Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cute Tute: Mini Moss Bowl

'What's a moss ball?'  Berry asked.
'A moth ball?' I reply. 'They're little white balls you put amongst your clothes to...' 
I was quickly shut down.
'Yeah, yeah, they smell gross and stuff but what are those moss balls called?' she said.
'Moss...bowls?' I asked, hesitantly.
Berry was getting frustrated.
'MOSS. BALLS!' She repeated.

I took a moment to reflect on what my daughter could be talking about (lest I get scolded again) and remembered that on the weekend we had visited my friend's lovely shop, Little Lands, where she sells the most magnificent terrariums and Kokedama balls
Kokedama balls. 
That was the answer Berry was after. Yes, we were on the same page again.

Only now I was inspired by our misunderstanding. I wanted to make a moss bowl!

I sent Berry on a quest to find many mosses as she knows the whereabouts of everything in our garden, while I gathered the rest of the supplies. 

Berry soon returned with a mighty fine collection of mosses including a type I didn't even know we had, which looks a bit like something from the age of dinosaurs.

Tiny prehistoric-tree-looking moss

Flat fungi-like moss
Supplies (plus a snail shell)
Here's what you'll need to make your very own mini moss bowl:
a glass bowl 

That's it!

Start by laying a few stones in the bottom of your bowl to help with drainage.

Next fill the bowl about with soil, leaving about 1 inch to allow for the height of your mosses.

Now it's time to add the moss.  Use whatever moss you can find around the garden, even along the street.  Look between pavers, along rocky walls, on embankments and under trees - anywhere cool and damp.

As well as the fungi-type moss and the prehistoric-tree moss, we used furry, lime green moss which grows like a ground cover in a shady corner of our garden...

And baby's tears (this we got from my dad's garden as ours has all been lost in the renovation process)...

And these short, cushiony mosses, like those we found growing on the bridge during out little adventure last week

Fill your bowl with the mosses, covering every bit of soil and pressing them down gently.  It might look a bit messy but will sort itself out as it grows.

Bear insisted on adding a hippopotomaus as the moss bowl reminded him of a miniature hippo-habitat.

Now give your moss bowl a spritz with fresh, cool water (preferably from a very fancy-pants atomizer as they make watering fun!)...

And there you have it!  Your very own mini moss bowl slash open-air terrarium slash minipotomaus home!

Keep it somewhere out of direct sunlight and make sure it stays moist (the perfect excuse to buy yourself an atomizer!).

Our moss bowl is living on the mantle piece in my bedroom where it gets filtered sun and stays cool.  I'll post an update in the next few days to show how this little moss bowl is coming along x

A little side note - Keep all your supplies, especially the mosses, out of direct sunlight while you're creating your mini moss bowl.  We only made ours in the sun in order to get some decent pics for this post :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Little Adventures: The Creek

Oh I do so love an adventure!  In all honesty, it's probably because I'm reading Enid Blyton at the moment and she does make serendipitous adventures sound so grand! 

The weather was beautiful today so we headed to the park for a play with friends then off for a wander by the nearby creek.  

We love going to the creek - it's one of our favourite Little Adventure spots.

As a child, I would venture to the same creek during the school holidays with my best friend and her ginger dog.  We'd splash in the creek, walk over fallen logs and create small dams using rivers stones. 

It is a special place and it is so lovely to watch this new generation enjoy it.

There is so much to discover, like mini waterfalls...

Yabby holes along the muddy tracks...

and trees covered in hairy moss

Actually, lots and lots of things covered in moss, which is what makes the creek seem so magical

Berry discovered this 'fairy house with a wide open door' 

We listened to the rush of the sparkling water 

and saw more moss!

The weather is meant to be superb again tomorrow - I wonder what Little Adventure we will have?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crochet Chevron and Little Space Dudes Cushion

This project has been on the go since June.  I was trying to create something handmade which a boy of nine years old would appreciate and not be too weirded-out over.

You know how they are.  
All Minecraft and sport and iPod and stuff.  
There is only so much cutesy, heartlfelt, homemade love that growing boys will accept from their MamaBear.  Sigh.  
My Bear is growing up so fast that sometimes I just want to squeeze him tight and kiss his precious cheeks and tell him to be little for a bit longer.
But that is not to be, so I must embrace my maturing young man, and ever so subtly squee at the hints of boyishness which sometimes appear.  
An unexpected hug.
A request for help with homework.
An evening snuggle.
All things which I am sure to miss when he is all grown up.
I digress.

