Monday, November 28, 2011

With thanks

Just had to post this message on facebook from the team in Japan... Thank you to all those who helped make this possible.

Today we received 3 large boxes from Yumiko Olliver Gray's knitting pals from New Zealand. Check out those chic black postal boxes! The best part was inside though, more mittens, caps, mufflers and cute little creatures than you can shake a stick at! These are all hand knitted, obviously a lot of love and care went into making them. They will be appreciated more than the knitters will ever know. A...s we enter December it's already very very cold here in northern Japan. Nearly everyone that lost their home is now in temporary housing, but unfortunately these "houses" are thin walled and do little to keep the occupants protected from the extreme cold. Winter is harsh here, these items have come just in time. A VERY BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU. Please count on us to get these to the people who need them.

Thank you again!
John Lofgren & members and friends of Sendai Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Group
You can read more about their work and see pics of our parcels here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back and one last blast

I seem to have had a bit of a hiatus from blogging recently. Life got really busy. I'm pleased to say that we've knocked Miss K's eczema pretty much on the head (I'll update proper later) and the family headed off to Oz for a much needed 'reconnect' holiday after ther rugby world cup.

The FromNZWithLove project has been AMAZING. I have over 150 hats, scarves, gloves, slippers etc ready to send off next week to Japan. Our contact there tells us it is very cold and that people are living in thinly lined accommodation, so these items are really appreciated.

My last project for 2011 is Xmas4Christchurch. We will be sending Christmas (gifts, food, goodies etc) to a Mum and her two children (daughter aged 4 and son aged 3) who have had to relocate from Christchurch after the earthquakes. So... I'm collecting items (ideally handmade, but new is absolutely fine) for the family - clothing, toys, toiletries, home made baking for 'Christmas and beyond' (think too of the things they might need in the coming year).

If you'd like to help out (even contacting a courier company would be appreciated!) then please email me on hapachica at gmail dot com or leave a message below!

Let's get into the spirit of giving!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Could this be recovery...

Does anyone else have laundry mountains/volcanoes (that threaten to explode) instead of laundry piles?

this is my laundry mountain
This was my post on Face Book last night - it drew quite a few responses and I know that I am not alone!

Admittedly it's not quite as bad as it looks, because there are two duvets and a few sheets bulking it up... but there is more on the washing line! I've come to the conclusion there are at least three constants in life: taxes, toilet paper and laundry!

But the washing pile is somewhat metaphorical, and representative, of how life has been for us lately. It just feels as if things were getting bigger and bigger and bigger - growing almost out of control (not helped by erratic weather). BUT - when I took a deep breath and looked at things, and took some of the 'big things out' - it was manageable. More so when my two wee children pitched in and started to help. Miss K has even come up with her own solution: "I'll stop wearing clothes Mummy"!

And yes, things seem to be getting more manageable. Even though the lack of sleep is catching up with me tonight, even though there are million things I should be doing to prepare for Miss K's birthday party on Friday (she turns FIVE!), I am not stewing myself into a big ball of stress, and amazingly, we seem to be having a break through in Miss K's eczema, which I put down to several things:

1. Me - I am on annual leave from work (perfect timing). This has made coping with the long nights and demands of a needy sick child, who has missed more than five days of kindy over the last two weeks do-able I do have one other contract to complete, but that's ok. A more relaxed Mummy, means I am not reacting negatively to Miss K's scratching.

2. Healing. Last week we had a consult with a Natural/Spiritual healer, who as well as providing us with a lovely aloevera and emu oil cream, various natural remedies, and tapping into Miss K's energy, she has given me great support and a sense of being held. Since I've come across Rachel Tomkins "Jenna's Journey" she has amazingly stepped back and let us follow this advice, so not as to contradict it or to confuse us. I hope there are more healers like her in the world.

3. Discovering Rachel Tomkins 'Better Bods diet' through reading "Jenna's Journey". I spoke with Rachel yesterday and it was like talking to a food/allergy guru. All these lights keep going on in my head - it all made sense. I realised that when we found Miss K probably had a dairy intolerance, we took out dairy and replaced it with soy and rice milk - products that also contain a lot of what Rachel calls 'Goo'. Then we went wheat free - more introduction of foodstuffs that Miss K's system couldn't cope with. No more soy or rice milk. No more gluten/free flours etc.

Since Saturday I have been 'de-Gooing' our household, and increased some foods for Miss K that can help heal her little system. Tonight there has been no screaming in the bath. There has no prolonged itch fest before sleep. Her wee arms are dry, but they are clearing...

But de-Gooing isn't all that easy, especially when parcels from Japan arrive with sweet treats for her birthday. So, while I"m de-Gooing for the most part, we will de-Goo de-tox proper once the birthday weekend is over.

Add to all this mix is something Rachel said about Miss K: "she's a messenger" about our health and well being - this resonated profoundly with me. I am finding new ways of coping and thinking about life as we embark on this journey. I can proudly say, today I was a good mother. I mothered how I want to mother and I loved it.

In the interim you can see how Better Bods or as Rachel calls it FAITH  detox style (food as in the heavens) smoothie fares with my kids (raw milk (will be using coconut milk for Miss K in future), banana, frozen berries, raw cacao, raw honey and flax seed). Stay tuned for updates.

Happy days with berry smoothies

check out that smile and the berry smoothie, second helping next to him!

Miss K models her smoothie mustache. You can see the eczema on her neck a little.

Now... to finish folding that laundry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemons dished out, lemonade made!

It was 5am before Keilani made it to sleep. 5am! I don't think she slept before I found her scratching incessantly at 10pm, so we cuddled up and suffered through hours and hours of trying to drift in and out of sleep until I sort of exploded at 5am.

It seemed to be what was needed to 'clear the air'; within minutes, she was curled up fast asleep and slept until 11am. So no kindy for her again today.

Akira, bless his soul, woke up at 5:30am and no amount of convincing would get him back to sleep. He missed out going to his favourite play group.

But I made the most of a morning at home, playing with my boy. I threw a meal in a slow cooker for a friend who is having more to deal with than me. I hung up laundry and I talked with friends. A friend dropped by for a cuppa... it was lovely.

