Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Living Creatively

Winding down. Adding stitches, drinking peppermint tea and listening to 'inspiration bombs' care of the lovely @Clarebowditch

I overheard the term 'creative life' recently. It caught at my imagination. It snagged their for days. I pondered the phrase and what it was, perhaps, that the person who uttered it had meant.

To me, a 'creative life' means finding beauty in the small moments of your day and slowing down to appreciate them. From a child's milk mustache, to the reflection in your coffee cup, from weathered paint work to pristine envelope. It means appreciating the ordinary and looking at the details. It means surrounding yourself with a creative community that is inspiring and encouraging. It means allowing yourself time to 'play', experiment, dabble, and seeing where that leads. It might lead no where and that's ok, it might be therapy, it might inspire a whole new project. It means appreciating the creative work of others. It means buying handmade. It means admiring design, innovation and technical skill. It means making, growing, learning, challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. It means reflecting your creative loves in your environment and decorating your home with treasures. An art print. A hand poured candle. A handmade brooch collection. A shelf of craft books. A basket of precious yarn. It means sharing your skills and encouraging others in their creative pursuits. It means teaching others what you know. How to knit. How to make ornaments. How to preserve produce. It means we are all creative, whether we believe it or not, and we can all live creatively if we choose to.

What does a 'creative life' mean to you? 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Other Half Of Me

I wrote the post below in September, 2012, and it is probably the best way to express my relationship with my identical twin sister Fiona. I'm sharing it again because I'm feeling a bit fragile. Fiona is moving to Canberra to work soon. She'll be gone one to three years. It's a wonderful opportunity for her. She has worked and studied for years in order to attain such a position and I am so incredibly proud of her. But I am incredibly sad too. 

I'm trying to focus on the positives. I'm trying not to be selfish. She's been a part of all the good things in my life and when she leaves I will be 20 weeks pregnant. So I'm writing all this down, having a little cry and knowing there isn't much I can do except make the most of the time we have left before she leaves, invest in some stationary and save up so we can visit each other. 

I may also have to try to be a little more independent... xx
Noni and me

What’s it like to be a twin? It’s a question I have been asked so many times in my life, yet I have never known how to answer. I’d wonder, what’s it like not to be a twin? I’m still not sure how to answer. It’s so many things.

It’s wearing exactly the same clothes without consulting each other. Being asked to pick a number between one and ten three times, and picking the same number. It’s being understood. It’s understanding someone. It’s having a second wardrobe. It’s holding clothes up against your sister in the shops to see if you really like them. It’s almost the same taste in books, films and music. It’s having the opposite taste in men. It’s getting identical tattoos. It’s never letting the sun go down on an argument. It’s little gifts for no reason. It’s post cards and letters whenever we are apart. It’s sharing quotes and reading to each other from our journals. It’s staying up late at night drinking wine and always having something to say. It’s sharing everything.

It’s expecting too much from others. It’s confusing not being understood by others, when there is someone who understands us so well. It’s the third person in our marriages. It’s being socially awkward without her by my side. It’s sharing all life’s important moments. Growing up together. It’s proudly walking down the aisle before her on her wedding day. It’s swapping clothes, books, shoes. It’s generosity. It’s having a ‘feeling’ when something has gone wrong and calling at that moment. It’s talking about everything, but not always even having to say anything. It’s the first person to hold our first born. It's naming my daughter after her. It's the first person I call when I’m happy or upset. It’s being able to argue and know we still love each other. It’s hanging up on each other repeatedly during a phone fight, then calling and arranging to have coffee and laughing at ourselves. It’s support. It’s driving two hours to Toowoomba to spend two hours with her, then driving two hours home again. It’s real sympathy when you’re sick. It’s a look across a room that you completely understand. It’s the person you can call at any hour about anything. Or three times a day.

It’s all of the above. Fiona is my sister and my best friend. And that is just the beginning.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Preparing for the New Year - Embracing Happiness

Needed an after lunch treat. :) #hokeypokeybiscuits

While I have been considering home and work for the New Year, I have also been taking in to account considerations of my personal happiness. In particular, what measures I can take to increase my happiness and the happiness of those I love. As I think of it, I have been adding to a little list of the things that make me happy. Some reminders for when things inevitably get out of balance -

Send more handwritten letters and cards
Visit art galleries
Browse book shops
Read for the sake of reading
Make jewellery
Catch up with friends
Schedule 'me-time' in my diary
Knit for my family
Get my hands dirty in the garden
Pick up the camera
Grow or buy flowers for the table
Take yoga classes
Craft with the children
Plan a holiday
Cook new recipes
Walk in the rain-forest
Remember birthdays
Re-read The Happiness Project
Be Christina

What's on your happiness list?

