Caroline, Bill, Lizzy and Martin are away on an exciting holiday. As she was about to leave the country Caroline rang me to say she had run out of time and couldn't do her blog posts. I offered to do them for her. When she thanked me profusely, I don't think she was expecting me to do this:10 little secrets about Caroline:
- Caroline doesn't have a middle name but when she was little she used to pretend it was Elizabeth.
- When Caroline was young, she used to sleep walk - a lot.
- She eats a lot of chocolate - about as much as I do.
- She is the proud owner of three chickens - Mrs Bennett, Kitty and Lydia.
- She recently ran a 10km race that finished in the Olympic stadium at Bicentennial Park. Lizzy proudly told her Grandmother that her Mummy won the race. She didn't, but she still did really well.
- She has developed an addiction to sewing bags - snack bags, shopping bags, zippered bags, beach bags, drawstring bags, hand bags, any bags. I blame the Sew Mama Sew's Green Grocery Bag Challenge. I think she needs an intervention.
- Her favourite breakfast as a child was "a bowl of delicious cut up things" - olives, gherkins, tomato, cheese and pickled onions.
- When I was pregnant with Will and didn't know if he was going to be a boy or girl, Caroline said "I hope you have a boy, it would be lovely for Martin to have a boy cousin his age to play with. On second thoughts, I found this great pattern for fabric Mary Janes I want to make so maybe a girl would be good."
- The first word she ever spoke was "Mine" - not surprising when you are a third child!
- She's my little sister, my best friend and I love her heaps - but that's not really a secret!!!
Sloane Tanen's sister chicks via The Sister Project
Caroline and I took Will, Pippa and Martin to the zoo on Monday. It was a lovely morning - a new baby elephant to see, Pippa taking on the role of the oldest child in the group with such confidence and a chance for Caroline and I to catch up and have a completely essential coffee.
For Caroline and I, our conversations are usually about one of two things - sewing or children. On Monday, it was children. (Oh, OK - there was a little bit of talk about sewing!)
Our chatter was:
"Oh you should have heard Lizzy, she was so sweet when......."
"Pippa was so delightful when she......"
"Martin always makes me laugh. Yesterday he....."
"Madeleine is growing up so fast. The other day she...."
"Even in the middle of the night Will can make me smile....."
It made me realise, that right now, all our children, ranging from 7 months to 5 and a half years, are at a perfect age. They are happy within themselves and happy within their family. But this was not the first time we had chatted like this. It doesn't seem to matter what our children's ages there is always something to delight and amaze us.
There is no doubt that all our children can push our buttons, have regular melt downs and at times drive us crazy. They make us angry. They make us worry. But much more importantly they are living life to the fullest, growing a little more independent each day. They are laughing and making us laugh. They are crying and making us cry. They are striving and making us strive.
It seems to me that every age is a perfect one.
Will, a perfect age at 7 months.
Martin, a perfect age at one.
Pippa, a perfect age at 2 1/2.
Lizzy, a perfect age at 3.
Madeleine, a perfect age at 5 1/2
Where do you sew? Do you have a lovely, warm, light filled room that is organised and inspiring or are you like me, sewing on the end of the kitchen table in the play room?
My husband has just offered me my own space (I'm fairly sure that he's just trying to contain the sewing mess that is slowly spreading from one end of our house to the other...) and I'm just so excited at the prospect. I'm fantasizing about built-in cupboards and a giant inspiration board in a room just slightly away from the general hubbub of everyday life, but close enough to the heart of the house that I know what's going on.
The thought of a permanent location for my overlocker and sewing machine fills me with joy and only a crafter could share my thrill at being able to leave up the ironing board all the time.
While I know that Virginia Woolf didn't have sewing in mind when she wrote A Room of One's Own I really don't think that you can underestimate the importance of beautiful spaces (and corners!) to inspire us to create lovely things.
If I had a big comfy chair like this...
A cupboard like this...
and an inspiration board like this...
in my sewing room, I may never want to leave it!
