Monday, 29 August 2011


My little girl turned 8.  How very growed up!  She had an Under The Sea party.  In case you're wondering why my house looks dark and cold, it's due to the blue cellophane over the windows.

More photos to follow... but for now... GST returns.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Hi All
The Leota children will not be attending school tomorrow (Friday).  Getting out of bed has simply not made it's way onto the agenda.  We all need a Mummy day.  Especially the Mummy!
Thanks for your understanding,

Just thought I'd share with you an email I sent my children's teachers tonight... I love that I have one day each week to do whatever I want.  And I do.  Whatever.  Because this is it.  The one life on earth I get to live.  Why waste it?  I heard on the radio that for every hour of television you watch, you shave 20 minutes off your lifespan (slightly random fact, just to enrich your life).  Now, I totally appreciate that we're eternal beings, and that those of us who know God will go to Him and live for eternity in His Kingdom... but I want to make the most of the here and now too.  It's not every day I want my kids at home - they go to an amazing school and they love it.  But tomorrow, I just want them to jump into my bed with their books and their jammies and their little warm bodies and cold feet.  And later, we're meeting friends for a picnic in the park.  La dolce vita!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Tweet Tweet

Hello my friends!  Tonight, I'm letting the pictures do the talking... ok, not all the talking.  I'll do a bit too, seeing as it's Air Your Laundry Friday!  Pop on over and check out Jami's Freckled Laundry blog - it's lovely.
This is a quilt I created for a lovely friend's baby shower.  As she didn't know the baby's gender, I wanted to make something bright and fun that would serve as a playmat or bedding.  The backing is denim and corduroy to make it durable, and the batting is an upcycled wool blanket for warmth and safety.

 This little guy's my fav - with his little wings going ninety to the dozen.  The birds are all machine appliqued, just using a straight stitch.  I wanted their edges to go fuzzy.  Even their legs are machine stitched.  The eyes, beaks and music notes were cut from knit fabric, so they won't fray. 
This entire project took about 8 - 12 hours and cost... $0.00!!  It started out as a cushion cover from my stash of bits and pieces, but grew upon coffee consumption.  Not sure what it is about coffee.  It makes me over-ambitious.  While I think about it, I'm not sure what it is about fabric, but I am compelled to hoard it.  This year I'm trying to lighten the load by having less stuff lying around to tidy up.  It's so lovely to finally use some of my fabric stash.  The only trouble is... I just went and bought a huge pile more!  Don't tell Mr Leota!

Friday, 22 July 2011


Curse you, Rice Bubble Slice, destroyer of my willpower!

Chair Recovery

Happy weekend friends!  I'm curled up in my favourite spot by the fire, in my new (old) favourite chair, which I've been desperate to share with you all.
Today I'm linking up to the fabulous Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday.  Please check it out - you'll find some amazing ideas by talented people!

I purchased two of these chairs for $1 on Trade Me.  They were in ok condition, until my boys started picking at the already frail upholstery - much to my annoyance.  Look what they did!

None of those holes were present at time of purchase.  What is with boys?  By the way, see that messy room in the background... it has had a transformation!  But that's for another post...

This is a "progress" shot.  I was ecstatic to get to this point... until I turned around and saw the other chair waiting for it's turn.  That's the problem with doing two of anything... it takes twice as long!

It was actually great fun making slipcovers for my comfy chairs.  I followed Miss Mustard Seed's video tutorial series on slipcovers.  Miss Mustard Seed is a mum of preschoolers - and therefore finds the quickest way to do things.  I appreciate that.  So.  Much. 
I'd like to point out that this is not a project for a beginner sewer.  Make a few cushion covers first.  I've been sewing since I was 11, and have made cushions, curtains, costumes, clothing, you name it.  So long as it starts with "C", of course. 
I used painter's dropcloths (new, obviously) from Bunnings Warehouse.  They were a total steal at 2 for $45.  I took one for the team and washed them first - an unusual display of caution and self-control.  I far prefer to rip into a project with reckless abandon, only to abandon it before completion.  It's how I roll.

Here's chair number one, in my cosy fireside spot...

I love sitting here, it's the warmest place in the house.  The picnic basket and duck aren't always there, that's one of the random factors of photography with children. 
The green fabric was from Nick's Fabrics, and heavily discounted.  It's beautiful quality, thick, quilted, and a pain in the butt to sew.  I broke 3 denim needles putting the piping in.  Totally worth it though!

