Saturday, December 28, 2013

so that was christmas

chrissy morning 2013Christmas. It’s been and gone for another year.

I can feel pretty ambivalent about the entire event to be frank. It is a lot of effort for one day. There is no other family here in Perth so once again it was just “us” for Christmas – although of course this year we welcomed our little ace.

I’ve been shopping and organising gifts for months, well before baby was born. Elf work is tricky stuff, most especially so finding sans children time to undertake it. Still we got there in the end… and I fell across the finishing line absolutely exhausted and questioning the entire thing – that is until I saw my kiddos smiling faces, grinning from ear to ear on Christmas morning. That made it all worth while. Those smiles reminded me why I put in so much work and effort and why I allowed myself to get so stressed. Every year I promise myself I’m not going to get so stressed about it, and I guess there have been years when I’ve managed to be more relaxed – but this year I suppose  throwing an extra child into the mix combined with a dose of sleep deprivation equalled higher stress levels than I would have liked. I just feel so much pressure to create beautiful memories for my children, moments that they can look back on with smiles from ear to ear. Time will tell I suppose.

Festive Feast 2013

A couple of years back we started the tradition of having our Festive Feast on Christmas Eve rather than the big day itself. We feel more like eating at night than in the middle of a hot Perth summer’s day and it means that no one is stuck on the kitchen preparing when there are toys to be enjoyed. Added bonus is that there is no meal prep at all due to the loads of leftovers that usually get us through to the end of Boxing day. Good stuff. This year we had red wine caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets, zucchini with mint and fetta quiche, gruyere and black pepper pop overs, fiesta salad, quinoa & pumpkin salad for the main meal. For desert there was baked custard, apple and blueberry pie, green jelly, chocolate of all sorts and a plum pudding. Christmas morning we had the traditional coffee, croissants and fruit salad to keep us going. My my my … so much food. Ridiculous, to me anyway – but the feast is important to my partner and inturn is therefore important to me.

Ordinarily for our evening meal we like to cover the table with tea light candles… but this year we had to enjoy our meal with them unlit  due to a little two year old helper who confused Christmas with birthdays and kept blowing all the candles out! Same two year old was totally freaked out by the crackers and it took some cajoling to get him to re-enter the dining room. 

Ode - all things bubbles were his favourite this yearMae - Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom was a big winnerEbe - looking forward to camping with his new chair, sleeping bag and air bedAce - a penny for his thoughts... I wonder what he made of all the excitment?

The big man in red apparently paid us a visit. I told them all not to worry – and I can tell you there were moments there when they were truly worried about landing on that naughty list – all children are good at heart and no one would miss out. I don’t buy into the whole potato or lumps of coal in the sack stuff… perhaps that’s why my children feel so free to be naughty? There is only so far I can buy into the Christmas caper – and for me setting a standard that I can’t attain myself is just too much. We’re a faulty bunch in these parts, but we mean well and have hearts of gold.

mae's artworkmade by ebe 2013

Gotta say I was well and truly chuffed with all the festive making by M. and E. this year.   Our little Ms. M is really getting the hang of colouring and drawing while E. made some uber cool ornaments for the tree and drew a rather menacing Mr. Claus. I adore his mean eye brows and growling expression – no wonder he felt like he did as toddler if this is how he views the jolly man.

baby's first christmas

So how was your Christmas? Merry and festive? Or like me do you find yourself at times feeling a bit ambivalent about it all?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

five

five

five candles

My baby girl turned five last Friday. Five!

We threw her a birthday party and sweated it out in the forty degree heat… it was all worth it – at the end of the day she declared it “the best day in her life!”.

The day before she got her ears pierced – she chose pink gemmed studs. I wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced until I was ten years old. When M asked me if she could  I explained the process and pain in exaggerated terms – she was undeterred so I figured there was no apparent reason why she shouldn’t. The process has changed since I was a girl – no gun, no bang. Easy peasy. She was brave… and I must say she does look very sweet with her pink gems. Her brother has subsequently declared that he wants plug piercing … I’m thinking that perhaps this falls into the same category as tattoos and he’ll have to wait until he’s an adult. (Just quietly - I think this style of piercing will really suit him!)