Summer doesn't feel like it has quite arrived yet. Occasionally we get a glimpse. For a few days we feel the temperature rising, the humidity in the air and the extra warmth in the sun and then it is gone. But I know it's on its way and when it arrives, these are a few of our plans:
- Hang out at beautiful Mackerel Beach. A perfect place for the kids - a ferry boat adventure to get there, no cars, no waves, a beautiful stream emptying into its crystal clear waters and Granny and Pappa's little holiday cottage a two minute walk away in the valley.
- Inspired by maya*made, make lots and lots of ice cube necklaces. Our first attempts last weekend were highly successful. Madeleine constantly asked "Can we check if they are ready yet? Can we check if they are ready yet?" The first time was only 10 minutes after they went in the freezer!
- Staying on an icey theme, make lots of lemon granita. I don't really have a recipe but basically: 3 lemons (zest and juice), sugar to taste (about half a cup), water to taste (about 2 cups) Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Cool and then pour into a metal container - a cake tin is perfect. Place in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, scrape the forming ice off the sides and base of the tin. Continue doing this until you reach that perfect moment when there is the right combination of ice and liquid then consume rapidly!
- Make these hooded beach towel backpacks from The Train to Crazy. So cute and so practical - the perfect accessory for the Mackerel Beach Ferry! Check out the website for a great tutorial and some more photos.
- Make Will one of these beautiful kimono sleeping bags. I can't think of a cooler, more stylish way for him to spend February's hot summer nights. The pattern is by Bettsy Kingston via Sew Mama Sew.
We are hoping for warm, sunny weather this weekend. We are off to the Lane Cove ALIVE Art and Design Market
. If you happen to be in the area come and say hi! Listen for the hum of the sewing machine - that will be us. We'll be showing people the wonderful things anyone can create with a few basic sewing skills.
Some Christmas Felty Inspiration
Grab yourself some felt and your box of embroidery thread and revisit all those stitches you used to do in high school craft classes - running stitch, chain stitch, blanket stitch, french knots and lazy daisy!
The whole family can join in. Pippa (age 2) made the star on the right with just a little help from her mum!
If you've still got some time, make some decorative garlands. The lucky recipient of your beautifully wrapped gift can use the garland to decorate their tree next year! Cut yourself a stack of felt stars. Pick your favorite decorative stitch on your sewing machine and whiz them though fast leaving the sewing machine running to create lengths of thread between each star.
PS If you live in Sydney and can't remember all those stitches or haven't conquered your fear of using a sewing machine, come and do our Christmas workshop. We will show you how to make all these projects. Details can be found on our Timetable of Classes
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here. Lizzy is learning new Christmas songs at school, the weather is warm and the scent of gardenias is in the air. This year we're trying to make our family festive season just a little tiny bit green.As much as I am embarrassed to admit it , for a long time environmental concerns haven't really been on my radar. While I've talked the talk, I haven't really walked the walk. I've left lights on, driven when I should have walked and although I've always recycled, my approach has been somewhat haphazard.Recently though I've been confronted by the amount of stuff my family of four consume and am trying to make a tiny difference to my corner of the globe
. Our three chickens - Mrs Bennett, Kitty and Lydia eat an enormous amount of scraps and provide us with three delicious eggs everyday (as well as hours of entertainment for Martin and Lizzy. ) We don't use sandwich bags and throw-out packaging but reusable fabric snack-bags and containers. I am trying to remember to turn out the lights (truly, I am). We walk whenever we can and are generally a bit more conscious about the choices we make every day.As part of this new commitment, I'm excited to participate in the Green Grocery Bag challenge this Christmas.
You can read about it here
, but in a nutshell it's all about having a paper gift wrap free festive season. Instead of using metres of single use wrapping paper, you wrap your gifts in reusable fabric shopping bags instead. How's that for a great ideas? I'm really enjoying making a variety of types of bags at the moment , so I thought I might broaden the brief and wrap gifts in handmade zipper purses, handbags, snack-bags, pencil cases, wash-bags, drawstring bags and trinket bags as well as grocery bags in order to make the wrapping suit the recipient. I'm also trying to make everything out of my stash.There are some great bag making tutorials out there - Noodlehead's Scrappy Bag Make-Up Pouch is fantastic
and I think my two youngest nieces will find their gifts in Lemon Squeezy's Mushroom and Owl Lunch bags
. (If you know them - shhhhhhhh - it's a secret!). You can find a pattern for a fabric green bag here
. I know it isn't going to change the world, but you know what? You have to start somewhere. And if I can sew AND tread a little more lightly on the planet at the same time then in my books that truly is a win-win situation.
