Friday, August 31, 2007

5 Weeks Out

I start my planning for events in my family's life quite a few weeks out. It's now just 5 weeks until my big girl's 4th birthday. We've had a sunflower 1st birthday, a monkey themed 2nd, a princess 3rd and this year, with a more even girl/boy ratio, a more gender neutral fair or carnival birthday. My idea isn't original, I'm borrowing most details from a Martha Stewart party idea, but that makes it no less fun.

As I was cutting out the paper pieces for the invitations last night I asked my significant other why it is he thinks I make things rather than buy them. I obviously enjoy the process, but I could also buy something that would be as enthusiastically received by the children. I tend to under value the things that I produce, my cooking, my crafts and at times I even wonder if others think I'm trying to show off. Is there a tendency for those who do just buy things to think that those of us who make things are trying to be too clever?

I guess I feel that the effort I go to for birthdays and special occasions is an indication of how important they are to me. Having said that, I don't mean to infer that others who don't insist on doing anything themselves care less, so I guess it comes back to pure enjoyment. Mind you, at the last moment when you're still icing the three level castle cake with turrets, a moat and trees, I had to remind myself how much fun I was having.
This year our invitation list currently stands at 25 children, many more than in past years. I think I'm still a new mum in that respect as I've included the birthday girl too much in the discussions - hence everyone is being invited. I may have to consider restricting who comes as this party will be held at home and if the weather isn't nice it could be very stressful trying to host all the games in our small home.

I still have to write on the invitations and attach the tickets nan kindly found for us and then move on from there. Signs to paint, games to make, temporary tattoos and good face paints to find. It is fun and although it's a very short 2 hour period it's like a wedding isn't it - all that planning for something that's over so quick but the memories last you a lifetime.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Unseasonally Good

This past weekend it was our annual inlaw offsite and this year we headed to the beach.

We were based in Inverloch and drove to Wilsons Prom on the Saturday and had lunch on the beach. Of course apart from sandwhiches, there were the compulsory scrambles on the rocks, building of castles, dipping of toes in the icy waters, kicking of the footy. Another group had carried in icy beers and bottles of white wine, which of course led to "why didn't we think of that"?

It was a great weekend, most notably because of the wonderful time big sister had. She adores her big cousins and I hardly got a look in all weekend. The highlight was sharing a bedroom with her big cousin, 8, in twin beds side by side. She seemed very grown up this weekend. The littlest one was into mischief - by golly she can move fast now - and it's always nice to have many more pairs of hands to share in the cuddling. Next year there's a 70th birthday in the mix, so it will be an extra special weekend away.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What about Eve

Meet Eve, she's the newest addition to my etsy shop. I'm really pleased with how she's turned out, her look is perhaps a little more contemporary than her sisters. It's such a learning curve, making a number of different versions of the same thing, but all I aim for is that I'm happy with the result as I'm a hard taskmaster. Obviously I'd like to be selling more and welcome feedback as to what others think, but ultimately I, and my biggest girl, love these dolls.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Every now and then

there is a moment when I'm so grateful for all I have. If you knew me, perhaps you would or perhaps you wouldn't know (and I say perhaps because some think I'm hard to read whereas I think I'm totally transparent) that I can have a tendency towards being a grass is greener girl. When there's so much you'd like to achieve and you, at times, feel that you're running backwards, it can be ... frustrating.

Tonight the girls, although both full of colds, went to sleep without fuss. My husband and I chatted in the kitchen, he over a Little Creatures beer and me over a glass of red. We sat to the dining table over our dinner and chatted in a way it seems we haven't in forever, probably since the babe was born at the start of the year. I looked over at our couch, completely dishevelled but covered in pillows and lit so welcomingly by the dimmed downlights, and thought, my life is good.

You know when you live with someone and you've known each other for so long (12 years for us) and you forget to really look at each other? Well there are moments when you remember to really gaze into each others eyes and you're surprised at all you're reminded of there. I looked at G tonight and remembered who he is to me and I felt lucky. I thought of the girls in their beds, my somewhat disorganised and not quite spotless house and thought, I'm lucky, very.