This is a cushion cover which was meant to be for Bear's birthday, but I didn't quite get the job done in time.  In all honesty, the only thing holding up the completion is my evasion of the dreaded weaving in of ends
Why don't I weave them in as I go?  Why won't I learn?!

A dear dressmaking-friend whipped up the sewn cushion cover - my sewing machines have remained in their boxes since selling the shop (that's about 18 months!) - and I crocheted a chevron front in complimentary colours, based on this pattern.  I shook things up a bit by doing some rows in double crochet, some in half double crochet, sometimes one row of a colour, sometimes two.  Man, I am living on the EDGE!

The yarns are all 8 ply crepe - a combination of Patons, Panda and Heirloom in dusky blue, dark red, sky blue, yellow, dove grey, charcoal and grey marle - as I find crepe stands up so well to wear and tear and washing.  As this is a cushion for a boy, that means the chances of it getting marked with boogers and chocolate are high, so regular washing will be required.

Although this fabric appears to be uncannily similar to Michael Miller's Retro Rocket Rascals, it's a Spotlight design which I will call Little Space Dudes, of which I bought the remaining bolt when it was on sale a couple of years ago and it has been made into many a pair of pyjama pants and library bag.  

This cushion is by far my favourite Little Space Dudes project and hopefully one that my little  man will cherish for years to come.

I'm off to weave in those ends and attach the crochet to the fabric. 

Happy September everybody!  Dare I ask how your Chritmas projects are coming along?! x

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's a Spring Thing

It's another beautiful spring day here in Melbourne!  Baby and I went on a little shopping adventure, so here's your warning that this post goes on a bit ;)

The sun is shining down on the mini daffodils

The sky is blue

A grape hyacinth is peeking out of the clover

After dropping the Big Kids at school, Baby and I went on a little adventure up the mountain to visit one of my favourite places - Sassafras.  
Up the winding roads, through the forest of towering mountain ash and past all the beautiful old weatherboard houses whose gardens are just starting to pop with hints of spring.  You'll have to imagine some pics as I was driving along a busy, narrow road and couldn't stop to take any!

On any given weekend, Sassafras is brimming with tourists from all over the world but early on a Thursday morning, it's just a quaint little village with some lovely boutique shops.
One of my favourites is the wool store - no surprises there!  And I had planned to take some pictures of their lovely range of Rowan and Debbie Bliss and Noro and more...
 but as we approached I saw a big sign saying 
'Taking photographs is not permitted in this store.'  
Argh! Total PANTS!  
Oh well, I'll just show you what I bought instead :)

Adding to The Stash
This Rowan Felted Tweed was in a bargain basket for $7.50 per ball.  I just lurrrve this pink (on the right) and have grand plans to mix it with the ginger (also pictured), rust and mustard (from The Stash) to make something.  
Maybe a colour block scarf.  
Maybe a striped cardigan for Baby.  
Ooh yes, a stripey cardigan with ribbed edging and little wooden buttons!  
Off to the Ravelry library I go...

I also bought some new crochet hooks as I can't come out of the wool store without adding to my KnitPro stash!  Something I love about KnitPro hooks is that they tend to stay pointier than bamboo hooks. Do you find that too?

The red buttons are going on a blue cardigan which I have been crocheting for about a month.  It's nearly finished and I hope to share a reveal soon!

Another store which is my favourite - coz a girl can have two favourites ;) - is Little Chips Handcrafts, a lovely little Steiner-inspired toy shop.  As well as Waldorf dolls and accessories, they also sell handmade yarny goods, wooden toys made by the owner's father and a range of books, gifts and felty things.  It is just a pleasure walking through this shop and it's bound to bring out the whimsical child inside every grown-up!  

There were baskets of little finger puppets out the front and Baby dug straight into them, taking a shining to a little mouse in a blue waistcoat.  I fell in love with a whole bunch and we ended up buying 11!
From left to right: bunny in a pink dress, brown bear, Goldilocks, Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, pig, green gnome, mouse in a blue wasitcoat, owl, fox, duck.

This little fox with his cute smile may be my fave
Or maybe this owl with his white wings...
Or maybe the Big Bad Wolf!
As Baby had some birthday money from her great-grandmother, I thought we'd do an experiment and let her choose something to buy.  I popped her on the floor and let her loose - hoping she wouldn't just pull everything off the shelves and rip down signs as babies tend to do.  Much to my delighted surprise, she went straight to a basket underneath a table and grabbed this doll...

