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.