November 15, 2015


IT'S one thing to have your own craft UFOs lurking at the back of cupboards, in laundry baskets and the end of the couch, but to be taking other's unfinished objects home from the op shop, that's pure insanity. But how does one refuse a half done macrame hanger for an indoor planter, along with the two delightfully vintage 'how-to' guides? Whoever started that project can feel craft guilt no more. At $10, I snapped the lot up and finished the job.

:: This is next weekend. I really want to go.
:: Let's not get all crazy about who is to blame, okay?
:: Public art is on just about every corner of New York, and then some. 
:: I detest this garment, but this could be the moment to wear one.

November 12, 2015

SPRING 2015 || A THEORY I HAVE APPLIES TO OP SHOPPING || a theory I have applies to op shopping

GOOD op shopping has eluded me for months. I have a theory that when you’re busy and distracted you are less able to see the opportunities in front of you. It’s a theory based in nothing more than casual observance, but a recent op shopping windfall has renewed my faith in the theory.

Short story is I have been busy and distracted, necessarily so, but the things requiring my acute attention have come to their natural, and in some cases, forced, conclusion.


As a door slams shut others are nudging open: a text from a friend on a curiously disturbing day of rapid change to suggest a job opening she thinks I’d be good at; a contract magically appearing on a job site I’ve been staring at for months; a colleague visiting and urging me to come and work with her; and, finally, adorable op shop finds better suited to a dress up box yet so irresistibly perfect for the change that’s manifesting. That flash of gold you see there belongs to the most magical vintage frock. It’s just begging to be worn and I need to find just the right occasion.

Come on universe, what have you got? Whatever it is, I’ve got the dress.

#opshopscore // Sportscraft stripe tee (NWT), $18; linen and lace inset blouse, $8; 
Levi's 553 jeans, $8; and, vintage 1960s full length frock, $12, all from East Gosford Vinnies

November 09, 2015


I WAS on the phone to my sister over the weekend, checking her plans for Christmas, where she and her lot will be. Christmas lunch will be at ours but there will be visitors and visiting to do before then. As manic as this time of year can feel, I do like baking and making for friends and family. || things to make and things to cook
THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: We have a small house, as houses for a family of four children go. It has never been an uncomfortable house and when children were at home, there were good outdoor and indoor spaces for all ages. Now that it's an empty nest there's more space and time to welcome friends - or at least that's how it feels - and even though there are nice, comfy, cushioned places to sit and chat a morning or afternoon away, we always tend to come back to the kitchen table. I have long had a vision of making cushions for our table's bench seats. It's on the 2016 to-do list.

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: With four at home there would be barrels of biscuits. No biscuit or cake recipe was ever cooked without doubling or tripling the ingredients. It's taken some time for us to amend all our favourite recipes to make up quantities that won't be wasted, but biscuits, now, there's something that will never be wasted. || things to buy and things to hang
THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: If a friend comes to stay the night, especially on a weekend, I like to put out magazine articles or guides to the local area. On the Central Coast we have the excellent Field Guide, updated quarterly, but guides like these - found when I was visiting New York earlier this year - are fun. They're divided into subjects of interest and come with maps to the key attractions. I am a sucker for a map.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: Oh, the expectation when you know someone special is on their way. Print by Natalia Moroz.

#flashback: Much the same this time last year, planning for Christmas, planning food to share and thinking about travel, particularly our booked New York trip.

November 04, 2015

SPRING 2015 || HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW || pulled garlic || lone asparagus spear || radish showing off their colour
MOST evenings I pick something from the garden. Enough berries for a pre-dinner treat. A handful of fresh green beans. Lettuce leaves for the salad. A radish to grate into a coleslaw. A spear or two of asparagus to much through. Early garlic - early only because I was impatient and puled it to see what was happening below those withering green spires. A few leaves of mint to add to a green smoothie. A fistful of coriander for a curry.