Despite the grumps and grizzles of Miss K.

I cleaned the bathroom.

There were smiles from my friend when she collected her meal. My two children had been AMAZING angels in the supermarket when we went to collect some forgotten items.

I have only really yelled three times today.

No body bid on the haircut auction on Face Book for 100in100 Days and .. BUT I can auction it off on Trade Me (auction 401925294) (it's ready to go and I may get more bids!).

My host sister in Spain has just had a baby girl. I spoke with Rachel of Better Bods (Jenna's Journey) - INSPIRATIONAL. Our natural doctor called to provide support and advice. There are real caring souls out there who love and nurture me.

And despite a ridiculous amount of sleep, I am somehow managing to blog while my daughter is nestled in my lap, and I am ok.

They weren't really big lemons but the lemonade sure is tasty!

Get a haircut for...$????

Auctioning off a hair cut with the lovely Amber at Hair on Rosetta (Raumati) tonight at 8pm on Facebook on 100in100Days Challenge.

It's worth $51.50 - you could get it for a bargin, or you could be generous for the FromNZwithLove and Xmas for Christchurch projects.

Could be a lovely treat for your or a friend - and you'll be doing a good deed at the same time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blog for smiles, blog for help!

I usually blog when I am feeling upbeat and excited and full of smiles. That was last week. This week I feel like I'm scraping  the bottom of the barrel with too little sleep and worrying myself silly about Miss K.

We have been dairy free for about 7 to 8 weeks and wheat free for about 3 - 4. There has been some improvement in the folds of her elbows, but little else. She is still scratching herself silly at night, and I am dry-wrapping her to try and keep some of the moisture in.

Her back - this is 'good' compared to the rest of her!
I have recently taken her to both our GP (who is holistic in approach) and she has been given some sulphur tablets; we are also seeing another natural healer who provides us with wonderful support and natural remedies. There are days when I want to take the short road, apply the steroid creams and other ickies and move on, but I know that these 'fix the itch', they don't get to the root of the cause, and there can be long term side-effects.

The challenge is that her eczema, given it's winter, is quite hidden. At present it ain't on her face, hands or feet, but it's mad everywhere else!

Sleep is a forgotten luxury (isn't it for all parents lol!). I don't remember the last time I had an uninterrupted sleep. When I finally have Miss K back down (usually after a bath to cool her skin, more emollients and a good cuddle and rub to sleep), Master A wakes up. I remember when he was in-utero, he used to wake up at 2am and play the bongos for about an hour at least. That pattern continues even though he's 2 and a half. Some nights it's just a wake up, other nights, it's a cuddle and lie there chatting for 2 or 3 hours! Some mornings, 4am is the new 7am.

I am hanging in there. Mr T is in what he calls his 'full on phase' with four major works in progress. I am proud of the amazing events he gets to be involved with like WoW and Kowhiti. There are nights when I wish he wasn't in the arts and was home more as we maneuver this struggle, but he's amazing at what he does and he supports me the best he can.

I discovered a book called 'Jenna's Journey' that described a huge shift in the way Rachel (her mum) engaged with food and cured Jenna of her eczema and 24 allergies. The photos alone were enough to convince Mr T that this was something to try. So we are - I'll blog my progress as we go and you'll probably notice new meals coming out on my dinner@mikos blog!

In my quest to understand allergies and eczema I've learnt that it can take upto 72 hours for a food allergy/intolerance to become apparent and that it can take at least 5 or more weeks for the body to detox from that allergy/intolerance!

My causes linger in the back of my mind - I don't have the time or energy at the moment to chase up other bloggers, crafters and Facebook pages... but they are still ticking along. I have faith that what is needed will be provided. There's going to be two online auctions coming up on 100in100Days Challenge -one for a haircut at Hair on Rosetta in Raumati, and then there are two sets of tickets to the Cocktail Evening of the Premier of Kowhiti (valued at $100 per person each) - that should make you smile if you win! And if you feel so inclined, share the word, spread the love :-)

This post is a long one - but I'm smiling. I know others are having a harder time of it than me in some places...I feel better. Yup - blog to smile!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seeking eczema answers

In my hunt to get to the bottom of Miss K's awful lumps, bumps and itchings, I came across a copy of 'Jenna's Journey: how I cured my baby's eczema'.  There is info on their approach on the Better Bods website, but I was wondering if anyone else had tried it.

Progress is very slow with Miss K's skin situation. I know that it will probably get worse before it gets better as all those toxins need to come out of her little system - but some sleep would be wonderful, and something to not only ease her discomfort, but my own, of seeing my baby so blistered and sore.

Thoughts appreciated :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

And in the news...

Snow has made the news up and down the country - we've had a good dose of it on the usually sunny Kapiti Coast - and meanwhile I've made the news in my home town of Feilding, thanks to a lovely friend, Jacquelyn Collins. You can read more of her on her blogs

You can read the news article in the Feilding Herald right here! Hopefully this will keep the momentum going!

As for the snow, I'm blaming Miss K. Two days ago she came out all perturbed as a fairy had taken one of her crystals she left out for it, but there was nothing in return. She assumed that a wish had been left instead and went out in search of her 'rocket ship' that she's been 'building'. No rocket ship. "Perhaps that wasn't the wish you are getting" her wise mother counselled... "I wish I could see snow," she muttered a little while later.

And now look what's happened!

This was the light smattering at 8am - more was to come!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Felt and food

I've discovered felting! I started on a wee gnome yesterday and had to finish her while trying to watch 'Lewis' last night - my fingers bear the scars, but it is so addictive!

My my two poppets requested penguins, a 'rainbow fairy', a 'bumble bee fairy', a lady bird and a butterfly... a few sharp jabs to the fingers later and I've got a rather eclectic family happening.

I think I shall be making a few somethings to send to Japan and Christchurch. On that front, I 've had some lovely donations of wool, an offer of a beanie, there are some bears winging their way to me soon and my dear friend Jo is going to do an embroidery... the donations are steadily coming in.

