29 August 2014

Sewing Inspiration - Boy Style

Recently I was asked what inspires my sewing. I thought it would be fun to answer that by posting some of the things I use for inspiration, and maybe tell you some of the ways I get inspired.

One thing about me is that I really hate clothes shopping. Another thing about me is that I love fabric and I love to sew. I love the challenge of finding an amazing piece of fabric that just happens to fit with something on my inspiration board waiting to be made. I also love to find things in thrift stores or op shops as they are called here in NZ.

Every so often I sit down at the computer and troll around shops and fashion sites and other blogs and I look for inspiration. I am usually looking for the next season's wardrobe needs. When I find something I like, I save a picture and then I put together collages like the one below. I then look to see what I have and what I can make. 

From last fall, a collage for my youngest for church and other occasions when he might need to look extra sharp:

Inspiration for the Corduroy Jacket

Boys secret wash white shirt in poplin ($34.50) J Crew
Boys Ludlow sportcoat in corduroy ($98) J Crew
Tangerine and White cotton necktie ($15) The Tie Bar
Boys Sun faded Chino ($49.50) J Crew

In the closet, he already had a white button down shirt and the chinos (Old Navy uniform shop $10). I had a great piece of blue corduroy and I'd been wanting to try making a blazer. 

Mission accomplished. although, truth be told, those chinos are victims of a recent growth spurt, and so for spring, he has recently swapped them out for a pair of (Old Navy uniform shop) chino shorts that will work just fine. However, I have been looking around for some great material to play with making him a pair of pants. It could happen. 

Do you sew? What inspires you?

28 August 2014

Tween Fashionista - Tunic Re-Fashion

You know that stage where it's not long enough to be a tunic and not short enough to be a cute t-shirt? That was happening with this cute sweatshirt tunic belonging to the tween fashionista. I took a long look at it and decided it could be a pretty awesome skirt. 

So I measured how long the skirt needed to be, plus allowance for the seam at the waist. I chose to do a wide elastic waistband rather than a casing because that way I wouldn't lose much length - you'll see why - and I cut. That's always the scariest part, lol.

Next, I cut a piece of wide elastic to her measurements for the waistband. I used this blog post as a guide for sewing the elastic waistband. It is super easy, but DON'T SKIMP ON THE PINS! 

Note the pretty amazing contrast between taking photos at night after kids are in bed and during the day. I always like to point out my inadequate photography work...

Here's what I ended up with:

I especially like how the pockets worked out. 

Next, for kicks, I decided to see what I could do with the top piece. Maybe a cute shrug? I found some dotted tulle that was a pretty close match to the tulle on the skirt, gathered it a little and pinned it to the raw edges. It needed a little something more, and after some experimenting, I decided just to fold the raw edge to the front and sew the gathered tulle underneath.

Finally, I handed it off to the tween fashionista for styling and pictures.

Tween fashionista verdict? Loves the skirt, the crop top she will have to think about. You may see it again later in a different outfit, or maybe not. Only she knows. 

27 August 2014

Oven Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Lately at our house, we've been working hard on helping our kids get their 5 servings of fruits and veggies. Well, let's be honest. We all need a little help with it. Part of the fun is adding interesting new vegetables and fruits to our repertoire. 
Our new veg this week is the parsnip. It may be a familiar one to many of you, but it's not one that has been commonly used in my family. Here's what I learned about parsnips:

The parsnip is rich in vitamins and minerals and is particularly rich in potassium. The consumption of parsnips has potential health benefits. They contain anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol and methyl-falcarindiol which have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. The high fiber content of parsnips may help prevent constipation and reduce blood cholesterol levels.
That's all good. Even better, they taste great. We had them roasted with carrots. Even our pickiest ate them up. Want to try some?

Oven Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

8-10 carrots
8-10 parsnips
1/4 cup good olive oil
2-3 tsp. sea salt or Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 230C (425F). Cut the carrots and parsnips into sticks. You don't want them too thick, but they do shrink while cooking, so not too small either. In a large bowl, toss the carrots and parsnips with the olive oil and salt. Spread on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, or until they are done to your liking. Remove from oven and add the freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
Makes a delicious and versatile side dish. 