Turning five has been the birthday of the Barbie doll for M. She’s never had a Barbie before – I didn’t want to give her one until she asked for it. I suppose because I want her to have her own childhood that reflects her interests and passions not a re-run of my own or one that is a retailers dream. A couple of months ago she started asking and so she was gifted a Barbie from me, a skipper from her brother and some more Barbies from her kindy friends. She was also fortunate enough to receive Barbie stickers, pens, books… and it goes on. I sewed some Barbie clothes for her too! (I’ll take some photos of Barbie modelling them to share with you later)

… and of course for her birthday she received some Mama made dresses… including the one she is wearing above. (Again – I’ll get some photos soon… it’s just so hectic around here just now)

The birthday cake is the chocolate beetroot chocolate cake again. It just stays so moist and it’s a big batter – perfect for a party and a 12” tin. M wanted a Tinkerbell cake similar to the Dora cake that I made for her third birthday – but it was just beyond me this year – especially since I had to trek it to the beachside park twenty minutes away. Instead I convinced her of the logic of a round cake (that would fit into a container) with an edible Tinkerbell image. To make the cake a bit special I filled the centre with pink smarties so that when she cut it all the smarties fell out. No photos though… her Dadda and I were too busy juggling 20+ kindy kids at the party to think about grabbing the camera. A bit of my heart breaks about this – if you didn’t realise I enjoy a good photo – but I must remind myself the importance of actually being in the moment. There will be times in this life when I just need to commit moments to memory rather than to a jpeg. It was funny as we cut the cake together – even though I had only put the smarties in the cake and iced it that morning I had clear forgotten that I’d done it and was surprised myself. I couldn’t stop laughing – at myself and at the smarties – you had to be there but rest assured it was a delightful & treasured moment.

It was a great day... followed by a not so delightful night - a family struck down with gastro! Wiped us out for the entire weekend.

... and now on to Christmas...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

what is it with sewing on buttons?

new summer hatsailor pants  A new hat and new pants  for summer.

Finally I sewed on the buttons to finish off my one and only project for the most recent KCWC. Can someone please explain to me why the simple task of attaching buttons can push the end date of a project back weeks? People there have been projects in the past that I have cut out and constructed in a night only to have the final task of sewing the buttons on take weeks. I can’t explain it, can you?

my girl

Thursday, November 28, 2013

today, not quite summer

virtù - not quite a summer's day

Today the morning light was blinding.

Today I ate a bowl of rice bubbles in bed.

Today I watched a line of ants marching from the bathroom window to an unknown destination as I stood in the shower.

Today my children washed, dried and put away their breakfast dishes without me asking. They sang and danced as they worked. My heart beamed with pride.

Today I sewed hexagons as I supervised my mob swimming in the pool.

Today I pulled faces at my baby and made him smile. His eyes lit up and my soul soared.

Today my daughter spilled her glass of milk – again! I lay on her bed and read her a story about Mrs Wobbly who’d also been told off for spilling things. It made her feel better.

Today I rejoiced with my son about something to do with Skylanders – I don’t understand but I’m thrilled when he is thrilled.

Today I watered the garden with two-year old O. and later I held his hands as he jumped along with Dora.

Today I told my boys that they had the best sister in the world – she is so kind and such a good sharer. They’re all so lucky to have her.

Today I read junk mail with my kiddos before sneaking off for some secret elf work.

Today was a good day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

haunted

virtù - stitches of love - white on white bassinet quiltvirtù - white on white bassinet quilt - stitches of pure love

Eight weeks today since baby Ace’s traumatic entry into the outside world. I’ve surprised myself by how well I’m doing mentally and emotionally, but there are times when it all creeps up on me and I break down into a blubbering mess.

