Friday, April 29, 2011

Grateful #6: What are you thankful for today?

Happy weekend!
I was wondering all night, while I was watching the wedding of the century unfold, whether I should blog about it today; I’m sure the internet is in a traffic jam over all things royal wedding.
I will say this: Yes, the dress was lovely, very Grace Kelly-like and beautifully simple. And I’m a total sucker for all that pomp and ceremony associated with major royal events. But the thing I loved the most? It was actually the suggestion of a brand new beginning – not just for Prince William and Katherine, the new Princess of Wales – but a renewed hopefulness towards and connection with the monarchy for the British people. Did you get that too? 

Aside from the loveliness of the wedding, this week I’m grateful for:

Children’s games. I’ve been watching my toddlers closely in the last few weeks – and have been amazed to see them preferring to play with one another, and an increasing fondness for imaginative play. In the last couple of days, they’ve been practicing surfing on our lounge room floor, using the TV guide as a surfboard (and when one falls in the water, the other has to jump off their surfboard and become chief rescuer); they’ve been mountain climbing, using the dining room table and chairs; and just this morning, I caught them both putting an entire collection of matchbox cars to bed, while reading a pretend story.

Banoffie Pie. I’m having a serious love affair with this sweet treat. I’ve even been dreaming about eating it, and then I can’t help but think about eating it all day long. According to Wikipedia, knower of lots of useful (and useless) information, I have to thank English chefs from the Hungry Monk in the 1970’s for its creation – so, good on you, lads. It’s a cracking piece of deliciousness.


Ps. Want to play too? Link your list back to the delightful Maxabella Loves, or you can leave your grateful list in the comment section below x

Image from here.

What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Creative Space

Today I’ve been playing around with ideas for a new custom baby mobile for a lovely Australian couple living in Canada – want a sneak peek?

It’s called “Our Home Among the Gum Trees,” and it’ll feature all the readily accessible, yet uniquely iconic Australian animals we’re lucky enough to have in our own backyard. I’ve spent the morning figuring out how to put together the flying cockatoos; this afternoon, it’s all about possums, and working out how they’ll hang from their tree branches…

Hoping that you’re having a creative and productive Thursday!


Ps. For more creative spaces, head on over to Kootoyoo … x

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pattern #1: Jofus and Lally, the adventurous little mice

One of my most favourite series of picture books are the stories of Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose by English author, Shirley Hughes. They remind me so much of my two little toddlers learning how to live, share, play, and grow together.

One of the Alfie stories we borrowed from our local library recently saw fictional Annie Rose playing with a collection of handmade mice; it made me think so much of my little Lou; at 18 months old, she is a big fan of small animals and hand-sized treasures.

Luckily for me, I’ve managed to find this gorgeous free pattern for Jofus and Lally, two adventurous and very sweet little mice, made and designed by the very clever Jodie Carleton at Vintage Ric Rac. And because I love everything to fuse together in nice little packages tied up with string, I’m making two for Lou to play with, just like Annie Rose, and two to give away during the fabulously fun BrisStyle/Toy Society toy drive, while also beginning my ‘One Pattern per Month’ sewing pledge.

Will keep you posted on my progress… feel free to join in too!


Ps. Love Alfie and Annie Rose too? Read more about this lovely fictional duo here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Point and Shoot: Picture Clues and Chocolate Treasures

Our little Lou and Judah are ready to hunt for eggs –
They’re-all-a-hippity-hoppity-poppity on small jumping legs.
It’s Easter Sunday today, and look! The Easter bunny has been!
He’s left a chocolate fortune for our treasure-hunters keen.
Judah finds a basket, Lou finds her shoes,
And clever Daddy finds a pile of hand-drawn inky clues.
The search is on for socks, a swing - now peek into the bath;
While brainy Judah finds a line of chocolates along the path.
Are there any in the trees? Climb up high to see;
Or look inside your car seat, our cereal, or over near the keys.
Little ones with baskets full, no more eggs in hiding;
Blow kisses to the Easter bunny - the fun was in the finding!


Ps. Did you know that rabbits and bunnies actually say ‘Ribbit! Ribbit!’ because they hop just like frogs? Judah, knower of all animal facts, enlightened me this morning.
(Want to play too? Link your 'Point and Shoot' post back to Lou at Sunny + Scout on Mondays!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grateful #5: What are you thankful for today?

