Tag Archives: camping

Spring 2017

Not the catchiest title for a blog post but there is so much to report from the last few weeks that I needed a catch-all phrase!  This time of year is when I traditionally get moving – on projects, in the garden, around the house, etc.   After the cold short days of winter the arrival of sun, longer days and a garden popping with growth is just good for the soul.

Which means that over the last couple of weeks we have been away camping, I have painted my son’s bedroom (finally) and our garden is full of beautiful blooms and green-ness!   Our camping trip was only for three nights, but we were at our traditional spring campground, right on the beachfront and it was just what we all needed.   We had two other families with us which meant that all the kids were busy and entertained, and the adults got to relax, catch up with each other and take turns watching children.  My parents joined us for two nights which was an added bonus (especially because I left my favourite teas at home and they kindly delivered them for me, avoiding a major first world catastrophe!)

From our tent we could watch the waves, and were very excited on our last morning to be able to watch a mother and juvenile whale breaching and playing right in front of us – my daughter described it as doing back-flips as the baby jumped out of the water and landed on it’s back over and over again.  The day before we had seen dolphins in closer and a whale further out but this was a new level of wonder!

 

We arrived home vowing to book for longer next time – and hopefully with the same group of friends as it worked so well.  In the three days we were gone the garden had really started to blossom – literally!   And the warm weather hasn’t just brought me and the flowers out into the garden – the lizards are appearing to sun themselves.  As long as the snakes don’t join them we are fine!

A shingleback lizard hiding amongst the plants

A blue tongue lizard sunning on the concrete, very unperturbed by me and the dogs.

The most exciting spring news, however, is that at least 7 of our sheep are pregnant, and judging from their size, the size of their udders (who knew I would become an expert on sheep udders?) and the date that ‘Gordon Ramsey’ was introduced to the flock I think we will start to see lambs arriving from next weekend.  I am excited but nervous about this development – hoping that nothing goes wrong, and that all the babies and mothers are healthy.   Yesterday my boy and my father and I constructed a shade shelter/wind break from shade cloth and an old trailer cage frame – I love being able to repurpose in all areas of our life!  I also plan to make another one with some pallets and corrugated iron.   I had hoped to finally get to repurpose the swing set frame that I had originally planned to use for a chicken coop, but have accepted my father’s sensible advise about a different plan (for now!!)

The new shelter being completely ignored by the sheep

We had a livestock issue of another kind last week when my boy spotted a mouse in his room.   Because I am such a chicken I quickly went and asked my parents (who aren’t scared of mice) to help – and while they cornered, capture and dispatched the mouse I delivered the famous ‘I told you so’ speech to my son about eating in his bedroom, not tidying up his mess etc.   Of course, as a result of the mouse he then wouldn’t set foot in the room, insisted on sleeping in my room, on us fetching his clothes, etc. I hoped that it would pass with time but when, after returning from camping, he was still resident in my room it was time for drastic action!   My parents kindly agreed to take all three children for a visit to their other grandparents, leaving the middle child there for a week, and overnighting with the other two.   That gave me the chance to tackle his room – which I had been planning to get to for some months now that his aggressive behaviour has reduced significantly and the walls aren’t being damaged anymore.  The before and after photos show what an improvement a simple coat of paint can achieve!   I also cleaned out his wardrobe, sorted his toys and steam cleaned his carpet and he is once more happily back in his own room, and working hard to keep it tidy!   Success!   I bored everyone with my progress on facebook and Instagram, and one friend asked whether I had ruined the surprise by doing so.  I explained that that surprising my boy is not a good option.   To help him cope with any change he needs to be given lots of warning, to take part in the decision making, and to understand the process.   Before I started painting I discussed it with him, and asked whether it would help him go back in there, and whether the change in colours (which he has been resisting for more than a year) would be a good idea.  Luckily he embraced the idea and was delighted with the result!  Autism parenting requires a whole different mind set!

