Saturday, September 29, 2012


A treat from the florist after grocery shopping.

Our current stockpile, which waxes and wanes.

The second veggie garden bed. (The beds are currently named 'one,' 'two,' and 'three.' Though I have been thinking I should give them more interesting names. Any suggestions?)


The first veggie garden patch.

Growing my first ever egg plant.

Dear old Seth, our cat, loves to spend his days among the cherry tomatoes and comes in with the fresh smell of the garden upon him.

In a few months time Cohen will be four. My baby. Our first born. Already it gives me pause for thought. His birth was the catalyst for many changes in our life. I have been reflecting on those changes lately. Four years ago we were both committed to my being a stay at home Mum while Dave worked and provided for us. In line with our beliefs and values, we wished to raise our children ourselves and I hoped to create a home environment that would nurture us as a family. Having been on two wages our whole married lives, we were uncertain how long we could survive on a single wage and what it would be like. Dave joked I'd be back at work in six months, half serious. 

Cohen's presence redefined everything. Our priorities changed in all sorts of ways. Things that had seemed important prior to his birth no longer seemed so. Our habits changed. Living on one wage was not as difficult as we had imagined. I took to my new role and enjoyed the satisfaction of my job. Previously a little messy, I became house proud. In growing, learning and maturing as a mother I adopted time honored traditions that had seemed passe previously. I began to meal plan, I started growing herbs, I borrowed recipe books from the library and learnt how to cook from scratch, I wrote to do lists and a budget. I dusted off my sewing machine, took up crochet and eventually learnt to knit (and became addicted to the gentle art in the process.) 

When we decided to sell our house and buy elsewhere we had our future plans in mind. We knew where we wanted to live and we knew we wanted a high set house, with room for a studio underneath, a large yard for a veggie patch, where the children could also play. We ended up buying the cheapest house we could find in the best area that ticked all the boxes. Then we set to work renovating the neglected ex-rental property. The money we spent fixing it up - replacing the roof and ceiling, painting, polishing the floor boards, insulating etc. - was still less than a similar house in better condition would have cost us, thanks to doing as much of the work as possible ourselves. And in the process we were able to make the house feel like ours. By the time we moved in, almost a year ago, it already felt like home. And in this house, three years after Cohen's birth, we brought Emerson home.

Now, my veggie patch is flourishing and making a difference to our budget, as we need to buy less with each harvest. I have been preserving or freezing excess produce so we continue to save money throughout the year. These days I use cloth diapers for Emerson and I make our cleaning products from scratch. I used to wander the aisles of the grocery stores buying whatever caught my eye, regardless of price. Now I have a modest stock pile that has helped us in difficult weeks and means we run out of items less often, saving us trips to the shop.It has saved us money by buying in bulk. Buying multiples of items we always use, when they are on sale, has been the easiest way for us to save  money on groceries. I also shop at Aldi and pick up any extras at Coles. The biggest way we cut down needless spending was to get rid of our credit cards all together. Now we use a debit card, so we are only ever spending our money. Our only debt is our home loan.

Since starting our journey to a simpler life and becoming less dependent on 'things' and more self sufficient, my sense of satisfaction has increased. My enjoyment in my day to day tasks has increased. Sure, sometimes  the drudgery of wiping down the dining table for the fifth time that day gets to me, but I am still pleased to be cleaning with a mixture of citrus peel and vinegar cleaner of my own making. Or while hanging yet another load of nappies on the line I might get impatient, but knowing that what was previously our biggest expense when grocery shopping has been replaced by those cloth nappies is a real incentive to keep going. Feeding Emerson organic carrots from the garden that I have grown myself is a wonderful feeling.

While we are saving money, we are also acting in a more environmentally friendly way and future proofing too. Soon our solar panels will be installed and we are saving for a rain water tank. Saving money encourages us to save more money. Though we still have modest splurges at times, we are generally more mindful of where and how we spend our money. The small changes that we have been making have gradually added up and it feels good. I'm excited about living in an even more sustainable and self sufficient manner in the future. 

Have you made changes to live more simply?
If so, what was the catalyst for you?
What are you dreaming of changing?

Friday, September 28, 2012

This Moment

First beetroot harvest

{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, September 27, 2012

7 months old

7 months

7 months

7 months

7 months

7 months

7 months

7 months

7 months

7 months

Our dear little one is now seven months old. Her first birthday is creeping closer and she seems to have grown so much in the past month. In these photos she'd just woken from her afternoon nap, her eyes still puffy with sleep. The time after her nap is especially precious. She greets me with a grin that makes her eyes light up. In this happy, playful mood she babbles and laughs easily. A babies laugh is a delight. 

