Monday, June 22, 2015

darning in the ends

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The other day I was standing with a gorgeous friend and my dad when my friend asked me if I was organised. My dad laughed and told her that if she was asking me that then she obviously didn't know me very well.

It's true. He's right - I am disorganised.

And that is particularly difficult right now when we are speeding towards a deadline. Hurtling at it so hard and fast that I can practically see my last few hours and days at home disappearing before my eyes.

We're going away at the end of this week. And while our adventure isn't quite as huge as the one I wrote about a year ago in this post, it feels pretty big just the same.

And with only a couple of days to go until blast off, I'm finding myself wandering around in circles. I'm crossing things off my to-do list NOT because I've done them but because I've run out of time to do them. And I'm thinking less and less about the me that I am now and more about the me that I'll be next time I'm here, and what would make that me the happiest. And of course I'm scrubbing everything in sight, wanting the people moving in here to think I am the greatest house keeper that ever there was. (It does bug me that they get to live in a much sparklier house than we ever do).

So basically this post is about darning in the ends. Tying them up and tucking them neatly under a few other stitches out of sight. I feel like my whole life is a bit like that at the moment actually.

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So firstly thank you all so very much for your gorgeous comments about my Amanda cardigan. I have worn her every day of the past two weeks and she is everything I hoped for: snuggly, warm and so very comfy. Although I am super excited to be skipping winter this year, I look forward to wearing Amanda upon our return and for many, many winters into the future.

Mama Shara
Pheasant
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Julie Maloney

To the lovely ladies above - please message me your postal addresses and I'll get your squishy TONOFWOOL sample out to you SOON!

The love gloves above I made for someone going through a tough time right now. I love that craft allows me to send love in the mail and hopefully bring a smile to someone's face.

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Over the past few months I have received SO MANY messages asking me where we bought farmer Bren's spoon carving knives from. If I haven't gotten back to you or if you were wondering too - please have a look at these links Mora knives and Ben & Lois Orford. We bought the Mora knives for our farmer boy and then he developed his knowledge and love by watching loads of youtube clips and found more knife makers himself. Hope that helps.

In about six weeks we'll be at Spoonfest so expect a big chunk of spoon love then.


And the last thing I want to talk about is this video that our family made. Farmer Bren wrote, filmed and directed it; we wrote and illustrated it and Indi sang it.

Our girls go to the most beautiful little Buddhist school in Daylesford, The Dharma School. It is a school that values kindness and compassion, that looks after and cares about each individual, and a school that, along with the usual academic stuff, teaches our kids how to be great human beings. Honestly, I feel like this school is not only changing our girls' lives but ours too.

The words below are from the fund raising brochure and express the school's philosophy better than I can:

Our children are our future. They are the hope of humanity as the challenges that face us around the world continue to escalate. These challenges call for a new kind of humanity and a new kind of leadership - one that is not based on power and will alone. But a humanity that is guided by the enduring qualities of wisdom and compassion. These are the qualities that lead to right action. One-pointed and altruistic, with the highest good as our goal.
Over time we are seeing a new kind of child emerge at the school. One who adopts an attitude of open-heartedness.
Who chooses to act from a clear sense of what is right.Who is learning to master conflict resolution. Who considers their impact on the world around them. Who is guided to seek the highest good for all.
We believe the world needs more children like this, children who will grow into adults with values and qualities than can make a true difference. Loving parents,compassionate leaders, benevolent business operators, caring workers, wise teachers, truthful politicians, true peace makers.
This is why the Daylesford Dharma School is important.

For the past few years the Dharma School has been renting a couple of rooms at a local tennis club, but now our lease has run out and we need to move. We've found a block of land on the outskirts of town and our friend Mel has drawn up beautiful plans for buildings and gardens but first we need to buy the land.

And this is where you guys come in. We've launched a crowd funding campaign and I'd really love it if you could have a look through it, share it through your social media and if at all possible donate too. We can't do this alone and we'd be so grateful for your help.

