Tag Archives: spring

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!

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?

Spring!!

The air is lighter, the breeze is warmer and everything seems just that little bit easier with Spring finally kicking into gear.  (Of course the grass is also longer and I need to buy a lawnmower, but let’s not let practical facts get in the way of the enjoyment!)

I have been busy, but not with anything I can show you here.  Filling out paperwork.  Paperwork about my son’s special needs, paperwork about child support and why I think I should receive it on behalf of my children, paperwork about how I would like my children to be supported by both their parents. Numbers, facts, dates, numbers, and histories.  My brain is full of it, and my bench is covered in piles of papers sorted into piles (until I realise that one supporting document from one pile is needed to support the issue another pile is addressing, and then chaos reigns supreme.)

It isn’t getting me down too much, but it does mean that all sewing, creating, etc is on hold while I address it all, and still try to be present with the kids.  That is a bit dangerous because it means that I have time to order……fabric, notions, bits and bobs.  As little packages of zips, of fasteners, of webbing arrive my kids roll their eyes at how boring it all is.  and I get excited at the possibilities that each little package holds.  I have so many things I want to be making!!

Webbing and key fob notions..... so many ideas!

Webbing and key fob notions….. so many ideas!

I am using the time productively though – I have finally started a products and prices page (you can see the link at the top of this page) so that those of you who want to place an order now have some reference points to do so!  I still plan on re-stocking my Etsy shop, but this can help in the interim!

However the two most exciting things to report are that I now have an iPhone 6 which means that my photos are so much clearer, and that it arrived in time for a behind the scenes tour of Floriade, our annual floral celebration.  It was beautiful being there before the crowds arrived, with the morning dew on the flowers and the air so clear.  I may have got a bit carried away with photos…….These flowers were planted after a Floriade spectacular a few seasons ago by apprentices who used a bull dozer to plant them randomly along the shores of the lake.

These flowers were planted after a Floriade spectacular a few seasons ago by apprentices who used a bull dozer to plant them randomly along the shores of the lake.

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!

Tulips, tulips, everywhere!

Tulips, tulips, everywhere!

The theme of Floriade 2014 is Passion.  This is the automotive garden reflecting the passion people have for their cars!

The theme of Floriade 2014 is Passion. This is the automotive garden reflecting the passion people have for their cars!

The view from the Ferris Wheel allows you to see the plantings from a different perspective!

The view from the Ferris Wheel allows you to see the plantings from a different perspective!

Passion for fashion reflected in the argyle and houndstooth patterns, while art is reflected in the garden of coloured pencils!

The family, with all it's wonderful diversity, was represented in this garden, and the plantings are surrounded by figures representing different family groups.

The family, with all it’s wonderful diversity, was represented in this garden, and the plantings are surrounded by figures representing different family groups.

The family garden from a different perspective!

The family garden from a different perspective!

I have also started on a fitness and health campaign, and, although I am still struggling to get out of bed each morning, am starting to enjoy the benefits of eating healthy, tasty and nutritious meals and regular exercise.  (I know!  Who knew that the experts were right?!)

We have a few days left until our two week school holidays, a camping trip, some birthdays, and hopefully some time to get out and about and have fun with my chicks.  I hope that your Spring or Autumn has started some new habits or new joys for you too.

Interrupting the schedule

It has occurred to me tonight that sticking to a blogging schedule takes the fun out of it. I look back at my first posts and I like them! Now, they feel more like a list of what has happened in the last week. Not paint-drying boring, but not great to read either. So I am abandoning my structure in favour of a more free-flowing blog. I choose to view this as an evolutionary step rather than a reversal! (C’mon, work with me here!)

I started the blog to have a place to talk about my crafting, sewing, parenting and the ups and downs of life. Along the way I think I forgot for a bit that sharing tidbits of life as it happens and impacts on us is so much more interesting that watching the evening news….. hence the decision to take the regulated nature away, and go back to writing when I want to, or need to. Chances are that you will get more photos that way too!!