This past week or so my thoughts have been pre-occupied with Latifa’s story.  Latifa, a Rohingyan woman from Myanmar, gave birth by emergency caesarean in Brisbane's Mater Hospital but was returned to a Brisbane detention centre after just four days, her newborn baby remaining in the neonatal intensive care unit. Latifa was only allowed  to visit her baby at the hospital between 10:00am and 4:00pm. How can this be? How can we as a community be so completely heartless?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am so disturbed by this story. I can’t help but remember the desperate need I had to be with my own baby while he was in the special care nursery. My deep need to be with him, to hold him, to soothe him, to breast feed him. What is to be gained by torturing this mother and her newborn child? Her distress, pain and angst haunts me. My own experience so overwhelmingly painful seems small compared to Latifa’s experience. An unknown hospital, a foreign land, language and culture, a difficult birth, separated from family, no stable home, no secure future… and a sick newborn child. I have shed so many tears for her. I’m filled with shame that my community, my government, my people have allowed this to happen. For what?

virtù - random quilting stitches

And what about the newborn babe? A traumatic entry into this world, sick and needing his mother. Our government  without compassion for a child only four days old. How can it be? Where is the humanity? And what of his older siblings who are also held in detention? There mother would be sick and damaged from such a birth even in the best of circumstances. Were they kept from their mother whilst she was in hospital? Did they get to visit their newborn baby brother?

virtù - ace sleeps peacefully wrapped in love virtù - ace sleeping like an angel

And here lies my babe, just a few weeks older. Safe and secure in his home, with his family, sleeping peacefully in his bassinet wrapped in a quilt made with all his Mama’s love. Refashioned from a pillowcase that was part of cot sheet set, the cotton is lovely quality. He is so blessed, he is so safe with an optimistic future ahead. So much fortune … all afforded to him by luck. Lucky to be born into a family that lives in a safe and secure part of the world. Winners of a geographic lottery.

Dearest Latifa,  I think of you everyday, I shed a tear for you everyday. I am so sorry.

*******

White on White Bassinet Quilt

500mm x 720mm (19.5” x 29”)

Polar fleece batting

100% cotton blue gingham backing

Experimental hand and machine quilting using embroidery thread

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

{free pattern} wee willie winky newborn hat

virtù - newborn wee willie winky hat -  virtuallysally.blogspot.com.au
I just love Wee Willie Winky Hats. There is something about them that I find super adorable and cute. I was determined to knit one for Baby Ace but experienced real issues finding a pattern small enough for a newborn baby. That being the case I worked out my own pattern to fit my newborn baby boy. You can download the PDF pattern here.
Baby Ace’s newborn head circumference was 36cm. I knitted up the hat in 8ply cotton which is soft and not scratchy for my babe’s delicate little head.
virtù - newborn wee willie winky hat virtù - my little ace 

Monday, November 11, 2013

remembering

virtù - remembering

E. remembering his great grandfather for Anzac day earlier this year.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

six ace weeks

virtù - ace 6wks oldPossibly the fastest six weeks ever! Where have they gone?

Here is a collection of random points about now(ish)…

  • milk $1/litre; bananas $3.90/kg; petrol c.$1.40/ltr; adult movie ticket $19;
  • Tony Abbott Prime Minister (conservative party); Colin Barnet Premier of WA
  • hot political issues: turning back the boats, repealing carbon tax legislation, only one female minister in federal cabinet, budgetary cuts to funding scientists
  • #1 song in Australia: Roar by Katy Perry
  • big brother E loves Skylanders &  Phineas and Ferb. He also dreams of building a club room under the house that is accessed via a tunnel under his bunk bed.
  • big sister M loves the colour pink, chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. It is not understatement to say that she is obsessed. She also really enjoys practising her handwriting.
  • big brother O’s talking is really coming along, he has finally consented to wearing his floaties in the pool and is loving it, calls his dummy “me-me”
  • pantone colour of the year for 2013: Emerald
  • United States debt ceiling and Obamacare – federal government shut down
  • Philippines largest typhoon ever – estimated that ten thousand people have died
  • footy finals – Freo lost to Hawks in their first ever grandfinal the day before your birth

What do you think is note worthy about this particular time in the world?

