Thursday, December 31, 2009

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Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy 2010.

the wrap up

As a newbie to blogging – both as a writer and reader – 2009 has been a rich and fruitful year for me. I have been inspired and encouraged, discovering myself on a wonderful journey.

I love to learn and this year has provided me with many opportunities – sewing, embroidery, crochet, screen printing, gardening, parenting, partnering – and through these learning experiences I learnt more about myself.

I have read so many inspirational and thought provoking posts, here are five of my favourites:

Woman of Cloth written by Gina @ Clutterpunk  - even though a short post it was the catalyst for a huge discussion and had me googling ‘diva cup’ amongst other things. It hasn’t inspired change in my behaviours yet but I think of this post monthly.

Blogutations and Blies by Kate @ Foxs Lane was another thought provoking post. Whilst something that I already understood it was great to have someone put it out there and provide some meta-language for the practices. The post was influential in that it put to the fore of my thinking what I choose to include and exclude from my posts and more importantly question why?

Soapbox by Tania @ Myrtle and Eunice was one of many posts that I read this year regarding the sexualisation of girls. A topic of great interest to me I have enjoyed reading the many different views relating to this issue.

Thursday I don’t care about you is a must read post detailing environmental issues surrounding the textile industry and inspiring change of habits and behaviours at even the smallest level – that is you and me.

I read a handful of really brave posts this year. Brave in that the writer spoke an honesty that can only come from the heart and as such bears themself vulnerable to the world. Feeling a bit on the blah side by Sophie @ her heart my hands was one such post, and whilst I am fortunate enough to have two healthy children, expressed feelings that I could easily relate to.

There are so many blogs that I have enjoyed reading throughout 2009… please keep the great stuff coming in 2010!

counting crochet

It would seem that one needs to know how to count in order to crochet a square shape.

I thought I would have a go at making a dishcloth - after all so many people are making them - how hard could they be? For me - harder than I thought. I'm not a big fan of counting but it would seem a necessary requirement for crocheting a square.

I think I'll go back to crocheting in the round.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

lentil salad

Using the yummy carrots from our garden we made Lentil Salad for dinner tonight. It was very tasty indeed.

carrot harvest

The carrots have finally been harvested. It was a real thrill to pull them from the veggie patch and 'meet' them in all their wonky and oddly shaped glory. Must remember to thin them out more next time as it was a bit crowded but we're really pleased with our 'bumper' crop.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

flip flap airport book

Both E. and M. received lots of lovely books for Christmas. This one is particularly great. Focusing on all the intricate working of a busy terminal Airport takes its reader from check-in to behind the scenes. A highly interactive text jammed packed with lots of great information and humour. Master E. and I have been having a wonderful time reading it together, and we're still discovering new things within its pages.
Ordinarily I cover flap books, like those in the Spot series, with clear contact and then cut the flaps out as a means of reinforcement against eager toddler hands. Airport has so many flaps and bits and pieces to turn and pull that the task of contacting is beyond me - undoubtedly the book will have a short life due to being so well loved.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

out-sourcing handmade

As it became apparent that there weren't going to be enough hours in the days for a handmade Christmas I decided to out source. I purchased these brilliantly made pants from Cindy @ Bug and Pop.

I saw her red-headed young fella wearing the pants in a delightful photo and so when I saw the pants go on sale sometime later I just new my little red head would look great in a pair too... and he does. (I'll share a photo of my lad once he has them on for long enough... he's not wearing a lot these days!)

It was my first ever Etsy purchase.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

festive food

Bagels with creamed cheese for my breakie - a favourite.

I made omlette for the rest of the crew.

Even though I am not a big fan of omlettes I make the best ones ever... as a festive treat I'll share my secret technique. Seperate the egg whites and whisk to soft peaks before adding the yolks and cream.

Cherries are a must have every Christmas. We snacked on them all day.

For lunch we ate apple, onion and gruyere tart with roast pumpkin, rocket and goat's cheese salad.

Homemade pesto, using basil from our garden, was for dinner...