I have been in a great space for the last couple of days. I have been soaking up the sudden onset of Spring weather and am sure that it is all that extra sunlight that is making life seem so achievable again. I have also decided that I need to find an au pair. I looked at this at the beginning of the year when my usual babysitter took up a full time job, but was worried that further instability would disrupt the boy. As it turns out, the introduction of an au pair would probably have made little difference to the boy, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. So now I am focussed on the benefits that would come from us having an au pair, even if it just until Christmas. I could go out at night occasionally – whoa! A radical concept! I could also have time to get my sewing done while the kids were still busy, happy and occupied! I could also have more flexibility about my office hours, and be in a better position to give my team time when they need it. (Don’t worry – I am sure that there are downsides too, but listing them would bring me down!) So the search is on – feelers have been put out on websites, through family, and on facebook. Now to find the magical person to be part of our crazy, colourful, creative family life for a few months! Wish me (and the chicks) luck!

Part of the Spring energy also means that I want to make lists and get organised and clean up the house and garden. I also want to sew, and research, and design and plan. My solution to all of this? I have made a list. Yep – a stroke of genius! I have planned what I want to have made for my market stall and mapped out what I would like to make each week in order to reach that target. I think it is doable. The hope is that with a plan I will have time for a camping weekend or two, to work on the garden, and to keep the decluttering process going. And the list is pretty too. It is on a proper piece of paper, rather than the back of an envelope. That has to make a difference!

Before I go to clean up my sewing area and prepare for making something new (I think I will start with some small zipped purses/pouches) I can share that the creativity suitcase for my special little friend who is turning 6 is finished. Her mother, who commissioned it, collected it today and has promised photos of it being unwrapped on Friday morning. I can’t wait!! I made it using the tutorial prepared by ‘By Night’ on the Whip-Up site for a creativity suitcase

The photos were taken with my phone, at night, but you get the general drift I hope!

I hope that your week is going well and that you are also finding happiness and focus.

Things that make you go Hmmmmmm……

Feeling compelled to report on the weather, I have to report that it has been beautiful over the weekend! Sunny and dry. The perfect hint of spring, which is only days away now. In fact it has been so lovely that I have been dreaming of a camping trip. The children’s various sports commitments, plus a looming federal election mean that it is hard to find a weekend that is free, but I have the calendar out and am poring over it intently! (I may just decide to leave town for the election, but it is unlikely that any of my friends will join me!)

The two girls played hockey yesterday and it was a joy to stand next to the worlds smallest goalie and to be in the sun without a jacket on. They did well, with the middle chick/goalie saving two goals and the team winning 5-0. In a scene that had everyone smiling she ran out to save a goal, gave an almighty kick that did the job, and landed on her backside. She immediately sat up saying “I’m okay” in a very chirpy voice, the coach ran onto the field and picked her up so she was upright again and the game continued. It was verbally replayed several times over the course of the day, with much mirth. Her big sister did a great job in defending and was also full of mirth about the world’s smallest goalie and her ‘I’m okay’. The boy was incredibly focussed on the whole game and provided non-stop cheering and encouragement for the whole game. We had a great morning together!

hockey1 hockey2

Look at that sky!!

The rest of the weekend has been busy with children’s social activities. The middle chick had a party to attend for her best-boy friend on Saturday. That, of course, required a gift. I, of course, had not been shopping. She assured me that he didn’t like drawing enough to warrant a pencil roll. Hmmmmm…… then it hit me – a t-shirt with Star Wars fabric. She approved the concept and was happy with the end result, and a crisis (due to a very tight timeframe) was averted!