It’s a pleasure and delight to wander into the garden every evening and see what it’s offered up. Today, a strawberry. Soon tomatoes and eggplant, zucchini, capsicum and cucumbers.

From wanderings in the garden, to wanderings online, here’s where they've taken me:

:: Will meeting Fanny, Dick, Moonface and Silky on the big screen ruin it for you?
:: Are you a dabbler? Do you think it’s a bad thing?
:: Have you found your passion?
:: Do you have a morning routine? Mine will include more of this after the weekend.

November 03, 2015

SPRING 2015 || OCTOBER... I'VE DONE IT || op shopped 1970s macrame beads
THIS post is late. We're three days into November, the Melbourne Cup horse race has been run and I can feel the squeeze of those last weeks in the run up to Christmas. Thankfully, this month brought a sweet moment of respite by way of a lovely tropical island break. Here's hoping that post mini-break glow doesn't wear off too quickly.

In October:

I WENT TO… Hamilton Island. The boy - now a 21-year-old man - lives there running quad bike tours. He’s the youngest of the brood and, to date, the most widely travelled with plans for more adventures in the new year. 

I ATE… The boy booked us in to Hamilton Island’s beautiful Co Ca Chu restaurant. An Asian-inspired ‘fusion' menu with sweeping views of sand, sea and island: what’s not to like?

I OP SHOPPED… Very little this month. I brought home a Lisa Ho dress for $10 without trying it on. I figured the silk was worth it if the fit was not. Turns out I’ll be keeping it for the silk alone and it’ll be made into a flowing summer tank. I also brought home a 1980s denim skirt and that string of 1970s wooden macrame beads you see above. 

My favourite car boot sales are on this weekend. Here’s hoping for a few more choice thrifted finds.

I MADE… I made my first wicking bed. That seed saving day I raced ahead to mention in last month's post was a day to learn a new garden art - the art of making seed raising mixtures and a wicking bed. Hands down, it's proved the most successful seed propagating method I've used.

I READ… Three books - and none of them from that five-book pile still sitting on my bedside table. I’m pottering through that lot, unlike two of this month’s three reads which were devoured in a single day; something I’ve not done for years. 

Euphoria was a serendipitous find in the poorly stocked Hamilton Island airport. Clearly people are more absorbed by water sports, white sands and turquoise waters, but my interest was piqued by the fictional recasting of Margaret Mead and her anthropological circle. 

Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things was savoured. I am a fan of Wood’s writing and this was, for me, reminiscent of my first reading of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

The third book, an easy novella-sized read, was read over a train commute and Saturday morning coffee. I haven’t read any of Anna Funder’s work and picked up The Girl With The Dogs from the library to taste test, as it were. Initially, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about, but it’s a story that has stirred and stayed with me: definitely the mark of a good story, right?

October 21, 2015


WEDNESDAY. That no-man's land between one weekend and the next. Here's to the last one - documented solely on my phone - and to the promise of the next one.

Polished stones categorised onto coasters by the grandmunchkin. She's three.

Filled with a pesto made of roasted veg left over from mid-week meals.

A tomato seedling I am hoping is one of the gifted seeds from a local plant breeder. 

Plants from a live Diggers delivery to be planted out.

Seedlings surfacing in my first wicking box. Cuttings ready to be planted out.

The jasmine is in full, glorious bloom.

I cut this hibiscus back hard and worried it might not come back. Shoots. Phew.

This enamel cup was an op shop find. It's perfect for little hands to hold bubble mix.

Q: "What is Cracker's favourite colour?" A: "Orange."

    October 12, 2015


    JUDY is getting on now. She’s not as young as her Mary Jane’s and frilly bloomers would have you imagine and, while I wouldn’t say it to her face, she’s been looking a little rough.

    Judy is one of my childhood playmates. She was knitted by my Nana and has been knocking about with me since I was two or three. We go way back, so far back I had no problem pointing out she’d let herself go. She’d allowed the silverfish to take up residence and, if things kept on the same way - I told her - it'd be a one-way doll ambulance ride out the door.

