan. Sometimes the girls help me and sometimes not but the bonus of having pizza on Sunday night is I always save a couple of pieces for the girls lunches on Monday making it a quick lunch to put together on Monday morning.

And today I finally got around to making our Christmas cake. I have had the dried fruit soaking since Friday night meaning to make it over the weekend but both days I went out into the garden and completely forgot about making it. I have also been sewing today. It is something for me and something I haven't sewn in a long time so its a lovely change. I shall share in the next day or so;-)

Hope you too had a lovely productive weekend.

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