Friday, October 31, 2014

This Moment

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Cook Playdough

How good is play dough? For my five and two year old, it is the best. They spend hours using household items, their hands and imaginations to create everything from people wearing dinosaur shirts (as above) to angry birds being bombed with sling shots. Seriously. (And while the second is not exactly my choice of play inspiration, who am I to argue with the creativity of my big boy?)

Even more exciting for my two was the fact that they were able to make our latest batch of play dough all by themselves. From measuring to stirring, colouring to kneading, together they carried out the simple instructions. And they really are very simple.

You will need -

2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of oil
1 cup of water
Food colouring

Mix flour and salt together. Mix in oil, water and food colouring, then knead.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Owning It

I read a great post by Lisa Congdon recently - On Owning It: I am an Artist. I found myself relating to much of what Lisa wrote; from being a late bloomer in my chosen field, to feeling like an impostor, and finally embracing the experiences that have lead me on this path.

Despite having a Fine Arts/ Visual Arts degree. despite completing a 12 month Vocation course at the Goldsmith school, despite spending years working at the bench in workshops learning from other jewellers, despite the jewellery I had designed, made and sold, despite my workshop full of tools, I still found it difficult to call myself a jeweller, a designer, or an artist. Because despite undertaking an apprenticeship, I wasn't able to finish it before my boss ran out of money, and it left me feeling as if I wasn't a 'real' jeweller. When I left the workforce to have my son, I had really lost my confidence in my skills and ideas.

It took me some time, but it wasn't until I finally shook off the fear of being called out as an impostor and embraced the skills I have gained, that my business began to flourish. My new found confidence gave me the courage to try new things, open new doors and grow my business. To advertise, apply for Finders Keepers, take on an intern, accept commissions.

If my journey hadn't been so varied, I may never have realised that I could start my own business from home and be there while my babies grew up. I would not be setting my own hours, designing my own pieces, and making the pieces I want to make. And as such, being exactly where I want to be and not wishing to change a thing.

So, I'm owning it.

I am an artist.

How about you?

Monday, October 27, 2014

What I'm Reading, Eating, Listening to and Loving...


I've just finished reading Lisa Congdon's latest book, Art Inc., an artists guide to building their career. I found it instructive and I think it would be useful for any creative business person.

For my neighbourhood book club, I recently finished Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None - the best selling mystery novel ever and one of the best selling books of all time. I love that book club challenges me to read novels that fall outside of my usual well worn genres. And honestly, this book did not disappoint. It also made for excellent book club discussion. (I am so lucky to have such awesome neighbours, who started a book club years before I moved here, and invited my to join before our house contract had settled, three years ago!)

Next in line is Tim Winton's Eyrie for the final book club of the year, and Meg Stewart's Margaret Olley: Far From A Still Life, chosen as a result of falling in love with Olley's work after our trip to the Margaret Olley Art Center. And finally as a book that was recommended to me, The Happiness Trap.


As the fabulous flush of Mulberries on our tree diminishes, we are eating fresh handfuls of berries picked daily, and baking with our frozen berries.

Listening to

You know I love to listen to pod casts while I'm working at the jewellery bench, and when I have run out of episodes of After The Jump, or Stuff You Missed In History Class, I have been trying out some newer pod casts, like the long form news style Serial, from Ira Glass and team, and the creative and inspirational Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. by Tiffany Han.


Afternoon sunlight peeking in our rooms.
The imagination that comes to life in my children with the addition of a cape and mask.
My Belinda Marshall 2015 Wall Calender has been pre-ordered. Swoon!
A Little Bit Crafty - with some of my most loved makers inside, this is on my wish list.
Jacaranda trees blooming in purple all over town.
Two passionate people with a start up worth supporting, The Nursery Project.


Please share a few of your own reads, eats and favourites in the comments!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homeschooling for School Children

I've been looking up homeschooling activities lately, to complement the learning five year old Cohen is doing at school (Prep) in a creative and play based way, and for two and a half year old Emerson, who is already showing a lot of interest. There are so many great resources that are just a simple Google or Pinterest search away. I love that so many homeschooling parents share posts about their journey and what works with their children, which has inspired me to share more of our activities on my blog too. As the school year draws closer to its close, I wanted to start implementing activities that we could carry on with on the holidays, to nurture Cohen and Emerson's love of learning. On many blogs I read suggestions about Nature Books, and was reminded to lead by example and make it fun.

