Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rain, Rain, Come and Play (and How to Undermine 8.75 Years of Consistent Parenting in One Fell Shopping Swoop)

I’ve had things down pat on the shopping-with-kids thing for quite some time and then I went and ruined everything. It’s all going to sound tres dictatorial but it works for me and it’s been a long time between checkout meltdowns (mine or the kids). I don’t give in to requests for stuff or treats when out and about* and for ages now, if ever there is one, my reply is the same every time: Does that really work? Do I ever buy anything when you ask or whine or whinge? Nope? Right. Let’s put it on your birthday list then...

A month or so ago, I was out with the small and she spotted a see-through, starry umbrella and she was beside-herself excited and asked if she could have one for her birthday (10 months hence). I took one look. I remembered the pitter patter sound of raindrops falling on my kid-size umbrella. How I would stand under mine in my soggy gumboots, watching the rain plop and drop and drip and dribble and generally marvel at how LOVELY and WONDERFUL it was to have a see-through umbrella. So then I said, Actually I think we’ll buy it right now! and there was an anklebiter jaw drop.

Last week I was out with the same small again. There was a ‘Can I have...?’ question. I got as far as: ‘Does that ever really work when you ask? The immediate kid response? YES! YES! YES! REALLY? HOO-RAAAAAAY!!!!

PS. There was an all-in sibling bug rescue yesterday. Sixty three beetles were rescued from a drenched and certain drowning death.

In some cases this was more of a case of out of the frying pan into the fire.

PPPS. Photographic, irrefutable, evidential proof that I have planted my zinnia seeds from Susie. I suspect this wouldn’t stand up in a court of law but you don’t think the Middle would donate twenty loo rolls for making dirt sushi do you?

* While I fully admit to being a dragon of a mother (mwah ha ha ha) this is not to say that I don’t subscribe to the occasional unannounced and entirely spontaneous kid treat. This will stand up in a court of law – I have receipts.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mary Go Round and Round and Round...

What I should be doing this Saturday day, is preparing for a market next Saturday day. But there’s a low, heavy sky and a sense of still, while we all wait for the bucketing of a month of rain in one weekend. I’m a bit grey and fuzzy around the edges and moving at half speed and setting half hour Lego challenges for kids. Between the get-set-go! and final judging of the highest or widest (with bonus points for creativity and outdoor balconies), there are these...

Courtesy of Lola Nova’s fabulously crystal clear, Mary Go Round Flower Ring Tutorial. Gloriously gratifying, speedy, crafty hits.

Which may, or may not, delightfully frame small treasures on the nearest bit of bare wall. Not that it matters – today it just isn’t about the destination.

PS. I went all renegade for half a second and tried a picot sort of edge thing on one of the blue ones. I reckon it would be fun to try some alternatives but I suspect that clever Lola Nova lady knows best.

PPS. As per Michelle’s inspired suggestion, I also raided the garden shed and used two rounds of whipper snipper line trimmer stuff instead of bangles...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where I Take Giver-of-Weirdy-Handcrafted-Presents to a Whole New Level

Possibly inspired by the middle’s ever-growing toilet roll collection, or maybe only the ease with which one can direct visitors to our loo (that’s our door sign up there), I was recently DRIVEN to try the cross stitch thing and craft up a birthday pressie.


The lady in the embroidery store was caught entirely off guard by the flustered appearance of a weirdy lady wielding a printout of a loo sign, requesting a Cross Stitch 101 education.

As it turns out, it’s pretty easy. Especially if your small child is not inspired to leave a nice, leftover spaghetti bolognaise fingerprint to the left of the loo lady’s shoulder. Especially if you need not wash away a flavoured fingerprint (along with your water-soluble-drawn design). Especially if you don’t assume you’ll make it up as you go along with the ‘help’ of the now clean, clad-in-various-shades-of-blinding-pink three year old, during elder sibling swimming lessons.

Unsurprisingly, I broke the one essential cross stitch rule and spent one such swimming session crafting crosses in the wrong direction. All of which went entirely unnoticed until I took this photograph. As it turns out, that’s one particular rule-thing existing for a reason.

No matter, the birthday girl promised she wouldn’t look.

So she wouldn’t look at the back of the work either, I finished things off with this (entirely removable) back covering notion...


Happy birthday girly. Happy weekend you lovely lot.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ruby has a good giggle, can do ‘flat’ splits and bounce on the trampoline as high as space!!!

