Sunday, December 18, 2011

PHB Final Days

I did it!  365 days and every single day bar one in May (when I was very ill) I had my baby wearing at least one handmade item.
(Read about the original challenge/idea here)
Here are the final days of Project Handmade Baby:

 Day 364 - December 4th: the 'b is for' appliqued onesie, and the chocolate brown overalls with striped Levana merino lining.  Plus all the bibs, nappies, etc. etc. etc!

 Day 365 - December 5th: the darling blue sideways-knit short-sleeved vest from The Spot in Johnsonville.  The foreboding runny nose was just the beginning of yet another challenging week...

 And the piece de resistance!!
I mentioned earlier on the blog that I learnt how to crochet this year.  Also I have a thing about Pinterest at present where instead of just Pinning wildly, I'm trying to DO as many things as I can.  So... I crocheted a Very Hungry Caterpillar beanie!!  Complete with purplue antennae, just like the book (not brown as I'd seen on Pinterest pins).  The plan was for him to wear them for his 1st Birthday Party which I'd planned so thoroughly to be a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme!  More on that later (if I can manage, I was soooo disappointed it didn't go ahead!).  There were a few wonderful friends coming to the party, which was more for us to say thanks: in the early days of our family becoming four we had a lot of challenges, and were so, so blessed by friends who cooked and baked for us, would lend a hand where they could, and generally kept us above water.  Le Sigh.

My poor sick birthday boy! December 6th 2011
 Sadly we had to cancel the birthday party as both he and I became very unwell with different things...  We spent 8 hours in Wellington A&E instead.  It was AMAZING weather - no wind (yes I'm serious, no wind in Wellington!!!) and slightly cloudy skies, it was the perfect day to have a party.  I made a VHC onesie (see below) which he didn't get to show off as he was being treated for wheezing in hospital.  My poor wee angel.  Both my boys have had a rough run with health, and this was just rotten timing.  If I get the chance I'll do another post about the party prep, but I have boxed it all up and one of the boys can have a VHC party next year I think - at least most of the prep is done huh!!  That's me: always a silver lining. 

So here's the onesie prep: take one unworn onesie, one Very Hungry Caterpillar t-shirt which didn't really fit that well, and some sewing supplies.  Half an hour later and I had a very sweet onesie for my boy to wear - I attached a cutout of the image to the front, sewed it into the side seams, did a few other magic touches and voila!

So that's the end!  365 days of Project Handmade Baby.
What have I learnt from this?
1. It feels great to make clothes for your rugrats and enjoy them wearing a bit of your hard work.
2. You can score some great knitwear at second-hand sales for great prices!
3. Handmade clothes last a whole lot longer than bought ones in a lot of cases!
4. The more you crochet/sew/knit, the greater your skills for mending and 'upcycling' (I love that word!)
5. Babies in handknits still look like babies.
6. It's much more fun to have your rugrats wearing unique outfits rather than generic store-bought clothes.
7. I love getting compliments on my baby's outfits when I know how much work I've put into it.

... and 8. I really, really love my kids.

Happy 1st Birthday Mr B, my new kid.  You're such a beautiful boy and we love you, your mischievous gleam in your eye, and your Tintin hair so much.  We are so blessed to have you.

Christmas Tree 2011

There's just something I love about Christmas.

image from my instagram

It might be the New Zealand summer Christmas with the pohutakawa beauty all around.

It might be the gift-buying, wrapping and giving that creates excitement, anticipation and smiles.

It could be the great excuse for family to get together.

Or it could be decorating the tree. 

Growing up, my Dad would always drive 'down the road' and spend about $10 on a pine tree that would be erected, tied up and decorated in our rumpus room.  When I was old enough it morphed into my responsibility to decorate the Christmas tree.  Mum had (in good ol' Virgo manner) packed the ornaments carefully away the previous year, and I'd carefully take them out of their box and space them evenly around the tree which had been adorned with coloured fairy lights and tinsel.  It felt so special to be in charge of the Christmas tree, and every time I smell a radiata pine up close it takes me back to that place.

(There's another fabulous 'baby of the family', a dear friend of mine, who also does an amazing, uh-maaaazing job of decorating her tree and shares my affinity with fairy lights - check out her fabulous and inspirational design blog here!)

