Thursday, January 31, 2013

catching up

In an unintentional way this blog here has somehow become a series of once a week kind of posts. Life just gets away on you sometimes, doesn't it?

As a quick way of catching up, here is my week.

We went to a music festival. We lost the internet. For four long days. It rained. We can see a little green again. I sewed little bloomers and my first ever knit dress (and you can definitely tell it is my first). We played Scrabble and the kids made an indoor cubby house.  I cast on for an Analu. I watched the first series of Love My Way. From the perspective of a thirty something this time around. I realized I forgot to buy a calender, so a year of Frankie centrefold calenders it is. School went back, with mixed feelings. The internet came back on.

Right now our first fog of the season has rolled in. Our first little hint that Autumn is not so very far away. There are little people to get out of bed, breakfasts to make and a coffee machine to turn on.

How has your week been? Do you have little ones back at school? I do hope the week is treating you well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

summer wardrobe : dress H

 Not so very long ago, before the holidays, I decided I would make myself a smallish kind of summer wardrobe. As an alternative to buying some items to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe. I was a little skeptical, not just in my ability, but also the time and motivation involved in making just a few garments.

But, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to add some wearable, pretty outfits to my summer wardrobe. Enough, in fact, to wear something handmade every day I was away on holidays.

Way back four years ago when I had just begun sewing, my goal was to one day be able to make clothes for myself. I enjoy fashion, but only if it suits me, and I have quite definite ideas about what I like and what I am drawn to. The prints I like are not easy to find in the shops, and many cuts are questionable. I found that what I really liked was out of my budget, with natural fibres becoming far more expensive in recent years.

I thought I would share with you a piece each week from my Summer wardrobe, both the successes and the failures. I still have so much more to learn, but I am certainly having fun along the way.

So first off the biggest failure of all. Let's get the negative out of the way first. Besides, it is the only one I have the complete pictures for right now.

I began with Dress H from the Japanese sewing book Stylish Dress Book. I wanted something loose, cool and comfortable for days at home and in the garden, while still being presentable enough to pick up the kids from school. Perhaps I had romantic country visions of dresses and gumboots.

Though this Japanese book is translated, there were many pattern lines to contend with as well as adding seam and hem allowances. Take your time though, and you will get there. I trace all my patterns with cheap greaseproof paper, often joining pieces together with sticky tape.

I had sizing issues from the start. My fault though as I had heard that the patterns were very generous, so I cut it out in an 8. I'm not quite sure what I was thinking. Well, the bottom fit with room to spare, but the neckline did not. With not enough fabric left in the print I was using (an op shopped rayon) I cut into some cotton voile I had (this time in the 12). There was a strange diagonal slant to the print and it probably was not the best choice for a straight neckline.

But it sewed up fairly quickly and soon was ready for another try on. But the gaping neckline meant I had to take it in further, which in hindsight I may have taken in too far, and then the shoulders kept slipping off.

It was comfortable, if a little tight up top. Though it did get the "maternity dress" label from the hubby. Something I had tried to counteract with a shorter hemline.

But sadly this tale does not end well. A game of handball with the kids resulted in a huge tear in one of the sleeves. The type of tear that does not mend well. So I had to concede that it was not meant to be. I'm not really sure what went wrong with this dress. Would I attempt it again? Probably not, although I would like to try other patterns in this book. But I will put it down as a learning experience. After a failure there is hope of success.

Have you been sewing these holidays? Do you have plans to start sewing or are you in the middle of a project?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

coffee, quilting, food

We've been taking things easy here this week. While the kids have been occupied with the things kids do around the house to fight off boredom, I've managed to have some sort of return to normal. Though it is the normal of the school holidays, which means sleeping in a little and just being a little more relaxed about everything.

