Thursday, May 5, 2011

On the Move

It's done:  after months of being on the market we've just gone unconditional on the sale of our house.  Hurrah!  Now that it's all behind us, I can see in retrospect how stressful and all-consuming this process has been.  I've felt a complete lack of creativity for some time now, but as soon as we got the final word, I felt a sudden urge to get back into the studio.  If was as though I was putting all of my energy into the project of selling the house, and as soon as I was able to put my mind at rest, everything else relaxed and opened up.  I'm spending as much time out in the studio as possible before we go -- tying up loose ends, finishing WIPs, and working on one last custom order.  A bittersweet leaving.  Feeling happy and lucky that this move has all worked out and sad to leave the spaces that I love so much.

We'll move into a rental now while we begin the long process of looking and saving for a piece of land in the country.  While the rental we've found is incredibly beautiful and has many wonderful merits, it does not have a studio space.  I'm not sure where exactly this leaves Seedling Clothing -- whether I will be taking an extended hiatus, or whether the business will evolve in some other direction.

 An enormous thank you to everyone who has supported me here on the blog and also in other venues like Facebook or through my Felt and Etsy shops.  You've been amazing!  Will certainly keep you updated as my ideas develop and we've resettled.

All the best,  Jen  xx

Friday, March 4, 2011

Handmade For Christchurch

Have you checked out the Handmade for Christchurch auctions on Trade Me?  They're incredible!  Every item has been bid on -- sometimes up to 80 bids for a single item.  Apparently, there are hundreds of donations yet unlisted (there is a limit to how many listings can be created each day.)  It's amazing to see the energy and involvement behind the appeal -- I can only imagine how much money they'll raise.  Trade Me has forgone any listing or success fees and 100% of all proceeds go to the Red Cross and Christchurch Women's Refuge.  All of the work behind listings and correspondence with donors/bidders is being done on a rotating volunteer basis. 

So far, I've donated one item (as yet unlisted) and may donate more as the auctions continue.  This one-of-a-kind Vehicles Organic Kimono Onesie will be up for grabs.  Check out the auctions and bid bid bid for a very worth cause!

You can save Handmade for Christchurch as a favorite seller  to have their latest listings emailed to you.  Or become a liker on Facebook to support the H4C team and keep updated on all of their goings-on. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Purple Cake Day!!

March 1st marks the first annual Purple Cake Day throughout New Zealand.  Do you know about Purple Cake Day?  It was begun by Emily Sanson-Rejouis in conjunction with her charity, the Kenbe La Foundation as an effort to "....celebrate the children in our lives and empower them to help other children in need worldwide."  Today in Nelson all of the schools are holding events to fund-raise for the children of Haiti and to help build a school there.  In the wake of New Zealand's own devastating earthquake just a week ago, some of the funds raised will also go to help the children of Christchurch. 

Purple Cake day is especially close to our hearts because Emily is a member of our Montessori community.  She lost her husband and two oldest daughters in the Haiti quake; her surviving daughter is Solomon's classmate.  I've been holding Emily and her family in my thoughts in the weeks leading up to this event.  It was wonderful to see so many Nelsonians dressed in purple today, and to dance and sing along with "The Purple Cake Day Song" at Montessori -- it felt as though the community was unified, supporting Emily and her work wholeheartedly.

The students will be talking about the lives of children worldwide this week and will be discussing their hopes and wishes for those less fortunate than they.  What a wonderful opportunity to expand our children's perspective and to engage them in helping others within their community and beyond.

I've also been searching for ways to help with the Christchurch relief effort.  It's hard to believe, as our lives go on as normal, that just five hours down the road it will take a very long time for "normal" to resume.  My heart breaks for the lives that have been lost in the earthquake and for all of the families and children there.  New Zealand's spirit is strong and it's strength as a community unparalleled.  I know that we will come together to help the city of Christchurch as much as is humanly possible.

I'll be auctioning off some of my pieces through either the Lil'Magoolie ChCharity Auction or the Handmade for Christchurch site (or perhaps both!) soon -- more details to come.

If you'd like to learn more about Purple Cake Day, follow the link here.

I hope that all of you and your loved ones are safe and well.  x Jen

ps, Alas, it only occurred to me to make Solomon's t-shirt late yesterday afternoon.  Next year, I'll get my act together and make a few more as an additional fund raising effort for Purple Cake Day through Montessori.  I'm so glad that this will be an annual event!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Creative Space

This week, I'm very excited to have begun a four-week textile design course with the lovely Karuna of Design Crafty.  I feel as though most of my ideas usually revolve around what would work well for hand-printing, and figuring out all of the wonderful things that a professional printing company can do with fabric opens up a whole world of possibilities.  Repeating blocks!  Mirror images!  The magic that Karuna worked with her computer after our initial exercise was pretty amazing. 

In the first class we put together "mood boards" which functioned to gather inspiration and focus our ideas.  Having never been to art or design school, this was my first mood board assembly.  I really enjoyed the process, and after I came home, I found myself ripping pages out of magazines to set aside for future image collections.  Here are some photos of the mood board I set up in class.

I've been working with a pen and watercolors to visualize different designs.  I haven't played around much with watercolors in the past, but I really love the effect.  When I got home, Solomon and I set out the paints and worked side by side for a while during Aya's nap.

