Saturday, August 25, 2012

Things My Kid Says

Having moved past the {sometimes infuriating} why phase with Judah, we are now wallowing in the middle of complicated question time, an ever-changing, always surprising string of quite random questions that have absolutely nothing to do with whatever we happen to be doing at the time, but none-the-less, require an immediate and awesome answer.
I find myself faced with an odd question that I’m utterly unprepared for, almost on a daily basis; and he’ll watch me suspiciously – like he can see that I’ve never, ever, ever thought about some of the things he’ll ask - and my crown of the last couple of years (the all-knowing, all-seeing gig) slips noticeably.

I have, of course, sent him to get answers from Daddy when completely stumped. 
I’ve also managed to wiggle my way out of very complicated or sensitive questions by offering marshmallows, a cup of juice or a tickly-hug. But I know this can’t last forever, and that I’m going to have to be grown up, and face up to his questions (no matter how strange or intricate) with real answers. Oh dear.

Here are some recent gems:

“Mum, when you die and are dead forever, why do you have to be put in the ground? Why can’t you just be at home with your Mum and Dad?”

“If the world spins around, why don’t we fall over and get dizzy?”

 “What will happen if I touch fire?”

“Why did the dinosaurs eat eachother? If I eat a boy will I be as big as a dinosaur?”

“Where do the stars go when the sun is here in the morning?”

“If I lived in your tummy when I was a baby, can other things live in there too?”

Do you have an inquisitive child? What’s the trickiest question they’ve ever asked of you?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

That Once-Weedy Garden

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve literally been collecting buckets of sugar snap peas from our kitchen garden. It’s a magic pudding of sorts – the more I pick, the more it replenishes, and the more we have to store, or eat, or give away to grandparents and friends. I’ve sent the kids outside when they’re hungry, suggesting that there’s more than enough growing in the garden for them to pick and enjoy as often as they’d like; I love watching them happily pluck a new pea from it’s creeping vine, and munch on the just picked sweetness of the pod. 

During the winter, things grew slowly and seemed to take forever to break through the surface. But this week, I’ve see the bulbous heads of beetroot and carrot tops pushing through the soil and straw; have spied a tiny lone heirloom tomato growing in amongst a bloom of yellow buds; I’ve tasted our celery, which is strong and vibrant, even if it’s not upright (perhaps I should have gathered the long stalks together when they were still supple and tied them with something soft?); and it seems like the broccoli and cauliflower are doubling in size every night. There are rouge daisies, planted nearly three years ago, but pulled out when they became too wild, popping up in quite random places – next to coriander, in amongst the Italian parsley, or in a patch that only ever grew root vegetables, and I love seeing their small sunny heads craning towards the morning sun. And the natives are all in bloom – we have quick-winged colourful flocks feasting on the new flowers and nectar, and the constant hum of local bees in the cool of the morning. 

I love the beginning of spring; doesn’t everything just look brighter, greener, and smell sweeter at the change of season?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It’s ambitious

I have this idea to make a play market stall for Lou for her third birthday in October. The kids have been obsessed with playing shops for the last couple of months; it currently consists of long wooden blocks end-to-end on the floor, with all their treasures lined up in a haphazard way, and a fist full of paper money that has to be made new every game (because old hand-drawn money just won’t do).
But I’ve been dreaming of a market stand with a lemon-striped awning; of wooden boxes brimming with lovingly handmade cakes, tarts and French bread, super-soft handmade felt vegetables and baskets of favourite fruits; of wooden bottles of milk and cheese, and a wooden cash register filled with bright fabric money and little wooden coins; and of happy kids trading and making and pretending to sample, small wicker baskets tucked under their arms.

I’m trying to make as much of the play produce as I can from the lovely soft wool felt that we use for all of our tarts and cakes, and I’ve been scouring the internet for additional wooden stock to bulk it out a bit. I have to admit, it’s a mammoth task when coupled with market prep and custom orders; but I’ve been lucky enough to nab a set of wooden dairy and meat items, and have been slowly sewing corn cobs, carrots, apples and strawberries, the first few on the list, late at night in front of the tele.


There’s also another more sentimental reason why I’m so keen to see this project come to fruition: when your handmade life becomes a business, there’s a whole lot of making of gorgeous things, and not a lot of playing with the end result. My little ones have shared me with the sewing machine, and learnt that a lot of the things that mama makes goes to other children; I think it’s the reason why this plan has taken root in my heart. They’ve been so very patient with me.

I’ll keep you posted as it comes together…


Ps. Wooden Apples from Applenamos; Lettuce from Pugglehollow; Play Money from Ryhthm of the Home; Wooden Produce found at Emils; and Wooden Eggs from Applenamos.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Grinding the wheels into motion

The only bad thing about a hiatus is the fact that it’s so darn tricky to get moving again. Both Kim and I have had projects half done or attempted for the last two weeks; for me, the call of the gorgeousness of the day means more time in the garden, or with my kids for long afternoon plays at the park; I’ve had tea parties, pillow fights, made cubby houses out of sheets, and played with cars and trucks in mud; we’ve been camping, watched a sunrise (above), roasted marshmallows on an open fire, swum in the cold sea, and watched movies with hot buttered popcorn. And I’ve regularly abandoned all sewing in favour of play with my little ones.