... served with Syrian salad.

So where was the baked beetroot salad we had planned?

Well it turned out that what my partner had thought were beetroot growing in the garden were actually radish - which provided me with many many giggles on Chrissy day. It is not often that he has those kind of 'vague' moments so I relish them when they do occur. Hence the last minute menu change to syrian salad - which was delicious.

... since the mister can't tell the difference between a beetroot and a radish I think I'll be undertaking all future harvests!

a box filled with beauty

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway offered by Tammy @ Girls Wear Blue Too (don't you just love that blog title?). The parcel arrived in the days leading up to Christmas. My partner and I agreed to giving each other only one gift (of no greater than $20 value) for Christmas . The decision, essentially a budgeting one, meant that I would only have one pressie to open on festive Friday. So when this marvelous package arrived a few days before Christmas I put it aside and waited for Chrissy to open it. I am so glad that I did too... it is filled with goodies and has been a pure delight to sort through.

fabulous festive fun

decorating the tree Christmas eve.

the night before Christmas.

E. loved his pen wrap.

M. had an ear ache - but still managed to have some fun.

E. modelling a new shirt.

M. on a musical mission.

just hanging

Thursday, December 24, 2009

it's beginning to look a little bit like christmas

In the interests of preserving my sanity I abandoned the idea of a handmade Christmas just after Ms. M's birthday. There are only so many hours in the day and at the moment I've been suffering end of year fatigue which has perhaps been exacerbated by low iron stores - in recent blood tests I scored an eight and my doctor suggests I should be aiming for at least a score of thirty.

Initially I felt a bit down on myself regarding my decision to pull the plug but as Christmas draws nearer I feel like I made the right decision. Keeping the stress levels low helps keep the laughter and giggles high. I have, however, decided that I am committed to handmade birthdays. A more realistic goal for myself since birthdays are a bit more staggered through the year. I really admire those crafters out there that can put together a handmade Christmas - so many people to make for all at once. Amazing. I liken it to running a marathon.

I did still manage to make some handmade gifts. I made lots and lots (many more than is pictured here) tree decorations for the special youngsters in my life. On each I embroidered their name and 2009. For smallest of all who are celebrating their first Christmas I added a bit of extra text and used nursery material rather than festive fabric. Each hanging took me so much longer than I had ever imagined when I started the project and it has been excellent practice for my invisible stitching - which I am pleased to say I am finally getting the knack of... well I'm getting better anyway.

The most special handmade gift of all was crocheting these stars for my grandmother who started teaching me how to crochet earlier this year. It was pure joy sitting with my hook crocheting for her tree. Despite the postal strike she received her star tree garland and phoned me yesterday to tell me how impressed she was... "but you've only just started to learn" she exclaimed. It was such buzz to hear. At the end of my brief lesson with my grandmother I had only just started to master how to do the chain stitch. It had taken most of the lesson to get me to that point and my grandmother had expressed some dismay at my poor co-ordination skills. It was pretty clear that she had found the lesson a tad frustrating so it was pure delight to surprise here with these.

the day we visited the big red man of Christmas who won't be named

E. has never been that keen on Santa. This year was our third attempt taking him to have a photo with the big man of commercial Christmas but he wouldn't have a bar of it even if I sat in the photo too. A decision that I am 100% fine with. The reasons that I take him in the first place are because his grandparents like receiving the photo in their Christmas cards and sometimes he talks excitedly about Santa... that is until he sees who he actually is. I too hold some concerns about the man dressed in red but they centre on ideas of commercialism and colonialism.

We stood in queue to have our photo taken with Santa for a tad over half an hour. The closer we came to the jolly man the more my boy's bottom lip began to quiver, and by the time we were almost there he was flat out refusing to go any further. I crouched down and told him that I completely respected his decision and that he wouldn't have to have his photo taken but that we couldn't go yet because perhaps his sister would like a photo. As I was endeavouring to have an empathetic and soothing conversation with my son the woman behind us in the line decided that she, a person we've never met, should intervene to try to encourage my child. She did this, while I tightly pursed my lips and glared at her, by sharing with my son that her boy used to be afraid but wasn't anymore and then proceed to point out to E. all the mechanised Santas in the shop windows - something that if she knew my boy she'd have known freaked him out even more than the old men playing dress-ups! I was livid.