If you are keen to read more about happiness, head to the happy authority, Gretchen Rubin.
And maybe start a Happiness Project of your very own.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Preparing for the New Year - Business Goals

On the bench tonight- two pairs of silver and Onyx 'Satisfied Mind' drop earrings with Billy's button flower cut outs behind each gem stone. One pair is a custom order (a Christmas gift), the other pair will be in the shop tomorrow. :) #handmadejewellery
Satisfied Mind earrings in Onyx

I'm taking a little break from the bench at the moment, after a frenzy of work leading up to Finders Keepers, The French Market and Christmas. I do believe I have earned a little rest. But while my tools are laying quiet, my pen has been particularly busy as I plan for the year ahead. I'm carrying a notebook with me at all times, and I'm often unable to sleep due to the threads of thoughts running through my mind. I'm feeling incredibly inspired and I'm capturing as many of those ideas as I can.

There was a time where I would have scoffed at writing down my business goals and dreams for the year. It sounded like a deluded waste of time. Surely it was all quite simple, all in my head, or could be worked out as I went along. Those in the know will laugh at my naivety. Those who share my old sentiments, listen up! Grab a pen and a notebook and write yourself a little plan for your business for 2014, and you may very well most certainly will surprise yourself. As I did. There is an ah-hah! moment waiting for you. This may be the very best place to start - The New Years Revolution kit - it is free to down load and prompts you will all the questions you need to consider to start planning a successful 2014 for your business. The other place you need to visit is Jess Van Den's blog, Create and Thrive -  in particular the Planning for your Handmade business in 2014 post.

What I have learnt is that by writing it down and defining my dreams I am better able to understand what I want, where I am heading, and what the step by step process is to get there. It offers me a much greater clarity to see it in black and white, without a jostle of thoughts and distractions. What business decisions are urgent? What ideas can be left to percolate? What order shall I do things? No point getting new business cards printed right before having a logo designed! Which markets will I attend? How long do I anticipate being on 'maternity leave'? Will the shop remain open? Shall I work towards producing two collections, or three? Am I better off investing in advertising, or photography?

2013 saw a mental shift take place in me, where I no longer saw my jewellery making as a hobby, but as a business. That change inspired many others. I truly believe that I can make a profitable small business as a jeweller and a stay at home Mother, while maintaining a happy balance. The keys for me are being organised, not being afraid to ask for what I'm worth, and planning towards the future.

I have big plans for this coming year and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you!

There are some great resources out there for small creative businesses -
Create and Thrive
Big Hearted Business (I particularly love the Inspiration Bombs)
The Collaborative Happiness Project (in particular the Career posts)
Do What You Love for Life
Business Advice From Creative Business Owners
Design Sponge Biz Ladies

So get reading, get writing and leave a comment or send me an email about your small business plans!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Preparing for the New Year - Decluttering

Holiday projects - a new photo gallery in the hallway! It's lovely to finally have some family and holiday images gracing our walls. #onlytooktwoyears #goodthingscantberushed #hardtophotographinahallway #photogallery
A finished holiday project - a photo gallery in the hallway

I quite like the chance of a clean slate for the New Year. Tying up loose ends, preparing for the year ahead and decluttering the 'stuff' that accumulates in the home. Being organised reduces stress, and with Cohen beginning Prep next year and a new baby due in May, I am especially mindful of staying organised and calm this year! So I am focusing my attention on book lists, uniforms, business goals, and decluttering these next couple of weeks. I remember reading in Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, that instead of more storage, perhaps what we need is less 'stuff'. It's so true. But not just by getting rid of lots of our stuff, bringing less stuff in to our homes - which is something I have been more mindful of in 2013 and will continue to strive for in 2014.

I've made myself a decluttering list that I am crossing off as I go.

Children's Bedrooms
Bathroom cabinet and drawer
Pantry and fridge
Under the kitchen sink
Laundry and linen closet
Clutter collection points - on top of the fridge

I made a start the day before Cohen's birthday, by sending him off to the park with his Dada while I sorted out his bedroom. It seemed a little overwhelming at first. All those small toy parts, piles paper and craft projects. Armed with garbage bags and a time limit, I planned to be ruthless. I had to be, with his birthday the next day and Christmas only a couple of weeks after that, and the influx of toys that accompanies both. Quite quickly the mess was tamed and two garbage bags were filled with rubbish and one with toys to be donated. A clean room with a place for everything. What a great feeling of relief and satisfaction when the job was done. Cohen was particularly pleased, as like most five year old boys he does not enjoy cleaning his room and seeing that I had cleaned it meant he was off the hook.