So bad. But a whole lot of fun, too.

But, as we start to look into spring and summer markets, the need to be a grown-up again and to search out my currently hibernating motivation increases; and I think the best way to get fired up about the busiest time of the year is to experiment with new ideas, and to start booking in to the loveliest markets in Brisbane (nothing like a deadline to get things moving along, huh?)!

How do you find motivation? What inspires you to get going again?


Monday, July 9, 2012

The small dress

There was a time, perhaps one or two generations ago, that making your own clothes, or clothes for your children, was the thing to do. Perhaps done out of necessity or because of increasingly tight budgets, shorts were cut, dresses were stitched, frills were added, and family photos showing off small smiling children with brand new homemade clothes were taken. You may have had the same family photo – I know we did (against a fake backdrop of an autumn forest in all its yellow, gold and red glory, me in a beautiful handmade dress, beribboned and grinning into the camera).

I remember my mama sewing at night to make us clothes. She used small, finger like lengths of dressmakers’ chalk that was cold to the touch, and held pins between her lips as she folded and tacked and marked and fastened the long lengths of fabric. The dresses she made Kim and I almost always matched; and I remember how the fabric felt when we tried on our almost-done dress for the first time – slightly stiff from not being washed, but oh-so-lovely to spin around in.

Last week, my mama gave me two little dresses that I used to wear as a girl. They had the customary frills and bows and lace and ruffles, are impossibly cute and very sweetly vintage in appearance. I remember her making them; and I remember the way that the lace hem tickled my legs as I walked. And goodness, didn’t it just light a fire! I had Lyra up on a stool the next morning, trying on these little pieces of tangible memory, and measuring out just how I would have to adjust the pattern of the dresses in order to make new ones. I love the idea of my Lyra-Lou having a similar childhood memory, perhaps when she’s grown and gone with babes of her own – of her mama at the sewing machine, pattern pieces and long lengths of material fastened together with multicoloured berry pins, and the feel of a new, made-just-for-me dress.

Do you remember your mother (or father, aunt or grandmother) making clothes for you?


Ps. My apologies for the impersonal images of late; my camera has gone missing. I know it’s somewhere in the house, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it has been spied as treasure and hidden away by one of the kids…

Image from here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Learning how to cook

Picture from here.

I admit it: there have been times in the past where I have sneakily passed off a fake curry as my own. You know, the empty-the-bottle-and-stir-it-in kind, that doesn’t involve any roasting or measuring or waiting and waiting. Look, if they didn’t ask, I didn’t say; and all that mattered is that we were eating delicious things, right?

In the last year, the need to be taught properly has taken up residence in my heart; and so over the summer, I bought a recipe book from renowned Asian cook, Charmaine Solomon, with the resolve that I was actually going to learn how to make a curry the right way, and not cheat my way through Indian cookery forever. My Mum actually owned an earlier edition when she was my age, and I remember her using it in much the same way. Her copy is filled with little annotations and small changes to the recipes to suit her tastes, scraps of paper with hurried recipes and abbreviated measurements, and pages stained with curry splatters or yellowed with turmeric. It was well used, and well loved.

After the necessary gathering of spices and some basic implements, my adventures in real Indian cookery began; and so far, it’s been a delicious resolution.

This is what I have learnt:

  1. The smell of onions, garlic and ginger slowly turning golden in a pot on the stove is a great memory starter; every curry I’ve begun in the last few weeks has reminded me so much of my grandmother Renee, who always wore an apron, made her curries in tall metal pots, stirred with long handled wooden spoons, and hummed made-up tunes as she mixed and added and tasted and waited. My spice cupboard smells like her kitchen too, which is comforting and bittersweet and delightful, all at once.
  2. It’s fun using new ingredients, like the little knubs of fenugreek seeds, silky saffron strands, aromatic cardamom pods, or tiny mustard seeds, which pop and release their flavour in hot oil. There are some ingredients in Charmaine’s book that I’ve never heard of, and I’m so looking forward to experimenting with them.
  3. A kitchen garden is a wonderful thing, especially when it's put to good use. Our coriander is cut every couple of days in big fragrant bunches, and mint has been added to spice basics and whizzed up into fragrant pastes. We're patiently waiting on our tomatoes and cucumber to be big enough to use; and the chillies that we grew last season are finally being thawed and chopped or ground, and added in for necessary heat.
  4. The kids have surprised me with their curry tolerance. Just last week, Lyra polished off a bowl of Alu Gosht Kari, a meat and potato curry that I’d added a good chopping of chilli too. She mopped up the gorgeous thick gravy with her chapati like she’d been doing it all her life, and asked for a second bowl once it was (almost) licked clean. Which is awesome for two-and-a-half, don’t you think?
How about you? Have you ever wanted to (or learnt) how to cook in a more traditional way – perhaps like your parents or grandparents did?


Sunday, June 24, 2012

{Etsy Love: Nan Lawson}

So, I discovered the quirky Nan Lawson a few weeks ago, and I’ve been visiting and revisiting her store and blog and making mental wish lists of all the prints I’d love to be framing and hanging on my walls. I like that she’s a self-confessed illustrator nerd; and I love the simplistic and sweet nature of her work. She does custom portraits too. I wonder how we’d look?

Happy Monday!