A NEW edition to the family today. Patrick Eric, born to my stepdaughter Amy and husband Wade.
September 19, 2014
September 16, 2014
DON'T tell me how many days we've got until Christmas. Yes, THAT dirty 'C' word. Every year I promise I'll be better organised to handcraft gifts that are well considered, ethical and adored by their recipients. Yet, every year I am hard pressed to write a few hastily gathered words on store-bought cards and buy gift vouchers for the nearest and dearest. Every, damn year.
The only tradition I have managed to stick to is the making of a tree decoration for each of my step children, and a pav for the Christmas table.
For the former I've managed to score a bunch of craft magazines, with Christmas projects to boot, and a stash of fabrics and buttons - all from a recent op shop haul.
The magazines were 50c each, the fabric a fiver, the buttons a gold coin or two and that lone punch glass was scored from the freebie table. That should help keep the Christmas budget in check.
- Is your wool stash ethical? Mine's from the op shop, so at least it's reclaimed.
- Knitting patterns didn't look like this in my Nana's day. The Brooklyn Tweed look book.
- If only every bushland reserve or park had a tiny treehouse treasure like this one.
- A Sydney tea room from a more genteel time and the scone recipe that made it famous.
- Jodi's named some of my favourite home town destinations on her day trips blog post.
Now, off to crack the rust off my sewing scissors.
September 10, 2014
YOU'D think my first proper 'spring' post for 2014 would celebrate a little more colour but the Pinterest palette has been simple of late, which is a notable shift for me. I love colour, I am usually a riot of colour - a please-pass-the-shades cacophony of colour. I can't explain it.
THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: How teeny tiny are these booties Leisl has made? They were whipped up, from a free Ravelry pattern, for her daughter's teacher, who's expecting. Man, my kids' teachers really lucked out on the gift-giving front.
THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Why is it so difficult to hunt down the perfect bag? Seriously, there are millions of women out there needing handbags to fit with their work, social and family lives, that are secure enough to have on public transport, that fulfil domestic cabin luggage requirements, have hardware that won't fail you as you move forward to take an offered handshake in an important business meeting, that are a picture of ordered and sensible compartments designed to help you navigate to your phone as it screams for attention in a crowded and uncomfortable lift and not, as I have found, a bottomless pit in which sandwich wrappers, your tax receipt filing system and old shopping lists have made a home? Why, oh why, is this so difficult?
This bag I love but it's not going to work? Why? Too thin: there's no gusset to expand for the packed lunch. The hardware: I had a handbag I loved with these 'button' style notches to alter the straps but the buttonholes stretch against the weight of contents and constant use and, bam, that bag will drop like a sack of potatoes - and in my experience - at a time when maximum humiliation is guaranteed.
This bag, also pinned after much trawling of Esty, is the one I have ordered. Wish me handbag luck.
THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: Wallpaper envy. Actually, just pattern envy.
#flashback: Not a great deal of pinning happened this time last year, but it was the first month of documenting my monthly craft endeavours.
September 01, 2014
I HAD to consult my diary to check what I was doing in the early days of August: they feel so long ago. I squeezed a lot in but it was good squeezing and needed to be done before the end-of-year hysteria snuck up on me. I always think I can see that person later, or fulfil that commitment in a month's time, but September rolls around and, BAM!, game on. So, I booked a weekend's down time with my partner in Mudgee; checked in with a work project in Canberra; and, made time to see my nana, my aunt and my sister's family, all of them in Queensland. Logistically, it was all a bit tricky - and tiring - but well worth it.
I READ… Reports, strategic plans, briefing notes … on repeat. It's the time of the year when the organisation I work for and the organisation I volunteer with shuffle through the strategic planning cycle. It's been head down, bum up and read. The writing phase starts this month.
I WENT TO… Canberra, Mudgee and Brisbane.
Mudgee. Glory be. I needed that break. I booked the beautiful Perry Street Hotel and tickets to the Mudgee Readers Festival in June, so you can imagine, by August I was well and truly hanging for a weekend country retreat, complete with the smell of burning ironbark wood fires, big blue skies and wide streets.
