Monday, July 30, 2012



Saturday was a glorious Winter day. The sun shone warmly in a blue sky, absent clouds. A great day to wander around the show grounds and take in the country-feel of the Mount Gravatt Show. The buildings sprinkled though out the grounds held bee displays and the competition honey, needle work and quilt exhibits, budgerigars and cottage crafts, agricultural societies and floral arrangements. While the oval was home to huge trucks (which delighted Cohen), horses, petting barns and cattle dogs. I love little shows like this. We avoided the rides and the show bags and explored the pavilions and patted the animals instead. I could have happily brought home a tiny black piglet with me.

It's one thing to teach a child something at home, and quite another to watch their amazement at really getting it. Cohen was fascinated with the bees and sheep. He knew already that honey comes from bees, just like the honey we eat at home, and wool comes from sheep, just like the wool Mama knits with. But seeing the bees and the honey, touching the sheep, seemed to bring that understanding to a new level. Well worth the admission fee.

I came home with a little bounty myself - honey comb, an African violet and potted rosemary - and an entry form for the needle craft exhibits. It had made me think. Prior to blogs, Ravelry and the like where we can share our handiwork, women shared their special projects at shows like this. Perhaps next year my work will be among the other beautiful pieces on display? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The humble call for sponsors...


My sweet readers tend to be lovely creative ladies who are interested in beautiful craft supplies and patterns. They can probably bake you a cake that will knock your socks off, or preserve any excess fruit or vegetables that come to hand. They are warm and loving mothers. Generous and thoughtful friends. They are house proud, though you should still call before visiting. They quite possibly carry a camera, if not a camera phone, everywhere they go. They are the kind of people you could discuss almost anything with over a cuppa. And they are loyal and supportive readers of my blog, to whom I am thankful.

So, if you are a crafty, handmade, vintage, decor kind of business, looking to share your passions with such wonderful people, you should probably click on over to my Sponsors page.


Many thanks again to my current sponsors for their support this past month. 
Here's to a wonderful August.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Five months old

5 months

5 months

5 months

5 months

5 months

5 months

5 months

Those eyes, that grin! Emerson really is such a bundle of joy. Cooing, giggling, smiling, snuggling (and occasionally grizzling too.) At five months of age she is fully occupied with the task of tasting and feeling everything. Anything within reach is brought to her mouth. Toys, paper, Mama's scarf. When nothing is in reach, her hands will do. Or her dress. Or blanket.

She has been happily sleeping in her own room this past month. A bittersweet transition. I loved having her in our room with us. The day I was contemplating moving the bassinet out of our room, Emerson came down with her second cold in two weeks. It was worse than the first. I was thankful to still be able to squeeze her in to the bassinet and keep a close eye on her throughout the night. She is generally still waking twice a night for a feed and sometimes calls out another two or three times, looking for her lost dummy. She naps at least twice throughout the day. It amazes me at times, the level of noise she can sleep through - generated by her 3.5 year old brother. By mid afternoon she is sometimes unsettled and even being held - her first love - is not enough to calm her. Often, the best thing to do is take her for a walk. Sometimes, knowing that she is upset, Cohen will sing to her, and she will watch him with quiet adoration. It is a love that goes both ways.

One, two, three and four months old.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thank you






A toddler pulls your days along behind them. Cohen is a blur of forward momentum much of the time. Life must go on. And yet. I stood on the door step and received a pouch containing Odin's ashes today, as Cohen constructed paper rabbits above me. I managed to swallow back my tears, but only just. 

This article has proven useful in helping us answer Cohen's questions as they surface. We have been open and honest. He is coping well. Thank you for all your kind words and support. It means so much. There is sadness in my heart, but also so much beauty in my world. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012




When Dave and I were first dating I lived in an old two bedroom cottage with a friend. Close to the City, with a sprawling yard, the timber house had polished wooden floors and no fly screens. My cat, Seth, came and went as he pleased. Nineteen years old and completing a fine arts degree at University, I came and went much like the cat.