My girl’s friend, Ruby, had her ninth birthday recently. It was my kid’s idea for me to make her pal a cushion. It was my idea to put the kid to work too. I had some red, ruby-red, strips leftover from that sofa quilt throw thingy and put them together, along with some natural linen. My kid wrote directly on the linen strips with a water erasable pen, while her mother sat on her hands and restrained herself from art direction (note the three, THREE!!! exclamation marks).

I then set to with the embroidering over the top bizzo, thinking I’d stretch myself and learn stem stitch. After the first word it became apparent that Ruby would be receiving her cushion for her 39th birthday. The rest is, therefore, er, backstitch.

It’s a cushion full of (my) wonk (you should see how centred that back secret pocket isn’t – shhhh!) and involved early mornings and evening pocket stitching by my kid.

It’s a pressie also made with a whole heap of genuine heart (because we both reckon Ruby is the bees knees).

PS. That isn’t Ruby, that’s my kid. Even though both of them think they are ‘exactly the same’ (including the bit about both having ‘slightly weird’ mothers). Exactly the same, even though Ruby has long and incredibly straight blonde hair and looks very much different but still exactly the same. If you know what they mean.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Er, Week? What Week?

Normally one to take the bull by the horns, to tackle things head on (ouch), I reckon I’m letting this last week sail right by, right through to the keeper. I’m sweeping under the carpet, I’m hands over ears singing my la la la la la la la’s, I’m ostrich with head lodged firmly in the sand. Who would have thunk that being an adult, acting like an adult, could, after all this practising, still be oh, so tricky.

It wasn’t even a dodgy week because the Mr has been nose to the grindstone in Canberra, (finally) installing his artworks. If the truth be told, the sole parenting bit has been fairly cruisey. We have all quietly noted that his absence has meant:
1. the Ten Minute Tidy takes nine minutes (?!?)
2. the dishwasher is but half full at days end
3. Dad consumes a lot of milk. What with our regular delivery, we’re on milkshake diets for the foreseeable.

Regardless of all that, honey, it’d be lovely to have you home.

There were other bright sparks of goodness piercing through the undertones of blah. Friends arrived home from a holiday that took forever, there was hanging out with a five week old, movie night with the kids, the last weekend spent with dear buddies who I am old enough to have known for TWENTY EIGHT YEARS (when did that happen?). Not only that, two packages of Just Because arrived in my letterbox. I am amazed how much a Just Because warms the cockles...

Mel, you made me all trembly lower lip (in a lovely way) with your Purl Soho treats and card:

Susie, you made me laugh.

Mostly at your faith in me and gardening.

Neither of you girls could possibly quite ‘get’ how perfectly timed and gratefully received were your words and packages of sheer delight.

Finally, if you happened to be wondering about that image right at the top, it’s one that prompted another smile at the corners of the mouth this week. It’s part of the Middle’s expansive toilet roll collection. Every now and then, I venture in to his room (while he’s safely at school) to do something more than a cursory seven year old tidy. Whenever I do this, afterwards he comes to thank me profusely for not throwing out his toilet roll collection.

Kid, I wouldn’t dream of throwing out your toilet roll collection.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


On Thursday, I was running between appointments (late as usual), then came to a screeching, abrupt halt, in the middle of a busy street. I gasped. Even at breakneck, late-as-usual speed, I had spotted a thing of breathtaking beauty. I’d narrowly missed stomping on a dead dragonfly.

How often, other than in a museum, do you really get to study a dragonfly? Even in the museum, they are lost to the bug specimens with the louder personalities: the rhinoceros beetle, the bird-eating spider, the hairier heebie jeebies. Out in the world, dragonflies whizz by in a blur: feigning left, right, who knows where.

I photographed this critter on a lightbox. The weird and changing colours are, I guess, from the strobing of the fluorescent light.

Oh, and if you look closely at the top image, you’ll see the tiny silhouette of an ant who seems to have come along for the ride (lunch).

The dragonfly’s wingspan is 11cm, by the way.

When I found him, I was reminded of solo travel. Don’t you miss company most when you behold something wonderful? You have to make that split second decision: whether to come over like a blethering lunatic, exclaiming your rapturous joy out loud to the world. Or you hold that shiver of excitement tight inside.

Of course I came across like a blethering lunatic. Then I thought some of you might like to see him too. If you want, you can pop by for a cuppa and a closer look and we’ll exclaim out loud.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Late As Usual

It is with great shame that I fess up to being a bad sister/bad auntie/ad hoc crafter. The ad hoc revelation thing will not prompt shocked, the world-is-ending, bewilderment.

