Tag Archives: Australia

A lot can happen in a week!

Since I last wrote all sorts of things have happened here in the nest, both with my business but also on the farm. Let’s get the colourful exciting pictures out of the way first! I have been busy playing with both fabric and wool, and trying out new things.    I made my first large batch of tea bags and listed them on my Etsy shop (the link is at the top of the page).

 

I also played with bright colours and bobble stitches to make a tea cosy for a custom order and then, because I like it so much, made another for the Etsy shop!

  

I also played with some new applique ideas and made cup cosies. This one uses a pattern by Flo and Dot on Ravelry called Flo’s campervan keyring and bunting for the applique.

On Monday I received a commission to make a series of tea cosies for a cafe!   I will reveal all when they are complete, but I have had fun developing a repeatable pattern which I will publish once I have ironed out all the bugs!    This is a picture during an early stage of development!

I have spent quite a bit of time at appointments and in waiting rooms this week so having my portable crochet habit with me has been useful. At the hairdressers on Wednesday I finished this water lily that I had been making using a pattern from Make my day creative.

On Thursday and again today I made lots of little hearts,

and kept perfecting that pattern!

On the home front much more has been happening.   Last Saturday we met and decided to trial (before formally adopting) a new dog.  It is exactly one year since our beautiful boy Milo contracted pancreatitis, and then died three months later.    My boy has been patiently waiting for another dog of his own but I was keen to make sure it was the right dog, and that we were ready. Shadow seems to fit the bill.  He is a Belgian Shepherd who was rescued after living rough in the bush on the outskirts of Canberra. Searches have not been able to locate his owners, so a rescue group set out to find him a new home.   He has the most beautiful nature and is completely dedicated to my son.  The downside is that he is not fully toilet trained at the moment, but that is possibly due to stress, as he is improving daily. With a week to go in the trial I think it will be hard to say goodbye to him and expect that he will become a permanent part of the family!

   

Saturday brought us other excitement with the discovery by the artist in residence of an injured kangaroo down near our chook run.  We cared for him during the day until the Wildcare rescuers could come and take him for treatment. A photo sent through last night shows him doing well, so we are all very happy that Roger (as the kids named him) is doing well!  His friends seem a bit suspicious of us though and seem to be keeping an eye on us all!

  

The other thing I can show you in photos is my new haircut.  It has been a while since I had it done  – a combination of finances, time and more time seemed to keep delaying me, which meant that by the time I got to the hairdresser she had a lot of hair to work with!   I love the end result!   I had to take a selfie to share the new look with you!

So there you have it – a week in review!  Now to get the fire going because it is cold today, and then to keep working on that pattern!   A cup of tea might be in order first though!

I hope that you have had a great week wherever you are!

 

Rural update #879

This week of the school holidays has been busy with visitors, shopping to prepare for the winter school terms, and a few more visitors. It has also been rainy, windy and wet. But surprisingly that hasn’t stopped the children spending time outside!

The boy has been designing and building a fort under a tree near the dam. Each visitor who arrives is taken to examine the fort and assist in its further construction. On Wednesday there were three boys down there, sharpening sticks, building a shower (?!?!) and having a ball. The boy received a pocket knife as a gift from his father last week so it has been used for much of this activity. Which meant three boys with cuts that required band aids- but not a word of complaint from any of them!

Yesterday it was the boy and another friend out there for hours, and happy as larks! When her father came to collect her I noticed a bruise and cut near her eye. She calmly explained this had happened when she fell from a tree she was climbing. No hysterics, or even tears! This move to the country with space to have adventures is good for everyone!

It is also good for beautiful garden images!

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In between all of this I have been squeezing in some sewing and planning. Hopefully there will be photos of some new products to share in the next few days.

But for now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow is ANZAC Day, commemorating 100 years since troops fought at Gallipoli. It is a day where we remember and respect all those who served in the wars and in our defence forces, who fought to give us a life where kids can still be kids, and where climbing a tree and building a fort can happen.

Lest we forget.

