About Me

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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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rockin’ Grannies

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I’ve been on a bit of a road trip with three women all aged around the big 70 mark. We were on a mission to get to the Cliff Richard concert at the Vector Arena in Auckland.

Way back in the middle of last year I sat online patiently waiting for the tickets to go on sale for my parents to go and take a couple of friends with them. I pressed the “Best Available Seats” button and scored four seats in the fourth row. Upon paying for them father tells me he doesn’t really want to see him again and that I should go as I’ll probably need some time out by then.DSCF0948  Well, he wasn’t wrong on that score. So all we had to do was dispose of the remaining two tickets.

The first was easy to sell and my Dad’s cousin’s wife Jill snapped up the chance of a girlie concert and couple of days away. But try as we might we couldn’t find anyone to take the last ticket. I’m fairly sure the price was a factor as, being in Row 4, they weren’t cheap. However, it seems that fate had a hand to play and a friend of a friend arrived back a week early and literally bit our hands off in order to secure a seat at a concert of her most favourite aging pop star.

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The arena filled up quickly to a capacity 12,500 and we waited patiently. One of the most surprising aspects of the evening was that there was no warm up act. At 8.10 the lights went down, the music went up and on came the idol of thousands of baby boomer women. His pink jacket and sparkly tie made me giggle but in the very first set he played my favourite Cliff song . . . Livin’ Doll . . . and the old dears shouted and screamed their appreciation. I was a little disappointed with the first half of the concert as it was more the Shadows and Cliff as opposed to the other way around. However, the second half he came strutting out in jeans and a tshirt and completely strutted his stuff for a further 90 minutes. Let me tell you . . . a 70 year old man should not have the body of a 30 year old. His dance moves, however, were more those of his physical age. (Perhaps the hip joints are starting to stiffen a little.)

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By the end of the concert everyone was rocking in the isles and clapping and singing. I felt like I’d thoroughly enjoyed myself and had seen some pretty class performers.

And the icing on the cake was the laughter to be had throughout the day. The funniest had to be Jill and her innocence . . . how can a woman of her age be innocent you ask? I have no idea but it’s very funny. We were all tucked into our beds; the lights were out and Jill announced that she’d better don some knickers just in case we had to be evacuated in the night. Lights back on and knickers in place we stopped giggling, the lights went out and we tried to sleep. Suddenly there was a rustle and the lights were on again. “Nope, I can’t sleep in these knickers, they’ll have to come off and sod the consequences.” Jill announced. The underpants came off, the lights went off and after ten minutes of trying to stop laughing we finally dropped off to sleep.

Never underestimate the company of older women. They know how to have fun, how to laugh at themselves and all that goes on around them and they impart little gems of wisdom throughout your time together. Thank you ladies for a great couple of days.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Filet Frustration

It's been so long since I did any cotton thread filet work that this project is very frustrating. I guess I've got used to working with wool and in rounds that are predictable that following a detailed pattern again is causing my patience to fail. I started this last night and I've unravelled it three times already as I look back over five or so rows and see an error. Argh, unravel and start over. We're getting there slowly but I'm not sure it's worth the pressure I'm putting on myself.

People have been asking where I'm getting all my patterns from and I have a confession. I guiltily purchase this magazine every quarter. I say guilty as it costs a ghastly $25. However, I've made about half the patterns in this magazine already and if you factor about $6 per pattern to buy an individual one then it's pretty good value. I have decided that I'll perhaps request a subscription for my birthday this year though. It's stacked full of gorgeous stuff and in every issue there are loads of patterns I have to try.

Here's the shawl I'm attempting now. I've made so many things with cotton thread but it never entered my head to create something wearable. I guess that's what attracted me to it in the first place . . . that and the lovely design. Now all I have to do is concentrate; this means that crocheting while children are awake is not ideal. Ah well, the evenings are starting to get longer so I'll have more time to "work". I also may have to leave it behind on my Auckland trip this week as there'll be too much laughter and fun to concentrate on something this fiddly. Besides, I don't think Mum would appreciate me making something like this when I still haven't finished her table runner. Shhhh. Don't tell her.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Mad Hatter

Which is exactly what I feel like these days. Kayley's gone off to play with a friend from church and the little ones are asleep so I'm wondering . . . if I start now . . . how much will I get done.