During all of that time I didn’t get much ‘making’ done.  But it did give me time to think and plan. There is something very meditative about painting walls!  I have my first market stall in three weeks time after a three year break, so thinking about what I need to prepare, what stock I need, what branding is required, etc is a shift in thinking.   After years of supporting other designers to hold stalls at one of the best markets in the country I am starting small, with a primary school fair, but my nerves might be bigger than when I last was involved as a stallholder!   I will let you know how I go with getting organised!

In the meantime it is a long weekend here, the sun is out, and I have piles of washing to attend to!   I hope that you are having a great week, with some achievements of your own!

An end of year wrap up

I have been very quiet here over the last few months, although still using Instagram and Facebook.  I think social media goes in cycles – sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the image and sometimes it is about the conversation.   It seems timely, then, when the year is about to roll over, to capture a bit of the last 12 months in story, image and conversation!  (All this without sending anyone to sleep. Hmmm….can I rise to the challenge?!)

This year was a big year for my little family with our move to a new nest and rural life.  At this point (days away from the 12 month mark) I can honestly say that I do not regret the move at all.  There are days when yet another drive into town makes my heart sink, but for the most part even the commute (20 minutes to most places I need to get to) is extremely civilised!  We now have 12 hens, 5 sheep, 2 dogs and 4 goldfish.

We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.

We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.

We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.

We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.

We leased one of our paddocks to the neighbours so we also get to enjoy their horses.  The gardens are beautiful and my parents do a lot of work to maintain them (I say guiltily!)  We named the property as a birthday gift for my Dad (who is a Deacon) and the same friend who made the sign also made a custom ordered signpost for the garden as a gift for both of them.

The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.

The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.

The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!

The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!

Also on the family front we had a wonderful family gathering in September to celebrate my parents’ 70th birthdays – with two of my siblings, and 6 of their siblings, plus partners, along with lovely friends, joining us for about 4 days.  We have now established that the house can accomodate 9 extra people, and cope with two camper vans. It was a huge highlight for all of us.

In October we went camping after a (much too long) haitus.  It was perfect!

My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!

My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!

Big changes in the house included replacing the very, very, very busy carpet with something a little more neutral, and starting the mammoth task of painting.  With the newly opened Ikea store in town light fittings are next on the list!!

Before and after with the carpet replacement!

Before and after with the carpet replacement!

On the sewing front I have been busy. I had a two month break when I injured myself in an altercation with my boy, but returned and have been busy ever since.  For a woman who was intent on being a bag designer I seem to make an awful lot of baby products now – but they sell well, so I am not complaining!  After putting my on-line shop on vacation mode about a year ago, thinking it would be for a month or so, it is still not open.  The upcoming holiday period is a great opportunity for me to sit down and plan what the next year is going to look like – and how I am going to run my business is a big part of that.  I have developed a pile of new products over the last few months, including gift sets, teething blankies (with really soft bamboo velour backing), bibs that can have a dummy clipped to them, fabric covered journals, and a pile of Christmas decorations!  They have mainly been sold through Shop Handmade, with a few custom orders here and there.

A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy - part of my new product range.

A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy – part of my new product range.

Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton - they feel sooo nice!

Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton – they feel sooo nice!

Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!

Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!

I have also completed two very special custom orders for people who wanted cushion covers made using clothing that was special to a deceased grandparent, as gifts for their family.  It is a privilege to be entrusted with cutting up these garments that hold so many memories, in order to create a lasting momento.

These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.

These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.

Life with my chicks has had it’s ups and downs – as it always does, but as the year draws to a close there is a feeling that we might be making headway with some of my boy’s issues.  We had to change doctors and counsellors during the year when his both left town, and although it has been a drawn out process to get everyone up to speed we seem to be there now, and to be gaining extra support to assist in supporting him.   The girls have both grown a lot this year, in size and maturity, with the eldest chick even doing household chores without complaining!  Wonders will never cease!

I will spend the next few weeks thinking about what is next for this little bird, and my business and my family, and hopefully will appear here with a little more frequency than I have been!

