Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy birthday, little boy…

It’s my Judah’s third birthday today, and I’m reeling at the idea that a whole three years has passed already since I held him, newborn, small and sleepy, in my arms. Today we’re celebrating with cake, smarties, the beach, and small and tall friends and family over for a big hearty dinner (and more cake); there’s a pile of lego in our lounge room for the first time, and much contented fixing is being done…by all of us. And there’s a bedroom strewn with colourful streamers, the floor filled with balloons, and a very excited little boy who’s been singing happy birthday to himself most of the morning.

A big and kinda grown up three years old. And such a loud, comedic, creative, energetic, kind-hearted, joyful tumbling and rough-housing boy - we've been blessed beyond measure.

Do you do something special to celebrate a birthday?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Little Red...

There’s just something about Grimm's tale of Little Red Cap (or Little Red Riding Hood) that I love so much. It’s a dark story, darker than you probably remember; Red is na├»ve and wonderfully innocent, a good, obedient girl, whose only mistake is that she stops to gather armfuls of wildflowers, allowing the wolf plenty of time to sneak away to Red’s intended destination.

Our childhood memory tends to put a rosy hue on best-loved fairy tales – we remember that the fair princess is woken with true love’s first kiss, that happy couples are always reunited in the very last sentences, that good triumphs (in its own strange or magical way) over evil. There’s a certain comfort in the knowledge that everything will eventually be alright in the fairy tale world, no matter what obstacles are put in the path of our beloved protagonist.

But poor Red! After her trademark, ‘What big ears you have!’ speech, she’s eaten - somehow that crafty wolf manages to swallow her whole, and she’s nestled in his belly alongside her ailing grandmother. This proves to be a fortunate mistake; for at the right time, a hunter instinctively comes to the cottage, and using scissors, he cuts the belly of the snoring wolf, freeing the women inside.
And to decieve the still-sleeping wolf further, Red fills his empty belly with stones, which miraculously kill him the minute he tries to stand. The hunter takes the wolf’s skin as a souvenir, and Red and Grannie sit down to tea.

In the last week, I’ve started to rework my fairy tale papercuts, and the lovely Little Red Cap is the first to go under the knife. I have to admit, it’s a fine balance – between being true to the dark nature of the stories, and making a piece that you’d be happy to feature in a child’s bedroom. Sometimes I get it right; other times, it’s just that wee bit too scary or macabre.

This is the new Little Red Cap design:

 Little Red Cap in the forest, taking her own sweet time to get to her Grandmother’s….

What do you think?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Grateful #18 – What are you thankful for today?

I would, you know; I'm just that kinda girl. Image from here.

Anyone that knows us, knows that Kim and I are food lovin’ gals. We talk about food a lot, bake weekly, try out and share new recipes, dream about banoffie pies, mellow pear filled tarts, and heart-starting curries. Our beautiful extended family are foodies too, thank goodness! – and they share our love of delicious things, and talk, bake and swap recipes just as enthusiastically.
And have you noticed? There’s a joy that comes with cooking and sharing food with people you love – it wraps the whole experience up in warmth and togetherness.
So because food plays such an important part of our lives, this week I’m very grateful for:

A full fridge. Pretty simple, I know; but how lucky are we to always have a full fridge, stuffed with lots of fresh food? It’s something I take for granted a lot – being able to buy what I need, to feed my children, to cook whatever I like for my family – but it’s given me a reason to pause this week and appreciate the fact that we have everything we need. So very grateful.

Family recipes. We have a small collection of recipes, handwritten by my Grandma, who was the most amazing cook. I can still remember the curry-spice smell of her small kitchen, the way that she would hum made-up songs while cooking, and the instinctive way that she added ingredients to her cooking. She cooked with love and with a generous heart.
Kim and I decoded* her recipes a couple of years ago and incorporated them into a family recipe book, along with nearly one hundred of the best-loved and most delicious recipes from all the girls (and some of the cooking lads) in our family. It’s a lovely treasury – filled with deliciously good and patiently tried and tested recipes, some passed down over generations, others picked up along the way and turned into family favourites. Because I cook from this recipe book a lot, it reminds me often of what a legacy cooking can sometimes be; flavours and tastes transcending time and country, recipes followed to the letter decades before, now passed down to a new generation of family cooks, eager to taste the life that their great aunts and grandparents lived before. Our recipe book is an eclectic mix of traditional Indian and modern day everything; and this week I’m trying out my Aunty Jean’s lamb garam masala, because I’m craving a wee bit of spice in my life.