I felt that things were getting a bit jumbled on Ms M's Bliss, this one shall stay focused on arts and crafts and lovely important causes. I've started a new food blog where you can find easy recipes and yummy treats:, so do pop over if you're so inclined - I'm expecting you!
recipe available at

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three cheers for the little stuff

Hurray for the things in life that make the hard stuff easier.

Hurray for Zumba - I FINALLY got back to class after about a 3 month absence and feel like I've got my 'mojo back'. Zumba is better than a cup of coffee, a block of chocolate or St Johns Wort  - it's my tonic and it feels so good to get back to class. If you are ever in Kapiti and need a boost of energy check out ZumbaKapiti. Nat and her team are amazing - this is not an endorsement, this is me raving because I feel so good (and I must say it's been a long time!)

Hurray for friends who surprise you with a dinner - my friend Rose texted me this morning and said she'd like to make me dinner. Mr T has recently appeared in the local newspaper outlining the four major gigs he's invovled with and I'm sure my pals are taking pity on me in his absence! Rose made a fabulous gluten free, dariy free dinner: Dahl, rice and apple crumble - it was a real treat.

The 100in100days Challenge is ticking along - we have had 32 donations (ranging from offers of help to spread the word, to gorgeous dresses - yes, photos to come) and there are 51 days left.

Today life is feeling good, despite having to wet-wrap Miss K tonight as her skin has erupted in bumps again... do I abandon the d/f and g/f????? will hang on for one more week. There have been improvements, but is it worth it...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Swinging into the G and D free food

Firstly a big thank you to the aroha and support bloggers and facebookers have provided me over the past few weeks. It's been a tough ride, but people have offered to help with the Japan/Christchurch projects and I am so grateful. Still gathering goodies - please spread the word.

Eczema update... since that last posting in July there have been lots of changes in our house to address Miss K's eczema. These include:
  • Allergy-free mattress and pillow protectors
  • De-cluttering the bedroom (as much as possible, Miss K was definitely a squirrel in a previous life, but we've taken out books, toys and dust collectors)
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Probiotics
  • Dairy free
  • Wheat free
  • Oat baths alternated with simple water baths
  • Wet wrapping (tubifasts) - we did this until last week and have finally been able to put them away
  • Use of just two skin products - the prescribed emulsifying ointment (at least 2 -3 times a day) and Mebo (for itches)
  • Allergy prick test at Hutt hospital - 19 pricks and nothing tested suggested an allergy. We were reminded that this doesn't account for 'intolerances' or other triggers (not tested).
RESULTS - yes, finally! While there is still the dry patches and a few bumps in the creases of her arms and backs of her legs, the body-wide assault of itchy, bumpy red skin has really diminished. There is no need for antihistamine/sedatives at night, we are now usually down to one night waking, and I am getting a whole heap of much needed sleep. I don't know what has helped - it may be one thing, it might be a combination. We'll try reintroducing wheat and dairy products (slowly) in a few weeks.

The change in diet has not been without its challenges, but I'm embracing this new adventure in cooking. Some things have turned out well, others well... there's crafting catastrophes and baking botch ups!

So for fellow dairy-free and gluten-free (d/f and g/f) I'll start posting my success stories. I know how sometimes inspiration is needed for cooking (especially for wee ones and growing families). Old hands at d/f&g/f know that it can be yummy - newbies, like me might need encouragement; tonight I bring you:

Avocado & salmon spaghetti - 2 adults, 2 children

This dish is super easy and can be whipped up and on the table in about 20 minutes! I would have added a photo but it was eaten too fast!
  1. In a bowl mash one ripe avocado with approx half a punnet of soy cream cheese (you can add more for bigger quantities).  Squeeze in a small quantity of lemon juice and put to one side.
  2. Cook your pasta (g/f or normal - I use ordinary spaghetti for everyone except Miss K who has gluten free - yes too pots of spaghetti, but it's ok and more cost effective)
  3. When there is about 4 minutes to go on cooking your pasta, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan
  4. Toss in the avocado/cream cheese mix and stir till just heated
  5. Break up a fillet of hot or cold smoked salmon and add to sauce.
  6. Drain pasta and place on plate
  7. Put salmon/avocado sauce on top of each pile of pasta (will be quite thick)
  8. Garnish with lemon rind and/or sun dried tomatoes.
You can also do this dish with bacon instead of salmon - At step one heat about 4 rashers of streaky bacon in the frying pan until crispy, drain on a paper towel and put aside. At step 3, reheat the bacon bits and then add the sauce. Adding slivered almonds or pine nuts also gives this a nice texture.

I'll be adding a scrumy brownie recipe and my g/f muesli in a few days! Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gaps and festivals

The gaps seems to be more prominent than the entries at the moment - plenty of excuses (including Mr T's kidney stones, chicken pox and the ongoing challenges of little sleep due to the itches of eczema...I'll update that soon...) but just wanted to blog that I am still here, there is still momentum in the projects and I still hope you're reading!

In relation to Sendai, our wonderful kindergarten teacher put in motion a celebration of the Tanabata Festival yesterday. The story behind it relates to two star crossed lovers, separated by the gods, but allowed to meet once a year, during which time wishes are granted.

This is one of the festivals that Sendai is most famous for and despite the quake and tsunami, it has celebrated it this year. There are some great videos on youtube showing the festival.

 There has been an online call for people world wide to share their wishes as part of the celebrations, so if you have a spare moment, do add yours!

I made some little origami decorations for our bamboo wishing tree (these are small, simplistic versions of the BIG ones) - maybe I'll get around to doing a tutorial on them. The little boxes are so delicate, I thought that they could also be stylised for xmas or other celebrations - let me know if it's worth doing a tutorial... the washi egg one is still on my to-do list!
Origami tanabata decorations

Our kindy wishing tree
Wishing you all aroha, tranquility and inspiration... hoping to load some 'succesful' dairy free and gluten free eats soon...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I need help...

It's been a long time between posts, not because I am waning in my enthusiasm for all things I ramble about on my blog, but because life has, as it usually does, become very busy and somewhat worrisome.

Miss K's continuing fight with eczema has really had us run ragged. Last month she was covered in spots and scratching like a cat with an infestation of mutant fleas. The doctor encouraged us to lather her in emollient and apply hydrocortozoin (on and off for two weeks). We had follow up, after follow up - eventually, after an additional course of antibiotics, it began to clear. 