Precious cargo

Tonight I opened a box, sent from Tasmania by a dear friend.  It is full of fabric from three generations of her family, and she is entrusting it to me as someone who will make good use of it and appreciate where it has come from.  Talk about precious cargo!  I will be taking my time to examine each piece and really think about what to do with it.

Opening the box and thinking about precious cargo got me thinking about my last few days and other sorts of precious cargo I have encountered.

Yesterday was rather dramatic. I was sitting at the bench having a cup of tea and chatting to two friends when I heard our dog Dottie barking ferociously.  I stuck my head out the door to have a look and found her flinging a dark coloured snake with her mouth. The snake wasn’t running (slithering) away though – it was attacking her.  After calling her away I went to look for the shovel and told my friends what was happening. As we looked for the snake and watched the dog we realised that she wasn’t well, so a phone call to the local vet, a pile of towels wrapped around her and under her and with one of my friends holding her carefully, off we sped to the vet.

Dottie on a drip and receiving oxygen, still managed to be charming.

Dottie on a drip and receiving oxygen, still managed to be charming.

The good news is that we arrived safely, despite my rally driving over the mountain range that sits between us and the vet.  The vet rushed to meet us in the car park, and was able to treat her quickly, and she should make a full recovery.  The bad news is that the treatment is extremely expensive ($1500 just for the anti-venom medication alone).   The moment that our precious cargo stopped panting loudly and my friend thought she had stopped breathing will stay with me for a very long time.  Dottie is very precious to all of us, and to lose her would have been devastating, particularly while the children are away visiting their grandparents and having adventures with their father during our school holidays.

It has really shot home the need for us to be prepared for snake bites for humans as well.  Time for some first aid revision and reminders for the children and adults!!  (The snake was later located and dealt with by my parents who were digging out the garden bed it had disappeared into.  It was a juvenile tiger snake, so we are very lucky.  A grown tiger snake would have killed her.)

We are really experiencing the full extent of country life this week.  The day before Dad and I had to make the hard decision that it was time for two of our old hens to go.  We didn’t want to do it but knew that it had to be done.  I described it as ‘farmering up’ – taking responsibility for the hard bits of being an animal owner as well as the good bits.  They had been precious cargo – they had introduced us to being chicken owners, had provided wonderful eggs, and had taught us a lot about caring for our animals.  The responsibility to end their lives with respect was a heavy one.

On the flip side, our green hued eggs continue to be produced as precious cargo to be carried from the coop.

Green eggs|a little bird made me

In amongst all this drama and country life I have been cutting out patterns, matching fabrics, and dreaming big. Might be time to put the fabric with the machine and actually make something!  How novel!

I am also enjoying the beautiful roses from our garden in these lovely vases that a friend gave me as a house warming gift.  The sight and smell of them warms my heart.

Bud vases |a little bird made me

I hope that your precious cargo, whatever it may be, is safe and well tonight.  Give them an extra squeezy hug, just because you can.

 

Hello 2015!!

Can you believe that it is February already?  I knew that January was going to be busy for me this year, with the house move, but I really didn’t anticipate just how busy!  Although moving house is meant to be stressful, in fact it was just busy.  I seemed to be short of time to do anything, for days on end, and yet when I got to the end of each day I couldn’t report what I had achieved.  However, the good news is that we are in, the house is now in our names (my parents and I) and we are settling in nicely.  The danger is that those few boxes that haven’t been unpacked might never get unpacked…….  but I am sure that one day I will remember something I need is in one of them and they will be emptied!

A photo by the artist-in-residence of the boy at our dam.

A photo by the artist-in-residence of the boy at our dam.

There are many wonderful things about our new home.  There is room to spread out, for the kids to have adventures, for us to consider what animals we might get to fatten up in the paddocks, or which crops we might plant to generate some income in the future.  There is room to ride bikes, find frogs and grasshoppers, to entertain friends, and to make new discoveries.   The kids decided that swimming in the dam was a pretty awesome summer activity.  Until a visitor spotted a tiger snake (extremely venomous) swimming across the top of the water towards them!!  After that they returned to skipping stones across the water from the bank, after doing a full snake check first!