I hope that this year has treated you kindly, that you have been loved and supported, and that the New Year brings joy, creativity and peace to you.

 

Home

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Sunset over the Crossroads tent on Easter Sunday

What an amazing week I have had at Bluesfest! The weather was perfect (no rain), the company was delightful, the music was great, and the whole experience was healing. While I realise that ‘healing’ is not a word that is normally associated with music festivals, in this case it is very apt. I have returned home feeling lighter in my soul, clearer in my mind, and more centred than I have been for a long time. My mother has likened it to a trip to a health spa, and if you ignore the beers and burgers that I drank and ate, she is right!

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Blue skies, feet up in hammock – bliss!

The highlight of the festival was, of course, the music, but being with lovely people, having a good night’s sleep in my trailer tent, and being able to truly relax (the hammock got a work out) were all important. I saw some bands and artists I had never heard of, and others who I have been familiar with for a long time. Some I saw on my own, others with friends. Some nights I was content to go to bed early and listen to the jangling sounds of 6 stages all playing at once, while other nights I stayed to listen to the last notes. A dear friend of mine has attended each of the previous festivals that I have attended, and managed to attend for one day this time, continuing our great tradition – so we had to get a ‘selfie’ to capture it!

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Our Bluesfest ‘selfie’

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Elvis Costello on the final night

My musical highlights? Steve Earle (I saw both his sets), Charlie Musselwhite, Jack Johnson (his connection with the audience was the reason I stayed up to listen to every note), Elvis Costello, Beth Hart (powerful voice and rocking band), Jake Bugg (brilliant musician but too young to have a stage presence yet), Booker T Jones (such a great sound), Aaron Neville (so romantic and swoony)and for both amusement and musical memories, KC and the Sunshine Band (although I did object to his scantily clad raunchy dancers and their antics on feminist grounds). But my stand-out? An artist called ‘Passenger’. I had heard one of his songs on the radio before so went along out of interest. Wow. He had the thousands of people in the tent in the palm of his hand. One man and a guitar, getting the whole tent to sing along with him – including on a song he had written that morning. He covered “Sounds of Silence” and the tent was almost silent, and then at the end played a song he is about to release called “Whisper”, followed by a song called “Holes” and I was in tears! I highly recommend having a listen to his music – just a delightful, authentic voice and talent.

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A very blurry shot of Passenger holding the crowd in the palm of his hand with amazing music and lyrics

I read, crocheted, slept, danced, and relaxed. At some point over the weekend I wrote a note to myself on my iPad that simply says “Be kind to yourself”. I can’t remember what prompted that, but they are definitely words to live by. I had all sorts of wise insights while driving, and relaxing, and remember very few of them, so I am glad that the only one that I wrote down is the best of all the thoughts!

My trip home had some added adventure with a midnight breakdown, two rides in tow trucks, a motel that my road side assistance service organised for me to check into at 3am, and some very helpful auto-electricians who fixed my car and allowed me to get home. Despite all of this potential stress I remained calm, and, apart from being extremely tired, wasn’t adversely affected by it all!

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My car and trailer waiting for the second tow truck ride – one hour from home but so far away!

I have bought my ticket for next year’s festival already. They won’t start to announce the artists until August, but I have looked at the previous lineups for this festival and have never seen one that I wouldn’t be happy to attend. The savings of buying early well and truly outweigh the risk that there will be artists that I don’t want to see! Plus my festival friends will be there again (our group grows a little each year) and I will be encouraging all of you to join me!

And now I am home, the chicks have returned, and we have three more days until they return to school. In between spending time with them I am starting to get the house and the sewing room back into order so that I can get back into creating this week. My head is full of ideas and I am itching to start working on some of them! I also have this overwhelming desire to get more organised…… so stand by for some further de-cluttering, making up of schedules (that may or may not be followed) and some planning (of course) to get that urge under control!

