Sunday, December 19, 2010

Summer gifts and parties

I have been busy in the sewing room making fabric and felt playmats, birds, books and other bits and pieces. I have received orders for 6 playmats, 18 birds and 2 book holders in the last couple of weeks.

The playmats are for orders for Christmas presents. I have settled on two designs that I then vary as required.

Here is an animal mat that DragonGirl set-up for me so I could take some photos. I had planned on making them more detailed but as I was sewing I kept simplifying and refining. As it turns out, that was the best option and it opens it up for the kids to be creative and imaginative.

And here is the other design. The car mat suits matchbox-sized cars.

A close up of 'Reepicheep'. DragonGirl had fun playing and planning with the mat. I think I will make her one for Christmas too.


Simple felt buildings.

The idea of the mats is that they are portable and low fuss. You could easily add 3-dimensional buildings, trees and other accessories. I have been making felt trees that have a circle of velcro on the bottom which sticks well to the felt.

Being the season of festivities, we decided to hold our annual Summer party. We had a great turn out of friends and neighbours, lots of food (we're still eating the leftovers!) and fun for the kids.
I had colouring pages, air-dry clay, a loom frame for a nature weave and other activities ready to go. DragonGirl had planned on having egg and spoon races, a rope pull and some sack races but we didn't get around to it. The kids were having far too much fun on our other party guest...


There were 22 kids on the day and at one point they were all on there. They all had so much fun and I think it was money well spent.
Over the afternoon people went off to other parties and family dinners and we were left with a couple of close friends and a very light dinner after eating all day.
Last night our favourite neighbours joined us for dinner (leftovers!) and we lit the small fire. The back patio is so much warmer and more comfortable when the wind is blowing now that the end wall is up.
We have little on this week and it's going to be nice to just wind down to Solstice and Christmas Day. Corby is home for a week which will be good. A week spent at the beach if all goes to plan. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A day at the park

We needed a break away from our busy schedule and decided to head to the park for a run with the ducks.

Even though we homeschool and so avoid the hectic school routine, this time of year always seems to fill up with socialising, planning and preparing. Activities come to an end, with parties and performances. There is food to make, cards to write and post, costumes to sew, handmade presents, planting Summer and Autumn veg and preserving the harvest.

In amongst all that we needed some time to just relax, so we packed a picnic, some food for the ducks, our nature journals and got on our bikes. Despite it being a little windy, the weather was gorgeous.

We love the space at the park to run around. Boo finds the biggest leaves he can and flaps along behind the ducks. It he wasn't following them, they were following him, hoping to get a snack.



There are some lovely old trees to climb. Some are easy to get up into but others require a boost. DragonGirl tried them all out of course. She is needing less and less boosting these days as she gets ever taller.

We gathered leaves, feathers and seeds for craft activities. We've been making wreathes, solstice decorations, seasonal dolls, collage and doing some nature weaving on a big loom made from prunings from the garden.
I took some photos of interesting textures that I will use in my art journal.
We wandered from one end of the park to the other. Around the lake, up the hill and back - all the while the ducks were waddling along behind.

Boo was as cheeky as always!


After spinning around and around, she was laying down on the grass and watching the sky spin.

The wonderful thing about taking a break from our daily activities, is that it actually makes us more productive. We come home refreshed and ready to get on with it. It reinvigorates us for current projects and inspires new directions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Winter Activities

Winter is creeping in. We hit -0 this morning, just as the sun was rising. All the deciduous fruit trees have dropped their leaves. We've been lighting the fire each night for a couple of weeks. And I've started planning more activities for rainy days.

We have been doing some felting and DragonGirl is keen to try out some tie-dyeing. We've got a couple of shirts prepared with elastic bands, marbles and knots and will apply the dye today. We've been on YouTube to get different technique ideas.

DragonGirl is working on a project most days. At the moment she is doing Wolves, so we have been reading about wolves, watching nature DVDs, drawing, making masks, exploring the idea of The Big Bad Wolf in stories and she is creating a lapbook.

We've also been making candles from flat beeswax sheets, carving candles, making candle holders from vines and repurposed glasses and playing endless amounts of Lego!

Boo has been helping me in the garden this morning. We planted out some more lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower in a sheltered, sunny spot of the garden. He also helped me to feed the animals and get the eggs.

He has been surprising me lately with his helpfulness. The other night he grabbed a teatowel to dry the dishes. He couldn't reach the sink, but did a very good job of drying the dishes and putting them away. It seemed like such a Big Boy thing for him to do. Though Grandma said that Big Boys aren't nearly as helpful...

The main focus in the garden at the moment is covering the ground. I've been marking out the rest of the garden beds out the back and plan on covering them with paper, hay, manure and compost. It will minimise rain compacting any bare soil and also prevent the grass from growing like mad. Last year we had to use the trimmer to keep the grass down because the ground was too wet to mow.

But for now, the sun is shining, so I think we'll take our bikes up to the park and record what we see in our Nature Journal's.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Face paint and the chickens

This is what I woke up to! Two very colourful faces.