Looking across the biggest paddock towards the boundary

Looking across the biggest paddock towards the boundary

bywong sunset | a little bird made me

We can see the most beautiful sunsets from our property, but they are especially good when I climb to the top of our property.

The artist-in-residence has been enjoying taking photos of all the gorgeous roses in our garden

The artist-in-residence has been enjoying taking photos of all the gorgeous roses in our garden

 

However there is one drawback in the midst of all this bucolic bliss.  We are currently restricted to using mobile broadband modems as we can’t get cable broadband.  12GB a month for the four of us.  Eek!   Such a first world problem, but such a chore to work out!  It has been quite good for all of us and forced us to change our internet habits, but sometimes it is just plain annoying!

I had already identified that I wouldn’t be doing any of my ‘work’ in January.  I have managed to set up my sewing room (in what was formerly the formal dining room), and have made a laptop bag for my boy to use for going to school.  But that is about it so far!  As usual I have so many ideas, and plans, but the reality of being time poor means that I have to learn to be patient!

A lap top bag for the boy - waterproof of course, with a hint of Minecraft about it!

A lap top bag for the boy – waterproof of course, with a hint of Minecraft about it!

I have been learning a bit more than patience during the last few months too.  I have discovered that I am very like my father in many ways.  Once we moved house the first thing that was required was a new home for our chickens.  Torrential, and unseasonal, rain put paid to the original plan to build something by recycling our swing set on the weekend we moved.  (Okay – I was a tad ambitious in hindsight.)  So a hurried purchase of a ridiculously small and even more ridiculously priced chook shed occurred and we moved the girls.  Then Dad set to work, using completely recycled materials (bar the sheet of plywood we had to buy to build the nesting box).  As he planned, built, measured, and interacted with the rest of us I saw myself reflected in many of his words and actions.  (And not just the good ones!)  After all these years of thinking that I take after my mother so much it has been quite an eye opener to discover that I have inherited so many traits from him!

The emergency purchase chicken coop - far too small for chickens, but pretty good for rabbits!

The emergency purchase chicken coop – far too small for chickens, but pretty good for rabbits!

The first stage of the new chicken palace.  Next steps include a fenced run, and an internal wall to provide shelter from the elements.

The first stage of the new chicken palace. Next steps include a fenced run, and an internal wall to provide shelter from the elements.

I have also had lots of reminders about why we have made this move, and that I can’t plan to do things with gay abandon as I used to, as my children don’t cope with it.  I can’t say that this is a lesson that I have learnt as I seem to keep forgetting it.  I thought that I could swan off the day after we moved, to clean the house we were selling.  in hindsight that was a ridiculous plan but it took three phone calls from crying family members for me to realise that I needed to abandon that plan and return to the farm to support everyone through this massive change. (And I paid someone else to finish the cleaning!)  I had also thought I could head off to the other side of the country for four days to attend the wedding of a dear friend.  A few days before the trip I realised (after a particularly drastic action by my boy) that he was in no state for me to leave him for even a few hours, let alone a few days. So the trip was cancelled too.  It is exhausting being ‘needed’ so much, but I am extremely lucky that I am able to be available so much.  The generosity and support of my parents in helping us to move house has meant that while money has been tight over January, we could keep moving forward.

What else have I learnt?  That my impatience stretches to myself!  I have spent the last week setting up a book-keeping system that will (hopefully) save time and improve processes for the Shop that I support in an admin role.  I kept wanting it to be perfect instantly, and wanting to fix everything that is associated with it instantly, and finally had to realised that I have to switch off, make a plan, and return to that dance of balancing family, work, obligations, fun, and time to let go.  So – more life lessons for this old duck.

The final lesson?  Purple hair die does not last!  So now I have returned to blue, and added turquoise.