Here's chair number two.  All cosied up next to the bookshelves Mr Leota built.  He's very clever.  If I'm awake at odd hours in the night, this is where I sit and read.  Our friend Pete made the deer's head.  One day it will most likely go in the boy's room, but I'm enjoying it propped up there for the moment.
Have a lovely weekend everyone - keep warm all you southern hemisphere dwellers!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Caution: Vacuuming Can Endanger Your Health

I'm feeling like a bit of a slob after viewing this Pinterest board.  We haven't been home much lately, and when we have, we've had birthday parties, extra kids, or just too much fun to stop and clean house.

I'm not talking general tidying - the kitchen and other high traffic areas are done on a daily basis.  Closet and storage spaces?  Disastrous.  I love tidy cupboards.  Can't stand it when a certain member of the midget brigade gets into my storage area and makes a mess.  Which he does regularly.  On that note, this is why I try not to vacuum too frequently...

Yes, this is my child biting the cord while I vacuum.  I would like to clarify that in no way is this picture posed.  He dreamed this idea up all by himself.  And the camera was right there, so naturally I took a photo before removing said cord from the child's mouth.  He is fine.  His hair seems a little spikier, and every time he touches me I get a shock, but apart from that...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

You Too Could Look Like This...

...especially after a run-in with me!!! 
Not that I'm scary... much... but I do enjoy playing around with stage makeup.  I find it therapeutic, giving people black eyes, grazes, gashes and dirt.
I'm not trained and certainly no expert, but I love to learn from those who do know what they're doing.
Should you ever happen to need a recipe for fake blood, here's one we've used with great success.

Fake Blood:
Red food colouring
Liquid glucose
Dash of milk

Combine the food colouring with the liquid glucose, add a dash of milk to help with the consistency.  Don't make it too runny, try to keep it fairly thick.  A touch of brown food colouring helps darken it up nicely.

To get the real gory bits as shown above, pull strands from a cotton ball and dip into the blood using tweezers.  Then apply.  Looks like placenta.  Mmmmm!

These photos are from our Easter Event dress rehearsals.  Over the weekend, our "victims" injuries became progressively worse - we makeup chicks were having far too much fun!

Why am I posting about Easter in July?  Because I forgot to do it in April, and the photos are fun.  Fun is good.  Fun is your friend.  Relax, enjoy your life.  Go draw a moustache on someone in their sleep.  Go on, you know you want to!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Falling off the Blogosphere

Hi friends!  I had no intention of not blogging for such a long time.  I've been having difficulty with my internet connection.  It's semi-fixed now but still not talking to my laptop.  Tonight, I'm blogging from our 9 year-old desktop PC.  I type, and the words show up a few minutes later.  Another tricky thing, is that we have a new wireless mouse.  It's very cute and works well, but when I tried to plug my camera in to upload the photos of all my recent projects, I discovered that I have to choose between the mouse or the camera.  There's only one port.  And you kind of need the mouse to do... umm ...absolutely everything on the computer, including uploading photos from a camera!
On the upside, I have been making so many things lately - I can't wait to share all my projects with you.  Another plus, is that my PC has all our very cute old photos on it.  I often think about blogging something, and realise the photo I want is across the living room and a 10 minute warm-up away!
Because I'm feeling a bit nostalgic, here is my baby... when she was a baby... oh how I miss having a milky sweet newborn in the house!

This little lady will be eight years old in a couple of weeks.  What a delight she is... and has been since I first heard that reassuring heartbeat, Christmas Eve 2002.  I had lain on the bed, waiting for the scan - counting dots on the ceiling and trying to hold back the tears.  That heartbeat was the only Christmas present I needed that year... my much-wanted, desperately loved second baby was alive and well.  We are truly blessed.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Blogger? What?

Okay, so I've had lots of comments on Facebook about how IMPOSSIBLE it is to leave a comment on my blog.  I'm so sorry, I have no idea why that is.  It was working last week.
So... for those of you who would like an invitation to join Pinterest, please either facebook me or email me.
Pinterest is a fantastic website, you can "pin" your ideas onto boards (which you categorise).  It's a great way of collating ideas.  I see so many ideas I want to collate, and now I can!

