Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday night sewing

Every Sunday night Chris and the kids visit nanna for dinner.  Nanna cooks a delicious roast on Sunday and I love a good roast too but I love my two hours of uninterrupted sewing/blogging/wine-drinking/cheese-eating time even more.

It's what gets me through the week.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I enjoy their absence so much.  (I have been known to literally jump for joy as they back out of the driveway).  Then I get over it and pour myself another glass of wine.

Tonight I'm working on two summer tops for Abby and a pair of shorts for the walrus.  Then I will get started on another one of these peasant tops for myself. Take two!

I'm listening to Adele and thinking about who will look after our house when we go away next year/PND/when will I go back to study/what I will cook for dinner tomorrow night when Chris' Dad visits/will the tomato seeds I planted ever pop up?

Quiet is nice.

Photo unrelated and a few months old.  We are all here.  Can you spot us?

Summer fling top

Abby took this photo.  She said she would take one and only one.  This is it.
She then proceeded to take 348 photos of her friend on the swing.

And this is why I don't sew much for myself.

Sometimes it's easier just to drive to the shops, try something on and fork over the cash.  At least then you end up with a top you'll actually wear.

I used the 'make it perfect' pattern with moda fabric I bought ages ago (with another project in mind) from here.

It's possible I did something wrong.  Or maybe my body shape is wrong.  Maybe I made the wrong size.

I can't quite put my finger on it but it's not quite perfect.  Especially the sleeves.  They're a bit fooffy.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In the garden

Our telegraph peas are finally beginning their long climb up the ladder.  It would seem the chooks are very fond of pea shoots.

I have been planting tomato seeds like a madwoman.  My memory is short and I've forgotten about last year's glut.  And the year before and the year before.  Normally I plant seedlings but this year I'm experimenting with growing things from seed.

The wisteria knows it's Spring.

Chris has built three more garden beds and project 'backyard self-sufficiency' has begun.

We are putting a fence straight through the middle of the back lawn.  The kids and chooks can have the back half and me and the veg get the rest.

We feel sad for our poor chooks who need a bit more space but we're sick of them chomping away at all our veggies.  Putting in a new fence seems to be the only solution.

This project will give us 5 garden beds plus space for some fruit trees and a passionfruit vine.  We have planted two citrus trees which we are going to espalier along the fence and we will put in some apples using this method I think.

I cleared a space along the fence and tested the soil then conditioned the soil ready for some blueberries (fickle things that they are).  I planted two little bushes about a week or so ago and one of them is already looking very sick.  It has dropped all its leaves so I'm not sure if it will be with us for much longer.

The noisy tree people came and removed two big trees which were blocking the sun.  Trees that don't feed us are a waste of space if you ask me.

We've also put  a lime tree in a pot (under-planted with strawberries) and we've planted a grapevine which will eventually cover the trellis on the back veranda.

Now our fruit tree tally looks like this:

  plum *
  fig *
  cherry *
  pomegranate x 2 *
  olive *
  mandarin (x 2)
  orange (x 2)

* these were here when we moved in

I would love to plant more but I really don't know where we'd put them.  I've got my eye on the front lawn next.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not moving

For the past six or so months we have been looking for a new house.  A new house in the country.  A new house with acreage.

We've found a few beauties too.  Two of them ticked all the boxes.  And we nearly bought one of them.

But we didn't.  And we've called off the search.  We are not moving.

In the end we decided we really love where we live.  We love the neighbourhood, the school, the community.  Our house.  It's proximity to everything.  The fact that we know everyone on our street and we don't even have to arrange catch ups at the park because everyone is already there.  We love that we have enough space to be self-sufficient but can still holiday in our new caravan for weeks at a time and not have to worry about who's going to look after our livestock (for example).

We love that we can potter in the garden and do projects around the house but our lives are not consumed by these chores.  And if it's 45 degrees or blowing a gale we don't actually have to go outside to plough the fields (for example).

We worried that instead of providing us with a simpler life, one where we could spend more time together as a family, we would actually end up spending more time in the car and more time reducing the fire risk on our property (for example).

So we're not moving.  And the money we've saved on moving costs and stamp duty we're spending here.  Making this house perfect for us.

Chris and I have been planning this move since we met.  But we were planning the move for when the kids had all left home (like 20 years).  That is still the plan.  In the meantime I will live vicariously through ivy nest, inner pickle, hugo and elsa foxs lanesoulemama, and baby mac who have all made the move.

And to be honest, my vision of living in the country was mostly about these boots and  a combustion heater. So I bought myself the damn boots and we're putting in the heater before winter.  Happy Gill.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My new sewing corner

It would seem that fitting the entire contents of one's sewing room into one tiny corner of the living room is no easy task.