Yesterday, with an empty Saturday before us, we made plans to visit the library, the playground and the shops. At the library Cohen used a computer to complete his first catalogue search to track down his first chapter book, he and Emerson joined two other children to build with over sized Lego blocks, and Emerson and I selected several books for our routine pre-nap story time. From there we visited the playground and after climbing, sliding and swinging, I suggested we hunt through the many fallen leaves and find our favorites. Both children loved this idea, and we compared our 'treasures' in excitement. Cohen commented on the colours and shapes of the leaves, and I suggested we take them home so we could draw them, which was also met with excitement. I added that while we were at the shops we could perhaps buy a special sketchbook, and call it our 'Nature Book', and only draw the leaves, shells, flowers etc that we found on our adventures. Cohen couldn't wait to get going and headed back to the car! Emerson was less interested in this idea, but already has her own book and set of felt pens that she plays with on a daily basis and is currently in her circle period (where she covers the pages with circles).

Once home the youngest two napped while Cohen and I sat and drew together. I left the dishes in the sink, the clean clothes in the machine, and spent one on one time drawing with my big boy. It was so lovely. I lead by example, writing in the front of my book, drawing the leaves, labeling my drawing, and Cohen did the same. There was none of the resistance that I am often met with while encouraging him to practice writing for homework. He added his own creative touch by drawing a slippery slide, so he would remember where we found the leaves. He decided we should keep our treasure in a shoe box and is already planning to draw with his Aunty at our upcoming Farm Stay holiday.

So, while Cohen will continue to pursue a traditional education, and Emerson and Oscar will eventually join him, a year after most Australian children, I'm grateful there is such a plentiful source of wisdom online, that we are able to integrate homeschooling techniques and projects in to our daily lives.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this matter!

Friday, October 24, 2014

This Moment

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 Tips For New Parents From A Stay At Home Mother Of Three

It feels like everyone is having babies at the moment. There are so many delightful bumps in my social circle. As a result there has been an increase in conversations about parenting advice. As a Mama of three who has learnt as she has gone along, these are the tips I would love to give new parents, or go back in time and tell myself.

Less is more.
You don't need all the fancy baby goods at the baby store. All you really need is a car seat, somewhere for baby to sleep (bassinette, cot, your bed, up to you), a rocker or similar for them to safely rest, bedding, clothes, wraps, nappies (cloth or disposable), wipes, gentle bath wash (many babies have sensitive skin - I found GIA and  Dermaveen were best), washers, towels, a few toys and books, a sling, a high chair, and a stroller that reclines. Baby will grow out of most of those gadgety things in their first year. As the old saying goes - a baby is only as expensive as you make them.

Listen to your baby.
There comes a point where you need to throw away the books and trust your instincts. If baby is hungry, feed them. Feeding on demand makes more sense to me than trying to schedule feeds. I'm not always hungry at the same time each for the exact same amount of food, so why should a growing baby be? It's ok to let them feed to sleep. One health nurse in particular had me paranoid about letting my first born feed to sleep. I feared being 'used' and him 'developing bad habits.' Thank goodness another health nurse asked me, 'What could be more natural.' Indeed! And as controversial as this topic is, I have to say, don't leave them to cry. Babies cry to communicate - hunger, discomfort, tiredness. Hold them, kiss them, rock them to sleep. You can not spoil them. If your friend was crying, you wouldn't just leave them to cry it out, you would comfort them.

It's your choice.
Everyone has an opinion on breast or bottle feeding, and sleeping arrangements. I like Dr Sears comment that no one should tell a parent how to feed their baby or where it should sleep. Research your options and do what works for you. You are allowed to change your mind. And what works now might change later. 

You are not alone. 
Mothers groups and Playgroups provide a support network of parents and carers with similarly aged children. It's often reassuring to know other babies and toddlers are doing exactly the same things yours are, and feels good to be able to share, laugh and commiserate over the joys and frustrations of parenthood.

