Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cloth pad swap!

Hopefully the recipient likes it - and doesn't read this blog ;)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More slinging fun

This is a wrap conversion ring sling, meaning it's made from a piece of a woven wrap. For those who don't know, woven wraps are fantastic for babywearing, particularly for heavy babies and toddlers. The fabric is specially woven for the purpose, with just a bit of diagonal 'give'.

I made the shoulder a bit wider on this one, because full movement of that arm isn't as vital, and supportiveness is more important. I love how quick it was to sew, because I only needed to hem one end as the wrap was already hemmed.

Sling refashion!

My Solarveil ring sling was one of the first carriers I ever made, and the shoulder really wasn't comfy for me. It was a pretty poorly done pleated/Sleeping Baby Productions shoulder style with aluminium rings. I found it reaally hard to adjust as well. My SBP shoulder non-water sling is fine, but I think this was bad because (a) I suck at sewing that shoulder, and (b) I found it restricted my arm too much for playing with my other children in the swimming pool (particularly now that I have a 6yo AND a 2yo plus the baby).

So I cut out the rings, and I was scared because I can't get any more Solarveil, as the fabric is discontinued. (Although it was way too long so I could always cut more and start again.) Firstly, I overlocked the selvedge and did a rolled hem on that edge too. What can I say, I was lazy and figured since the selvedge wouldn't fray, it was ok, but the messy selvedge was making it harder to adjust. Then I put in nylon rings instead of aluminium, because Jan Andrea's site suggested the nylon are easier to adjust. The shoulder is a hotdog style, and I deliberately made it very narrow. I doubt I'll be using it outside water much, so long-term supportiveness isn't that important, it's more important that it not restrict my arm movement.

Of course, the baby's in bed, so I had to try it with Mr Panda, but I think I like it much better than I did before.

It's still too long, but I'm going to wait to check it's comfy with
Evelyn before I chop it for good. (I wrote this post last night and tried it this morning - very comfy, but I'm in my pyjamas so no photo!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Simple, but yummy. I don't usually write out recipes, just make 'em up in my head, but here goes.

Watermelon 'sorbet'
This is what I made up tonight when I was craving ice cream and there was none in the house. It is sugar-free! All quantities are approximate, I don't measure. Agave nectar is a natural, low-GI sweetener available from health-food stores.
2 cups frozen watermelon chunks
2/3 cup coconut cream
a squeeze of agave nectar (to taste)
a handful frozen raspberries (other fruit with robust flavour will work, the mixture was too bland with just the watermelon)

Throw everything in the blender and blend. A food processor would probably work better. It's not scoop-able (too liquidy) but it's very refreshing!

Beef & vegie pasta bake (serves 4)
Made this up because all the pasta bake recipes I've found use sauces that are too rich for what my partner likes (either too tomatoey or too creamy), and pasta bake is a great way to use up floppy vegies from the bottom of the crisper. Use whatever vegies you have.
200g beef mince (ground beef)
2 carrots
a head of broccoli
1 medium sweet potato
2 cloves garlic
about a tsp oil, depending on how good your pan is!
150g crushed or diced tomatoes (canned or over-ripe fresh ones)
100mL cream
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp dried thyme
2 handfuls grated cheese
salt & pepper
500g pack dried pasta of your choice - I used macaroni

If you have a pan that can go from stovetop to oven, all the better. Otherwise you need a pan AND a baking dish. I love my Square Roaster from Chef's Toolbox.

Cook pasta according to packet directions, and drain. Cook (boil, steam or microwave) vegies until just tender, and drain. I cook them all in the same pot to save washing up!

Meanwhile, brown the mince in a pan with crushed garlic cloves. Add tomatoes, cream & thyme. Mix the cornflour with a little of the stock to make a paste, then add cornflour and stock to the pan.

Add drained pasta and vegetables to pan (or transfer both to baking dish), and toss to combine. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Place in a preheated 180C oven for about 15 minutes or however long it takes to feed the baby :P

Healthier banana muffins (with credit to this recipe for the original)
175g wholemeal spelt flour
75g plain/allpurpose flour
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 cups mashed ripe banana
110g butter, softened
2 eggs
5 tbsp milk
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda/bi-carb soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add agave nectar and eggs and mix until combined well.

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and fold into liquid ingredients until combined.

*Optional: add walnut pieces. My kids don't like nuts, so I fill a mini muffin tray for them, then add walnuts and fill a regular muffin tray for us grown-ups. This makes 18 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins plus 8 regular muffins.*

Fill greased* muffin trays. *I use good silicone bakeware, so I don't grease.

Bake in a preheated 175C oven for 12 minutes (mini muffins) or 20 minutes (regular muffins). My oven cooks fast, so check they are cooked in the middle.