As the romance became serious, the end of University moved closer and the beginning of work uncertainty loomed. Regardless, I had my heart set on the addition of another pet. A dog. I was wisely advised against such a prospect, given my lack of stability. A dog would rule out apartment living. A dog meant expense. A dog meant responsibility. And yet, one day I announced to Dave that I had found my dog. An advertisement in the newspaper for a giveaway caught my eye. A Rhodesian Ridgeback cross. I was quite certain, sight unseen, that he was to be my dog. Perhaps it was the name of the breed that captured my imagination, as I had no idea what sort of dog that was, but I called immediately and told them I was on my way.

That was twelve years ago. I had fallen in love with him immediately and never regretted my decision. Not long after that, as it happened, my friend moved out and my other love moved in. Dave, Seth the cat, Odin the dog and I became a family. When we would walk Odin, Seth would trot along behind us. The neighbours smiled and waved at the sight of our black cat following us down the street, the bell on his collar tinkling. I remember that if we wanted to go for a long walk, we would have to lock the cat in the house, for fear of loosing him. 

Seth, being older and surely wiser, asserted his dominance in the relationship from the beginning. He was not prepared to let size, or the traditional dog and cat roles, play any part in their relationship. He would sit upon the coffee table and swat Odin with his outstretched paw should the dog draw too close. Odin soon learnt that the cat was boss. He didn't even dare look at the cats bowl of food. Just as he became incredibly protective of us though, so he did of Seth.

We brought our first house the week before we were married. We spent longer on our honeymoon than we had spent living in our new home and we could not wait to return and get the renovations underway. I'll never forget the sickening feeling of coming home from work one day to find Odin no longer in the yard. It was the first of several times I walked the streets around our home, calling his name, hoping that he would come running back to me. A broken paling, an open gate, a storm. He was prone to wander but always returned.

I remember taking Odin camping. Once, when it rained, we slept in Dave's van. A single mattress laid out in the back, the two of us pressed uncomfortably against the indent of the tyre, while Odin slept soundly on his half of the bed. I remember my brother walked Odin to the shops once to get a movie. As we watched the film upon his return, a lady from the council called to ask if someone had forgotten something at the shops? My guilty brother ran up the road to retrieve Odin from where he had been left, tied to a pole, outside the video shop. Odin seemed pleased with the food and attention he had been receiving as he waited. I remember Odin always following me around the house, from room to room. His tail occasionally knocking things over in happiness. I remember the broken door handle in the bathroom and how he would push the door open and sit on the bath mat while we showered. I remember how he never could catch a ball, always missing and having to chase it.

Each time I fell pregnant it was as if he knew. He would sit closer to me. Follow me more often. Wait by the door to be let in. When we brought Cohen home there was no jealousy. Instead, Odin guarded Cohen's door and would let no one past without my approval. As Cohen grew, Odin was patient and tolerant. He would walk with the pram, then with the push trike and eventually with Cohen. I recall walking on a golf green with my three boys. Dave and I laughed as Cohen attempted to walk Odin. He would pick up Odin's leash, fall over, run after Odin and pick it up again.




As Cohen and Odin both got older we walked Odin less and less. Arthritis started to affect his back legs and he would stretch painfully after a long walk. Instead he would sit on his cushion on the deck, or his pillow inside the house and watch the goings on around him. His brindle colouring got lighter, his muzzle greyer.

By the time we moved here, into our third house and we had our second child, we could no longer walk Odin at all. He saved his energy for playing in the yard with Cohen, barking at dogs being walked down the street and chasing possums at night. He would watch from the gate as the four of us walked from the house and the cat would watch from the balcony, no longer interested in walking with us either. He spent his days on his cushion on the deck, still a member of the family.