Now to the rest of the house... Oh, it can seem quite overwhelming when you look at it as a whole! Despite cleaning every day, despite being quite house proud, despite simplifying our shopping, clutter accumulates, the pantry becomes a mess, bits and pieces get deposited and forgotten atop the fridge. My handbag and car seem especially prone to attracting 'stuff' since having children...

Will you be joining me in decluttering?
How do you do to prepare for the New Year?

There are some great decluttering resources online.
A room by room guide to what to toss.
10 Creative ways to declutter
Declutter 101
Decluttering is not your final answer - bringing less in to your home

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Wishes

An early Christmas present from Dave. A vintage French, butter and navy coloured, enamel coffee pot, sourced from a market in Paris by 'Parisian Influence'. #vintage #coffeepot #enamel #love

Right now the children are napping, the sheets flap in the breeze, the gifts are ready beneath the tree, a fan slowly shakes it's head in the lounge room and I'm drinking tea, resting, after a morning spent scrubbing and cleaning in preparation for Christmas. I feel happy in a quiet way and blessed in so many ways.

It is the eve of Christmas Eve and I wanted to wish all my dear readers a wonderful, slow Christmas, full of special moments to savour in the months to come. Many thanks for all your kind words and encouragement this beautiful and tumultuous year. May we all have much to be grateful for as this year draws to a close. xx

(Blogger ate this post earlier.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rocky Road Recipe - Christmas Baking


I remember while growing up that one of our Christmas traditions was to make Rocky Road with my Mother. A treat for the family, a gift for teachers, neighbours and friends. I always knew it was nearly Christmas when the fridge was full of Rocky Road, Rum balls and stone fruit. 

It has been years since I made Rocky Road. Have you ever made it? It's simple, quick and too yummy. I made a nut and dairy free version this year, so the children and I could eat it too. Cohen and Emerson are still a bit little to help too much with this recipe, due to the warm chocolate, but I think it would be great for older children. They did however lick the spoon and sample the lollies.

You will need:

1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup of broken up biscuits of your choice ( I used 'Teddy Bear' biscuits)
4 x 100 gram Lindt 70% Cocoa dark chocolate (which is diary free)
1 x packet of 250g marshmallows
1 x packet of lollies of your choice (I used Starburst Babies)
30 grams of copha

Break chocolate in to pieces in a microwave safe bowl. Chop up copha finely and mix through the chocolate. Melt together on medium in the microwave, checking and stirring with a spoon a minute at a time. This takes 2 - 3 minutes.

Stir in the coconut, marshmallows, biscuits and lollies. Tip the mixture in to a lamington tin lined with baking paper. Smooth out and refrigerate for approx. two hours, until firm, then cut in to squares with a sharp knife. Try to resist eating too much...

To make a lovely gift, find an interesting box or a pretty tin and line it with baking paper, fill it with Rocky Road and add a few fun touches. Perhaps decorations or gift tags made by your children? Some stripes of washi tape? Or maybe cellophane and ribbon? The team at Pack Queen provided me with a funky window tin. Perfect for gifting Christmas treats, and a nice size for future use for the receiver. I lined mine with baking paper, cut off the excess paper with pinking shears and tied it with bakers twine and added a small air dry clay heart.

A perfectly sweet Christmas gift!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Made By Hand

Just about to pop these new handmade silver pineapple studs in to the shop. They're a one off so far, but if you like them I shall make more. :) #handmade #silversmith #earrings #pineapple
Tropical Holiday Pineapple Studs
Serious Jewellery making in progress... :) Making mustache earrings for the French Market on Saturday, 10-3.00, 262 Montague Street, West End, Brisbane. See you there? #handmade #silversmith #wip #mustache
I Mustache You earrings in progress
Air dry clay leaves for a hanging a la @sarahhumphreys and @thisbrownwren :) #airdryclay #craftingwithkids
Air dry clay leaves, inspired by Sarah Humphries
That face! That's what she did when I asked her to smile. :)  #paintingisawesome #kidscraft #mylittlefunnyface
(The face she pulled when I asked her to smile.)
Yesterday's harvest is becoming 'sun-dried' tomatoes in olive oil. My pregnancy food addiction... #nomnomnom #preserving #cherrytomatoes #organic
'Sun dried' homegrown tomatoes in olive oil
Christmas crafting air dry clay pots with Cohen and Emerson. Happy Monday! #kidscraft #airdryclay
Air dry clay pots

It's been a crafty kind of week this week, with new pieces for the shop, preparation for the French Market on Saturday, air dry clay craft, painting and preserving. This week I am looking forward to indulging in some Christmas baking with Cohen and Emerson, working on some bigger pieces for the shop and a spot of knitting too. 

