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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh no . . . I'm Addicted

to knitting. I finished the doll last night and then sat there wondering what I would do with the rest of the evening. I picked up the flower book but nothing took my fancy so I grabbed the knitting book I'd got out from the library last week and this scarf jumped out at me.

Having no idea if I could achieve this or not I got started, and with two re-starts I started cranking away thoroughly enjoying myself.  This is one of those patterns where it's almost impossible to stop.

I'm using the wrong sized needles and the wrong weight wool but I thought this would do nicely for Kayley for school (assuming I have enough wool to complete it). I will make a start on her cardigan this week, once I've had a chance to go and get some wool. I haven't been wool shopping in such a long time and the dolly (and everything else lately) has been made out of left overs and odds and ends. Still, it's nice to know there's a good use for all the bits we have left over from serious projects.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Dolly Is Born

I felt like fairies would be having a party as I sewed the last of the flowers on my doll. It's like a new pretend life has been conceived. She was just so much fun to make that I'm going to have to make more.

The children were away for a couple of hours at the school gala tonight so I managed to finish off most of her hat and then, once they were in bed I completed the flowers and leaves and stitched them on.

Now that I've knitted flowers I've got a book that I've loaned from a friend and it's calling my name to try out some of the flowers in there. I'm so amazed that I enjoyed these fiddly little bits but the overall effect is brilliant.

She's not as professional as the picture in the book, but it's my first attempt at a knitted toy so I'm not even going to complain.

And, if you think she's lovely enough to give away then please send in your names for her along with a story about your favourite doll from childhood (or adulthood).

My favourite doll as a child was called Susan. She had lovely long blonde hair that must have been real as it was beautiful to brush and tie up and I used to do just that for hours. My mother, who's a dab hand with a sewing machine used to make lots of clothes for her. I loved her.

I must have grown out of her for a bit as I discovered her at the bottom of my wardobe when I was about ten and her face was a mottled purple . . . the after effects of having been laid on top of a pile of carbon paper (this was probably left over from my typing phase). But mum scrubbed her up and she was like new. Around this time I got into my hair dressing phase and chopped all her hair off into, what I believed was a stylish bob. Sadly Susan was never quite the same again. I still loved her though.

There's something special about our girlhood doll. So let's hope we can come up with a fabulous name for this one.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm a Mother

It's all official . . . I'm now the custodian and guardian of three children and no longer just a foster mother.

I had my first court experience (outside of being a juror in a moot court in law school) and it was suprisingly easy and surprisingly quick. We entered the courtroom, the judge checked out who the four lawyers were representing. He checked out the papers, looked me in the eye and thanked me for all I'm doing for the children and granted all the requested orders.

I was a little shell shocked really as I'd been worried about it for ages (probably the reason for the sleepless nights of late) and it was all over in moments.

So, to celebrate, the children are having a carpet picnic tonight with creaming soda to drink, pizza for tea and Thomas on the telly. Now it's not long until bedtime so we can look forward to the rest of our life as a family. I'm shattered! I can't tell if it's relief, if I'm getting Kayley's cold or if it's a chronic bought of hayfever. Nevertheless, I'm hoping to be in bed by 9pm tonight and asleep by 10 . . . if I can tear myself away from my knitting. I'm half way through dolly's skirt and I can't seem to put it down. I just have to remember - there's always tomorrow.

A Fabulous Surprise

Last night mum called and asked if I fancied going to the movies. Who was she kidding . . . the last movie I saw was The Secret Life of Bees about a year ago. She'd already organised a baby sitter and we were set to go.

And what a movie it was. We watched Mao's Last Dancer which was, by far, one of the best films I've seen in a very long time. What an inspiring story. I've read and studied a bit about China and it's communist history but hearing a story of how people live under the regime was eye opening. It was also one of those stories that makes you sit back and take a look at your own life. I'm so lucky to live in a beautiful country with the freedoms afforded to us that some in the world can only imagine. I remembered that hard work and perseverence are good attributes and that you'll get there in the end. And I was reminded of the preciousness of children and no matter how much they irritate us and break our hearts some days we've got to nurture each glimer of talent, treasure each of their dreams, and enjoy each of their achievments.

Go see this film, and read the book. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Digging Deep

It's been quite some time since I've experienced a true "Dig Deep Day" but today I came pretty close. Its probably got something to do with troubled sleep over the past few nights, the fact that I've not managed to have a peaceful non-child time since Janae started preschool, I haven't had a sleep-in in about six months and that I haven't been able to finish a project in ages.

So I had to really pull out all the stops not to be a shouty, grumpy aunty mum today. The little ones begged me to take photographs of them in their beach chairs (the ones they snuck into my wardrobe to recover after I'd confiscated them a week ago) and that started off the better relations between the three of us. I managed to get sheets changed, the oven cleaned, the fridge cleaned and then shunted them both outdoors while I tried to find the enthusiasm to finish the socks I'm making for my mother's birthday.