    Thankfully, she heeded my advice and allowed me to offer up some tender loving care. Sheesh, it was the least I could do.

    While mine are not surgeon’s hands, I am handy with a needle and a few skeins of well-matched tapestry wool. A little darning, a clean up in a tub of wool wash and a bit of time drying in the sun, and she’s looking much more her old self.

    October 05, 2015


    A FEW hot days and I start thinking about summer holidays, and Christmas.

    THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: Every year I make a tree decoration for each of my four step-children, all of them now grown. I have been looking for something I can stitch on the train during the commute home. This will be it, but I better start stitching soon.

    THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Christmas will be at our house this year and we've decided on a Christmas lunch. It's usually salads and cold meats, a pavlova and fresh fruit. I like the look of this take on a warm potato salad.

    THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: We live on the coast, so a trip to the beach either before or after lunch is on the cards. Cool, pretty and I won't need to change. I will have to watch out for turmeric stains from that potato salad though. I am a shocker at keeping whites stain-free.

    THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: And this will be us for a portion of Christmas Day. I love the energy of this woodcut. It's so full of joy.

    #flashback: A move back to colour, light and the return of warm days. Clearly not as warm as we've just had.

    September 29, 2015


    AH, that's more like it. What a difference a little sunshine can make. Spring has made itself known. I have seeds sprouting, fat asparagus spears growing to full size in a week, wee flowers on beans and on an early tomato seedling. I'm going to a seed saving day on Saturday, but look, I am getting ahead of myself, that's for sharing in a month's time.

    In September:

    I WENT TO… Canberra. Twice. In one week. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but colleagues and I were called to Parliament House to support a call for an increased humanitarian intake of refugees from the conflict in Syria.

    A few days later, I was there for a scheduled visit to Parliament House, this time to represent the advocacy and leadership development programs of Girl Guides Australia.

    That day was the day of the Liberal Party leadership spill, and as it happened, our girls and young women were the last to have their photo with Tony Abbott... in his capacity as Minister for Women. So many wry comments I could add here, but, you know, the man's already down.

    I ATE… At the recommendation of a mate, professional colleague and sometimes blogger, I had the most divine meal at Mocan and Green Grout in Canberra's uber-trendy New Acton precinct. So much care and attention to flavours and textures and you see it all happen in front of you. In Nanette's words: "sit at the bar and watch the chefs lavish attention on the food". No further enticement necessary.

    I OP SHOPPED… A couple of kitsch 1970s thank you cards and a pre-loved wooden truck for the grandkiddlings. Cute.

    I MADE… Nothing, but I am scouting for Christmas decorations I can stitch or knit up on long work commutes home.

    I READ… I have five books on the go at the moment. I'm so close to finishing three of them. Maybe it'll happen over the coming long weekend. Maybe.

    On a side note, if you are worried about how to explain news images and bulletins featuring distressed children to your family, read this piece on talking to children about the Syria crisis.

    September 26, 2015

    SPRING 2015 || WET WEATHER HOLIDAY PAPER DOLL CRAFT || a paper doll to cut and colour

    IT'S a wet weekend across Sydney and my home of the NSW Central Coast, and there's nothing worse than the combination of a wet weekend and school holidays.

    Those days are well behind me, but it doesn't mean I don't remember. I do. Vividly. || wet weekend school holiday paper doll craft
    My girls were never much into paper dolls but between them and their brother, paper chains and paper planes did keep them amused on miserable days. I was clearing cobwebs from a freestanding cupboard about a year ago and found a paper plane wedged at the top of it, far from sight. It had probably been there 10 years. He's 21 now.

    Sorry it's miserable. If you're home with children this weekend, I hope you're doing OK. Maybe you should just download Caroline for yourself - a little colouring-in therapy might be just what you need.