It never hurts to ask. 
For up to date information in Australia you can turn to your local health nurse, the Australian Breastfeeding Association, 13HEALTH or your GP. If you're not sure about a cough/ rash/ cut etc it's better to go to the Doctors and risk nothing being wrong, that not go and risk something being wrong.

Baby wear. 
I am biased, but I love baby wearing. A sling or carrier can be your best friend and leave your hands free. It's a beautiful way to bond with and respond to baby. It's particularly convenient when you have other children. I wear Oscar in a sling daily and he loves it and is lulled to sleep while I'm walking, or experiences the world from the safety of his Mama.

Baby lead weaning. 
I only tried this with my second child and I would never go back to 'traditional' solids. Be gone mushy food. Be gone baby cereal. A simpler, more natural and faster way to introduce solids to babies. Lots of great info here

This too shall pass.
Before becoming a parent, you felt sorry for the child having a tantrum at the shops, after having children you feel sorry for the parent. So often our children are going through normal developmental stages, which doesn't make them any less challenging. Stay informed and keep your expectations realistic for their age. Talk to other parents about how they are managing the same behaviors. And remember, this too shall pass!

Just laugh.
It pays to have a sense of humor as a parent. From exploding nappies, to projectile vomit, there's a whole new range of experiences before you. That little baby will eventually draw on the walls, or poo in the bath, break your favorite cup, open the door while you are in the public toilet, and no matter how high or how well you hide the nappy cream, sooner or later they will find it and smear it on themselves/ room/ toys. Not to mention nearly all the promises you made yourself pre-children will be broken - I'll never raise my voice/ go out without make up/ let my child eat that... And especially pre-children thoughts like 'My child will never act like that/ get away with that/ throw a tantrum in public' will be proven wrong. It's easier to cope in these situations if you can keep your sense of humor.

Just love them.
This is my mantra. Sometimes patience runs out. Sometimes frustration, sleep deprivation and stress are your constant companions. Sometimes you need to hand the baby to your partner and have a long bath and a glass of wine without any interruptions. And when that's not an option, and you feel like you aren't being the kind of parent you want to be, reminding yourself to 'just love them' can help diffuse the situation and change the gears in your mind so you can begin problem solving.

Please leave any other tips or advice you have in the comments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On My Bench

Do you remember On My Desk? The meme Kootoyoo hosted before My Creative Space? Am I showing my blogging age?! Well, it was one of the reasons I fell in love with blogging. It opened my eyes to the creative community online, introduced me to many of the creative bloggers I still follow and gave me a chance to not only peek in to the crafty lives of other makers, but share my own works in progress. Some things never change, and you will quite often find me sharing On My Bench posts on Instagram.

Above are a couple of the things I have been working on lately. Pictures one and four show a blue quartz ring in progress, for a custom order. I love this beautiful dark blue rock, it's such an intense colour. It is going to be one amazing ring! A simple four claw setting and solid band, showing off the gemstone. The second image across is a pile of castings for orders and stock. The rings on the far right are a new design I have been working on and will be released next month. I have a couple of other ideas up my sleeve with these rings and I do believe my Christmas present will be taken care of as a result. The third image is of a pair of Maeve rings being resized for a customer, using a jewellers trick to make sure they are both the same size.

So my lovelies, what have you been making lately?
Did you used to play On My Desk?
Do you miss My Creative Space?

Monday, October 20, 2014


Cohen: My super hero.
Emerson: Blue eyed, blonde haired, cheekiness.
Oscar: He still has that baby scent, the softest head and the smoothest skin.

I'm quite late to the party with this post, and with this link up. It's been awhile since I joined in. It's hard to juggle being a good parent and being a good jeweller and having time to read, blog, garden, knit, write, and do all the things I'd like to do. So I do what I can, when I can, and just enjoy everything as much as I can. One day these little people won't need me so much and I will have more time, and that day will be bittersweet indeed.

Joining in with Jodi.


42/52 last year. What a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ten Things I'm Doing...

I'm joining in with Pip to share the things I'm doing for my health...

1. Eating overnight oats
I love overnight oats. I make them before bed, pop them in the fridge and they are waiting for me first thing in the morning. And as I am breastfeeding, I always wake up hungry! I make mine with oats, soy milk, chia seeds, soy yoghurt, slithered almonds and frozen raspberries. I make a mini bowl for Emerson too.

