Tag Archives: support

The 2017 Wrap Up

It is only fitting that the last day of the year is the time when I finally sit down to reflect on the year that was.   I decided a few years ago to stop saying that the old year was horrible and the New Year would be awesome because there is no magic in turning the page of the calendar.  Life is what it is, and if I am always looking forward to the day when it gets better, I will miss the good that is happening right now.  With that being said, there is no harm is looking back, reflecting, and planning for different outcomes in the future, so it is with that spirit that I am writing this post.

On the family front 2017 can be summarised as the year of school changes!  My middle chick started high school, but after struggling with anxiety issues that interfered with her attendance, changed schools in the second half of the year.  Her attendance didn’t improve but her anxiety has, so there are plans in place to support her attendance this year.    My boy started the year at one primary school, then shifted to another, across the border, where he was placed in a support class which was much more successful than mainstream classes without the right supports.   His attendance was still limited to two hours a day, and then reduced to one hour a day, so in the last few weeks of the school year we transitioned to a combination of school attendance and Distance Education.  This is the plan for 2018, so I will be his teacher at home to cover the time when he is not at school.   And finally my eldest chick stayed at the same school all year, and made some great progress in her participation in class, and tried out new subjects like Engineering with much joy.   At the end of the year, following some health issues, I decided she should go and live with her father for a while so she bid farewell to her school and friends, only for the decision to be reversed after some professional advice about the wisdom of her move.   At the moment she is in limbo about which school she will attend in 2018, with several options open to her, including a return to her previous school.

We had our final family stay in hospital in Sydney as part of the ongoing support for managing my boy’s behaviour, and I am proud to say that the staff there couldn’t stop praising us for the major changes that we have made and how well we are doing as a family.  The skills that I learned there will stay with me for life and I often find myself thinking ‘What would Tamar (the senior psychologist on our team) say”  when faced with a new behavioural challenge.   How blessed we are that this service is provided under our Public Health system and didn’t cost me a cent but made such a change to our life.

Supporting three kids with mental health issues, one of whom also has disabilities, is tough work.  There are times when, as another one falls apart just when I think everything is going well, I wonder where I went wrong.  Luckily there are lots of great people around me who are good at calmly pointing out that I am not the cause of the various issues, and that sometimes life just sucks.   I have had some moments of falling apart during the year under the weight of trying to keep everyone’s heads above water, but am happy to be ending the year in a good frame of mind, with solid plans for supporting each child, and continuing the endless search for time for myself!

New teapot earrings made to my own design!

On the farm front we grew our flock by adding a new ram, Gordon Ram-say, who ensured his future with the production of 11 lambs in October, from 7 ewes.  Four of our previous lambs went to the butcher at around the same time, and we have since sold two ewes with lambs to our neighbours, so we are currently sitting at 16 head.   We renewed our chicken flock and currently have a standing delivery of 4 dozen eggs a week to friends in town, plus plenty for our own consumption, so it is going well – bar the current mite infestation that has me cleaning and spraying the coops every few days, and constantly feeling that I have tiny bugs crawling on me!   The realities of farm life!


We acquired a new dog, with Shadow the Belgian Shepherd joining us in August, and then sadly lost our beloved Dottie in the week before Christmas.    Our house is a lot quieter without her and we miss her daily.


The biggest change for me was the return to designing and making.   After a long period of stagnating, and being uninspired, the return to making started with a desire for a tea cosy for my glass teapot.   Then it grew!  Between researching and designing reusable teabags, collecting and re-purposing teacups by making candles, and planters, and then making tea themed jewellery, a whole new business has grown up under my existing brand.   With that growth I have found a new burst of energy, inspiration and joy.    I have attended three markets, and have plans for more in 2018.

Mesh tea infusers with removable charms are one of my new products going into 2018

I also have plans for products that are repeatable (instead of requiring a new design for each product as I have so often in the past) with ideas about selling some through shops as well as online.   Whether this all comes to pass or not my brain is happy to be back in use!

Organic cotton resusable tea bags

Heading into 2018 seems a little more full of portent that other years because 2018 is the year I turn 50.    I don’t think that there is a lot of magic in turning 50, or that life will suddenly change, but I have decided that there are various things that I can let go of now that I can no longer deny that I am a grown up.   Many of my habits have changed over the last few years anyway, so I no longer go shopping for new clothes, no longer worry about what is the latest trend/restaurant/bar/cocktail/book, and no longer worry that I am not worried!   Over the last decade I have been practising saying ‘No’, and I plan to continue this for as long as I am around.   I am working on identifying when the issue is mine, and when it truly belongs to someone else and therefore shouldn’t worry me.   And I am not investing time in people who don’t deserve the small amounts of free time that I have.  While my 20’s were about having adventures and learning to fit into my own skin, my 30’s were about building a family and my 40’s were about raising my children as a single parent and restructuring my life to achieve this, my aim for my 50’s is about being kind to myself, my kids and our planet.  Anything extra is a bonus!

