27 February 2009

Things I'm loving at the moment...

Here are a few things I am loving at the moment...

Little shortbread animals with bright colourful eyes

Tired little children, ready for bed

Friendly concrete layers that let us (our playcentre) put handprints in their path

A paisley note pad

New little softies waiting for homes here

What things are you loving at the moment?

25 February 2009

A little surprise in the mail...

It's never a good day when your most favourite mug develops a hairline fracture... especially when that particular mug is also no longer available anywhere!

So a big thankyou to Sewfunky for sending some joy my way in the mail! Both Mandrake and I were super excited as we opened her box full of fabric and books!!

A while ago I won 7 fat quarters in one of Sewfunky's giveaways. I am looking forward to using them. One idea for them that I saw was this Procrastination skirt at The Small Stuff. Cool aye.

Sewfunky has also generously sent us tons of books (also thanks to Manna Christian Stores) to read and review on Flannelgraph.

So check out Sewfunky's blog here. She is one clever lady who also has a blog for Gluten Free recipes (here) and one for everything Retro (here).

And enjoy your mugs and cups while you have them... you just never know when that day may come...

24 February 2009

My top 5 childhood TV programmes

Growing up the the late 70's and 80's was fun. Here are a list of my top 5 childhood TV shows...


Playschool would have to be one of my earliest TV memories. For some reason I remember as a three year old coming home from playcentre, sitting at the table having my boiled egg with soldiers for lunch and a little cup of tea (in my little bunny teacup), while I watched Playschool. After that always came my day sleep, which I hated!

Who could forget Humpty, Jemima, Manu, Big Ted and Little Ted? And I just loved the theme song... the anticipation as to what we would see in the window today! In fact, click here to reminisce for yourself! Great memories!

Sesame Street

Sesame Street was such a cool show! My favourites would have to be Mr Snuffleupagus, Ernie & Bert, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. It was very handy learning all that Spanish too as a kiwi living in New Zealand ;)

But the absolute best part of Sesame Street would have to be the Pinball Number Song... click here to view.

The A Team

My brother loved the A Team... as so as a young sister who looked up to her brother, so did I! Back in the day when only rich people owned a video recorder, our lovely older neighbour used to kindly tape The A Team for us, as it was on after our bed time.

I remember the excitement each week as we would go over after school to watch that weeks episode... I also remember our older neighbour being totally caught up in it too as she watched along with us. As some of you would remember, I had a very big crush on Mr T. as a child (see here).

WWF wrestling

Shock horror I know... my Dad used to stay up late and watch WWF with my brother, and sometimes I was allowed to watch as well. I thought it was pretty cool... especially The Ultimate Warrior! Now looking back, I can't believe Dad let me stay up to watch it... and I can't get over The Ultimate Warriors perm either! I even collected and traded the bubble gum cards at school...


Yes, along with Mandrake, I too was a fan of MacGyver. Our neighbour used to tape this show for us too. I was always amazed at what MacGyver could do with so little... he would be very handy to have around at times. My brother owned a Swiss army knife which I used to love to play with... my favourite bit was the tooth pick for some reason.

It was so hard to cut the list down to five... I had to leave out Fraggle Rock, Chips, The Smurfs and the list could go on! What were some of your favourite TV shows as a child?

23 February 2009

Pippa in pink

Today I finished Pippa... in all her pink cord glory! I do love the cord fabric as it adds a bit of depth to the creation, and I am really enjoying the stiffening in the bunny ears at the moment instead of stuffing them.

Pippa is off to live with a beautiful little baby girl named Katelyn May.

You can visit Pippa and her friends here in Paisley Jade's Softie Shop.

21 February 2009

Road trip

Today we went on a spontaneous road trip for a few hours with only 2 of the kids (Master 9 and Miss 2). We ended up going to Taupo Bay (Northland, New Zealand) and checking out some new baby Whippet pups... yes, crazy reason to go for a long drive... but hubby is in love with the idea of having a dog at the moment (see here for more about that!).

The drive was relaxing (I even sewed some softies on the way there and back!), the puppy's were super cute, the surfers were out catching some waves, and the company and conversation was wonderful.

Sometimes I think I take my beautiful country for granted.

When did you last take a road trip?

20 February 2009

Special Time

One of my parenting passions would definitely have to be 'special time'... parents making the time in their often busy lives to plan regular 'special time' with each of their children (especially once they are off to school).

Having been involved in youth work for many years, there seems to be one constant issue that arises with troubled youth... the feeling or perception that their parents just aren't interested in their life and struggles, or that they just don't have the time for them.

It is definitely a challenge at times to do, but it is achievable and absolutely worth the effort. I love this tip from Parents Inc. that I received in an email the other day...

"We remember our children’s birthdays and celebrate them, but often the decision to have other special, one-on-one times just gets overlooked. Here’s a tip: circle your child’s birth date on every month of the calendar, e.g. if his birthday is on the 17th of a particular month, circle the 17th on every month throughout the year. That will be the day each month you plan to do something with that child. Keep it small and achievable. Make up a list of simple activities you could do: a swim, a cycle, a hot chocolate, a breakfast together or a game of cards."

So this is something we have decided to do, and yesterday was Master 7's turn. He decided he wanted to spend some time with Daddy, fishing in the local harbour. His highlight was the iceblock Dad bought him afterwards (maybe that was because they didn't catch any fish). I couldn't believe the difference when he arrived home... our quiet little chap wouldn't stop talking!

I encourage you parents out there to take the plunge and make 'special time' a priority. It's worth it!

18 February 2009

Things I'm loving at the moment...

These are a few of the things I am loving at the moment...

The smell of gingerbread fresh from the oven.

The excitement that a new pair of shoes can bring (no, they are not mine).

Jucies - much needed in this summer heat.