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Other big news?  My eldest has started high school and is relishing every moment of it!  The two girls have been catching the bus home in the afternoon, and enjoying that new independence too.  The children were given pet rabbits by their paternal grandparents at Christmas, and the bunnies very happily inherited the chicken coop.  Unfortunately two of them died suddenly of unknown causes a few days ago, so there has been a fair amount of grief as a result.  (And I had to dig two holes because the first one cut some buried irrigation pipe. The ground here is very rocky – more lessons learnt there!)

Three pet bunnies the day before the two grey ones, Pixie and Carrots, died.  Mittens (white) is very lonely now.

Three pet bunnies the day before the two grey ones, Pixie and Carrots, died. Mittens (white) is very lonely now.

I can also report a very positive start to the year for my boy. I am cautiously optimistic, as last year started well too, but he has grown a lot and is constantly learning how to manage himself, and he has made it through the first week remarkably well.  His autism traits are becoming more obvious in his social interactions, so that will be a big focus to support him with over the next few months, but his other behaviours are responding well to his medication and allowing him to control his emotions much better.  Phew!

There you have it – an update on the family news.  Hopefully the next posts will have news on sewing, making, and farming!

One of the Campine chickens having a scratch around the new yard - so many juicy bugs to be found!

One of the Campine chickens having a scratch around the new yard – so many juicy bugs to be found!

7 Free things to do in Canberra over the Spring school holidays

Our two weeks of school holidays start today!  The children definitely need the break, and their mother isn’t complaining either!  While we have a camping trip planned for the second week of the holidays, for the first week I thought we might explore a bit more of the city we live in, rather than sitting at home with eyes glued to screens.  (Wish me luck!)

There are some amazing classes, programs, and activities available during the holidays, and my children have a long wish list.  However money is a little tight, and I realised that it was probably time for us to craft a list that focussed on things that don’t cost a lot of money, but will be really enjoyable.

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

1.  Floriade.  Yep – it may be clichéd but the huge floral displays are open throughout the holidays, are free to enter, and provide lots of different opportunities for being involved.  There is a different program of activities every day.  The tips I gained from head gardener, Andrew Forster, were to check the program first thing each morning before planning your day.  There are great things in the ‘Fun for Kids‘ section, including potting their own plants, attending Bunnings workshops, a circus playground with workshops, and more!    (And Bindi Irwin will be at the inspiration hub giving talks one day.) If all else fails, take a picnic and let the kids run around on the big grassed areas.

2. Arboretum.  The national collection of plants is free to enter, and roam around.  In addition to the wonderful wooden pod playground, there are also open spaces for picnics and running around, and amazing photographic opportunities.  There is a free creative corner during these holidays, plus a program of workshops ranging in prices from $10 – $30.  My personal plan is to pack some food and take the kids there with their cameras/iPods etc and run a family photo competition.  If it works I will publish their entries here for you to enjoy!

National Archives of Australia |a little bird made me

3. National Archives of Australia.  You might remember that I enjoyed a tour of the National Archives as part of the discovery phase of the Human Brochure.  I have been wanting to take the children there ever since, and with the opening of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize this week, the timing is perfect!  Entry to the archives is free, and there is a great range of exhibitions that I think my children will enjoy exploring – including one of ‘banned’ material that I think will appeal to my son!!

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

4. National Gallery Sculpture Gardens.  I suspect that taking my active children (well, let’s be honest, my son) into the Gallery could be a recipe for stress, but I think that exploring the Sculpture Gardens, with reflective sculptures, floating heads, and my favourite, the James Turrell installation “Within Without’, could be much less stressful!  I might even include that in our family photo competition!

5. Geocaching.  We have been a little slack in our geocaching for about a year (oops) but the upside of that is that there will be lots of new caches around town that we haven’t discovered.  If you aren’t aware of geocaching it involves looking for hidden caches/containers that contain a log book, and occasionally swap-able  or track-able items, using GPS coordinates.  You can download a free version of the app to your phone, or use the GPS from your car (or go really rustic and use a compass!) and search for different caches hidden in public spaces, and logged on a website so that others can look for them.  I like to pick a geographic area, park the car and then go for a walk with the kids to find as many as we can before someone gets tired and complains!