Eventually it was Ms. M's turn to sit on Santa's knee for a quick snap. I place her on Santa's knee. She and Santa looked at the camera, but the young staff were chatting amongst themselves until finally Ms. M lost her patience with the situation and began to squirm and cry. At this point grumpy old man Santa started hollering at the staff to quickly take the photo and that they needed to be quicker with babies - but it was too late. M. was over it!

At the end of our forty minute adventure we all walked away traumatised and not one photo had even been snapped.

E. who had planned to tell Santa that he wanted a teddy bear for Christmas advised me in the car heading home that he actually had rather a lot of teddy bears and that he wasn't in need of a gift from Santa anyway. The boy does own a lot of bears so I was surprised by his intention to ask for another - surely something that he didn't already have would be better - so his revelation in the car heading home filled me with much pride. My heart burst with admiration when he next revealed his concerns that his sister would miss out on the car (that according to E) she wanted. So, since M. didn't have any cars of her own, E. declared that he would share his with her. Now that's true Christmas spirit.

The closer Christmas comes the more anxious E. becomes in regards to the man in red who shant be named at our house. One of his primary concerns is that this strange man is going to come into our house in the middle of the night. I'm with the boy on that one - I don't want strangers hanging out in the house at night either. I tried to explain to E. that the jolly ol' man is mythical, a part of folklore, and so there is no real physical person who can show up. The big red man is a symbolic representation of the spirit of Christmas - kindness and selflessness -but my explanation seemed to go over E's two year old head. So in the end I assured him that his father would stay up all night and stop the big man of Christmas at the door, taking over any gifts without him even needing to cross the threshold. Dada, of course, will thank him kindly.

This festive season has really highlighted to me the wider community's general intolerance to diverse attitudes and approaches to celebrating Christmas. How bizarre must it be to have complete strangers ask you on the street if you've been naughty or nice? (concepts that aren't even discussed in our home for philosophical reasons that I won't elaborate on right now) And how terrifying to be continually asked by big people "how many sleeps" until your house is invaded by a stranger that you're petrified of?

The photo at the top was taken on the day we visited the big red man of Christmas who won't be named.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a christmas helper

I recently won a giveaway offered by Bianca @ Bianca Jae Makes Stuff.

It is a pencil wrap. And look, Bianca was super generous and included pens and a notebook as part of her giveaway too! Just the kind of help I need heading into Christmas.

My son is going to adore it! He is going through a real 'arty' phase at the moment -drawing pictures, cutting and gluing.

Be sure to check out Bianca's shop in the early new year for great high quality products like this and more!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

mary mary quite contrary...

... how does your garden grow?

Really well at one end... but not so good at the other. I can't work it out. I've been observing the veggie patch one end doesn't get more light than the other. The amount of water is consistent across the veggie patch too... so why are all the veggies at one end thriving and the other... well, lets be frank, not so good at all.

We'll be having roast beetroot salad for lunch on Friday.

What will you be eating for Christmas lunch?

swap loot

I recently participated in my first swap - vintage sheets. I only had one sheet on hand so I headed out op shopping to get some more and then sent them on their way.

Selina @ What were we thinking? hosted the swap - and did a marvelous job... look at my great loot! So excited about the prospect of using such vintage goodness in my sewing - not exactly sure of what to make yet though... so many ideas!!!

Thanks Selina!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

especially for ms. M

For Ms. M's first birthday I made her this dolly...
She is a little wonky eyed and sports a wry smile. Only half her hair is on, but with the festive season cheer, time is short so bit by bit her hair continues to be applied.

