Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spend free September : Week one

One week into Spend-Free September and apart from a little blip where I had to buy the teen's friend a birthday present, I have been doing REALLY well.

I will admit I have wanted to go to the shops for various things... BUT I have kept away which I am sure makes the temptation a lot less. Working helps as I have less time for the temptation.

My lovely friend Mel is also doing a No Spend September and I really enjoyed her post yesterday about her first week and the temptations she's faced. She's doing so well too!

The challenge for this week will be coming up with an awesome present for my parent's 45th wedding anniversary without spending.

One area we still need to do a LOT of work is our food budget. We need to make a meal plan and stick to it. It is really hard to shop and cook for various food allergies so I am going make that our focus for October. One step at a time.

And in case you want an easy birthday present for a teenager (or younger or older) this is what I came up with in a hurry on Friday for the unexpected party

Take one popcorn container (6 for $2 at the bargain shop). Add one bag of lollies ($2 at the supermarket). A bag of microwave popcorn ($1.30) and a movie voucher (whatever nomination you choose).  Wrap it in cellophane. Viola!

Apparently her friend said it was perfect. I'm doing these for all the cousins birthdays and popping a few in the cupboard for other 'unexpected' invites in future spend-free months (shh... dont tell the kids!)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Miscarriage, Autoimmune Disease, Faith and Brave

I'm still debating if I will actually post this.. or if it will end up one of the many drafts I have sitting on my blog, deemed too personal or not well written....

But I have thought about this quite a bit and it's a topic that needs to be talked about more.

Today, 14 years ago, we lost our first baby.

I was heartbroken. I had never ever felt grief or pain like that before. It felt like someone reached into my chest and ripped my heart out.

I know my story of pregnancy loss is one many, many women share. Nearly every woman I have known during my years as a parent has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility. It is still so unspoken in our society though.

Autoimmune Disease
Three years before I had been told I would never carry a live baby. So with this loss, came the expectation that this was how it would always be.
I clearly remember sitting in the Specialists office, being extremely ill with Thyrotoxicosis from Graves Disease, and him telling me I needed emergency surgery or I would die, that I had a 50% chance of surviving the surgery and I would never carry a baby. I was 26 years old.
All I heard was, we just moved someones mastectomy until next week. I felt so awful for that poor lady.

Fast forward three years and we were recently married and made an appointment to see the same specialist and talk about our options. I knew going into it that we were potentially setting ourselves up for a lot of heartache.

I wonder now about the faith we must have had to try again, knowing how much our hearts were hurting.
When we were 7 weeks pregnant the second time around, the same specialist, with the awesome bedside manner, told us, you'll lose this one too.

But, we didn't. She is now an amazing 13 year old. And the miracles didn't stop there, we also have our 11 year old and 8 year old miracles. Perfect little miracles.

I can't help thinking, what if we hadn't taken that leap of faith. What if we had believed that miracles don't happen to people like us?? We were so BRAVE.

I've noticed, that as I've grown older I am not nearly as brave as I was then. I have let fear take up too much of my heart and mind. I have lost confidence in who I am and the woman I am destined to be.

I choose to watch my kids zoom around the scary roller coasters, while I sit on the sidelines. I choose to quietly watch the friendships blossom around me too scared to put myself out there for fear of being rejected. I choose to work in a job that is 'safe' and doesn't challenge me, instead of seeking a position I am qualified for that satisfies me academically.
I choose safety every time, over taking a risk.  I have forgotten how to trust, have faith and how to believe in miracles. To be brave.
Post image for Monday Quote: Brave
image from here

Maybe its time to take some steps for a BRAVE future me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I have knitted away winter

Well that's not quite true... winter it seems is still very much here in the Waikato.

But, I have spent much of winter knitting in every little snippet or pocket of time I can.

I take my knitting with me to work and knit in my breaks and if we go somewhere in the car on the weekends.

So now I have dusted off my blog I thought I would share some of my knitting.

For my birthday in April I (bought myself) this beeeaaauuutiful Malabrigo Rio's yarn.

I spent ages looking for the PERFECT pattern to knit it up in and decided on the GAP-tastic Cowl on Ravelry.

I LOVE this cowl. I love the yarn, I love the colour. I wear it almost everyday.

