Friday, November 30, 2012

in the evening

Summer finally arrived a few weeks ago in our little corner of the world. Daylight saving, which had seemed a little odd mixed with cold weather, has now given us extended warm evenings, and if we're lucky a sea breeze makes its way through our valley. Odd, I know, considering we don't live anywhere near the sea. But there you have it.

So we've been eating a little earlier in the evenings. Cleaning up quickly because nobody likes to come back inside to dirty dishes (I know I don't). We've been watering the garden, planting seedlings in the vegie garden, and filling up some old pots that have been sitting around empty forever.

Last night when the kids went to bed we made a coffee and sat on the verandah. We watched the moon, the stars and listened to the frogs croaking.  Sometimes it's the simple, quiet moments, the few still moments in the chaos of everyday life, that make you realize that life is indeed good.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

now we are two

I may have said it before, but I think my very favourite way to celebrate a birthday is to keep things as low key as they possibly can be. Which I think could be said of Violet's simple birthday celebration yesterday. A little evening gathering of the five of us. I'd made a cake the night before and wrapped up her present (a smaller sized handmade doll from Dragonfly Toys) in preparation. Julia was very keen to be involved, from choosing the cake (a ginger cake with caramel icing from the ever reliable, often used, Women's Weekly Cakes and Slices) and decorating it with sprinkles, to setting the table with colourful plates and picking a few roses from the garden.

I can't quite believe it's been two whole years since we welcomed Violet into our family. Time has flown by, and yet at the same time it feels like she has always been with us. Two means saying goodbye to those baby years, while appreciating the emerging little personality that right now is growing in leaps and bounds. There is no in between with this little one. Though the days are not always easy, sometimes far, far from it, those special moments of the very uniqueness of being two, the ones that make your heart melt or erupt into laughter, it is these times that I don't want to forget.

Happy second birthday Violet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

two little trees

Finally! My little christmas tree ornaments are ready to be posted to their new homes. Just in time too to make that end of November deadline for the ornament swap. I can breathe a little sigh of relief now.

I can't say it was an easy challenge for me, but it was enjoyable all the same. I had two bloggers to make ornaments for and luckily there were no specifications on colour or medium preference. Last night I sat down and looked through their photos, and I was more than a little blown away by their beautiful hand crafted work. Perhaps it was better that I didn't take more than a peek before making them. So I am quite a bit nervous to be sending my humble little christmas trees off. But one thing I know is that plenty of love went into making them. I do hope they like them.

I do love the fact that this swap has shown me the extent of creativity among the other bloggers. I've discovered many new blogs, and been inspired by new ideas. Thank you Christina for putting in so much time into organizing this swap.

I used Cottage Garden threads, both variegated shades, for the trees. The white one I have christened the Rainbow tree and the second grey one, the Bush Christmas tree (named after the shade of thread I used with it's subtle shades of golden brown and coppery pink). Both are embroidered on hand dyed wool felt and backed with some Liberty cotton Lawn that I had about. I always love to add a touch of Liberty when I can.

There is a certain bit of wonkiness to them and they are far from perfect. But they do put a smile on my face when I see them, which makes me think that the emotional connection is what crafting is really about. It's not about striving for the look of perfection, as there's plenty of characterless made in China items about if you want that. But its the little quirks that set handmade apart.

Don't you think?

Monday, November 26, 2012

interestingly uninteristing

Sometimes you can have the most interesting of uninteresting weekends.

I bartered the hemming of several pants, shirts and flannel shirt alterations for a whole lamb. The freezer is full again. Roast lamb tonight.

I learned how to make a traditional Lebanese salad with yoghurt cheese, from a neighbour.

I made cuppuccinos and scones for visitors.

I almost finished my very first skirt for myself. A Winter skirt in Summer. Because you never can tell around here.

I planted three more roses.

We mulched that garden within an inch of it's life. I think that makes ten bags of sugar cane mulch.

Julia surrounded herself with cookbooks and chose a birthday cake for Violet.

We ate strawberries straight out of the garden.

I visited the op shop and walked out with nothing.

I began writing up a map of the garden. Including descriptions of our fruit tree varieties. Daniel says I am a nerd.

We bought more tomatoes. To replace the ones we lost.

At the end of the day I enjoyed a glass of wine. Or two.

How was your weekend?

