My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This is Piggy. Named by my two year old daughter. I started sewing him a few months ago from a soft toy book I picked up for a few dollars at one of the local Op Shops. The book was from at least the 70's and he was made in pink fake fur, but I think he looks kinda cute in blue.
This is the first soft toy I've sewn for a long time, probably the first one ever, but I won't claim that in case one of my sister's sets me straight! And I learnt a few things along the way: trotters are tricky; when they say stuff firmly they mean it; and if you intend to give the toy away, don't let your small children see you doing the final stitching.
This was going to be for my sister's birthday next month - she's tricky to give to. But now she'll have to have something else because dear daughter has claimed Piggy on no uncertain terms. And who would be so cruel as to wrest a soft toy from a little girl's arms?
Sorry, Bec, I'll think of something else! And Cat, I've made something scrummy for you and I'm resisting posting a pic of it with all my might - Happy Birthday for today!xxx

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday, baking day.

We made crackers today. I think I've worked out the baking thing with kiddies. I don't like to bake with them because the mess, the dipping hands into the sugar container, the closeness to the cooktop - it all drives me a little insane. Can you tell I'm not the most patient Mummy in the world? But I hate to deny them the fun of it. So now I have a strategy. Kids stay at the kitchen table and I bring to them whatever I can handle them doing and I fell calmer and safer as a result!

So after breakfast (yes the kids are still in their jammies), we got stuck into the dough mixing - literally. And hearing their giggles was such a delight, I'm glad I kept working on the baking issue.

We made a recipe from here. And it worked out great. I didn't put in sesame seeds or poppy seeds because I didn't have any. I think it probably needed them as they were a tiny bit bland. But that is perfect for adding flavours such as mustard powder, paprika, Parmesan cheese or even just a little sprinkle of salt on top.

I also replaced some of the white flour with stoneground wholemeal and it wasn't even noticeable. My son, in particular, thought they were fab and would have eaten the whole lot if we had let him! Yum!

So far it's been a productive day. I've done some weeding, planted some flax seeds, baked with the kidlets, done a little housework and hubby is now on the tractor mowing the paddocks and he has been dealing with the out-of-control gorse (noxious prickly weed) all morning. I think the next thing on my to-do list today is to clean the bedroom window!

We're able to concentrate on where we are now because finally our tenants have moved in to our old place, the work on that is finished, and we have both felt a little bit of pressure lift from our shoulders.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I've written before about how I love watching the weather roll in. We have such a big sky here I can see for miles. These are pictures from my bedroom window and my lounge window this morning.

It looked threatening and majestic but all it turned into was a few spots of rain. We managed to go for our walk. The kids and I take the dogs (and sometimes the neighbours dogs too) down the road to the cattle yards where they (the kids) play on the fences, gates and ramps. Just like a regular playground but without the bright colours and the swings!

Tonight I'm working a twelve hour shift, from 7 pm to 7 am. I haven't worked a twelve hour for a long time so I'm hoping I don't flake. With any luck the place will be empty and I can get lots of sewing done, prepare for my antenatal classes this weekend and maybe even fit in a snooze. Or I hope it will be really busy with a birth or two so I don't even notice the time passing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Here chook, chook, chook.

I love my chooks. They are fascinating, entertaining and almost entirely useful. My husband thinks I'm a little chook mad, maybe because before we moved we had around 30 chooks! I've managed to tone it down a little and now have eleven. Very modest.

All my current chickens I have raised from purebred eggs. I wait till one of my hens is broody (wanting to sit on eggs and hatch them), then I get fertile eggs posted to me (amazing what you can get through the post!), and 21 days later (all going well) I have a bunch of fluffy little chicks running round.

The hen in the foreground is the only one I've named. I eat my surplus roosters and any hens that are too old, so I don't usually name them. Kinda weird to eat Henrietta/Sally/Maisy. But this one is a little different. She is distinguishable from her sister by the weird warty growth on her wattle. You can kind of see it in this picture. She is also the one that comes running up to me when I get anywhere near them and will eat things out of your hands. Her name is Griselda and she is a golden laced wyandotte.

The rooster you can see in the background is the only one I've kept from my last lot of chicks. I kept him thinking I might breed from him because he is so beautiful and big. He is a silver laced wyandotte. The hen next to him is a silver grey dorking and has five toes on each foot (this breed is meant to).

There is nothing like eating fresh eggs from chooks that aren't raised in teeny, tiny cages and that have a chance to eat greens and scratch for bugs. These are my eggs that I collected today. The white one is from my brown leghorn who is my little egg factory - she churns them out without missing a beat! The green one is from my lavender araucana and I'm not entirely sure who the others are from.