So, I'm now retiring to that comfy couch, with my even 'cumfier' man and I'm going to have another glass of red and watch an episode of Entourage with him. He'll scratch my head and I'll fall asleep about 10 minutes in.

Sleep well.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Give us this day

From this:

To this:

Then this:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Magnolia Square

A friend mentioned the Magnolia Square market to me a number of months ago and thought it would be something I'd like. She suggested that it might be a good venue for me to consider having a stall at some time in the future. When I checked their website it look far too posh for anything I was yet in a position to cater for. Regardless a girlfriend and I managed to have the kids minded for a few hours while we went off to check it out.

The market was smaller than we expected, probably only about 30 stalls in all, and a probably a slightly different selection of products than we were expecting too. There were a few really good products, but there were also more commercial operations mixed in. We visited Patchwork on Central afterwards and in chatting to one of the owners she mentioned that it had changed quite a bit over the last few years. She said that previously it was more the handmade items, but had changed a little. Don't get me wrong, there were a few stalls that were fantastic and made it so worthwhile, but a lot that washed over me too.

This image, Freckles, was one of a number on display by Erin from Little Living Spaces. Erin refers to them as childrens artwork, so I guess that confirms that I'm a big kid as I could happily hang any of them in my bedroom, they appeal to me so much. I love that they are illustrations, but they are so clear that they almost seem to rise from the canvas. In this one it seems that the scarf is more a photo image which adds to the illusion. As you can tell my art appreciation vocab is rather limited - suffice to say they wowed me. Something else to add to my one day wish list.

For ages I've been trying to find a particular style of shoe for Ella - simple, smart, stylish - but have found it very hard to find. There are European styles available in the stores that are in the style I like, but at $130+ for a pair or children's shoes, that's a little rich for me. Then in one corner of the market was the lovely low key ChookLeaf stall. The shoes are exactly what I've been looking for and a great price at only $55. As they're based on the Peninsula I otherwise would never have come across them. The problem then was figuring out what size Ella would be as they're made on old fashioned blocks so sizings are not the commercial standards. As it happens we figured it out, the lady was sooo helpful, and they fit like a dream.

The packaging (which of course was destroyed in Ella's opening enthusiasm) was delightful with a "chook leaf" to seal and the care instructions are just so adorable - I love this care to detail in a product - I hope you can read it.

I also bought a cute little tshirt for Ella from Red Wagon. She's so keen on playing nurse and ministering to the needs of all her toys that this seemed perfect.

So I managed to find a couple of things I would otherwise never have heard of, I consumed a delicious passionfruit cupcake with my coffee and managed to spend a few child free hours with a new friend - all in all a good day.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Plump Cushions

One task that's been on my to-do list for quite a while has been to make some new cushions for our couch. I like lots of plump cushions piled up for lazing in with magazines and a glass of wine. There isn't much lazing going on around here these days, but the pile of cushions would at least give the illusion that there will be again one day.

I popped into Spotlight yesterday and came across some fabric that was just what I wanted and for two pillow inserts, the material and two zips, two new cushions were created for the princely sum of $21.00! I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

I'm not so good on finishing off the edges around the zips on the back, but the second one was much neater than the first. I'm hoping others won't notice any imperfections, I get a bit hyper aware of perceived faults in things I make.

It's perhaps good or perhaps odd, depending on your perspective, that two cushions can give me so much pleasure. We have ordered new blinds for this room, the boards are going to be repolished shortly, we haven't painted yet and certainly need new furniture, but to me these two cushions lift the room by far more than $21.00.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Three Generations

This photo is of me in February 1971 in our backbyard in Queensland. I was 15 months old.

On Friday last my parents were over for afternoon tea and we sat in the kitchen with Ella while Leila slept. Ella was entertaining my parents with stories of silly things I've done recently. The first was of me leaving a bag of shopping at the local supermarket, later looking for the meat to make dinner, searching in crazy places before realising I'd never brought it home at all. The second was of the truck driver who was flashing his lights at us as we were driving home. I'm always wary of anyone doing that - I knew I didn't have a flat, wasn't on fire so couldn't figure out what he wanted. In the end I had stopped at a merging lane and he got out of his truck behind me and retrieved my purse from the roof of the car. I had travelled about 5kms with it balanced on the roof!