And in case you're thinking my blog is getting a little one-dimensional, I'm sewing on Saturday... I promise photos, morning tea, and maybe a little tutorial on whipping up a dress with no pattern.  My way.  Which is not the proper way.  Just in case my mother reads this.  Hi Mum!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Beside myself with glee!!

I am SUPER EXCITED to tell you - I've been invited to join Pinterest!!
Now I'm all signed up, I have some invites to give away to lovely friends.  If you've never been on Pinterest before, I can tell you it's pretty addictive.
If you would like an invitation to join Pinterest, leave me a (nice) comment.  I'll choose two random winners.
They'll be as random as they can, considering I'll be choosing them.  Haha! 

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Laundry & Other Challenges

For the first time, I'm joining a linky party!  I love the Freckled Laundry... and this weekend's party is all about textiles.  Hence the title of my post.  Does folding your own weight in laundry count as "textile related"?  It sure isn't very creative, I can tell you.  Apart from folding the queen-sized fitted sheet from my bed.  That requires a high degree of creativity. 
Apart from folding 7 day's laundry in 1 evening, I've also tackled a bit more sewing this weekend.
This cute person was on her way to an Ice-Skating party...

And of course, we needed a special gift for her sweet friend.  Turning 7 is a big deal.  My 6-year-old is already planning her party.  She turned 6 at the end of March.

Here's one excited party-goer modelling the gift I whipped up - a rib headband with yellow rib flower, and a handy-dandy apron for baking with Mum.  Complete with yo-yos for crafty style.

I've had this apron in mind for some time now.  I wanted a curved neckline and curved hem.  It's hard to see on the denim, but there are two little pleats along the waistline for shape. 

This is the best close-up I got. 

I didn't have time to tie it up nicely - we had to get to the party!

Friday, 20 May 2011

What I've been doing instead of Blogging

What have I been doing?  I feel the need for bullet points:
  • Painting a mural I am yet to photograph
  • Photographing my favourite dress
  • Re-creating my favourite dress
  • Making "maxi" skirts - I highly recommend it, they are super-comfy.  I hereby promise a tutorial.  Brownie's honour.
  • Sewing all kinds of marvelous things
  • Trying to decide whether to take a stall at the Kumeu Country Market
  • Feeding the bunny rabbit
  • Losing my youngest child in the supermarket (ok, that took no time or effort, just a quick glance at the price of minced meat)
  • Finding my youngest child in the supermarket (seemed to take hours)
  • Putting everyone else's dishes in the dishwasher
Phew!  Think I'll go to bed.  Here's a photo - every blog needs photos. 

I have wanted to be a Mum ever since I can remember.  God is good.  We are blessed.
Have a lovely weekend friends xxxxx

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Psalm 18 + Habakkuk

I mentioned Psalm 18 in my "Bedroom" post.  Should have called it "Le Boudoir" or something fancy.  But I didn't. 
I love Habakkuk 3: 17 - 19. 
God first began to speak to me from this verse while I was out running (up a big hill, ironically). 

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail,
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold,
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
I can run on my high places."

 I also love Psalm 18: 29-36, it ties in beautifully. 

"For by You I can run upon a troop;
         And by my God I can leap over a wall.
    As for God, His way is blameless;
         The word of the LORD is tried;
         He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
    For who is God, but the LORD?
         And who is a rock, except our God,
    The God who girds me with strength
         And makes my way blameless?
    He makes my feet like hinds' feet,
         And sets me upon my high places.
    He trains my hands for battle,
         So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
    You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
         And Your right hand upholds me;
         And Your gentleness makes me great.
    You enlarge my steps under me,
         And my feet have not slipped."

