Monday, May 31, 2010

Yo No.

Well, I must have angered the yogurt gods with my over-confidence and blase attitude toward measurements, temperatures and times.  A few nights ago, I made my second batch of attempted yogurt, and was even foggier than before about following directions.   I'll tell you what -- when I opened my oven door in the morning, I was greeted by two warm bowls of milk.  Oh no!  

I was determined not to let all that milk go to waste.  Perhaps, if I boiled it again, I could start over?  I put the milk in an extra-big soup pot, turned it on high and covered it.  And then the phone rang; my milk and good intentions were completely forgotten.  About ten or 15 minutes later I returned to find a pot of very hot milky water and what looked like giant cottage-cheese curds.  Again, oh no!  But perhaps all was not lost -- cheese is made from milk too, right?  Maybe I've accidentally made cheese?  I scoured the internet to try to discern what happens to milk when it is boiled and separates, but came up empty-handed.  Certainly, cheese is made from milk, and you can make it at home, but the information I found about that made it seem like a far more complicated process.

 

At any rate, I strained my cheese-like concoction through a colander and refrigerated it.  At lunch time I made a cold pasta salad with whole-wheat penne, black beans, sunflower seeds, balsamic, olive oil, avocado and my curds.  Absolutely, completely delicious. 

 

I have no idea what this is -- cottage cheese?  Ricotta?  Whey?  A completely stumbled-upon creation.  Yogurt gods, I promise to amend my non-measuring ways.  Cheese gods, thank you for stepping in and opening the door to a whole new realm of experimentation.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Seedling Giveaway (And the Winner Is.....)



After 7 looong days of rain, the sun is finally shining again here in Nelson.  We're celebrating by hanging out, oh, five loads of laundry, and of course by drawing the winner of the Seedling Clothing giveaway!  I've been really excited about this giveaway.  It's been wonderful to interact with all of you and to hear your feedback and suggestions.    I've loved reading your ideas and can't wait to get to work on some new designs.  Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts with me!


This morning, I decided that the fairest way to pick a winner was to draw names out of a hat (or basket, as it were) rather than by random number selection, seeing as I had left a few of my own comments as well.  If you left a suggestion, I wrote your name down twice, regardless of whether the suggestion was in a separate comment box.


The winner of the giveaway is Cami, of Palma De Mallorca, Spain!  She is pregnant with her first girl, due in August.  It's so exciting to think of one of my organic kimonos going across the world be be worn by a soon-to-be baby in Spain.  Congratulations, Cami!  If you could send your details to me at seedlingclothing@gmail.com, I would be much obliged.  In the meantime, I'll get your parcel all ready to go.

And thank you again to the rest of you!  I'm sure to hold more giveaways in the future -- it's been a wonderful experience.  I hope you all are having lovely weekends and that the sun is shining where you are, too.

~ Jen

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Last Day of Giveaway....


Hello!  Just want pop in quickly to say that today is the last day to leave a comment for the Seedling Clothing Felt shop giveaway.  If you haven't yet entered and want to, all you need to do is visit this post and leave a comment about which piece in my shop you'd like to win and why.  I'll draw the winner at noon on Sunday, May 30th.  Thank you to all of you that have entered and good luck!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Happiness is....



....the house smelling of baking bread....

....a fresh blade on my x-acto knife....

....talking to my family on skype....

....naps and time-to-work coordinating perfectly....

....a new print coming out in a way I didn't expect....

Of course, there are so many other things that make me happy, but these particular things are the ones I've been lucky enough to experience today. 

Last night, I had a heap of work to get done to prepare for my next My Baby and Me collection.  I dutifully cut a few designs and did some sketches.  But then, I just didn't feel like working any longer.  I felt like messing about, trying out new designs without worrying too much about whether they were actually usable.  I tried to resist self-editing and allowed myself the indulgence of an hour of "wasted" time if it came to that.  I found that I was cutting a lot of symbols that represented the beauty of the natural world and I came to imagine that they were a "welcome to the world" message for a very new baby.  All the things a new person has to look forward to seeing and experiencing....