So I have been drinking a little too much coffee (thanks to the little coffee machine Daniel bought me for christmas, which took quite some time to master), I have been obsessively fighting off ants in the kitchen (vinegar washing today, if anyone has any other ideas feel free to suggest away!) and I am delving into the world of quilting. Something I've been meaning to try for awhile now. Yes, it's true I have done patchwork in the past, with my doona cover and a few other little projects, but I would really like to learn the art of making a proper quilt. It is my first time using a rotary cutter, and it's really not that hard afterall.

I received some mail the other day, of the very best kind. Sarah of Gladys in the Garden blog, so very kindly sent me a vintage tracing wheel, and a beautiful tablecloth. All so prettily wrapped. I love things that are both practical and beautiful. Thank you Sarah!

I have also been catching time here and there to do some reading. Last week I mentioned that I was missing certain foods and felt we needed to get back on track with our eating habits. I find the very best incentive for me is to read about food. About the way it nourishes, the healing and preventative foods, as well as the ones to stay away from. So I've been re-reading the gentle Nourishing Traditions, as well as beginning Big Fat Lies, which picks up where Sweet Poison left off, and is written in an entertaining way, though there is no hiding from the truth here.

I've been motivated to make more soup, more salads, a loaf of bread (defrosted dough from the freezer) and a batch of slow-cooker yoghurt. It's not that easy in the warmer weather, as my big oven turns this place into a hothouse, but I know we all feel healthier as a family when I make that extra effort.

And how have you been? I feel I have missed so much in the blogging world while spending most of the past month away from this space. It is nice to be back!

Hoping your week has been treating you well.

Monday, January 21, 2013

like sleeves II

Otherwise known as the knit that saved my sanity.

While bushfires were raging, while I worried about Daniel, while I worried about our house and our community, I knitted. While I sat glued to the news, while I waited for the phone to ring, I knitted.

I had really never experienced the truly therapeutic aspect of knitting as I did then. Because it really did help to pour all that nervous energy into something I made with my hands. Three days from start to finish, which says something for nervous energy, as I never have managed any knitted project quite so quickly before. Perhaps it suffered a little for it, as the seaming is a little rough and the neckline far from perfect. But it is what it is, and I have a feeling it will get plenty of use as soon as the weather cools down.

This is the second time I have made the Like Sleeves pattern. I made the first way back here, and it has been a wardrobe favourite ever since. So I made the size 3-4 this time, as the original one was getting a little short, though we may be able to squeeze another season out of it.

The wool is a Moda Vera one from Spotlight quite some time ago. Though I think I will be strictly handwashing this one, as the my last one made with this wool pilled quite a bit, though I did use the gentle wool cycle. Yes, I know I should handwash more.

I really do like this pattern, both the simplicity of it and the little design details such as the line of small gathers in the front and back. I like how it can be worn alone in fresher warmish days, or layered over long sleeves to keep the body warm. Yes, I do like the like sleeves.

Did I mention how hard it is to photograph a run-away two year old in a dimly lit room?

Raveled here
Pants are from the Big Butt Baby Pants pattern from Made by Rae

Thursday, January 17, 2013


(the roses continue to bloom despite the weather)

Thank you for your kinds words in my last post. I can report that the fire seems to be well contained and although there is a little smoke, it is apparently the smoke of containment lines.
So I've been doing loads of washing, and quite a bit of ironing (not managing to fold those creasable jeans and dresses straight away). Life has some normality to it once again.

Trying to salvage what is left of these school holidays hasn't been the easiest. It's mostly too hot for the kids to play outside, Daniel is back at work and I've been having wisdom tooth issues. The younger kids have been doing a little craft but I'm afraid the tv has been on far more longer than I would like.

I've never been one for New Years resolutions, but I can see that although much has been out of my control this year, that I need to re-organize myself a little, and get back on track with more vegetables and whole grains. Less sugar. For the past several weeks have been mainly about convenience, and I am not feeling the better for it.

a bouquet from my Mum

Sometimes it just so happens,  that your life doesn't really align with your ideals, that the values you hold close, seem to go by the wayside. Whether this is work, housework, what we eat or how we spend our free time. I can see a need to slow down and re-evaluate things. In all areas.

