31 Mar 2014
connecting - Last week we felt sand between our toes and let the current carry us, yesterday we walked amongst grand tree spirits and felt rain on our cheeks. The natural world never fails to calm
nourishing - Feeling all apothecary like I am sloughing away dry skin with a concoction of coconut oil, sugar and essential oils. Cheap and cheerful yet strangely indulgent.
reading - The real estate section of the paper is always open at the moment. I feel an adventure coming.
creating - A hall table top is being cleared in anticipation of this year's Easter branch. She has some grand plans this year!
nurturing - In an effort to carve out little pockets of time for myself I am scrutinising my daily comings and goings. There's a lot of time wasted in unnecessary or overzealous tasks so I'm creating windows of "me" time.
growing - We have ourselves a little spinach forest at the moment and I can't help but smile as I pick the outer leaves and add them to our daily meals. This recipe leaves plates licked clean.
listening - Rain on our tin roof; the ubiquitous Aussie soundtrack.
29 Mar 2014
Bijou - My ever inquisitive lady hunting for frogs.
Remy - Even though the calendar says Autumn, his little body says Summer with it's nasty heat rash.
28 Mar 2014
She has a powder blue plastic sewing basket which lives in a cupboard near the stove. A clear tray rests on the top with little compartments housing nobble headed pins, cottons and unused thimbles; there is always hat elastic and a rusty old pair of pinking shears. And underneath a life time's full of dressmaking accoutrements is the mending pile.
On a rainy afternoon my Mum makes a cup of tea and settles herself into the corner lounge chair and threads her needle. Her quiet labour breathes life back into my Dad's worn and already patched boilermaker pants. She darns the knees time and again and when they finally resemble a scarecrow's garb she cuts unscathed squares to put away for patches in new pants. The metal button tin, a simple and enthralling childhood toy, is also ferreted about in to match a missing button. It is an at times tedious task but one she has performed for as long as I can remember. And it is with this gentle industry she taught me to mend and make do.
My wardrobe cleanse was not only very therapeutic but most revealing, and my mending pile grew high as a result. Jeans barely worn because they were too long, a floaty white dress that was adored in all ways save the puffed sleeves, a maxi skirt that dragged on the ground and wispy blouses overlooked simply because the hooks and eyes needed repair. Mending, not terribly challenging and requiring not much more from me than time.
And so today while the rain steadily falls outside I will pay homage to my Mum's beautiful ways. The kettle is boiled and it is time to thread my own needle. A quiet domestic task; re-using and recycling at it's most simple.
26 Mar 2014
Thoughts of her ways play peek-a-boo with me during the day. Just as she would pop out unexpected from the clothes basket, wisps of my girl show themselves, make me smile and then swirl off into the day to day like leaves on the breeze.
Her "too loud" singing voice, the way tiny flecks of dirt embellish her part line from the many tumbles in the playground, the snips of paper everywhere,her insatiable love of olives, the fire in her belly. The way she closes her eyes and purses her lips before leaning in for a kiss. Kisses I'm missing terribly; she says she's missing them too.
So I made a little envelope for them. A long, vintage doily carefully folded and sewn into place now provides a safe way to transport precious kisses to school. They lay quietly, wrapped in linen and embroidery if she may ever need them. Perhaps I might need to make another one for me.
24 Mar 2014
Be it the tightrope twang of budgetary constraints, the challenge of ethical ideals or simply avoiding change rooms and their garish lighting (and a peek-a-boo toddler), my wardrobe hasn't had any spark injected into for quite a while. Rather than spurring on a mammoth online shopping session, this making do or simply going without has been food for thought when it comes to how many clothes I really need.
My "before babies" self would reel at such a statement as each and every issue of Harpers Bazzar, Vogue and the like were tossed religiously into the weekly shopping trolley. Key looks were scrutinised and favourites were scrapbooked (before the age of pinterest!), and not a thought was given to whiling away entire days shopping for clothes; spending ridiculous amounts of money on faddish pieces in ghastly fabrics. How times have changed.
