Sunday, September 29, 2013



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013." Che and Fidel.

Cohen: There's nothing quite like licking the beater,
Emerson: Except perhaps getting your hand in the bowl... (which is serious business, even with a face smeared with butter!)

Sometimes it's difficult to get the attention of a four and a half year old, let alone receive a response. I have learnt though that, 'do you want to make biscuits?' and 'do you want to lick the beater?' are two questions that always receive timely, positive, responses. Funny that. 

Tea, biscuits and my little helpers are wonderful comforts as, alas, I wasn't accepted in to the Brisbane Finders Keepers market this November. Perhaps next time. Many congratulations to those who were accepted and my commiserations to those who, like me, find themselves on a waiting list.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Right Now


Recovering: After a week of illness, I'm beginning to feel normal again. The Dr suspected Glandular Fever, which I had as a child. It was a stressful wait for the blood test results, and a great relief when they returned negative.
Reading: Great Expectations for book club. I'm half way through with a week to go...not loving my chances of finishing it in time, though I am determined to finish it.
Loving: This season of strawberries and mulberries. Homegrown fruit on our breakfast each morning is such a treat.
Realising: I just can not watch scary movies - just glimpsing part of a movie Dave was watching gave me nightmares for two nights!
Cooking: Smoked salmon, sliced black olive and caper pizza - sooooo good!
Knitting: A small jumper from a thrifted Patons knitting booklet, using the lovely Quince & Co. Tern I have had sitting in my basket for some time. A quick, satisfying knit intended to take my mind off being unwell.
Anticipating: The arrival of this book - about knitting, need I say more
Hoping: For a lazy, rainy weekend

Sunday, September 22, 2013



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013." Che and Fidel.

Cohen: Getting braver and climbing higher at the park - with a poor scratched nose from where he fell over on concrete
Emerson: The phone thief - anything to bring a smile to her face this week

I'm feeling more than a little poorly today. Sore throat, pounding head, hots and colds, achy joints. Which gives me further sympathy for my dear little girl, who has similarly suffered this week, on top of teething. She has been miserable, to say the least. Thankfully she is on the mend.

My high lights, this sleepless week, include a moment of sibling love in the post office and 'baby balloons'. Cohen held my hand and Emerson's as we walked in to the post office. As I rummaged though my bag for my purse while we waited in line, the woman behind me leaned in to tell me how beautiful my children were. Still holding her hand, Cohen had lent over and given Emerson a kiss and told her he loved her. It was one of those sweet, out of the blue moments that make a Mama's heart sing.

A little game we are calling 'baby balloons' has been the only other thing to really bring a smile to Emerson's face this week (besides my phone). Trying to cheer up my sad girl, I pretended to blow on her thumb as if I was blowing up a balloon and then unexpectedly squeezed her and said 'POP!' She laughed with delight and offered me her thumb again. It has become the game of the week. When Grandma and Grandpa came to visit we had to explain the game after Emerson had expectantly offered Grandma her thumb.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Evolution of Home

When we brought our home two years ago, I signed the contract before I had even been inside the house. The market was near the bottom and houses were moving quickly. I trusted my husband when he said it was what we had been looking for. High set, timber floors, big yard, room for a studio underneath - practical if not pretty, in the suburb we had brought our first house in. Perfect!

I remember feeling teary the first time I walked around the property. And not in a good way. My anxiety rose as I followed the pest and building inspector around, while my heart sunk a little lower with each new problem he pointed out. We had been looking for a renovation project - a new kitchen and bathroom, carpet to rip up and floors to polish. But a new roof, gutters and ceiling? Asbestos? Besides the hundred other small complaints that had added up in an unloved rental property? Did I mention I was pregnant with Emerson? Still, it was a great decision and one I have never regretted.

And here we are, two years later. Much has changed. Not only did we replace the roof and gutters, we added whirley birds, insulation and solar panels. Not only did we pay to have the asbestos removed in the eaves, bathroom and shed, we replaced all of the above. We ripped up the carpet and had the floor polished. We painted every surface. We replaced lights, knocked out walls, dumped the old fusty curtains and lived with sheets until we could afford new curtains. We built veggies patches, added a water tank, replaced the rotting wooden fence, removed several palm trees and one all mighty tree from the middle of the yard that was too close to the house for comfort. Recently we replaced the kitchen. 