But I think I'm finally getting somewhere.

And so I present....the only tidy corner of the entire house.

The table is new (to me) and I plan to paint it.  Green maybe?  And the chair too (not green, maybe cream).  But for now this space is functional and the painting can wait for another day.

The two giant baskets sitting on the floor are full of WIPs.  I plan to do something about those too.

The typewriter was inherited from my Grandparents (because I was going to be the journalist in the family).

The spice rack, the biscuit tins and most of the other storage is from the op-shop.

The bookcase and the tallboy thingo are poached from other rooms in the house.

You can spot what's from IKEA.

The thing I love most about this new space is that (in theory) I can sit and sew and watch the kids playing in the backyard.

But it's only a matter of time before someone gets a pin in their foot or the baby pulls all the fabric from the shelf or I get divorced because Chris can't hear the TV over the noise of my sewing machine.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My creative space

Did I really make a bone for the 3 year old who follows me around nipping at my heels all day?
Did I really make a bone for the little boy who sits and begs at the fridge door for a 'treat'?
Did I really make a bone for the boy who barks so much his baby sister's second word (after mum) was woof?
Did I really make a bone for the kid who will only visit parks which allow dogs?
Did I really make a bone for the boy who licks my hand/leg/cheek when I least expect it?
Did I really make a bone for the little boy who greets other dogs and dog owners (and most people come to think of it) with a woof?
Did I really make a bone for my son who sings "Doggy doggy who's got your bone" at the top of his voice on the walk to school?
Did I really make a bone for the kid whose favourite game is fetch?

Actually yes.  Yes I did.

I don't even like dogs!  If I wanted a dog, I'd get a dog!  And yet somehow we've ended up with this.

I'm not sure I've done the right thing by encouraging him.

More creative spaces over here.

And if you've got a dog of your own who would like a bone this is how I made it:
1.  Draw bone shape onto paper.
2.  Transfer the pattern onto fabric and cut 2 pieces.
3.  Sew right sides together leaving a small gap for turning.
4.  Turn right side out and stuff it.
5.  Sew up the hole.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' at soulemama.

26/7/11 first ever babycino

Friday, August 19, 2011

The hard slog of parenting

This morning I got out of bed at 4:50am to have some 'me' time.

I have been doing this regularly since Erin was born.  I sneak out of bed before everyone else in the house wakes up to enjoy some solitude.  I sit and do a few rows of  knitting, read some blogs and enjoy my morning coffee ritual without interruptions.  Just me and my own thoughts.

When I became a mum, people (my mum, Chris' mum, Soulemama) mentioned how they used to get up before their kids.  Crazy!  I never understood why anyone would give up even one minute of precious sleep.  So for five years, the kids were my alarm clock.  When they got up, I got up (having a board book clunked on your head or your eyes peeled open by chubby fingers leaves you with little choice).  And I always managed to fit in some 'me' time during the day.  Knitting while they were playing at the park, checking my blogs while they were happily doing a puzzle, reading a few pages of my book while they were playing in the backyard.

Not anymore.  Since increasing our brood from two kids to three I have said goodbye to  'me' time.  I've given up thinking I might be able sit down for 5 minutes to knit because there's always someone who needs something.  Which is why I've been waking up before the sun goes up.

Today though, and most days lately actually, my secret morning quiet time has been interrupted.  Erin has been starting her day at 5:30am and Rory at 6:00am.

Which makes for a very long day (14 hours!) of sibling squabbles, demands for water, 'mummy open this door/put my shoes on/wipe my bottom,' and playing pretend fetch with our pretend dog (Rory).

I know that this is just a phase.  I know that soon enough (less than 6 months) Rory will be a kindy boy and after that he'll be at school and I'll never see him anymore and it will just be Erin and I at home and then I will get to pee in peace.

In the meantime my 'me' time comes in the form of late night shopping leg wax appointments, attending school council meetings I'm not even on the committee for, and having showers that continue long after I'm clean.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bike kids

I found this great bike basket tutorial via Noodlehead.  I made the first one (Abby's) about 6 months ago.  Hers is a bit wonky because the interfacing I used wasn't stiff enough.  But I've perfected my technique since then and they have been the envy of the whole neighbourhood.

After word got out that Abby and Rory's mum had actually made their really cool bike baskets, every kid on the street has begged me for one.  So I've been churning them out like I'm a factory.  But I'm sick of making them and after the last one I vowed to never sew another one again.