I like to keep these scriptures in front of me.  They really do encourage me to keep praising God, keep rejoicing in my salvation, and also to remember that we are in a battle.  Daily I must bend that bow.  Daily I must use the shield of salvation.  Daily I must run on the high places. 
We are upheld by His right hand, He does not let us slip.  But we must be armed, fit, and ready... each and every day.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

My Bedroom

Hello friends... I have to say I'm slightly eating my words.  Since my last post that little tiger bit someone at kindy, performed unspeakable acts against my car, and threw his jeans into a sanitary bin while I was outside the toilet cubicle yelling, "don't do that! Unlock this door immediately!"
Sigh.  It's been a trying day.
However, I did have a few moments (while he was glued to Vegetales, ok) to photograph one of my favourite spots in our home.
I've always endeavoured to keep our bedroom a "sanctuary".  Occassionally it gets a little messy, but I don't let it stay that way.  I discovered in my late teens that I cannot sleep in a mess.  I lie awake all night thinking about how long it will take me to clean it up.  So I keep our room free from unfolded laundry, toys, kids books, and kids!  It helps that it's downstairs, away from the rest of the house.  I tried to keep it free from the cat.  I tried, and I failed. 

I know I'm in the shot... I took one without me in it... but you can't see my cool boots.  If I'm not careful I wear them every day.  They are so super comfortable, stylish and just "me".  The "Smoker's Bow" chair has wonky legs.  I stole it from my Dad and re-covered it.  The suitcase is my late grandfather's, and holds cards, letters, and even my old ballet shoes.  I can't part with them.

The crystal set was my maternal grandmothers.  Her name was also Neva.  Her dressing table was much tidier than mine, I happen to have an explosion of bracelets and headbands happening at the moment.  I don't mind that.  It doesn't stop me sleeping.

And this is our sleigh bed.  The crooked pillows are really annoying me.  How unprofessional.  Oh wait, I'm not a professional!!! 
I did the collages.  The middle one has Psalm 18:32-36 scratched into it.  It's not legible.  That's just how I roll.

My husband made me this bedside table.  I really like it - it doesn't go with anything else in the room, it's more rustic and edgy, where the rest of the room is romantic and "old" looking.  But I like the element of surprise it brings.  That, and the handy storage.  I usually have a stack of books and magazines twice that big, but I've been trying to be sensible this year. 
The yawning baby is our eldest.  He was a beautiful baby.  He's a beautiful child.  His eyelashes are incredible.  The apple is from Franschhoek in South Africa, a gift from my lovely Neighbour Joe and Carol, his lovely girlfriend.  Her name's not really Carol.  My kids can't say Racquel.  It's the funniest thing.
What I didn't photograph, because the sun was beating in, are the two sets of French doors which lead out to a courtyard.  It's currently an overgrown courtyard, but when it's all tidy and the vege garden's flourishing, it's a great place to be.  The chickens used to greet me there every morning.  Oh how I miss their cute clucking, and their lovely fresh eggs!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Little People

I adore newborn babies.  You can just pour your love on them. 

I love one-year-olds.  They're sweet and routined, and easy to care for. 
Two and three year-olds?  They can be a challenge, let's be honest! 

There are tears... and tantrums.  Their language hasn't caught up with their brain, so they find it difficult to express themselves.  And even if they did - would we really want to know? 

I'm not going to list this child's misdemeanours - he has had a challenging toddlerhood.  As a baby he was practically perfect in every way... he slept and fed like a dream.  Then he woke up and realised that everyone else could move, and he couldn't.  Frustration set in, he was so determined to move he taught himself to roll all around the house - he even rolled down the stairs (ouch!). 
A similar thing happened when he turned two - everyone else could talk and he couldn't.  He's spent the past 18 months screaming at us. 

He never stopped being cute.  He just wanted to be in control.  He does give the best hugs in our whole family - if you can get one out of him!

Lately his language has flourished.  He says some extremely cute things.  I tell him he's cute.  His response is "I'm not cute - I'm happy!".  So cute!!
We had a brilliant day at home together today.  I was cleaning the girl's room - it was long overdue for a proper blitz.  My little helper found the window cleaner and the dish brush, and scrubbed the windows for me.  We went to the shops and he didn't run off or throw himself on the ground once.  I was so delighted I had to feed him iceblocks.

Every season comes to an end eventually.  I can see we're beginning to turn a corner.  It makes all that consistent and (sometimes) patient discipline worth it. 
Raise your teacups with me friends, here's to a new day!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Up to my elbows...