If you live in the Nelson area and are interested in Karuna's classes, you can find out more here.

I'm playing along with the fabulous Kootoyoo this week.  By the way, I'm loving the new look of Kirsty's blog.  She's just switched from Blogger to Wordpress, and the outcome makes that transition look awfully tempting.  Hmmm, something to think about. 

x Jen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the Kitchen....

I've recently been enjoying a renewed interest in back-to-basics cooking: learning to make everyday things from scratch.  After getting a bit lazy over the holidays, we're back to making our own bread, and I'm making yogurt again.  This weekend, I felt like I was in the kitchen for entire afternoons.  A bit ridiculous, considering how insanely hot it was.  I thought about the women of our great-grandmother's generation and how they would have spent long days preserving and making sauces and jams in the late-summer heat.  I was lucky to be in shorts and not a long Victorian skirt, no?

At any rate, two of my new ventures were making homemade crackers and tomato relish.  I'd never experienced tomato relish in the States, but in New Zealand, it seems to be a pantry staple.  You can use it on crackers with cheese, in pasta sauces, or anyplace you would use ketchup.  Believe me, it is soooo much better than ketchup.  Heinz is out.  Tomato relish is in.

Our family's lovely auntie talked me though the final steps, and in the end, I felt quite proud of the joint effort (Jake for growing the tomatoes, me for preserving them, and Auntie Shelley for teaching me how.)

And crackers -- really pretty easy.  I've become aware recently of how many ingredients even the healthiest crackers have, and in the interest of simplifying and eating fewer preservatives and additives, I think homemade crackers are the way to go.  Hopefully I'll have the patience to keep these going -- they were delicious and felt like much more of a special treat than store-bought crackers.

I used the recipe from Alison Holst's "Dollars and Sense" cookbook -- one of my best and most often used purchases from the flea market.  She calls for two cups of white flour, but I used half white and half wholemeal (wholewheat) flour and that worked fine.

Homemade Crackers
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
25 g cold butter
1 Tbs golden syrup or malt
about 1/2 cup water (I used more)

Mix dry ingredients well.  Rub in cold butter.  Mix the golden syrup with the water and add in slowly until the mixture is damp enough to form a roll-able dough.  Roll out thinly, using flour to keep the dough from sticking.  Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or knife.  Prick each cracker in a few places and bake on a lightly greased tray for 10-15 minutes until golden.  Cool and store in an airtight container (if you don't eat them all first.)

And finally, I found myself out in the studio a few nights ago really and truly intending to do some serious work.  But I was confronted by my stack of thrifted plates and some leftover paint that would have dried out had I not used it immediately (I swear!) I played around a bit more, with better results than the first time.  Rather than fight the tacky, quick-drying texture of the paint, I just avoided layering all together. I have to remind myself that complicated doesn't = good.  Sometimes (meaning usually) simple is best.

I hope your week is off to a good start. x Jen

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Creative Space

This week, I've been playing around with something a bit different....we were given a lovely set of matching dinnerware recently, and suddenly all of my op-shop plates seemed a bit extraneous.  I bought ceramic paint ages ago, and it's been withering away in my desk drawer, so I decided to experiment with a new medium.

I used both a pen and paint for these ("Porcelaine" brand) and the consistency of each took some getting used to.  Now that I've got the hang of it though, I'm feeling hooked.  It's a good thing I have a whole pile of plates to go through.  The paint is dishwasher resistant, but I imagine these more as little depositories for trinkets or keys than for eating off of.  I'm sure I'll end up giving most of them away -- because really, there's only so many trinket plates my husband will tolerate.

Playing along with the lovely Kootoyoo this week.  Find links to many more creatives and their spaces here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

At My House

We've been enjoying....

:: Produce from the garden.  Lettuces, beans, blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes....Here's Aya eating the first apple off the tree we planted for her when she was born.  (The are 26 more on the little sapling, so we'll all get a chance to sample them in a few weeks time.) ::

:: First forays into preserving and jam making. ::

:: Experimenting with infusions. This one is raw apple cider vinegar with basil -- supposedly a 
natural immune booster.  I've been making "quick pickles" using this as marinade for 
raw veggies like cucumber and beans.  Perfect as a pre-dinner snack. ::

:: Refueling after long weekend runs. ::

And finally....homemade peanut butter.  I found the recipe here, on one of my favorite foodie blogs.  I swear up and down, this peanut butter is the best you'll ever eat.  Instructions are as follows: dump a bunch of quality (roasted, salted) peanuts in your food processor, add a glug of oil (I just use canola) and whizz until it reaches your desired level of chunkiness (2-3 minutes.)  Refrigerate.  I gave jars of this out for Christmas this year; I wish I could have told people I labored away, stomping on peanuts or grinding them with a mortar and pestle -- but truly, it couldn't have been easier.  Our locally-made (albeit very good) peanut butter is up to nearly $20.00 a kilo.  Making our pb at home (and how much more local could you get?) costs about a third of that -- $7.00/kg.  My only problem with this recipe is that if we're in stock, I seem to qualify multiple spoonfuls of the stuff as a meal.  Must work on willpower.

Next up:  homemade crackers.  I'll let you know how it goes.

x Jen