Friday, November 23, 2012

eight little things

  1. So very happy to receive this beautiful Classy with cashmere yarn and Pompom, a charming little magazine full of fresh patterns, from Susie's giveaway on her Flowerpress blog. Yarn and magazine are available at Zigo Zago. Thank you Susie!
  2. My old washing basket that the bottom has almost come out of (hence the coffee bag) is a new house for Violet's blocks. Because she can see them now she actually plays with them. Not sure why I didn't think of this earlier.
  3. Reading.
  4. Focaccia bread (no knead bread dough - 3 1/2 cups water, 6 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon yeast, 4 tablespoons olive oil (mixed in bowl, covered until doubled in size), topped with olive oil, fresh herbs from the garden, garlic and sea salt. Bake in 200 degree celsius oven until golden top and bottom - around about 30 mins).
  5. Cleaning out drawers of which little hands had been rearranging.
  6. Spinach and feta scrolls - scone dough (4 cups self raising flour, 160g butter, 1 tsp salt and 2 cups milk, though I added a little more) rolled into skinny rectangle and filled with few handfuls of chopped spinach and a packet of feta. Roll, slice and pop into muffin tins. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 200 degrees celsius until golden top and bottom - usually 20 - 30 mins.  Recipe courtesy of our school's kitchen garden.
  7. A crochet rug is handy for a chair waiting to be painted and recovered.
  8. Dress ups.

What little things have you been enjoying lately?
How has your week been?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

nefertiti drawers

I recently came to possess a few little furniture pieces from my late Pop's house. The most substantial of these pieces being a chest of drawers. I always remember going to stay at Pop's house. It was a calm, immaculately kept place in Sydney suburbia, with the double brick almost keeping the sound of overhead aeroplanes out. These drawers were in the spare room, along with matching bedsides. I don't really remember them in his more recent home. But to me these drawers represent a little piece of Pop. Functional, strong and with no fuss. A little piece of those Hurstville memories.

I had to admit that the stain had become a little too orange, and was a bit scratched from the move. And it would be a rather tight squeeze to fit any other furniture in. So out came the paint (Porter's Aqua Enamel in Nefertiti - I may have been sold on the name, but I do so love that colour!) and with a little rearranging in the space known as the spare room, but which also houses all Violet's things, we found a little spot for these drawers.

The low height of the drawers made it the perfect place to keep some of Violet's toys within reach. Some of which were lost in the jumble of her toybox otherwise. So I had a good clean out, of both clothes and toys, many of which were outgrown. I am a big believer in less is more with toys, but I don't need to tell you how hard this can be to keep at times. It does feel good to clear away the excess.

The drawers squeezed in right beside the nappy change table, something I am hoping we may be able to retire this Summer. Or at least almost retire.

I pinned a roughly cut piece of a coffee sack to the side, so you can't see the nappies from the lounge room anymore. If I was setting up a new nursery I may have taken the time to hem or bind it. But this is only a temporary piece of furniture, so unhemmed it is.

Most of the wooden toys were op shop finds, though the rainbow was a christmas present last year and one of the wooden trucks was a gift for Luca many years ago. I also added a basket of little handmade soft toys, a few of which Julia made for Violet.

(Sorry about my poor drawer shutting, which I only realised after I loaded these photos. Also the big paint drip).

I think shes enjoying her new little toy space.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

music past

In the absence of a decent stereo right now I'm listening to music in the kitchen on the computer. If I'm happy music will be on often.  If I'm not then it isn't. That's the thing about music isn't it? It can be a huge indicator into how you're feeling. I have my own favourite happy, uplifting music (artists such as Pink, Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, Jack Johnson, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and dare I say it, Britney - most effective for getting ready to go out or to get that cleaning done), angry music (Tool) and that blur in between of mood evoking music (James Blunt, Neil Young, Pete Murray, The Eagles or old time crooners).

I don't know if I ever could have been musical. I have an average voice, that made the school choir, but seems to irritate my kids when I sing. I played the recorder in school, learnt a few simple songs on the piano at a rental we lived in once and knew a tune or two on the guitar. My parents income didn't stretch enough for music lessons. But they did instill in me the love of music. Supertramp, The Beach Boys, America, John Denver, James Taylor, Dire Straits, Crosby Stills Nash and Young or Tears for Fears will immediately transport me back to my childhood. A time when the record or tape player was almost always on. Happy memories. It is the music I listen to now when I need the reassurance of something familiar.

During the era of Roxette and a little later, my brother and I would set the alarm early on a Saturday morning to watch Rage's Top 40. It was the golden era of Rage, in my opinion, and I don't think you could let your young kids do that these days.

Which makes me wonder. Where does our musical taste come from? Is it nature or nurture that shapes our taste? Funnily enough I can listen to the same music from my teen years that I patiently waited to record off the radio, and still like it. Clothing tastes might change and friendhips fade away, but I still love those particular 90's hits.

When I met Daniel music was always in the background. Usually blaring loudly from the stereo of his shiny ute. Our tastes were fairly similar, as I'm sure many couples are and we shared a love of Nirvana, Marcy Playground, Offspring and the Wedding Singer soundtrack.  I wonder how many other couples have tested their compatibility while comparing music tastes? Could it in an unspoken way represent similar tastes and shared values in life?

I hope one gift I can pass onto my kids is the love of music. We listen to a broad range of music here, mostly older stuff, but some new, depending on the mood. So while their current favourite may be Gangnam Style, Julia's preferred genre is kid's christmas music, and Violet loves to dance to anything with a strong beat, it does makes me smile that their own personal tastes are emerging. In future years they may choose to learn an instrument or dancing, or just enjoy music for it's own sake.

