Pocket Quilt

Sunday, January 29, 2012

C starts primary school tomorrow. A journey she is ready to embark on but one that she is a little bit nervous about. She is very lucky that she has G and J already there because she is very familiar with the place and how it all works. She is right on the cusp of big kidness but there are a couple of little things that linger and this sorry looking quilt is one of them. Mr Duyvken and I bought this for J. Officially it was Mr Duyvken's 30th birthday present because money was pretty tight back then and he wanted new sheets and a quilt for the cot he had made for our long-awaited second baby. He's a lovely fellow that Mr Duyvken. J used it and loved it and then C inherited it when she moved into the cot but she loved it so much it went with her to the big girl bed and has been carted around ever since.
It is (literally) falling apart and has worn bare in places but she still loves it. It comforts her when she can't sleep or when she is sick and she hasn't yet grown out of it. So, as ready as she is for 'big school' I wanted to give her a little piece of comfort that she could keep in her pocket just in case. 

She chose one of her favourite parts of the quilt to use. It is practically worn right through so it might not last long but it will feel just right if she needs it and I will feel better knowing that it is just there in her pocket if she needs some love from home. The velvet on the other side is from a pair of pants that my mum bought for herself. My mum is not a tall person and everything needs to be shortened. She knows how much C likes soft, textural fabrics and so she saved the offcuts and suggested this little project.
I shed a few tears while making this. Honestly, I'm hopeless. Being a mama is a bittersweet thing sometimes.

Art Smock Tutorial - recycling Mr Duyvken's shirts

Saturday, January 28, 2012

All the little duyvkens need art smocks for their back to school kits so I decided to make a few adjustments to the shirts that they wear at home when they are painting to make them a little more 'smockish'. It's very easy to do, you start by cutting the collar and the top button off of an old business shirt. 

Stitch one end of a 6cm piece of elastic to the wrong side of the shirt where the top button hole is using zigzag stitch. 

Stitch the other end of the elastic to spot where the top button was, again on the wrong side of the shirt so that, when you turn it right side out it looks like this.
Measure the arms of the person who needs the smock and cut off as much of the cuffs and sleeves as required. This one is for G so I needed the length of the placket and only cut off the cuff. Run a line of stitching down the placket to keep it closed. For C and J I cut the sleeve off above this point and saved myself this step.
 Turn the shirt inside out and turn the sleeve back 2cms, stitching to create a channel for the elastic. Leave a 1cm gap between the start and the end of the stitching so that you can thread the elastic through easily.
Tie hat elastic to the end of a safety pin and thread through the channel you have just made at the end of the sleeve.
Tie off with a double knot and repeat on the other sleeve.
Embellishment is not required on an art smock because if it is well used it will be splattered with paint and glitter very quickly but I had a couple of yoyos in my sewing basket and I couldn't help myself.
So there you have it, 3 art smocks ready for school and 3 old shirts saved from the rag pile.

Wet Weather Blues v Operation Pinterest

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The weather has been pretty rotten these past 2 days and C has been very unwell so our plans for a fun-filled end to the holidays hasn't been a great success. J and JW have been happy with card games and sprinting down the hall shouting 'sonic boost', C has been sleeping wanting to have her back scratched, Sweetie has been happy trying to keep up with J and JW but G has been running out of ideas. Once we remembered the great resource that is Pinterest however we found lots of things to try.
First up was a heart-shaped origami bookmark and some you tube origami tutorials.
The backdrop is a puzzle that G and I have been working on all holidays. We discovered two things doing this; 1. G does not enjoy puzzles and 2. I can get a little obsessive.
The next project has been in my Pinterest folder for a while and, after cleaning out G's wardrobe we had a bunch of t-shirts that are too small so we cut them into strips and got started.
They are fantastic and G is really enjoying making them. She has a large pile now in a range of colours and embellishments. Perfect for this age group and the tutorial is so clear she didn't need any help from me to figure her way through it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New floors, old photos, good friends, great conversation, laughing til it hurts, dust everywhere, a haircut and one case of tonsilitis makes for a very full weekend. The last week of the school holidays has started and we are hoping to make it a memorable week. Hopefully, C will be feeling better tomorrow and we can kick things off with a bang.