Until two weeks ago. Yet again, my gorgeous wee four year old has become a walking spotted child, who has been scratching and itching all day and at all hours of the night. We had two days off kindy last week because I could see that all the waking at night from the itching was exhausting her. Her tiny body is trying to fight whatever it is that causes this outbreak. Every night I have been up two or three times to bathe her in pineotarsal, then lather her in special cream. By mid-week I too was exhausted. Apparently my usually 'zing' had gone and I was even described as looking 'harried'!

Top of thigh

Sleep deprivation is not a good thing for anyone. I know the impact that it has on me, and I know what impact that has on my kids and family. Mr T is full on with his work commitments at the moment and is often away during the week and weekends. Being in The Arts, this is quite often the nature of his world - it's not always like this, but it can be particularly tough when the kids are not themselves. After Master A was born, I struggled with post-natal depression (PND) for a good 18 months, and I'm very wary about letting myself get too run down, and missing too many Zumba classes (as I have been), because I start to get very cranky and irritable (as I have been).

So I changed doctors for every one's sake. We are now going to Natural Healing in Raumati, with a more holistic doctor, who heard all of Miss K's medical history (including phlegmy cough, pneumonia last year, continued eczema, etc etc). He checked out my little girl and believes that she has a dairy intolerance. This actually came as some relief because it's given me somewhere to start to try and make things better. No child should suffer what she is going through. While the photos here show the eczema, strangely, it doesn't really reflect its severity.

I have been given oodles of advice and suggestions - some which I have tried, and all that has been offered with love and concern. The variants in triggers for eczema are huge - from dust mites to perfumed soaps, wash powders to sugar, dairy and wheat. The treatments to soothe and heal are just as amazing, and we find just as one seems to be effective, the darn eczema beats us and we need to move onto something else. So I am not asking for additional help with preventing or curing it (yet), but sites on info are welcome.

What is it that I need help with?

Firstly, I have found the struggle to nurse Mis K, hold down a part-time job, begin a new short-term contract, do a writing course, be a mother to Mr A and a wife to Mr T, as well as juggle a few crafty causes, is getting too much for me on such little sleep. I am learning (albeit very slowly), that I need to know when things are too much and to ask for help (this has taken 37 years and I'm still pretty crap at it), otherwise, I erupt and it ain't pretty. I don't want to give up on  FromNZwithLove and Xmas4Christchurch - there is still plenty of time to get these underway, yet I do need help. I need help to spread the word and encourage people to donate/pledge for the 100in100Days Challenge. I need help to contact bloggers, crafters, and stores to spread the word and generate goodies...I would be very, very grateful if anyone would be willing to give me a hand.

Secondly, with going Dairy Free (at least for three weeks to see how the eczema responds), I need to research alternatives and to find good, kid-friendly recipes. Dairy-free catering eateries in the Wellington/Kapiti region would also be appreciated. You can email me on hapachica at gmail dot com or post a comment. I'll be blogging about the recipes I do try.

We went to a birthday party at OneRedDog on the Waterfront today. Miss K was very brave and wanted to attend, despite knowing she would not be able to eat pizza or have ice-cream. It was going to be worth it for jelly, which was listed on their kids menu. Well, what do you know? The surly, non-smiling waitress advised us they were all out of jelly. All out of jelly? On a Sunday, when lots of families might eat out? How does one end up 'all out of jelly'? It's not like asking for cherries in the middle of winter! So nope, not recommending OneRedDog on the Waterfront, especially not for a four year old who is bravely forgoing her favourite foods!

We are at day 3 on the dairy free. I am getting a little more sleep, and I really look forward to hearing from you :-)

Somewhere in between all the itching, scratching, baths and new diet I managed to sew a few items for a young local man to take to an orphanage he's visiting during the school holidays. I had hoped to do more, but well....

Finger puppets

Dinosaurs modelled off the work of our wonderful friend Nerissa O'Donnell (Check her out on felt)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

100 in 100 Days Challenge

Calling artists, craft hoarders, crafters, creators and anyone with imagination and a generous heart. Today is the official launch of the 100 in 100 Days Challenge. This Challenge aims to generate donations for my two Earthquake Relief projects (FromNZwithLove and Christmas4Christchurch).

While the projects themselves focus on handmade goodies to be shared with families in Japan and Christchurch, 100 in 100 seeks donations of all kinds that can either be sent directly or auctioned off/sold to raise funds for shipping and other new items.

Suggestions include:
  • Art work or handcrafts (e.g jewellery) that can be auctioned/sold to raise funds for postage
  • Handcrafts to send to Japan and to Christchurch (see Xmas4 Christchurch and FromNZwithLove pages)
  • Services (fitness classes, web design etc etc) that can be auctioned
  • Fabric and wool to be turned into amazing handcrafts
  • Offers of baking for Christmas for Christchurch
  • Volunteering of time to pack/post, distribute and manage logistics
  • Tickets to shows or performances (for your performing types)

 I'm working on matching donations of fabrics/wool to donations of time to knit/sew as well
What you can do - head over to the Facebook page or go to the page on my blog and leave a comment, better still a donation and share the aroha.


Tagged as a stylish blogger!

My fabulous cousin and fellow blogger, Hannah tagged me on her Hannah's Reductions blog. Thanks heaps Hannah!
I am flattered that at such an inital stage in my blogger life I've been tagged with an award of some kind - even though I'm not entirely sure if it means I'm stylish, or my blog/blogging is stylish. If it's the former, then Hannah hasn't seen my much-in-need of cut hairdo. At present I waver between looking like I'm wearing a square cut Russian Mink hat and Justine Beber! I'm going to the hairdressers on Friday to address this!

Ever the researcher, I looked (briefly) into what the award was and where it came from. Huffygirl provides a synopsis of the details which I won't repeat here, but if you are interested, you can check it out. The rules go something like this:
  1. Present seven things about yourself that others might not know.
  2. Name about a half-dozen bloggers you think deserve the award. (this varies from 15 to 5. Hannah named two)
  3. Contact those people to inform them of the honor.
  4. Create a link back to the person who gave you the honor.