Then last week our new lounge room furniture arrived. Despite this being the third house we have brought. Despite being thirty one years old. Despite having been married for ten years and having two children. Buying a lounge suite made me feel strangely like an adult. It's a very 'adult' sort of thing to do. I felt the same way when I first saw our finished kitchen, like, I'm a grown up now. I wonder if that feeling ever completely fades? I hope not.

Loungeroom before
Then - our coffee table and tv cabinet, which were all we could afford in our early days together, and our brown leather couch
Now - our new lounge, coffee and lamp table, and tv cabinet (from Oz Design, which I happened to pop in to one day after a trip to Spotlight.)
We have long spoken of replacing our tv cabinet, but this is the first one we have both seen and just loved. Love the Tasmanian oak and the fact that it is made in Australia, and love those very 60's legs. (My husband is also loving his new television.)

Two vintage single chairs, a couple more light fittings, a few cushions, a print or two on the walls and our lounge room will be 'done'. Or as 'done' as these things ever are...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Made By Hand - Link Up

'Made By Hand' is a weekly creative show and tell, with an aim to foster community, conversation and inspiration.
My aim is to craft a life of homemade, home grown happiness. 
So, what are you creating right now? Join in by leaving a link below.

Wherever I Roam
Wherever I Roam
yesterday today tomorrow

1. 'Wherever I Roam' Picture Jasper Pendant
2. Flower Gum cut out on the reverse
3. New Fresh water pearl versions of 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow'
4. Playing with beads and updating the shop
5. 'Satisfied Mind' earrings
6. 'Something in the Way' Spinel Earrings
7. An amazing lino stamp version of my 'One for the pot' piece, hand carved and gifted by the wonderful Kylie. Looking rather lovely stamped on to my white gift bags.
8. Keeping it real - stock take, tagging, writing descriptions and making lists, while Dave took the children to the in-laws for dinner

This week has been all about the jewellery, with a few rows of knitting now and again. I felt like I hadn't achieved too much creatively until I looked back at my photographs. Then I was reminded of the flurry of finishing, photographing, editing, uploading, sorting, list making, organising and stamping - how fantastic is my stamp?! 

Once I am on top of the jewellery stock for the market, I am looking forward to starting on a little crochet project for myself - Alexandra Mackenzie's Granny Square tea cosy. I'm a bad crafter and a bad tea lover, for I do not currently own a tea cosy! 

So, lovely readers, what have you been making of late?

PS. As one of my sponsors this month, Ellen from Alexandra Mackenzie is also offering my readers a 20% discount off all her patterns. Enter the code CHRISTINA20 at checkout. Valid until the 29th September.

Monday, September 16, 2013

New in the shop - Unique Drop Earrings

Satisfied Mind Olive Jade Earrings

Something in the Way Queensland Spinel Earrings

I updated the shop on the weekend with two pairs of handmade drop earrings I made. Given the unusual nature of the gemstones, and that fact that I most likely won't be able to source them again, these earrings are both one of a kind pieces. I'm only too happy to custom make something similar to the first pair, with a different gemstone. Please contact me to discuss colour possibilities.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013." Che and Fidel.

Cohen and Emerson: It's the little things

I love this time of year in the garden. The weather is beautiful, there is much to harvest and Winter veggies are giving way to Spring planting. While I weed, pick, dig and plant, my little helpers play around me, push each other in the cart and 'work' with their wheel barrow and shovels. By far their favourite things though are the watering cans. A little water in each keeps them occupied for quite some time. And there is nothing cuter than a toddler pottering around with a watering can.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Calm, mindfulness and yoga

I ran out of hands to carry the strawberries and had to fetch the peg basket. The first mulberries were ready too. That's 450 grams of home grown organic berries right there. #yum #homegrown #berries #hellogreenthumb
(An unrelated photograph of Thursdays strawberry and mulberry harvest in the peg basket. I ran out of hands to carry them all.)

This week I find that I have been musing over calm and mindfulness. I've been focusing on several questions. How do I want to 'be'? What needs to change? What should be prioritisied? What does balance look like? From there I have been writing down the three things I can be doing right now to make those changes a reality. I think they we can benefit from slowing down and asking ourselves such questions more often. What makes us happy? How do we add more joy to our lives? Or how can we better appreciate the joy before us?