They're not entirely identical but I'm really pleased with the outcome. They're really cosy but not tight at all. With my mother being diabetic she needs to have warm feet at night while ensuring her laboured ciruclation stays functional. I think these will do the trick. She's also off on a South Island adventure in a couple of weeks and we're expecting the nights down there to be a bit cooler than here so they'll hopefully be welcome.

I also learned some really cool new stitches. The linked double crochet was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The finished effect is more like a knitted garment than the standard double crochet.

I also learned how to do a foundation single crochet which is much like doing a chain of single crochets. Very useful for making a decent base in which to stitch.

Needless to say finishing the socks was a real boost and now I'm back to the doll. All I have left to do is her skirt, belt, hat and ringlets. I'm really really enjoying the knitting experience and even purchased a pattern on the weekend. I'm going to make Kayley a cardigan for the autumn/early winter. It has to be purple and I've got to make sure I don't get fed up half way through which is what usually happens to my knitting. However, now I've finally mastered the art of tension and have learned heaps of new stitches and tricks I'm really looking foward to it. When I was in the wool shop trying to find a pattern I read this and thought, easy, I can make this. But I have to be disciplined and make sure that I finish one project before starting the next. Hopefully I can show you our doll in the next few days.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Charles and Camilla

It seems our peacock friends have completly adopted us. It used to be that when I allowed the children to chase them around the house the birds would head to the neighbours where the children are older, less noisy and with a more tolerant parent no doubt.

However, this week they just head to the roof and hang out there until they're bothered no longer. So, it has to be said that they needed names. "You pesky birds" just didn't seem right for new additions to the family.

Their names were easy to find. I'm someone who usually struggles naming animals. I think that's probably because I usually view wild life as dinner rather than something adorable and loveable, and naming your dinner just doesn't seem right.

So here we have Charles and Camilla. Why? Because Charles is regal and proud and a complete nusience to have around; Camilla is regal and walks like an old horse. (I hope royals don't read blogs.) The children just love them both and are having great joy gathering up their soft down-like feathers that tell us they're growing from babies into adult birds. I have them scattered all over the living room floor right now. The little ones (Rogan and Janae) are staying the night with Nana tonight so Kayley and I can have a big clean up before church tomorrow morning. Kayley loves to clean bathrooms and mop floors. Without two of our little helpers we'll be done in no time.

Speaking of animals and dinner. We arrived home from Kayley's birthday celebration with her friend Venus today and Venus immediately fell in love with the sheep in our front garden. (They're another new addition.) "Wow," she said. "Are they your pets Kayley?" "Nope." I replied. "They're our dinner." Venus looked at me aghast. "No way. Don't eat them." I thought this was hugely funny but I'm hoping the poor girl doesn't have nightmares tonight.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Quick Art/Photographic Project

I've been feeling guilty of late that the childrens' mother hasn't had the benefit of all the photographs I've taken over the past 18 months. I've made scrapbooks for Nana, I've done photo projects for Nanny, I've done things for school and preschool but nothing for their mother.

Part of my rationale for this has been that, in the past, the things I've done have ended up in a dusty pile somewhere unappreciated. However, this is not a valid excuse really as it's not the receipt but the gift that's important. And, with it being Kayley's birthday and another year in full swing I threw together this tonight.

I say threw together because that's exactly what I've done. They have a visit tomorrow and I wanted them to be able to take this and give it to her.

I didn't have time to let the paint dry properly so there's a bit of paint on the joining ribbons and I've, sadly, managed to get a smudge on Kayley's photograph. The letters aren't aligned as well as I'd like and I'd love to have had the time to mod podge it also. However, I'm pleased with the overall effect and, come winter and longer days and/or nights, I'll be able to do this again for our house.

Swimming is such a huge part of the childrens' activities and their mum has never been to see them take their lessons that I thought (hoped) she might enjoy this wee snapshot of her children and their great swimming abilities.

I also know that they will have such a buzz giving it to her that I'm focusing on that as my main motivation. If it's well recieved I'll try to do some more bits and bobs for her. We'll just have to see.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's Official . . . I can't make fudge

My whole cooking life I've tried to make fudge and have failed miserably. Today is no exception. I cannot understand how I can make scones light and tasty, cakes that rise beautifully, meals that taste of the origin they were designed in but fudge . . . impossible.

I even had two attempts this morning. The first is a lovely sticky toffee that the kids will love. This is due to my inattention and failure to follow the recipe.

The second batch resembles hokey pokey. I'm thinking it's because I over beat it. But, I'm refusing to make a third batch as that will completely defeat my purpose of trying to make fudge.

It's the day before shopping day and the afternoon tea supplies are extinct. We have run out of fruit, biscuits, muslie bars and anything that gives the kids enough energy to make it through to dinner and bed time. Added to this is the pressure of a swimming/play date Kayley has arranged with Nimah this afternoon. She's a lovely girl who doesn't expect great things but I always feel the pressure under these circumstances.