Here is our reluctant model as I'd rightly predicted. She put it on grudgingly and refused to smile, but that's okay. And yesterday I tried the same pattern with a couple of alterations.

I used two strands of wool to make it a bit chunkier. I've been dreading doing this as, for some strange reason, I thought it would be difficult: it's really not. And I extended the brim of the hat by one row. It's now got a lovely ripple effect and gives quite a bit of shade. Needless to say, with one lovely rose pink shaded ball of cotton in my basket I'm guessing that today's challenge will be a cotton sunhat and see how that turns out.

I used that nasty ribboned cotton I got for my bag project and made three balls to decorate this hat. I love the flowers but something a bit different is very cool. I have some great butterfly patterns in  my flower book so I'm thinking the sun hat may be adorned with these little critters.

The best thing about this hat was that Janae managed to get her pretty green dressy filthy before we left for church so I had to change her into a little white dress. With the new hat and the satin white knickers Nanny made for her she was the apple of everyone's eye. The old dears just loved her so I was as proud as punch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Little Hat . . . Thanks Teresa

After a rather sleepless night thanks to humidity last night I headed off to my mothers with the children far too early for swimming lessons. While she ironed and entertained the children I browsed my favourite crochet sites for new hat patterns. And this is what I came up with.

I follow Teresa's blog every day and am always amazed at her gorgeous designs, great video tutorials and, in fact, it was Teresa that really taught me to crochet.

So, upon returning home this morning I grabbed a ball of wool and started. Teresa's pattern is designed for an adult but as I'm a Tight Hooker as Greedy for Colour often tells me my hat has turned out somewhat smaller than Teresa's pattern.

I need to crochet in a hook size at least one mm larger than specified. Needless to say I'll be purchasing a larger hook soon to make some of these for adults and I'll probably adjust the pattern slightly too. See, that's the great thing about learning to crochet . . . before long you can take a pattern and make it your own on some small way.

I'm also not at all happy with the quality of the photographs but I had to snap some tonight as I'm always terribly excited about a new creation (except for our Monkey that is). Tomorrow before the children head off on an exciting excersion with Nana for the day I'll try and get Kayley in a pliable mood and snap her in the hat (as she's probably the one who'll keep the hat anyway). If it's not Kayley's face you see it'll be Rogans and he's always a willing hat model . . . especially if it involves a flowery hat. The colours of this hat are dark blue with a sparkly fleck through and the flower is bright red. You'd never have guessed that now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Things Kids Do When You're Not Looking

Yesterday I was tearing my hair out. I've had numerous sleepless nights lately due to events like bed wetting, bad dreams, and caving and letting a child share my bed. But, amidst my fatigue and grumpiness I noticed a void of noise and activity from the youngest of my family.

Realising that silence and Janae are like oil and water . . . most often separated unless well shaken . . . I went in search of naughtiness. I didn't have far to look.

She'd got into the bathroom cabinet. Now, I've been expecting this since the day we moved in so there is nothing harmful in there but it didn't stop mess. She'd donned a lovely green shower cap, uncorked a vintage shampoo and was having a great time. I mean, just look at that grin.

It appears that naughtiness was in her blood yesterday. After three months she has discovered that she can reach the light switch from the foot end of her cot if she stands on tip toes and leans out as far as she can. I wandered down a darkened hall at about 8.30 last night and saw a light coming from under her door and could hear giggles as she chatted with her teddy and dolls. Needless to say the cot was moved a safe distance away with stern words which were all greeted with a big grin and a giggle. Hmm children. They're sent to try us.