Before I sign off I should add that the chicks had a wonderful Easter break too. Their father and step-mother took them down to Victoria for some time with their grandparents and cousin, then to Melbourne for a couple of days where they got to see some football games (the first big AFL game for the boy), go to the Zoo and the Aquarium, and ride the trams everywhere. They really had some great adventures.

I hope that you have had a wonderful Easter weekend, safe travels, and lovely adventures.

Away

I am writing this sitting in the shade of my tent, listening to some guitarists in another tent and contemplating whether to go and pick up a fresh bag of ice, or lie in my hammock. Tough choices!

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For the third year in a row I have travelled to Byron Bay to attend Bluesfest. This year I nearly didn’t come. The thought of the drive (about 13 hours before you factor in breaks), travelling on my own and attending a large music festival on my own was starting to overwhelm me. But…. here I am and I am glad I came.

I decided to stagger my trip so I wouldn’t be exhausted before I arrived, but I didn’t plan it at all! Just before I left home late on Tuesday afternoon I decided that I would drive to a spot just north of Sydney called Umina that I had heard good things about. When I rang the campground the receptionist talked me out of camping because of the late hour I would be arriving at – which was an absolute blessing when I arrived during a torrential downpour that was blooding streets and tents. Sleeping in a cabin was the best decision!

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The next night I stopped at Coffs Harbour and stayed at the same campground I stayed at last year, set up my little tent and was asleep before 8!
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A cup of tea the next morning set me up for a great start and I arrived with 20 minutes to spare before meeting my camping neighbours from last year so we could camp together again. The ridiculously luxurious trailer is set up, and our neighbours thus year include a family of guitarists who seem to be attracting other guitarists to them so we are being serenaded.

Why am I giving you a blow by blow account of my trip? Because three days on my own has not been scary nor overwhelming. Last night I attended the festival on my own and had fun. I could wander where I wanted, to my own agenda. I saw great musicians – Steve Earle, Charlie Musselwhite, Dyson, Stringer and Cloher, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I was exhausted by the time it got to Edward Sharpe and had retreated to a chair, thinking that there was no shame in sitting to listen…… and then they started playing and I was propelled from my seat forward to dance, confirming once more that music cures all ills!

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My observations so far this year are quite irreverent – lots of young men with long hair and beards being escorted by girls with flowers in their hair, flowing skirts and bare feet – they look like they are reliving their grand- or great- grandparents youth at Woodstock – but with a lot more cash. There are also a high proportion of grey haired men who look like they have been sitting behind desks their whole lives wandering around in packs looking happy. You can pick the northerners – they are wearing jumpers in the chill of the 18 degree evening (scoffs the southerner who is loving the warmth!)

No post would be complete without a sewing report – I decided it was time to sew for myself so whipped up a Tova tunic using my birthday fabric from last year, and a bag and coing purse for myself (using the jeans I wore here last year!)

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No kids, no agenda, and nothing to worry about. Just what I needed, and the reason I bought my tickets a year ago.

I hope that your Easter weekend is all things good for you.

A break!

As I sit to type out this post at the computer it feels like it has been weeks since I last wrote.  I almost began the post with an apology for my absence, and then realised that it has only been a few days since my last post!  Why did I think that I had been absent for ages?  Because the chicks and I had a break.  Just what we all needed.

After the flurry of activity to prepare for the markets 10 days ago, the chicks returned from their father’s house with their feathers all ruffled and out of sorts.  As we worked through some of the issues last week I realised that we needed a circuit breaker.  A chance to regroup.  I decided that I needed to bend the rules and create our own long weekend and go camping.  So we did!  Friday afternoon we left Canberra and drove up and over the mountain range that separates us from the coastline, navigating winding steep roads, while towing our beloved camper trailer.  It was the best decision I have made in a while!

