Thursday, February 26, 2009


I came across mentions of this magazine around the middle of last year and have only now got around to buying a copy. I bought it primarily for these two skirt patterns by Uniform Studio and Wikstenmade respectively, but there are all sorts of other cool articles and a pattern for a messenger bag I'll have a shot at (amongst many others).

So I received my "copy" this week and when I unwrapped the parcel I realised that I had stupidly ordered two copies of the same magazine and paid shipping from the US on two as well! So, I have a spare copy and if you'd like it please leave a comment and I'll select someone at random some time after the 3rd of March.
March 4th - a winner has been drawn, thanks for reading!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Bad news today, the fires seem to be taking hold again and spreading closer to Melbourne. The fires near my parents are flaring up again and they can once more see flames from their house. Additionally another fire is buring in Upwey where our friends have only moved in the last few months. We haven't yet spoken to them but we know with three small children, and a weatherboard house surrounded by huge gums, they would have left early.

Families are being evacuated to relief centres in Knox and Lilydale, only about 10 minutes drive from where we live. Don't misunderstand me, we're not in danger, but it's so close to us that it's almost unbelievable. It makes me feel more than a little sick, for those waiting for it to either leave or consume their homes, but also for the firefighters who are fighting tirelessly and ceaselessly with no end in sight, I feel for them, the enormity of what they face, it's so ghastly.


I have tried to make gathered skirts like these beauties for my girls, but now reading the "how-to" I'm not surprised mine didn't look much like this.

I never win competitions, but I know how much the girls would love one of these, so I'm more than happy to link back to Grosgrain's very generous post.


On a Spotlight pricetag I thought this was somewhat Marimekko - what do you think? It certainly cheers me up.

Super easy pattern (Simplicity 3835) although I didn't elasticate the arms - no need to focus on any wobbly bits! You know I'm crap at self portraits, that's a given, but you'll have to trust me a very wearable little number that takes maybe an hour tops to whip up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


February 25, 2006.

Ella at the farmer's market in Byron. Geoff's father grew up in Byron and Geoff holidayed there for many years staying at Nana's house on Shirley Street (now blocks of apartments) and eating fresh prawns on the beach that his dad had paddled out to get from the boats. Different times.

Our first plane ride holiday with Ella - stayed in a great house, perfect setting, amazing dinners in Bangalow and Mullumbimby. Lovely memories.

Kikimiss tagged me - I did bend the rules as this is the 6th folder from the bottom rather than the top - photos of cake from 6 days ago just seemed a little dull!

Bunions & Hives

Thankfully not both on the same person. The former on me, gross I know, the latter on poor Ella. Both currently taking different pills, one needs lot of rest, the other needs nana shoes!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I cut out this dress so long ago that I can't actually remember if it was intended as a dress for Leila or a top for Ella, the measurements for those two things not being dissimilar to each other. Very cheery and so easy from this book.
I have the sewing bug on me, this time for myself. I have mentioned before that I find it hard to find clothes that I like, but no trouble finding materials that I love, so why not just combine the two. I now realise that you don't have to have seamstress skills to create nice, flattering pieces, you just have to be realistic about your limitations.

Yesterday I was looking at Jenny's clothes which I love, but I don't have her slender physique. That in turn led me to her friend Elly's flickr account. I love all the pieces she's made and shown in her "Creations" folder and the great thing is that she's listed a lot of the pattern numbers against the photos, so she's done some leg work for me.
Today at Leila's music class one of the mum's was weather a short sleeved skirt, without collar, long, about mid way between thigh and knee, with a slight aline and tie backs. It was in a light cotton, white with a really cherry red leaf pattern. She teamed it with some narrow white pants and she looked great. None of it is hard to put together, so something like that is also on the list.
I LOVE this material and thought about an aline skirt, but how am I sure to match up the pattern, with aline the side are angled and I wonder if it would be skewed - left to right and top to bottom. Might have to ask mum about this one....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sugar Sweet

Lovely post today, some patterns for cooler weather sewing from these girls, ones I've been wanting to buy for ages. The patterns are gorgeous to look at, beautiful presentation, I only hope I can do justice to the design when the time comes.

Any tips on where I can get nice chenille for the lining and also pretty shades of wool? I've never sewn with wool, but think it would be a good choice. Drop me a line if you know of anywhere, in Melbourne.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We took the girls camping this weekend, for the first time. It was great fun, but not a complete success, we can improve next time.

