Saturday, September 23, 2017

birds and apples

A visit to the zoo this week followed by a walk through a local park to see the birds. This particular park has a lake and is always full of birds and, at this time of year, you can see cygnets, goslings and coot chicks.

And a play mat for Little Sprouts made from some of these fabrics and a surplus-to-needs quilted mattress protector as wadding. To make: cut the backing, top and wadding to size and make a quilt sandwich. But, instead of quilting, simply sew the layers together all around the edge, curve the corners and attach double fold bias binding. No need to quilt as the mattress protector is already quilted. Tutorial here to make a mat without binding.

Watching: Three (!) movies this week: 
Love is strange (2014) starring John Lithgow as Ben and Alfred Molina as George - an ageing gay couple who have been together for decades but after George is fired from his teaching job they are forced to stay with friends separately while they sell their apartment and look for cheaper housing.
Leviathan (2014) Set in a bleak coastal town on the Barents Sea, Kolya decides to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house and land will be seized. A powerful slow burner that I've been thinking about all day.
Frances Ha (2012) Quirky movie about a dancer trying to make it in New York City. One of my all time favourite films.

Friday, September 15, 2017

marbles and monkeys

Marble painting - drop a marble into paint, roll it around on a piece of paper on a tray and - ta-dah! - art. We had hours of fun with this book, Recipes for play: fun ideas for small hands and big imaginations written by New Zealander Rachel Sumner. Loads of simple ideas for pre-schoolers.

Sock monkeys - done. Pattern for cutting layout here. Variations - including the cute folded ears - alternative layout and detailed construction method with photos here. I'm especially fond of the plain grey one which I thought might turn out to be a bit boring.

Reading: The stranger in the woods by Michael Finkel. True story of Christopher Knight who disappeared to live alone in the woods for twenty-seven years.

Watching: The witness - documentary about Kitty Genovese who in 1964 was stabbed to death on a New York City street while, apparently, thirty-eight people witnessed her murder and did nothing.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


The early Spring weather has had me in the garden so I haven't been spending a lot of time making things lately. Instead I've been trying to lure bees into the garden by planting herbs - purple basil, mint, lemon grass, thyme and oregano - and a few flowers among the veges. We've also planted an avocado, a passion fruit vine and a bay tree. I can't wait to try drying our own bay leaves. Plus, even in a small garden, there's always lots of work to do after winter.

I did find time though to go to Fabric-a-brac last Saturday. I shopped without intent which was joyous.

Everyone in the house is away for most of this week. I always look forward to being home alone and imagine myself living a zen life - getting up early, doing yoga daily, taking long walks and eating raw foods but the reality is that I eat apple crumble for dinner, stay up late watching re-runs of Inspector Morse and sleep in. This time though I am without a plan. Today was taken up with a haircut for me, an emergency trip to the vet for the cat and a mad flurry of window cleaning - by me, of course.

Reading: The photo and recipe for the beautiful cured eggs coloured with beetroot and saffron is in Simple fare - spring, summer: guide to everyday cooking and eating by Karen Mordechai. This is a stunning cookbook with so many interesting but simple recipes that I'd love to try. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

fine spells

A short, quick visit to the Waikato last Sunday - in the rain - to catch up with some friends and see their new house near Cambridge. It's a long house so most of the rooms get that wonderful view of the river. We stayed the night in Hamilton - pre-dinner dessert at Duck Island, dinner at Dough Bros, and an excellent breakfast at Milton's Canteen (great name for a cafe in Hamilton, don't you think?)

Some new fabric - a couple of "vintage" prints that I'm very pleased with, a couple from Spotlight and an impulse buy of bright blue linen from The Fabric Store. All fabrics washed and ironed and ready for sewing.

And, in a moment of madness and for no reason whatsoever, I made a rabbit. The pattern and instructions are in Made for baby: cute sewn gifts by Ayda Algin.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (a memoir) by Elna Baker. Baker is a Mormon living in New York and looking for a husband. She goes on a diet and only after losing a huge amount of weight discovers the miseries the world inflicts on fat people.

Urban jungle : living and styling with plants by Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

big red

Totally red crochet blanket for Little Sprouts. I know, it's a bit crazy, but I had the wool so I used it. And it will keep a little one toasty warm out and about in the stroller on a cold and windy day.
It's made up of twelve squares that I crocheted together - as I went - following this tutorial. This worked out well - nice flat joins, no ridges - and so much easier than sewing squares together at the end. I also discovered this method for working the first row of the border so that it doesn't end up wavy. (Blocking also helped.) The little edging stitch I got from here.

I'm fairly new to crochet and every time I make something I learn a new technique, thanks to all those generous makers who share their expertise on line.

Work in progress: sock monkeys.

Reading: Hunger : a memoir of (my) body by Roxane Gay. I've just started this one. It's a telling of the author’s life and of her everyday experience as a fat woman.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Six blue linen napkins. Finished. I started making them maybe three years ago but stopped when I had problems with the corners. As I'd already cut out the napkins and cut the corners diagonally I was committed to continue with mitred corners. I decided to hand stitch the hems so that I could tweak the corners as I went to get them right. I'm pleased with my effort. I find it such a relief to complete abandoned projects.

I've set myself a thirty day challenge - to draw every day - and to this end I bought Draw every day, draw every way by Jennifer Orkin Lewis. Actually I bought this book ages ago (end of last year?) as I've wanted to get back into drawing for some time but lacked the motivation. But it seems the book alone wasn't enough to get me started. I'm hoping that drawing every day for thirty days will create a drawing habit.

Reading: Let's explore diabetes with owls by David Sedaris - a collection of essay that manage to be simultaneously (a bit) funny and (a bit) wise.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

quilt #3

The quilt is finished and I'm happy with how it turned out. It's a small quilt - crib size 80cm x 100cm (32 inches x 40 inches) - so not overwhelmingly ambitious.

I think there's some tradition of naming quilts. This one reminds me of various parks in the city - green playing fields, people walking their little dogs, even geese if you're in the right park. I didn't want to name it after a particular park and, in the end, the best I could come up with was Quilt #3.

I've been gathering fabrics to make a second one (Quilt #4, I guess) - many from my stash but a couple of new fat quarters too.

July has been a wet and busy month. Both my (adult) children have July birthdays so there has been some drinking of champagne and eating of cake - which has taken the edge off the winter weather.

Reading: We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Short essay based on her Ted Talk. Why the gender divide is harmful for both women and men.

Listening: Stuff you should know podcast