Thursday, February 28, 2013

12 months

1 - 12

12 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

12 months

There were a few tears yesterday as this Mama welcomed toddler Emerson and fare welled baby Emerson. First birthdays are just so bittersweet to me. From a jaundiced newborn, to a healthy crawling girl learning to walk, she has been such a delight. I'm so glad that I did the monthly portraits this past year. It's great to see them all together. There is still much of the baby about her, but the toddler is emerging. A cheerful cheeky toddler who loves to play with her brother and his toys. A fearless climber who Daddy has nicknamed bruiser - due of course to the bruises she receives as she goes. A sweetheart who loves to give big 'mwah' kisses and waves with a floppy wrist.

Yesterday my sister and I took Cohen and Emerson to Lone Pine Sanctuary (pics tomorrow) to celebrate her first trip around the sun. This was followed by dinner with family, sparklers and birthday songs, then cake. Cohen of course helped her unwrap and play with all her gifts (and told several people it was also his birthday!) 

Happy birthday gorgeous girl. xx


Onetwothree, four, fivesixseven, eightnineten and eleven months old

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Anything is possible

I love my prints of Belinda Kemp's work. Belinda has a Pozible campaign running to support her dream of attending an artist camp in Sweden. I have pledged in order to help that dream come true. Click over to to find out
On the wall in my studio, three of Belinda's beautiful prints

I think being a maker has given me a better appreciation for the creative work of others. All that passion, skill and time. I can't help but want to support them. So many of the women I admire are creative Mama's. Belinda Kemp is one such artist, and I have long been drawn to her soothing work and use of mixed media. This past year has been an extremely difficult time in her life and her creative work has helped give her a focus. I can't imagine the strength she has needed during this period. Her goal has been to attend an artist camp in Sweden and she has created a pozible account to help fund this dream. I'm all for making dreams come true. Especially for someone as deserving as Belinda. There were tears in my eyes as I watched this clip.

(Pledges begin at $10, and all pledges come with rewards.)
More info here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tea, friendship and a recipe

cinnamon tea cake

A cup of tea and a friend can really do wonders for ones mood. I must admit, the confines of recovery have been getting to me. The children have had cabin fever. Emerson is teething and Cohen is testing his boundaries, as four year olds are want to do. I've not felt myself and have been unable to shake the feeling. I've felt I should be doing 'something', though I'm uncertain as to what that 'something' may be. There is much I am still unable to do. Despite the many positives, it's been frustrating.

Sitting around the kitchen table with an old friend this morning, we chatted in that interrupted manner that mothers become accustomed to. Sentences hang midair while meeting a child's needs. Threads of conversation are lost or picked up again eventually. Dreams, stories, hopes, successes and failures are shared. The words flow. Gifts were exchanged. And there is that ease you develop with some people where, no matter how long it has been since last you saw them, you pick right up where you left off.

I noticed something this morning. As we discussed our children, our gardens, our crafting, our renovations. The contentment that I feel at home overcame the resentment that I've had at not being able to drive. The excitement I felt about our renovations, which waned with the eye surgery and recovery, reappeared. I felt my sense of self seeping back in. My passions reawakened. I felt a renewed surge of possibility. That I could be more patient and more grateful. That I could make the most of this time.

And I thought how wonderful friendships and tea are.


I made this cake in anticipation of her visit. It smelt so good when it came out of the oven yesterday that Cohen and I just had to try it. I did manage to save some for today. I made it dairy free, as I am lactose intolerant, but you needn't. I will be making it again quite soon, as it was moist, fluffy and yummy!

Cinnamon Tea Cake

60 grams butter (I use Nuttelex with Olive oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 cup self raising flour
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup milk (I use soy milk)

+ a tablespoon of melted butter
half a tablespoon of sugar and
half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon mixed together

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 degrees F)
Grease and line the base of a cake tin with baking paper

Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. (I use an old mix master)
Add egg gradually while still beating, then beat in vanilla.
Add sifted flour and milk and fold in with a spoon until just mixed and smooth.
Pour in to tin and smooth top.

Bake for 30 mins, then check with skewer. (Edges should be lightly crispy and skewer should come out clean, though cake may look under cooked.)
Let cool a few minutes before inverting on a wire tray.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mix over the top.

Pour a cup of tea or coffee and share with a friend.