And I forgot to mention how soft and warm it is!

Stay tuned for more yarn tales....

Pattern: GAP-tastic Cowl
Yarn : Malabrigo Rios
Needle: 7mm circular needle

Linking up with Currently Creative and Show & Tell

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spun it. Dyed it. Knitted it.

Recently I bought a spinning wheel and must say I am addicted to the gentle rhythm of spinning. It is possibly the most relaxing craft I've ever tried.

I am still learning and appreciate the guidance and experience of the lovely people around me who spin and dye ( especially Talia).

This spin, below, was one of my first. I spun the yarn, dyed it with Grape Koolaid and then I knitted it into hand warmers for my sweet girl. And its like scratch and sniff because they still smell like Grape Koolaid!

There will be many more spinning tales to come on here... I promise x

Hand warmer pattern can be found here : Fingerless mittens
Knitted with : Grape homespun
On : 3mm dpns

Linking up with Currently Creative and Show & Tell

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments and support for our Spend Free September post yesterday! It was so reassuring to know others understand and feel the same way.

We are planning to have a de-clutter and garage sale to try and eliminate some of the clutter and also use the money towards a new fence (because the old one is falling over!)

I have made sure that everyone is all sorted with clothes/shoes/school uniforms but if an emergency crops up we'll look at things as we need to.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spend Free September

For this month, our family challenge is going to be no spending in September.

We don't spend huge money on things normally, we rarely buy clothes, shoes etc and make/grow/bake all we can, as well as making all our own cleaning products.. but.. we seem to fritter away money without giving thought to where it is going and we want to change that.

We also have TOO much stuff. Several international moves have seen us collect quite a lot of 'crap' a long the way. We have three crockpots, two rice cookers, two blenders.... you get the picture!

I'm ashamed to say we have about a dozen unpacked shipping boxes still in our garage. (oh the shame!).We spend so much wasted time trying to find things we've misplaced or money replacing lost items that then turn up. I'm sure we are not alone in this consumer driven society of ours.

We really want to simplify our lives and cut the clutter in our physical world as well as how it clutters up our brains.

This is a far cry from the me who used to love shopping. I somehow thought that trading in my 'mall' shopping with Op shopping was better... but alas, crap is crap is crap. Where-ever you buy it, if you don't need it. I am also aware that my spending was to fill a gap, and I need to work on how to fill that in other ways.

So there you have it, a month with no non-essential spending. We'll still be buying food, petrol etc. the essentials only.

More than anything this month I hope we become more aware of how we are spending the hard earned money we make because our time is precious and who wants to waste an hour at work so we can buy a magazine or two??

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taking Stock: I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Wow, its been three months!
Life is so busy but I miss blogging. I particularly miss crafty blogging and reading crafty blogs. I've also been involved in some awesome swaps and I feel dreadful I haven't shared about them. So I'm going to make a huge effort to rectify it.

But first.. I found this great blog recently.. through an IG post of a scarf. Bec, at Handmade & Home regularly writes 'Taking Stock' posts and invites her readers to join in (Ive since seen it on a few other blogs too!)

So here's what happening around here....

Making: a bunch of stuff.. a cowl, a scarf, wrist warmers, a second sock, a cushion for my girl...

Cooking: a special 13 year old a whimsical birthday cake

Reading: Library books to inspire my gardening
Wanting: to simplify - everything!
Looking: at my new (to me) spinning wheel
Playing: with lots of yarn in all shapes and forms
Deciding: what colour to dye some yarn
Wishing: I hadn't had to have my tooth extracted :(
Enjoying: hot bubble baths
Waiting: for some roving to arrive so I can do some more spinning
Wondering: what direction to take for my future career
Loving: Handspun yarn
Pondering: that I am the Mum of a beautiful, creative, loving 13 year old
Considering: whether to follow my passion or my head
Watching: Spinning wheel tutorials online
Hoping: My new Doctor will change my life... or at least help me get a life (lol)
Needing: a holiday at the beach
Smelling: Freshly cut apple (being eaten by my daughter)
Wearing:work clothes
Following: Handmade and Home (which is where this great list came from)
Noticing: how much happier I am when the lounge is free of loom bands, hama beads, drawing and other holiday crafts 
Knowing: hard times are good preparation for the future
Thinking: its time to do some crafting for me
Feeling: tired. bone aching tired.
Admiring: my kids
Sorting: the kids wardrobes
Buying:as little as possible
Bookmarking: Too many projects
Disliking: computer problems!
Opening: exciting Snail mail!
Giggling:  at a silly little clip I made about my lonely sock... but it wont load up on here so go find me on IG if you want to see it! I'm leoniekiwi

