Tag Archives: beach

A break, a tropical adventure and a catch up

I think that this has been my longest time between posts.  Ironic really that it happened at a time when I was busy due in large part to the very fact that I am a blogger.  But in fact all the social media, events, and trying to move into self-employed mode meant that I was overwhelmed with obligations, short on time, and juggling furiously.  And the blog got dropped (along with folding and sorting clean laundry, baking, grocery shopping and leg shaving).

And while I was off running around like a mad woman with hairy legs and rumpled clothes I realised that the chicks and I all needed a break, not from blogging, but from the busy times, from the cold, from the stress of school, doctor’s appointments, moving between houses, and adjusting to new parameters in life.  So I did something quite spontaneous, a little bit radical, and slightly financially reckless, and booked a trip to Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach!

Waikiki Beach!


The view from our balcony each day!

The view from our balcony each day!

One week later the chicks and I were in the sun, with sand between our toes, and with crystal clear waters to swim in on Waikiki beach.  We had a week there and have returned feeling refreshed, recharged and all those other ‘re-‘ words.

Swimming at the Kuhio Park end of Waikiki Beach in the clear water.

Swimming at the Kuhio Park end of Waikiki Beach in the clear water.

It was wonderful!  We swam at the beach and in the pool most days, went snorkelling together at Hanauma Bay (where I was able to surprise my children with the fact that I have a lot of experience snorkelling thanks to growing up in PNG), explored fabric shops and did a bit of clothes shopping.  We had no plan and just went with what we felt like each day.  It was just what we needed.  The TV did not get turned on, we ate fairly simply during the day and found mainly suitable restaurants that served gluten free food for the girls at night, and all unwound.  We returned home with an extra suitcase to accommodate all the fabric, freezer paper and Lego that was bought.  (Yep, we have our crafty and nerdy priorities right!)

Freezer paper supplies purchased!

Freezer paper supplies purchased!

It was hard to have to sit by the pool, sipping a cocktail and watching the children swim.  (do you believe me?)

It was hard to have to sit by the pool, sipping a cocktail and watching the children swim. (do you believe me?)

A poolside cocktail?  Yes thank you!

A poolside cocktail? Yes thank you!

Hanauma Bay, Oahu.  It is a bay formed from an ancient volcano crater with a beautiful reef teaming with tropical fish.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu. It is a bay formed from an ancient volcano crater with a beautiful reef teaming with tropical fish.

The beach at Hanauma Bay, Oahu

The beach at Hanauma Bay, Oahu

So many things happened that made me stop and reflect, and tickled that part of me that is used to writing things down, and I realised that it was time to pick up the blog again.  And to take it back to the things that are important to me – sewing, family, and growing a business to sustain both of those passions!

Playing in the sand on Waikiki beach.

Playing in the sand on Waikiki beach.

Snorkelling fun at Waikiki.

Snorkelling fun at Waikiki.

I have really enjoyed the scheduled events of the Human Brochure experience, but now that the official discovery events are over I am looking forward to continuing my role in the process at my own pace and in my own way.  One of the lovely benefits that has come from the experience is that I am far more aware of what is available to enjoy in my own town, and have a lovely network of new friends to enjoy it with.  I am going to keep my detailed recording of it for the official blog though and keep this blog for me!

If you are a regular reader you will know that I love to write, and write and write.  So you might be worried that I am going to give you a blow by blow of the last three weeks…..but you don’t need to worry.  Highlights of the trip are about as detailed as it will get!

Things that fascinated me in Hawaii:

– the fact that so many shop keepers wanted to know where my husband was.  One lady said ‘oh is he at home working to pay for the trip?’.  I just smiled and said, he is at home working, and left it at that, because the children were there and I didn’t want to start the whole ‘I’m a single mother’ thing.  But I haven’t been asked that in Australia more than twice that I can remember.

– my lack of TV watching worked against me when the TV show Hawaii 5-0 was being filmed in and around our hotel and I had no idea who the famous actors were and who were the staff!