This year I have a 3 year old who is my special little helper - he has heped me decorate our family Christmas tree which has been carefully guarded behind half a playpen so that the resident tummy-kayaking, super-curious 1 year old doesn't attack it.  The Husband has objected for the last 7 Christmases we have spent in the same house (holy moly we've been together a while!!) so we have an artificial tree... perhaps one year I'll just erect a real tree and tell him to get used to it... perhaps!!  I did get in early and wind the fairy lights, twisted sparkly organza and tinsel around the tree, and put my special ornaments up high, then the rest of the baubles (side note - cutest thing ever to listen to a 3 year old trying to say baubles, we've had many variations on the word!!) were hung in concentration at toddler height, on one side of the tree.  It warms my heart to see him enjoying it so much.

A week out from Christmas and I am so looking forward to having both sides of our family (minus my sister-in-law who has relocated to the UK) gathering at our house for dinner on Christmas Eve, with a few presents passed around and a few bottles of wine to be consumed.

What 'does it' for you at Christmas time?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pinned it, Did it.

Angry Birds balloons - thank you for the idea Pinterest!

One of my biggest annoyances at myself is that I absorb so many wonderful ideas and inspirations, but seldom get around to actually DOING things.  So to remedy that I've been challenging myself to DO things that I Pin on and it's been great!  I'm seeing how many of my Pins I can add a comment below to saying "Pinned it, Did it!".  I feel great about doing things around the house, and also no longer feel that Pinterest is a little bit of a timewaster.

I saw something on my friend's blog Mend and Make New called 'Pin Real Life' and my short-term memory, shot as it is, couldn't remember what the point of it was at the time, but thought it was a good idea.  Don't just Pin things, Do things.

(At this point it might be helpful to explain Pinning: if you're not yet familiar with it is a fabulous and free site which acts as a virtual pinboard.  Instead of bookmarking sites with ideas that interest you, and going back to try to find the URL or site description in a wordy list, you can organise visual images from those sites into virtual pinboards - you can have as many boards as you wish on your own Pinterest login - and add a quick description about what they are.  Then people can follow you or see your pins in the general mass of things, and if they like them they can 'like' the pin or even 'repin' it to their own pinboard.  Clear as mud?)

Take for example this Pin.  Setting up a really simple washing line on a wall in your laundry that says 'Department of Missing Socks' with pegs already attached so that lone socks might one day be rejoined with their mate.  I took one large paint chip (don't get me started on paint chips, new addiction warning!!!), threaded a length of thick felted wool yarn through it, wrote 'Department of Lone Socks' on it, added pegs and pinned it to the wall  next to my dryer.  Not only has it caused a giggle with my family, but on the first day alone I matched three pairs of teeny socks to their sad lonely mate.  Success!  So I went to that Pin, and added the comment "Pinned it, Did it!".

After my older son's Angry Birds birthday party I was able to add that comment to a few Pins as I'd gained lots of fun ideas all care of Pinterest.  The covered boxes made to look like wood blocks, the Angry Birds balloons, a bit of cupcake inspiration, and more.

So my challenge to all you other Pinners - Pin it, Do it!

Friday, December 02, 2011

PHB Days 361-363

 Day 361: Wearing the custom-order imba hoodie teamed with some equally comfy JK Kids merino pants. 
 Day 362: This is really something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue!  Something old: it is a vintage styled romper suit; something new: this is the first time the new kid has worn it; something borrowed: in a way it is borrowed as it is a hand-me-down item; and something blue: well that is pretty self-explanatory!  The romper he is wearing was a very early edition of the goshorty romper suits.  A new batch in four sizes between 3 months - 18 months is almost ready, they just need their snaps and a press and they will be in store soon.
Day 363: The wee guy's Godmother and I took the boys down to the local(ish) Christmas parade and we had a lovely time.  A certain someone was clapping their hands and tapping their goshorty-slippered feet in time with a Batucada (I think I've spelt it right!) drumming ensemble who were really loud - just the way I like it!  Little bit of a photo fail, you can only just see the slippers in the corner of the shot... oops!

Monday, November 28, 2011

PHB Day 359

Day 359 of 365
Handmade items - applique cowboy onesie, choc brown overalls, cloth nappies and bibs.