... in oranges, sugar, limes and weddings.  Is anyone surprised I can't break my coffee habit? 
The weekend flew by in a blur... Friday was the wedding of my dear darling flower girl, Loretta. 
Here we are at her 21st:

She's all grown up and made a truly beautiful bride (sorry, I was not organised enough to take my camera and actually photograph the happy couple!).  Oh to be young, slim, wrinkle-free and freshly nuptialed!  I just made that word up.  Nuptialed.  It sounds better out loud. 
This September we will have been married 14 years.  My lovely husband had not much to say about that, other than, "man, that's a while".  Immediately after Loretta's wedding, I sat down to watch the royal couple smooch on the balcony.  Very chaste and regal.  And English.  And chaste. 
But I digress.  To explain the recent lack of posts, I would like to address the fact that it was Easter, and I made some significant achievements, including a 10 metre x 4.5 metre curtain.  There were others.  I covered myself in gold paint.  I gave a few people black eyes.  All in the name of the Easter Event - an annual production at my church.  We did have some highlights on the website, but I notice they've been taken down already.  We don't sit still for long.
Monday we whisked up to Kerikeri for a spot of r&r with my parents.  I mean, who wouldn't find this relaxing?

Unfortunately, it's no longer summer, so the jacaranda doesn't quite look this... purple.  But it's still a great place to go and chill.  We came home with a gazillion tonnes of oranges, mandarins, limes, guavas and feijoas.  I've been applying myself diligently to making marmalade, bottling and preserving.  I've gone through 10kg of sugar so far.  My kitchen cupboard doors are sticky.  My tea towels are sticky.  I am sticky.  And I had to go back to work today... making marmalade in the slow cooker tonight.  My house smells fresh and orangey.  Bliss.

Friday, 22 April 2011

One a penny, two a penny...

Today is Good Friday.  I have to say, as much as I love going away, I really do love holidays at home.  Especially when it's raining and I'm making hot cross buns!
Here's a step-by-step for you with waaaay too many pictures:

 You'll have to start while still in your PJ's, if you want to eat these around lunchtime... my feet look minute here.  They are small feet.  But not that small!

You'll need to melt some butter...

You could do this in a microwave.  I don't have one.  Well, I do have one.  But I don't use it.  It's not even in my kitchen.  Now add milk.  You want the mixture to be at blood temperature, which means you have to stick your finger in it.  Sorry about that.

Now you need to add yeast and sugar...

Leave it for a while, so the yeast can eat the sugar and go all frothy.

This next step is where it helps to have a Polly.  Polly is my Kitchen Aid.  I love her.  She's the most helpful person in our family. 

Here she is, with a bowl full of flour (plus a teaspoon of salt).  Pour in the frothy yeast mixture.
Note the dough hook - this is where you use it, after it's been annoying you in the drawer for a year.

Mix like crazy.  Make sure you show a little person - preferrably a little person in a onesie. 

When he saw me this morning, he gleefully announced, "look Mummy, I gotta onesie!"  He's a cutie.  He knows it.  You need to knead the dough for 10 minutes.  No less.  Don't skimp, even if you're kneading by hand and your arm's about to fall off!

When the kneading is done, it'll look like this... stretchy and silky.  Now cover it with a clean tea-towel and pop it in a warm place to double in size - the hot water cupboard is an ideal place for this.  It takes about an hour, so go fold some laundry, have a shower, contemplate the startling revelation that your husband has been wearing your socks.  I would be less horrified if he had nice clean feet with manicured toenails.  But my husband is Samoan.  He has feet like a rhinosceros.

Ok, back to bread... after an hour you whip it out of the cupboard and Ta Dah!!

It's like a small, yeasty miracle.  Right here is enough dough for 25 buns.  Now comes the fun part, so enlist some crazy little helpers in matching aprons.

Cute!  Now you're going to tip out your dough and add fruit, spices, and chocolate chips.  I'm not a purist. I just love chocolate.

Here we have raisins, currants, cinnamon, chocolate chips, coffee.  The coffee's for me.  Sanity in a mug.

We simply spread the flavourings on top, folded it over, repeat.  It worked ok, I think next time I'll just throw it all in for the last minute of kneading.  Polly can handle it better than I can.  Next, shape the mixture into little rolls... I allowed the kids to help, which means we have some random shapes.  It's ok, the Queen's not coming to lunch.

This is what they look like after 20 minutes in a warm spot... ready to bake!

Now ice with a little glace icing mixture, and you're done!  They were delicious, smothered in butter.  Not much isn't, when you think about it.

Have a very happy Easter my friends xxxxx