Well okay just one more. Rory has been invited to his first ever birthday party this weekend and I know the little 4 year old birthday boy will just love it.  And so will his mum who appreciates hand made.  And they are special people in our lives so just this once I have agreed to make one more.  And I guess his brother will want one as well.  So that's two more.   But then that's it.

More creative spaces over here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Red Cowl

I just about have a cowl for every day of the week now but this one is my current favourite.  I think because it's so nice and soft and not at all itchy like some of my other ones.

And even though it's red I wear it with everything.  Even my pink jumper.  I always thought red + pink was a MAJOR fashion faux-pas but not any more.  And I'm not the only one.

I couldn't walk past this wool when I saw it at Spotlight.  It's super chunky so knitting it up with my giant size 15 needles took no time at all.  I just cast on about 20 stitches and kept knitting until it fitted around my neck.

Instant gratification.

Unlike the never-ending sweater.  I had hoped to finish it before the end of winter but now my knitting show is over my output has slowed and I still have one arm and the neck to go.   Ah well, I've never been one to let the seasons dictate my fashion so I'll make sure I wear it at least once whatever season I happen to finish it in.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fresh country air

3 days away at a place like this felt like 3 weeks

Bush walks, puzzles by the fireplace, yabbying, late-night scrabble with the in-laws, hide-and-seek, a visit to the car museum (for Chris and the kids) and some hills op-shopping (for me).

We indulged  at the chocolate factory, visited some yummy bakeries and bought some hills cheese and wine to round out the evenings.  Chris and I even snuck out one afternoon for a quiet meal at the pub.

Some fresh country air and quality time together is just what we all needed.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Erin is One!

I made the quilt.  I made her top.  And I made the baby.

And now she is one!  A year ago* I went to bed after watching the Masterchef final 11 days overdue resigned to the fact that I really was going to pregnant forever and woke up the next morning with a baby.  It was almost that easy.  Except for the bit between oh about 1am and 5am.

She was born in our living room on a sunny winter morning surrounded by her Dad, her big brother and his trains.  Abby somehow slept through it all.  And the midwife didn't make it in time because we didn't ring her in time because I was not convinced I was in labour until I was ready to push.  And by then it was too late.  

She laughs freely and often.  She sings, claps, dances, points and waves.  Her only words are "mum-mum", "da-da" and "woof woof."  She is a speedy crawler and has taken a few solo steps but doesn't seem in a hurry to walk yet.  She eats everything and lots of it.  She is obsessed with dogs, cats and the chooks.  Her favourite toy is whatever her brother and sister are playing with.  She adores her big sister and tolerates her big brother.  She loves Daddy too but she saves the best cuddles for me, her Mum.  It's nice to be someone's favourite.

She has been a true blessing and we are so lucky this happy girl decided to join our family.  We love you Erinbaby.

* Her birthday was over a week ago.  It's taken me that long to get back to finishing this post.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Operation room relocation

We are in the middle of moving Erin into her own room.  She has been sharing with Abby since she started sleeping through the night at around 8 months of age (I know!  How lucky are we!  Trust me, the others took much longer.  In fact one of them still visits us every night).  Anyway...

We decided Abby really needs her own space now.  A space away from her annoying brother (whose current obsession is pretending to be a dog).  A space where she can play with her lego and glitter glue without them being eaten by her sister.  

And we have the luxury of 4 bedrooms so it makes sense for each of the kids to have their own room.

But.  And it's a big but.  This move means I've had to give up my sewing room.  And  jam it all into one corner of the living room.  

Which is a problem for two reasons (other than just simply find a spot for everything).  Firstly, I am a messy sewer.   And while I used to be able to close the door on my mess, now I will have to face it every single day.  Or keep it tidy.

Secondly, my sewing machine is very noisy.  And since most of my sewing is done at night when the kids are in bed and Chris is watching something boring on tv, now he won't be able to hear his boring shows.  

So maybe it won't be too long until I get myself a little outdoor studio. Or score myself a new whizz-bang (quiet) sewing machine.  

The problem is this - when we moved into this house five years ago we had one baby who had a small number of toys.  So we had two whole rooms to spare.   But as we've had more kids and the kids have grown and their toy collections have grown and my sewing hobby has grown we no longer have any spare rooms.  And we're finding it very hard to find a home for everything.  That's the challenge for the weekend.

The kids toys and books have been relocated to their bedrooms.  Abby's craft corner that was in my sewing room is  now in her bedroom.  Erin's cot and change table have moved into my sewing room.  My sewing stuff has taken over one bookshelf in the living room and the stuff that was on there has been moved to the kitchen, the coffee table and the hallway.  The rest of my sewing stuff has found a new home in the laundry.  And we're only half way there.   