The area was gorgeous, Flinders is the perfect seaside town - I could imagine myself living there full time, or at least weekending in a VERY tiny beach shack (it's an expensive area). The caravan park though, was just that. Generally there is a division between the areas where you camp and caravan, at this one however, we were shown our spot and it looked like a carpark beside a caravan - not exactly what we'd imagined, however .... it was very, retro, or dated, depending on your mood.

We had borrowed equipment from Geoff's sister, but didn't have a few things we really needed, like a table! Also, the girls are mummy's girls and both wanted to sleep with me, but that meant that with not enough air in the air mattress and me in the middle, they were on top of me. Once asleep, them that is, not me, I moved sideways and tried to sleep that way, not so successfully (Dad was asleep on the single mattress!).

Next we're going to try Point Leo, which isn't far from Flinders and is exactly what we'd expected this weekend. We scoped it out - it's just like a beachside park, all grassed and trees, much nicer.

We found time to have dinner at the Flinders Hotel, breakfast at a nice cafe in town one morning, a visit to Ashcombe Maze and a swim at Shoreham.

Having said that we did have a lovely time and do want to go again.

PS I'd forgotten how dirty your nails get when you're camping
PSS Sandy, I forgot to take the pancake moulds! I did use them during the week though and they work perfectly!


San marzano, tommy toes and yellow grape.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Days ago we were roasting (ourselves that is) and had salad for lunch and dinner 4 days in a row. Now I'm baking and we had the heating on this morning.

This is another bread from Dan Lepard's book, which I love. Good tip when using rye flour is to whisk it with hot water (as per quantities in your recipe) and leave to soak for an hour. You know how rye bread can be a little dry, well this process apparently elasticises the crumb of the bread! Seems like it worked in this fruit bread.


These photos are taken from my parents front door. They were taken yesterday. They're safe, but the danger of these fires is still very real. Higher winds are forecast towards the end of the week.

I was reading House-n-Baby today and thought that she explained the situation well. Kinder friends have family in the way of the fire, they feel prepared so are there with their 3 children. We hope for rain and zero wind.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Danes

What's not to love about them and their country. Gorgeous cities and even more beautiful countryside. Amazing design, fantastic beer, great looking men and beautiful women.

One of my life's dearest friends is Danish. She and her then boyfriend, now husband, moved to London not long after we did. Her friendship is one of the best things that happened to me in London and one of the things I miss most about being there. Before this horrible economic situation really hit they were planning a trip over this year, but I guess that's on hold now.

This recipe is one of my mum's - not quite sure where she came across it. It's super easy, one of those cakes you can just knock up in minutes with whatever you have and, like all things Danish, it's delicious.

Danish Type Cake

30g sugar (I use 4 tbs as I'm not good with weighing)
4 oz of butter (I guess that around 120g)
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup wholemeal or white SR flour
1 egg
2 tbs sultanas
1 cup fruit of your choice

1. Melt butter in a saucepan, add sugar and stir until it starts to disolve.
2. Add flour and beaten egg
3. Put half mixture in the bottom of a 7" pan (BE SURE IT'S NO BIGGER THAN 7", otherwise your cake will turn out like a biscuit!). Spread with your filling of choice, sprinkle with sultanas and spices. Spread rest of mixture over the top.
4. Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes.

In this cake I used fresh blood plums from my parents tree. If your fruit is ripe, no need to cook it, just cut and place on top. Apples I'd probably cook lightly first.

PS If I were brave enough, or perhaps just in another life, I'd love to be food stylist and/or photographer - a cool and yummy job.

Fire Danger Downgraded

All seems a little quieter for now, but it's all hinged on the winds and if they change direction.

Monday, February 09, 2009

On Alert

My parents live in Healesville, which is only 40 minutes door to door from our house to theirs. Tonight they are on high alert of fires within about 10 minutes from their house. The danger is apparently low at this time, so they're at home prepared with papers, clothes and essentials packed in the car. The house has towels and buckets at doors and windows, mops and brooms at the ready, water filled in buckets, watering cans, sinks.

When you stand on their back verandah you can see a mountain to the left and to the right and they are both glowing red. Mum said that on Saturday you could actually see the flames but tonight they're just glowing red. The names you're reading in the papers, the places that have been so affected, Kinglake, St Andrews, Dixons Creek, Chum Creek, Toolangi, Narbethong, you can see on this map, they're close. Yet the idea of Healesville burning seems as unlikely as Blackburn burning, completely impossible.

