Monday, 30 April 2012

Chooks that don't lay or - what I did last weekend...

Last Saturday was another superb autumn day in Canberra. The light in our little piece of the city looked like this.

So, even though it was a bit tempting to sit inside and work our way through this,

We love our weekend papers!
we actually tackled some dilemmas in the garden.
Namely this gorgeous girl and her two buddies.

They are not laying any eggs!!!
We've spoken sternly to them, waved axes in front of their beaks, asked them nicely, given them extra straw, given them extra food.... but still they have not produced the goods.
I know what we should do...but of course, we can't! They are our pets. the girl pictured above has been part of our family for more than a few years so she is off the hook. Her two friends, however, are younger, more fertile, or so you would think.

So we talked about this as a family as we pruned,

rather dramatically.
And made mud pies.

And then I realised that the chooks produce a very vital ingredient for my sad looking vegie patch

Poo - and lots of it!
So now the above vegie patch looks like this.

Weeds all gone and the soil turned over with beautiful fresh chook poo.
All ready for some serious planting to be done in the not so distant future.
So there you go, a long story but one with a happy ending.  For the chooks anyway!

Megan xx

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Doors and details

I've mentioned before that I notice details on holidays. I guess it's going slow that allows me to find some head space to stop and pay attention. Perhaps it's the colours, perhaps the lines or patterns, there are many reasons why I see something and want to take it with me. These are some of the images for the inspiration board:

What's on your inspiration board right now?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Recusing the rainy day blues

This is what our place looked like the other day. Very wet and soggy.

My 12 year old couldn't play soccer with his buddies and my 5 year old couldn't swing on her swing. Grumpiness was the order of the day! There was a bit of fighting, a bit of sulking. A bit of ...unhappiness.
So... I lit a couple of candles, put on some music from these wonderful performers and got out the craft box.

The 5 year old was instantly engrossed, anything with glitter is always appreciated. But my 12 year old son was a latecomer to the party.

But then... after some long sighs and comments like, "This is a bit lame..." he started doing this,

and he ended up making quite a fleet of little airplanes,

including rather soggy airplanes.

It was fun.
It didn't last all afternoon but it lasted for a while and for a while peace was in our home.
The recusing powers of calming music, fragrant candles, glitter and paper cannot be unestimated.

Then the sun came out and made the glitter look even better.

Megan xx

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Home and dinner time

While it has been wonderful to see, smell, taste and touch in Tasmania, we are all ready to be home. I'm ready to sleep in my own bed, cook in my own kitchen and pick up some stitching. As relaxing and enjoyable as the knitting has been, my hands (and my mind) are aching for fabric, needle and thread.

I'm not too keen to end the holiday dinner rules though! Back to the grind of producing "proper" meals every. night. of. the. week. Oh, the drudgery of the daily dinner! We've not been eating apple pie for dinner every night here mind. We've had roast Berkshire pig with baked apple and just picked veg as well as ocean trout and a range of other amazing Tassie produce however, the dinners I'm going to take home from holidays are what a friend of mine calls snack dinner. A big plate with a range of cheese, fruit, veggies, cold cuts and some bread or crackers on the side. All pretty good stuff really. Easy to prepare, easy to eat. No complaining about what's been served as everybody just helps themselves to the bits they like.

With hungry mouths to feed, I always forget to photograph the final product.
This turned into an amazing dinner with the best pork crackle I've ever made! 
Do you have any easy dinner ideas for me? I need some inspiration to avoid falling back into a rut. What do you do for daily meals? 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

More holiday happy snaps

We have spent the past few days resting and recuperating in a tranquil setting in the south of Tasmania. We stayed in a little cottage on 8 acres of bushland right on the waterfront. I have no words to describe how stunning this place was. It was so very beautiful. While playing on the beach here we had a fossick and came across fossil rocks. The children were captivated by these and they provided plenty of fodder for make believe story telling and imaginings.

Tassie and its weather has been kind to us so in addition to exploring the beach, we did a little exploration further afield and visited orchards, caves and thermal springs. I am captivated by a place where farmers can still sell produce at roadside stalls with honesty tins. You just pull up, serve yourself and leave your cash behind. In an unlocked tin. Unlocked. Not since I was a small child have I seen this. It feels good to know that honesty tins still exist.

And because we've been buying local produce from local farmers, we ate apple pie for dinner! No, not dessert, actual dinner. I made it all from scratch, including the pastry(!!) but we devoured it so quickly, there are no photos. It was good. I fed my family apple pie for dinner - oh how I love holiday food rules!!