I'll be honest, the cutting and individual painting for this piece took me ages.   Definitely a few solid hours.  But I'm happy with the result and I love to think that a special new baby will wear this one-of-a-kind design during his or her first months on the outside.  Perhaps I'll continue to do these in some sort of customizable way?    I can see a whole range of colors and imagery working.  It's exciting to what comes out if I just relax my expectations a bit!  I'll update my Felt shop over the weekend and include this new "Welcome to the World, Little One" sleeping gown.


(Doesn't it look cool this way?  Just experimenting with my camera, trying to figure out what all of the different settings do and how to take better photos.   Still have so much to learn.)

** By the way.... Just two days left to submit a comment for the Seedling Clothing giveaway.  I'll draw a winner Sunday, May 30th around noon.  Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yo.

Despite New Zealand's thriving dairy industry, purchasing quality yogurt can feel like a bit of a luxury, and the cost of organic yogurt here is nearly prohibitive.  Nonetheless, I'm a huge fan of the taste, nutritional value, and health benefits of natural yogurt, so I was game to try out this incredibly straightforward recipe I found in one of my most beloved magazine subscriptions.   (Um, actually my only magazine subscription.  Only and most beloved.)


The above (plus an oven, a saucepan, a towel, and a few extra bowls) is all that this recipe requires.

Preheat oven to about 100 degrees C (200 F)

Heat 1 liter (1 quart) of milk (non-fat or full-fat, depending on your preference) in a saucepan until it reaches the boil.  Keep a close eye on your milk -- it's liable to boil over quickly (as mine did.)  Once it boils, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand until the temperature cools to 43-46 degrees C (110-115 F) -- if you don't have a thermometer, just wait until the milk feels warm, but touchable.  If a skin has formed, try to skim off most of it.

Stir about 1/4 cup of natural yogurt into a bowl with about 1/2 cup of the heated milk, then transfer back into the saucepan and blend.

Turn off oven.

Divide milk/yogurt mixture into two bowls, cover with plastic wrap (or I used re-usable, shower-cap type covers) and then a towel.  Put into oven and allow to sit overnight (6-15 hours - - I erred on the lengthier side.)


I was a bit surprised at how well this worked.  I even fudged all of the particulars (amounts, temperatures, times....) and it still set.  Amazing!  I mean, of course -- yogurt has been around for about 4,500 years.   Long before grocery stores, yogurt makers, or mixes.   


 This yogurt was a bit runnier and milder than store-bought, but apparently, the longer it stays in the fridge, the tangier it gets.  S ate his for morning snack with cinnamon, I put some in the black bean soup I made for lunch, and baby A had hers straight -- the milder taste suited her just fine.

At a fraction of the cost of  ready-made yogurt, we're definitely signing up to be card-carrying members of the culture club.  (Yes, Groan.  Sorry, couldn't help myself.  Yogurt jokes abound!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pass it On.....

Yesterday, while browsing the lovely blogs from Kiwi Mummy Blogs, this post from Dear Colleen caught my eye:

I got an email this morning from Rebecca Marshall a student who follows me on facebook. She was just asking for five minutes to help her with a project. When I was studying I was forever trying to get people to help me with this sort of thing so I really understand what an uphill struggle it can be. 

CAN YOU HELP? Here's the brief: 
The theme is "because we are all different and need different things"....and she needs participants to write anything they want, on anything they like (on the above theme). then scan or photograph it and email it to her by hum, sorry tuesday.  (From Jen: actually, this deadline has been extended - - Friday of this week, but the earlier the better.)
The above is what Colleen creatively came up with, but all I did was take a photo from my sketchbook - - a note I'd written to myself the night before about some things I want to refocus on.  I titled it "wishes," but I think of these as needs.


 This really only took me a few minutes.  Like Colleen, I well remember being a student and trying to get help for these sorts of things.   If you have something you think could help Rebecca, please email by Friday at: iamrebecca@live.com

Also, if you are so inclined, feel free to re-post this, and widen the circle of helpers. 