Baby's new doll in a plaid dress

Baby picked it up, giggled her little vibrato giggle and walked off with it - it was so cute!

That patch on her face is where Baby has been sucking :)

With her leftover dollars, I thought it was time we upgraded from My First Root Children, to the full story.  I'm not familiar with the whole book but the illustrations are so sweet and colourful and filled with little children and flowers and bugs, all in a beautiful art nouveau style.

Sweet illustrations, all about nature and the seasons
New best friends!
Now Baby is sleeping and the afternoon is getting on - all those MamaBear duties are starting to sing out.

It has been a lovely day! x

Fable Table: Portuguese Chicken Rolls & Homemade Wedges

I know, I know, there's a whole lot more cooking than crafting going on here at the moment, but with three kids and two adults to feed, there's always cooking to be done and crafting just has to wait!

This was one of those 'can't pass up that bargain' kind of inventions - Baby and I were at the supermarket doing our Wednesday shop - on a super strict budget, unfortunately (I like to go wild at the supermarket!) - and we came across a packet of one dozen of those little bake-at-home rolls, marked down to $1.12.  Bargain!  Just yesterday, Bear and I were talking about how delcious summer will be with barbecued chicken and chunky salads stuffed into rolls so I thought I'd make a less summery version as it's only just come spring, after all.  So, here 'tis!

Makes 12 (serves 3 - 4)

You'll need:

12 bake-at-home rolls or any petite rolls, really
500g free range chicken thighs
half bottle Nandos Peri Peri Marinade (we just used the standard one but there are loads of flavours to choose from)
1 brown onion, sliced into rings
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
1 kilo potatoes
vegetable oil

1. Peel potatoes and chop into wedges or chips or whichever shape your family finds the tastiest (coz the shape matters, right?).  Put into a baking dish, cover with water and set aside. 

Side note: I've found that since buying organic potatoes from Woolworths, they don't turn brown after they've been peeled - can someone tell me why?!  But I keep them covered in water, just in case.

2. Pop the chicken thighs in a bowl or baking dish and coat with half a bottle of marinade.  Cover and put in the fridge.  The longer they marinate, the better - ours marinated for about 6 hours.

A few hours later...

3. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.

4. When making chips and wedges, I like to microwave or steam the potatoes first as this ensures they're cooked through before cooking on the outside, which can happen quite quickly in a hot oven.  So, drain the water from the potatoes, leaving a tablespoon or so to create steam, and microwave them for about 8 minutes.  Drain off the remaining water, splosh a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil over the potatoes and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.  Put them into the oven and let them bake for about 20 minutes before you start cooking the chicken.

5. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frypan over medium heat and fry the chicken for about 8 minutes each side.  Once the chicken is almost cooked, slice it up in the fry pan and toss in the onion and spinach. 

6. Stir it around and let it cook for about 3 minutes. 

7.  While the onion and spinach are cooking, pop the rolls in the oven to warm up.

8. Remove the rolls from the oven, butter them and pile them up with the chicken mixture.  Serve with your homemade wedges and mayonnaise.


The whole family wants this meal again, it's not terribly expensive and there are a few vegetables involved so in my book, that's a win!

Some notes:

This meal idea would work with pretty much any favourite flavours. I'd like to try a korma curry version and a sundried tomato pesto version.

As well as potatoes (which simply can't be beat!) we also make wedges out of sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot.

I tend to prepare potatoes early in the day and set them aside in water til we need them, as peeling potatoes always seems like such a laborious exercise after 4pm!  Do you find that too?!

I hope you enjoy this most recent yum-fest x 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lunch of Champions

Geez I love it when the kids are little and they eat everything!  
Or at the very least, they are willing to try everything.  
No preconceptions, no opinions or schoolyard murmurings to affect their food choices.

Baby is a good eater and is happy to try anything.  So until she starts demanding croissants and party pies (bless their pastry-loving hearts), this is a typical lunch.

Cheese, banana, mandarin, and Vegemite on corn cakes

Lunch has been assessed and the cheese is the first to be devoured

A face full of banana

Onto corn cakes with our favourite, Vegemite!

All gone!  Except for some mandarin... which the dogs polished off while no one was looking.
Happy second day of Spring friends! x