What have you been making lately? 
What's still on your list?
Pop back later for the winner of the Vantastic Giveaway, and get clicking if you haven't entered yet!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Musings on birth

Uniform shop, post office, Playgroup, midwife appointment, blood test, newsagent, fruit shop. Nap. #busyday

Life has a way of sneaking up on your sometimes. I thought I had dealt with my emotions surrounding Cohen's birth. I realised that wasn't the case the moment I started discussing it with a doula. Tears welled in my eyes as I described the trauma of his entry in to the world and my sense of failure in the aftermath. It's been five years, yet still the tears came. Despite knowing how blessed I am to have Cohen. Despite the fact that he is happy and healthy. Despite what anyone else may say, I know HOW you give birth, and how supported you feel, IS important. You/others can't dismiss the events surrounding that birth because you have a healthy child. The birth of your children is a memory that will stay with you and shape you for the rest of your life. 

I have more positive feelings about Emerson's birth, despite it being an 'elective' cesarean, because I felt supported and informed throughout the birth and recovery. However, I still can't help but feel the surgery was an unnecessary precaution. I believe that birth is normal and natural, and that much of the intervention associated with it seems unnecessary. That rather than feeling a failure after a birth, you can feel empowered. Thank goodness for modern medicine, which keeps mothers and babies alive who would have died perhaps only fifty years ago. But the balance between medicine and nature seems difficult to achieve.

This time around, I'm doing my best to achieve the kind of birth I've always wanted and that I feel I could have had with Cohen, given the right support and advice. Now that I can feel the baby kicking, my mind is drawn to thoughts of the birth. Now that the hospital has said they will support me in a VBAC, I am reading and learning. Now that I am not as naive or as reserved as I was the first time around, I have engaged a doula to support both Dave and I throughout the labor and delivery. Now that I have more energy, I am booking in to Prenatal Yoga classes in the New Year. 

I'm realistic. I know that despite my best efforts, despite the best support and advice, for any number of reasons I may need a cesarean for the best outcome for baby and I. But either way, in the aftermath, I will feel that I did all that I could to have a positive birth experience, and that's important to me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Satisfied Mind - Iolite

Reading: The fascinating Snowflower and the secret fan Lisa See

Celebrating: A fifth birthday! With Lego, Octonauts and friends and cake at the park.

Admiring: Parsley flowers from the veggie patch.

Making: New pieces for the upcoming French Market.

Noticing: How quickly the days are being counted off our advent.

Treasuring: Our handmade Christmas decorations - who can help but feel a little sentimental at this time of year?

Sharing: In the children's amazement at the baby and Mama birds

Grateful: Everyday for my beautiful family - and loving this darling portrait Cohen drew of us

Growing: My first ever hydrangea blooms! After loosing two hydrangea plants and watching this little shrub not flower for two years, I had all but given up hope.

Excited: By the flutters and somersaults I've been feeling in quiet moment this past week, as the little one reaches 16 weeks.

I'm of a mind to potter lately. Be it the warm weather, the second trimester, or the time of the year. I am content to spend my days at home with small forays into the outside world. Making and pottering, making and pottering. I'm determined to go slow and not get caught up in the hectic pace this season offers. So far, so good.

Are things winding down or gearing up for you?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Made By Hand + 'Vantastic' Giveaway - Closed

This week on 'Made By Hand' I am doing things a little differently and rather than share what I have been making, I wanted to celebrate the fantastic work of a maker I have long admired, and whose blog counts among my favourites, Kate Ulman of Foxs Lane. I would still love to see what you have been making though, so don't forget to leave your link below!

"From caravan craft projects to tips on how to select the best caravan park, Kate Ulman takes a whimsical and nostalgic look at caravanning holidays in the modern world. Kate and her family are seasoned caravanners, having spent six months travelling around Australia in their vintage caravan, stopping at many caravan parks and campsites along the way. Kate’s blog, Foxs Lane, has connected her with thousands of like-minded travellers and now she shares her travel advice, caravanning recipes, craft projects and photographs through this gorgeous book that may just inspire the retro caravanner in you."