Piecing Curves

Thursday, January 19, 2012

 Piecing curves requires a lot of pins and that makes a mama nervous now that Sweetie is crawling and all the sewing happens in the living room. A quilt for my nephew is slowly coming together and if I can get over my fear of baby getting one of those pins I might be able to get it finished before the nephew turns 1.
It's a free-pieced pear. Well, it's supposed to be a pear. I shouldn't make declarations like that until the thing is finished because at this stage it does look a little like a heavily tattooed, plus sized nude. Hopefully, some applique will change that.

Dinner - Ponyo Soup

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thanks for the lovely comments on my most recent post. They have generated many more thoughts so I am bound to throw a few more pondering parenting posts your way before these holidays are over. But, while I am thinking about exactly what I'll write let me share a recipe for a simple dinner that we had tonight, Ponyo Soup. That's just regular noodle soup but with eggs like Ponyo and Sosuke have for dinner in the movie. The kids love that film and I think that they will enjoy the new Studio Ghibli movie too. It's based on The Borrowers books and if they haven't strayed too far from the original stories it is bound to be a lovely film.
These measurements are a little sketchy because, like all good soups, the quantities are slightly different each time so feel free to make any adjustments you want to make depending on how you like it.


Ponyo Soup

4 litres water
2 vegie stock cubes (I use massell)
1/2 to 1 cup light soy sauce
1/2 to 1 cup shao shing cooking wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 red chilli
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 boy choy, washed well and chopped
fine noodles (I used wheat noodles)
boiled eggs/tofu
crispy fried shallots
sriracha hot sauce

Bring the water to a simmer (not a boil) and add the stock cubes, diced onion and diced carrot and continue to simmer for 5 mins to soften the vegetables.
Add the soy sauce, cooking wine and sesame oil, stirring to combine. Add the red chilli whole.
Lightly simmer for a further 10 mins and then add the noodles and the stems of the bok choy leaving the green leaves aside.
In a separate saucepan prepare the boiled eggs and by the time they are ready the noodles should be well cooked.
Remove the chilli at the this stage and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve in large bowls, adding the boy choy leaves, the eggs, the fried shallots and the hot sauce just before eating.

I am not a fan of eggs (that's Mr Duyvken's bowl pictured above) and the kids didn't like them either so I think I'll stick with tofu next time. It was fun trying it though and the kids enjoyed eating a ponyo style dinner.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

About a week ago I mentioned a revelation that I had about mothering. I am pretty sure that I had just tripped over the vacuum cleaner cord as I was hurrying to the bathroom because one of the kids was calling out that there was no toilet paper. JW uses a lot of toilet paper... we're working on it. I had been tidying up the lunch things as quickly as I could before Sweetie woke up from his nap and trying to think of a suggestion for G when she (inevitably) declared that she didn't know what to do. I was feeling very flustered because I had a lot of stuff to do and a lot of renovation materials to find a place for when all of sudden it hit me. These little spot fires that I am always putting out with the kids; keeping the colourers well supplied with paper and pencils, keeping Sweetie well fed and entertained, keeping G in reading materials and having the head space to enjoy our chats, making time to enjoy the walks to the park, the swimming at Oma's pool and reading stories, is actually the 'job'. All the other stuff like cleaning and cooking and laundry is stuff that needs to get done but it isn't what I am staying home for. The stuff that I am staying at home for is all those little things that I can't schedule but just need to be around for. Playing fine leg at cricket is probably pretty similar, you've got to do a lot of standing around waiting for the moment that the ball comes your way but if you are also trying to be the greenkeeper you'll never be there when they need you.
The lack of schedule is one of the hardest things about being a stay at home mum and I think it's pretty common for women to struggle with it when they first go on maternity leave. You know those mums who go to two playgroups, gymbaroo, music classes and swimming every week? I think they're nervous about just being at home and seeing what develops. Just 'being' isn't that easy but it's a skill you can learn. I used to be really good at it. Some of my favourite memories with the kids have come about because we had time to spend hours creating a fairy hollow at the bottom of the garden or make roads all through the house using masking tape.
Over the years I have been more aware of this aspect and have found it easier to sit with but I am very glad to have rediscovered it and am looking forward to making it in important part of 2012.