Today, however, has been a polar opposite bliss. After chatting with Kayley's teacher last night, following thermal meltdown by Kayley we agreed that Kayley should be kept at home today, kept quiet and made to have an afternoon nap. Great, it's raining and now I have three kids instead of just two. But, Nanny came to the rescue. She swept Janae and Rogan off for the day leaving Kayley and I at home to make the preparations for the tomato chutney and for Kayley to have two hours sleep this afternoon. She's like a new child and we hope that tomorrow we'll have a much better day at school. The best thing about having three kids at home on a wet day is that my housework is bang up to date. If I'm scrubbing, mopping, wiping, vacuuming they stay well away in case I give them a job. It was brilliant.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The World's Ugliest Monkey

I may have a natural affinity for crochet but I could very well be hopeless at making stuffed animals. This weekend saw the emergence of a monkey . . . if you can call it that.

The children's cuddly blankets are starting to look a little old and nasty due to years of sucking, cuddling and washing so I decided that I'd make them a toy each. This is supposed to be Rogans. Currently it's sitting in Kayley's tote tray at school. At least she likes it I guess.

Not one to give up I'm not working on a pony for Kayley. Granted it's green but with the head complete it does look something like a horse's head. (It could also look a bit like a dinosaur's head too, but we won't quibble.)

I'll post photographs of pony once he's looking a bit more complete instead of a scene out of the Godfather.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's in the bag

I finally got done with two lots of swimming lessons; one where Rogan performed beautifully and one where Janae just performed. She got into the swing of things eventually and started to show off. The other kids looked at her in disgust and the mums in amazement and I just tried to have a poker face and not look like one of those stage mothers.

Anyway, I got done with the swimming, came home and almost finished all the lawn mowing. I have either killed the mower or just over heated it due to the thickness of the lawn.

The children were lunched and put to bed and I got on with finishing my bag. It's a little shorter and squatter than I'd like . . . rather like it's creator I'm afraid . . . but it looks okay.

I'll probably use it for a while and then Kayley will claim it. Now I'm trying to focus on my wrap again, but I feel almost certain that I'll have another project on the go before too long.

All I need to achieve now is to keep Kayley amused and without thermal meltdown before her swimming lesson at 5.15. Probably time to load them all into the car and head off for petrol before going swimming. They're off for a visit with their mum tomorrow morning (don't tell them yet though) so that's an hour of peace for me. Great start to the weekend.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yarn Comfort Zones

I finally made it to the wool shop today and got the second ball of cotton necessary for completing my bag. I also required a third colour for my "flap" i.e. the part that closes the bag. With such an array of colours it was difficult to choose, especially when I didn't really like any of the colours in the Smoothie range of cotton I am using. So I went out on a complete limb and bought this little ball of . . . well . . . yarn is the best way to describe it.

It's so far outside the  norm of what I usually work with that it was daunting and my fingers felt very unusual. It was almost like crocheting for the first time. I got to grips with in the end and am reasonably pleased with the results. Of course, now I'm perplexed as to when I'll ever use the yarn again. I am thinking I've probably got a scarf in me that might look good in this if I can find the patience to persist with it.

So the bag is almost complete. I am now working on the strap but had to put it aside to do my least favourite job in the whole world . . . cover school books. The instructions (which I read avidly every time I do this chore) make it look so straight forward. What the don't tell you (and I always forget) is that if any tiny part of the book touches the wrap and you're not ready for it you're up a large creek with a very small paddle. I am so glad I got three rolls or we'd have been in trouble. One book, in fact, is almost a disaster. But, the covering is silver and sparkly and Kayley will love it regardless. Thankfully she doesn't have an eye for detail . . . unless it's a new piece of clothing, makeup or shoes.

Well, best hit the sack. I have three lots of swimming lessons tomorrow one of which I'm expected to take part. Those poor mums seeing me in a bathing suit. Still, it's worth it in the end. Added to this pressure I've got to think about the vicar coming to tea sometime next week. Our Fergus and Carolyn are just lovely, but being the anal retentive that I am I'll have to clean and tidy for the next five days in preparation and I still won't feel like it's right. Oh well, God understands I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I love Wildlife Until . . .