Lemon tartlets (makes 5 tartlets)
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
(basically, 1 large lemon will give you this easily)
1/3 cup caster sugar
50g butter, chopped
about 7 plain sweet biscuits
about another 50g butter, melted

Whisk eggs, lemon juice, lemon rind and sugar in a saucepan. Add chopped butter and whisk over a low heat for 6-8 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, allow to cool down.

Crush biscuits (I use the ol' plastic bag and rolling pin trick). Add melted butter and mix. Press into tartlet cases (you could use muffin trays, but the tartlet cases look cool!) and refrigerate.

Fill tartlet cases with lemon curd. Place a couple of berries on top if you like.

These are not healthy. But they are sooooo good.

Poor Evie had to settle for the plate (she's not on solids yet):

And someone requested a photo of Alastair in his guitar T-shirt. This was when he ran off when I tried it on him, only half-completed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rock on, baby

This is my first go at making a T-shirt. I want raglan sleeve ones for the kiddos, and I figure if I can make them, I can make them out of old adult T-shirts or something.

I drafted the pattern myself, with guidance from a couple of shirts Alastair already had, and worked out how to put it together with the assistance of the tute I used for the Christmas shirts. The sleeves don't sit quite right at the neck, so I'll have to work on that, but it's not so obvious when worn.

Alastair ran off with it when it was half finished and I tried it on him for size. "My guitar shirt! Mine!" So I guess he likes it ;)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A simple refashion

The baby went back to sleep quite easily after waking at 10, so I stayed up and got some things done.


This long-sleeved t-shirt of my daughter's had been the victim of a paint incident, leaving a big stain on the front and some bad staining around one sleeve. At some point after taking this photo it got stabbed with some scissors just below the large paint stain, too, leaving a hole.

I darned up the hole (very dodgily, but you can't see it), put novelty buttons over the stain and the hole, and then two more buttons on the opposite side to draw the eye away from where the stain is, and add balance. I cut off the stained portion of the sleeve and the same amount from the other sleeve.

I couldn't decide how to finish the sleeves - the obvious move would have been to do a lettuce edge with my overlocker, but I've only white and black thread for it, which would have looked odd. They were cut a bit too short to turn under and hem. So I used the original sleeve ends and sort of French-seamed them on. I'm not 100 per cent happy with it, and if I can lay my hands on some co-ordinating overlocker thread, I might undo it. But it does look more interesting than just plain short sleeves!

The large bag of novelty buttons I got cheap at Spotlight seems to be a good buy.

Getting on with things

Now that all the Christmas craziness is over, I need to get serious about the piles and lists of unfinished craft projects.

I fixed up a few things in the mending pile last night - a pair of my pyjama pants that had ripped near the seam, and a hoodie (also mine) that had a hole along the seam joining the hood to the collar. Both quickly fixed with the overlocker - and both would probably have been thrown out a year ago.

I think I'm due a tidy-out of the sewing room next, though (well, the hobby room - it's half mine for sewing and half my partner's for his music stuff). Eek. De-clutter, de-clutter!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Evie's Tikki dress

It's not really long enough. I got impatient at the end! I could undo the bottom hem and make it longer, but I don't know if I will. I'm making a matching soaker anyway.


I must be learning better consumption habits: I went to the shopping centre today, returned some unsuitable gifts and couldn't find anything worth buying to replace them. The store credit's valid for 3 months so I hung on to it. I'm really aiming to keep spending at a minimum - groceries, obviously, and then using gift cards I'm either given or that we earn with reward points, for 'fun' purchases.

In which case I need to get cracking on Alastair's birthday! Any hand-made present ideas for a little boy turning three?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A new year has begun

I don't normally do New Year's Resolutions, but I have two this year:

1. To finish my Graduate Diploma. This shouldn't be a problem - I only have one unit to go! So far I have a credit average, I'd like to finish on a high note and get a distinction or high distinction.

2. To simplify and de-clutter my life. This one has a lot of facets. I want to save money, or rather, I want to spend money on home improvements to make our life better, rather than 'stuff'. I also want to consume less 'stuff' from an environmental point of view, and health-wise, to make more food from scratch.


An excellent and thrifty habit I have gotten into lately is making popcorn on the stove.

For a while I was using the packaged microwave popcorn, but ugh, have you ever looked at an ingredients list? Yuck. It also costs a couple of dollars a bag. For $2.50 I can buy a kilo of popcorn kernels. That's enough to make a LOT of popcorn.

The kids love it too! Sure, air-popped popcorn would be healthier, but a bit of oil and salt won't kill me - at least I know what's in it.