{pinning in real life} up-cycled watering bottle

virtù - pinterest watering bottle from journey to a dream- a yay!I’ve been pinning like there’s no tomorrow in these parts. Might have caught myself a little bit of an addiction. Easy enough to happen when you’re either so heavily pregnant you need to call in the troops for assistance just to roll over and get out of bed or you yourself are pinned to the couch breast feeding a babe with only one hand free.

There is a certain satisfaction in “pinning” something. If I’ve pinned it then I’m one step closer to owning it or having made it myself. Lucky for me and my bank balance in many ways just pinning something satisfies the consumerist within. Sometimes once I’ve pinned it I don’t “need” it anymore. Strange.

Still there are some pins that I find so inspirational that I simply must follow through and actually bring them into  real life. There are times when I see something and I’m just overcome by its pure genius. This up-cycled watering bottle from ‘a journey to a dream’, pinned to my ♥ garden board,  is one such example. Brilliant. Especially so for those of us with more than one child wanting to help out in the garden. Also good for the older kids who like fire and melting things.

It didn’t take our family long to save the required amount of old milk bottles. These days little O. is drinking two litres of the white stuff a day. He just can’t seem to get enough. We had a fun afternoon sitting outside with a yarn needle and a candle melting holes in the tops of the lid. I think a few leaves might have been set on fire as well.  Nothing like a bit of fire play (under close supervision on a low risk fire danger day of course).

These little watering bottles are pure gems. Not so heavy that a child can’t carry it and no big openings for them to pour the water out in a flash. If you were cunning you might make them with fewer holes so that you’re not constantly at the hose topping up refills.  virtù - little O with his watering bottle

So Astra’s DIY watering bottle gets a big YAY from us. An absolute winner for sure.

Resplendent as the up-cycled watering bottle is… I don’t think little O. is going to make good progress filling up his paddling pool without the aid of the good ol’ garden hose.

virtù - little O trying to fill the pool...

Friday, November 8, 2013

spring + a quandary

Clear blue skies, light fresh breezes, radiant sunshine, pollen galore – spring in all its finery. The perfect time to get out and about, before summer hits and it is too hot to venture out of the shade.

virtù - at the farmvirtù - brooms at the farm

We spent a delightful morning at a local(ish) farm. I’m not your overwhelmed with awe and love for animals type – I like most of them well enough (or at least tolerate the variety with feathers) – being vegetarian I certainly pay animals my respect by not digesting them – but you’re not going to find lots of animal figurines on my shelves or posters on my walls, nor am I going to get all gushy when I see animals at a farm (although I am always keen for a ride on a horse). 

virtù - a strange place to happen upon a goatvirtù - the noisy roster

Even so, I do believe there is something marvellously magical about visiting a farm with a two year old. It is just the perfect age. I guess because farm animals dominate a two year olds’ literary experience – so many texts, songs, and tv shows are associated with farmyard animals. (Our all time favourite at this house is Peppa Pig – why oh why Peppa do you only run for five minutes????)

virtù - transportation hat

O. certainly had a wonderful time. He sure did enjoy communicating with the residents in their native tongues - ‘neigh’, ‘moo’, ‘quack quack’ and ‘coockadoodledoo’.

And I can tick off the list a finished sun hat for the boy – cut out  during last summer and finally sewn and completed before this next one begins – just!

virtù - chuffed

He seems well enough chuffed.

And now to ponder a creative quandary. This sunhat that has taken the best part of a year to make, (although probably no more than a couple of hours of actual labour) has been made from fabric that I had ‘fallen out of love with’. There it was in the stash and I was left wondering what I was thinking when I bought it. Obviously I loved it at the time (or perhaps I loved the price?) but as time had passed there were no fond feelings left. It was chosen because the hat was intended for daycare and the inevitable lost-property-black-hole. I suppose the project took so long to finish because the fabric was not loved, that and the crazy decision to invest so much energy and toil for something that was expected to only have a fleeting presence.  It all seemed just a little too ill-fated.