Perry Street Hotel reminded me of hotels in Vienna I stayed in earlier this year, and rightly so because apparently they're modelled off the hotel aesthetic of nearby Berlin. It was a real treat to see what was - when I lived in Mudgee, a derelict former Mechanic Arts Institute - done up and restored with a nod to its dance hall past and the trades once taught inside it. It was also a treat to potter around the long-running Mudgee markets, poke about the op shops and catch up with friends for a pub meal.
Days before the Mudgee trip, I was in Canberra to visit the Museum of Australian Democracy's Play Up exhibition. People, get yourselves and your wee ones to this. The school holidays are looming and you'll want to get in on this action. I have reason to be biased: Play Up is all about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the particular Article of that Convention that says all children have a right to play. Yup, you've been invited to the nation's old Parliament House AND it's a museum AND you can play there - all day. Want more? This lady and this one have had a hand in it. See. FUN! GO!
Speaking of wee ones, I also went to Brisbane this month and got in some tickles and cuddles and my first ever watching of Frozen with my nephew and niece. Nice.
I LISTENED TO… My girl crush Anita Heiss speak about her new book, Tiddas, at Mudgee Readers Festival. It's a small local crowd this one but she didn't mind. She chatted and shared and gossiped and gasbagged, queried and questioned with the best of them.
I ATE… Simply. My favourite meal all month was a cheese platter, with quince preserve, honey, macadamia nuts and wholegrain crackers, a few olives and a hearty Mudgee red on the deck at Logan Wines. My second favourite was a salad my sister threw together with salmon, fetta, avocado, fresh rocket, a dollop of aioli, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little cracked pepper. Served up with toasted flat bread and sides of hummus and olive dip, it was simple and delicious.
I SAW… A lot more sunsets than I saw a month ago. Through most of winter, my train travel through Sydney's northern suburbs meant I didn't see much of a sunset. It was just skyscrapers and a blackening sky. But we've edged closer to spring and I am now out of the city and crossing the Hawkesbury River by the time the sun sets. Those sandstone cliffs, that river, that sky. Sigh.
I MADE… Baby shower bunting, but I didn't take a photo. Gah! It looked a lot like this, but blue. Yup, a little boy will join our family soon. He's due in the coming fortnight.
September. Phew. I need more daylight hours. I need to open the house wide to sunshine. I need time in the garden and I need to soak up some sun. You?
August 28, 2014
I USED to be able to op shop in my lunch breaks. I worked close to a half dozen op shops and whenever I wanted a break from the computer screen I’d steer myself in the direction of my favourite fix.
These days I work far from home and far from an op shop and because op shops don’t have opening hours to suit the weekday, long-haul commuter, my treasure hunting trips are less frequent. If travelling I’ll plan to visit an op shop, or two, and if free on a Saturday morning, I may factor in a lazy café jaunt close to where I know an op shop will be.
Though the op shopping has been curbed, my passion for it has not and the pulse can still quicken over a recently deposited stash of fabrics, wool or pattern books; a new-to-me wardrobe piece in just the right cut and colour; something new for the kitchen or a book on a subject close to my heart.
Blog posts about my finds are neglected too, with days, weeks and sometimes months between a purchase and a post to document the gem. Small piles of accumulated treasures stack up on the kitchen table, my bedside table, or the desk in our home office waiting for the day – especially in winter – when I’ll have good light or a surface clear to set up a photo. Most piles dwindle as the item comes into use, and the moment is lost.
Winter knitting patterns are put away; ready to be looked over when I plan next year’s projects. A stash of linen yarn sits waiting for a summer knitting project I will take up soon. Ancient cooking pamphlets promoting flours and butters with recipes for scones and rock cakes and other ages-old tasty treats are tucked away on a shelf to be dragged out when the festive season baking begins – a page marked with notes from the previous owner falls open easily to a gingerbread recipe I hope to try.