2. Cutting back on alcohol and soft drink
I love a glass of wine with dinner, or a soft drink with lots of ice on hot days, but I have cut back on both and now they are weekend treats.

3. Seeing an endocrinologist (thyroid specialist)
My overactive thyroid was actually been well behaved during my pregnancy with Oscar and has continued to behave since his birth. But given it's history, I am keeping up to date with my six weekly blood tests and specialist appointments (despite the fact that it is no fun sitting in a hospital waiting room with a baby and a toddler.)

4. Napping
My four and a half month old is still feeding at least two times a night, so once a week or so I listen to my body and take a nap. I do so love a nice nap, but more often than not there just seems too much to do to have a nap. Weekend naps feel more guilt free than week day naps...

5. Growing my own
My veggie patch is not as fully stocked as it was before I had Oscar, as it's harder to spend as much time as I used to in the garden with a baby. But I am growing tomatoes, asparagus, chilli, herbs, baby spinach, lettuce, shallots, sweet potatoes and mulberries, which are all free of chemicals.

6. Cooking from scratch
I have a sensitive tummy at the best of times, I can't eat dairy and I don't eat red meat (though I do eat chicken and fish), so eating out is often tricky. I feel better when I meal plan, cook from scratch and am mindful of what I eat. My favourite meal is Singapore noodles - a little curry, a little garlic, vermicilli noodles, chicken, prawns and lots of veggies like mushrooms, snow peas, shallots and onion. Yum!

7. Writing
Writing is great for my mental health. A brain dump in ones diary is second only to a deep and meaningful (D&M) over wine with your best friend (or twin sister.)

8. Stopping for tea
I have the tendency to just keep going. And I love tea. I make tea and bring it with me while I do my chores. It sits on top of the washing machine while I load it with clothes, it sits on my bedside table while I sort the clean laundry on my bed, it sits on the vanity while I have a shower before the school run. So once a day I try to actually stop and just sit with a cup of tea. No tidying. No working. Just five minutes to rest, reflect and enjoy my tea.

9. Wearing a safety mask
I am a good girl when it comes to workshop safety and despite the fact that my glasses often fog up while doing so, I always wear my safety mask when polishing jewellery. Breathing in lots of polishing compound it not good for my insides.

10. Yoga
I want to do yoga daily, but as I mentioned before, my baby still feeds twice a night, and I have a five and two year old to run around after. Walking to school, wearing Oscar in a sling and rolling metal are all good forms of exercise for me on a daily basis, and I squeeze in yoga when I can. But once I am sleeping through the night again, I have high hopes of returning to doing yoga each morning again, before the children wake up.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Capturing childhood

If there's one thing that all parents might agree on, it's that children grow up so quickly. It still amazes me that my first born is at school. And just this week my baby has started solids. Next thing I know all three will be in school. There is no halt to the progress of time, which is both wonderful and bittersweet. There are only memories, and words and images that capture the moments. I had been thinking for some time about getting family photos taken. Nothing formal and matchy matchy, just casual and candid, capturing the moment type photos. Something to add to the photo wall, which heavily features the first born, but not the next two... The thought stayed with me after Oscar was born and my older children suddenly seemed even bigger. 

As luck would have it, everything fell in to place when I realised one of the Mothers I know through Cohen's school is a children's photographer. Exactly the kind of business that I want to support. She understood what I wanted and gave me free reign to choose the venue. So one bright, sunny day we headed to the Beenleigh Historical Village. As we wandered around the old buildings, vintage fire engines, farm equipment and telephone booth, the lovely Trudi joined us with her camera. And it was just what I wanted. No awkward posing. Just my little ones exploring and playing, captured in the moment. With a few photos where I am actually in the shot, rather than behind the camera.

I do believe the third and the last photos are my favourites. Cohen and Emerson currently play a game where they pull a cranky face, as cranky as they can make it, which then makes them laugh. Rather than asking them to smile we asked them to show us their cranky faces, thus preserving this memory. In the last photo, Trudi had given them each a lollipop for being so well behaved and they sat back down and showed each other which colour they had chosen, which made for this sweet shot.

Now to swap out some of the photos in the photo wall.