It gets on my nerves and this usually results from excrement left where people can walk through it. Today proved to be that day.

Way back in November we were so excited about our feathered visitor. The children took photographs of him to their various educational facilities and we talked about it for days. Mr Peacock has returned and we were all delighted. We'd rush to the window and watch his beautiful colours, admire his confident strutt and marvel at how his wife was so plain next to him.

I even allowed the children to throw some bread out for them and, much to my disgust, Rogan played a few games of chase the peacock around the house. I needn't have been alarmed as this has only encouraged the birds to become one of the family and poop right in my front door this afternoon. From now on Rogan can chase the peacock whenever the mood takes him. I think, next time I see him, I'll warn him that my father has his older brother standing on a log of wood proudly in his lounge room and if he doesn't behave my feathered friend will be standing right next to him.

On a brighter note though we have another cyclist in the family. I have been bribing, begging and almost forcing Rogan to give up his three wheeled scooter for a three wheeled bike for nearly a year. I couldn't help comparing him to Kayley. When Kayley turned four I removed the training wheels from her bike and pushed her off into the sunset. She never looked back. Now she has a bike set for a ten year old and zooms around my parent's neighbourhood like she was born on a bike seat. Rogan, however, has been much more reticent.

Yesterday while I was out supervising my one day gardener Rogan plopped himself down on the seat, planted his feet firmly on the peddals and said "Hey, watch me. I can ride a bike." Trying to be supportive I turned to smile kindly and stood, mouth ajar, and watched as he slowly but surely made his way across the driveway. Hmmmmm. Why do children do this? We stress over potty training, no night nappies, learning to walk, talk, ride bikes. And every time they do it . . . when they're ready to do it. There is only one downside . . . Rogan likes an audience and we need to be out there marvelling at his amazing bike riding feats at all possible times. Let's hope the novelty wears off soon.

Gardening Delights

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I thing that I’ve got some of my enthusiasm back for gardening and it’s probably got something to do with the lovely box hedging that went in yesterday. This morning I got cracking and mowed the first half of the lawn . . . the house side. I’m almost out of petrol and haven’t got the heart to drag two children down to the garage to fill up the can so the second half will have to wait for tomorrow. However, while they were sleeping I braved the heat and got out to do a few more chores. It never ceases to amaze me how much can be achieved in a childless hour when it would normally take all day.

I got stuck into the weeds on the top of our raised mound garden. I’m ashamed to say that some of the weeds were larger than the plants. No more, however, as they’re thoroughly pulled out and looking very sad as they dry and die in the hot sun. I did notice that, after four years of being carted around the country in pots, my canna lilies have finally started to flower. DSCF0897There’s only one at the moment but it shows so much promise. I can’t help but think they’re telling me I’m home after years of nomading around the world.

I’ve used all my grass clippings to prepare gardens for further planting. I’m a firm believer that all you need for healthy plants is sheep poo (in the form of store bought pellets) and grass clippings. One fertilises and the other keeps the moisture in. Once that job was DSCF0898 done I ferreted through the vege patch looking for ripe produce to put on the table tonight. I couldn’t resist putting up a picture of Kayley’s pumpkin. Her school has an annual competition for the largest pumpkin and supply the children with a plant at the end of each school year. I’m trying to keep our feet on the ground by reminding us all that if Kayley’s pumpkin is this big then the other kids will be too, but there’s a little glimmer of hope in my competitive spirit. It’s difficult to see how big it is in this picture but Kayley and Rogan can sit side by side on it comfortably. DSCF0900 And our crop of cucumbers has been extremely successful also. I’m so glad Kayley is addicted to them or we’d be completely inundated. I also harvested some beans and some tomatoes. Yum dinner tonight.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Operation Ground Force and Bags of Fun


This morning was a bit like having the luxury of my very own gardener. There was an element of guilt that I should be doing something constructive rather than just watching and an element of glee watching this lovely little hedge go in like a gorgeous green gift.