6. National Museum of Australia.  The museum is always great for an interactive experience with kids, and these holidays they are running free drop in workshops in their Discovery Space, including one where you can make your own wire sculpture.  (Wonder if the kids will realise that I am there to do it for me, rather than to entertain them?!)

7. National Library of Australia.  On 2 October the Library has a story time session and a movie for children, both of which are free.  But the thing that appeals to me for my children is the Library detective – a free ‘find it’ trail of discovery.

Handmade Markets | a little bird made me

Plus one more.  Handmade Markets.  Entry to these amazing markets (no I am not at all biased) is free!  Of course it won’t end up being truly free as the temptation to buy so many of the beautiful products there is hard to resist, so I haven’t included it in my list of 7 – but wanted to remind you that it is a great day out!  4 and 5 October at the National Convention Centre!  (I won’t have a stall there but will be there helping out anyway!)

There are many more things to do in Canberra over the holidays, but this list will keep us going I think!  What ideas do you have for free activities these holidays?

A new space

Creating new space in our house in a physical sense has helped with the metaphorical space needed after the events of last week. Our au pair has arrived, settled in to the room we created for her, and has given me the space I need to breathe and start focussing on what is important. All the lugging of furniture, emptying of cupboards, and spring cleaning of the mind was worth it – and she has only been here one night!

The chicks are enjoying the experience of a ‘foreigner’ to share things with. The middle chick has been sharing her knowledge of all things Australian (her lecture on the habits of kangaroos was delightful), while the eldest chick is making sure she feels welcome, has everything she needs, and being very mature. The boy? Well, he has written her two love notes so far (this from a boy who doesn’t like to write) and has declared his love for her. While I am managing him to ensure that his behaviour is appropriate, it is lovely to see his complete acceptance of her into our lives.

It is also interesting looking at our lives through someone else’s eyes. We are already understanding that we offer something different in our home life – even just in the way we prepare and eat food. The middle chick made freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast this morning and the au pair, who I will refer to as Miss N, enjoyed it and then admitted that she had never had it freshly squeezed before. We also fed her tacos for the first time, and orange sorbet. After some grilling from us all we are excitedly waiting for mango season to start so that we can introduce her to that delight! It is good for the kids to hear how our life is interesting and impressive to someone else!

They all had a great adventure walking the dog this afternoon to show Miss N a kangaroo or two in the bush across from our house. From the photos it appears that they saw about 60 – 70 kangaroos so she was very impressed!! The parrots, cockatoos and galahs that fly around our garden are also impressive to a visitor. Again, it is good to remind the kids that the things we take for granted are interesting. In return they have learnt about wolves and bears and keep asking questions – a beautiful exchange.

Thank you to all who have offered support to me, and the boy. It is appreciated and gratefully accepted. We have had a lovely weekend with much laughter and happiness, so will start the new week with a smile in our hearts and see how we go.

Of course, given that this blog is often about sewing I need to report that none has occurred. However, with all the rearranging of the house I have been creating a new sewing space. Up until now I have occupied the dining table, in the centre of the kitchen/family room, in the heart of the house. With the arrival of Miss N I have decided to try to have my own space, where I can close the door and concentrate on what I am doing, so have moved it all into my bedroom. Until I win the lottery (must buy a ticket one day) and can build a studio out the back, this is about as good as it will get. Luckily my room is large, and has a huge window looking over the front garden, so the outlook is delightful, and the space is bright and airy. My plan is to finish setting it up tomorrow night and to christen it with a bit of creative indulgence – sewing with the door closed!! I am going to put a pin board up so that my business plan can be displayed and act as my focus and reminder as I am creating. Once it is all just how I like it I will take some photos – which will look so much better than the ones I have avoided taking in the dining room!!

No photos or quotes tonight. Just smiles, thanks and a feeling of hope as the new week begins. (And an almost complete lack of reference to the election results!)