What about you, what are your holiday dinner rules? Do you feed your family apple pie for dinner - or am I being neglectful feeding my children dessert at dinner time? It was wholesome (and all Tasmanian flour, butter, milk, apples, strawberries, cream), no sugar, made from scratch pie. But still, pie nonetheless.

And Megan, this (really bad) photo is for you. I forgot my stitching. Not good to have these hands idle. I know you get that. So, I walked into a gift shop and saw needles. Not quilting, embroidery or sewing needles. Bamboo knitting needles. I bought them. And a pretty wool/silk blend yarn. So, I've been knitting - real and proper knitting. With needles and wool and it's good. And not tight, but relaxed and relaxing. Now for the bomb: I'm liking it. Really, really liking it. It's not perfect but I'm finding it therapeutic. Me. Knitting. Enjoyable. Bet you never thought you'd hear those three words together ;)

Before I even began, I got myself in a real mess with the yarn, it took about two hours to unwind all the knots I put in it but after untangling it and winding it into a ball the needles started to click away. There's no stopping me now. I even managed to cast on all on my own!!! You'll have to show me how to read a pattern and do some interesting stitches when I'm home so I can do something other than a scarf! I like yarn. And because I've discovered that I like it so much, I'm going to visit the Waverly Woollen Mills while I'm in Hobart - any requests??

{Thanks to a special friend for showing me how to knit a little while back - I may have got no further on that project we started, but I am grateful for the skill and your teaching patience}

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Polly pocket and Alicia

Last week, my 5 year old and I went on a road trip, of sorts. Well, we caught the bus to Sydney. For those non Canberrans out there, the trip takes about 31/2 hours. I've done this trip a lot since we moved to Canberra almost 12 years ago and I've done this bus trip  a whole lot over the last 3-4 months so I'm not so interested in the scenery any more.
This time, however, I had a companion, which was rather lovely.
My girl has a passion for little dollies so Polly Pocket dolls were made for her. She can rearrange them into different scenarios for an amazingly long period of time. This is a useful skill when you are on a long bus trip.
Somthing that keeps me well occupied is embroidery samplers from this very talented girl. I love Alicia's designs and especially from her book. However, you need to have commitment to complete some of her projects, especially her samplers.They are quite big and involved. I am currently working on this one,

which is great for long boring trips because there is a lot of border flowers on which you don't have to concentrate too much. Counting Aida squares can get a bit tricky when there are bumps in the road but on the whole I can get a fair bit done
So there we were, happily chatting and doing our thing on the bus and time went very quickly.

Thank you Alicia Paulson and thank you Polly Pocket.

Friday, 20 April 2012


Whilst Jules has been driving around gorgeous countryside and taking photos that make me want to be where she is, we've been having a bit of a staycation.
 It's school holidays in our part of the world and this particular holiday means spending a bit of time with the cousins.What is it about being with your cousins? You don't see them for quite some time then when you do get together it all seems to fall into place as though you were never apart. I am particularly noticing this with my big boys. My 15 year old nephew is visiting this week and he has slipped right into our routine - no troubles at all. As a mother and an aunt - it is a sight for sore eyes.

Gotta love black socks and sandshoes!

 My nephew is in training for a cross country race so my three boys join him for a jog! They never jog without their cousin!
Fighting over what movie to watch in the evening? Doesn't happen when their cousin is here to help decide.
A 5 year old girl getting dressed quickly in the morning? Only happens when she wants to "look nice" for her "big cousin"
 New taste sensations when the cousin makes his killer guacamole dip for us to devour!
Large amounts of mess created by overflowing suitcase and makeshift bed on floor - but do I care? No way!

I might just have to keep him here forever.

Hunched over exciting new app on the oldest cousin's phone!

 Cousins - so cool!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The past few days...

...have been spent:

**  discovering historic towns and buildings

**  seeing possums, pademelons and a wombat

**  digging in the beach sand

**  listening to the silence at night. No street lights, no car sounds, just quiet

**  singing Beatles songs - our five year old knows more Beatles lyrics than anyone I know, weird huh?

**  playing famous people - a great guessing game to pass time in the car

**  staying on a farm with a fire lit for us each afternoon

**  eating bread from made from stoneground flour (from the mill above)

**  browsing antique stores

**  walking around, soaking up the sunshine and sitting on green grass

**  and boring my children by stating useless (but very interesting) facts about each town we pass through. Did you know that the first telephone call made in the southern hemisphere was made from Campbell Town to Launceston. See, useless but interesting!

How have you been spending your days? What useless but interesting facts have you got for me?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Holidays with small people…

…are fun. LOTS of fun! Children have changed the way we holiday (obviously). We no longer run from place to place, packing in as much as we possibly can. Instead we go slow. And we notice detail. 