This past month Emerson's awareness of the world has grown. She has become fascinated with our cat Seth and sits staring at him in quiet fascination. She quite often falls over as she leans forward to follow his movements. When the two meet on my lap, she pats him with clumsy open palms, then pulls and twists his ears. Thirteen years old, Seth is gentle and patient. Emerson also rolled over for the first time this month. She tested her new skill another four times that day, showing Mama, Cohen, her Aunt and Uncle, and then hasn't rolled again since. Poor Daddy is still waiting. (Thankfully I managed to catch the moment on video.) Teeth have been making their presence felt this past month too. I'm reminded how bothersome they can be before they cut the gum. Hello sleepless nights. Her babbling often sounds like words now, though I'm not sure how to make the distinction between word sounds and actual words. She makes recognisable 'yum yum' sounds when eating and 'mum' sounds when cranky.

Still, I'm in no rush for her to grow up.


One, two, three, four, five and six months old.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yarn Along

yarn along

I think I have spent as much time undoing my knitting this week, as I have actually knitting. I slowly made my way back to where I had overlooked a row of the cable pattern on one side of the cozy. The pain of this venture subsided by the time I had finished knitting the shaping of the neck. The 3 x 3 ribbing begins.

I am now reading October's book club book, Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks. Having read 59 of the 304 pages, I find myself absorbed by the protagonist and the historical and geographical setting of the novel. I was interested to note that it appears 98th in a list of the 100 best books of the decade (2000 - 2009) on Good Reads. My new favourite book, The Book Thief, comes in at number 11 and . 

Are any of your favourites on the list?
Any books you would recommend for a book club?
What are your current favourite reads?


Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Sculpture is Everything'

Gummo IV
Gummo IV Lara Favaretto

inner tube sculpture 1
 Wolken (Clouds) Michael Sailstorfer

inner tube sculpture 2

Balmarra Alan Griffiths

yam sculpture
Wanydjalpi (Yam sculpture) Elizabeth Djuttara

yam sculpture 2

Henri Donno 1
Glass Vehicles Heri Dono

Henri Donno 2

Fiona Hall's interactive children's artwork Fly Away Home and Pooja (Loot) Simryn Gill

Phoenix, Indian blue peacock (Pavo Cristatus) Louise Weaver

I took photos of some of my favourite pieces from the 'Sculpture is Everything' exhibition we visited at the Gallery of Modern Arts on the weekend. I quite often find myself drawn to those pieces with a craft element to them. I love the blurring of boundaries between what is traditionally considered 'art' or 'craft.' A combination of two of my great loves. I enjoy spotting knitting and crochet in art galleries, like the taxidermy peacock with a crochet 'skin.'

I have found that Cohen is more interested in sculpture than painting. He ran to some exhibits, fascinated by them at length and circling them up close. The kinetic sculptures brought him the most joy.  He also lead the way to the Children's Art Center where we made our third bird at the Fly Away Home exhibition (which is free and runs until the 7th October.) Named "Sarah" by Cohen, our bird found it's home in an empty niche in a wall full of down lit birds. Cohen dictated the other information to be added to the tag. Under heading 'diet' Cohen requested I write "scissors." For 'behaviour' I dutifully wrote, "drinks milk in nest." For 'other interesting facts' Cohen advised, "also eats chips." 

How wonderful, the imagination of children.

When do you last visit an art gallery or museum?
Who is one of your favourite artists? 
Do you prefer painting, sculpture or something else?

Monday, September 24, 2012

On happiness and art galleries


While the children slept and Dave was away for a golf weekend, I read the last pages of The Happiness Project. In the unusual silence, I contemplated the questions posed by Gretchen. I put pen to paper. It's the kind of book that it's difficult not to be inspired by. I adopted Gretchen's mantra and noted, 'Be Christina.' I mused on the things that made me feel happy and which created an atmosphere of growth. 

I find that it's easy for motherhood to swallow your identity. But it is something I don't really notice until someone asks me what I've been doing. Each response that springs to mind tends to be what I've been doing with my children - we've been going to the park/ playgoup, we've been making toilet paper robots, Emerson has her six month check up. But me? I feel like appologising. I've only been doing solitary things - knitting, gardening, reading, blogging. But I realised, I shouldn't appologise or try to justify it. I should 'Be Christina.' They are all things that are a source of creativity, growth and community for me. Things that make me happy.