 So here's seven things about me that others might not know
Since I'm so honest and open, this might be challenging - close friends may know, new friends might not!
1. I have a cup quirk - I like to have my cups and glasses with the openings down in the cupboard. If they are up the other way, I have to put them top down.
2. Flowers make me smile - I love a bit of feminine charm and flowers add sunshine and magic
3. I won a Ms Fitness Manawatu Competition - strangely I found myself in the world of body-building. For three months I worked out, dieted and practised my routine to strut it on stage. There was no one else in the category, so I'm not sure if I won by default!
4. I have a weakness for stationery - I don't know if it's my love of writing or books or both, but I adore pretty note books. I seem to have amassed a small collection of journals which have one or two lines in them!
5. I also have a weakness for smellies - of the perfume, bubble bath, body lotion kind. I seem to have overly active olfatory glands (pregnancy made it even more heightened), but there is something really pampering in lovely lotions and fragrances.
6. Mr T is hubby number 2. I am an incurable romantic and ever hopeful when it comes to love. I've been engaged 3 times, hubby 1 and I were married 3 years (no kids) and then I met my marvellous Mr T. (At this stage I'm planning on keeping him)
7. I have a PhD in social anthropology - one day I think I'll do an anthropological study of crafting blogs. Anyone keen to be a part of that?

Blogs I pass the award onto:
Sweet Georgia and the Crafty Squirrel
This Sew Called Life
Kiwi at Heart
RedGingham (although I've just seen she no longer has time to accept these - it's a fab blog)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Button boo-boo? - UPDATE

Earlier tonight I posted:

Some lovely people are taking up the cause and sharing the love with my fromnzwithlove button (see sidebar or specific page)- I managed to make the button from an online tutorial and it is possible that I have done it WRONG!
I have had one lovely blogger, who is sharing the love, advise me that the button ain't working. If anyone else has added it to their blog and has the same prob, please let me know - or if you just want to test drive it for me, please do!

Since then I have done some detective work and discovered I had missed of an all important " in the html code. Hats off the web designers who do all that backend work to make sites look pretty! And big thanks to Sweet Georgia and the Crafty Squirrel for pointing out my mistake!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crafting for Christchurch and Japan

Given the happenings of the last week in Christchurch, I thought it would be a good time to kick start the craft project for the city that will be running in tandem with the Japanese Disaster relief project (fromNZwithlove). At present both projects are low key, with crafters quietly working away on their goodies as it's still a wee way out until delivery dates in November and December.

I spoke with my cousin Kazue who lives in Sendai, Japan today. She is still very rattled by the ongoing aftershocks and the clean up of the aftermath of the tsunami. She spoke of how Mikki (her daughter who teaches at the Fukudamachi Kindergarten) has lost some of her high school friends to the tsunami, some were physically lost, others have become psychologically damaged from the trauma. While she is still able to laugh at some things, there is a poignancy in her voice as she relays the experiences of her family, people who live nearby, the ongoing fear that the kindergarten children suffer, the crumpled streets and the disappearance of areas she and my mother used to play in when they were young.

Kazue told me there was much happiness from the boxes we sent to the kindergarten. So many children benefited from the clothing and toys. Can you believe she apologised for not writing or sending photos - given what they are facing on a daily basis, this is hardly surprising, but it is so 'Japanese' that she would even think to say sorry for it!

The teachers are all managing to hold things together for the children. They remain strong in the face of the aftershocks and work tirelessly with traumatised and frightened children. As part of the FromNZwithLove project, I am hoping to be able to send small donations to the 17 teachers there. Kazue has indicated there are many people she knows who have lost homes and belongings, whatever is sent will be greatly appreciated.

crochet sock pattern

The warmth of NZ wool is well known in Japan. Kazue has often commented that the wool items my family have sent are not scratchy like Japanese wool (I can vouch for this! I had a gorgeous shawl knitted for me once and it was scratchy!) and there is a request for lots of warm socks please! If you're a sock knitter we are welcoming socks or sock yarn to be knitted!

Talking with Kazue helped keep the momentum going. While all I can offer is a small bit of help, each little bit counts and makes a difference.

 Christmas for Christchurch. This info is also on the project page on this blog.

Christchurch has really had a hard time of it of late. As with the tandem project (fromNZwithlove) for Japan, this project looks down the road ahead. People will need as much aroha as they are receiving now in six month's time.

Christmas4Christchurch (C4C) hopes to deliver Christmas smiles and happiness to families who have really struggled and lost so much through the devastating earthquakes. Families will be identified and Christmas care packs will be distributed to them - something for each person in the house and some good Xmas Kai (food) as well.

I know Christmas is a LOOOONG way out - but again, I'm going with a handmade theme and now's the time to start on some of those projects and six months comes around pretty fast! If you're making an Xmas decoration, why not make one extra or two for Christchurch or Japan. Are you sewing a wee tote or stuffed animal for a niece, daughter or grandchild, make one extra...

I'll update this page soon with more ways to help. We're in the process of identifying families in need. If you know of any, please let me know. If you want to help, then let me know too (

A button should be coming soon for you to share the love, and hopefully a website too!

I really would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions for the project's development...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Where's willy?

Little people have the funniest way of brightening up your day with cute quips. Master A (2 1/2) has started discussing the differences between boys and girls, focusing on the physical differences. He asks who has a willy (or chiin-chiin in Japanese) and who doesn't and who is a boy and who isn't.

A few nights ago Master A asked me if I had a willy.
"No, Mummy doesn't."
"Oh don't worry Mummy, it will grow in a moment" he said!

This morning he asked: "Who gave me a willy?"..... Hmmm.??? I suggested he ask his Dad.

At present he is drawing on paper, passing it to me and saying: "Here's your email Mummy. You can post it in your computer." Amazing how their wee minds work.