Please click this link - Our school needs a new home.


Thank you SO MUCH!!

See you later alligators!!

Big love xoxoxox




(Oh and if you have a book suggestion for me I'd love that too).





Monday, June 8, 2015

My Amanda cardigan

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You guys I knitted a fisherman sweater!!!!

Last New Years Eve I resolved that if I really was going to call myself a knitter then I would have to knit a heavily cabled woman sized jumper before the year was out, and I totally have.

I think the idea originally got planted in my head last year when Karen Templer along with a panel of experts hosted an Amanda cardigan knit-a-long. Over the period of a few months my instagram feed was filled with Amandas in all stages from swatching all the way through to wearing and all hashtagged #fringeandfriendsknitalong.

I totally wanted to join in on the fisherman fun but the timing was wrong for me as I had just discovered socks. So I watched from the sidelines and fell deeper and deeper in love with the pattern as each pic and blog was posted.

Then in March, I decided it was time to make good on my New Years' resolution and when gorgeous  Kylie of TONOFWOOL offered to send me the wool, I knew my Amanda cardigan time had come. So I ordered the book the pattern  came from and once it arrived I wound the wool, set myself a first day of winter deadline and cast on.

And I knitted the back, the two front pieces, the sleeves and then I joined them together and knitted it into a cardigan.

It took a while to get the hang of the cables and I undid it and reknitted it quite a few times but eventually it clicked and then it actually was a really fun knit.

I even reached my June first - first day of winter deadline!

But then I stalled. After all those hours and stitches and cables and buttons I just couldn't bring myself to try it on. What if it didn't fit me? What if it was too tight on the boobs, or too short on my bum or too long in the arms? Eventually, after a few days of watching it out of the corner of my eye sitting all neatly folded up on the kitchen sideboard, I convinced myself that it really didn't matter.

If it was too small then maybe one of the girls could wear it. If it was too big then maybe I could wear it with extra layers underneath. And if it really didn't work for anyone at all - then it would make a very snugly blanket indeed. It was after all a great thing that I'd followed through and knitted it without distraction and I know that I wasn't really very careful with the measuring and swatching in the beginning and couldn't really blame anyone but myself.

But then last Friday night while rushing out for dinner, I grabbed it, chucked it on over the top of the dress I was wearing and it worked!! It fitted well!! It looked great and it is possibly the warmest piece of clothing I have ever owned.

So YAY!!!

You can find all of my Amanda details on Ravelry here.

And in the meantime TONOFWOOL have given me five small 25 gram samples of their incredibly soft and squishy 10ply Cormo for five of you to try out.

If you are interested in having a play with my new favourite wool and you live in Australia, please leave a comment below.

Now that that enormous project is done, I think I'm going to go and cast on something quick and easy.

And then I'm going to get my cardigan off Indi. And hide it.

Big love to you guys, I hope you've got something fun to look forward to.

xoxox




Monday, June 1, 2015

taking stock

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OK here we go, new week, new month, new season - let's take stock!

Knowing - that I should go outside and keep planting the garlic.....but it's freeeeeeezing.

Wearing - my tennis skirt after a session on the elliptical trainer we just rented. I feel so much fitter when I wear proper exercise gear as opposed to my pyjamas, I wonder if there's some fact in that.

Needing - to go out and split some kindling to start the kitchen fire.

Questioning - how it was we came to live in one of the coldest places on earth.

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Liking - the simplicity of a seven year old's world and wishing she would stay seven for a few more years.

Disliking - the amount of head space I give to the not very kind people.

Opening - the firebox to put more wood in. Often. Always.

Giggling - while listening to Miss Jazzy filling my Mum in on all the gossip.

Feeling - so incredibly grateful to Paula a gorgeous blog reader who sent me a 100% merino wool top in the mail. I love it!! Thanks Paula. xx

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Making - teeny-tiny red mittens for my nephew. Small sized hand-knits never fail to make me so clucky. Details here.