Tonight as I write this, the cat is curled beside me on the couch, but Odin's spot on the deck is empty. Today, we said our final good bye. This past six weeks Odin's health has deteriorated rapidly. Little by little he was slipping away from us and experiencing more and more pain. Yesterday the Vet confirmed that they suspected he had cancer and that nothing could be done. We could only do what would be kindest for Odin.

Saying goodbye was more difficult than I had imagined. After twelve years with us and so much love and history, I was a mess. We had grown up together. He meant so much to all of us. Trying to explain to Cohen that Daddy would be taking Odin to the Vet because he was sick, and Odin wouldn't be coming back, was just as heartbreaking. Cohen patted Odin one last time and informed me that, "He's not sick. It's alright. Be happy Mama." Poor Dave drove away as Cohen and I cried and waved. He stayed with him until the end because I knew I could not. When he returned alone Cohen immediately asked him where Odin was. This question has been repeated many times today. When he catches me crying he kisses me and says, "I kiss you Mama and make you happy. No more crying." Tonight, before Cohen fell asleep, he assured me that Odin would be coming home tomorrow. Oh, the hreatbreaking innocence of children.


Friends and family have kept me company. My dear neighbours have brought me flowers. Friends on facebook have left messages of support. And I have written this record for me, for Cohen, for the future, for you. 

In the days that come Odin's ashes will be returned to us and we will bury them beneath a lemon tree. We will grieve, share our memories and try to answer the questions of a toddler. Because animals are are such an important part of a family and teach us so much.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A simple walk

weekend 2




weekend 1

Yesterday we walked in the last sunlight of the afternoon. Eventually we would find our way home to start baths and dinner, fold laundry, read bedtime stories, fit in some knitting. But first we walked away from those things, through the streets around our house. We walked, examined our neighbourhood, played games, inspected spiders, talked about the simple and complex, admired the details, before turning homewards a little lighter, a little more connected as a family. 

Something I think we need to give ourselves time to do more often.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review the facts

You can't buy trust. When you are an online store, establishing trust with your viewers is such an important factor. It can make or break a sale. Fulfilling that trust will encourage future purchases. Not fulfilling that trust? Well...

I am generally wary of group deal websites. You know the ones? They encourage impulse spending on everything from teeth whitening to body-shaping sleepwear. Friends have had success with them though, buying discounted movie tickets or meal vouchers. Things they would ordinarily buy and were able to buy cheaper. Being on a budget and being frugally minded I have given them a go. I purchased a discounted gift certificate from Groupon, to use on an online clothing store, and was been pleased with my purchase. So when they approached me about reviewing an item of my choice I thought it would be a simple matter.

Like most parents and bloggers, I take many photos. Photos that end up in folders on my laptop and at least theoretically, get backed up and printed periodically. Except that my external hard drive has been experiencing technical difficulties, and I haven't had any photos printed since December. (For which I would like to blame being pregnant and having a newborn.) So I signed up to Groupon and checked my emails for something I might like to spend my proffered $50 voucher on. After receiving three emails a day for several weeks, I finally decided upon a 32GB USB Key. Touted to be valued at $120 but selling for $34 plus $5 postage it sounded like a great deal, I needed a USB, I gave it no further thought. I made my purchase with the code they supplied me, the transaction was simple and the USB key arrived a few weeks later in a small padded envelope all the way from China. 

So far the key has done it's job and I have backed up my photographs. But the problem was, once I sat down to write this review I had a few questions. For instance, who was the company that made the USB key? It is not once mentioned on the listing. Where did the $120 retail "value" come from? It seemed excessive. I looked for other keys online of a similar value and found none. Instead I immediately found an almost identical USB key on Ebay, with a packing box, selling for $21.45, with free postage from China. $17.55 cheaper than my apparent "deal." This made me feel uneasy. It made me question the value of my deal. I queried the online marketing contact at Groupon, who passed on my questions to customer care and then got back to me with the following.
"I received an answer from customer care in Australia, he says that as the USB key is a novelty item that cannot be found readily online, the merchant valued the item at $120. It is up to the merchant to choose the RRP, and unfortunately they cannot be disclosed for privacy reasons. Although 120$ seems like a lot of money for a USB key, after having a look today and finding USB keys of a similar value I think it is a reasonable valuation by the merchant.  
I realise the Ebay key is priced at a much lower value, and this tends to be the case with items from China, however due to the originality of our item this is something we are unable to compete with.  
We are still looking for honest reviews and this is a subject which you are welcome to bring up."