I'm so stoked that I made this for her. I thought about the year past as I sewed and my hopes for our future. Ms. M adores her... so she won't look like this for much longer. I wonder will the doll survive twenty years? What will she look like? What memories will she be part of?
I'm in no rush to find out!

Fortunately a parcel of notions arrived in the post just before Ms. M's birthday which I immediately employed to jazz up dolly's dress. I won all these gorgeous pieces along with some delightful buttons and a sweet notebook in a giveaway offered by Cherie at I'm Over It. Beautiful!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

arf arf ... introducing another doggy

Sometime ago I made a commitment to make a softie to go under a local charity Christmas wishing tree.

Here he is...

Again I used this pattern from All Sorts.

It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that a local child will have this special fella to love and cherish.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

wrap pants

A friend of mine recently gifted me these wraps that she no longer needed. She had suggested that I use them for applique but there was so much material that I thought some summer pants might be a better use... and of course there are still scraps left over for applique.

I have so many baby wraps of my own, a popular gift after the birth of each of my children, that I have now put some aside for more shorts and pants in the future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

big yellow taxi

Master E.'s favourite song at the moment is Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi. We listen to it over and over and over again in the car... which would be awesome if I was 'allowed' to sing along too - but you see apparently it is only his favourite song and people can only sing along to their favourite songs.

Check out one version of the song here...
(the version we listen too has more oooo-bop bop bops!)

* image from here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a special gift

Ms. M shares her birthday with our good friend the very talented Moa.
Moa made these delightful gifts for our birthday girl. The appliqued t-shirt is so well done, lots of tiny stitches neatly forming the outlines of the owl's form...

...and the fairy outfit is adorable...
Ms. M received so many wonderful and generous gifts for this special milestone - but there is something extraordinary and memorable about a gift that has been personally handmade by a person that shares your birthday.

a very special birthday

A little over twelve months ago this little angel joined our family.
This Sunday just past was her first birthday. Wow - hasn't she grown?

To celebrate we had a little party for her.

We swam. We ate party food. We had a pinata. We relaxed and played with friends.

A great day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

coming back

I've been back online for a couple of days now and spending my time catching up reading emails and my favourite blogs.

Being without a computer for over a week was a rather interesting exercise. I knew that I used it a lot but I didn't realise just how much. Not reading my favourite blogs left me with some extra time and I thought maybe I'd watch some tele - but then I realised that I used the computer to check the tv guide! My time is too precious these days to be just sitting and flicking through the channels. So I thought maybe I'll head to the kitchen to do some cooking but again I hit a hurdle - my favourite recipes are all stored on the computer. My ability to plan hit a bit of a snag too as I usually check online for weather forecasts.

So what did I end up doing with my extra free time?
I sat in bed crocheting or hand sewing listing to the BBC world news on radio 585am. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed listening to the radio through an actual radio as I've developed a bit of a podcast habit.

Being without the computer also coincided with my partner being in Brisbane for four days. I was very nervous about him being away and being left to care for the two children on my own. We don't have any family support so his absence means that I am entirely on my own. Last year while I was pregnant with my daughter he was working away for about five months in Melbourne. It was horrible. My pregnancy was a difficult one with lots & lots of nausea, my toddler son was very active, I'd just returned to work a few days a week and we were selling our home... and I was all on my own. I was completely overwhelmed.

Going into it I had imagined that his absence was going to be a disaster. I didn't cope last year and I only had one child then. Although it was only for four days my strategy was pure survival. I am pleased to tell you that it turned out to be a breeze - amazing how not being pregnant and incredibly ill makes life so much easier to handle!!! The four days that he was away was actually quite an empowering experience for me because it allowed me to see that I can manage on my own, and not just in survival mode either, I can manage everything well on my own. I didn't know this about myself. My disastrous pregnancy that ended in another emergency c-section left me feeling like an absolute failure, and shattered fragment of the person I used to be. Slowly slowly I am finding myself and being on my own for four days was a really useful exercise in this pursuit.

Of course, I am so glad that he is back. Above everything else he is my best friend, and success just wouldn't be as delightful if I couldn't share it with him.