Happy weekend!
It’s a warm and sunny Saturday morning here, and I’m about to head out to play with the little ones. But before I do, this week I’m grateful for:

Forgiveness. I think this is one of the most powerful and amazing things we can do as human beings, don’t you? Forgiveness is born out of love; it means mended hearts, peaceful minds, and new beginnings. I see it most often in the reconciled fights between my toddlers as they embrace one another, easily and readily forgiving pushes, knocked down towers, snatched favourites, and pulled hair (which are the biggest trials in their world to date). I love the whole-hearted way that children forgive one another – it’s definitely something I’ve learnt from this week.

The Internet. I freely admit to having an infatuated love of the internet. In the last hour alone, I’ve found a recipe for potato and parmesan soup and parsley pesto, read half a dozen blogs from all over the world, found out why my pumpkins aren’t growing any bigger, paid a few bills, found a free sewing pattern, and read up on toilet training. Thank goodness that we live in an age of abundant and readily available information.

Imagination. I had a wildly vivid imagination as a kid. And after a brief leave of absence (due to baby/childrearing responsibilities), the vibrant and dramatic parts of my imagination seem to be making a reappearance. I’m having wonderful dreams and allowing room for daydreams, and I think I’m almost ready to pick up all my notes and story plans and leap head-first into a creative writing mindset again. It’s all very exciting!

Hoping your weekend is filled with family, chocolate, warm hot cross buns, love and sneaky Easter bunnies,


Ps. Want to play too? Lovely Maxabella is on holidays this week, but you can leave your grateful list in the comment section below x

Image from here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sew to Give

I'm a little bit excited.
BrisStyle is joining forces with the Toy Society to create a wonderful new initiative – a mega toy drop throughout South East Queensland during the month of May. Hundreds of handmade toys marked with ‘Take Me Home’ tags will be left in random places – tied to lamp posts, left in parks, seated on benches – for strangers to pick up and take home or pass on to little ones who will love them.
Isn’t that just beautiful?
I love the idea of leaving something that’s been made with care and heart for someone I’ll never meet; and just love the fact that BrisStyle has encouraged makers to target suburbs that have been affected by recent natural disasters. It’s a nice way to give something small and sweet back to the communities who have lost so much.

It’s also great timing - because I’ve started this mad plan to sew one new pattern a month, I thought I’d be a perfect opportunity to marry the two together.  

Want to join in too? Please do! It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, just make a toy with love, and follow the directions for drop off. Also, check out The Toy Society blog to see all the beautiful donated toys being dropped off worldwide.

Happy sewing!


Ps. We’ve been having a much deserved break over the last couple of weeks – so sorry for the sporadic posts! Both Kim and I are feeling so much better from a little rest and nothingness. Don’t you just love holidays?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marvellously moreish muffins

Rainy or overcast days seem to require baking, and these have quickly become my absolute favourite to make – they’re deliciously wonderful and smell amazing fresh out of the oven...
Roasted nectarine, ricotta and honey muffins
Makes 12
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup olive oil
1 egg, lightly whisked
¾ cup milk
125g fresh ricotta
½ cup honey
3 ripe nectarines, stone removed and sliced
2 tbs olive oil, extra
1 tbs brown sugar, extra
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 12 cup capacity muffin tray with paper muffin cases or lightly grease if non-stick.  In a small bowl, combine nectarine slices, and the extra olive oil and brown sugar. Toss to coat evenly, then spread over a lined oven tray. Bake until golden and soft. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine flour, bicarbonate of soda,  and sugar in a bowl; make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, combine honey, milk, olive oil, and egg. Pour into the well, and stir gently to combine. Fluff the ricotta and add gently to the muffin mix.
Spoon the mixture evenly among the muffin cases. Push a couple of slices of nectarine into each muffin, and then arrange the remaining slices on the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top of the muffin springs back slightly when gently prodded. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool slightly.
Enjoy the gorgeous warm honey smell as it fills up your kitchen. Muffins best savoured with a nice cup of tea in a pretty cup, and a lovely, quiet, sunny garden spot.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grateful #4: What are you thankful for this week?

This week, we were fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with family – enjoying the ease, comfort and reassurance that comes with being with others who know us and love us the best. The kids and I have been wrapped up in a cocoon of warmth and love all week, and it’s made me truly thankful for the wonderful family we have.
But, in particular, this week I’m grateful for:
Cousins. They were our first childhood playmates, and now our most beloved friends as adults – both Kim and I are so fortunate to have such a wonderful group of talented, kind-hearted, ambitious, and beautiful cousins, who we both admire and respect so much.
Hugs. Don’t they just make things seem more manageable and easier to bear? Hugs encourage, congratulate, welcome, comfort, and hearten; they cheer, calm, reassure, and delight. Hugs say, ‘you belong here: you belong with me.’
Image from We Heart It

Sweets. I am currently in possession of the sweetest tooth ever created. Give me a tart, cookie, pie, slice, muffin, or something caramel, custard or chocolate filled, and I’m yours.  But this week I learnt that Banoffie pie and/or raspberry almond tart can be so much more delicious when shared with someone you care about (and even better when it’s eaten in place of lunch).