Way back when we first moved in, the very day in fact, my cousin Peter (fourth cousin, 2000 times removed or something) stepped out the garden which was all bare and awaiting some plants. He arrived back on the patio and said "You'll need 80 Belinda." Hmmm, 80 what? Apparently I would require 80 box hedge plants to do the edge of the entire garden.

Now Peter is something of a deep green thumb and he propogates his own hedging and supplies a number of places. It's his retirement fund . . . as we all know retired dairy farmers are usually skint. All that was required of me was to fill in the gaps once the drive had been done and he'd come around. Well, today was the day. He drove up with dozens of little plants in the back of his vehicle, a sharp spade and a big smile. "Don't you worry Belinda," Peter said, "I'll do it all for you." And he did.

Thankfully this morning was fairly overcast so the heat wasn't too bad. Jill, Peter's wife, arrived around morning tea (thank goodness I'd baked yesterday) and assisted along with my two darlings who took great delight in watering the new garden.

I'm so in love with it that I keep popping around the corner just to check they're all still there and they're all still alive. I can see just what it'll look like in a couple of years when the hedge is thickened up and uniform with some gorgeous and brilliantly coloured hibiscus behind. Now I have to consider whether bark would be a good idea. My one reservation is . . . cockroaches.

So with all the hard work done this morning I've been sweltering out under the umbrella working on my mid-project. Whenever I'm making something of squares I get a little bored with the tedium so I pick something else up for a bit. Yesterday I made a start on this bag. It's much bigger than I thought it would be and I'll have to pop back to the wool shop for another ball of cotton but I'm loving it so far. As the rounds decrease it's getting quicker too. I have to keep pushing aside the thought that I spent over $100 dollars on my leather handbag a couple of years ago (when I was childless and had nothing better to spend money on) and enjoy using this as my everyday bag.

I've never been a handbag girl really. I've always just had one and used it until it fell apart. I will never totally understand the patience and determination it must take to gather all the stuff a woman keeps in a bag and transfer it lovingly to another bag two or three times a week. Seems like a pointless waste of time to me . . . but we'll give it a go and see how it works out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oh Dear . . . More Practice Required

I promised myself that I would not spend my six child free hours a week doing house work. I've failed on my first official day.

Dropping all the children off this morning I raced home in great anticipation. But before I could get to anything exciting I had to do a couple of quick chores. So . . .

I stripped the beds and washed the sheets. Apparently it's going to rain part of each day for the rest of the week so I had to get this done while I could.

Having put together the lunches this morning I realised that we had no biscuits left for school lunches so I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a russian shortcake.

And, while they were baking and the last load of washing was spinning I thought I'd fold yesterday's washing. It was while I was doing this that I looked at the clock and realised I had just one hour of my three left. So the table looks just as this picture shows (I'll finish folding while Janae's asleep this afternoon) and the beds can wait until this afternoon also. So I got a bit of crochet done and hope to carry on once the little chores are out of the way this afternoon. Here's hoping anyway.

Oh, and a quick aside . . . remember the post I did about the hat for a friend's little girl? I was right . . . it's my colour conception that's off. The brown hat looks so cute on her. And, as I chose clothes for Janae this morning and all the stuff in her drawers were lemon, pink and purple I decided it's time I got myself (and both her grandmothers) out of the colour rutt we're in and be a bit more adventurous!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Incredible Tara

It is not my own creativity that showcases today but something so much better. My friend Tara Fadenrecht.

We met at university some years ago and I've always known she was an artist but the work she's doing now is so amazing that I just had to share it with you. Click on her name above and go see some amazing pieces of art. There's a table that I'd just love to have in my hall but I fear it may be some time before I can possess an original Tara.