Yet here I am now – with the memories of a lovely morning visiting the farm animals and some super sweet pics of my dear boy in the ill-fated hat and all is forgiven, the investment seems worthwhile, perhaps the hat will not be sent to daycare, not at least straight away.

Have you ever fallen out of love with fabric only to find your feelings rekindled once part of a project? Or once out of love do you file for divorce and de-stash?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

one month

Can you believe it? Today my baby Ace is one month old. It’s true! The time between his birth and now is a collection of hazy fragments. It is a blur.

my baby ace - a month old

Unlike his entry into this world, this dear lad is showing himself to be one laid back easy going dude. Sure initially he wore a rather serious expression, no doubt trying to fathom all the chaos around him, but now at only a month old he cracks a wry smile. It’s a real smile too, not just a gassy wind one or a funny in his sleep dreamy one, a real lock in for eye contact knowing little smile.

a month flashed by in a blur

The spring weather has finally arrived in these parts and we’ve been getting out into the sunshine. It feels good. Actually, all things considered I am pleasantly surprised by just how good I feel.

This little lad does feel chills, even on a gorgeous spring day like today his little bottom lip shivers with cold. Lucky for him his Mama likes to knit.

Vest ravelled.

Little O. at the same age.

Monday, October 28, 2013

97% finished

97% finished - not quite completed pants for Ms. M

97% finished - not quite completed pants for Ms. M - closer detail

So I didn’t quite meet my goal of sewing Ms. M trousers for the kids clothing week challenge. Housebound and all that past week flew by, I’m left struggling to account for the time.

The trousers are 97% finished. There is hemming and sewing on some buttons to be done. In order to fall over the finish line a co-operative child is required, which at this particular time is not so easy to conjure. There are some pretty tricky emotions being navigated by the small folk as they adjust to life is a slightly bigger family.

I’m sure I could have completed this very manageable goal of sewing one pair of pants had I been in possession of my real brain (can anyone tell me when I will  get that back?), instead I found myself reading, re-reading, blankly staring at, the pattern instructions. My confusion and befuddlement was not helped by repeatedly confusing the word placket with pocket! Thank goodness I was eventually struck with the idea of asking Mr. Google for a tutorial.

The upside, it should be easy to improve output next time I participate in the challenge!?!?

With any luck I’ll be back soon with some all finished shots – maybe even with a co-operative model… but that might just be pushing things a little too far!

Monday, October 21, 2013

kids clothing week challenge

sewing challenge

I’ve never participated in a KCWC before, strange come to think of it since I’ve been blogging and sewing my children’s clothes for a while now… I suppose I’ve just never been organised enough to get going with it.

On the surface of things now would be a strange time to start. Baby is not yet a month old, life is pretty chaotic and I’m still recovering from the birth… BUT, I’m suffering a lot from cabin fever. I’m still not well enough to drive so leaving the house means that Dave is driver and all four children are in tow. So I haven’t really been getting out much … and frankly it is starting to drive me a bit crazy!

A sewing challenge might be the very thing to distract me from being so house bound, indeed there is the very strong possibility that perhaps it might even make me want to stay at home. I’m not delusional enough to think that I’m going to be knocking off outfit after outfit, night after night, peeps I do have a newborn and as such am doing most things one handed. So the challenge I’m setting myself is to sew a little bit every day this week making some pants, or trousers as peeps north of the equator might call them, for Ms. M. A small challenge, but challenge enough for me at this time.

So what about you? Have you set yourself any challenges, no matter how small, lately?

Friday, October 18, 2013

receiving serendipitous pebbles

ace in pebble vest

The most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind and washed by the waters and polished to brilliance by life's strongest storms.

Knitgirl 66 comment on this post

 

a wonderful parcel

Last week I received this most lovely parcel. A pure surprise. I love surprises. A sweet package instantly inspiring me with orange ric-rac teamed with blue and white polka dots – most awesome combination.