25 August 2014

Menu Plan Monday


Roast Chicken


Black Bean and Kumara Burritos


Chicken Pot Pie




Pasta and meatballs


Pad Thai



20 August 2014

Mini Chocolate Muffins - Lunchbox Series

These are the perfect bite-size dessert for school lunches. They freeze beautifully and have a little banana puree hidden inside.

Mini Chocolate Muffins

½  cup (115g) butter
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
½  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾  cup all-purpose flour
½  teaspoon baking soda
¾  teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
½  cup granulated sugar
¼  cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ a large banana, mashed
½  cup buttermilk
a couple handfuls of chocolate chips (optional)

In the microwave, in a glass bowl, melt the butter and baking chocolate together, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, sugars, flour soda and baking powder. Slowly pour in the chocolate/butter mixture, blending as you pour. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well. Mix in vanilla, banana and buttermilk and blend until combined. Add chocolate chips if desired. Line a mini muffin tin with cupcake liners and fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for about 14 minutes or until cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool and freeze in Ziploc freezer bags for up to a month.

19 August 2014

Around Wellington - Sometimes it's just about the food

Japanese Kitchen - Hataitai, Wellington

This unassuming take-aways shop is open from 5:00 - 8:30 pm Monday - Saturday. 

We certainly enjoyed our meal. The servings are generous and the food is delicious.

Teriyaki chicken

Volume Bento

18 August 2014

Menu Plan Monday




Baked Potato Bar


BBQ Chicken drumsticks


Crockpot Enchiladas
going to try this homemade enchilada sauce


Fish - TBD


Salad Day
Green salad bar
Couscous Salad



14 August 2014

The Anywhere Dress is another awesome pattern from Go To Patterns & Co. I have a bunch of patterns from different designers there. Every pattern I have made from Go To Patterns has been quick, and the fit has been as hoped for based on the measurements and the pictures. 

For this particular dress, I used a medium weight sequin striped knit. The tween fashionista happens to be a little sensitive to texture (OK, a lot sensitive) so I lined the dress with a medium weight knit with the slinky feel of a slip. 

As usual, she rocks it. 

13 August 2014

Black Bean and Chicken Quesadillas

These savory quesadillas are quick and easy, and the perfect way to use up leftover black beans and cilantro lime chicken. We seem to often have those leftovers at our house. They heat up quickly, and are delicious with a side of your favorite salsa. 

Black Bean and Chicken Quesadillas

Flour tortillas
Black Beans (canned or home-made)
Shredded chicken
Shredded cheese
Hot sauce or salsa (optional)

Heat a good size frying pan and warm up the tortillas. Layer the ingredients: tortilla, shredded cheese, shredded chicken, black beans and more cheese, and top with another warm tortilla. Cook until lightly browned and flip over to brown the other side. Cut into triangles and serve. 

Look for that mango salsa recipe soon!

12 August 2014

Around Wellington - Cable Car

In operation since 1902, the Wellington Cable Car runs from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn. It runs every 10 minutes and is still used by area residents as well as tourists.

At Lambton Quay, there is access to the shopping and business district of downtown Wellington. Halfway up is a stop allowing easy access to Victoria University from Salamanca.

At the Kelburn end, there is the free Cable Car Museum, including 2 cable cars (one kids can climb on) and the old cable and wheels to view. Also from Kelburn, you can catch a shuttle to Zealandia or take a short walk to the Botanic Gardens.

11 August 2014

Menu Plan Monday

snow up in the hills - amazing!

This week at our house, we are starting a new challenge. With charts and everything. We are going to make sure we are all getting our 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Some of us don't have  a problem with it, but some of us do...and we're all in this together. Happily, lots of delicious fruits and vegetables are easily available here, even in winter. We'll be looking for new things to try and new ways to eat old favorites. 