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While she was at her party the eldest chick had a friend over to play. The visit had been conditional upon both girls cleaning their bedrooms and completing their homework before the appointed time. I am slightly astounded to report that the eldest chick did an amazing job on her room – including vacuuming the carpet. Unfortunately the homework didn’t fare so well as she had ‘forgotten’ to bring it home. Hmmmmm….. On balance, however, the play seemed justified in both households. The two girls decided that they needed to bake. They are both gluten free so were excited to have a cooking buddy. As they pored over books and questioned me about my available ingredients I finally suggested salted caramel fudge (because I had all the ingredients ready from the aborted attempt the week before and knew it would stop the deliberations!) They did a great job, and with a friend visiting, the clean up actually occurred without prompting. Wonders will never cease!

They then decided that, having made the fudge, they should sell it to raise money for breast cancer, which is a cause very dear to the friend as she watches a much loved aunt undergo treatment. After initially supporting them in their concept, a bit of judicious questioning revealed that the audience for the sales was limited to…..me. I pointed out that as I had provided all the ingredients it was a little cheeky to ask me to buy the fudge back. This left the friend a little deflated. But all is not lost! I have since suggested that she host a Pink Ribbon fundraiser morning tea, and that fudge can be part of the menu, and she is now busy planning a fundraising event that will give her a lovely positive focus and a way to help. Ah the complexities of being young women full of ideas. I admire their spirit and optimism and want to bottle it and preserve it for them before they get worn down by life!  I saw this sign on Pinterest today and it made me think that I need this reminder so that I can have that same daily optimism again!

Love it!  I need this as a reminder.

Today was another day of socialising. The boy had a visit to the little sister of the eldest chick’s friend and the two of them had a ball playing with puppies, with lego and in a big cardboard box. Then he came home to have another friend waiting for him and the two of them played a bit of Wii, a lot of imaginary games involving spies and sorcerers in the back garden, and then (unbeknownst to me) a bit of re-decorating the eldest chick’s bedroom with marker pen. Another hmmmmmmm……. Luckily it was waterbased!

The middle chick had her best-weekend-friend (they play together a bit at school but on weekends are usually each other’s first choice of friend to play with) over for the day and they explored the mountain reserve across the road, coming home with animal bones, stones, dirt and a beer bottle. They said that they are examining the environment to see if it is being damaged. They seemed to be drawing a link between the beer bottle and the animal bones. Hmmmmmm….. not a lot of logic but a good conversation to be starting!

The eldest chick had the afternoon at another friend’s house and was apparently soundly beaten playing Yahtzee her friend’s father. There was a bit of fake fist-waving at him in the retelling of the story so I think a good time was had by all.

I am sure you are thinking, well, that is all quite lovely, but where is the crafting bit of the story? Apart from the shirt being whipped up for the gift, not a lot of crafting occurred. I have started working on a commission that is a gift for a very special little person for her birthday, so I have all the fabric cut out and the interfacing prepared. Just working out which pieces I was going to use took quite a while. I don’t want to rush it though, so decided that instead of pushing myself I would give the chicks the time that they needed to see their friends, enjoy the outdoors, and catch up on socialising a bit. I am still not back into a good rhythm to dance through life, but I am slowly picking up the beat again (to overuse the analogy!)

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The week ahead does not hold much prospect of sewing. The eldest chick has the finals of Wakakirri tomorrow night, and then I am away for a work trip overnight in the middle of the week for two full days. Which, with other sporting commitments, takes me through to Friday before I am likely to be free to do anything…. Hmmmmm…..Rather than being upset about it I am thinking that this will be time to think and plan and dream. Then I can return and ‘do’. Hopefully!

I hope that this week sees a hint of spring (or a touch of fall if you are on the other side of the world) and time to do the things that are important to you.

A taste of Spring

I realise that writing about the weather can be the equivalent of watching paint dry but I really do have to celebrate the delightful weather we have had for the last two days! After a winter that has been long, gloomy and icy, the last two days have felt like a harbinger of Spring. The sun has been out, the sky has been blue, and we have all been able to be outside with less layers of clothing on! I am considering getting the hammock out, thinking about finally planting my front garden, and imagining a camping trip to the coast. Of course, this is just a teaser – the real spring is still weeks away, but just a taste of it is so delightful it has to be celebrated!