With all the recent inlaw catering, my sister has patiently awaited the presentation of casseroles or lasagnes or some such homecooked goodness. Meanwhile her newest addition to the family, remains entirely bereft of handknittedness. If I don’t deliver this affair now, the kid will be sweltering in forty degree summer.

The pattern is from this book, knit with squidgy soft, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran – only then with an on-a-whim, retrofitted, sort-of-cross-stitched ‘H’ (for baby ‘Hudson’).

My thanks to Tam for the inspired kick to the (baby-gifting) shins. My thanks to Lauren for the nudge to the casserole guilt.

As I was ad hoc-ing the ‘H’ in place, using some stash yarn scraplet, I realised I had entirely neglected to blog my Ishbel experience. I’d hate you to think I never finish anything. You didn’t think that, did you?

May I present an unhelpful, close-up photo of Ishbel One:

Entirely completed but with oh, so many mistakes, you can barely make out the intended pattern. Three quarters through, I realised all the horribly wrong. Yet I couldn’t stretch my knit wide enough on the needles to pick up my mistakes. The biggest mistake was the blind assumption that I am a ‘reader’ of patterns.

Not to be beaten, may I present Ishbel Two in yet more unhelpful, close up style:

And then doing an interpretation of a curtain:

It turns out I am a Chart Reading Type. Turns out when I knit with a chart I can read the pattern. Amazing.

In case you’re entirely in the dark about what an Ishbel should look like, due to my entirely unhelpful file photography, then go and see Suse. Suse knows how to show you an Ishbel. Not only that, Suse knows how to wear a shawl. That, I’m still working on.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


We’re smack bang in the middle of some GLORIOUS weekend weather. It’s the inlaws’ last day with us before they head off to New Zealand and then home to England and I know things will get a bit tricky this evening. Before all the tricky we have a day at the beach and a barbecue (we’ve entirely indoctrinated the visiting Poms to the joys of perfection-grilled kangaroo). It’ll be a day of lazy and all about the kids and maybe a stitch or two in between for me.

My girl and I are loving the collaboration happening with all the red up there (see, we’re not really up to much mischief – it’s not like we’re yarnbombing a traffic light or stuff).

I suspect, I have pushed things a little far with the latest Olearia, broken ALL the rules. I’ve, um, run out of staples. The Olearia pattern runs over quite some number of pages, and the page numbers didn’t print and there are quite a few style options. I sort of lost track of the pages and where I was and after a few days, thought I should maybe consult that pattern properly. I’m happy to say I’m now back on track, after a shrugging of the shoulders and the tacking on of EIGHTY missing stitches into the fifth last row of the bodice section. About thirty rows too late and possibly somewhat abrupt.

Oh, ye of little faith.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Last night, while I was sleeping, my Mum’s best friend said goodbye to a second child. It was a long goodbye, over weeks and months, filled with great pain and denial and fight. There was a relentless vigil involving much hand holding and book reading and shared moments to grasp tight. There are now two small children without their mother, devoted sisters without their other. There is a ripple effect that extends far and wide. As I scrub my kitchen walls and find the three year old a snack and move around an ordinary, blessed day, Amy’s Mum leaves the hospice, to drive home with her grief and work out where to go from here.

My heart goes out to you, Jen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Creative Space

Put me, a pot or two of ink and a screen in the same room and you’re asking for trouble. I am the very definition of Screenprinting Disaster. There’s mess everywhere and there’s a great, goofy, beaming, smile on my dial.

That worn out t-shirt up there is evidence of the screenprinting disaster zone. It’s old and unglamourous and the Mr’s work t-shirt from ancient times. It’s also the one I wore with great purpose when I was busy birthing the third kid. In between all the huffery and puffery I’d look down at the Love Your Work. Except from where I was standing/climbing walls/yelling at lung tops, it was reading an upside down Work Your Love. I dig that scuzzy t-shirt.

In other highly creative output news the Mr and I have been baking cookies. I shall say nothing more in the interests of cloak and dagger-ish-ness, except for the bit about them being seriously scrummy as a tea accoutrement.

In yet more secret-squirrel-because-it-may-yet-fall-in-a-heap news, my eldest and me are plotting some collaborative mischief, concocted over teeth brushing and brainstormed through toothpaste foam this morning. I am ITCHING to haul that kid out of school early and GET CRACKING.

And it’ll be eggs on toast for dinner tonight.