There are a few things I want to focus on right now, I know I want to be calmer, I want to create better routines, and I want to stop rushing and being late. All of which are interrelated. Firstly though, calm. I really want to be less snappy at my husband and children. Instead, I want to be more patient and lighthearted, more open to the joy around me. One solution to finding this calm in myself, which I practiced pre-children, is yoga. However, as a mother hoping to attend a class there are practical problems to consider, such as the difficulties of finding time, money and baby sitting. I mused on this and realised I didn't need to go anywhere, I could do yoga at home, I just needed to make the time, and a commitment. (I find the slogan 'yoga every damn day' very motivating!) By creating a reasonable bed time for myself, as part of developing better routines, I could then get up half an hour earlier than the children, and practice half an hour of yoga each morning by watching Youtube clips through the tv. This has now become a priority and a part of my routine, and I am enjoying it immenselly. Even after the first morning on Monday I felt a greater calm and a greater well of patience when the children rose and joined me for breakfast.

Since then the children have been waking earlier too and joining me on the mat. Goodbye Mama's quiet time! At first I honestly felt frustrated by this. I wasn't able to do 'serious and relaxing yoga' while the children crawled under my down ward dog, or sat on my lap at every opportunity. But it was fun, and I love having them giggling beside me and mimicking me. So I found a solution to the absence of the relaxation element too. The Smiling Mind app. Clare Bowditch recommended it at the Big Hearted Business morning tea, and it fits perfectly with where I'm at and what I am looking for. Short, guided meditations, tailored to you - for free. (Pop over and check it out, you can down load it to your phone. I don't know a single mother, or anyone really, who couldn't benefit from this!) This way, I can practice yoga with or without the children, then when they go for a nap, or before bed, I can practice mindful meditation. It is excellent for treating stress, anxiety and depression and for general calm. Perfect!

By going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and feeling calmer, I have been better able to improve our established routines. I also feel less stressed and hurried in the mornings, because having to hurry children stresses me out like nothing else, and I hate being late. I am often my own worse enemy though, as I am prone to thinking, "well, I have another ten minutes before I need to start getting ready, I'll just finish this first." Before I know it twenty minutes have passed and I am suddenly in a rush. What I am trying to re-train myself to do is get ready to go first, then if there is time to spare I can do a short activity and still leave with time to spare. It working well with Cohen too. It's so much nicer to not have to say 'hurry up' ten times to a four year old because you have given them well enough time to get ready and then have a play, rather than the other way around.

I think we all want to live well, be happy and find contentment in our lives. All of which I believe are absolutely worthy goals. And it's interesting the way that technology can be used to help fulfill those ambitions. What those goals are is different for all of us and changes with the season of our lives.

Do you have similar goals?
Do you use any apps you use to exercise, unwind or find calm?
What motives you?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Of shopping and sisters - DFO


I love going shopping with my twin sister. We have similar tastes, we chat the whole time and she helps me with the child wrangling. Most importantly though, she will tell me with complete honesty if something I try on looked better on the coat hanger than it does on me. And given our similar sense of humor, you will often find us laughing in the change room.

I have previously tried taking my husband with me. He lacks patience and humor when it comes to shopping. Actually, I'm quite sure he is intentionally difficult so that I think twice before inviting him again. Thank goodness for sisters. Last weekend Fiona, Emerson and I popped in to DFO* Jindalee after visiting the Brisbane Writers Festival, while Dave and Cohen were off fishing. I managed to pick up a new pair of jeans, a striped shirt and a singlet from Factorie for $50, as well as some beads and hair clips from Equip. Fiona found herself a bright, fun Summer handbag from Equip for taking to University with her. (Unfortunately the photos don't do the colour of the bag justice.) Meanwhile, Miss Emerson slept most of the time in her pram, worn out by the festival.

Who do you go shopping with? Do you prefer to go alone? Is your husband more interested in shopping than mine is? 
Do you catch up with a friend, or do you grab your sister and go as I do?


*This post was brought to you by DFO, but my opinions are my own. DFO is a well known destination for leading Australian and International brands at up to 70% off. DFO Jindalee is located at 16 Amazons Place, Brisbane. Open 7 days, 10am - 6pm. You can find their website here and they are also on facebook.

A big thanks to DFO for the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for the next few months. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Made By Hand - Link Up

'Made By Hand' is a weekly creative show and tell, with an aim to foster community, conversation and inspiration.
My aim is to craft a life of homemade, home grown happiness. 
So, what are you creating right now? Join in by leaving a link below.


