Sunday, May 29, 2011

Winter's Reprieve

We've had some sunshine. Not quite enough to get the clothes dry, but enough to pretend that it's not winter just for a moment.

Miss H and I had a day together. Just the two of us, while the big kids went to the movies . We explored the garden. It seems that no matter what happens to the vegetable patch, there's always rhubarb and crumble to be had*. We admired the long grass and the way it feels between toes. We checked up on the bulbs that Grandma planted with the girls while I was away. It was just the right sort of weather for indulgent single child kind of time.

*That piece of rhubarb was cuddled for hours and didn't quite make the crumble. Don't tell H.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quince Frenzy

Quinces are a polarising fruit – either you love them, or you don’t know what to do with them. We are still waiting for quinces of our own. In the mean time, my hand is high in the air should anyone be giving them away.

Last week we wrapped the last of our quince paste to put aside for presents. The last time I had made it, years ago, we spent a good while forcing it through a sieve. I can highly recommend using a mouli as it went so much faster. I’ve used the Alison Holst recipe and Miss Smith’s storage tips (she recommends Alison too).

For those who have a little less patience, there is always crumble. I lightly stew the quince in water and sugar, before using in a 50/50 mix with raw apple for crumble. This is my dearest’s favourite way to eat quince. In the interests of year round crumble, I’ve been bottling some too. The excess syrup is nice with soda water – it has a very subtle flavour, much like elderflower cordial.

If I could take a scratch and sniff photo, I would. The smell of these things cooking is just divine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Committing Fashion Crimes - One legging at a time

We've been focussing on the essentials around here. I have become a veritable legging production line. My stash of knit remnants has been raided for anything even slightly close to enough for a pair. I usually have objections to dressing my children the same. In this case, the machines were threaded up with matching colours and there was no way the little ones were going to let me make just one pair of hot pink leggings.

On the technical front - the pattern is New Look 6639. I have used twin needles and fuzzy nylon to get a nice stretchy mock top stitch (there's a tutorial here). It took a while to get the tension right - so now I'm scared to use the machine for anything else, just in case I don't ever get it right again. However after 5 pairs of leggings, it might be time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ginger Bread Massacre

Now, I don't usually present my guests with mutilated food. The guests were running late and this is what we were left with after I turned my back. Apparently, Miss H likes their eyes.

The possbilities for captions are endless.

Perhaps this YouTube clips puts it best: "Nothing freaks my mother out more than an little bit of gingerbread massacre". It's a whole genre. Who would have guessed?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stitching - Why We Do What We Do

Sometimes it is good to remember why we do what we do. I quilt because I enjoy it. I give my quilts away because I hope other people will enjoy them too. This is part of the blogg

When I heard that Quilts were being gathered for Christchurch I sent one too. I couldn’t imagine how much it would make someone’s day. This comment from Chris, who received one of my quilts, meant a lot to me so I thought I should share it:

Hi Amy, I'm a friend of Cat's and she has told me that the quilt she sent me was made by you. I just don't know how to thank you... I live just outside of Christchurch and as you would know the last month hasn't been much fun. To recieve a gift made with such thought and love has been humbling and I am so so grateful and appreciate so much the work that went into it. I couldn't send Cat an email for several days after I received as every time I went to sit down and write something I burst into tears. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. With much love and gratitude, Chris

The quilt above was posted to a friend last week. Her house was severely damaged in the February quake. It’s their wedding quilt backed with messages from the guests that helped celebrate their wedding 5 years ago. The pattern is very aptly bricks – as every one fell off her house.

I've chosen this quilt as my part for the the Quilt Festival because it is special to me. I could talk more about patterns, colours, designers but for now it is just nice to stop and remember – this is why I do what I do. It motivates me. It keeps me going.

How about you? Why are you picking up the needles, threads, children, recipe books? What keeps you going? What is it you enjoy doing, and why?

Amy's Creative Side

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Mother I thought I would be, and the Mother I am

cupcake equaltiy

There is a gulf between the Mother I thought I would be, and the Mother I am. Fortunately there isn’t such a large space between the Mother I am, and Mother I’d like to be.

Before my children arrived, I was going to be perfect. My kids were going to be perfect*. I was going to walk around art galleries with my infant snuggled into their baby carrier, in all their knitted finery and then retire to a cafe for a well deserved coffee. I would sleep all night, and so would my children. They would wear nothing but perfectly matched, stylish handmade outfits. They would return from their adventures to an immaculate house and a home cooked meal. There would even be a fresh batch of brightly coloured play-dough to play with before their bath.

I quickly found this fantasy would take more energy than I imagined. The toys would be locked up for me to dish out when I saw fit. The play-dough would be for special occasions only (i.e. at other people’s houses) and getting dressed every day would be a battle. I know some people manage to make it work like that, but I just can’t. When all is said and done, I’m not even sure I’d want to.

Look closely and you can see chaos about to invade from the edges of the kitchen

My reality is quite different. I’ve let go of the magazine spread fantasy. I’ve admitted to myself that my children are both separate, and different from me. I don’t want my children vicariously living out my abandoned dreams. I’ve chosen to let the children explore for themselves with all the support I can provide. I want them to find their own dreams.

We don’t often walk around art galleries. It’s a matter of distance. My fridge is my gallery and it is always changing. We are currently being treated to our Picasso the Elder’s hands with fingers stage and Mondrian the Younger’s grids with colour. Days are punctuated by a need to draw, as desperate as the desire to breathe. The pencils and paper are always handy. They can be on the table before you can say “but it’s almost dinner time”.

The carefully matched outfits have gone out the window too, aided on their way by food related mishaps and a good dose of “No Mummy”. Dressing children is harder than I thought. On the flipside, hand sewn dresses are very useful. The little pull on smocks are great for covering grubby clothes just before leaving the house.

play dough

The home made playdough is probably the only item that survived the leap into reality. My kids have seen enough to know that making playdough means it is time to get the food colouring out and start stirring. You really don’t want to know about the time the elder decided to add the colouring herself (I didn’t even know she could reach it). However, I’m delighted that she knew what it was for. Making playdough is not so much a special occasion, but a necessity. There is always a homemade batch in the fridge.

train ride

Yes, there is a difference between the Mother I thought I would be, and the Mother I am. The Mother I want to be is calmer, more patient and relaxed than the one in the fantasies. Right now, that’s the one I’d rather be.

*Like any parent, I believe my children are wonderful. They are just as perfect as you and I – which is to say, not always.