Elsewhere, a swath of cool cotton fabric harking back to the 1970s lies ready to be cut into a shirt for the coming summer and a jumper abandoned to the mending basket has now sat for so long I can’t be sure I like it enough to bother darning the few silverfish holes I’ve found in it.
While the op shopping posts are light on, as is the op shopping, rest assured it’s not lost to me or my small corner of the world wide web. Happy National Op Shop Week to you all. May the Op Shop Gods be with you.
August 25, 2014
I ONLY had one day at home this weekend but I made the most of it. Bunting for a coming baby shower was crafted, indoor plants given a little love and attention, little singlets and rompers and fluffy nappies were admired* in their freshly washed and folded state and newly thrifted additions were moved around until I found a perfect home for them.
A big hello to the other readers of my blog. Seems I am not just blogging for one.
- Suzie's Simple Life
- Duchess Declutter
- The Kitchenmaid
- Through Lemongrass Eyes
- Hugo & Elsa
* Admired because I didn't do any of this washing or folding.
August 21, 2014
Earlier this month I had a chance to catch up with two gorgeous people I usually only visit online. Aside from one noisy social event where I had to steal away early, it’s been years since I’ve seen either face to face. One was a flat mate from my uni days: a woman who has known me for more than 20 years and long before we’d both met our respective partners, grown our families and thrown ourselves at our respective careers. The other knows me only through my blog and hasn’t known me that long. Hell, she doesn’t really know me at all, but she’s my kinda gal and, well, let’s just say, I love her work.
Both are savvy digital storytellers – one a closet blogger, though I am yet to find her secret stash of posts (I am pretty sure they’re out there) and one a lapsed blogger. Both asked why I still blogged.
It’s a freakin’ good question, a question I’ve been chewing over for probably a year or more. Yet, it was these offline conversations about blogging that helped illuminate the answer.
I blog for my own freakin’ self.
It’s true. I am my blog’s audience – and an audience of one it may well be.
I bow down to the master blogger and because I manage and pitch content for online audiences professionally, I know what a big job it is. But that is my job and my blog is not my job. No sir, I got no time for that. I have a job and I don’t need another one. Neither do I have aspirations to turn my blog into a chore. I turn away every offer of product – why I am even offered it I have no idea. Let me just say now, to every product marketer, my PIs, let alone UBs are woeful. Don’t even bother.
I blog for me.
When I redesign a header, or buttons for a side bar, I do it because I like how it looks. When I take photos for a post, they’re photos I love and am proud of. When I write, I am writing and editing for my own pleasure – away from copywriting pressures and statistical accuracies and stakeholders that need their fair representation. When I roll through my posts, I am quietly pleased at what I see. If someone else likes it too and stops for a moment to craft a comment, I am overjoyed at the connection. There are no trolls, there are no calendars or schedules of content. I craft and create and write when the mood takes me. This blog is my digital room of one’s own.
As narcissistic as it sounds, it's a blog about me: a wicked stepmother to four; a Girl Guide leader; a woman who can (easily) be bribed with Violet Crumble.
It’s also for me: an op-shopping Nana Crackers to one (with one due any day); a work-a-holic storyteller with an eye on the world; a woman happy in her garden, knitting or baking.
August 08, 2014
I NOTICED new leaves budding on my pomegranate tree today. The cream coloured Clivia my mum potted up for me has buds on it and the snowdrops are coming to the end of their late winter flowering. The air smells sweeter and despite this week's run of cold mornings, the days are warm and you can feel that spring is around the corner. Just three more weeks and we'll be there.
Are you a summer or a winter person, a spring or an autumn person?
THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: These shorts remind me of the terry towelling ones my sister and I used to knock about in when we were wee things growing up with brown legs and blond tips in Central Queensland in the late 1970s and early '80s. They're reimagined here for sleeping, heading to the beach, wearing with this top, or running - I am going to get back to the running.
THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: You know what, you can't even buy these but there is a giveaway and you could add a little pressure in the comments.
THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: You could easily do this yourself, or get the whole family involved, and with a little Blu-Tac, create a street of sweet houses, or a suburb, or a mini city.
#flashback: There was no 'Pinning Things' post this time last year, but I did have definite street-style envy.
August 03, 2014
IT’S cold, cold, cold this morning. I’m working up to donning running shorts and my joggers to go for a run. I know I’ll love it. I know I’ll feel great after it, but my head resists changing out of warm socks and long pants on toe-numbingly cold days like this.
These are my dad’s socks, the ones I spent forever knitting and finished in June, for his birthday in May, and still haven’t sent. Gah! I am an organised, efficient person in all areas of my life except for personal correspondence, family phone calls and family birthdays. On all these matters I am woeful.
However, I'm claiming widely read, and soon-to-be a smug Sunday runner.
- I love the crazy characters that make special projects like The Printing Bike Project happen.
- Have you been eating your greens? Who knew that a cartoon character helped lift our intake?
- If they’re good enough for the school children of India, they’re good enough for me. I like the navy blue ones best.
- How many of these sexist scenarios can you tick off? Too many of them? Me too.
- Do you need to see the dying child to know it’s a bad thing? Where’s the dignity in that?
- Start a riot. Educate a girl. Same same really.
I'm off for that run (after one more cup of tea).
July 31, 2014
THE hints were in my inbox. Every time an Oztix or Moshtix email came through, I gave it a cursory glance and deleted it. Who were these nobodies trying to get me to buy tickets to their shows? Turns out they are somebodies and I’ve just reached that *er, hmm* magical age where the men and women gracing cool and hip (and let’s face it, not so cool, nor hip) street mags are completely unknown to me, as are the line-ups of pretty much every major music festival.
So, imagine how completely out of her depth this 40-year-old nana was lurking back stage – and at times, right in front of the stage – at Splendour in the Grass this month. Out of my freakin’ mosh-pit depth.
But the artists I interviewed with the help of my cool and hip young colleagues didn’t seem to mind, and if you want to know what The 1975, or Sky Ferreria, or 360, or The Jezabels, or Art vs Science or loads of other hip young things have to say about their childhoods and child rights, you can check out the UNICEF Australia playlist right here.
Other than needing a rather significant nana nap after all that doof, doof, doof, here’s what else was note-worthy in July.
I READ... I love a book club for introducing me to books I would never otherwise pluck from the bookstore shelf. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, had me hooked. Spoiler alert – I guessed it was a set up early on but, oh, how very evil and very disturbing are the characters. Have you read it? Are you busting for the movie?
I have bailed on this month’s The Walking Book Club's selection, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes. Maybe I need to give it more airtime, it's a bit too "blah, blah, blah-de-blah" talk, talk, talk for me.
I WENT TO... Well, Splendour in The Grass, obviously. I took one photo for myself the whole four days I was up north (see said photo above) – and it was, appropriately for me, the craft tent. Sadly, I didn’t even get a look in there.
I LISTENED TO... and even pulled my dancing mojo from somewhere for Splendour teaser KOOII. Hit me with your favourite new music. Splendour was a good reminder that I need to diversify the iTunes library. It’s all a bit same same, so, come on, gimme. Go. Now. What should I be listening to?
I ATE... Byron Bay has some seriously top notch eating digs for a coastal town well away from the big smoke. The coffee was good, I had a tasty tapas lunch at The Balcony Bar and scoffed a seriously large slab of banana bread with pecan butter from one of the many local cafes, but the standout was my travelling companion’s choice of the newly opened Italian restaurant, Cicchetti. Seriously good, honest, simple, flavoursome Italian. This ain't no pizza joint.
I SAW... Who am I kidding? I can’t even keep up with free-to-air television. Who’s this fella Nina’s seeing? What’s happening on The Time of Our Lives? Who won MasterChef and The Voice? I know. Sad, right?
I MADE... A macrame hanger for a glass jar candle-holder. Bring on summer, I say. These pretties will light up our outdoor dining space.
Have a wonderful August. I can feel spring. It's around the corner.