Wishing you all a kind and peaceful New Year.

Being human

This week I am able to announce that I am officially human.  Even better, I am a local human.  I am one of 101 local humans selected to be part of a ‘human brochure’ about Canberra.  My chicks think it is hilarious that I am now a local human.  Over the next couple of months I will meet my fellow 100 humans and we will get to visit all sorts of VIP events at local attractions – many of which involve food and/or alcohol, and places I haven’t visited.  The chicks get to attend a few events with me too.  Then we get to spend time sharing our experiences in our local region, using social media, culminating in a weekend in October where we can show our city off to family from out of town.  It is a pretty big deal.

Of course, you know me – part of me is terrified about all the juggling of competing priorities, about letting myself put me first for once, about meeting all these uber-cool fellow humans and remembering that they have all been fooled into thinking that I am uber-cool too.  The other part of me is really excited about getting to go out and have fun with adults doing cool things!  If you follow me on any of the social media I use (instagram, twitter, facebook – oh my I am so cool these days) you will see the hashtag #humanbrochure appearing and you will now know what it is about! (and I promise I will try to reduce my use of the word ‘cool’, given that it isn’t actually that ‘cool’ these days.)

Of course, with the confirmation that I am human, comes the realisation that I am a mere mortal, and therefore fatally flawed.  Which isn’t really a surprise to anyone!  The notification about being human also arrives at the same time as a whole slew of good things, and an avalanche of challenges.  Life.  Gets you every time doesn’t it?

Good things first (then you can choose to skip the challenges if you want!)  I was selected as part of the launch of a new feature on Ebay where you can make your own collections of things that you like.  They selected a pile of bloggers and other people to create the first collections, to set the scene for the launch.  So far I have had two sets of 5 collections approved, and am working on a 3rd.  I tend to use Ebay for very functional things, so taking the time to stop and look around has been interesting.  One thing I have learned, very quickly, is the importance of good product shots.  I have been aware of it for selling on Etsy for a long time, but really hadn’t thought about it in the Ebay context, until I was looking for images that would hang together well.  Oh my there are some shockers out there.  One image of a gorgeous vintage porcelain piece had a background of a piece of uncovered, dirty rubber foam.  Others showed delicate things for babies sitting on the carpet for the shots – which just didn’t work!  The whole image of Ebay as a place for bargains might be the reason, but given the amazing array of good available there, I suspect that the move to collections might start to have an impact on the way people choose to display their wares.

The next good thing was lovely feedback from a customer, lovely feedback from a colleague, and a request to be allowed to quote one of my blog posts in someone’s book (!!!) all within a day or two.  It is a bit like getting a compliment from a random stranger while walking down the street – it makes your day!  I have also managed to have some of my items on Etsy make the front page after renewing my involvement in my teams on the forums – one of those cases where promoting others really does help yourself.


This one made the front page of the US site, so massive exposure for my bag!



The middle chick is currently directing the shooting of a video that will star the boy, as an entry in a competition to represent the local milk company.  Whether they win or not is irrelevant as they are having so much fun making it, negotiating the story line, and adding special effects – it is hilarious to listen to them!

And finally, I was able to sit down and make my first bag using the leather I recently purchased.  It is very different from sewing with fabric – not just because of the bulk of the leather when dealing with seams etc, but because it seems to stretch and move when it is sewn (despite my judicious use of clothes pegs to hold it together) and unpicking (which I did a LOT of) leaves holes in the leather that don’t disappear like holes in fabric do.  Still – the results are so different to fabric that I think I will continue learning and practising.  I am considering investing in an industrial machine – I suspect that would help a lot!  For this one I used some leather from a piece of milled hide, a part of a sleeve from a suede jacket a friend sent me, and lined it with an indigenous print cotton.

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As for the challenges?  My boy.  That beautiful soul who snuggles in and remembers the most awesome details about conversations you have had years before, who loves to be able to help, who fills my heart with joy.  Once again we are back to dealing with challenges.  The respite gained after the trip to the chiropractor was short lived.  I suspect the change in houses over the weekend contributed to it.  For a boy who doesn’t deal well with change, moving between houses each week is challenging.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  Divorce sucks.  It doesn’t just suck because the adults are hurt and grieving. It sucks because the children who have no control over their environment get hurt, over and over, for years after the fact.  I struggle every day to think about how I can reduced the impact of our family circumstances on my boy.  There are no simple answers.   However his school continue to find ways to support him to feel okay about himself.  When a relief teacher did something in reprimanding my boy that still makes me shake with emotion, the boy was able to come home feeling good about himself (and completely unaware of how upset I was) because the executive teachers made sure that he was safe and felt wanted and useful.  God bless them.   We are entering another phase of analysis and diagnosis with yet another specialist.  The next few months will be challenging.  Again.  Thank heavens that when he is good he is awesome!

Heading into the weekend with the rounds of winter weekend sports, children who need to be ferried from friend to friend, and all the other activities that seem to fill our days of ‘rest’ I am hoping to be able to get a little bit of sewing done – and finishing those last few rounds on the rug for the girls’ room!  I’ll check back in and let you know how it went!

Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

February frame of mind

I have kicked off the new month with a big session of de-cluttering, and catching up with people who are important to me.  Those of you who receive my newsletter you will know that I had set myself the task of de-cluttering my wardrobe after reading some very sensible tips on de-cluttering.  I am proud to say that I did it!  I was ruthless.  Amongst the clothes that I have put in the ‘donate’ pile were two dresses I have had for 15 years, a suit about 16 years old and a skirt I have had for 18 years.  Yes – I am a hoarder.  But no more.  In addition to the old bits and pieces (that I haven’t worn for years and really just carry around as a comfortable habit) I also assessed newer pieces in my wardrobe.  I have two beautiful designer label skirts bought at different times about three years ago.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have worn each.  No matter how beautiful they are, they are obviously not right for me, so they have gone too.

01a937b69958473c65079f1b51fd00c3bce96363ec   The “Before” shot

   0118cca41cc3547f26a81692a2dbd7f507fbfc4f48_00002    010e99e5c10f49039a0e22cb1f1fa7e3d45d3a3fdb_00001

And “After”

I even sorted out shoes.  The walking boots that I wore around Europe in 1998?  Gone.  My wedding shoes that I didn’t really like and hurt my feet and have just gathered dust ever since?  Gone.  Those beautiful neutral peep toe wedges that start each day feeling great and end with me thinking that my two little toes have been amputated?  Gone.  And finally, the completely impractical, spur of the moment, never ever worn pink satin and diamante stiletto strappy shoes?  Also on their way out the door.  Because if they haven’t been worn in 3 years, they aren’t likely to ever be worn.



 And you know what?  I feel great!  Isn’t it funny how one little bit of tidying up and sorting out can make your head feel lighter?  My plan is to keep going, one room, or one cupboard at a time, and work my way through the house.  Some things will be donated, others will be freecycled, and others will be repurposed, but I will be looking at everything in my house and assessing whether it has a purpose, a place, a need, or a plan.  Shock, horror, I am even eyeing off my overflowing bookshelves – all five of them ……..

My other part of starting the month off well was to spend time with people who are important to me.  Last night I had dinner with some very dear friends (and ate one of the best home-cooked meals I have ever had – seriously 5 star restaurant quality) and reconnected with them after our holiday break, our busy family lives, our respective personal dramas of 2013.  It was just what I needed.  Then today I rang one of my oldest friends and we talked, as we always do, for well over an hour.  We caught up on each other’s news, family, work issues, relationships, tragedies, and dramas, and offered each other insight, advice and support.  If we can’t be in the same room then just having that connection with her voice was the next best thing.  Another very dear long term friend popped in for a cup of tea this afternoon, just to spend time catching up with each other, while another rang for a quick chat this evening.

I am so incredibly lucky that I have so many amazing women (and a few men) in my life who share their lives with me as I share mine with them.  I look at what some of us have dealt with over the years and am amazed at the fact that there are still smiles, jokes, support, love and optimism.  They are all very good at pointing out to me when I am being ridiculous or overreacting or missing the obvious, but they are all the first to offer up their own human frailty for examination too.

The results of this day?  No sewing, but a wonderful sense of peace and joy (and a tidy house!) – which means that tomorrow should see great things in the sewing department!!  All of this was topped off by a text message from my boy that attached a video that he made for me of his Lego characters having a battle, complete with the best line, delivered in a deep serious voice “Now we need to go and get the Mega Weapon.  And icy poles.  We need a Mega Weapon that makes icy poles.”  He makes me laugh!

I hope that your day has been energising, and full of lovely moments.  If it hasn’t then my suggestion is to ring someone you love who you haven’t spoken to in a while, and let the conversation flow.  It works for me!

Supporting a good cause

As many of you will be aware, there have been severe bushfires in New South Wales over the last week or so, and many people have lost houses, businesses, pets, etc. The charities that work to support these people are doing a wonderful job, as are the firies out there on the front line. A number of Australian artisans have banded together to raise funds to support those charities, and have created treasuries on Etsy to showcase items that, when sold, will contribute to the charities.

The first showcase treasury Helping Hand Wandarrah Style Number 1 is up and running and includes some beautiful items. I have included one of my bags in the collection, and will donate 100% of the proceeds of the sale to the Vinnies appeal (Vinnies NSW Bushfire appeal.)

Bushfire treasury


The second treasury Helping Hand Wandarrah Style Number 2 also contains some gorgeous pieces that would make beautiful gifts, or a treat for yourself.
Bushfire treasury2

Some sellers are donating 50% of all items sold from their shops, or a percentage of an individual item, or the full proceeds of an identified item – click through on their items to find out the details. Get your Christmas shopping started and look at some beautiful handmade items that will also help to support some very worthwhile causes. Or consider making a donation directly!

If you also wanted to share these links with family and friends, that would be wonderful!!

Hope your week is going well!