This week's making has been all about beads and mock up market tables. The beads were to fill the large vintage style mixing bowl on my market table. Customers at the market will be able to run their hands through the lovely handmade beads and design their own necklaces with them. I'm really excited about this, I love seeing what people choose. They will be given a hand stamped calico bag with a length of thread in it, then it is up to the them which of the rainbow of colours and the variety of shapes and designs they will chose. Should be fun.

I have also been working on mocking up my market table, as I sent off my application for the November Brisbane Finders Keepers Market! I needed to include a photograph, so I sent off the photo at the top of this post. I will be keeping everything crossed for the next few weeks, until I find out if I am in or not. As for my table, it was harder to put together than I had imagined. I have used vintage items from around the house as my props. My Grandmother's suit case and wool storer stand - which I have re-purposed in to a bead display. An antique Selfridges mannequin, vintage Singer sewing machine drawers, tea cups, a milk jug and some of my tools - to reinforce the fact that I have made each piece. I'm hoping the display expresses my love of craft, handmade and vintage, and how they inform and inspire my work.

So lovely crafters, what have you been making this week?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Instagram Snippets


1. On one of the worst days I have had recently, where nothing would go right and I could not seem to get myself out of the terrible mood I'd fallen in to, yellow roses, children's naps and cups of tea did the trick.
2. Making beads for the market - so fun and relaxing too.
3. A canvas painted for me by my dear boy. Self portrait, while walking a dog on a path next to grass, with sky, clouds and sun. Heart melts.
4. Blocks of colour and possibility.
5. Tea pot pendants and brooches in progress.
6. Hokey Pokey biscuits with honey instead of golden syrup - because we had run out. Both children approved, as did I.
7. Dinner from the garden - a simple veggie stir fry - quick, delicious and healthy.
8. Wise words from the Brisbane Writers Festival - If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
9. Strawberries from the garden - we are averaging a punnet every day or two. Sometimes they only make it as far as the outside tap, where little hands rinse them and eat them. The rest of the time they find their way on to our breakfast.


PS. Don't forget to enter the beautiful crochet heart bunting giveaway here. You have until Friday to enter. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Simple Living with Rhonda and Antonia

'I was pulled into simple living before I knew what it was. It crept up on me using the smallest of steps and didn't reveal its true beauty and real power until I was totally hooked. I was searching for a way to live well while spending very little money. What I found was a way of life that also gave me independence, opportunity and freedom.' - Rhonda Hetzel, Down to Earth
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to Rhonda Hetzel and Antonia Kidman discuss simple living with Nina Stacey, as part of the brilliant Brisbane Writers Festival. Rhonda's blog and book, Down To Earth, have been a great inspiration and practical resource for me as I pursue my simple living dreams. Her gentle encouragement has often been exactly what I needed to commit to making changes in our day to day. From switching to home made laundry liquid and cloth nappies, to making jam and budgeting, Rhonda's wisdom has been indispensable. And it was just as inspiring listening to her speaking to those of us who filled the cinema room of the Gallery Of Modern Art. In essence, Rhonda spoke of her simple living philosophy, which includes redefining what success means, learning to live well and being satisfied with 'enough'.

Antonia spoke to the same topic. It was actually the first I had heard of her book, The Simple Things, but it is now on my to-read list. Antonia mentioned "peeling back the layers of life and discovering what makes me happy and content." By so doing, said she realised that her home and family were her joy, and that she needed to resist the pressure of expectation - that she can't and doesn't need to "be something and do something" to find joy, as it is right in front of her already. She found the "clarity of de-cluttering everyday life deeply liberating." Things I am sure we can all relate to, though often need reminding of. Another point she made that stuck with me was in her discussion of beauty. We are lead to believe, primarily by advertising, that we will be happy if we are beautiful. However, beauty that is only skin deep is not lasting beauty. True beauty is an inner calm and self confidence. The way we feel will be reflected in the way we look. A much worthier ambition I should think.