Thank you so much!!

P.S.  Rebecca is not only an art student, but a new mother as well.  Kudos to her!  I am so impressed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cozy Monday

Outside it is wet, wet, wet;  The weather reports are predicting record rainfall for the next three days or so.... Second to sun, I love a good rainstorm next -- preferably with thunder and lightning, though we haven't seen those yet.  I resign myself happily to a few days of indoor activities, and sigh, the inability to do laundry.... (Conveniently, we've never purchased a dryer.  We just use a laundry line, which I love, but which also certainly has it's limitations during a rainy stretch.)

This morning, I had the chance to sit at my desk while the rain pounded outside.  The kids colluded wonderfully with my desire to do a few sketches -- baby A took an extra long nap, while S sat with his headphones on, listening to one audio book after another. **

I have an old book with gorgeous photographs of trees and shrubs that I picked up ages ago at a garage sale -- long before Seedling was even a glimmer in my eye.  I used a few of the photos for a mobile when S was a baby, and I think I planned to cut out others and use them for cards or mix-cd covers, but I'm so glad I never got around to it. 


This morning I cozied up with a hot mug of tea, an Anzac biscuit, and a notebook.



I have new stock arriving from My Baby and Me this week, and I'm feeling full of ideas and creative energy.  I can't wait to get to work!  I've absolutely loved hearing all of your suggestions in the Seedling giveaway comments.  Thank you so much for taking the time to share them with me. 

Hope you are all having lovely Mondays also.....


P.S. ** Audio Books -- these have continued to be a wonderful discovery.  On a whim, I did a search for kids' stories on itunes, and found an incredible (free) collection from many different sources.  We've now increased our audio book library by about a hundred-fold.  Of course, S wants to hear the same stories over and over, but we're gradually increasing our repertoire.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just one giveaway after another around here!


It has been incredibly exciting to connect with so many new people via the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway.  Amazing!  Thank you so much all of you fans, likers, readers, and followers -- it's wonderful to "meet" you through your comments and your own blogs.

To celebrate and to show you how much I appreciate each one of you, I want to hold another giveaway, this time via my Felt shop.  All you need to do to enter is visit my shop and leave a comment here on the blog about which piece of organic baby-wear you like best, and why you'd like to win it.  For extra credit, feel free to also comment on a print you might like to see in the future.  (I'm about to get a bunch of new stock, and I'd love to try out some fresh designs.)  The winner will be drawn randomly by the random number generator and will win their selected item.   Simply comment in the next week, and I will post the winner here on the 30th of May.  This giveaway is open internationally.  Everyone welcome!



Good luck!




Merino YOU! (And the winner is.....)

First, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you to all of you that entered this, my first Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway.  Participating in the giveaway and making new connections with all of you has been an amazing experience.  Thank you all for your comments and thank you for following the Seedling blog or for "liking" Seedling Clothing on Facebook.   Your support and interest are absolutely invaluable to me!

At exactly 4 pm New Zealand time, I used the random.org (by the way, such a cool site) random number generator, which produced the number 84.    I counted backward three times (a task that feels particularly difficult at this moment -- I think the ol' mama brain needs more frequent workouts....) and came up with the winner:  Vintage Queen Nina of Mannheim, Germany!!  Congratulations, Nina!  I'm so excited to package up your scarf and send it off across the world.  If you could email your details to seedlingclothing@gmail.com, I would be much obliged!  I'll send your parcel first thing Monday morning.

Again, thank you, everyone for entering my first giveaway.  To celebrate all of you and for reaching the milestone of 100 fans on Facebook and over 75 followers on the blog, I'll be hosting another giveaway, beginning later tonight!  I'll post details a bit later once the wee ones are tucked up in bed.

~ Jen

Dye! Dye! Dye!

Let it be said: I'm not much of a pink person.  However, as indicated by a few items of mysteriously pink clothing lingering in storage, this may not have always been the case.  I unearthed three pieces that would be perfectly fine, cute even, if only they weren't so.....well, pink. (Pink lovers, don't abandon me now!  Pink certainly has its merits -- just not on me.)