I wanted them to come and stay here tonight, but they don't sound worried, so I won't be either.

Over exposed?

I wasn't even aware of this magazine until I saw it mentioned by KikiMiss, but then yesterday we were in Borders and I saw it. It's actually a great magazine, but in style and content. I love the non glossy, heavy pages, the format, it's really good. I know he's everywhere, but I agree with most of what he says. It's worth a look.

By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KikiMiss - here's to only greatness in the year ahead.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

It's hot, so I sew

Of course I do, I mean what else would you do in 46C weather. 46C, honestly. When I went outside to take these photos it felt like I was inside a hand dryer, it is ridiculously hot. Couldn't get Ella to model this top, but it's one of the easiest ever and so pretty on.

There are fires raging around the state and can you believe many of them are deliberately lit? I cannot get my head around that. The fires generally start in remote areas, small townships surrounded by National Parks, places where everyone knows each other. Why would you do something like that?

I can remember Ash Wednesday vividly and we were safe from it. I was out in the garden with my mum and honestly it suddenly seemed as if the fire were upon us, despite the nearest one being about 50kms away. The wind was so strong that we could hear the fire as if we were in it and there was smoke and ash in the air. It was terrifying. I can only imagine how it would be to be facing the fire front.
There should be a cool change come through in about an hour, apparently it's going to drop 15 degrees very quickly, we'll see.
PS We've also watched Space Chimps and Wall-e on dvd. Of course if it had been mine and Geoff's selection it would have been The Wire final series and True Blood, not really child friendly selections.

Schoolgirls learn fast

Our primary school does a one hour individual assessment of all the prep's within the first four weeks of them starting. Ella had her assessment with her teacher on Wednesday. The testing is to assess their numeracy and literacy skills. They ask very simple questions to begin such as - how high can you count and then go on to counting backwards, seeing if they have comprehension of division by giving them a number of items and asking them to put equal amounts on different cards. They also gave them flash cards with numbers written on and another set with dots in the corresponding amounts and asked them if they could match them. It was very interesting to observe and see learning at its very foundations. Whilst Ella understands a lot, some concepts were completely foreign. One, I must confess, was being able to say the days of the week and months of the year in order!

Reading skills are of particular interest to us as we are a very book friendly family and we have encouraged that interest in the girls from the start.

I chatted to Ella's teacher about the process of learning to read and the difference between reading and learning by rote. Ella can quickly memorise stories and poems and "read" them word for word, even if she hasn't seen the book for quite some time. Ella's teacher said that prep students are the best for memorising things and in that respect "learn" very quickly. She said that to move on to the actual reading part, mastering memorising is necessary, but you need to encourage them to challenge that. For example,children memorise words in the order they appear, that's why stories are easier for them to remember. She said that's why flash cards are good for learning new words because the position changes every time and they must genuinely learn what the word looks like in many different contexts.
Reading is something I'm most excited about and I have to say that being in Ella's classroom makes me genuinely interested in teaching overall. I've always enjoyed the company of children, even before I had my own, and can think of no greater achievement than helping a child learn and come to love the process of learning. On occasions I've considered studying to be an early learning teacher - kinder or prep - but I never completed HSC so it would be long road for me. There is so much to fill one's life with, so many things to do, just never enough time.
Having said all that, schoolgirls do learn fast and Ella has started "reading" Leila her bedtime story each night this week. It's amazing how quickly the routine changes - previously no-one could do stories with Leila except me, now her story, nappy change and bedtime song are all taken care of by Ella. Very, very sweet.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Jacqueline & Lila

Both these gorgeous girls are looking for new homes.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Good mail takes many forms

Two items I've been long awaiting arrived in the mail today.

The first I'm sure many of you have seen mentioned on other sites. I treated myself to a Lisa Leonard necklace, I think they're gorgeous, very dainty and light, with names so discreet it's not like you're wearing a logo item. I just find something lovely about carrying the girls names around - even though they're clearly always with me.