Sunday, February 24, 2013




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

Cohen: He surprised me. He worked quietly alongside me for longer than I had anticipated, sorting the buttons. He'd stop every now and then to marvel at a new shape or point out something of interest to him. I was reminded of the hours spent playing with my Mother's tin of buttons when I was a child. I gave him his own jar full of buttons.
Emerson: She is my very own little hungry caterpillar. She had been chomping her way through watermelon, but she will eat almost anything. It still surprises me. Cohen was/is such a fussy eater, but this little one loves food.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stitch. Read. Covet. Blog.


Stitch: I seriously love these knitted poufs. I think Cohen and Emerson would too. Practical and fun. There is a tutorial on the Pickles blog, which also features lots of other stitchy goodness. (Like this knitted zig-zag-spread, or this Cabled cradle spread.)

Read: I am a sucker for list of books. Be it The 100 greatest novels of all time (I've only read twenty one of them), or 10 Aussie books to read before you die (I've read five), I love to see what has made the cut, which I've read and which I might like to read. So I was interested when I stumbled across the top 20 Vintage Classics of 2012. I have read seven of them. How about you?

Covet: I've heard that the rule for buying a great gift is to make sure you are buying what they want and not what you want. This is not the case with my twin sister. Instead, I buy her what I want and know she will love it. Our tastes are just so similar. Unfortunately, that means I have been coveting the Geometric Deer brooch I brought her for her (our) birthday. I'd happily settle for the Harlequin Bear though...

Blog: I have recently been reading and enjoying the lovely blog, Mother Down Under. It's written by Caitlin, an American Mother in Australia, who lives in a mindful and sustainable manner. I also follow her facebook page, and a recent post got me thinking about the chemicals in cosmetics. Despite trying to rid my home of as many chemicals as possible, I realised I hadn't given any real thought to the composition of my make up. The New York Times article that Caitlin referred to certainly made me think. I thought the days of lead in make up were long gone, but apparently not. Needless to say as the items in my bathroom cabinet get used up I will be endeavoring to replace them with products containing fewer and safer ingredients. (Sarah Wilson has a list of toxin-free cosmetics here.)


This post has not been sponsored in any way. The above are genuine items/people/blogs that I am loving.

Care to share your own Stitch. Read. Covet. Blog? Please leave a comment or your link below so we can all check them out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The heart of the home

The heart of home
Bacon mushroom and cheese on the left, smoked salmon, mushroom, olives and capers, without cheese, on the right (I'm lactose intolerant)

The heart of home
Chicken burgers with home made chips and pickled home grown beetroot

The heart of home
Potato, carrot, sweet potato and rosemary from the garden, with a little olive oil, ready for roasting

The heart of home
One meat and vegetable pie, one vegetarian pie (we freeze the leftovers for quick lunches and dinners)

The heart of home
Muffin mini-pizzas with the left over salmon, olives and capers from the pizza

The heart of home
Parsnip, tomato, carrot, lentil and butter bean soup

Salmon, cou cous and baby spinach leaves with balsamic vinegar

Dairy free banana cake, with eggs from our neighbour

A little bit of what has been happening in my kitchen lately. I'm always trying to find a balance between taste, health, budget, luxuries, seasonal, organic, allergies and time. I write a meal plan each week and we have a budget of $150 for groceries and consumables (like toilet paper, aluminium foil, and dish washing liquid.) Using cloth nappies and making my own laundry liquid have certainly helped stretch our budget further. As has buying in bulk and keeping a store cupboard down stairs. My sister has just copied out some of her favourite recipes for me to try this week.

What have you been cooking lately?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Button sorting sorted




I love buttons. I have a lot of them. Lots and lots. Tins, containers. boxes and jars full of buttons. Hundreds and hundreds of them. The buttons are mostly vintage. Some are new. Some are still on their original cards. However the majority are loose and all mixed together. The problem is I am always digging through them, or tipping them out, looking for the perfect button for a project.

I have been thinking of ways to sort the buttons with no real answer. In an inspired moment I decided to tie the buttons together on a piece of string and tie them in a bow. A simple solution for sure, and I'm surely not the first to hit upon it. But this way when I tip them out I can see what I have immediately. I can add or subtract buttons easily. And then I can sort them into jars by colour. My sister then suggested using floral wire, which is a great solution, though I didn't have any on hand.