As I left the gallery and headed to the State Library to listen to love poems with my sister and Emerson, I reflected on how incredibly lucky I am. Lucky that Dave and I have our individual roles yet work together as a team, lucky that after ten years of marriage we have grown and changed so much but have still developed a philosophy of lifestyle and parenting that is compatible, lucky with the time I get to spend in our home with our children nurturing our family as a stay at home mother, lucky to be able to grow our own food and live in such a way as to allow us to thrive on a single wage. As Nina remarked during the discussion, she has found that how she wants to live her life in her thirties is very different to how she wanted to live her life in her twenties. I would wholeheartedly agree. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Workshop helper keeps herself amused... :) #notwhatimeantbyboxinguporders
"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013." Che and Fidel.

Cohen: The artist at work. So serious and thoughtful, painting a memory special to him.
Emerson: My studio assistant keeping herself amused.

I'm quite late to the party today with my 52 portraits, but I was determined to make it here nonetheless. I like to follow through with the challenges I set myself, though it may mean little to anyone else but me. It's nice to have those satisfying routines built in to my week. And I'm pleased to say, of the 36 weeks that have passed this year, I have only missed one set of portraits - after my eye surgery.

Oh, the little changes that happen each week, that add up to so much change. The little details that mean so much and are so easily forgotten. Outgrown clothes. New words. New responsibilities. Greater skill. Each little change reminds me just how quickly they are growing and how short the years are. I must remember to keep my camera closer to hand this week.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight - Alexandra MackeNZie + Giveaway CLOSED

I thought a few fun questions would be a lovely way to get to know the people behind the blogs and shops that sponsor my blog (thus enabling my knitting and handmade addiction). My next guest in the 'Sponsor Spotlight' chair is Ellen from Alexandra Mackenzie blog and shop. I first discovered this talented New Zealand based crocheter through a crochet-along of her beautiful round cushion cover. You may remember that I made one each for Cohen and Emerson, which they both love and sleep with each night. I'm so pleased to be able to share some of Ellen's beautiful work with you today and point you to her easy to understand patterns. So, please welcome Ellen, and do pop over to her facebook page for a visit and a little chat.

Where did the name Alexandra MackeNZie  come from... Alexandra Mackenzie are my middle names, both are family names and I always thought they sounded a wee bit fancy. So when choosing I name for my little empire I didn't want to use my name, but didn't want something completely random either so Alexandra Mackenzie fit perfectly and the hidden NZ in Mackenzie was an added bonus.

My Shop Is... Something I am really proud of, know that people from all over the world are browsing buying and now making my items gives me a huge kick, there are hottie bottles all over the world keeping toes warm with my covers on them.
I now have two shops, one full of ready-made and custom made home wares and accessories and a brand spanking new one for my patterns.

Seeing people create with my patterns... Is fab and a little freaky, still quite new to me as I haven't been selling the patterns for long. I love seeing other peoples colour combos, like Christina's cushions, love them particularly the green one, I could take that one home with me!!

I learnt to crochet... From Youtube, just a couple of quick granny square tutorials and I was away, I had tried to learn from books but had failed miserably. I didn't learn to follow patterns, rather just try and make my own ideas a reality.

Some of my favourite things I have made are... Quite often the last thing I made, tend to fall in love with things pretty easily but have to tell myself I cant keep everything.
Lately its the hexi potholders, I am making one with hearts at the moment which I suspect might knock the Hexis off their perch. The hottie bottle is always a favourite and the most popular thing in the store too.

The Giveaway!
Ellen has been besotted by the adorable crochet hearts below of late, and who could blame her? This sweet rainbow heart bunting has been crocheted by Ellen's clever hands and would be especially perfect in a nursery or craft room. Ellen has generously offered it to be given away to one lucky reader. 

To enter, 'like' the Alexandra Mackenzie facebook book page and leave a comment below. While you're at it, I'd love to know - what's your most loved crocheted or knitted item you own? 
Is it something you made? Something from your childhood? Something from a special occasion?

The giveaway is open Internationally an will be drawn on the 13th September.

Many thanks to Ellen for supporting my blog this month!
If you are interested in being featured in a 'Sponsor Spotlight', please check out my Sponsor Info page or email me -
Advertising spaces range from  $10 - $20 for 30 days and begin any day of the month.

(I've had to put the price up a little recently, as Passionfruit Ads, who I run my ads through, have changed their structure and are now costing me more. Given the time and energy I put in to supporting my sponsors though, I think the prices are fair. Thanks for understanding.)


And the winner, thanks to, is comment 1!
Congratulations Amy!
Thanks to everyone else who entered. :)
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