Hold on to your hat and pop by Kirsty’s for this week’s creative space, whirlwind, world tour...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creaking Down The Home Straight

I’ve consulted the archives and lo! this circle-in-a-square granny project has been with me for one year and two days. The amount of effort, bored to tears-ness, lessons learned, queasy, car-sickened craft that has gone into this little number is immeasurable, incalculable, infinite. I am gobsmacked at the uncharacteristic, marked restraint: to date, I have posted but five times on the sucker.

One year and two days on, I have crocheted 180 squares, retro-fitted a flat braid join (one of the lessons learned) and woven in eighty seven squares worth of ends (so, approximately 12,467). I will admit to wildly enjoying the first third of this process.

Such is the angst now associated with this work in progress mocking me from the sofa in various states of incomplete, I am inspired to start a meme. How about this? WEAVING IN WEDNESDAY!* The mid-week, ‘hump’ day, forever more associated with finishing granny blankets? Whole weekly blog posts devoted purely to the intricacies of weaving in granny square ends.** Anyone?

It’ll make for rivoting reportage. I for one, will be devoting each of my Wednesdays to the blow-by-blow description of the weaving in of a different colour.*** After twenty seven years (or thereabouts), I shall post a crazed, maniacal WEAVING IN WEDNESDAY! success story: I finished! I absolutely finished! Not just ‘blog’ finished! Pedantic old lady finished! At which point, I shall be declared entirely insane, committed to someplace unpleasant and sit rocking in the corner with a completed granny blanket warming my lap.****

Needless to suggest, familial enthusiasm for the project has waned.

Photographic posing requests prompted much in the way of tongue-in-cheek eye rolling and melodrama.

All of which had me shrieking with laughter and re-inspired to finish, dammit. If only to inflict one. last. photoshoot. upon my poor, put-upon poppets.

* I’m joking
* It’s ok, I’m really joking
* I promise, on the lives of the beloved stick insects, I am absolutely joking
* I really hope I’m joking

Monday, October 4, 2010


We’ve been off and about and away with the inlaws and the kids and the dog. Potential for a great many comedy of error moments along the way, but the day we left for our Castlemaine holiday, I experienced a waking epiphany.

I wrote a kid list, complete with explanatory diagrams. I summoned the smalls. I informed them they were responsible for the packing of their own stuff. I would not be double checking anything and if they found themselves undie-less or frozen stiff from cold with snow crystals forming in their eyebrows, it would not, for a change, be my fault. They were packed in twenty minutes. I sneakily exchanged four of the five dress-up costumes for a toddler jumper but this, I understood, was a good way for a holiday to roll.

Bribery and corruption parenting continues to be wholly successful on the travelling with kids front. The eldest two bickered early into the journey and two jelly snakes flew out my car window, unannounced and in quick succession. The following momentary stunned kid silence, was replaced by whisperings, then general wonderfulness for the remainder of the journey. Earnings were five and a third snakes each and from everyones’ perspective the holiday was off to a rip-roaring start.

No holiday to the goldfields involving international visitors and kids is complete without a Sovereign Hill experience...

...and in case you were wanting to pan for your fortune, there IS still gold in them thar hills...

In gorgeous Daylesford, at the top of another hill stands one very unhappy soul. We had a wee chat as I took his photograph. My apologies to the alarmed locals, avoiding the standing-in-the-middle-of-the-road crazy lady, who was only busy cheering up the inanimate object.

Other than expeditions to an occasional nearby town, there was a lot of hanging out on the cottage steps with the kids, knattering, knittering:

Ant watching:

There was treasure fossicking with great intent:

Finding strange, middle-of-nowhere, house facades:

Hours spent feeding ponies – because the grass is patently greener on the other side (so I was told).

Esme the Dog, finally, after four years, took the plunge and learnt how to swim, looking like an otter with a hairdo.

Esme the Dog reaped revenge for otter ridicule and with an uncanny sense of stealth and timing, soaked all and sundry in boggy, doggy water shakings.

With all the discovery to be had in frog bogs and spiders in the wood pile and lizards under stones and ponies and rock formations and ramblings and kangaroo spottings and rabbit burrows and bird watching and torchlight wanderings and explorings and endless space and loads more leeway from Mum and Dad, I watched my kids morph into country kids. They walked taller. Food for thought, there.

The three year old walked tall with sole dog-leading responsibility. Look closely at that lead and you may more easily imagine what happened after the pooch gathered speed...

PS. Emailings and recipes from kind and generous souls in response to my last post has seen my dinner repertoire treble. Blown away, I was. THANK YOU. There has been suitably startled, inlaw bedazzlement at unexpected, culinary, daughter-in-law brilliance and we have eaten spaghetti bolognaise (‘bisghetti’ in this house) but once!