They have been playing with face paint, tattoo pens and dress ups a lot at the moment. The drama course seems to have brought out their creative side. No, that's not true, DragonGirl has always loved being colourful. Boo is definitely getting into it too though...

We went to the zoo a few weeks ago when we ducked up to the Big City.

The kids loved seeing all the different animals. Boo hadn't been and DragonGirl was quite small when we went last. By far the best moment was seeing Boo's face as an Asian elephant sauntered past us on the walkway. It's one thing to know they're big, it's another to see it to scale.
As I mentioned in my last post, things have been cooling off. We've lit the fire a couple of times already.
We normally light it from Mother's Day to Father's Day, but we're trying to be a little more conservative this year. It's nothing that a pair of socks won't fix so far. Mind you, 4'c this morning was a little brisk!


These are our new chickens, commonly refered to as The Girls. They are our fertilisers, pest control, soil airators, mulch spreaders, plant pruners, composters and a constant form of entertainment. Well worth the effort of a bucket of veg scraps every day, some grain and fresh water.

They're still in the coup at this stage but we will run them all through the fruit trees out the back. I have been making little wire rings to put around any plants that I don't want them to eat too much of.
Today I am planting out some garlic, 3 feijoa and more lavender (I will almost have commercial quantities if I keep going!)


Surf, Sunrise and Sewing

The weather has been mostly fine but it's definitely cooling off. Our trips to the beach aren't happening as often and you definitely need a wetsuit to enter the water.

Unless you're Corby of course. He is stubborn enough to swim no matter what, just to prove he is impervious to the freezing temperatures.

We find there is more weed on the beaches at this time of year too. I guess because of the storms that role through.

There has been a sighting of the first whales for the season, so we will be spending more picnic dinners at the beach lookout, watching for them. Last year we didn't see very many. The first year that we were down here, there were lots of sightings and a couple of special close-ups. Corby was surfing just a few metres away from a mother and calf without realising it. They were tucked in behind the rock reef.

Sunrise is getting later. At Summer Solstice we had to be at the lookout at 4am. Now it is a sleep-in at 6.


We have been doing a few more inside activities too. Boo is right into puzzles, drawing and lego. DragonGirl has been reading, drawing and trying her hand at sewing. She used the sewing machine for the first time the other day and was so pleased with herself.

She will naturally do more writing as well. I have found that our schedule has become very Seasonal. The fine weather is filled with picnics, science experiments, riding around town, swimming, gardening and building tree houses.

The cooler weather is more about crafting, writing letters, doing projects and nice long novels by the fire.

DragonGirl has just finished a project on the chickens and next she wants to learn about wolves.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A few photos...

Boo came in from the dress-up box looking like this -


We went camping for a few weeks over Christmas. We spent most of the time at the beach, surfing, swimming, eating, making sand castles and just generally enjoying the sunshine.



One of the parks we stayed in had a simple rope flying fox which we would like to copy at home. The kids played on it for hours.


While the girls were playing on the flying fox, Boo was over near the tree doing the haka. It was so funny to watch. I'm not sure if he was trying to scare the girls away or impress them.
Parry's has a little rockpool which is sheltered from the wind and the big waves. It is definitely a camping spot that we'll continue to go back to no matter the season. It had something for everyone.


DragonGirl and Boo were rolling down the sand dunes and thoroughly enjoyed getting covered in sand and then running out to the ocean and washing off.


We've been picking apricots, plums, figs, boysenberries, strawberries and apples from the garden. We also have cabbages, pumpkins, watermelons and tomatoes that are close to eating.
Our sunflowers are in full bloom.

My First Market Stall!


I did it! Ten days of sewing from early morning until late at night. Ten days of not seeing many people, not gardening (something I normally do for hours a day) and getting blisters on my fingers from hand sewing. Ten days of DD and DS asking me to do the usual things we do together and me having to say no.

Summed up that way it sounds like a terrible experience but it wasn't. I feel expanded, stretched and I've learnt a lot. When I went to bed last night I said to DH, 'tomorrow I don't want to see a needle, touch material other than the clothes I'm wearing or eve go into the sewing room. And yet, this morning I woke up with designs rolling around my head and wanting to go op-shopping to find some more material.

I had limited time, so kept things very simple. Next time I want to embellish more, have more variety and do the things I would have liked to this time. I think I need to get a logo, design a simple website and make up some business cards. I also want to make my stall more pretty. I'm thinking sheets from the op-shop turned into corner curtains (like a 4-poster bed) and some dangly bits from the roof. And a banner would be great.

I shared the stall with my step-father who is a painter which was a relief because it meant I didn't need a huge amount of stock, but next time I'll have more room for things. The business cards as tags that Belinda from Spiral Garden suggested worked very well.



Some things that I made were -

The ring slings

Cloth pads




Play mats


that turn into little bags



Felt crowns



And colourful overalls




I covered my costs and made a small profit (under $100) but I'm happy with that for a first time. My biggest fear was that I wouldn't sell anything!


A local shop has put in an order for 5 ring slings, the cloth pads, hoodies and the overalls. I am sooooo excited.