Creative people seem to gather inspiration everywhere. Some makers in particular seem to be surrounded by an abundance of beauty and inspiration, which shines through in their work. And a few very special makers share that inspiration and beauty with you, and take you one their journey. One such maker is Kate Ulman. Mother, organic farmer, maker, writer and traveler, whose beautiful family, creative flair and honest writing can not fail to inspire and delight.

Kate has utilized her talents to create a beautiful and practical book about retro caravan holidays in the modern world. A perfect choice for gift giving or holiday reading, Kate's book will win the hearts of anyone with a love of retro styling and craft, those who are planning a caravanning holiday anywhere in the world, parents looking to keep their kids entertained on the road, and those of us who just like to dream and escape within the pages of a gorgeous book.

I have requested that Dave place a copy of Kate's book under the Christmas tree for me this year, and thanks to Kate's lovely publisher, one lucky reader also has the chance to win their very own copy!
To enter, leave a comment and let me know - If there was some where in Australia you could escape to on a caravanning holiday, where would it be?

Giveaway open Australia wide. Winner will be drawn on the 19th of December 2013.

And the winner is Elflyn! Thanks to everyone who entered. I loved reading your inspiring road trip suggestions. xx

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New in the shop

Onyx drops
Onyx drops
Onyx drops
One Crowded Hour Carnelian and Onyx Drop Earrings

I couldn't wait to show you these. I finished them yesterday and I am so proud of them.

These earrings are something special indeed. Their classic style and gentle movement will draw attention to your delightful smile, whether on a lunch date, celebrating at a wedding, or letting your hair down on a night out. The floral motifs complement each other, while adding a unique touch.

Handmade by Christina Lowry from sterling and fine silver, these beautiful drop earrings feature a pair of cabochon cut Carnelian, and a pair of Onyx drops. A different flower motif has been saw pierced by hand on the reverse of each stone setting.

Available in the shop now.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Made By Hand

On the bench tonight- two pairs of silver and Onyx 'Satisfied Mind' drop earrings with Billy's button flower cut outs behind each gem stone. One pair is a custom order (a Christmas gift), the other pair will be in the shop tomorrow. :) #handmadejewellery
Satisfied Mind Silver and Onyx Drop Earrings
Earrings in progress
New works in progress
Custom make
A finished custom made bracelet and pendant in progress, featuring shells the client brought back from Vanuatu
Bead making
Re-stocking the bowl of beads for the French Market in West End on the 21st of December
Making beads
'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.

It's been a productive week at the bench this week, with custom orders, client repairs, new stock and more beads being produced. I feel like I am on a bit of a roll at the moment - fitting in bench time each day, crossing things off my to-do list, sketching out new ideas - and it's a good feeling. 

Our little bump is 15 weeks old now and another ultrasound showed a healthy, strong, little person. (The bleeding has stopped, for now, and I have my first high risk hospital appointment next week. I feel that I am in good hands.) So I am trying to squeeze in as much work as I can, without over doing it, before my bump gets so big that I can no longer fit behind the bench. When that happens, I will be picking up my knitting needles and focusing on some wee hand knits and an ambitious baby blanket! If you are interested in a custom make in the near future, I'd say the window of opportunity may close in about three months.

Has it been a productive week for you?

Monday, December 2, 2013


Rainy, City days
California Design Exhibition

Saturday was one of those child free days that seem to happen oh so rarely for this stay at home Mama, but is so completely necessary. While my darling husband kept the children amused with rainy day activities, I headed in to the City to meet up with friends for a cuppa, visit the GOMA design market and explore the California Design Exhibition. The market goers weren't discouraged by Saturday's deluge and the market holders sold their gorgeous wares beneath a marquee, despite the puddles beneath their feet. I secured a few more Christmas presents and mentally added several more to my personal shopping list, while chatting with the wonderful stall holders. The California Design exhibition was a joy to wander through, gathering inspiration and gazing in appreciation at the beauty and skill on show. It was made doubly lovely by bumping in to Jennie and her family, then sharing lunch with my twin sister and her husband.

All in all a wonderful day and a fantastic start to what was a special weekend.
I do believe I shall need to schedule another such day soon...

* Sorry about the quality of some of the photos. Due to the rainy weather I left my big camera at home and relied on my phone camera - which didn't always like the lighting conditions.
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