Ah well, I'll stick to my own mediocre stuff for now. Speaking of which I delivered both my own commissions today. They both went down very well and I needn't have worried about the brown hat. Lucy looked gorgeous in it . . . goes to show I need to get outside my own colour comfort zone from time to time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Rogie McKogie

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After a long and tedious night I finally gave in and we started Rogan’s birthday at seven. The children would have liked to have started about 4am. Actually I had been awake from 2am after Rogan informed me he’d wet his bed. The midnight activity must have woken Kayley, who was more excited than her little brother about the big event. I went down the hall twice between then and four to be a big growly night creature. To no avail I’m afraid as I discovered two little bodies in Kayley’s bed at four. They were having a wonderful time.

Finally separated and under no illusions that I meant business they went back to sleep. I, unfortunately, did not. And, was not best pleased when they reappeared every ten minutes from six to ask if they could open gifts.

Because today was a full one the decision was made not to party today but to save it for Saturday so one decent present was given and it was a huge success . . . as far as the children were concerned. DSCF0886 A marble run is, without a doubt, a great toy but I’ve decided that children’s toys should come with a mental health warning. I had mountains of housework to get through this morning and managed almost nothing as the entire morning was spent setting up and constantly repairing the structure. At one point I had to walk away from a pile of pipes, tubes and wheels and hide away as my temper was getting the better of me.

I finally solved the problem by blue tacking it to the garage floor. This has withstood a preschooler and toddler bashing marbles at it for most of the day. And Rogan announced in his loud four year old voice that it was his best birthday ever.

We dined on junk food (very much a treat in our house) with Nanny and Grandad, ate cake and jumped all over his road mat which was the grandparent’s gift.

And now it’s the end of the school holidays. I still can’t believe that tomorrow school starts and we’re back into some kind of a routine again. While it’ll be great to get kids out of the house for a while I am not looking forward to the alarm going off at 6.30 tomorrow morning for the first time in six weeks. That being said, I’d best go raid the freezer for a loaf of bread and something for dinner tomorrow night.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creative Chaos

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Boy-oh-boy my house is starting to look like a sweat shop. I have little bits and large bits all over the place; some are complete, some are almost complete and others are very much works in progress. I have crochet books, balls of yarn, hooks and other paraphernalia about the place, the ironing board is up to press and block completed and semi completed projects. It’s a veritable mad house. The reason? Because I keep coming up with another project that must be done immediately. Like this throw.DSCF0881

My cousin Erica is coming over from Australia next month for my mothers 70th birthday. Well, Erica plays ladies once a month with her girlfriends and they have high tea. Being in Australia I can only imagine that the flies would be as bad as they are here and that she would need something lovely to throw over the cakes to keep then safe until serving time.

The one I made myself I love but it’s very vintage and not quite in keeping with Erica’s ultra modern decor so I had to create something original. I wanted it to be understated but to still make some kind of statement; so I revived the pansies. There areDSCF0882 only three complete so far (I’d forgotten how fiddly they are to make) so I still have two to go and they have to be tidied up and attached but I’m loving the effect already. I had envisaged them at the four corners but as I threw each completed pansy onto the throw I realised that randomly dotted about would be much better (yes these aren’t yet random but remember randomness doesn’t come naturally to me).

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll manage to finish this project and get back to my latest wrap/cardigan I’m making. But for now it’s off to my room to wrap Rogan’s birthday present. My big almost-four year old has gone to bed nappiless and eagerly anticipating getting a trumpet, a racing car, a violin, some drums, more footballs and copious other gifts he’s told me he really needs over the past couple of weeks. Boy will he be disappointed.

Puppet Madness

With only two days to go until the end of the school holidays my children finally got creative. I nearly fell over when the telly went off, the socks came out and the music went on.  Hmmm, something strange is afoot I thought.

And it was. My three little darlings had decided to stage a Christmas puppet show. Now I’m not entirely sure if it was a late Christmas show or an early one but it was lovely nonetheless . . . until I became designated singer. I love carols and I love to sing, but not in February so I quickly made a few excuses and encouraged them to sing along instead.

Needless to say, I’ve spent the evening picking up rogue socks from around the living room but, as you can see, the smiles of delight said it all. Who am I to stand in the way of creativity in my pursuit of matching socks safely in sock drawers.