Seeing the care and time that goes into giving 'dolly' a bath.

The talent out there in blogging land... like orange you lucky's very cool designs. I just love her art and creations.

What things are you loving at the moment?

17 February 2009

Banana biscotti

In this summer heat my bananas are going brown pretty fast... and banana biscotti is a great way to use up really ripe bananas.

A very yummy treat with coffee but also great for toddlers and older kiddies too... even cheeky husbands who keep sneaking them out of the cake tin when no one is looking...

Banana biscotti
1/2 cup really ripe mashed banana
yolk of one large egg
1 (packed down) tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
pinch salt
1 tablespoon water if needed

Turn the oven on to 160degC. Mash the banana with a fork and put in a medium-sized bowl with the egg, vanilla, brown sugar, flour (which has been stirred with a fork and spooned into a cup) and the salt.

Fold everything together without overmixing, adding the water if the mixture is thicker than a muffin mix.

Line the base and long sides of a medium-sized loaf tin with baking paper and spoon in the mixture, flattening the top with the back of a wet spoon.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Take from the oven, remove from the tin by loosening with a knife and cool on a rack. The loaf should be a pale colour. Reduce oven to 125 degC.

When the loaf is cool, cut it into 7mm slices with a sharp, serrated knife. They don't taste great at this point. Lay them on an oven rack rather than solid tray and bake at the lower temperature for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp right through. You may need to remove one from the oven to check this. Watch the biscotti don't get too brown otherwise the flavour is spoilt. Store in airtight jars for up to two weeks.

(Thanks to Alison and Simon Holst for this recipe!)

For more delicious recipes visit here.

15 February 2009

Surfing in the 60's

My Dad will be turning 60 this year, and is still a very keen surfer.

A good friend of his from way back emailed some photos today of a surf trip they did around New Zealand back in the 60's. I love the photos, especially the stylish old cars and surfboards... not to mention seeing my dad without his giant moustache (he's the one on the left... on the turtle!).

13 February 2009

Happy Birthday Keke!

Today our little baby turned two!

She is such a sweet little thing... very bright and chirpy, and also drives us mad at times - but she has those big blue eyes that just melt your heart.

From quite a young age she figured out how to open the latches on our gates, open the windows and also how to flip herself out of her cot. We definately need eyes in the back of our head with this one!

So this morning she woke up to find we had smuggled her into her own 'big bed'... you should have heard her excited little voice at 6:15am! We then did our traditional birthday thing as a family, went off to playcentre for the morning (her favourite place to go) and in the afternoon had a little party with family.

Miss 2 loves The Wiggles, especially Dorothy the Dinosaur, so I made a Dorothy the Dinosaur cake with yummy roses - as everyone knows Dorothy loves roses (and being valentines day tomorrow it was easy to find some for the cake!).

Happy Birthday little sweetie!

11 February 2009

How can I help?

I have been shocked and saddened (along with everyone else) at the scope of the Victorian Bushfires (in Australia) and the injuries and tragic loss of so many lives.

You may be asking the same question I did... "How can I help" (especially being in another country). Here are some ways you can:

Give money
Even the smallest bit will make a difference. I have always loved the story in the Bible about the Good Samaritan... one person who passed by the injured man was too busy to help. It's great with modern technology that we can give online donations - hardly takes much time at all! Visit the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal if you are keen to make a donation (New Zealanders can visit here).

Give Softies
I really love what The Toy Society are doing! The Toy Society will be collecting handmade toys over the next couple of weeks to be donated to children impacted by the fires. Many families have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Please email thetoysociety@gmail.com if you're interested. I'm keen, and have already bundled up some softies ready for their big OE to Australia.

Can I please encourage you to keep these people in your prayers... the people who have lost loved ones, the ones who are injured, those who have lost their homes, and also the many emergency personnel who are giving their all in this crisis. Prayer is powerful.

09 February 2009

Cicada 101

As a parent, you get asked many questions, and are expected to know absolutely EVERYTHING.

Do you really know where the strange cicada shell things stuck to trees come from? What are those big holes in the ground next to the trees? Did you grow up as a kid sticking them to your top?

Well, here are some quick facts to help you look REALLY CLEVER when you next get asked those random questions from kids (thanks to wiki). I was quite surprised to learn some of this myself!

After mating, the female cuts slits into the bark of a twig, and into these she deposits her eggs. She may do so repeatedly, until she has laid several hundred eggs. When the eggs hatch, the newborn nymphs drop to the ground, where they burrow.

Most cicadas go through a life cycle that lasts from two to five years. Cicadas live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, at depths ranging from about 1 ft up to about 8½ ft (wow). The nymphs feed on root juice and have strong front legs for digging.

In the final nymphal instar, they construct an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge. They then molt (shed their skins), on a nearby plant for the last time and emerge as adults. The abandoned skins remain, still clinging to the bark of trees.

So there we have it! Check out this really cool animated gif showing the process of the cicada molting here.

07 February 2009

Currently I'm working on...

Currently I am working on a couple of things...

Firstly, two quilts for the girls, made from left over bits of material. Did I ever think I would be the sort of person to make a quilt? No! Do I even know what I am doing? Not at all! I would appreciate any tips from quilting experts out there... especially regarding using the darning foot on my machine to do some 'free motion' patterns on the quilt.

The other thing I am working on is my very bad attitude towards these shoes (and their owner ;) If they're not left next to my bed, I find them taken off in doorways and other random places where someone could easily trip and break a leg. Does anyone else struggle with a problem like this?

Anyways... what are you currently working on?

04 February 2009

Strange Softies

There are some pretty strange softies out there!



Monster Mignon and Monster Cosette

Deep Sea Angler Fish

Blobby Farm

I like Tyler. Which one is your favourite?
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