Inside? Pure yarny goodness. A little vest me thinks is the Pebble. Oh so appropriate in light of the maker’s thoughtful and lovely poetic comment and considering the babe’s middle name indeed means pebble. Moreover that very morning I had cast on my own version of the pebble, serendipity forging a deep connection with the giver, someone unknown to me in many ways – I could pass her on the street and never know – and yet I feel deeply connected to her, deeply thankful for her kindness and generosity. A shared passion for all things yarny.

yarny gifty goodness

… and look some fabulous booties too.

*******

Meanwhile my participation in blogtoberfest is patchy at best. Time seems to melt away, I’m struggling to keep track of the days – instead just relishing the dazing blissful moments of this babymoon. There is a new kind of crazy in these parts – how can such a small person create so much extra washing? The math just doesn’t seem to make sense. Dave and I hit a bit of a wall mid week – a child with worms precipitated the emotional collapse. Washing all the bedding and soft toys coupled with a rainy day left us both feeling a bit blue and empty, resembling the walking dead more than either of us would have liked. Not to worry. The sunshine was back the following day and we pulled ourselves back together. What looked like mountains the day before returned to molehills.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

little blue

You can't write a novel from a briefcase
You can write a poem from a trench
You can dream a dream from A to be
But you can't catch a bus from a bench
You don't back a horse called Striding Snail
You don't name your boat Titanic II
So why when I see your happy smiling face
Do I always end up singing Little Blue

-The Beautiful South

newborn all in one jumper

I must say I have enjoyed knitting for my baby. I started this jumper when I was pregnant – before I knew if I was having a boy or a girl. I just adore this shade of blue – the plan was to embroider some daisies if baby was a girl. The yarn is just an acrylic from my odds and ends box. I was a bit sceptical about whether or not this pattern would work and as such did not want to invest too much in the project.

little blue newborn all in one jumperIt sure was a quick project. Taking no longer than a weekend.

I don’t know that I could recommend this pattern. It’s a bit boxy for my liking. I suppose that’s what you’re going to get with a knit that is essentially just a big cross sewn together under the arm seams.  Still it keeps bub warm and it is very soft and cosy. More knitting practise too… and that has always got to be a good thing.

Ravelled here.

As for reading The Life Of Pi. Have barely turned a page. Might just skip it for now and get a start on next months book. Just now both my creative and reading mojos have gone AWOL. Not too worry. I have managed lots and lots of cuddles with all my children – because there are some older kiddos in need of some Mama hugs, lots of pinning on Pinterest and somewhere in the wee hours of the night watched the second season of New Girl.

Linking up with: Ginni’s @ Small Things Yarn Along, Christina’s @ A Little Bird Told Me Made by Hand and Leonie’s @ Sunshine x 3 Show and Tell.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

a nursery rhyme quilt

nursery rhyme quilt

Unveiling my third quilt, the first undertaken following a pattern. I didn’t do so well following the pattern (found in this book) exactly… I reduced the number of squares making the quilt smaller. Ever since the bedroom reshuffle and the loss of my crafty “grey room” I’ve been thinking of stash busting – there is only so much space for my stash under our bed!!!  It is tricky to gauge how successful the stash busting element of this project was – “I need to buy fabric to bust fabric” may have passed my lips as I asked Dave to drop me off at Spotlight to buy the khaki green sashing fabric. Still I did manage to use up nursery rhyme printed fabric. Rather than buying batting I used up excess white polar fleece which makes the quilt a lovely light weight. For the backing used some plain old calico taking up space in the cupboard. There is something really charming about the simplicity of natural calico. I’ve always liked it.

stitches

Originally I attempted quilting in the ditch. It didn’t work well. I couldn’t stay in the ditch and it just looked too wrong with the contrasting cotton. Stitching next to the seams seemed to work so much better. I am really chuffed with the end result.

labelled sally made 

Nursery Rhyme Quilt

1160mm x 1160mm (45” x 45”)

Polar fleece batting

Plain natural calico backing

Quilting next to the ditch in contrasting cotton thread

********

… and because I simply can’t help myself – some gratuitous photos of my darling baby boy on said quilt:

my darling acemy ace on nursery rhyme quilt