All the talk of silly things I'd done got us remembering silly things the three adults (mum, nan and pa) had all done over the years. The stories had us all in stitches and Ella was completely entralled listening to them. There was me disappearing through the fence in Queensland and up the steps of the next door neighbour's house when I could barely walk (hence the photo at top); mum's recent effort of putting the bread in the fridge and the lettuce in the freezer; my brother mistaking the green washing up liquid for cordial (mum used to buy it in bulk and transfer into old pop bottles) and gulping down a glass before mum could say anything; me fooling the whole family with the "animal prints" that I'd made across a freshly raked area of ground to the point where they were going to ring the zoo in case they were from an endangered animal. It was so nice remembering all those times (there were many, many more) and particularly nice sharing them with Ella. After every tale she'd ask "what other silly things did you do?"

That afternoon I was really aware that were three generations of us sitting there together and I felt very grateful for that. My parents emigrated from the UK to Australia, so my family was that of my parents and brothers as all extended family members were still in the UK. I didn't have grandparents to spend the holidays with or cousins to play with - but my daughters are have both those connections and more.

I'm sure many have said before me that they should document tales of their family - I'll be another to say the same. I may do that for myself and the girls when they're much older. For now, I think I'd just like to tell more tales over a cup of a tea and a cake at my kitchen table - there's a lot of subject matter to draw on.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Room with a View

I love having a tree right outside our bedroom window - particularly this beautiful Magnolia. I love these trees - beautiful fat buds forming when the tree is bare which open into the amazing flowers on the otherwise lifeless grey branches. Only when the flowers are gone do the leaves then start to appear, such a lush fresh green too. I know all babes love moving shapes, Leila loves the view from this window, when the breeze moves the branches.

Received an awaited parcel in the mail today from Sarah, every bit as lovely as they looked on the website. It's a bit tricky to get these baby feet to keep still long enough for a photo, may those toes always be so chubby!

One more thing

A new friend made through Ella's kinder told me today that she and her family are moving back to her hometown of Sydney. It's a wonderful thing for her, for all of them, as she'll be closer to her family and more support for her and the children. I have a knack for making friends with people who aren't from where I'm from - Vancouver, Paris, Auckland, London, Denmark, Milan, Brisbane, and now Sydney. Some are closer than others of course, but one thing's for sure, with everything being so instant now, it's easier to keep in touch.

I'm really pleased for you Sarah. x

Everything's so instant

Browsing everyone elses wonderful blogs and seeing their gorgeous photos, I realise that my own photography leaves something to be desired. I'm a relatively new convert to the digital world, having bought our first digital camera only when Leila was born in January. I have long been a digital bagger and have always preferred my old Nikkomatt SLR which I bought second hand when I was about 17 for $120 - an absolute fortune back then.

That old camera has travelled the world with me, for the most part wrapped only in an old red bandana. The hot shoe doesn't work so there's no flash, the light meter has always been stuck in the middle, it weighs so much that I'm sure it's made of solid steel, but it takes such great photos. It has a wonderful CLA CLUNK when you take a photo, and you wind on manually, again with a lovely whirring noise all of its own. For all its shortcomings, I know how to get the best from it.

It reminds me of an old boyfriend I lived with in Canada. He had an Mustang, probably not, I just remember it had a horse logo on the side. Well the speedo didn't work and neither did the petrol gauge. I remember James asking me once when he estimated I was speeding, "can't you tell how fast you're going by how fast things are passing us by?" Ah no. Again with how much petrol there was in the tank - he kept a mental note of how far he'd driven after filling the tank and therefore how much was left - not a skill I had to retain details like that. He knew how to drive that car though, despite it's obvious flaws.

