Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Too busy to blog.

I've got this and this coming up on the weekend and I have an inkling I won't sell many half finished skirts.

We're also cleaning up our local park (and getting our neighbourhood to join us) for Cleanup Australia Day. Good on me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I've mentioned before how I really dislike little girls being dressed as mini-adults. Well, I have another pet peeve. This one annoys me even more. It's the phenomenon of fake unisex clothing.

So tell me. Which of these is not a unisex garment? Is it

A - Red tracksuit pants from Esprit
B - Green Rivers polo shirt
C - Navy Blue cord pants from Papoose
D - All of the above
E - None of the above

At first glance you might think D, all of the above. Red is a unisex colour. Green? Green is great for boys and girls. And navy blue? Well, there's no better unisex colour than navy blue. No no no wrong wrong wrong.
The answer is actually E none of the above. Crazy I know!!!! You need to look closely.
The red tracksuit pants have a little "Esprit" logo embroidered on the leg with a PINK LOVE HEART dotting the "i". Pink NOT unisex. Love heart NOT unisex. Sneaky buggers at Esprit.

The green rivers t-shirt has a butterfly logo. Hmmm last I checked butterflies were not the preferred insects of most boys. They tend to like crickets and dung beetles.
And the navy blue cord pants I just retrieved from the shed thinking they would be perfect for my little boy this winter? Well, they have a pink butterfly logo on the waistband which my unpicker just unpicked.

Why do clothing manufacturers do this?? Well, obviously they do it so they can sell more clothes. And make more $$$$. Not this time. My little boy will be wearing that butterfly t-shirt with pride.

Art classes

Abby has given up her sporting pursuits this term (swimming) and is focusing on her artistic endeavours. We are trying to expose her to lots of different activities but not all at once. That wouldn't be much fun for anyone.
We chose art classes because she spends just about every waking moment at her craft table in the corner of our kitchen. She draws, she snips, she paints, she folds, she stamps and she colours in. More on that later.
I stumbled across Carly's blog (through etsy I think?) and followed the links to her art classes for children. I thought she was very brave running art classes for the under 5's! But she does a great job of it. She has set up a little drawing table so the kids can occupy themselves before the class starts (and the mummys can covet things in her shop!). Together they read a story and then talk about the pictures in the book. The first week they learnt about patterns and last week they (and I!) learnt about cool and warm colours. Carly then makes a game of re-creating what they've seen in the book on paper with paints.
I admire the way Carly encourages the kids to concentrate and focus on completing their work (not easy with 3-4 year olds!). She keeps it fun and makes it interesting for them. I don't think they realise they're learning stuff.

This is Abby's painting from week 1 (patterns). Some stripes, dots and swirls in there. I love how she writes her name (bottom right). Hasn't quite worked out the 'y' yet.

The three paintings in the top right are all from Abby's kindy class (age 3-5).

Abby's loose interpretation of the term 'cool colours.' I think she thought it meant cool as in 'I think it's cool' not cool as in blue, grey, green.

Carly's studio and shop is in funky Croydon. Isn't it lovely? Everything in it is lovely and I think Carly likes Ikea as much as I do!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

time out


* a few child-free hours (it wasn't looking good this morning) to make fig jam muffins from this month's delicious magazine and sew some skirts. I haven't done any solo baking for a while and I must say it's a lot less stressful. I don't spill flour on the floor and stick my fingers in the sugar jar. And I don't need to watch myself with the hot oven.


* my visit to the hairdresser this afternoon followed by some solo op-shopping and knowing that Abby will be starting kindy in a few short months and then I will have 4 afternoons a week just like the one I'm having today. I'm counting on the fact that little Rory will still be having loooooong afternoon naps. He'd better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Exciting sewing ahead


= the start of my winter wardrobe

That pile of fabric is from my opshop trawl this morning. I took the 'I'm always happy when I'm out and about' child with me and the 'Muuuuuuum this is booooooooring' one was at my MIL's.