I began today by picking out my favourite little tin of vintage buttons and starting with them. Cohen sat on the bed with me while the baby slept. He sorted the buttons into little piles, while I threaded them on some thick cotton, then he popped them in the tin. It's a project that is going to take quite a few nap times to accomplish. But in the meantime all those funny little things that end up on the button jar will get sorted too - marbles, single cufflinks, nails, buckles - and the numerous plastic business shirt buttons and broken buttons can be weeded out of the collection while I'm at it.

How do you store or sort your buttons?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Instagram Snippets


1. A whole shop of vintage buttons at Paddington Antiques on Latrobe Terrace, Brisbane
2. Checking out pressed aluminium at Restoration Station for a renovation project
3. Everything looks better en mass
4. He drives, I knit
5. An oregano flower and a blown light bulb, resulting in candle lit dinners
6. Another batch of home made laundry liquid
7. Beads for a wholesale order
8. Baby snuggles
9. Dairy free short bread

Monday, February 18, 2013

Attachment Parenting Seminar with Dr Sears

It'a a wonderful feeling to be a part of a community. Be it online, in your neighborhood, or sitting in a room full of like minded people. Yesterday I felt a part of a parenting community as I listened to Dr William Sears talking at a seminar about attachment parenting. He spoke with warmth and humor, sharing his insights and anecdotes as a pediatrician of forty years and father of eight. In the process he reinforced and encouraged what I am practicing as a parent. 

He began by defining the role of parenting as that of "giving your children the tools to succeed in life." As a young father and doctor he was interested in studying what worked for "most parents, most of the time." After years of observing what "smart" Mums and Dads did and how their babies turned out, he found that parents of connected children followed most of the Baby B's - birth bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bed sharing/ bedding close to baby, believe baby's cries, beware of baby trainers and balance. (The 'beware baby trainers' was in response to a rise in incidents he witnessed of a 'failure to thrive,' after parents were given advice about scheduling feeding or ignoring crying, which resulted in dehydrated, undernourished or disconnected babies.) This list is at the core of attachment parenting, though not all attachment parents do, or are able, to practice everything on this list. (For instance decisions about birth bonding or breastfeeding can be taken away by health issues, or some families may choose not to bed share. We all do what is right for us, though it may not be right for everyone.)

When Dr Sears discussed balance and preventing Mothers from burning out while trying to be the best Mother they can, he spoke of his own wife's struggle to fit in a shower each day when she felt her babies had constantly needed her. At which time he left a gentle reminder on a sign in the bathroom that read: Each day what our baby needs most is a happy, rested Mother. (Something we could all do with being reminded of at times!)

Dr Sears talked about the early years of a child's life as being a long term investment. That by forming caring attachments with our children and comforting them when they cry, we are creating the blueprint for their future relationships. Patterns of association are formed in their brains - I cried, I was comforted; I was hurt, I was comforted. Because this becomes wired in to their brains they will naturally help when others are hurt. By responding to situations such as hitting by asking the child, "how would you feel if Jimmy hit you," you are helping them to learn empathy. He spoke of the science behind attachment parenting and the studies that have shown that attachment parented babies are smarter. Apparently each day a baby may make 10,000 new connections in their brains, while high touch, attached babies make more. So each time you hold, feed or nurture your baby you are helping them make more brain connections.

I had to laugh, he introduced the slide below by saying, "children can be annoying, well our children, maybe not yours." From the laughter in the rest of the room I could tell I wasn't alone. Below is his number one parenting tip. "If I were a child how would I want my Mother/Father to act." This works particularly well as a discipline tip. As Sears said, "before you yell, stop and imagine - if I were a child how would I want my parent to act - if you ask yourself this you will always get it right." He also spoke about a Mothers ability to give a child a look that is at once "firm, stern and loving, that ends with an I love you smile," which lets a child know that their actions are inappropriate. Again I laughed in recognition. I'm quite sure I have that look, as does my Mother.

Martha, Bills wife of 47 years, also spoke. She gave another tip on disciplining small children. Rather than using "No", "Uh-uhh", or a smack on the hand when they touch something they shouldn't, use the phrase "Not for Johnny." The repetition of this phrase will gently teach them and they will soon learn not to touch.

At the close of the talk Sears discussed his definition of success as being, "the number of people whose lives are better because of what you did." This definition works equally well to assess our job as a parent - given we are raising the mothers and fathers of the next generation, as well as Dr Sears contribution to our knowledge by way of his studies and publications - his books proving invaluable to so many.