It  made me think about what else made me happy. What else I hadn't been indulging in as often since becoming a mother? An entire empty Sunday stretched before me and I decided to make it an ideal Christina day. My first love has always been fine art and I'd been meaning to visit the 'Portrait of Spain' exhibition at the Qld Art Gallery since it opened in July. What better day that this?

I joyfully wandered the gallery, sharing the paintings with Cohen while Emerson slept. I renewed an old tradition by having a cuppa at the cafe, though unlike my uni days, I splurged on lunch as well too.  I visited the book store at the State Library and brought a set of three Moleskine cahiers in order to start a garden journal. I also brought myself a print of a painting I'd admired. 

The gallery assistant captured this image of us in front of a large photograph of the Prado, so that it looks like we stepped out of Brisbane and into Spain for a moment. And do you know what? I think I look pretty happy.


(We also visited the Gallery of Modern Art and the fabulous sculpture exhibition currently on there. I'll share some of my favourite pieces with you tomorrow.)

Friday, September 21, 2012






Yesterday three gentlemen made my day. 

It was grocery shopping day and I was in the car park. Cohen was standing next to the car while I unfastened Emerson, when an older man walked past and asked in a concerned voice where his Mummy was, unable to see me half in the car. He looked embarrassed when I stood up and spoke to him, poor man. I thanked him for his concern though and we started chatting. He told me excitedly that he was going to be a grandparent again and that they had just found out the sex. As he walked with me to the shops he talked with pride about his daughter. My mood was buoyed by the encounter and I felt reassured to know that other members of the community are looking out for my children.

The second older gentleman stood from his seat and spoke kindly to me as he opened a heavy glass door while I was pushing the children in a trolley. He looked both compassionate and dignified as he held the door open for me. His small gesture felt large.

The third older gentleman was walking towards the shops as he saw me, toddler beside me, baby in the trolley, loading the last of the groceries into the boot of my car. He asked if I would like him to return my trolley. I was touched at this kind and practical deed. He'd only pushed it a few cars away when he unexpectedly stopped and retraced his steps, returning Emerson's forgotten dummy.

I'm still smiling this morning at the thought of their kindness.
I hope that this is the kind of man Cohen grows up to become.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mamma Bella

mamma bella top

When mamma bella put a call out to nursing mothers to trial one of their breastfeeding tops, I was keen to be involved. After six months of feeding Emerson, I'm quite sick of the sight of most of my feeding-freindly-clothes. I tend to wear button up dresses, or tops with a singlet underneath, so that I can feed comfortably anywhere.

I received this alpine green feeding top, the Auyama Tunic, in the mail from mamma bella. I tried it on instantly, showing my husband and sister, to their approval. I was uncertain how clothes designed for breastfeeding would actually work and look. But I found that it's flattering to my current body shape, the zips are invisible and make discreet feeding possible without having to wear a singlet underneath. The band around the waist can be pulled down so the top can be worn as a tunic (even while pregnant.) I prefer wearing it on my hips and will wear it with a skirt or jeans. It's perfect for smart casual Summer wear. The fabric is lovely and soft.

I wore it out for the first time to the library yesterday and received a compliment from my neighbour. I really like the colour. I'm usually drawn to darker tones, but this is a new colour for me. It makes me want more deep greens like this in my wardrobe.

Many thanks to the lovely mamma bella Mums, Helen and Enza!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yarn Along

happiness yarn along

I feel as if I am on the homeward stretch with the hot water bottle cozy, with only one repeat to go before shaping the neck. Then only several inches of ribbing remain. So perhaps not quite on the homeward stretch after all. But it 'feels' like it, so I am going with that.

I'm a third of the way through The Happiness Project and find it interesting and motivating. Gretchen takes principals of happiness and puts them in to practice in her life, then talks openly about the results. A lot of the principals feel well known - sleep more, exercise better, declutter, enjoy now - but it is how she chooses to tackle a list of resolutions each month and her individual experience of them that makes for compelling reading. We all know we should sleep more and exercise better, but what does that look like? How do you achieve that if, in Gretchen's case, you are a mother of two and a writer? What are the results? 