Speaking of words (pardon the pun) I partook in  Sew Addictive Fabrics' singles night online store sale last night. HUGELY exciting (made even more so by her site crashing and we all having to wait another 10 minutes). Gorgeous, gorgeous fabrics at great prices, but the saddest words I think I've even seen are "out of stock" under every piece I longed after!
Sew Addictive Fabrics

I would love to hear about your 'enquiring minds' stories 

Monday, June 13, 2011

SSL Risotto

Salmon, Spinach and Leek Risotto - it doesn't look anywhere near as appetising in the photo as it tastes (hence mini-photo), but this risotto is a huge hit in our house. It's adapted from a Regal Salmon booklet that has ended up among my cookbooks and I thought I'd share the recipe. I use Hot wood smoked Aoraki salmon fillet (200g) that we find in our local Commonsense Organic shop, but any roasted/smoked salmon will do.

With risotto, it's hands on - you gotta be there stirring the pot, so have the other half bath the kids while you whip up this delight. :

1.Heat 1/4C of olive oil in a large, heavy-based pot. Throw in 2 baby leeks (300g) that are finely chopped and 3 cloves of crushed or finely chopped garlic. Heat for 3-4 mins, then add 1 1/2 C arborio rice. Stir for another minute.

2. Add 3/4C of dry white wine and stir until it's all absorbed.

3. Slowly add 3- 4C of  warm fish or vege stock to the rice, about half a cup at a time (I use a powered vege stock mixed with hot water), stirring continuously. Make sure each addition is absorbed before adding the next half cup. At this point I throw in about 2 cups of very finely chopped spinach. This is optional, but a good way to get greens into wee people. Peas (frozen) can also/alternatively be added at this point - about half a cup of frozen ones.

4. When rice is tender and creamy, break up 200g of smoked/roasted salmon (or chop it before hand) and stir it in with 3 Tablespoons of sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Pop the lid back on and rest it for 1 minute.

5. Garnish with lemon zest (this is the fabulous, the kids love it) and serve immediately.

This recipe usually just feeds the four of us (Mr T, toddler, pre-schooler and me). Last night I served it with roasted vegetables and salsa verde from Annabell Langbein's 'The Free Range Cook'. Delicious. There was also enough left overs for me for dinner tonight. (The kids wanted 'dip-dip eggs. Mr T is away for a few nights, so dinners are often simple!).

When I next get a spare moment, I'll have to post my Prawn, Pasta and Peas...
Prawns, pasta and peas...

Crafty Critters

Say hello to Mr Hoot and Ms Mila Mermaid! These are two wee creations I whipped up over the past few days in between feeling really strange with a virus that sends your balance all out of kilter!

Mr Hoot is taken from 'Sew it, Stuff it', borrowed from our local library. They use a sort of tweed fabric for a lovely brown owll, but I used shirting/pj material and he's lovely and soft and a perfect cuddling size. He was breeze to sew up for a catastrophic crafter like me - after all the bits were cut out, he took just 35 mins from start to finto on the machine. Hoot's a hit with Master A who has taken him to bed and even settled himself to sleep with it!

Miss K has gotten all excited about Mr Hoot and is 'making' some of her own. I'm going to try a variation on the pattern without wings and possibly enlarge it to make an owll pillow!

Miss Mila Mermaid (named after the newest addition to Miss K's kindy class) is a pattern I made up, loosely based on the one they have in Sew it, Stuff it, but I drew my own pattern and did all my own embellishments. I'm very proud of this felt creation, but I now know why felt toys are generally small. Miss Mila is longer than a shoe box and it took forever to blanket stich her head/body. By the time I did that I was over blanket stich and slip-stiched the tail. Miss K decorated Miss Mila's tail before it was put together. She's getting very good with a needle and thread.

I think I might have mumbled somewhere on this blog that I was trying out knitting with double pointed needles in preparation for sock-knitting for the FromNZ with Love project? I started out with cupcakes... Cupcakes are not my forte, but the socks are looking better.

I'm also posting one of my other felt pictures I made about a month back. Master A adores the kindy chickens, so what better picture to give him...?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Write stuff

In the inbetween times of part-time work, full time Mum, wife, catastrophic crafter and cook, I like... ok, I love to write. Since Feb I've been enrolled in a short story writing course through NZWriters College and with the support of a fantastic tutor, Ginny Swart, I am making progress. I've finally got up the courage to publish one of my stories on this blog. It's not the one I sent off to a magazine for publishing, but it's as fun and I think you get a sense of my style... if you like it, I'll work on adding more... so comments please (but be kind - it's been over 20 years since I've done creative writing!).

So here it is...check out 'Pride and Promises'.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

From NZ with Love

After the success of the Fukudamachi Kindergarten Project, I'm about to embark on another handmade craft focused project. Well two actually.

One is called From NZ with Love - the name was a combined effort of some talented friends, and the gorgeous button has been created by a talented kindy mum (amongst other things) Justine Hamill.
The idea is that through my family in Sendai, and other contacts in Japan, we will identify some families (maybe about 10 -15) who have lost everything in the recent disaster, and would have their spirits raised with a little bit of aroha. The project is long term, with the aim of sending items in November (plenty of time to get those needles clicking and machines sewing)

 In Japan, many families still reside in extended family situations. In November/December it's getting mighty cold, so I'm thinking beanies, scarves and socks for grandparents and dads. Mittens/gloves welcome for mums and kiddies. Tote bags (for groceries/books etc) or sweet aprons for Mums - little things that are a little bit special, practical, but unique to say - "we haven't forgotten you".

Project number two is closer to home. Based on a similar idea, families who lost so much in the Christchurch will receive wee parcels for Christmas - small decorations, stockings and trinkets to help restart a Christmas collection that might have been lost in the earthquake. I am still working on the details of this.

To get around the postage/duty issue in Japan, I'm hoping to keep the items small and the focus small, and send small parcels via NZ Post. I have some funds left over from the last fundraising, and will also be selling a few items that were donated for the Fukudamachi project on Trade Me to help cover the postage.

This is just the 'pre-view' - I'm working on connecting with families now. Details of when and where to send items will be up in a few weeks, but in the interim, if you have any suggestions/ ideas/ comments please share and pop back for the button soon!

For those who are nearby in Kapiti, I'm hoping to host a few crafty nights to get the ball rolling!

I also found this tutorial on Mommybits as to how to make an image into a share-able button. I learnt lots today!