I also love the anticipation of getting waiting to collect developed photos - flicking through looking for the absolute gems. I also prefer having photos in my hands, being able to hold them, touch them, they make the subject more real for me than viewing them on the pc monitor.

Everything is so instant now. I have always been known for being a huge letter writer, but now I rarely write a single letter, they're all emails. a) people don't respond to snail mail, or rarely and b) everyone wants everything now. Even if I were to use my old trusty Nikkomatt, we got rid of our scanner a while ago due to lack of space, yada yada yada - I must improve my digital photo taking skills!

I haven't been making much of late - the skirt above is one I made for Leila recently, to go with a top I bought from Allison's etsy shop recently. She looks such a girl in the outfit, much more than her 7 months.

Currently spare time is taken up with digging, cutting, hammering, chiselling, generally destroying old homewares. We're joining the gangs of renovators next month and are redoing our front verandah, bathroom, kitchen, laundry and toilet, as well as polishing floorboards, recarpetting bedrooms and generally overhauling. To save $'s we're doing the stripouts ourselves, which, with two young girls around, is taking place over many weekends. I'm not sure if I'll bore you with the befores, but may well include some afters.

The girls are both at their most gorgeous at the moment. There are times when I wish I didn't focus so much on the things I can't manage, more on those things I can. I wish I could relax more into my life as it is, but I have always been someone who is concentrating forward rather than on the right now. I don't mean that in a negative sense, that I'm not so grateful for all I have, but I want to achieve so much, it's easy to feel that I'm not moving forward as fast as I'd like. Both the girls are so different, but so gorgeous, I shouldn't give a second thought to dishes, washing, dirty floors, anything like that, but be concentrating on them every moment. I just hope, because they are always so happy and KNOW they are adored, that I'm not getting it too wrong.

Friday, August 03, 2007

More an A-line girl

Leila's still teething in a major way, 3 teeth across the top all at the same time. She's so good natured, but is more demanding of chat and cuddles at the moment. As a result it's been harder to get to anything this week.

I bought the material from Amitie last week and have been trying to make something. Ella's been keen for twirly skirts so I managed to quickly churn one out this afternoon. It doesn't look at twirly as the last one, but I think I doubled the width on that so it was even fuller. I think it looks good though (although perhaps not great for winter weather!), love the spotty material. I'm wondering if it would translate well for me. When you get to a certain age though, or perhaps more body shape, a full skirt on the waist is a little harder to wear. I'm more a smooth a-lined skirt girl myself.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pay It Forward

In the daily checking of my favourite blogs I came across a mention on Marianne's site about a craft swap doing the rounds. Marianne made a "promise" to send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who left a comment on her blog requesting to join in the PIF (pay it forward) exchange. The gift will be a surprise and you will receive it some time within 365 days. The other part of the deal is that the recipient of the gift (in this case me) makes the same promise on your blog.

So, in the same vein, the first three to comment on this exchange will receive something handmade from me within the next 365 days in return for you paying it forward and making the same promise on your own blog.

Today is a catch up day for me. I still have all my gorgeous fabrics from Amitie sitting on the table, but haven't had a moment to do anything with them. Today is washing day - yeah! Yesterday was a drying day and today is an ironing day - all 4 loads of it! Where does it all come from? I'm not an ironer by any stretch, I think it's somewhat a generational thing. My mother in law, bless her, irons everything - knickers, teatowels, everything. I love it when she helps out with washing because everthing comes back smooth and gorgeously pressed. I am trying to do some ironing these days, simply because ironed things take up less space in the cupboards then the scrunched up unironed versions.

I collect Ella from kinder shortly too - quarter past. I had a horror moment on Monday and got my pick up times wrong. I was sauntering down the road to kinder, chatting to Leila in the pram, eating an apple when in the distance I could see everyone leaving. Needless to say my saunter turned into a canter and I was the last one there! Poor Ella, she wasn't teary but she was borderline. I'd promised myself I'd never ever have her be the last one there. I got my quarter to's mixed up with my quarter pasts! You know what it's like though, now it's in my head I can't think straight and am worried that I'm wrong even when I know I'm right!