It's difficult not to feel inspired when reading about her experiences. I have had several 'ah-hah!' moments and have been thinking about exactly what brings me happiness. I have been reminding myself of two simple points from the book over the past week, because small changes can make big differences. Firstly, "by doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished." And the "one-minute rule." The first idea strikes a chord with the knitter in me, I know that a little each day can accomplish a lot. A row here and there will eventually make a blanket. But in day to day life I often find myself discouraged at starting a large project when I know that I will soon be interrupted by one, or both, children and won't have achieved much. Rather than feel discouraged I have been reminding myself that every little bit adds up and have changed my outlook. I don't have to organise all the photos on the lap top at once. I can just start sorting them out and come back to it. I don't have to Spring Clean the whole house in one day. I can go room by room, closet by closet, there is no time limit. One day I won't have two lovely little ones wanting my attention, but at the moment it is about finding ways to achieve things that work with our life.

The "one-minute rule" attracts me because a clean house makes me happy. The rule inspires you not to postpone a task that you can get done in less than a minute. Gretchen writes, "I put away my umbrella; I filed a document; I put the newspapers in the recycling bin; I closed the cabinet door. These steps took just a few moments, but the cumulative impact was impressive." I agree. It's the main task when tidying just putting things back where they belong? Putting my hair clips back in their tin rather than leaving them on the bathroom sink. Putting clothes in the laundry basket (even if they are not mine.) Returning shoes to the closet. If only I could get everyone in the house to live by this rule...

What are you reading, knitting or crafting?
Do you have any rules that help create happiness?


Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's a sickness...


I  decided to have a 'sick day' yesterday, after waking up with a child either side of me and a blanket of tissues covering all of us. A leisurely day of doing nothing. Yes, that was just what we needed. Everything can wait, we need a day of rest to fight off these snuffles. I'll just ignore everything that isn't restful.

When Dave came home I was sitting on the floor of Emerson's room with the entire contents of her wardrobe in piles around me, Spring cleaning her closet.

"I thought you were sick?" he commented.

"I am."

Monday, September 17, 2012


bunches of silverbeet
Harvested silverbeet

rainbow silverbeet
Replacing those harvested

beetroot and spinach
Spinach and broccoli seedlings

laundry liquid
laundry liquid
Much like the first batch

The warm Spring sun shone on my back as I planted seedlings in the garden this weekend. Spinach, broccoli, silverbeet, watermelon and beans. Each bundle of roots gently tucked beneath the soil with a bit of hope. The potential of the season is unfolding and I have big plans for my veggie patch as I work towards relying more and more on the garden for our food. 

While the to-do list never really ends, crossing things off is it's own satisfaction. It's especially rewarding when the task involves something home made or home grown. Already, the food we have harvested is making a difference to our grocery bill. Changing to cloth nappies and home made laundry liquid has also left more money in the budget each week. These savings have been going back into the garden, buying seeds and plants, seed raising soil, seaweed fertiliser and bird netting. A much wiser investment for the future than disposable nappies and commercial cleaners I think.

Saturday, September 15, 2012







It's good to have Dave home. We are all feeling a little under the weather though, so we won't be venturing far. However, there is much to do. There's laundry liquid to be made. There's a bunch of mint picked from the garden sitting on the sink. It will be washed and hung to dry for tea making purposes. There are home grown lemons from my sisters mother-in-law to be juiced and made into cordial. There is silver beet ready to be harvested, blanched and frozen. I made this silverbeet and potato gratin recipe last night, with a home cooked roast chicken, gravy and bread rolls to celebrate Dave's return, and it was a success.

It's a glorious Spring day here today. We've been out in the garden this morning. Cohen has been making mud pies as I weeded, planted seeds and seedlings, staked tomato plants and covered them with bird netting. We try to get out in the garden while Emerson takes her morning nap, then she joins us and supervises from a blanket on the grass, or in her pram. We've been eating strawberries straight from the garden and rinsed under the tap most days and Cohen loves to look for the ripe ones. The hills hoist is almost full with a weeks worth of Dave's clothes. I'm making a beef and a vegetarian pie for dinner tonight, I made the fillings yesterday. In the quieter moments I will be knitting the cozy and reading the Country Style magazine that arrived with yesterdays post. 

And of course, wiping little noses.

What plans do you have for the weekend?
What's the weather like where you are?
Do you have any silverbeet or orange recipe suggestions?

Friday, September 14, 2012

This Moment

cohen and emmy

{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 
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