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Want to play too? You can join in by linking your Grateful post back to the gorgeous Maxabella Loves, or feel free to write your list in the comments section below.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creative Possibilities

Image from We Heart It

I love to sew. I love the hum of the old sewing machine, the smell of new fabric, and seeing a lovely handmade thing come together in an afternoon.
But, I have to admit, I find it really difficult translating my lovely ideas to a finished product, and this week, I figured out why: it’s because I have no experience with reading or making patterns. When I sit down to organise a new idea, I have trouble putting things together, mainly because I don’t always understand the way patterns work – like turning things inside out and wrong way around. I think like a creative, not like a practical seamstress/sew-er.
So, knowing how basic and important this ability is, I’m launching a little experiment – to develop lots of new and valuable skills, I’m going to attempt one new pattern per month; something readily available (and free) on the internet, and something that will hopefully teach me the skills I’ll need to make my own patterns once I’ve developed a little more confidence.
What do you think? Want to join in too?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Grateful #3: What are you thankful for today?

There’s a cacophony of cockatoos and lorikeets in the neighbourhood, the sun is warming our living spaces, the kettle is hot, and I’m having honey on toast for breakfast. It’s the weekend, finally! and today I’m grateful for:

Cooler weather. I love summer, and the beautiful, scorching summer sun, but this week I’m grateful for cooler weather, crisp early mornings, pyjamas, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and warming comfort food.

Washing machines. Most of the time, my laundry looks as though a bomb has exploded - even though I wash on a daily basis; some days, it’s seriously all I do.
But just imagine how much harder this task would be if we didn’t have our lovely washing machines: Imagine boiling water, soaking clothes, hand scrubbing with salt and vinegar, hand pressing the water from piles of clothes and linen, and all the hours and hours and hours involved in such a task.
Thank goodness for washing machines.

Image from We Heart It

I love you. Such small, powerful words! This week, our youngest said ‘I love you’ for the first time – right before bed. I thought my heart was going to burst, I was so proud of her; I also wanted her to say it a dozen more times, because the words sounded so sweet, but she refused – she’s a girl who knows her own mind. Just once, and once was more than enough.

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Want to play too? You can join in by linking your Grateful post back to Maxabella Loves, or feel free to write your list in the comments section below.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Parenting 101

Image from We Heart It

Now, I confess - I’m not even close to being an expert! – but the following are random observations from my own very partial, biased and often quite naive perspective on parenting toddlers:

  1. Boys like to fix. I’m not sure if this is an innate, male driven thing, or whether it’s just my boy, but Judah’s a great pretend fixer. Give him a screwdriver and a mission, and he’ll stay happily engaged in the fixing of said thing for more than just a couple of minutes. Fixing also includes medical and dental. I had a check-up with a toy drill, a screwdriver, and an oversized plastic nut and bolt just yesterday.
  2. Boys are very affectionate. This surprised me. I assumed that the girls would be the ones for cuddles and kisses, but it’s Judah who’s on my lap the most, and who wants the longest bedtime cuddle. I like it; it’s like the slate is wiped clean every night, no matter how much of a wretched a day we’ve had together.
  3. Mothers are the hardest working people around. Not only does raising children require a super set of skills, it also requires unlimited patience, love, affection, energy, compassion, and a freaky second sight, which allows you to pre-empt any accidents, dangerous situations, and potentially tantrum-ous conditions. I love my own mother to bits, but I never really understood her until I had children of my own. Now I think she’s a superhero.
  4. Nothing beats the glow of a newborn, and the sweetness of family during the newborn phase. But, as lovely as newborns are, and in spite of how beautiful they smell, and how wonderful they are to hug and snuggle up to, I must remind myself that it’s not the greatest excuse to think about having another baby. Think instead: two hourly feeds, vomit, never-ending nappies, and no sleep.
  5. When everything is hard and frustrating, as raising children sometimes is, the best way to break the tension and to soothe a stand-off situation is to laugh.
  6. Don’t be afraid to use television to your advantage. Now, I’m not saying to sit your kids down in front of it for eight hours a day, but if it allows you to have a cup of tea and ten minutes peace to recharge – do it, and don’t feel guilty.
  7. Little girls are very clever, and are born with all the skills necessary to efficiently and effectively wrap everyone around their little finger.
  8. Going outside cures most tantrums. If in the midst of a crazy tear-your-hair-out horrid fit of temper, open the doors, put on a hat and defuse the tantrum in an instant by letting them escape into nature. Note: this does not work when in public. Public tantrums seem to be a toddler right of passage.
  9. Don’t fight with a fussy eater. Apparently toddlers live on air.
  10. When in the midst of a horrid day, remember - this too, shall pass. Hang in there, kiddo.
Do you have any tried and tested parenting advice?