Pink, meh.  But red -- hey!  I like red!  Pink and red are closely related -- dying from one color to the other should work, right?   Well yes, sort of.  It took three attempts to get the shade I was after.  Mexican Red -- not really so red.  Tulip red -- also, not particularly red.  Finally, crimson -- mostly, pretty much red.  I now know that I may have been using too much material with my first two laundry-sink attempts.  (Word to the wise, when they say to use rubber gloves, they mean it.   Also, probably best not to wear your favorite sweater when working with dye.  Not that I would know anything about that.)  I ended up spending a bit more money in this revamp than I anticipated, but once I got going I was determined to make these things wearable, darnit!

I'm happy with the final shade -- still a hint of pink, but a really rich, vibrant hue that certainly leans more toward red.  Definitely wearable.   Definitely deserving of a future outside the storage boxes.


I love how the dye hasn't stuck to any of the synthetic material -- in this case the stitching and embroidery.




Hooray, success!  Now I'm inspired to dole out a few more dye jobs -- what will emerge next from those deep, deep storage boxes? 

**This is the day of the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway....   I will let the random number generator work it's magic at 4pm NZ time.  Good luck to all of you!!**

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Roastery


Welcome to our own little coffee cottage industry!  We began roasting our own green beans a few months ago -- one of those DIY skills, like bread-baking, that feels especially satisfying.   To be honest, it's a deceptively simple process....Our "roastery" consists of a popcorn maker and a corner of our garage.  We buy fair-trade, single-origin green beans from a local coffee shop for about a quarter of the price of roasted beans, and away we go!  There is a bounty of information about roasting your own on the web -- just type "coffee roasting+popcorn maker" into your search engine.  (Alternately, here or here may be good places to begin.  N.B. there are all sorts of important safety precautions that go along with this method -- please don't burn your house down!)



Learning the ins and outs of home roasting can take a few weeks -- through trial and error, we've found that we like a really dark roast that goes for as long as 6-7 minutes, and that leaving the beans uncovered for at least 24 hours after roasting results in a much improved taste. 

We roast our beans in a Breville popcorn popper we picked up for free, and we choose to roast without the lid on at all (the popper gets really hot, and it almost seems like the plastic lid could melt.)  We feel fine about the chaff (the outer part of the bean, which can create a bit of a mess) being less contained since it's outside in the garage.

My husband and S usually take on this piece of work -- S can help sift the beans and enjoys stirring them afterward during the cooling process.   I'm happy to let them go to it!  The smell of home-roasted beans wafting into the kitchen while I make dinner is just divine....And home-roasted brew, well, it's not exactly the same as coffee that's professionally roasted, but it's still pretty darn good  -- and getting better and better the more we experiment.  Plus, nothing tastes quite like a hot cup of self-sufficiency and economy  (stirred well to taste.)


Cheers!

**  Just one more day of the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway -- please be sure to enter if you haven't yet!**

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tank Dress


Oh!  How I love this little girl.   As she grows and becomes more upright, it's been fun to dress her in a few, well, dresses.   Because she inherits most of her older brother's clothing, and I'm happy to have her in primarily gender-neutral blues, greens, grays, reds and browns, I realize that I may sometimes need to make a special effort to embrace her feminine side as well.  Thus was born this dress -- the first I've made for baby A.  It's the product of another storage-box upcycle -- a tank I love, but which is seldom worn.    I simply trimmed a band at the waist to make it shorter, added three pleats to the neck, and hemmed along the inner arm holes to make them child-size.  Finally, I added ribbons to bring the waist in a bit.  I'm liking the results, and I'm happy to think that this dress will fit for quite a while -- through the toddler years, becoming a tunic as my girl gets bigger.


Amazingly, our autumn days still warm up enough for this dress to be worn on it's own; but it would also be easy to pair this with leggings and a cardigan in the coming months.  Yes, it's been good to celebrate a bit of femininity!  I can see more of these to come.