Blueberry Muffins - what could be easier?

Stock photo - sorry!

We had friends visit over the weekend (on Saturday and Sunday) and I got such great compliments on my muffins, I thought I'd share the recipe. It's a Simon Holst one, kept in a clear page file of my much thumbed folder of recipes and ideas from the 'Treasures' magazines and various others. The kids (and hubby, neighbours, friends) LOVE these.

It's so simple, pretty much fool proof and makes very light and airy muffins. You can substitute the fruit - I use frozen blueberries. The cooking time is anywhere between 10 -20 mins, depending on the fruit (frozen takes longer) - it actually takes longer to cook them than it does to mix up the batter!

This recipe makes 12 regular size or about 24 mini muffins

First, pre-heat the oven to 200C or 190C if using fanbake. Grease your muffin tins (I use oil spray and spray both the inside and outer part of the pan incase the tops spread and get stuck).

In a BIG bowl stir all the wet stuff until even mixed
1/2 C canola oil
1 large egg
150g punnet of yoghurt (plain or fruit - I use natural)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 t of salt
1 C of sugar

Now add 2 C of self-raising flour, mixing until the flour is just moist.

Next add in 1- 11/2 C of blueberries and fold in gently.

Spoon the mixture into your greased muffin tins and pop into the oven for 10 - 15 mins. They are ready when they are golden brown and spring back when you press them lightly in the centre.

Let them cool in the pan for 2-3 mins (very important, otherwise you end up with separte muffin bottoms and tops). Dust with icing sugar to be extra flash if you like.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sharing in the quiet space

Little man of the house (age 2) has a new phrase to express his frustration. It used to be "Naughty Everybody", but that has been replaced.

 As of late, Miss K (age 4) must have heard someone saying "damit". Where I do not know. But Little Man loves to copy EVERYTHING his sister does

Now, when Little Man is frustrated at his excessively LONG train falling of his train tracks he shouts: "DAMAGE"!

I know, of late, my blog has become rather eclectic - things are slowly being shaped for the next 'craft for a cause' project, but I'd love to hear your thoughts and what you enjoy me writing about. Do you have little people with equally curious expressions?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Escaping in a Secret Affair

A Secret Affair (Huxtable Quintet, Book 5) by Mary Balogh
 As per my usual book selection practise at the library (running past grabbing something eye-catching), this book entered my repertoire. I had no idea it was Mary Balogh's final in a quintet series, and the cover is not the same as this crimson cry here, but I loved it.

I love books that make me escape, give me a bit of romance, hope and unexpected twists. If it hooks me from the outset and has characters that make you curious and are generally 'likeable', I'll read to the end, even if I can anticipate the ending. I don't mind expected endings if they are expected. What I can't stand are so called twists in the tale that I've already worked out (that's another blog).

This wee novel captivated me because I wanted the heroine to win. I'm a sucker for romance. I love period pieces and books that make tears prick at my eyes, despite predictability. If you want some good old chick-lit, with a bit of sauciness (not much, but enough), then here's a good, easy read. Nothing heavy, nothing cerebral, just a good story.

Cover image from Amazon
Source:The Crafty Minx
The only area I do manage to get a good nosey into is our library's craft book section. I've just been skimming 'The Crafty Minx' - I'm probably late in the game to discover her, but oh so inspiring (not that I've had a go at making anything yet!). Oh yes, she has a fabulous blog, yet another I am going to be totally addicted to - ideas to make, but not enough time to commit to! What I loved about the book is that it is seasonally compatible with New Zealand - yes, Christmas in the summer!

My current crafting catastrophe is trying to knit with double pointed needles!(dpns) I'm trying out cupcakes, with some interesting results. Now that I've figured out which way I'm supposed to go, they are turning out a little better - not as good as my edible versions - but when I've finally got a bottom that actually fits a top, I'll post a picture!

My aim is to be able to knit socks for my next Japan project (coming soon - just trying to decide on the proportions!) Dpns are required for sock making!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arrivals and new ideas

Boxes of goodies for Japanese kindergarten children reached my cousin's home on Friday. Toys and clothing were being distributed on Monday. Imagine the smiles!

My cousin commented that it was so nice something was being done especially for the children as she thinks there's been a lot for the Big People. So...the next project will be something that is family and kid focused and I'm hoping to launch it next week.

In the interim I wanted to give a bit of support to some other great causes related to the Japanese Disaster. Check out Tim Williams Charity for NZ & Japan announcement for New Zealand Time Out.

This TVNZ news item on the determination of a Kiwi to support those in Japan is a touching reminder of how much work will be needed in the future.

Working on ideas for project number two and would love to hear your thoughts/ideas too.

Royal Romps and flagging focus

I daren't put the three letter word, that begins with s and ends with an x and refers to 'romping' anywhere on the blog, you know how cyber space is!

When I go to the library, it is usually with two small people in tow, and 'perusing the shelves' really means running past the stacks between the kids section and the issuing desk and grabbing whatever grabs your fancy at the end of the shelf. With the Royal Wedding just been, and being ever so slightly interested in the romantic lives of the 'elite' (piqued by Philipa Gregory novels and just pure human gossip interest - I'm sorry I admit it), how could I resist this book winking at me as I dashed past.

Well it ain't no Philipa Gregory. I'm not sure how I managed to get through the dry text, appalling punctuation (whoever proof-read this should be black balled) and complete lack of context. If you have no idea which Royal period happened when, or which monarch was on the throne, you'd be jolly confused. Admittedly some of the characters were interesting and the illustrations were pretty, although there was one photo of two ladies who don't even get a mention, but a few family trees would have helped follow the connections. Royal families confuse me at the best of times, let alone worrying about bastard children and mistresses as well!

Roger Powell's premise is that royal mistresses all pretty much came/come from the same family lines, almost suggesting that there is some genetic predisposition to extra marital dalliances, but he fails to really contextualise the politics of romping. There was more at stake, in most cases, than debauchery and boredom. Titles, positions, land and money were powerful motivators, for both the woman and her family.