– my kids weren’t interested in watching ‘American TV’ or wanting to try out ‘American candy’ like my siblings and I were when we had our first trip to America 30 years ago.  Then I realised that they already see the shows that interest them, and can buy all the ‘American candy’ in our local store at home.  The glamorous foreignness of the USA has diminished dramatically over the last 30 years with globalisation making such things commonplace.

– reading on-line reviews is just as misleading there as it can be here!  I was trying to work out which were the best fabric stores for me to visit on our trip, as I knew that the kids were not going to be able to cope with more than one or two, so I turned to the internet and found all sorts of reviews on various sites.

Fabric Mart

Fabric Mart

One of the shops, Fabric Mart, had a long series of reviews talking about how rude the staff were, and how bad the shop was, etc, but it still seemed to be one worth visiting.  Another was said to have good staff but too expensive stock.  I discussed this with the chicks in deciding which one to go to, catching a taxi, and decided to try Fabric Mart, and just deal with any rudeness of the staff.

More tropical prints at Fabric Mart

More tropical prints at Fabric Mart

Of course the staff were not at all rude, and were in fact very helpful on many levels.  Which was lovely until my boy said, just as I was finishing my transactions “There is very good service here.  I don’t know why people said that there was bad service here.  These people are very nice and are going a really good job” and a bit more to the effect that the bad reviews were unjustified.  As I tried to shush him the ladies behind the counter laughed and chuckled and I realised that they had the right attitude.  They knew that their store was there to serve a particular part of the market (seriously – if you need any tropical print fabric they are the people to see) and weren’t bothered by the small mindedness of the reviewers.  And I learnt a lesson about sharing such comments with my children!

Tropical prints at Fabric Mart

Tropical prints at Fabric Mart

What now?  I have returned with arm-loads of fabric, lots of ideas, and some vague, half thought out designs for new bags.  I am trying to balance working on my contract work of admin and advertising, being available for the family, and leaving myself time to create.  I have some ideas about how I am going to manage it all, so will share the progress as I go!

My fabric shopping!

My fabric shopping!

In the meantime, it is nice to be back – both at home, and here on the blog. I hope that you have been well!

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.


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!


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


The clear waters of a rock-pool full of seaweed


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


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.



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.


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.

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.


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!

Friday Finds – 20 beach or weekend bag free tutorials

As we settle into winter here in Canberra I thought that a reminder of the warmth and colour of summer was timely.

I love beach bags.  The ability to carry towels, hats, sunscreen, dry clothes, books, water bottles, snacks and all the others things that we need at the beach is essential.  They also need to look great.  Some of these patterns will make a giant bag to carry everything in, while others can be adapted to be a personal beach bag for the discerning and stylish beach goer (who isn’t carrying beach gear for a family of 15!)

I also love a good overnight bag – or weekender bag.  Packing up a change of clothes, a good book, and a sense of adventure and heading off for a day and night away is always special.  Some of these bags will suit both purposes.  Either way they will see you through many expeditions.  The best thing about them?  They are all free, supplied through the generosity of bloggers (and on a couple of occasions, commercial websites.)

IMG_3131             Pleated beach bag – Thimble

   Mesh bag – Martha Stewart

    Beach bag duffle – Reanna Lily Designs

  Big Weekend Bag – Guthri and Ghani

  Insulated, Laminated Summer Tote – Sewplicity

  Big Mommy Beach Bag – Put Up Your Dukes

Summertime Beach Bag Tutorial by CrazyLittleProjects.com  Summertime Beach Bag – Crazy Little Projects

  Oversize Beach Bag – Favecrafts

  Large patchwork bag – All People Quilt

Big Bucket Tote – Pellon Projects

  Carpetbagger – Weekend Designer

Charm pack tote bag – Teresa Downunder

  Large cinched tote – This Big Oak Tree

  Large Tote with Rounded Opening – Make it and Love it

  I am not your typical Jane Bag – Riley Blake Designs

Duffle bagDuffle bag – Westminster fibres

Patchy Boho Sling Bag  Boho Sling Bag – The destashification project

  Vintage Market Bag  – Sew Homegrown
Life's a Beach Tote Life’s a Beach Tote Bag – Fabric.com
And for while you are on your camping holiday
  Camping Shower Bag – Our Busy Little Bunch
I hope you find something you love in this collection!