Although my ideals have altered significantly I still adore beautiful clothing and have been rather uninspired by my wardrobe of late. I thought a cathartic purge and good old rearrange might be the antidote to my seemingly lack lustre wardrobe. The results were quite illuminating; there were many treasures hidden beneath the clutter. This is how I tackled it:
- Make it manageable by dividing your wardrobe up into categories and tackle one at a time. Perhaps shoes on Saturday morning and skirts and pants in the evening. As a Mumma to little people I rarely have big stretches of time to devote to such a task. Breaking it up means I achieve something in a small amount of time and I'm motivated to keep going. A major overhaul can be too overwhelming.
- Line up four large baskets. One for clothes to sell, one to donate, one for mending and one for clothes past their use by date to be turned into rags (old t-shirts make the best cleaning rags for windows and mirrors). Things that you're keeping should go back on a hanger on the rail. This avoids an interrupted wardrobe purge turning into bedroom chaos.
- Try everything on. I was quite ruthless here and asked myself with each garment, "Does it fit me today, does it suit my body shape and lifestyle, is it comfortable, can I alter it, do I like it?" I cleared out quite a few structured pants and tops from my teaching days that have not been worn for years. They simple don't suit me or my way of living anymore. Sorting through everything helped me to see what I am drawn to and for the first time I feel I have found my style.
- Try to restrict yourself to just a few sentimental pieces. Clothes are not memories. I have however, a vintage sequined butterfly top that I simply can't part with as well as the tiny yellow miniskirt I wore the night I met my beloved. These have been squirrelled away in space bags in the garage to pull out on a nostalgic afternoon for giggles and a trip down memory lane. Pregnancy pieces were also stored away.
- Make a list of basics you might need to make a languishing piece more wearable. The purchase of a simple beige slip has turned two very sheer and hence unworn maxi skirts into my absolute favourites. Trying things on and thinking about what I would wear them with highlighted my avoidance for buying basics. I added simple short and long sleeved tees and singlets in black, white and grey to my list as well as a nude coloured bra.
- Empty shelves can be wiped over with a mixture of warm water, vinegar and lavender oil and then dried off with an old towel. Lavender's antifungal qualities will help to keep mould at bay.
- When everything has been sorted, group things into like items and rearrange by shape then colour. It is quite clear that I have a weakness for floaty white blouses.
- Bag up the donation clothes straight away and put them on the passenger seat of the car. The very next time you're in the car, find the nearest bin and pass it on.
- Small squares of muslin can be filled with dried lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, cinnamon sticks and cloves and tied up with string. These little parcels can be popped amongst the socks and tied around hangers here and there to ward off moths and mould.
23 Mar 2014
connecting - Bathing in the sea and feeling the tide's pull; it's been too long between swims.
nourishing - Nigella's Spanish omelette has become a Sunday night favourite.
reading - The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler is all kinds of wonderful and inspiring a major garden overhaul.
creating - A beautiful, hand printed scarf I bought on Etsy some time ago was languishing in my wardrobe. It had so much fabric in it that it swamped me and looked like I was draped in a blanket. Guilt riddled me every time I saw it so in a moment of weakness (or strength) I cut it up to sew into a maxi skirt. Yes, there was that much fabric!
nurturing - On one hand I'm applying soothing compresses of cool water and apple cider vinegar to sunburned legs and then slathering on coconut oil. On the other, I'm kicking myself firmly up the backside for letting it happen in the first place!
growing - We've been adding some pops of colour to our garden. My honey girl chose paper daisies and she thinks we can never have too many marigolds.
listening - Regina Spektor's Folding Chair makes my beloved smile. And that warms my heart.
22 Mar 2014
Bijou - She always seems to choose the quirkiest things. And they always seem to suit her.
Remy - Obsessed with all things "digger" related.
18 Mar 2014
Sipping iced coffee and looking out at the haze over the city I'm struggling to find any hint of Autumn; temperatures here are still soaring. The calendar tells me that the seasons have changed, but the urge to kick off sheets in the night is still strangely present. While I still walk through my days in floaty dresses and bare feet my mind has set sail on an adventure. Spice filled stews, cocooning bed linen, beurre bosc pears and new woolly projects on the needles consume my daydreams. Shorter days are imminent and I look forward to rainy ones pottering about an aromatic kitchen.
But Autumn is a gentle soul. She bides her time and presents herself to us subtly. Her gracious nature allows the tenacious Summer to linger a little longer. I am mindful of living in the now but there is a certain deliciousness in the anticipation of a new season. I must be patient however, she will come soon enough.