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rest day

Since Abby started school a year ago it feels like we never see her any more.  And the bits we do see aren't always the best bits.  After school we often get visited by grumpy, tired, my-brain-is-frazzled Abby.  And the weekends seem to fly by so we can't always cram in enough quality family fun.

So from time to time (maybe once a fortnight) I pick her up early from school or drop her off late.  And sometimes she even has the whole day off.  Often it's because she's just plain tired and needs to rest.  But sometimes it's just because I don't want her to miss out on any of the fun things we do at home.

Like yesterday.  It was 20 degrees and sunny in Adelaide.  Definitely a beach day.  So we picked her up early from school and headed to the seaside for some ice cream and frolicking in the sand (or eating it in Erin's case).

I'm not sure what the school policy is on 'mental health days' but I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it. I feel I am doing what's best for Abby and the entire family.  Maybe I would feel differently if she was struggling at school, but she's not.  Maybe I would feel differently if she didn't love school, but she does (in fact I often have to talk her into having these rest days).  Maybe I would feel differently if all my kids were at school and she wasn't missing out on any of the fun we have at home.  Maybe I would feel differently if she was a bit older and would miss some important learning by having time off, but she's only in Reception.

In the meantime, we'll continue plucking her out of school for afternoons like these...

Monday, July 25, 2011

The birthday party

Abby turned six last week!  She decided to celebrate with a little party with some of her friends.

Six?! How did that happen!
She is a winter baby so our only choice was to have the party at home or outsource to McDonald's, the bowling alley, fairy land, gymnastics etc as most parents seem to do these days.  Outsourcing makes sense because it's so easy.  No planning, no preparation and no cleaning up!  But I refuse to do it.  Partly because of the cost.  But also because I think the focus of the party should be on the birthday person and they often get forgotten in the mayhem of outsourced birthday parties.   Most parties don't even allow time to open the presents!  That's the best bit!

So we had a simple party at home.  Because although I'm against outsourced parties I'm also against too much planning, preparation and cleaning up!

Abby chose the cake first and that made it easy to choose the theme -  Teddy Bear's Picnic.  She made the invitations, wrote the guest list (only 10 - phew!), and decided on the food and the games.

The invitations!
For the game prizes we visited some of the cutesy Japanese shops at the markets and stocked up on teddy bear paraphernalia (nothing over the top just pens, post-its, key rings, coin purses etc).  And yes, there was only one prize in pass parcel.  And yes, some of the kids were outraged!

The party bags were tricky because I didn't want them to be full of useless plastic crap but I also didn't want to spend lots of money.  I sewed the party bags (fabric from Spotlight), we made some teddy bear shaped chocolates and put a few lollies in but I was completely stuck for what else to put in.  Fortuitously, I stumbled upon a set of 12 silicone teddy bear cup cake pans one day.  We put them together with the recipe for chocolate crackles.  Party bags done.

The party bags
We knew we had to do something at the beginning of the party to keep everyone entertained while we were waiting for all the guests to arrive so they didn't go too crazy.  At the last minute we had a great idea to read them some teddy bear themed books.  Chris donned the teddy bear ears Abby had made for him and read We're going on a bear hunt, Goldilocks, Bears in the Night etc etc.  The kids loved this!

The kids are captivated by Chris' story-telling!
We made a teddy bear shaped pinata (bugger no photos), played musical pass the bears, pin the bow-tie on the teddy, dancing statues and pass the parcel.  Six year olds love games!  They had fun.

Because we were trying to limit the amount of pre-party parental stress, we didn't serve hot food.  Or anything that couldn't be made the day before.  Just the usual party favourites - fairy bread (in a teddy bear shape of course!), chocolate crackles, honey joys and a fruit platter.  I got out all my little op shop plates and tea cups which the kids loved and the table looked great (bugger no photos).

The cake was the Teddy Bear from this kid's party cake bible.  He was very cute.

The best photo we have of the cake

Some of the mums stayed and chatted so I made them a coffee and we ducked over to the bakery and bought a carrot cake so they didn't have to eat the party food!

At the end of the party we took a group photo of all the guests and their teddy bears and sent it to them as a thankyou card.

We kept the party short.  Only an hour and a half.  Perfect.  And apart from when Abby forgot her birthday party etiquette and blew the candles out before we'd finished singing happy birthday, it really was stress free.   And since I had to ferry Abby to another kid's party straight after hers, I didn't even have to do the cleaning up!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My creative space

Birthday presents for the baby.

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