Questions were taken from the audience which inspired new discussion with Bill and Martha. A few points that stood out for me included Bill's belief that the three things a Doctor should really never advise a mother on were "how long to breastfeed for, should they let their baby cry, and should they feed at night." Those are questions that only you can answer for yourself, though you don't need to make them alone. This is where the importance of community comes in. Support groups of like minded people can help you answer these questions, while, as Martha pointed out, complaining to someone who disagrees with your parenting style leaves you open for criticism. These support communities - be they ABA, mothers group, online forums etc. - are needed because, to quote Martha, "it was never designed to be a Mum and a baby alone in a room somewhere."

There is so much more I could write. He also touched on issues of sleeping, socialisation, schooling, work and Grandparents. I took much away with me from the seminar. As I said, I felt he reinforced and encouraged my parenting practices. No matter how we parent though I think we can all agree, it takes a village to raise a child.

Sunday, February 17, 2013




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

Cohen: He says, "Mama, I want to keep you forever," when I lay down and read with him at bedtime
Emerson: She said her first unmistakable 'ta' for the lady at the fruit and veg shop

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stitch. Read. Covet. Blog.

Stitch: This adorable crochet pattern, the Sunshine Day Afghan, has been a long time favourite of mine. I'm inspired by (and if I am honest, also a little envious of) Alicia's creations and soft palettes. Not only can she stitch such beauty as this, she is also a more than capable knitter, quilter and embroiderer. (Her embroidered ornament patterns are another favourite.)

Read: Oh Penguin - much loved purveyor of the old orange spined classics that always, always come home with me from op-shops - I think you have done it again. Penguin Lantern has just released a collection of cookery classics by the likes of Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and Stephanie Alexander. Yum!

Covet: I am under the illusion that one can never have enough notebooks. Journal keeping, garden diary, blog ideas, knitting notes, to-do lists. Tucked into your bag, popped on a pile of books beside the bed, slipped in to a pocket. And a beautiful notebook is doubly a treasure. I have just discovered and fallen in love with this collection of French Papier Tigre notebooks. I think I might need some...

Blog: Another creative talent who often gives me pangs of creative and lifestyle jealousy, while simultaneously entertaining and inspiring me, is the lovely Greer at typically red. Greer cooks and knits with a joy you can sense through her photography and words. She writes smoothly and honestly about her life in Southern Highlands as a working Mother to three adorable girls. And if you visit before the end of next week you could enter A Very Woolly Giveaway too. (I know I couldn't resist buying Emerson a bumpy bonnet for her upcoming first birthday.)


This post has not been sponsored in any way. The above are genuine items/people/blogs that I am loving.

Care to share your own Stitch. Read. Covet. Blog. in the comments or in a post of your own?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yarn Along

Yarn Along

Yarn Along

I admitted to myself recently that it would not in fact be possible to finish the Camilla blanket in time for Emerson's first birthday - which is the 27th of this month - without giving up my mothering and household responsibilities. (I thought of suggesting the above to my husband, in lieu of a Valentine's present, then thought the better of it. Dave briefly took over from me after my surgery and he is still recovering.) Once I accepted that it would not be done in time I decided to make the blanket bigger than initially intended. I purchased an additional 400 grams of wool. Doubling my blanket budget (which I have 'forgotten' to inform my husband) and well and truly ensuring that it will not be finished in time. 

I like the idea of a bigger blanket though. All that knitting. I don't want her to out grow it too quickly. The pattern required 6.5 mm circular needles, though I had 7 mm on hand. This increased the width of the blanket from 30 inches to 35 inches. By the time I've stitched up all 800 grams of wool I believe the blanket will be big enough to make the move from cot, to toddler bed, to single bed with Emerson. I am determined to finish the blanket before beginning any new projects, lest it hover in limbo like another blanket I have known that will one day be completed... Will endeavor not to bore you too much with it in the meantime. Promise.

Reading is still limited while my eye heals. I've mostly been reading blogs and commenting occasionally. I read far more blogs than I comment on. Something I intend to rectify once my eyesight improves. Do you read more often than you comment?

What are you knitting and reading?


Joining in with Ginny.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The everyday


I was bending down, peering at a shape on the ground this afternoon, trying to get my eyes to focus on it. I couldn't work out if it was a piece of rope, a stick or a small snake. Of course, it was a snake, as my friend pointed out to me. Poor eyes. They still can't focus on anything that isn't a foot from my face. Thankfully I didn't get that close to the snake, though it did turn out to be nonvenomous.