As she unfolds I am going to take a step back and purposefully watch how I move and mold into each day. I want to be aware how the seasons alter my body, the way I nourish my family, how I connect to my home and my moods. The air temperature, the colours about me, the fibres I choose to wrap around my body all influence my daily movements no doubt and I want to watch it all with open eyes.
Has Autumn shown herself to you yet?
16 Mar 2014
"A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."
Bijou - I've been photographing her in all the vintage nighties I've made ready for a little shop launch. We found a little hidden grove and fashioned a crown from vines. I watched her and took pictures as she walked amongst the green.
Remy - The last days of beach swimming before the weather turns too chilly.
13 Mar 2014
The growing of one's own fruit and vegetables has experienced somewhat of a renaissance. Whether it be our increasing awareness of the momentous impact chemical spraying and food miles are having on the planet, or in a technological world, an opportunity to create something from nothing with our own hands. Perhaps its simply, through gentle guidancee, the discovery of how easy it really can be. Either way, it seems most everyone is eager to carve out a little slice of their backyard, balcony or window sill to tend growing things.
Our own vegie patch is still very much in its infancy and we have a lot to learn of crop rotation, soil preparation and the most frustrating, organic pest control. It is however, a constant source of inspiration and gets me out in the fresh air to mull over the day's blur. But when I've let one too many seedlings dry out or stood broken hearted beside a grasshopper ravaged kale crop, I grow sprouts.
We use the method outlined by this effervescent duo to sprout all manner of seeds including mung beans, sunflower seeds, chickpeas* and lentils. In a bid to keep things simple and make do with what is handy, I simply use an old jar, a piece of muslin and a rubber band in lieu of a special sprouting jar. It really is such a simple way to bring the freshest of produce into your home. And the babies (and I for that matter) delight in checking them each morning.
11 Mar 2014
Our weekends have been particularly slow lately. What with the shiny pallor of new school life fading slightly to the reality of it all, we limp over the finish line to Friday afternoon. Come Saturday morning, pyjamas are kept on as long as possible, breakfasts evolve slowly from the first cup of tea in bed to pancakes and ruby berries at our worn kitchen table, and everyone potters about contentedly. We're spending most of our days outside and as always she is busy with her hands. Simple creating with tools chosen from nature's craft cupboard; much relished down time.
9 Mar 2014
connecting - Lately I've fallen into the habit of retreating to the kitchen to wash up as my beloved reads the bed time stories. Although its nice to come away from tucking them in to a tidy kitchen and swept floors, I have downed tools this week and snuggled up on the lounge next to my babies.
nourishing - I am quite frankly addicted to Tom Kha soup at the moment. I think I make "mmmm" sounds throughout the entire meal.
reading - When I need a little help to notice the sparks of beauty around me I always turn to Pia Jane Bijkerk's book, My Heart Wanders. Her tender way inspires me beyond words and has guided me gently back to a path of positivity. This world is full of so much beauty and sometimes we just need a little nudge to push aside the mundane and see it.
creating - Thrifted ladies' linen and corduroy pants have been cut into smaller versions for the little man. Dressing my babies as ethically and environmentally conscious as possible often involves some effort on my part. I can't say I mind at all.
nurturing - She is revelling in the written word and her blossoming knowledge of it. I am constantly helping her to sound out words and form the letter shapes. With the explosion of paperwork coming from her tiny desk it may be time to replace it with a more grown up version.
growing - I'm seriously contemplating beginning my bread making journey by growing our own sourdough starter. Nothing quite like jumping in the deep end to get things moving.
dreaming - We have all but completed the renovations on our home. We're thinking of selling up and doing it all over again and my mind is a delightful swirl of wall colours, bathroom tiles and room for chickens. Scrolling through my "pins" it is clearly apparent that I have a deep love of natural timber.
8 Mar 2014
"A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."
Bijou - On the back of Papa's old ute.
Remy - We visited Grand Poppy and he shared his ice blocks. The little man sat at the top of the stairs with his feet crossed and hardly wasted a drop.
7 Mar 2014
It has become a familiar pattern. At least once a week I reach for the deep stock pot and begin my pantry foraging. Often it starts with homemade chicken stock or bone broth* brought to a simmer with perhaps little shreds of leftover chicken, a carrot and maybe a zucchini cut into tiny cubes. And then angel hair spaghetti snapped into small shards and cooked in the broth until tender. Other times a motley crew of root vegetables are roughly chopped, laced with olive oil, smashed cloves of garlic and perhaps cumin or garam masala if the mood takes me. When they've succumbed to the heat of the oven I scoop their oozy goodness into the stock and blend it all together with a generous lashing of cream.