Snacking: on meat. Yup. I need LOADS more protein so its meat, meat, fish, meat.
Hearing:the heater warming up the house

I'll be back!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Swap 2014

I recently signed up for an Easter Swap and was very excited to be partnered with one of my most favourite friends, Tracy from The Scrap Heap.

Also a huge bonus was that we got to do our swap in person over the weekend.

Tracy made me this FABULOUS Easter bunting!

Ignore the hideous wallpaper (its on its way out the door!)

And this beautiful basket in the colours I Love!!!

And tucked in the basket are these cute decoupaged eggs and a gorgeous little bunny.
She also gave me lots of yummy food treats.. but most of them have gone ;)

We agreed that our great minds think alike because I also made Tracy some bunting

again, on the grotty wallpaper! 

AND I also made her a basket!
and I filled it with carrots from this tutorial here, because Tracy LOVES orange!

I had fun making these little egg cozies for Tracy's children
Thanks Tracy for a great swap!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Swap interest?

Hey there!
I'm a huge fan of bunting, in fact over the last five years I've made a new one for every party we've had.. and then there's Christmas... Valentines.. yeah - lots of bunting!
A few years ago I took part in a bunting swap, and I really enjoyed it. Because one can never have too much bunting I wondered if anyone interested in participating in a bunting swap???

I am keen to run one but just want to see how much interest there is.

Leave me a comment and also let me know if you'd be keen to do an international one or antipodean (australia/new zealand)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

DIY Blackboard paint pot plants

You know how I said I was addicted to using blackboard spray paint? yeah, well. I totally am!

It was my Mum's birthday and we grabbed some large cans of tomatoes, froze the contents, spray painted the cans...

Added some words using a chalk paint pen
 Drilled some holes in the bottom for drainage
Added some pretty flowers
And she loved her present

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DIY Spice Jars

We use loads of different herbs and spices in our cooking and I have been searching for the perfect spice jars (to no avail).

I decide instead that baby food jars would do the trick and my kids didn't need to be persuaded to gobble up the contents.

I then soaked off the labels, spray painted the lids with blackboard paint (my new favourite pastime) and wrote on them with a chalk paint pen.

these are the first ones, I am purchasing a few baby foods each shop until we have enough (crikey that stuff is expensive now!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Scrap Bag Swap : Scrappy Rope coasters

I joined in Nins fabulous Scrap Bag swap again this year and received a fabulous bag of scraps from Megan! Thanks Megan

Just before Christmas I got a little bit addicted to making rope baskets from this tutorial. I made a few plain rope baskets and then really wanted some colourful ones so I started wrapping strips of fabric around the rope and these were created.

Today I'm going to show you how I did it so you can make some coasters!

Scrappy Rope coasters
You will need:
Fabric scraps
cotton rope 
sewing machine

I've been collecting scraps in this plastic bucket (classy) for several years and keep it nearby in my sewing room to pop those precious leftovers in.
Take some scraps of fabric and tear them into strips about a centimeter wide.

Wrap your first strip around the cotton rope
Twist it into a little 'snail' and start sewing (with a wide zig zag stitch)
Continue twisting it around itself
Add in new pieces of scrap fabric strips as you need to

Ta da! One scrappy rope coaster!
Be sure to check out the other bloggers joining in the Scrap Bag Blog Hop

Friday 14th                         Mousehouse – Pocket Organiser

Monday 17th                      Catalina's Cottage – Hexie love
Tuesday 18th                      Make. Life. Beautiful.  Scrappy Quilt Part 1
Friday 21st                         One Paisley Apple – Fabric Flowers

Monday 24th                       Kiwi at Heart  -   Scrappy Rope Coaster
Tuesday 25th                       Make. Life. Beautiful.  Scrappy quilt Part 2
Friday 28th                          Works in Progress – Scrappy Pot Mitt and Trivet

Monday 3rd March              NZ Green Buttons – Floral Wreath Tote
Tuesday 4th                         Make. Life. Beautiful.  Childs Bike Seat Pad
Friday 7th                            Catalina's Cottage – Giant Star Quilt

Friday, February 14, 2014

Loving Swaps on Valentines Day

I have been taking part in lots of awesome swaps lately!