The other great thing from chickens is their poo. Smelly and a little gross but very useful. Fantastic fertiliser once it's been aged or put through your compost. I scoop up the untreated sawdust or hay or paper shreddings that I'm using for their nesting bedding which has been pooped all over and throw it on the compost.

I also intend to use their scratching skills for my garden this year. I want to build (or convince DH to build for me) a run that fits exactly over my raised beds (that I have yet to build) so that I can use a few of them to do the heavy digging and weed removal whenever I need them to.

Oh, and you can eat chickens to. I know this might not be every one's cup of tea, but I'm all about them having a good life but being useful right to the end. If they weren't useful I wouldn't keep them. And trust me, when you are woken up by five young roosters that have just discovered their lungs, you are running for the axe with no conscience whatsoever!

The one thing you really need for chickens is housing. If you don't have them properly housed for your situation you will have problems. They will poop on your doorstep. They will eat your veges. They will dig up your seedlings. They will get eaten by the next door neighbours dog. They will generally be a royal pain in the backside.

I have mine in a wire (including a roof because my chickens have always managed to fly even with clipped wings) enclosure about 4 metres x 4 metres. One corner has walls and a solid roof and then a wall out into the enclosure and perches so they have an open ended roosting house. Then I have four nesting boxes on the ground. We can put a sack barrow under each side of this enclosure and roll it to a new patch of grass every few days. It looks like a dog's breakfast but is very functional. I would like a few smaller ones that I could move by myself but for now this works.

Every afternoon, if I'm home, I let them out for an hour or two. They scratch around happily under our trees or in the grass. When I do build my garden I will have to fence it or they will scratch around happily in that too! I call them back into the house with some food and lock them up for the night.

Chooks are pretty cool and it seems I'm not the only one who thinks so. Here is Give a girl a fig with a funny post. And a fellow local visiting a chicken show with some great chicken photos.

I think I'll always have a few around. Here chook, chook, chook.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lovely things

I had a birthday recently and this arrived in the post for me. What a delight! Such a yummy collection of threads, all different colours, weights, sheens. I can't wait to break them open and get started. But I don't know where to begin! Perhaps some artist trading cards? Thanks, dear sister, you know me well. Then a friend and I went to our Quilting Regional Day and had a great time. And my day got even better when I realised that Plume Art Limited had a stall there. Once I had wiped up my drool, I preceded to buy myself a little birthday present. A couple of skeins of hand dyed different threads.
Some hand dyed silk rods. I don't know what I'll do with them yet, but they were too gorgeous to resist.
Some luscious Sari Ribbons in a big thick twisted rope. Imagine how colourful our world would be if we all felt uninhibited enough to wear saris of these hues!

And then these little chunks of art are hand carved art stamps from India. They were courtesy of the Trade Aid stall. Oh, there was also some fair trade chocolate from Trade Aid to, but, um, well, I ate it all - hey, it WAS my birthday!

I'm posting pics of beautiful things today because it certainly is not beautiful outside. Rain and howlingly windy.
I was primed for six hours of child-free curtain sewing today but turned back on the way to daycare because the level of water in the ditches was making me nervous. Flooding happens on our road and I'd hate for the kids to be in one place and me in another. (Although secretly I might be gleeful if I knew their grandparents could get to them and they were safe!)
So I am stuck inside with two cherubs and I require any little glimmer of peace, beauty and joy to keep me going for the rest of the day.

Wish me luck xx

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stuff I've been up to.

I haven't posted for ages. Not because I've been doing anything amazing that has taken my every waking moment, nope, I haven't posted because I haven't got around to it. Guess I'm not as obsessed with blogging as I thought.

Actually, I know what I've been doing. There is one thing in this world that if I start, I pretty much don't stop until I'm finished.


I don't get out novels anymore from the library. I get out kiddy books and pretty, photo-filled books on craft and quilting and sometimes even gardening, but I suck in my bottom lip and walk past the novels. Why do I deny myself the simple pleasure of reading? Because I do nothing else that isn't essential until I have finished the book (unless it is a REALLY terrible book and there haven't been many of these in my life, maybe just this one!).

My kids look even more raggamuffiny than usual. I stir the dinner with book in hand. I look up with a distracted, "Hmmmm?" when my husband asks me if I'd like joint custody of the children because he's leaving me if I don't get my nose out of that book.

But I fell of the wagon and picked up a novel at my latest trip to the library. "Just one." I told myself. Bryce Courtenay's "Matthew Flinders' Cat". Very good it was too. Totally distracted me from the fact that I was meant to be making curtains.

Before I got to the novel I was engaged in SOME productive activities.

Like baking (and then eating) my daughter's birthday cake (it's a turtle!).

And admiring my cabbage grown in a pot.

Checking out another beautiful view.

And admiring my sweet kids (this moment lasted all of 60 seconds!).

Right, back to the curtains.