PHB: New In November (1)

Some pictures of some of the new Handmade items that have been added to the Project Handmade Baby wardrobe in November.
A rather loud hoodie I made using material I scored for $2 from a Fabric-a-brac market in Wellington.  I've lined it with white cotton offcuts from Levana in Levin.

Plenty of wear from this custom-order merino hoodie from imba, a hand-me-down from the big brother.  Also a minky covered pocket nappy that is so lovely and soft... but man, that material was freakin' hard to sew, it slipped around and buckled and inspired some rather foul language from me in the process!

(I love Instagram!) 
We took the boys to an old haunt of ours for Daddy's birthday dinner and they were amazing!  The new kid wore another hand-me-down hoodie from Lone Moose, and an organic cotton megamess bib I made him.  He's not entirely sure how he feels about the lime sorbet...

Another shot of the hoodie - I just love that pointy hood!

b is for ... beautiful boy wearing a top I appliqued using scraps from the organic cotton bib.  I've made a few of these and they are so sweet!  And so affordable: a pack of 3 long-sleeve onesies from The Warehouse on special for $5, plus fabric scraps and bondaweb to attach the b to the top.  I love a little matchy matchy.

Older brother wasn't keen on wearing his (handmade) trencher for a little graduation ceremony, so he popped it on the new kid's head!  Very sweet.  He's also wearing the robot shoes and Very Hungry Caterpillar bib that is either in the wash or on him, I looove the bib and it gathers plenty of compliments and "Oooh, I love that book!" comments.

The Spot in Johnsonville, a crafty cooperative place, stock these FAB apron bibs for $8 each.  The sleeves have been an absolute Godsend; not only for protecting sleeves from sloppy highchair trays, but also when he's finished and drags himself around the floor it keeps him nice and clean.  I'm tempted to make one with a microfibre or chamois bib-front so he can be a little more useful around the house and clean the floors while he's at it...  (I'm joking)

Nothing new here, but a darling little shot of my little man having a nap during an outdoors Christmas party - clearly watching his older brother going around... and around... and around... and around on the carousel (for as many turns as he could!!) was very soothing and this little'un had a lovely nap in his buggy under his soft blankie.  (And I spot an imba bib under there too, little bumblebees on blue.  Delicious!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

PHB October's Wardrobe

Gah!  How incredibly slack of me, I totally dropped the ball with the daily photos. 

Here's the most digest-esque digest version of PHB (and also where I panic as I realise that the new kid is turning one in less than a month... aaaargh!!!).
Here are the six knitted cardies that mostly were worn for the last time in October (from back to front): the green cable knit second-hand cardy from a Plunket sale, the olive kimono cardy from my aunty which I looooove, the brown sideways knitted jersey I made, a $7 Trade Me score of a blue pattern-knit hoodie, a blue knit jersey and a blue cardy which still fits (phew!)

Two merino hoodies made by my lovely friend Catherine, two cowboy kimono tops using organic cotton and a print from Sew Pretty, and a robot sleeveless hoodie.  All but the navy tops are now packed away.

Chocolate brown overalls made by me, and the blue overalls were a hand-me-down made for his big brother: a gift from the boys' great-great-aunt.

The giant cream cardigan which still has plenty of wear left in it, and from l-r a kitty-eared beanie from Plunket second-hand sale, a stripy beanie I made to match the cardy, a monkey beanie (one of my early crochet efforts) and the orange/pumpkin beanie.  My GP said the orange beanie reminded him of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, which were a big part of my childhood!!

So there we go, the handmade portion of the new kid's wardrobe that has been worn for Project Handmade Baby - more pictures to come of bibs, nappies and other wee accessories.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Movember, the month "formerly known as November", is one of the reasons I am not entirely unhappy that I no longer work in the city.  The first two weeks of Movember see men of all ages, stages, races and faces growing facial hair in all sorts of ways but for the majority it kinda looks a bit sad until some decent growth comes in.

I mean, these men can't all become Tom Selleck overnight, right?!
Image source here

It is a hilarious mo-tion and it's all for a good cause: raising awareness of men's health issues such as prostate cancer and depression (read more here).  I do miss the days where I worked with a bunch of men who would display an impressive range of 'mo's: handlebars, porn-staches, Magnums, Einsteins and even the odd Hitler-style mo!  Of course none of them could match the giant hooked mo displayed all year round by one of the guys who works at my favourite hot-choccie spot in Wellington, Duke Carvell's.  It has to be seen to be believed.