I took part in two Valentines swaps organised by Tracy and Tracy!!

For Tracy's Send a little love swap I had Tracy herself as my swap partner!

Look at the amazing goodies she sent me - I was blown away.

and this beautiful PERFECT for me bunting!
Thanks so much Tracy, I love it all and I feel so very spoiled!!

I also received a lovely package of goodies for the Valentines swap organised by my lovely real life friend Tracy.. although I don't know who my swap partner is!!!

 So thank you, whoever you are!! You totally nailed it for me!!

and these are the parcels I sent
a cross stitched heart on canvas, crochet flower bunting and Whittakers
and this one
some little handmade cards, heart bunting, a little dish, some washi tape and some heart lollies in a kete.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scarf Hanger

A friend of mine was gifted a beautiful scarf hanger from a friend of her's a few years ago and I have also seen them pinned on Pinterest.

When were were in Tucson in December 2012 I found the most gorgeous glass and ceramic knobs at Jo Ann's and World Traders and I wrapped them carefully and bought them home to Australia. And then wrapped them carefully and bought them home to NZ (ha).
My Dad is a furniture maker and collects all sorts of pieces of wood. I raided his wood shed and found a piece of picket fence.
I roughed it up then my trusty sidekick helped me paint it teal.
I roughed it up again with some sandpaper when it was dry.

Then added the beautiful knobs
That was last July!!

Last week I finally hung it up in our room.
Joining in with Show and Tell 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Making Memories : 5th Birthday photo boards

Over the weekend we were cleaning out our garage and we pulled out each of the kids photo boards I made for their 5th birthdays.

They had a great time looking at them again, a lot of laughing and begging me to put them up in their rooms. Although they are starting to show some wear and tear I thought it would a great project to share on here.

For each of their 5th birthdays I made photo boards showing their growth from newborn to 5. They and our birthday guests have always enjoyed looking at these at their 5th birthday party.
(I also have made my Dad one for his 60th and it was also a hit... so they could be for any milestone birthday).

I started with two sheets of foam board. I cut one in half and attached it to either side of the whole sheet to make 'flaps' that held the board open. I just taped these with packaging tape on the back.
Oops.. all those international moves have lost letters along the way!
For each child I made sure I had a recent picture enlarged for the centre of the board. 

I then arranged as many photos as I could from new born in one corner across to five in the other.

I was thinking I would do this for each significant birthday such as 13 and then 21 years.
Or maybe for a certain thirteen year old this year I might do a photo book instead.. with a double layout for each year and room for memories, comments. 

The possibilities are endless!!!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Loving being on holidays

We had a great family day at Hamilton Zoo on Monday (that'll be a whole post in itself)

We've been rearranging and sorting (with  A LOT more to go). I am determined to cut the crap this year.

On Wednesday I saw my surgeon and got great news! He walked in the room and the first thing he said is 'its not cancer'. YUSS!! very happy. It was another benign papilloma.. and it's all healing well.

Our pool is the best thing we ever bought I think. It is getting used constantly and is such a perfect size.
We bought this old beauty on Trade me for a whopping $26. It was a bit of a drama getting it in the house when the castors fell off but we used one of the kids skateboards to wheel it in (nothing like a bit of Kiwi ingenuity!). It needs a tune but this little Miss is excited about starting piano lessons. Me too! I plan to learn as well.
Lots of zucchinis turned to marrows overnight ended up as the yummiest pickle! (and homemade curry powder to make sure its gluten free - didn't think to read the spice packet labels. Here's a hint, buy the Eco brand not Gregg's for spices)
I finally joined the hexie bandwagon. I need to work on my joining but LOVE these!!

Back to work next week - boo!

Have a great weekend.

Joining up with the lovely Meghan