He also seems to lament the prevalence of the British Royalty marrying/fancying commoners (and yes Katie and Wills get a mention, even Charles and Camilla), questioning why would this be so... again, politics and social perceptions around romance and marriage are vastly different from centuries ago. Once royal marriages were a form of political treaties between countries, now marriage is about marrying the one you love, rather than loving the one you're with.

I had to have a little rant about this book, because I was really appalled that something of this quality made it to being a glossy paged, hard covered book. When I like something, I'll rant about it (I am getting to blogging about the thermo mix soon!), and when I don't like something, then pretty much everyone knows too!
So if you're about to pick this up, based on an alluring title, seek Ms Gregory out instead!

Although suffering a few nights reading, it hasn't all be in vain - I have decided yes, I am going to work on my tutor's comments from my short story and send it off - very nerve wracking. No one has really seen much of my creative writing since I was in high school. Academic writing was quite a different ball game!

And if anyone knows what a Lord of the Bedchamber is/was and where it was on the pecking order of royal staff, I'd be most obliged!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A little bit of research...

A BIG THANK YOU (again) to NZ Courriers for paying the customs duty slapped onto the two boxes of clothing and toys we sent to Japan!

I've never encountered this problem before, but then our items were valued over $3000 (and that's even valuing gorgeous beanies well below what they would sell for!). Having said that, given that these items are for disaster relief, you would think that such things would be exempt from duty.

Turns out, they are supposed to be. I found this document online that specifically states:

2. Customs procedures related to relief supplies for victims are handled promptly and flexibly as described below.
• Exemption from customs duties/consumption tax related to relief supplies and simplification of declaration procedures :
  • - When importing relief supplies to be given to victims at no charge, the customs duties and consumption tax normally imposed on the supplies are exempted. A statement for tax exemption for donations, etc. by the relevant procedure need not be submitted. (Article 15, Paragraph (1) No. 3 in the Customs Tariff Act and Article 13, Paragraph (1) No. 2 and Paragraph (3) No. 2 in the Law Concerning the Collection of Domestic Consumption Tax on Imports)
After trawling through different forums and courier company websites, I also discovered that there seems to be a higher incidence of duty put on goods coming into Japan through courier companies, and that if you use your national postal service (due to higher volume), the restrictions are lower. Goods under about US$50 in value are generally exempt.

I am so thrilled that NZ Couriers are covering this, but I also wanted to share this with others who might be considering sending goodies to Japan, or other destinations in need. Check customs regulations.

I am now in search of someone heading to Japan in November for the next project... and/or keen to investigate low cost alternatives for mailing. I can completely understand why people suggest sending money, not goods!

Life here is chaotic. Master A did a very impressive power vomit all over his sister's wardrobe today. All he's had since lunch is a cherio from the butchers - hmmmm - I did hear a rumour they stopped handing those out to kids for health and safety issues.

I have to say there is a lesson to be learnt in ensuring all drawers are closed properly! I'm off for a shower.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Elated, deflated...

How is it that bureaucracy can hold up well intended hope? Apparently my cousin has been contacted by Customs in Japan stating that they need to pay tax on the items we've donated because I ticked 'gift' on the customs form!
I probably should have ticked 'other' but assumed, for all intents and purposes, that our donation was a gift! What sort of crazy place expects people who have been hit by a disaster to fork out tax for donations????

Our trusty courier people will be onto this I'm sure, but I just wanted to blog about it in case anyone else has good intentions of donating items to stricken zones internationally. Make sure you clearly label it as a donation!

On the elated side of things, I've been doing a short story writing course (it was somewhat neglected over the past month), in an effort to keep the writing dream afloat. My tutor was so thrilled with my last assignment, she's suggested I submit it to a magazine. I'm feeling a bit shy about it all - a bit scared of getting my creative, vulnerable inner-child a bit crushed (there's a long history to this which I'll share some time!).

So what do you think - should I just take the plunge or should I build up my confidence more...?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And they're off...

I said a fond Bon Voyage to two big boxes of goodies for the Fukudamachi Kindergarten Project on Monday. I feel a little like I've sent a child off into the big wide beyond. Life was breathed into it, lots of love, sweat and tears invested. I worried how people would treat my little project - there were some that ignored it, but so many wonderful people opened their arms and their hearts and embraced it, gathering the kaupapa into their own hearts and magic happened. As the boxes head on their way, I hope, as I hope for my own children when they head out into the great beyond, that they will bring smiles and awhi (support) to those who need it.

It's been an amazing journey. I have grown closer to my family in Japan. I have learnt how to be a better sewer, and reminded myself that yes, I am a born, bossy, organiser. I have been humbled by the generosity of individuals, families and companies. I know that there is more to be done (coming soon!). For the next week or so I'm going to have a rest, indulge in my babies and let the next idea simmer. It's a long term project, still focusing on crafting with intent.

My cousin, Kazue, (who is my Mum's cousin, but the nature of the affection is like immediate family and it is far less complicated to simpy say 'cousin') in Japan is excited about the in-coming goodies. She and her daughter Miki (who works at the kindergarten), are amazed at the generosity of so many people and in true Japanese fashion asked if there was anything we would like from Japan (in return). She was told ,under no uncertain terms, that all we wanted was for smiles and happiness!

To every single person who has been a part of this project - THANK YOU. Without you, it would still be just an idea.

And from the crafting catastrophe files - a near miss and a wee triumph:

Fat mouse  (catastrophe)- I've made one of these before - much skinnier -this one is made from different wool and maybe I mis-read the belly size. I've ended up creating a mouse that needs to go on a diet. The pattern said it was a toy that could be slipped into a pocket... will have to be a BIG pocket, but I'm hoping a child in Japan loves it.

A Very Simple Dress (wee triumph) - thanks to Ikat Bag's Jumper Dress pattern and tutorial, a wee bit of inventive applique and voila, I made this. So easy, so cute, that Miss K has asked for one (with a butterfly), as this one has gone into the box.
And as a wee treat to myself, I attended a fantastic felt-picture making course at Te Ra School over the weekend. This is a babe in a cradle that I made for Miss K. Master A has a chicken picture that has been recently repaired - it slipped off the table (or was it pulled?) and in his distress he bundled it up. Luckily it's so forgiving I could steam it back together. Will post pic soon!