How do you get more fruits and veggies in your diet?


TBD - pork chops?
Roasted carrots and parsnips


Burrito/taco night
Crock pot beans


Roasted vegetable frittata


Thai Chicken wraps
Asian Coleslaw


Fish n' Chips
Fruit salad




Roast Chicken and Veg in Crockpot

07 August 2014

Sewing for the Boys

Admittedly, this young man is nowhere near as interested in modeling as the Tween Fashionista. He did kindly permit me to take photos for about 3 minutes. So we get what we get and we're not throwing a fit. Also, is it just me or are those pants flooders?

This is burda kids 9533. I liked how the jacket turned out. *Rant ahead*
I hated the pattern. I HATED the pattern. Sorry burda. But seriously. One expects slightly more than half a page of instructions for a fully lined, collared jacket pattern. One really, really does. Also, one expects that in pattern testing that someone would notice that they failed to mention that certain pieces should be cut out of not just interfacing, but actual fabric as well. I don't really want to talk about the piecing nightmare that created. Also there is WAY too much ease in the sleeves for a boys jacket. Boys do not appreciate the effect of a gathered sleeve. Nor do their mothers. Just saying. As a fairly experienced sewist, I could work with these defects, but I won't pretend I was happy about it. Burda, this is not a good trend. I have not loved a single one of your patterns yet. *End Rant* Now, back to the cute guy in the jacket:

I chose a thin wale, dark blue corduroy for the jacket with a plaid shirting for the lining. I like it, and more importantly, so does he.

I like how the lining peeks out from the pockets and the elbow patches. The elbow patches were meant to just be zigzagged on, but the corduroy frays pretty badly and I didn't like the look, so I lined them to match the pockets. I also lowered the buttons just a bit from the pattern placement. Overall, pretty happy with how my first lined jacket turned out. 

06 August 2014

Butterscotch Bon Bon Cookies - LunchBox Series

These are the perfect little cookies for school lunches. They are buttery and delicious, but they won't crumble into bits in the box. Make up a triple batch and store in the freezer for up to a month (if they last that long). Also, while they are not gluten free, they are egg free - just in case you have someone with an egg allergy.

Butterscotch Bon Bon Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour

Heat oven to 350 F (175 C). Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Mix in flour. If dough is dry, I add a little melted butter. Milk or water will tend to toughen up the cookies a little too much, in my opinion. Scoop by the tablespoon, roll into a ball and place about 1" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. These cookies do not spread much. Bake 12 minutes, or until set, but not brown. Cool and roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 2 dozen.

05 August 2014

Around Wellington - or maybe a little further out


We are roaming a little further afield this time - heading north toward Masterton to visit the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Refuge. 

What could they possibly be looking at?

Some of the guests were invited to feed the longfin eels. They feed them the leftover kiwi food, as well as trapped mice and other funky stuff. 

 Watching the Kaka feed was lots of fun. They are lively, social birds. They especially like cheese and sometimes fight over the chunks of cheese in the feeders. They can travel long distances, and some may fly from the Mount Bruce refuge south to a refuge near Wellington, or maybe over to Kapiti Island for a visit. 

Manukura white kiwi

Pukaha Mount Bruce is also home to the only little white kiwi ever born in captivity. She is not albino, but the result of recessive genes that make her pure white. Manukura is her name. It means "of chiefly status." She is considered a blessing by local iwi (tribe) Rangitane o Wairarapa. 

We really enjoyed our visit. There was plenty to do, including ranger talks periodically during the day and a couple of good walks through the refuge where we could see birds, tuatara and native bush.

01 August 2014

Friday Favorites

I absolutely love the skin care line from doTerra. The older I get, the drier my skin has become. I have tried numerous low and high end products and still, my face would feel tight after washing and moisturizing. I have been using the clearskin Foaming Face Wash for about 9 months now, and the difference is amazing. Not only does my skin feel happier, I have fewer bad hormonal breakouts and what I do get heals faster. You can read more about this product here.