I'm going to make the Butterick dress with the blue fabric at the bottom of the pile. It is a lovely soft wool. I'm not sure what the next fabric up is but the original label says "2.3m $120" so I think I've stumbled upon something pretty special. It's a knitted fabric of some sort but doesn't feel like wool. I'll have to have a good think about what I'll turn it into.

I am going to turn the pink and green fabrics into tunic tops and I want to get some Amy Butler fabric to make the anna tunic but I couldn't decide which one. I'm very touchy-feel so find it very difficult to purchase fabric from the virtual world. Do any shops in Adelaide stock Amy Butler?

I was inspired to start thinking about my winter clothes after trying on this dress on the weekend. If it is still there on Saturday when I'm in the neighbourhood I'm going to buy it.

I'm getting a little tired of sewing little girl skirts (I never thought that day would come!) so I'm looking forward to doing some selfish sewing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

7 year itch....

Chris and I have been together 7 years today. We met on my birthday (Dec 30) but it took us 6 weeks to sort ourselves out and finally go on our first date. It had something to do with him telling me he'd 'have to think about it' when I first asked him out.

Obviously all went well on that first date because we've been together ever since.

flowers picked by Abby (yes, one is a weed)

I was given a lovely present this morning. We don't normally do presents so it was a lovely surprise. Dinner will be even lovelier. We're so (dis)organised we both booked a table at the restaurant which means we won't have to sit together!
Actually, although the sixth year was quite itchy, we're working hard to make sure the seventh isn't.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great jam, just ask me

We have a giant fig tree as well as a giant plum tree in our backyard and each year we're faced with the same problem - what to do with all those figs???

We don't really like them. Our neighbours a few doors down do and the birds do so that gets rid of some but invariably most of them fall to the ground, compost down and fertilise the tree so that we get even more figs the following year. It's a vicious cycle.

There's nothing like a shady fig tree to swing under though and I even painted our back fence green to match (mural to follow one day).

But back to the problem of too many figs. We made jam this year. It's not pretty but it tastes great. A lot like strawberry jam but not as sweet.
tastes better than it looks...

FIGJAM (makes about 6 jars)
3kg figs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of honey
lemon zest (a few tbsp)
squeeze of lemon
1 cup of water
Trim the stem of the figs and slice them into quarters. Put them in a large saucepan with everything else. Bring them to a slow simmer until the figs are soft (30 mins). Mash them or use one of those baby-puree things if you don't want lumpy jam. Otherwise, just break them up with a wooden spoon. Keep simmering until the jam is nice and thick. Put in jars.

I'm really on a roll with my jam making this summer. I had no idea it was so easy. The key is in the lemons. Lemons contain lots of pectin which is what makes the jam gel. Actually, all fruit contains pectin but lemons contain heaps so it's almost like cheating.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

(No) Sewing Wednesday

Oh I know you were looking forward to seeing this week's disastrous sewing project. Alas, my little chicken was home sick with an upset tummy and I was on cuddle and book duty.

She is feeling a smidge better today but not well enough to really do anything so we pottered at home (my favourite kind of day).

Abby goes on and on (and on and on) about her toys' birthdays...which toy's birthday it is, how old they are, whether they're having a party, who's coming, what presents they're receiving etc etc etc.

miraculous recovery just in time to lick the beater...

These conversations are a little tiresome. She's been on this birthday thing since her birthday back in July.

So today I tried a different approach. Let's give those toys a party.

So party we did.

Invitations were sent out (to Mummy, Daddy, Rory, and our 4 year old neighbour), we wrapped up a present, blew up some balloons and made a cake.

She said the party's going all weekend (hmm the toys must be teenagers). Surely it'll be out of her system after this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My bit

I finally found the motivation to go through Abby and Rory's old clothes today. Until now I have been unsure what to do with them. Op shop? Ebay? Friends? Hold onto them in case we have more babies? I have held onto a few favourites but the rest will be going to people in Victoria who have lost their homes.