The nest has been a busy place for the last few days. Last night I attended a Gala Ball connected to celebrations with the children’s school. This of course necessitated a trip to the hairdresser, during which the artist in residence (who has the straightest glossy hair) convinced the hairdresser to give her curls…. what a sight! Because I try to protect the chicks from full face photos on the web I won’t put up a shot tonight – but she loved it so much she has convinced me to buy a curling wand so that she can have curls again – so we will try for a shot of just the hair very soon!  (Nothing quite like an 8 year old who knows her own mind when it comes to fashion!)

The hairdresser did a great job with my hair – and even added a subtle touch of glitter as a giggle! I had my new dress, the obligatory high strappy shoes, and an extremely debonair partner in his bow tie and black suit. But do you think I managed to remember to get even one photo? Nope. So you will have to take my word for it that I looked glamorous! It was a lovely night with great friends, good music etc. My date coped very well with meeting a table full of strangers, and I had a number of compliments from friends about how handsome he is!!  Luckily several of them also noted that he seems to be a lovely person!

Before starting on the path to being glamorous, we had the children’s sport yesterday. All three chicks played really well in their games of rugby and hockey respectively, but I do need to share a photo of the middle chick being goalie in the hockey game. She is quite petite, so the shin pads covered her thighs! She managed to stop quite a few balls going into the goal, and enjoyed playing the position, so may do it again next week. If it keeps going I might need to look for a better fitting kit!

Goalie

I have also had a lovely weekend with a couple of my items making the front page of the Etsy website.  I missed seeing the first one, which appeared in this treasury

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Then the same pillowcase was on the front page again today

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And then tonight one of my bags was on!

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Then, while I was writing this post, that pillowcase popped up again on the front page!!

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How have I managed to get such great coverage?  I am part of the Australian Wandarrah Team, a team on Etsy representing Australian sellers. One of the things that the team does is to take turns at promoting each other’s items.  We put together treasuries, featuring items from fellow team members’ shops, and comment and ‘favourite’ each others treasuries.  These treasuries are then available for selection for the front page.  It is a great way to get to see the talents of other artists, to support each other, and to have some fun.  So if you are an Etsy seller I encourage you to join an active team and form a network!  If you are not, I encourage you to look for items tagged as being from the Wandarrah Team when you are browsing Etsy, as there are a huge number of very talented Australian artists who belong to the team.

As for sewing?  Not a lot in the last few days.  I have spent most of today tackling some of the long term household tasks – sorting piles of paper into new piles, sorting toys into keeping and non-keeping piles, and doing the same with some bookshelves to make way for new books.  Not very exciting, but quite satisfying in it’s own way!  Once the house is a bit more tidy and organised I can return to sewing with gusto, knowing that I am sort of on top of things in the house!  And I do need to sew – I have a number of orders for superhero capes coming in – and so far the majority of them are for girls.  I am enjoying the continuation of that trend.

As for geocaching?  Not so good!  We picked one up on Wednesday night on the way home from school, then on Thursday and Friday completely forgot to do it!!  Although we discussed picking up some caches this weekend, we didn’t actually get to it…… so the drive of last weekend was a bit short-lived!  However, all is not lost.  The children have found a place that they think is appropriate to release a cache and are busy planning how we will do it.  They took the dog for a walk this afternoon and spent quite a bit of time scoping out their chosen site.  I am very impressed with their ideas!

The week ahead ‘should’ provide time for a bit of sewing.  I haven’t quite finished the quilt top, so want to get to that.  I also want to make a bag to donate to an annual function at my work where we raise money for Medecins san Frontieres.  And of course it is time to  look at costume repairs, one new costume, and any last minute changes before the big performance in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime I am off to continue tidying up this house while I am on a roll!

Wishing you a week of Spring weather and time to do things that are important to you!

!