Ok, well I am happy to write an honest review and bring this subject up. But a novelty item that is not readily available online? I would encourage you to google 'USB key' and see what you find. Do an image search if you will, it's a quicker way to give you an overview. Of the numerous USB keys that returned in the search the first one I clicked on brought me to this site, 'Made in,' with a listing for what appears to be the exact same item. And the price? US $2.20 a piece. 

What privacy reasons could a company have for with holding their name? I couldn't find any other products on the Groupon site where the company withheld their identity.

Stating that the Ebay key is lower in price because it comes from China seems an ineffectual argument, given the USB key I purchased through Groupon also came straight from China, as attested by the customs stickers on the envelope I received

I have raised my concerns in another email to the online marketing team, asked for links to USB keys they found of similar $120 value, and noted that the Groupon purchased USB key also came from China. I am awaiting their response. *

The thing is, they have lost my trust. The website sells itself on providing deals on items and experiences. That by signing up you will save money. Buyer beware inflated recommended retail pricing and supposed savings. You may actually be paying more for an item than you would be were you to buy it from a local store. And waiting five weeks for the privilege. I would encourage you to shop around. Some "deals" may in fact be deals, while others may not. Make them earn your trust.


* Edited to add: This is the reply I received to my email.

"Here is an example of a similarly priced USB key:

Although they certainly are more high-end prices, I do think a USB key for Groupon does have a policy of always stating it as ‘up to’ such a value, which must be taken into consideration. Buying with Groupon also has a reliable return policy and customer service network, so I think in this regard it can be considered a good deal."

The USB key in the example is a branded product with a two year limited warranty. The Groupon USB is a no name product with a one month manufacturers warranty. The next sentence is difficult to understand. The emails seem to originate from Germany, which may be the reason. The use of 'up to' value is not consistent throughout the listing. I'm not sure about the reliable return policy, as I can find nothing about returns on the website, and the listing states 'No refund for change of mind.'

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Moment

This moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - SouleMama 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Like colourful jewels

Cotton reels

Button jars



Recently I was given some old jars and tins full of beautiful old buttons and wooden cotton reels. In my excitement I sat on the floor at Dave's fathers house, sifting through my bounty, as Cohen picked up the occasional button or peered over my shoulder.

Jars of buttons always remind me of my Mother and Grandmother. There are two things I tend to think of. Sitting, legs crossed beneath me, buttons poured out in front of me, whiling away the hours in my Mothers sewing room as she worked. Examining and admiring each button. Sorting them into groups or pairs. Designing button rainbows. Gathering the old pins, buckles and tacks into a separate pile, before scooping them all back up again and re-filling the jars and tins from whence they came. Handfuls of buttons slipping from my fingers and landing upon each other, creating a most satisfying sound.

Or else I think of the curtained door that lead into a sewing nook at my paternal Grandmothers house. It was a room we weren't allowed in as children. We would wander through the rest of our Grandparents house while the adults spoke over tea. Running our hands over the antiques, peering into the black and white faces in the photographs, turning hat pins over in our hands, reading titles on the spines of books, waiting to be taken to the beach. Fiona and I snuck in to that room several times over the years though. We dared not touch anything. Shelves stood from floor to ceiling and were stacked with fabric, jars, tins, and odds and ends. An old Singer sewing machine sat on a small table. Large silver scissors hung from hooks. Tape measures hung limply or were coiled tightly. But mostly I remember the jars of buttons, like colourful jewels. So beautiful, and so disappointingly off limits.