The table is laid with mismatched silver soup spoons; round as a the moon and tarnished here and there. Small plates to the left of each setting for salad. Generous slices of tangy sourdough are hewn from a bronzed loaf and the babies take turns to butter it. A thrifted platter is chosen and a salad of sorts is concocted. It may become an elaborate still life of many of nature's colours or just one or two robust plants plucked straight from the vegie patch. Even in its most basic form there is always some sort of leaf, nuts or seeds and a classic French vinaigrette *. A simple dinner of soup an salad.
It is a meal inspired by the many Sparkle Stories we have listened to. Gentle audio stories of Martin and his little sister Sylvia have been played at quiet rest times, on long car journeys or on rainy afternoons and they infuse our world with a certain calm. These characters lead a simple life much like our own and after a busy day of play, learning and exploring they often gather at the table to share wholesome soups, salads and fresh bread. It is certainly becoming a tradition in this home too.
* I freeze my stock in wide mouthed glass jars in one or two cup portions. As long as you leave some room at the top for swelling when it freezes, your jars won't crack. A quick run under a warm tap loosens the edges enough for the stock to slide out into the pot to defrost.
* sometimes I have the gumption to cut up a shallot but more often than not I don't. All the ingredients go into a jar and one of the babies shakes it up until it's all combined.
4 Mar 2014
She has been twisting flowers into crowns since the rainbow festival. Usually dandelions but sometimes wisps of frothy clover. But as I watched her potter about the backyard in search of new blooms to transform, I noticed the lack of flowers in our garden. There are vegetables and herbs, robust green leaves and wispy ferns, even lanky trees and succulents in odd shaped containers. Flowers however, are sadly missing from this humble space (bar a few sad looking marigolds).
A gentle meander around the neighbourhood with baskets in hand addressed the short term bloom shortage. We foraged small amounts of yellows, dusky pinks and orange from footpath trees and obliging neighbours and marvelled at all the different types and colours we stumbled upon. Hidden treasures we'd overlooked on our to-ing and fro-ing past these very spots time and again. She then spent the afternoon threading satiny blossoms with a needle and cotton and wore them like a bejewelled sprite.
While she hummed and threaded I scrutinised the blandness of our yard and set to addressing the problem. When had my gardening become stuffy, regimented and all about productivity and worse still, manageability? When did it deviate so sharply from the willowy, lush and untamed surrounds that pepper my daydreams? With paper and pencil in hand a list was made; snapdragons to remind me of Pa's house, lilac bluebells to lure pollinators, nostalgic phlox and bell flower to cut and put in old jam jars on window sills, brushy callistemon to feed nectar loving birds and smiling faced pansies, just because. So it's off to the nursery this weekend...
Although my thumb is ever so surely turning a greenish tinge, I could definitely use some help. Do you have any tips on flower growing? What are your favourites to grow?
2 Mar 2014
connecting - I stumbled on a box filled with old love letters from my beloved. It was a beautiful reminder of where our journey started and the foundation on which this family was built.
nourishing - Homemade custard in wide necked glass bottles are ever present in the fridge at the moment.
reading - Thumbing through my food stained copy of An Everlasting Meal. I adore how Tamar Adler weaves her culinary words with passion and elegance. It never fails to inspire.
creating - Clearing out my wardrobe and mending all the things that are too long, don't quite fit, or need a button sewed on. So many things languishing in the cupboard...
nurturing - The cooler mornings herald Autumn's arrival and it's lovely to wake before anyone else, dress in a light robe and savour a hot cup of tea.
growing - We're planning our Autumnal garden. Perhaps some leeks and broad beans.
listening - I'm slowly getting used to the quiet in the house when one baby is at school and the other is sleeping. I think I kind of like it.
1 Mar 2014
"A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."
Bijou - She has been oh so weary so we took the day off school on Friday and visited a favourite local cafe. We ate chocolate and hazelnut shortbread, drank smoothies and played snap with an old deck of cards. She glowed.
Remy - A cold has taken the wind out of his sails. I've been making him chicken soup and custard.