We arrived while it was still light, and started the set up, during the windiest period of the weekend!  (Of course that was after I had managed to lose control of the trailer while manoeuvring it into place – without chocking the wheels…….  my usual dramatic arrival was achieved.  Luckily a neighbouring tent rope and a tree stopped it from actually hitting the beach.  The only injury was to my pride.  Again.)  The girls helped me to get the tent up despite the flapping canvas and flying poles, while the boy found his new best friends and started digging a hole in the sand.

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The view from the tent on Saturday morning – children (including mine) digging a hole in the sand.

We had the perfect day on Saturday – investigating rock pools, digging holes in the sand, riding our surf mats, swimming in the pool, playing cards with fierce competition and having pancakes for dinner!

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The three chicks delighted in each new find, sharing their discoveries with each other.

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The clear waters of a rock-pool full of seaweed

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The boy was so excited to find a crab nipper ‘that still works!’.

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The eldest chick found a piece of beautiful blue shell with a delicate sea weed attached to it.

0178cecb004fd110e034b1acdc31ed9e857b5f6d9bThe boy looked in vain for an anemone.

The boy was ready to try riding the waves for the first time, but got dumped by a large wave and was very upset.  After a small rest on the sand, and listening to some instructions about how to catch a wave from me, he went back out there and had a ball!  By this stage his new friends from the first night were now part of the family, and we got to share their fire to toast marshmallows that night.  I forgot to take any charger cords for our various i-devices so I only have photos from the first day, but the girls had a great time trying to capture the perfect scene on their iPods in between appearing in a sandy heap at the door of the tent to request food.

By Sunday morning we had giant waves, and a strong undertow, thanks to a cyclone in New Zealand, so there was no sea play, but we made up for that lack of excitement with a trip to the nearest emergency room after the middle chick had a large crash off her skateboard, going down a hill.  X-rays and many hours later, nothing was broken, and we all returned to camp, to discover that we had missed the rain, and were in time for the rainbow.

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We made up for our missed opportunities on Monday (I gave the kids a day off school) by climbing up to the top of the cliffs and watching the waves, looking for whales and dolphins and exclaiming about everything we saw!  We had a leisurely pack up and didn’t leave until mid-afternoon, squeezing one last swim in the pool in before we left.

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The middle chick and the boy investigating new finds on the beach on Monday morning after a super high tide in the night.

There is something magical about sleeping under canvas, listening to crashing waves, finding what has been washed up on the beach in the night, and being together in one space.  It helped to do a bit of healing that we all needed, patching up some spots in the family that had been rubbing thin.  We all agreed that we need to do it again – soon.  And often.

All of that time living the simple life gave me time to think, to overthink, to reassess, to plan, then forget the plan.  I have been off work for quite a while now.  I am slowly getting stronger, but the littlest thing can still push me backwards – and big things have a huge effect.  It means that processing the options and trying to plan the way forward is hard – there are so many unknowns!  If only writing a blog, sewing bags and bibs, talking about creating, recycling, sharing and having a love of fabric could support my little family!  I am sure it will one day, but for now the future is uncertain and I am trying to remember to do one thing at a time.  Recognising how far I have come is useful – 3 months ago I couldn’t imagine taking the chicks camping as the organisation required was overwhelming.  This time, I just kept things simple, and when I realised that we had forgotten something, just improvised.  (Hence pancakes for dinner!)

For now, doing one thing at a time means that I have an awful lot of sewing to get through in the next week, with a number of custom orders ready to go (if only the FedEx man and I can coordinate our schedules better – I missed him by 7 minutes today), and a request to restock my bibs in the Handmade Shop!  (So exciting!!)

I also need to list all the stock that I have made in my Etsy shop.  Don’t forget that there is a sale on until Friday – making room for the new things coming……

I hope that you had a great weekend, and were able to spend time with the ones you love, doing things that bring you closer together.

Sale time!

I am spending the week catching up on household and business admin – it does pile up when you are in a sewing frenzy!  As a result it is taking me a little longer than planned to re-stock the shop.  My solution?  A sale!   All purchases over $25 made between 13 March and 21 March 2014 will receive 25% off by entering the coupon code MARCH2014 at the checkout.