I wonder what ever happened to those buttons.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yarn Along

Yarn along

I cried as I finished reading 'The Book Thief.' What a remarkable book. I look forward to our book club discussion. I have also finished kitting my first sock, which is baggier and uglier than I had hoped. It is still a great learning project though, that will make for a pair of warm bed socks at the very least. I cast on the second sock, then put it down after knitting several rounds of ribbing in favour of adding a few more rows to my cardigan.

I started and finished reading  'The Sunday Philosophy Club' this week, after being inspired by Greer. (My local library lists the genre as 'Cosy Mystery,' rather than 'Mystery Fiction'. I can't help but find that both amusing and charming.) I started on 'The Story Sisters,' but have since picked up the second and third book in the Philosophy Club series and fear that 'The Story Sisters' may get put to one side for awhile, much like the second sock.

What are you reading, knitting or making?


Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On the way to Grandpa's house





We visited the koalas at the Daisy Hill Koala Center. They look so sweet tucked up in the trees. No matter how many times I see koalas, I can't get over those big fluffy ears or those cute black noses. This kookaburra was also surveying the scene, just like the one that often sits in a tree in our back yard. It sings to its family in the hills above our house. If you haven't heard a kookaburra's "laugh" before you can hear one here. They have such an unusual call, but one I find uniquely beautiful.

We also have a family of Currawongs that visit us regularly. I think they also have a beautiful call
What sort of birds visit you where you live?

Monday, July 16, 2012


French festival

French festival

French festival

French festival

French festival

French festival

French festival

French festival

French festival

After days of rain the sun came out on Saturday and we celebrated Bastille Day beneath blue skies. We enjoyed baguettes, macaroons, markets, music and people watching at the French Festival. I couldn't resist some French inspired home wares purchases. Cohen was suitably impressed with a helium balloon and an ice cream, (though he sadly informed me Sunday morning that his balloon was "not well," when it no longer floated.) We left as grey clouds rolled over and the threat of rain hung over us. As we drove home both children slept but the rain held off.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Also in the mail

sticky grams

The StickyGram magnets I treated myself to arrived (printed from my Instagram photos). They are now adorning my fridge. I am thinking they could make great little Christmas gifts for the Grandparents or for family overseas. 

Hoping you a lovely weekend. 
We intend to visit the French Festival at Southbank, if the weather improves.
What plans do you have?

*If you decide to treat yourself too, this code will get you $2 off your order: FRIEND616P

Friday, July 13, 2012

Joachim Froese

I rediscovered the work of Joachim Froese recently and I was touched by the beauty and layered meaning behind this collection of works, 'Portrait of my Mother,' which is at once subtle and profound. 
"In August 2006 my mother in Germany was diagnosed with terminal cancer. As soon as I could I flew over to be with her. From the day of my arrival in Germany she had six more weeks to live which we spent together. She always had been an avid reader and literature played an important part in both of our lives. I had previously often thought about a project involving her library and I soon embarked on the idea to photograph all her books, one after the other in one long row. It quickly became our joint project. At first it made us talk about individual authors and about literature in general but towards her end she could only recognize the objects and family photos I placed amongst the books. While her life was coming to an end the row of books grew and grew. I photographed at night and during the day assembled the pictures on the computer at her bedside as she wanted me to continue with 'our' project until her last moment. After her death I finished the series until all her books were photographed in 'her' order. The resulting work shows an eclectic cross section of literature. But more than that it has become a manifestation of the woman she was, a metaphor for life and a diary of the time I spent with her - a portrait of my mother."

By documenting these images he has sketched a portrait of his mother so lovingly with her books and objects. They reflect the personality of their owner. They are what is left in the after math.

Our books and collections identify us too. We surround ourselves with mementos and books that at once remind us of ourselves, while showing others how we wish to be perceived. I can't help but look at my own belongings with new eyes.
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