There has been a lot of pottering and knitting in these parts of late, as my eye recovers from the surgery. I feel like I am banging on about it, but it is a major factor in my days at the moment. It's three weeks today, with an expected recovery time of six weeks (with surgery in my other eye to follow.) The days are filled with our usual rhythm of playing, cleaning, washing, cooking. Only, everything takes a little longer when you can't see it properly. I am also unable to drive or tolerate sunlight. So the children and I have been spending most of our days inside, with the occasional outing with a sympathetic family member. Dear friends have been coming to visit too - some kindly hanging out my washing while they're here.

Of course, there have been moments of cabin fever - for children and mother alike. Surely it would be worse were I not the homebody that I am. However, once you are told you can't drive each idea you have involves driving. To keep Cohen entertained we brought him a pair of goldfish, which he has named Butter and Deshaw. He is fascinated by them. The placement of the fish tank with regards to the power point required some furniture rearrangement. His Ikea bookcase fell apart in the process, for the last time. Rather than replace it with another $50 chipboard bookcase I looked on ebay and was incredibly pleased when I won the above book case for $20. Sturdy, white painted pine, this vintage book case is home made and a little rough around the edges. Perfect for a four year olds collection of books and toys.

I think there will be a few more items rearranged and projects tackled while we spend our days at home.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


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

Cohen: This boy is giving up his day naps
Emerson: This girl took her first steps to Grandpa

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Stitch. Read. Covet. Blog.

Knit: I fell in love with Alana's descriptions of Botanical Knits as I caught up on the Never Not Knitting pod casts after my surgery. The newly released design book did not disappointed. I brought a copy of the pdf this morning and have already added Entangled Vines to my knitting queue.

Read: I've seen Pia Jane Bijkerk's lovely styling and words in frankie and Country Style magazines, as well as on the Home Life blog. But it was only by following an Instagram hash tag that I discovered Pia's blog and her Pozible campaign. If you are a sentimental Mama, as I know I am, this may be the perfect Mother's Day gift for you too. There are five days to left to help Pia self publish her fourth book. 

Covet: Have you seen this dress? The Author Outing Dress. I have a case of the wanties with this dress, though my sister was less impressed. I like to imagine myself on a date with my dear husband in this dress. Perhaps we would go to the movies. (I don't think I have been to the movies since before Cohen was born - and he is four.)

Blog: Michelle has been blogging at hugo & elsa for almost seven years. It's a favourite of mine, and one that I click over to each time I see a new post in my reader. It's such a wealth of inspiration. From honest cooking, to the charms of country life. From renovations to camping, vintage to veggies, Michelle has a beautiful eye for design and colour, and a flair with food. hugo & elsa is sporting a new simple and elegant blog layout and I think you will enjoy sitting down with a cuppa and having a wander through Michelle's gorgeous posts.

(Tying these Loving links together today, Pia mentioned hugo & elsa as a blog that inspires her in an article in Country Style and Michelle has blogged about and is supporting Pia's book project. I love how the blog community works like that.)


This post has not been sponsored in any way. The above are genuine items/people/blogs that I am loving.

Care to share your own Knit. Read. Covet. Blog. in the comments or in a post of your own?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

11 months

11 months

11 months

11 months

11 months

11 months

11 months

I'm running late posting last months portraits. If not for my sister there may well be no eleven month photos. My eyes were not recovered enough to be able to pick up the camera. The 27th was a rainy day, but a couple of days later the sun came out. Fiona was here and I handed her the camera, determined to capture twelve months of portraits one way or another. I think she did a wonderful job obtaining these images.

Our dear little Emerson is growing like a weed. Taller, faster and busier each day this past month I'm sure. Her confidence has also grown. She pulls herself to a standing position on any likely object, pair of legs or piece of furniture, and cruises from one item to another while holding on. She laps around the coffee table when we sit on the couch and flicks us a smile each time she starts the lap anew. She has reached new levels of speed with her crawling as well, racing Cohen, sometimes for a toy other times just for fun.

That gummy smile of hers is filling in too. The second of her top front teeth cut the gums this month, making a total of six teeth thus far and resulting in three nights of her only sleeping while on my chest. The poor wee love.

Only one more monthly portrait to go. (Sob)


Onetwothree, four, fivesixseven, eightnine and ten months old
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