P.S.... My Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway will be continuing for two more days.  To all those that have left comments and have become followers, likers, or fans -- thank you so much!  It's wonderful to connect with so many new people.   I'll be hosting a giveaway of a different sort to celebrate 100 fans on Facebook, and over 60 followers on the blog; it will begin immediately after my Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway ends.  Details to come.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Merino YOU! (Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway)


I'm very excited to be participating in my first Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway!  I will be gifting this gorgeous charcoal-gray fine-knit merino scarf to one lucky reader.  I have yet to do the edging, as my entry was a bit last-minute, but I definitely will do so before sending.  (Ed. note - - I have just done the edging and it looks fantastic!  I am so pleased to be giving this beautiful scarf away.....)  The scarf is wonderfully soft and the perfect length for both warmth and style.  The dimensions are approximately 10 in x 80 in (25cm x 200 cm.)


So, here are the parameters:
- I will certainly ship internationally, everyone welcome!
- To enter, all you need do is become a fan on Facebook or become a follower of the Seedling blog and leave a comment here afterward.  If you're already a fan / follower, that's great!   You may leave a comment here as well. 
- I will draw the winner randomly after the giveaway has ended.  I will post the result here on the blog, and on Facebook.  For good measure, you may also want to leave your email address.
- The giveaway will continue until the 20th of May North American time (the 21st New Zealand time) -- simply leave your comment before then.
- Your scarf will be on it's way to you by May 24th!

Good luck!

Merino Me (Part Two)

Remember all that merino I stumbled upon?  I've been waiting and planning, trying to decide how best to use it.  I began with a very simple project first -- edging a small off-cut for a scarf.  It's actually perfect -- warm and soft, stretchy enough to tuck into itself easily.  I've loved wearing this as the weather has cooled. 


Next -- and this felt like a big jump -- I really wanted to make a tunic/dress.  This was certainly a lot more complicated, but I warmed up with this top, and did the same basic style.  Again, no pattern, but I'm feeling happy with the results.  Ideally, I would have loved more length -- maybe just past the knee?  But this was the size of the material I had, so, alas....  Ah well, you only live once.  May as well show a little leg from time to time.


I don't have many opportunities to wear a dress like this with my current lifestyle (which demands that whatever I wear be both easy to clean and easy to play in....) but it just so happens that my husband and I have an oh-so-rare date night planned for this Saturday.  I may actually feel like a grown-up!

As for the rest of the merino?  Well, I'm saving most of it for now.  But, I'm planning on participating in the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway starting, oh....tomorrow!  I'll be giving away a gorgeous charcoal-gray merino scarf, made from the same material as this dress.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Waste Not....


Even with our stringent de-cluttering policies, we are guilty (er, I am guilty) of letting a few plastic storage boxes of clothing I can't quite part with waste away in our garage.   I did a little digging this week and resurrected a once-loved top and a once-perfect, oft-repaired pair of favorite jeans.  The long sleeves of the top became these super-simple baby leggings  (forgive the grainy rainy-day exposure....)



And the jeans transformed like this....


I'll be honest, making these was a bit harrowing -- I wouldn't recommend denim or this type of stretchy cotton/lycra material to a newbie seamstress like me.  It's a miracle that both the machine and I survived!  I certainly honed my G-rated expletive range during this project.  The center photo is of S assisting with a gentle, soothing touch to appease the sewing machine.  It must have worked, since she allowed me to finish both projects with only the small casualty of a broken needle. Worth the sacrifice to breathe new life into these old favorites.....

Just quickly, a few photos from the shed/studio revamp:


The walls are up!  I think I'll be able to get in and do some painting in the next week.  Can't wait.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Baby and Me!

 

Here a few photos from the collection I recently did for My Baby and Me.  (To view the whole album, check out their Facebook page here.)  I found working on these incredibly satisfying and fun; Paul and Ange from My Baby and Me gave me full creative freedom, which was awesome!  These are soon to be available on the MBAM website.  So exciting.