If the music we listen to is the soundtrack of our lives, as they say, then it is us as parents that are hitting the play button on the music that will be our children's. For their generation will have it's own music, but it is likely that the music we listen to now, will in some way influence them for the rest of their lives and in turn shape their own individual love of music in the years to come.

 So tell me, what is your music past?
Do you still listen to the music from your chilhood? Teenage years?
Who are you listening to now?

Monday, November 19, 2012

an indoor outdoor weekend

We mulched.We planted. Basil, chocolate mint (amazing scent, I tell you), lemongrass, penstemon and an assortment of free cuttings from a neighbouring farm. Julia harvested our first strawberries of the season. We need to think about replacing most of the tomato plants we lost to an (unforecast) frost on Friday night. Empty glass jars are sitting ready in anticipation of any more such frosts. We hooked up a long hose which will be a welcome relief from the hour long daily task of hand watering the vegie garden.

In indoor moments I have been reading little bits here and there from a new library pile. Can there be such a thing as too many good books at once? I think there can be, just a little, as it does lead to indecision. Which one to read? But there are some very enjoyable titles there and I think I will be a little reluctant to return them when the time comes.

I cooked up the refried beans on homemade flatbread from River Cottage Veg. It was really very good, as all Hugh's recipes tend to be. Simple but good.

I embroidered another christmas tree bunting for the ornament swap. Using Cottage Garden Threads cotton again, but this time in the variegated shade of Bush Christmas, which I thought was quite fitting.  Now onto stuffing and backing these little trees.

I hope you are all safe and well, particularly those in the areas battered by storms on the weekend. My old hometown even had a waterspout event (of which my want-to-be storm chaser son was highly interested in). We didn't experience any wild weather here, but it has been raining all morning. Good for the garden and water tanks, which were getting very low.

Hoping that your Monday is a pleasant one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

making, reading

Slow, but still progress nonetheless, is being made on Violet's Tiny Tea Leaves. I will try to get those ends woven in today and hopefully a start soon on those sleeves. The first round with double pointed needles is always the trickiest.

After a few practice pieces, I settled on a little bunting design for my christmas ornaments for the swap. There is always that lurking doubt if someone else will like your handiwork. Although I admit that I've often avoided such swaps because there is that pressure, you know, to make something that hopefully someone else will like. I don't always work well under pressure. But I do like the fact that it has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn something new. My Alicia Paulson book has been dusted off again and referred to.  It's been quite some time since I've done any needlework and I have to say I'm quite enjoying it.

Meanwhile a new book arrived last week, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I'm quite excited at the prospects of this book (and the potential for my wardrobe!). Full of clear, vintage techniques but presented in a way that makes it enjoyable to read, not like some of those traditional sewing books that read like dreary textbooks. Suddenly adjusting patterns appears a whole lot more achievable.

Then there is a whole envelope and chapter full of patterns, most of which I'm just itching to make (but first I must get through that "projects which need finishing pile"). Full of timeless vintage style dresses, skirts and blouses (and a Peter Pan collar one at that). I like to imagine a wardrobe full of such items to choose from.

And lastly, another little pillowcase dress or top (again from this tutorial), part of a christmas present for my little niece. Once again made from a vintage pillowcase, vintage sheeting made into bias binding and finished off with some Liberty pockets.

Thank you for yesterdays get well wishes. I'm happy to say that things are almost back to normal around here. Back to school and far fewer sniffles at home.

Linking up here with My Creative Space.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Laying a little low today, as a there are quite a few (minor) sniffles around this house. We're almost out of hankies here (something thats never happened before, I thought the stash would withstand any illness!).

It's a funny thing how much more often you get sick when you have little ones in the house.  I had a good run with virtually no sickness the few years before Violet. Despite working with the public before I had kids, I was rarely sick. Now I seem to catch anything going around this house, as I did when the others were very little. But I know it's only for a few short years, and before you know it they have stronger immune systems. And I think I will too.

Meanwhile washing must be hung out, dishes done and newly planted seedlings watered.

Hoping your day is a good one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

this and that

  1. Sweet cornbread (recipe from here). This simple recipe was so good, I made a double batch twice last week. I just couldn't stop eating it. Not so good.
  2. Even Violet (not a huge sweet fan) loved it.
  3. Garlic from the garden. My first ever garlic harvest. Little successes like these are most encouraging.
  4. Violet favourite combination - skirts over pants with crocs. Only a toddler could get away with that!
  5. Variegated thread for the christmas ornament swap. Too see what other swappers are up to this week, you can have a peek here.
  6. Peeled roasted capsicum with olive oil, sea salt and garlic, just like my mother in law makes.
  7. Pillows as seats.
  8. Felt for christmas ornaments and things (purchased here).

So what have you been up to lately? Baking? Making? Other projects?