As we are a no-mo house (it's not the pash rash I object to, it's the slow-growing!) I thought I'd find a few other ideas for how to celebrate Movember.  Brace yourselves, my odd sense of humour is likely to make an appearance.

How about a pink mo-necklace for the ladies to support their Mo-bros?  White Lily Design have this pearler for sale on Etsy.

Or some nail art?  Photo from here.

How about some wall art:
Photo from here.
Heh, heh, really must dash.  Photo from here

Oh I love this one!  Photo from here.
I must ask the time.   Get it?  Must-ache the time...  Photo from here.
A few bits for the kitchen:
'Stache straws from Little Retreat on Etsy.

How fun are these glasses?!

Mo-cookie cutters from Fuzzy Ink.

Mugstaches anyone?  Photo from here.

Oh look!  It's double-mo-seven!  Photo from here.

More double-mo-seven!  Photo from here.

And for all you crafty types out there... wait for it... a bit of mo-chet?

Happy Movember everyone.  And remember to hug the men you love, and keep raising awareness of the health and well-being of our boys.  Arohanui.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Angry Birds Birthday

My wee guy has just turned 3!  How exciting!  My husband and I were reminiscing about the long weeks we spent in NICU doing Kangaroo Mothercare with this tiny 4lb (give or take half a pound) baby lying on our chests; it felt like an eternity and we wondered if he'd be tiny forever.  But as sure as the sun rises, our little man has grown into a tall 3 year old who is still into noisy toys, balls, and the new obsession: Angry Birds.

The wee guy has learnt to play Angry Birds both on my iPhone, and on my mother-in-law's iPad2.  He could play for hours if nobody was watching!

Someone's ready to go with spoon in hand!
To celebrate this little obsession I decided to theme our little family celebration for his 3rd birthday.  Each year we try to catch up with friends who we spent weeks with in hospital (the NICU), and have the immediate family and godparents to join us.  My mother-in-law organised the cake which was uh-MAZING (and if you want the email address of the lady who made it, leave a hollaback (comment) at the bottom of this post).
The decorations were loads of fun to put together, even though as per usual I hadn't much time or energy.  But they looked fab!

1. With a bit of inspiration from this Pin, and an obliging husband to help stick bits on the balloons, we made some Angry Birds balloons to hang from our dining window.

2. I bought some red tinted cups at The Warehouse and used up a bunch of white 'Introducing...' hospitality stickers someone left at my house and came up with these red Angry Bird cups.

3. I scoured the house for boxes which hadn't made it to the recycling bin (and emptied out a few almost empty cereal boxes) and covered them in brown postal paper that I'd drawn wood patterns on with a felt tip pen (inspiration from this Pin), and then drew 'greedy piggy' faces on to more of our collection of green pit balls (when I came up with that idea apparently I was the best mum ever!), and used them for the backdrop for our food table.  Add in some rubber duckies, some clear display stands and a couple of other props and we were set!

4. Using lime jelly in ramekins, decorated with random green/white jelly ovals and cut marshmallows, soft licorice and wine gums, I made some 'greedy piggy' jellies.

5. I made up my own recipe for blueberry and licorice cupcakes and using this Pin I made a much quicker (and WAYYY less food-colour-y) version of the blue birds cupcakes.  It was just basic buttercream frosting decorated with cut marshmallows, soft licorice and wine gums.

So there we go!  Some quick, easy and affordable ideas for an Angry Birds birthday that was a real hit for my 3 year old birthday boy.  And a week later, the balloons are still up and the leftover cups are still being used!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lab Rat Series 2: Womama Birthing Wrap Dress

37 weeks pregnant

In 2010 whilst pregnant with my second child (aka the new kid, Mr B) I was asked to trial the new Organic Cotton Birthing Wrap Dress from Womama, a local company who make practical and beautiful (reeeeally beautiful) maternity lingerie and clothing.  The BWD is designed for wearing in pregnancy, birth and during nursing, and I loved it. (Check out the link here.)