But I'm not beating myself up about this. Some things are totally out of your control. If anything, it makes your realize that making things yourself, having your routines and seeking out or growing the best for you food, is a far more satisfying way to live. I feel that sense of satisfaction naturally spreads to the rest of the family. But I guess life is like that. Constantly changing, and sometimes a need to re-evaluate your purpose and work out what is best for your family.

So although my (yet to fruit!) tomatoes are half dead, although I will miss the convenience of sliced bread and although I feel a need to wean myself off the commercial chemically laden washing powder that makes my whites whiter than white, I am looking forward to getting back on track. In a simple living way, so to speak.

And I'm thinking a Mum and kid's day out is in order!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

clearer skies

Well, it's been quite a week.

Only a few hours after my last post (over one week ago now) we received news that the following day would put us in the "catastrophic" bushfire level. Our plan has always been to get out as early as possible, living in a bushfire prone area. With the hot dry winds forecast, a fire already out of control just over the mountains from us,  it seemed the most sensible approach for us. So after just finishing all the unpacking from being down the coast, we were once again packing. With the addition of valuables, photos, computer and documents this time. And our dog. Gardens hosed, gutters checked and all possible fuel sources moved, we were on our way, arriving at my parents house late in the night. We set up the camper trailer in the backyard.

It was a little surreal seeing all the familiar local place names, relatively unknown to the outside world, flashing up on the news over the next few days. Seeing the locals in the papers and on the news.

I am incredibly grateful for the hard work of the firefighters, many of them local volunteers who worked around the clock, often putting themselves at risk, to save people, properties and contain that fire.

Daniel returned on Wednesday and spent the next three days as a volunteer. Driving fire trucks, helping with containment lines and unloading supplies. Sometimes in danger. It certainly helped that he knew all the local tracks. I was both incredibly worried and proud of him at the same time. He said at night you could see the fire from our house.

So the kids and I waited it out at my parents, who were so generous (and patient!) with providing a home away from home for us. Relying more on news stories and internet updates, than the rare occasion that Daniel was at home, to find out what was going on. It was a very stressful, frustrating week, much of it spent glued to the tv watching the news, and I can only begin to  imagine how much worse it was for so many other people out there, some of them having no home to go back to.

The threat eased and we made the decision to come home on Sunday. No smoke, just a strange smoky smell in the air. Even our tank water had a strange smell.

We are not entirely out of the woods. There is still a lot of fire vehicles around, and although now more contained, it is not out. We've had some favourable weather, and let's hope for no more extremely hot, windy weather this week.

But I'm relieved to be home. Relieved to be back in my own bed. Relieved that we did have a home to come back to.

(Thank you so much to those who sent messages of concern. It was much appreciated!)

Monday, January 7, 2013

home again

garden c/o my mother and father in law

Home again. We've been up and down the coast, spending several days in both Bermagui and Kiama and then through the highlands visiting family for the past week. We thoroughly enjoyed the company, the coastal air, the beach swimming and the wonderful food and hospitality. But it is a good thing to arrive home safely from all the crazy traffic and to sleep in ones own bed.

Since we've been back it's been too hot here to do anything else than laze around indoors. The grass is more dead than we've ever seen it before. A few of the fruit trees are suffering. We've had our first ant infestation indoors. The fire warning signal went off twice yesterday. But the wind blew the fire in the opposite direction.

So we're bracing for more hot weather in the coming days. Hoping that the garden can cope with the stress of the heat. Hoping that the nearby fires stay under control. Hoping that we don't all drive each other mad in this heat.

And you? How has your week been? I'm hoping to catch up on a little blog reading today. Though I must say I feel as if I have been absent for quite some time. My blogging feels a little rusty and my fingers feel awkward on the keyboard.

Hoping that you are all staying safe, and especially those near the frightening Tasmanian fires right now. Stay safe friends.