The pile in the top left corner contains gillybean skirts and singlets. I will be sending them to grandy and baa who is collecting handmade clothes for the fire victims.

How do you explain such a tragedy to a 3 year old? Well, she understands that some people are in hospital and she understands that some people don't have a house to live in anymore but we haven't yet explained to her that a lot of people have died. I'm not sure how to do it without scaring her and making her worry.

I vividly remember the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 (I was 7). We lived on a hill in an threatened area and Dad was away so we were home alone with Mum. The wind saved us that day but the memory and the aftermath (seeing it on the news, hearing people's stories, driving through the affected area) still haunts me.

Abby was so sweet in her innocence as I explained who the clothes were for. I told her that the people in the fires didn't have a house anymore or a bed to sleep in or toys or clothes. "So they will have to be a rudey-doo?" "Yes, Abby" "Even at night?" "Yes, Abby" "But they'll be cold" "Yes, my love (trying not to cry)."

It's hard to make sense of a tragedy like this. I am thankful that everyone I know is safe (most of my family live in country Victoria) but so reduced-to-tears-everytime-I-see-the-news achingly sad for everyone who is not. There are so many questions and so much wondering what it must have been like for them and how on earth they will pick up the pieces.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Prison pants

People often ask me how I manage to sew around my kids and the truth is I don't. I would like to be able to sit and sew and have them happily play around me but it just doesn't happen. My kids are too needy and too inquisitive for that. My MIL says she used to put herself and her sewing machine in one of those playpen thingos but I think my kids would either climb over it or under it or stand there banging it until I gave them some attention.

So when do I sew? Wednesdays. Abby goes to childcare and Chris' mum looks after Rory. Oh how I love Wednesday.

I do most of my cutting out and hand-sewing at night when both kids are in bed. I don't have a table in my 'studio' yet so I use the dining table and chat to Chris (who likes to watch CSI and all that rubbish).

This morning I had a rare moment child free so I made some new pants for Rory. He actually slept in and Abby was at Chris' mums again. I used a girl's pants pattern (Burda 9843) and made them in size 2 to accommodate his giant cloth nappy bottom. Obviously, I chopped quite a few inches off the length.

we need more of these gates.

Cute pants. I can't believe how well I lined up the stripes! I might even make him some more if he ever sleeps in again.

proof that we like to match

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Too many 'matoes

We have more tomatoes than we can eat so we made pasta sauce today. The recipe is really simple. I'll have to get back to you on its yumminess status.
Pasta Sauce (this quantity filled 4 jars)
2 kg tomatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
3-6 garlic cloves, crushed
a bit of lemon rind
a squeeze of lemon
herbs (we used rosemary, basil and oregano)
2 teaspoons of sugar
Cut a small cross at the base of each tomato. Place them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes until the skin begins to peel away. Drain the water. Peel and discard the skin (we're not to pedantic about this). Remove cores and chop tomatoes.
my regular helper does the stirring

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft.

my other helper. who cannot even walk but likes to climb.

Add the rest of the ingredients plus 2 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove lemon rind (if you can find it). We pureed our sauce at this stage so it wasn't quite as lumpy. Spoon into jars and put the lid on. Turn upside down. Stand for 2 minutes. Turn upright. Cool. Eat.
I am looking forward to the eating part. I don't like any store-bought pasta sauces. Paul Newman's is edible and I do like Lucia's but it's quite pricey.

simmering away and smelling yummy

why do red tomatoes make orange pasta sauce?

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 random things about me

I was tagged to do this on Facebook and thought I would post it here too.

I have omitted #14 I like to sew and knit and #23 I have a blog because I figured you kinda knew about those already.