Cooking - brussel sprouts, that we just picked from the kitchen garden five minutes ago, with garlic and butter and toast. Yum!!

Drinking - strong coffee and peppermint tea and not enough water.

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Reading - Pip's Craft For The Soul. I love reading books written by my friends. I love the way I can hear Pip's sweet voice reading the sentences to me and telling me her stories. I remember so clearly reading Pip's word count updates on Facebook as she was writing this book and here it is all gorgeous and interesting and wonderful and published, that's so cool I think!

Marvelling - at how kind and thoughtful some people are, like lovely Mel who sent me a gorgeous package of doilies and pretties to sew with. Thanks Mel. xx

Wanting - my girls to help around the house more. I know, it's so boring but it's driving me crazy.

Looking - at the time and wondering if I should put the beans and rice on for dinner yet.

Playing - Miss Indi's new song. It's so good. I can't wait for you to hear it.

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Wondering - if Miss Jazzy would actually wear leg warmers if I made her some.

Wishing - for a bit of sunshine for tomorrow as it's the start of pruning week.

Enjoying - the lovely and kind feedback I've had about this interview.

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Waiting - to get our olive oil back from the people who pressed our olives.

Loving - making play lists of all my longtime fave songs on spotify.

Watching - Orphan Black, so, so good!! Are you watching it too? Do you love sestra Helena?

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Pondering - my medlars. Should I attempt medlar jelly or should I pass them on?

Considering - painting a mural on our bedroom wall.

Deciding - what I should knit next.

Buying - new work overalls online. I forgot how often winter work wear needs to be washed.

Hoping - that the green manure farmer Bren planted last week germinates and grows like a jungle out there.

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Thinking - about how much I love eating my porridge with my farmer Bren spoon each morning.

Smelling - wet poodle.

Following - the year nine dramas and trying not to take them personally.

Noticing - that I sometimes have to use google to understand what my kids are saying these days. For example - ship - did you know that?

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Admiring - the autumn leaves. The last on the trees, the carpet on the ground and the piles that we've raked up. Spectacular!

Sorting - out buttons and trying to find six matching ones for my Amanda cardigan.

Getting - fitter and stronger. Hopefully.

Snacking - on almonds and thinly sliced granny smiths.

Closing - the farm stall today until the summer veggie season begins in another six months or more.

Bookmarking - recipes that use chickpeas, I'm obsessed!

Hearing - the beep that tells me the washing machine is finished. Gotta go.


Phew! That was quite epic.
Thanks for the list Pip!


How are you travelling anyway?
Are you reading/making/growing/listening to anything good?

I hope your house mates come home happily and helpfully.

Big love,

Kate xxxx


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The last of the apples

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On Sunday we picked the last of the apples and pulled the nets off the trees.

It's been an incredible season, possibly our best ever and although I do feel sad at the thought that it will be so many months before I pick another juicy ripe apple from a tree, I feel happy and grateful for the season that was.

Our orchards are made up of 40 varieties of heritage apples to spread out the blossom and the harvest -  so we picked and we picked this year all the way from January through to late May. From the sweetest all the way through to the ones that make you wince with sour. From the ones that hold their shape when cooked through to the ones that completely disintegrate into mush. From the old faves like Granny Smiths and Jonathans all the way through to the interesting Mutzus and the Peasgood's Nonesuch and the Esopus Spitzenbergs.

It's been such fun!

And although we do wonder if the bio-dynamics and the nets made the season so great, we're most thankful of Mother Nature and the rain and the sunshine and the bees.

And the farm stall. How we love that stall. Opening her up in the morning, picking apples and filling the crates, writing cute notes on the blackboards for our customers, our gorgeous customers, and the thought that our apples are being munched and crunched in homes and lunch boxes all around the area.

So to finish on a high and to thank you for your love and support, we have dropped the price to $2.50 a kilo from now until we run out. Which will be pretty soon I think.