But all is not lost. We're off to Nanny and Grandad's for a swim after school and I know that they will be out on the high seas catching fish so I'm thinking it'll be a mad dash into my mother's kitchen to swipe a packet of biscuits and a couple of cans of pop to keep them all happy. Shhhh, don't tell mum. I'll replenish her supplies when I go shopping.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I wouldn't have called myself a knitter but . . .

. . . I might be changing my mind now that I'm half way through this latest project. I have been loaned these fabulous Jean Greenhowe toy patterns by a friend and I wasn't sure if my very basic knitting skills would enable me to work this project out. The patterns are, however, very straight forward and very rewarding. Added to that I'm learning heaps and am now keen to knit more things a little more advanced . . . once I've finished my doll and the other sock required for my mothers birthday present that is.

After my debacle of crocheting toys I thought I'd never have the courage to try another one again. This has, thank goodness, restored my faith a little. With my 300th post not too far off (assuming life goes on being relatively interesting) I'm hoping my dolly might be good enough to give away to someone who can name her and give a really good reason why she should have that name. But more on that closer to the time. For now I'm concentrating on hair. I've read the pattern about securing her face and, by my row counting, her eyes look like they should be in the position that I'd have put her mouth. I am totally aware that my spatial skills are not always brilliant so I thought I'd make her hair and attach that before committing the poor girl to eyes, a nose and a mouth. Hopefully that'll solve that problem. Then I'll make sure she has arms and appropriate clothes.

I started making her pantelettes yesterday and between mum and I, we had a few problems with figuring out the picots. That is, I discovered, due to too much crochet on my part. See, when you make a picot in crochet, you make a picot and there it is. With this pattern you prepare the picot row and then, on completion, fold above the picot row and then you'll discover a gorgeous little frilly hem. So, I unpicked the pants three times before I figured it out and decided to make her body instead as I didn't have the heart to start a fourth time. Be assured, in the past if I'd have to start a knitting project more than once I'd have given up completely and never finished it, so I've come a long way in my needle craft over the past year. It's such a rewarding feeling!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Multi-Media Canvas

It was the first Crafty Girls session last night and it was a blast. I love going to Crafty Girls even if I come home and hate what I've made. This week was not one of those. I breezed through the door totally in love with my creations.

We made multi-media canvasses and I think I'll be making more. Here's the one I love best. It was the first and I made it from inspiration from a picture we'd been shown of other people's work. Amazingly it came together easily. I think this had a great deal to do with the huge array of papers and patterns. Of course I had to get my head around its usual practical mode and think outside my usual colour and pattern constraints. Once I'd done that it was a breeze.

The second canvas I did was an underwater theme. I'm not so happy with this but I'll be attempting it again here at home. I wish I'd taken along my cuttlebug because I've got some great underwater dies that would have been brilliant for this. Kayley's decided that she's having this one but she may be out of luck as I might pinch the stones along the bottom. I'm trying very hard to be a good steward with my money and going off to buy stones for a piece of art might not be wise in my current finanical climate. But, just thinking, it might be a great excuse to go for an excursion to the Mount beach for a shell hunt sometime.

This afternoon is going to be lots of fun. I have a couple of the girls coming over for a crochet lesson. Hmmm, can I teach this skill I wonder. Let's hope so. Although, I'm dubious about teaching Andrea as, at the moment, she's my sole hat market and once she learns to make her own I'll be out of business. Ah well, you've got to share the skills really. Creativity is so much more fun that way.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's All About Birthdays

The month of March is a busy birthday time for us and it's also a time where I've decided to get creative rather than get shopping.

We've got a four year old birthday party this weekend and it's all about craft so I thought I'd put together a wee card instead of buying one of those cheesy "Happy Birthday Big Four Year Old" ones. While the theme of this card has nothing to do with craft I decided that as we virtually live at the beach, it's still summer and no one can resist the caress of a warm sandy beach it would make a nice card.

It's also my mother's birthday this month and she seems to just love my cards; thus I had to make her one. As she's diabetic and winter isn't too far away I've decided on making a pair of socks for her . . . crochet of course. I've almost completed one foot and will start the next tomorrow. I've also got her a Cliff Richard CD to remember her knees up at the concert last week.

Finally it's Kayley's birthday. And that's the one that's the hardest to figure out. We're having a family party on the Friday and I'll have to do a cake and a few games for the kids. But on the Saturday she's taking her new friend Venus to Bay Wave. Because this was Kayley's venue and because I'm alone in charge I've limited the numbers. I didn't limit the numbers to two but Kayley's insisting she only wants Venus. After Bay Wave we'll have a bite to eat and then I'll take them home. Here's hoping it's a good day as Kayley's quite looking forward to being seven.

Following that it's all over for birthdays until October. Thank goodness for that as they all come so close after Christmas. I've not made a card for Kayley yet but I'll be sure to show it when it's done.