The loveliness of eating good food with loved friends. I made an Italian beef ragu and invited some of our dear friends around during the week to try it out. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best dish I’d ever made, and could have done with another couple of hours in the slow cooker, but the company was lovely, wine glasses and bottles littered the table (on a school night!), the beef tender, and saucy plates were mopped up with good garlicky bread. The kids stayed up until they were delirious with sleeplessness, and we laughed, chatted and ate in front of a roaring fire. I love the way that food draws people together, don’t you?

What are you thankful for this week?


Ps. Grateful’s are being hosted this week by the lovely Beth at BabyMac – you should join in too! Link your list to her Grateful post here, or write your Grateful list in the comments section below.

* If you’ve got recipes that have been passed down to you, you may know what I mean. Spidery handwriting, abbreviations, measurements like, ‘a dash,’ or ‘a vis’ and sometimes no measurements at all, trusting that the reader will know by heart how much to add in.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Working towards an Everest Goal...

Sorry, dear readers, for the lack of blog posts this week – it’s been a busy one, and will get busier still, as we sew towards Mathilda’s market on the 6th of August, and a few new and lovely markets over the next couple of months.

Image from here

There’s a certain satisfaction in working towards fairly big goals and seeing things very slowly align with that target – I’ve become a diligent, focused sewing and making machine, with my eyes on the prize, and determination in my heart. Which sounds totally ridiculous when I write it, like I’m climbing Everest or something similar. Some days are just like that though.

Do you have an Everest-type goal at the moment?

Ps. The very wise and gorgeously funny Lucille Ball is quoted to have said, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.’
Do you agree? Disagree?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grateful #17 – What are you thankful for today?

It’s a rainy, cool morning here in Brisbane. Warm corners of the house are inviting us to read stories and watch cartoons, last night's fire is still crackling in the grate, and small feet are running about in woollen socks with blankets rescued from the ends of beds. I’m doing some last minute sewing, but dreaming of knitting with soft mohair wool, even though I’ve never knit a stitch (is that the right phrase?) in my life. Perhaps this winter is the time to start?

I’m feeling light in my heart this week; and in amongst the bustle of our house, I’ve stopped this morning to be grateful for:

Birthdays. How lovely is the whole concept of having a birthday? A day that’s entirely yours - where lots of lovely people remember and celebrate the fact that you’re here (and they’re so glad that you are). A day that sees you being loved, and treasured, and maybe even pampered and spoilt; a day in which you’re fed delicious, decadent things, given thoughtful presents, and where you’re able to spend hours in the company of people you love. Birthdays mean doing things your way; perhaps even relaxing or abandoning the daily rules. For grown ups, it could mean a lie-in, a coffee in bed, or a kid-made breakfast with random flowers from the garden. For children, it’s a heaven-on-earth scenario, where all the big people in your world lavishing lots of attention and love. And cake (Chocolate too is allowed, and special treats encouraged. And everyone is made to be nice as pie all day). Birthdays mean a whole year wiser, lots of lessons learnt - maybe the hard way - and a whole brand-new-shiny year just brimming with opportunity.
It’s not my birthday, just in case you’re wondering; but I’m grateful for the opportunity and reminder to celebrate the lives of the people we love so dearly.

Bees, butterflies and birds. I know - strange thing to be grateful for, right? But I’ve started to slowly plant out the vege garden with bee and bird attracting plants to help with pollination over spring and summer, after an unproductive season last year. I’m learning so much about the garden as I go along; how nature is very clever at helping things work together in harmony, how one thing often relies on something else to help it grow, and the creative role that bees and birds play in a sustainable garden.
Over autumn, I hand pollinated all of our pumpkins to help them grow, after realising that absolutely no bees came to our patch. In the new-morning light, I’d be out in the garden watching the bright yellow buds unfurl from their sleep, paintbrush at the ready, lifting leaves and stalks to find the male and female flowers. But all the while, thinking in my head how ridiculous it was, and how I really had to do something about helping nature help itself.  So, with a bit of prep, I’m hoping for a wildlife influx over the warmer months, and a garden brimming with sweet smelling flowers and happily (or naturally) pollinated vegetables.

As a side note, so proud of my winter vege bed, just blooming with beetroot, carrots, onions, rosemary and leek….

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Linking up with the delightful Maxabella Loves – and you can too! Add your grateful post to her linky list here, or write your gratefuls in the comments section below x

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life Soundtrack

It seems as though everyone is all about the music this blogging week! I’ve had this post on the go for about a month now, and thought that while everyone was feeling musically inspired, I’d throw in my two cents too.

So, my music inspired question to you this morning is this:

Do you have a soundtrack for your life?