Last weekend Rob and I did a clean up, a huge clean up. In itself it wasn't a lot of fun but I did find some things that have brought back some wonderful memories. So over the next few months, I thought I might occasionally write about some of the crafts I have tried. I've tried quite a few.... I found a lot of stuff....
The year was 1988, I was 17 and I decided that I wanted to learn how to make bobbin lace. A slightly unusual choice for a 17 year old I know, but I don't think it is healthy to leave the inner geek unfulfilled!
It all started with the local Steiner School fair, where a group of women from the Manly Warringah Lacemakers were demonstrating their skills. There was a real beauty in their equipment, a wonderful symmetry in the lace they were making, (I am a sucker for symmetry in design) and a soothing quietness to the gentle clicking of the bobbins as they moved them over and over each other to create such intricate and beautiful patterns.
So I spent my hard earned babysitting money on a block pillow and some bobbins. Unfortunately I couldn't afford the flash wooden bobbins. Plastic had to suffice. But I prettied them up with spangles I made from Mum's jar of old beads. You've got to love a craft with equipment called spangles! With time, a few lovely bobbins crept into my collection - mainly as gifts from my Mum and Dad (always supportive of my new crafting endeavours) but also one that was a gift from the Manly Warringah Lacemakers. They welcomed me into their group and their lounge rooms. For the short time I spent with them, they were so friendly and so eager to share their knowledge with me.
So, am I a flash lacemaker now?
No, I didn't get beyond the very basic bookmarks of an absolute beginner.
Am I an active member of Manly Warringah Lacemakers? No, but I remember them as such warm, welcoming, helpful ladies.
Do I remember any of the techniques I learnt?
No, not a one.
Do I think I will ever make lace again?
I hope so. When I dug that block pillow and bobbins out from the back of a cupboard on the weekend, I have to say I looked at it quite wistfully. It was from a time when it seemed reasonable to spend hours creating one or two centimetres of beautiful work. Now my craft gets squashed between work, family and sleep. I hope the time for lace making will come again. And when it does, I'll be off to join the Manly Warringah Lacemakers!
The animals came in two by two, hurrah, hurrah......
These softies are destined for two homes. The first set will be sent to Pip from Meet Me at Mikes for her annual Softies for Mirabel Project
. The second will be a Christmas gift for my nephew. Each set has a little drawstring bag home.These sweet little patterns are from maggierama
If you have the urge to make a softie, send it off to Mirabel. I am sure they know of someone who will give it a lovely home.
This week, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things with you...
- Cal Patch’s new book Design- It -Yourself Clothes. It’s been a while since I’ve sewn for myself and I’ve never drafted anything, but this book looks stylish and the instructions seem really clear. I’m inspired! Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how I go!
- Sew Mamma Sew’s Handmade Holidays blog feature. There are so many things I want to make and own and it’s only November 10th! (Oh…and if anyone wants to make me a Christmas present, I’d love the gathered clutch!)
- Echino Fabrics. I struggle to find fabric for boys that I really like – but these are amazing. Expect to see Martin sporting a pair of bus print shorts as he struts his stuff this summer!
- The Sisters’ Cafe Oatmeal Pancake Mix recipe. OK, so this is something that Lizzy and Martin love. Pancakes are a staple breakfast around here. These ones are so easy and so good. We love them with maple syrup and berries...
- Marta Writes ‘How to Series’. While craft blogs are my original love, this blog looks great, is beautifully written, thought provoking and inspirational. After all, who doesn’t want to learn how to get out of a rut, carry a genuine smile and make your day instantly better?
What are some of your favourite things right now? Share the joy and let us know.