I notice doors. And fences. And gates. And I put them away for later - perhaps a quilt, perhaps some stitching, perhaps a sketch.

They notice shells and grass and flowers. And they find the most interesting rocks and feathers and gumnuts.

Holidays with small people can also be frustrating. With the "are we there yet?" and the "I'm bored". Also, the lack of the conveniences of home including the many distractions I have handy for the children. The organising of food and sleep without my own kitchen and without their beds. Overall though, I do enjoy the family time that comes with being together for extended periods without distractions. I love that we are forced to improvise, to get along and to work it out. 

Tell me, do you holiday with children? What car games do you have for me? Please share - tomorrow we are spending five hours driving - I'll need all the distractions I can get!!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Knitting for a sick sister

My big sister is pretty sick at the moment, it's a tough time for her and her family. I have been visiting her in Sydney on a regular basis and noticed something important on one of my visits. She was in serious need of a new hot water bottle cover! Not all that important, you may say, but you would be wrong. When you are not well a hot water bottle can bring great comfort. And if the cover for this bottle is made of green fluffy fabric that has well and truly seen better days then that comfort is compromised!
So... with that situation in front of me I could see an opportunity for a simple knitting project.

This very simple pattern comes from this beautiful book and I just used some aran weight yarn out of my far too extensive stash.
 I hear you asking where those gorgeous buttons came from? They weren't my original choice but instead the choice of my daughter. She was thrilled when she found them, she came up to me and told me very clearly we had to get these "love heart buttons" so that we could "send Jane love" - how could I resist...
So here it is, hanging in it's rightful spot, my sister's kitchen, ready for use.

May it bring you much warmth, Jane....and love.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Therapeutic baking

I was roaming around the bookshop the other day, as is my want. Books really are so lovely to look at, hold and admire. My favourites are, of course, anything to do with eating and/or making things so I quite quickly found myself in the cookbook section and this title caught my eye. I have read a lot of books by Marion Keyes and have loved them so the idea of a cookbook from her was enticing. However, this isn't just a cookbook, it's an idea.
 An idea that cooking, or more specifically baking can make you feel better. Marion suffers from depression and I can very gratefully say that I don't so my baking doesn't help me in the same way as her baking helps her. However, when I am preoccupied by something, or stressed by something - I bake. It is my fall back position in times of strife.

 For me, it is incredibly therapeutic. I have to concentrate on the recipe so my worries go out of my head as it is filled with measurments and oven temps. It can be done with lots of action going on around me, music, fighting children,radio. I can do homework help or sort out relationship issues as I bake. And perhaps best of all, I get something delicious to eat at the end, and a sense of satisfaction which sometimes can be very important on a difficult day.

 I truly feel Marion may be on to something here.
On that particular trip to the bookshop I didn't buy any books but I did buy the idea that without baking my life wouldn't be quite the same.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012


I love blogs. And books. I can't get enough of either. Over the next few weeks, Megan and I will share some of our favourite spaces and places with you. But, right now, I am in the fortunate position of doing some book reviews over on whipup. The most recent review takes a look at these:

Do you know whipup? Get yourself over there right now and check it out - inspirational stuff.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Cushions and cats

As I think I have mentioned before I am an enthusiastic knitter but not a knitter of complicated patterns. Simple but effective is what I aim for. I like a pattern that can fit into my world, i.e. a pattern that enables me to pick it up, knit a few rows, sling it down again when called away by an urgent child request, then pick it up again at the end of the day when I am feeling a little tired and foggy. However, I still would like it to look good when I eventually finish it!

I rather like knitting cushion covers because they tick most of the above boxes and really, you can't have too many cushions, especially when you are the proud owner of three cats!
Just as an aside, we started with two cats and probably should have stopped there because the first two were very cosy together. However, the RSPCA put a call out to say they had a surplus of beautiful kittens and I took the children down to "just have a look" get the picture I'm sure. The addition of Midge, pictured below, has caused angst in our small cat world but truly the occasional cat spats and subsequent cat antics produce a lot of entertainment for my children and my husband so I'm not complaining. We are a family that loves cats.

Anyway, my cushion cover,

Beautiful handmade quilt courtesy of the talented Jules
This gorgeous varigated yarn was bought at a local weekly market, see here. And the buttons came from this beautiful shop which I visited on a recent trip to Bathurst. The pattern is a variation on one from Jo Sharp which I have used often and is very basic but can be dressed up with embroidery, different coloured yarn on each side or buttons.

And finally, Midge, who as soon as I had turned around to readjust and take another photo was settling herslf down for a nap on said cushion

I take this as a vote of approval.