Thanks so much Trudi Le Brese for your skill and patience, and for helping me to capture this time in their childhood.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mulberry Jam - A simple recipe

The mulberries soaking in the sugar, and the mulberries cooking.

Almost three years ago I planted a mulberry tree next to our shed. At that stage it was little more than a twig with two leaves on it. It was difficult to imagine that in three short years it's branches would be so heavy with fruit that I would happily allow the birds to take their fill and still be filling a colander with fruit each day. I feel rich with fruit! And to celebrate I have been sharing it with my neighbours, freezing it for when the tree is exhausted and turning my hand to jam making. 

I've attempted Mulberry jam in the past with limited success. My first batch wouldn't set and jars and jars of runny jam went to waste. My second batch I overcooked in an effort to right the wrongs of my first batch. This time the contents of my jars was something like a fruit toffee, though less edible. This week though I found satisfaction! I cooked a batch of jam that made me proud and which has been covering muffins and crumpets ever since.

Where I had been going wrong was trying to cook Mulberry jam the same way I cook Strawberry jam. But Mulberries are thicker, denser and need more cooking time. Cooking in smaller batches also seems like the best way to go. I've written down my steps for future reference, and for anyone else interested in making their own jam. I learnt to make jam after a whole lot of googling, and tips from Rhonda at Down to Earth blog.

You will need -

800 grams Mulberries
800 grams white sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Stock pot
Wooden Spoon
Jam jars
Measuring cup

Wash the fruit and twist the stems from the top - you can pinch them off too, but this hurts your fingers after awhile.
Weigh your Mulberries and sugar, you want about the same amount of fruit as sugar, though you can try using a little less sugar.
Place fruit in your biggest saucepan - I use a stock pot - and cover with sugar. Mix and leave for an hour.

Meanwhile, wash up your jam jars and heat your oven up on to a low heat (80 degrees) and place jars inside to sterilise them. Place a saucepan in the freezer.
Add lemon juice to fruit and sugar, bring to the boil while mixing.
Allow mixture to bubble up and skim the foam off the top.
Turn down to a rolling boil and keep stirring so the jam doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook for approx. 20 minutes, or until mixture seems less runny.

Take a teaspoon of the liquid mixture and drip it across the plate from the freezer. This cools the boiling liquid so you can see if the jam has 'set' or not. This step confused me at first. I wasn't sure how to tell if it has set or not. What you are looking for is for your drips to behave like store brought jam. So when you push your fingernail through the drip, the mixture should part and not run back together again. If it does, keep cooking and try again in another ten minutes. If the mixture bunches up and stays separated, it has set and you need to turn the heat off.

Using your tongs to remove the jars from the oven and place the funnel in the mouth of one of the jars. I use a measuring cup with a lip to scoop up the jam mixture and pour it in to the jar. Be careful, it's hot! And hot jam burns! Leave a couple of centimeters room at the top of the jar.
Pop on your lids, turn the jars upside and leave them to cool and they are ready to eat.
If you aren't going to eat them straight away, and you want to store the jam for up to twelve months, you will need to use a water bath method to kill any bacteria in the jar.

Wash out your stock pot and fill it up half way with hot water. Bring it to the boil with a tea towel in the bottom. Place the jars in on top of the tea towel - this helps to avoid them from breaking or cracking on the bottom of the pan - making sure they are covered with water and bring the water back up to the boil and leave it to boil for about an hour.
Remove jars with tongs and let cool overnight.
Store in a dark, cool cupboard for up to a year.

Happy jam making!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eight Steps to a Heart

1. Working on designs with the customer - their sketche and mine.
2. The finished sketch, gemstones and 3 mm thick silver plate.
3. Cutting the scribed design from the plate.

4. Once the outside was right, it's time to cut out the inner heart by slipping a jewellers saw blade through the hole drilled in the top of the heart.
5. The completed saw piercing.
6. The finished design with holes drilled and filed to accommodate the chain.

7. The pendant after the setter beautifully grain set twenty round brilliant cut Cubic Zirconias.

8. The finished piece, after polishing and hard gold plating.

When ever I hand make a custom piece, I take step by step photos of the process to share with the client. It's exciting seeing a design come to life, for me and for them. This elegant piece is a birthday gift from a loving husband to his lovely wife, and I am quite sure it will be cherished.
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