1. My favourite colour is green
2. I have a major snake phobia
3. Giving birth to Rory was the best experience of my life.
4. Giving birth to Abby was the worst experience of my life.
5. I always wanted 4 kids. Some days I still do. Other days I think having another child would be my worst nightmare.
6. I’m not married but most people assume I am (or forget that I’m not).
7. Being a stay at home mum is the hardest job in the world. I know, I’ve done both.
8. My 3 year old is better at maths than I am.
9. I have a terrible memory. This is regretful because I've had some pretty amazing experiences and also spoke 4 languages at one stage.
10. In the 31/2 years since I had Abby I have owned 5 prams. It’s ok, we walk a lot.
11. If I’m home at 1 o’clock I watch Oprah. Always have, always will. Oprah is pretty much the only tv show I watch.
12. In my lifetime I have wanted to be: an astronaut, a pilot, an airhostess (??!), a doctor, a nurse, a midwife, a travel agent, a police officer, a diplomat, and a librarian. I am currently studying to be a social worker.
13. However, I’m hoping that by living simply and being largely self-sufficient, I will never have to ‘work’ again.
15. I like to cook and bake and make my own jam and I must wear Grandma’s apron while I’m doing it.
16. I really miss my Grandma and think about her every day.
17. My favourite time of day is 5 o’clock. Chris arrives home, the kids have a bath, I pour a glass of wine, and start cooking tea.
18. I would like to learn how to make bread from scratch.
19. I have traveled a lot and lived overseas and would love to visit Antarctica before I die or it melts, whichever comes first.
20. I make friends easily and have lots of them. I don’t have many close friends though as I fear I will lose them and that has already happened way to many times (I went to six schools…)
21. I subconsciously dress myself and my 2 kids the same. I usually realize about lunchtime that we’re all wearing blue or stripes, for example.
22. I would like to be an egg donor one day
24. About 15 years ago I bunjee jumped over Victoria Falls and to this day I still have nightmares about it.
25. I secretly enjoy listening to kiddy cds in the car. I get in trouble if I sing though.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ye olde fashioned skirts

I have a big problem dressing my kids in clothes like these. I like Abby to look like a little girl, not a mini adult. I want her to be able to run, jump, climb, play in the mud and paint.
And so I was inspired to make some little girl skirts like the ones I used to wear as a kid.
the anti-Bratz skirt
I will have to introduce the IT Director to Etsy tonight as I don't think Abby needs five more skirts and I'm not doing many markets for a while.
I will also need to get my hands on a copy of this book a friend was telling me about.

Big fat failure

Who knew sewing with stretchy fabric was so tricky? Not me, or I wouldn't have purchased 12 metres of it at Spotlight's 'clear the bolt' sale.

Look at this terrible excuse for a skirt with hoodie-type pocket.

Oh dear. I should've stopped after I sewed the seams lopsided. I really should've stopped after I sewed the pocket on inside out and crooked. I was forced to stop after I sewed the casing for the elastic waistband closed. It's a good thing it's too hot for wearing jersey fabric at the moment - I've got plenty of time to practice.
I think the secret must be to use lots of pins. I don't use a lot of pins as they slow me down. Un-resurrectable failures (see above example) slow me down more though...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today son did some creative stamping

Photo albums around the world must be full of "look what my child did while my back was turned for 5 seconds" photos like this.

It's tricky to photograph a naked crawling baby's face.


It was only 27 today in Port Elliot

They have yummy donuts there...

...a croc-wearing pig (just one!)

...and a really really lovely beach

Monday, February 2, 2009

More hot air

I think if our air conditioner wasn't broken I wouldn't be so fixated on the weather right now. But it is. So I am.

To add to my pain, I have been listening to the hum of our neighbours airconditioner all day. And they haven't even been home.

hot baby

I believe that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. I thought we were pretty decent people but we must have done something really bad to have our air conditioner break on us for the hottest week on record.

I've been wracking my brain and I can only come up with one possible infringement:

Two years ago I pushed in front of some people I pretended I didn't see in the customs line at Sydney airport (we were about to miss our plane). Regretful behaviour but not that abominable I didn't think.

Well, there you go. Maybe we did deserve the heat torture we've been dealt with this week after all.

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