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Of course there is always method in my madness.  The chicks and I have not been camping for far too long, and they have been so patient with my sewing and market preparation that I decided that we need a weekend at the coast.  House and pet-sitting has been quickly organised, a beachfront site booked, and lists are being made.  This delays all plans for photography and listing for the shop, so I thought that the least I could do was offer a sale while you wait!

I am confident that we will return from our (no-electricity and therefore no digital media) break with many stories to tell, perhaps a few extra freckles, and renewed energy, so will look forward to sharing with you when we return, salty and sandy.  In the meantime – have a great weekend, and think about buying yourself a colourful treat, for a discounted price!

 

Ah the serenity.

The camping (or glamping) trip is over and the chicks have departed for a trip with their father for the remainder of the school holidays. The house is strangely quiet. Miss N is still here with me, but she is off doing something and the only sounds are the keyboard, the hum of the house staying warm, and the gusts of wind outside. It is lovely.

The camping adventure was just what we all needed. The weather was perfect, the sea was cold, the rockpools were teaming with life, the kangaroos weren’t too intrusive, our neighbours were nice, and the chicks met new friends amongst the other campers.

RooThe obligatory kangaroo shot for my overseas readers!

The middle chick had been complaining at home of ‘being too stressed’ which is, while slightly amusing coming from an eight year old, a sad indication of how we were all feeling by the end of school last week. On the camping trip she smiled, laughed, relaxed and agreed with me that she felt much better. She learnt to ride a skateboard and had a great time doing laps of the campground and gaining confidence and speed. The boy found new friends everywhere for the first day or so, then found a lovely boy to play with, whose parents were equally lovely so we shared some time with them. I didn’t give the boy any of his ADHD medication while we were camping and he just ran, talked, scootered, dug, ran, and enjoyed each hour of daylight – then passed out in his stretcher. He didn’t need to be focussed on anything, and there was so much open space for him to burn up energy in, that I decided to just let him go. I think it was good for all of us. It was strange to be away without the eldest chick but she had a wonderful time on her road trip with her father.

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Another sunset shot from Monday night because it was just so lovely I have to share!

Now, while I try to clear my head and get myself mentally stronger so that I can go back to work in a week or two with all the energy I need to do my job properly, I have time at home without the chicks. Time for crafting. Time for planning. Dangerous time really! My ‘to-do’ list is long. Too long. So I am going to dive in and see what I accomplish before something bright and shiny distracts me!

My plan (in no particular order):
Finish the memory quilt.
Take the boy’s quilt-top to the quilter to be quilted.
Renew my driver license (because my birthday is soon and that is when it expires!)
Make a present for the middle chick’s birthday.
Prepare for the middle chick’s birthday party.
Prepare a submission for a grant to support the boy.
Make some bags for the Etsy shop, and for the December stall.
Make some cushion covers for both.
Make some overnight bags for both.
Make some nappy mats for both.
Make some zipped pouches.
Make some ipad covers.
Make, make, make, make.
Finish my shelf stands and paint the shelves.
Make a screen frame for the craft stall.
Work on my business plan.
Oil the front and back deck.
Oil the kitchen bench.
Oil the outdoor furniture.
Mow the lawn.
Clean the carpet.
Tidy up the disaster that the boy created in his room before leaving.
Change over the chicks’ wardrobes for the change of seasons.
Relax and rest and get better.
Join the gym.
Go to the gym.
Walk the dog.
Prepare my papers for the accountant.
Visit the accountant to do my tax return.
Do some bulk cooking so the freezer is re-stocked.
Go on a diet.
Recover the lounge chairs.
Plant a vege garden.

Hmmmmmmm……..I stopped typing, not because I ran out of things to type, but because as I typed I realised that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Again! Might need to work on priorities, or outsourcing, or ignoring some of the list.

Back to enjoying the serenity for a while as I contemplate that!
I will, of course, let you know how I go!