You know, the well-loved much-sung songs that you connect to a person, place or thing? When I thought about writing this post, I realised that I’d have to take a step back and pay attention to the songs I’d put on my imaginary mix-tape, instead of waffling on like I generally do. Which is actually trickier than first thought, because while I have a thousand songs swirling around for every occasion, I don’t actually pay any kind of pointed attention to them. 

This is what I’ve come up with, after a week or so of careful thinking:

My childhood self still has a soft spot the Beatles, and remembers listening to crackly records and learning the words to all their early, happy, love-struck songs. Even now, I can recall the way their music made me feel as a child – hopeful, happy, free, and believing wholeheartedly in the magic of falling in love at first sight across a crowded room, When I saw her standing there style.

My teenage self goes to pieces over Last Goodbye, by Jeff Buckley. It was the first of his songs that I listened to and loved with an obsessive love, and the most perfect break up song (guaranteed to produce floods of tears).

My Uni self loves Bob Dylan’s Don’t think twice, it’s alright for it’s gently sung cheekiness, and reminds me of beer with like-minded friends on summer afternoons, reading until the early hours of the morning, writing and writing and writing and writing, and seeing my creative self flourish for the first time.

My new mama song is Ben Harper’s Not fire, not ice. I’d sing it secretly to Judah during the days when he wouldn’t settle, and sometimes he’d calm enough to be rocked to sleep. And in the early days, I couldn’t sing the whole thing without crying – the song was exactly how I felt about my small newborn son.

And now?

Maybe Something in the water, by Brooke Fraser.
But when I’m driving on a beautiful morning, Powderfinger’s Burn your name is always played at least once; and when I’m feeling sentimental, Frank Sinatra’s I’ve got you under my skin reminds me of how I fell in love. I always manage to listen to Julia Stone’s This love while sewing, and on a frazzled, tantrum-filled, never-ending list day - Housebound Blues, by C.W. Stoneking – because it never fails to make me smile.
Do you have songs for all your various selves or the stages in your life?


Ps. I’m totally, totally behind on my ‘One pattern a month’ meme – I’ve been sewing up a furious storm for Mathilda’s and almost everything else has been laid by the wayside. I promise I’ll get cracking on it next week.

Image from here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grateful #16 – What are you thankful for today?

I’m a bit late with my grateful post this week – we’ve been out and about enjoying the wonderful weather and the company of much-loved family and friends. I do love a busy, fun weekend; but I’m so looking forward to a quiet afternoon at home with the wee ones. I’ve got a date with the couch, the Sunday papers, and a hot cup of tea…

This week I’m grateful for:

Confidence. I admit it: I still find it tricky getting out of the house on time. And there are also many, many days where simplest tasks take so long to do, days where nothing seems to work, weeks where tantrums rule, and rare days which see me as a super-mama, with absolutely everything under control.
I’ve thought a lot about parenting this week; perhaps it’s a nostalgic thing with my eldest turning three soon, but I’ve been remembering me as a brand new mama, so unsure of what I was doing, wandering through this amazing new experience with my heart in my mouth, hoping and praying that I was doing a good job.
I look at where I am now - such a short space of time! and I’m so, so grateful for all the confidence I’ve gathered up along the way; how I’ve somehow managed to become so much better at multi-tasking and making everything work together harmoniously, and how much fun we’ve had just giving things a go – whether they be fraught with temper tantrums or not. Thank goodness for confidence.

The loveliness of the winter sun. Yesterday, the kids and I spent the morning at the beach with our cousins and my lovely sister, Kim. The wind had an icy chill that whipped at our hair and smarted our noses and cheeks, but when warmer semi-sheltered spot was found, bliss! We sipped at steaming takeaway cups of coffee, and laughed at the determination of the kids, who ignored the bitey cold and played like it was the middle of summer. I couldn’t help but be grateful for small moments spent with people we love so much, and the spontaneity of an early morning winter play in the sun.

Spaghetti faces and cheesy grins. Is there anything better?

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Want to play? Link your grateful post back to the lovely Maxabella, or write your grateful list in the comments section below.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sewing today...

I love Thursdays.

Thursdays are wonderful because both of my babes in day care (and having the most fabulous time playing with their wee friends and carers), I’ve baked something delicious the day before (the sweetest part of my morning break), dinner is usually leftovers (which means a night off), and I have a list of ‘to-do’s’ that always seem to get done.

And then there’s that golden silence. Or my own music. Or a movie to watch while I hand sew.

Today I had a date with a dozen flying nursery birds, waiting to be sewn, stuffed, and plumped in preparation for Mathilda’s market in August…

I also made a start on a 50’s style full skirt that I’ve been dreaming about for weeks. I’ve got a thing for vintage fashion at the moment…

Did you do something creative today?