What's for dinner?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spinach leaves, roasted butternut pumpkin, grilled haloumi, charred corn kernels, spanish onion and a dressing made with olive oil, caramelised balsamic vinegar, black pepper and a little ground cumin.
One dish dinners are perfect for summers. All the kids love this and Sweetie can eat an insane amount of pumpkin and haloumi. . We've had this twice already this week and I would happily eat it again tomorrow but I don't know how everyone else would feel about that :-)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I finally got the sewing machine out tonight and did some stitching. It felt wonderful. Sure, I'll need to vacuum again but it will be worth it. I have really missed these little windows of creative indulgence.
Some chenille, some ribbons from the stash, a small patch of corduroy that my mum saved from some trousers she shortened, and an hour of time stolen from the night after everyone in the house sleeps and I have made two taggie toys. One for sweetie and one for my nephew Tommy. Tommy is kicking back in Boston waiting patiently for his aunty to get on with making him a quilt. Hopefully, this will distract him for long enough for me to get my act together.

J turns 7

Friday, January 06, 2012

J's birthday is in the middle of December which is a crazy time of year here. School is wrapping up, everyone is getting ready for Christmas and he often feels a little sidelined so we always try to make sure that it is a very special day for him. Our yard is all torn up and covered with building supplies so having a party at our place wasn't going to happen but my darling mum let us use her yard and we were able to throw him a pretty special party. One of his favourite things at the moment is playing spies so we decided to roll with that. Welcome to the ISS 2011 Orientation.                                                 
The kids played robot army infiltration games, completed water bomb training and a few sleuth and stealth games too. They had a ball!

There is a park behind mum's house and the weather was perfect so we spent most of our time there. G really threw herself into the party planning and even organised individual treasure hunt cards so that everyone could find their own party bags. She's a very special big sister. 

and of course there was cake. Not the prettiest lego cakes you ever saw but I aimed higher than a donut stack cake :-)
10 school friends came and a bunch of cousins, aunts and uncles and J had a very, very special day.

We took photos of all the kids wearing sunnies when they arrived and 'fingerprinted' them so that we could make up some official spy licences to send out with the thank you letters. They've been a huge hit and considering how little time they took to make and laminate they were well worth the effort. 

It was a lot of fun! I do love organising the birthday parties. Have you had any themes that were particularly successful?

PS I had an epiphany today, a genuine epiphany about motherhood, on January 6th. Crazy! I am still clarifying it but will share it with you soon, I promise.

The tale of Sweetie and the bassinet

Monday, January 02, 2012

My blue-eyed boy was squeezed into the bassinet for much longer than he should have been but he is such a lovingly accommodating little lad he didn't seem to mind. However, when the heat picked up in November he became really uncomfortable so I started putting him in JW's cot for his daytime sleeps. We were in a holding pattern because JW really wants to move to a big girl bed (and is far too big to still be sleeping in a cot) but we still have the younger 4 in the one room and there simply isn't room for another bed in there. We've got the bunk, a cot and now a portacot set up in there. When I put Sweetie in JW's cot he cooed and chatted while he watched the sky through the windows and played with the side rails. When I put him in his portacot for the first time he looked around and saw his blanket and his snuggy bunny and smiled a smile that plumped up his cheeks and squeezed his eyes shut. It was pure delight, both for him and for me. He knew that this new space was just for him and he loved it. I look forward to setting that room up just for him and J, and setting up another room for just C and  JW. It does a mama good to see her babies feel that good.
Happy New Year to you all, may 2012 bring contentment and good health to us all.

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