I chose a black BWD (a LBBWD if you please!) in a size small – I usually wear a size 10-12 when I’m not pregnant and although I thought a medium would be a better fit, it was too loose across the shoulders and bust.  I wore it for the last few weeks of my pregnancy teamed with a singlet and short leggings underneath (not to mention the pelvis and back supports!) and a cardigan for colder days.  Not to mention my favourite pair of pretty Havaiana jandals.  Living in one of the windiest cities in the world, I was relieved that although light and breathable, the superb quality organic cotton was a heavy enough knit to stay down and not blow up to flash my (legging-clad) thighs whilst waddling around with a toddler in tow.  The crossover design kept my bump nice and cosy warm, and even though it was a size small there was plenty of material to completely double over my 41-week pregnant belly.  The ties on the inside and outside of the dress are generous in length, and they have the added benefit if giving a bit of separation between breasts and belly – compared to some dresses I wore which literally looked like sacks once they were stretched over everything!

Not only did I feel great wearing it, but I had plenty of compliments on the dress, and how flattering it looked... and how non-maternity-wear it looked too.  I was only too happy to pass on where I got it from - a great Wellington local business!

(Also… late in my pregnancy one of my friends thought it might be fun for a group of us to check out a pole-dancing fitness classs.  Just for fun.  I went along and yes, the LBBWD was mighty comfortable to wear for the short time I participated in the pole-dancing class!  However at around 36 or 38 weeks pregnant (I forget which!) and with an achey breaky pelvis, there are just some things you can’t do when you’re pregnant.  Like climb poles.  And swing around them.  And whip your hair, whilst swinging around a pole.) 

In hospital, in labour, with wireless transponders on my belly.
The day I checked into the hospital Delivery Suite, in labour, I was wearing my trusty Womama Birthing Wrap Dress.  The birthing room is warm, so I only needed to wear that and my underwear and I was perfectly comfortable.  Due to my individual circumstances I had opted to be continually monitored, so the wireless transponders were strapped to my belly while I was standing up – and again, thanks to the crossover design I didn’t have to strip off or flash unnecessarily – and there was enough material to keep me covered.  Even if I had wired transponders I would still have been able to keep my modesty by feeding the wires through the crossover wrap dress.  I’m not a short person so occasionally when I was lying down on my side, I did feel a little exposed to whoever was at the foot of the bed when the dress rode up a little, but as I spent most of my labour on my feet it was no great issue.  My choice of pain control was acupressure so it was simple enough to have a birth support standing behind me with my back covered and not worry about a hospital gown gaping open.

One tired mama... and bubba!
(edited Nov 2011) Mr B's entrance into the world happened in a huge hurry; it was all so rushed I wasn’t changed out of my LBBWD into normal whitewash hospital attire, but the wrap dress gave the hospital team ready access to my big bump.  Again, thanks to the crossover design, I was able to access ‘the girls’ to give Mr B his first breastfeed with minimal effort and fuss. 

In the weeks after Mr B’s birth I wore the Womama BWD almost daily as it was comfortable, didn’t have any waistbands pressing near my sensitive belly, and made for easy access when back at hospital with post-birth complications.  It made for easy breastfeeding, and kept me comfortably cool over the summer months – and if we had company I could quickly pull on my leggings or maternity jeans to cover up my legs which hadn’t been shaved in wayyyy too long!

Initially I had felt that the RRP of the dress was a little steep.  However I got sooo much wear out of it, and after dozens of washes it is still black and not a faded browny-black colour, and still holds its shape beautifully!  I am happy to recommend that it is worth every dollar.  (and at the time of posting it's on special for a cool $89.95 - quickGo and buy one for yourself!  Or a baby shower combined gift!  Or whatever!) My friends are always offered my old maternity clothes to expand their pregnancy wardrobe but I’m afraid this is one item of clothing that I’m not parting with.  Sorry ladies!

Thank you to the lovely ladies at Womama, the dress was fabulous.  If there's ever any hint of a #3 baby I'll be buying one in blue I think...  haha!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

PHB: 30 days hath September (Days 272-301)

For Project Handmade Baby in September I decided to do something a little different as I was getting a little bored with the old format!  There are a few new PHB garments that have been added to the mix, but here we go: a lovely wee montage care of the fabulous PicFrame app on my iPhone!