The other item you may find hard to believe that I have been waiting for more than the first. I've been wanting to get to the gym for the past 18 months, since I got over Leila's initial 6 months. It's been high on my list of desires, but honestly low on my list of achievables.
While I feel the need to justify my seeming laziness, there are reasons - lack of babysitting options, clingy children, etc, I know you understand. Geoff gets up at a ridiculous time to go running in the mornings before work - I just don't have that level of commitment, never have. Whilst I am a morning person, sleep is too precious to me to sacrifice 2 hours of it as the sun is coming up, whatever the pay off. Evenings are the opposite, by the time Geoff's home it's after 7pm and then getting girls to bed, dinner etc - I have no energy left at the end of the day. I know, if it was important enough I could go without dinner yada yada.... In reality though, the only way exercise works for me, is if it actually fits in so that I am happy with the balance of my day. So.... I'm a bit of a suck for Biggest Loser - I know, but I find something so intriguing about it. I ordered one of Jillian Michaels dvd's, the name is so embarassing - 30 Day Shred.

I don't so much want to lose weight as tone up. My weight has always been pretty consistent and I only weigh an extra 5 kilos now from when I was 17. It's not a brag, not at all, for the distribution of my body is soooo different to then, and it certainly can move on its own, but it comforts me to know that weight loss isn't the issue. Everything is just softer and you just cannot ignore it forever. It's also the fitness, climbing stairs and puffing, running around and feeling things wobble, I'm sick of it. I'm turning 40 this year and if I don't get on top of this now, I feel it's only going to get harder.

So, I did my first session today, with both girls in the lounge room supervising. It only took 20 minutes, which even I can manage, and it was great. I feel I've done something, I'm happy to do it again tomorrow and who knows, in 30 days there may be a change, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

So it begins

There is a similar photo of me skipping to school at the same age. We would walk with two brothers my age, Tony and George, whose parents owned the fruit shop.

The day went really well for everyone - thanks for being so supportive, my meltdown was limited to Sunday night - out of my system and no tears on the day, not from anyone (parent or child) so far as I could see.

We didn't press too hard last night but there was singing class, they will go swimming with school, she had her first homework and a general high level of enthusiasm. She didn't crash last night, in fact she was so full of beans she found it hard to sleep. Today, just as happy to go, up at 6:30. It feels much better, already, I think this is going to be fun, for all of us.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

PS, I lied

I am completely overwhelmed.

Family dinner out with a special card and starting school of a watch, so she knows we'll be thinking of her every single minute.

I miss her already and she hasn't even gone. I feel a tearing in my chest that is completely illogical and really pissing me off!

A new role to play

Tomorrow everything starts anew as our babe starts school.

Children of friends have already started this week and things appear to have gone well. Mothers have been varyingly more and less upset than anticipated; children the same. Well adjusted confident children have had meltdowns at the last moment and the more shy, retiring oneshave walked away without a backward glance.

An article in The Age included comments from an experienced prep teacher who, not surprisingly, said that children take cues from the parents with regards to their reaction to schooling - parents are visibly upset, it tells the children something isn't right and they follow suit.

Ella's excited and we are too, because she is. I haven't thought too much about tomorrow. I've done the necessary shopping, I've made an art smock and library bag, labelled clothing but hadn't thought too much about it - until last night, when I had to acknowledge there was only one day to go.

I have the usual parental fears - will she be safe, will everyone be kind to her; she's such a gentle loving child who expects only the best from everyone and unfortunately doesn't always get the same in return. More than anything I wonder what life will be like without her around. I know that it's only 9am to 3:30 pm, but it feels like a lifetime looming ahead of me each day. Geoff and I talked about it last night and I said that I love her not just as my daughter and for how beautiful she is in every way, but I LIKE her so much. She is such a lovely person, so generous, interested and interesting and so very loving. I always said that I would never try to be a friend to my children in the way some do, but to be the best, most loving and supportive mother I could be and in turn believe and that friendship would flow from that, and it has.

5 years now seems but a blink. As with most things in our lives I can't believe I wasn't more grateful for the time we had together. For all the times I was impatient and just wished that I could have a few hours to myself, I wish I could take them all back and have those moments all over again. For the hours that we spent not doing anything much. For all the cakes we made, for the cups of tea we shared, for all the laughter, for all the love, I'm so very grateful that I was home to see of much of it.

I know that tomorrow is the start of something wonderful and different, but it's also the end to our home years, to months on end of just being together and doing as we please, and I'll feel the loss of that tremendously.

Roll on term 1 holidays.

PS No children consumed alcohol in this photograph; no it's not the end of the world; yes I am being more than a little self indulgent; yes I do have a gorgeous younger babe to enjoy more fully now; yes, I've got it out of my system.