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Heavenly Handmade...

Do you buy handmade?

There has been a real resurgence for handmade in Brisbane, and steady growth in clever local artists selling their beautiful goods – and I for very glad. Sites like madeit and Etsy have made accessing handmade even easier, and little boutique markets are popping up all over the place and developing a loyal handmade following.

I love handmade items – and no, it’s not just because we run Quill and Ink Handmade, and love making gorgeous things for lovely people. I love buying handmade because it supports local artists, stay-at-home mums and dads, hobbyists, and clever creative types; I also love buying something that’s been made with care and love, something that’s been locally designed and produced, and something that supports our local economy.

But my favourite reason for buying handmade? Every artist generally has a great story to tell about the origins of their business; and therefore, every piece has a great story.

Take, for instance, the lovely Steph from Mon Petite Poppet: she began her French inspired clothing label when little daughter Bijou was born. Admitting to having a passion for all things French, Steph wanted to create clothes for her little jewel Bijou that weren’t frilly or fussy, that were practical, made with beautiful natural materials, and that shied away from the brand name gauntlet. The result is the most divine collection of French inspired blouses (and one seriously cute denim cape with red and white polka dot lining), which feature beautiful patterns in soft natural colours.

 Available at Mon Petit Poppet on Etsy

Another favourite: The beautiful and very sweet Kia from Hello Kia. Kia handcrafts the loveliest stamps sets which combine traditional Japanese carving methods, learnt in the mountain village of Takayama, with the Danish idea of hygge (sense of warmth, homeliness), and taking joy in ordinary things. Quite a culture mix, huh?
Her stamp sets are distinctive, quirky, fun, and sweetly simple – and each one celebrates the everyday in the most delightful of ways. The clever Kia also makes gorgeous crochet baby rattles using super soft Australian merino wool – a skill learnt as a child from her mother, and an old fashioned style that she’s lovingly reviving.

 Available from Hello Kia on Etsy and Kia Hing Fay's Website

I love that Brisbane is bustling with handmade loveliness, and that ordinary people are taking the plunge and creating extraordinary, beautiful, and meaningful things. And it’s a lovely thing to be a part of this blossoming community of creatives.

 Do you like buying handmade? Have you recently bought a handmade item with a great story behind it?


Ps. Follow Kia and Steph in blog-land too!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Point and Shoot: We begin and end with family...

This weekend we were fortunate enough to spend time with the people we love most in the world – family and friends. But our favourite? A drive to the country to look for cows (Judah's new obsession), which we found on the narrow laneways leading out to the Mt Mee state forest…

Just us, all four, exploring...

Finding new favourites, little feet on well worn paths, faces turned up to the forest canopy – can you still see the sky?

And the discovery of a waterfall and a cascading nest of rock pools framed by twisted roots, the water and banks stained with tannin...

What did you do this weekend?


Want to play too? Point and Shoot is now being hosted by the lovely Lou from Sunny+Scout – for more information on how to join in, go here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Grateful #2: What are you thankful for today?

Happy weekend!

Firstly, I just wanted to shout out a big gushy, sentimental thank you! to everyone that has been reading, following, and commenting on our blog – it warms my heart, and if you could see me right now, typing away, complete with a cup of tea, I’m actually grinning. Thank you for your support – it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.

This week, as well as being grateful for blogs, free speech, and lovely, supportive readers, I’m grateful for:

Cameras. Instant memory catchers. This week I’ve been snap-happy trying to capture Lou’s new smile – and have taken about a hundred photos of her sweet face without once having captured that particular smile. Think: wee baby teeth, crinkled nose, and a little lady who knows exactly how adorable that grin really is.

Image from We Heart It

Lactose free milk. A tall, cold glass of milk, and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Enough said.

Charlotte Bronte. Ploughing through Jane Eyre at breakneck speed – currently at the part where lovely Jane, beautifully humble in her modest wedding garb is about to say her vows in the chapel, only to be told that her fiancĂ©, the eccentric Mr. Rochester, has a mad, violent wife imprisoned in his house. I love the high drama, the exaggerated morality, and general swoony-ness of this book; and it’s been so lovely snuggling down in bed with a night-light to read away while the house sleeps.

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Want to play too? You can join in by linking your Grateful post back to the gorgeous Maxabella Loves, or feel free to write your list in the comments section below.