Monday, July 4, 2011

Write on Wednesdays… on a Tuesday

For a bit of fun, we’re linking up with Inkpaperpen’s meme, Write on Wednesdays. I’m a big fan of writing prompts, and love short spurts of creativity – and I’m in need of a little practice, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve written beautiful things.
I’m horribly rusty, so I hope you’ll bear with me while I work out the kinks.

You know what I love most about this blog and initiative? That there are people in the same boat as me – maybe having written wonderfully well in the past, and for whatever reason, took a break from the writer’s life. And are now starting to incorporate more writing practices in their daily lives. I love this!

Last week, my Write on Wednesday post was such a miserable failure that I didn’t dare post it here. But getting into the practice of writing again is important to me, so I’m soldiering on. And this week, Allison from Life in Pink Fibro is hosting a masterclass – with an interesting writing prompt sentence.
Want to join in too?

The Rules:

Set your timer for 5 minutes and write the first words that come into your head after the writing prompt sentence.  Stop when the buzzer rings!

The Sentence:

“I can’t stress how important it is that we behead this fiend.”

Annie looked up from her work, and rubbed her brow distractedly with the back of her floury hand.
“And it has to be me that does it, then?” she said, tipping the elastic dough onto the workbench.
Bet looked down at her shoes, and willed herself not to answer.
Annie set to work kneading the bread, rhythmically leaning in and out as the dough rolled before her. The kitchen air was thick with heat from the wood burning stove; she closed her eyes and imagined the end of the day, her small iron-framed cot, the cool, clean sheets, and the welcoming silence of night.

Bet tentatively stepped forward to inspect the silver cutlery. Finding a food spot on the last spoon, she scratched at it with her fingernail. “Everything has to be just so. And if all goes well, this may be the making of us.”
She watched Annie place the dough gently into a floured bowl and set it aside.
“Above all, I know I can rely on you,” Bet said carefully, softly.

So there it is - my first 5 minute Write on Wednesday post – I’m laughing because I was so slow that the timer actually went off far faster than I thought it would. Maybe I need to practice some stream-of-consciousness writing to get back in the swing of things…

Join in! Go here for more information..


Ps. Image from here.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No Comment!

A quick question to the blogging community: I can’t seem to comment on a lot of my regular read and favourite blogs. I’ll be sent to my sign in page a thousand times, only to return to the comment I’m trying to send.
Any tips? It’s driving me balmy!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Grateful #15 - What are you thankful for today?

I’m really loving winter this year; all those crisp, clear-sky mornings, icy fingers and toes thawing out in hot baths, endless cups of tea, and a (flimsy) excuse to bake deliciously hearty dinners and belly-warming desserts.
I think winter is a time of reflection for me as well; is it for you too? I’ve been thinking all week about how fortunate we are, how we’re surrounded in love and care, have the most wonderful family and friends, and have a world of opportunity at our feet. I just love that path that we’re on at the moment.

And in particular, this week I’m very grateful for:

Home-grown loveliness. This week, we were all about pumpkin and herbs. Having pulled an enormous pumpkin from the garden a couple of weeks ago, it was time to use it – so I happily set to baking and making! First up, two batches of awesome pumpkin, parmesan, chive and bacon muffins (so good with garlic and chive cream cheese), which was lovely for snacks and rush-out-the-door breakfasts. Then a massive pumpkin and spinach lasagne, with layers of potato, ricotta and steamed chicken thrown in for good measure. I was so proud of our pumpkin effort, and that this one nurtured vegetable had fed our family all week. It gave me a renewed energy towards our sustainable garden, and how wonderful it’ll be in summer when things are really bursting and blooming with goodness.

Sisters. I’m always, always grateful for my lovely sister; but sometimes I see her in a whole new way and I can’t help but be amazed at her all over again. This week, I admire her for her patience, as she quietly and steadily works towards her dreams and goals. And I can’t wait for all of those wonderful long-cherished wishes to begin unfolding in her life.

‘What’s that?’ I spent a few moments every day this week sitting still, while my Lou pointed at various things and asked Whas that? - waiting only a second for me to respond before finding something else to ask about. All those new words! I’ve noticed that the 'whas that' game seems to have unlocked her understanding of language, and has allowed her to speak in more complete sentences – which is so wonderful! Admittedly, some of her sentences are parts of random words sandwiched together, but it’s still lovely to listen to. I’m also aware that it won’t be long before she’s speaking beautifully, so I’m enjoying her sweet baby language while it lasts.

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Join in! We’re linking up with the delightful Maxabella Loves – you can add your link to her Grateful post, or write your grateful list in the comments section below.