So if you are in the area - please come and buy some and take them home and eat them, bake them, juice them, dehydrate them, pop them in Fowlers jars, make stamps with them, stew them, brew cider with them, bob for them..........

And tell me - what's your fave variety of apple and what's your fave way to eat them?

Big love!

xoxo

Oh PS Alli you won the little Tea Mouse kit. Yay!! x

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Craft report

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And now for the crafty bits.

In the middle of all the apple picking, apple cooking, apple preserving and apple eating, I screen printed a whole bunch of bunting flags

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to decorate our stall at The Lake House produce day last month.

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I actually finished the farmer boy socks about two months ago but then apple season exploded and I never got a chance to blog them. The top four things about knitting these socks are;

  1. The skein of yarn is split into two 50 gram bits so you know when to stop winding one and start winding the next and then you can't help but knit two identical twin socks.
  2. The colours and patterns change so often which made them interesting and fun.
  3. Somehow, I have no idea how, the yarn is dyed into those colours and patterns which means you get the cool designs without all the ends to darn in.
  4. Farmer Bren LOVES them!!

Ravelled here.

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Apart from the giving or wearing, the best part of finishing a pair of socks is adding a new colour into my scrappy sock blanket. It's still not very big, but I'm really loving it.

Raveled here.

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And then there's Amanda.

As far as I can work out I have one button band, the neckband and the seaming to do and then I'm done. I still have no idea if it will fit me but it's getting to that stage where I'll soon find out.

I'm knitting Amanda in Tonofwool which I am LOVING!! It had beautiful stitch definition, it is super soft, it's Australian and I have a few samples that I'll be giving away soon - so watch this space.

Ravelled here.

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Then there's the weaving kit that farmer Bren and the girls bought me a week before mother's day. I am busting to have a go but trying my hardest to wait til I am wearing my new cardigan.

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Which brings us to the sweet Tea Mouse.

Tea Mouse is the cutest softie pattern designed and written by lovely Sarah from Chantille Fleur.

In Sarah's own words - The Chantille Fleur Tea Mouse has darling little ears with fabric lining, a matching love heart on the front and even a little knitted tail. She's a sweet little character with a lovely black nose which she just loves to point in the air. The Tea Mouse is a delight to look at and to create.

Sarah posted me the kit which meant all I had to do was find the right sized needles and get to work. The pattern was easy to follow and came together quite quickly. I had thought it might make a sweet gift for a new baby but it keeps disappearing into Miss Pepper's bedroom. Looks like I'll just have to knit up another one. Or two.

Sarah has very kindly offered to send a Tea Mouse kit to one of you guys, (Australian addresses only, sorry).

Tell me in the comments who you would give your little Tea Mouse to and I'll pick a winner on the weekend.

Until then check out the knitting kits here.
The Tea Mouse Ravelry page here.
Chantille Fleur facebook here.
Chantille Fleur on instagram here.



OK, that's me all craft caught up, how about you?
What're you making at the moment?


Big warm woolly love.

xoxoxoxo



Monday, May 11, 2015

Book report!

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I guess the main problem with blogging so infrequently is that I'm always catching up. And when I'm catching up I often forget some of the details, I sometimes don't have the relevant material with me anymore and I always feel like there's so much to get through that I don't know where to start. So I guess this is a kind of warning that the weather forecast for this week is grim so I might finally find myself with a bit more inside/computer time and a couple of catch up posts might be on the cards.

The first is a book report. Or bookS as the case may be.

Season of Salt and Honey was written by fellow blogger and mother of two cute girls Hannah Tunnicliffe.

In Hannah's own words - Seasons of Salt and Honey is the story of a young Italian-American woman escaping the tragic loss of her fiancé by retreating into the Washington coastal rain forest.

I read it in a couple of nights, devouring all the relationships, the descriptions of grief and Hannah's gradual physical and emotional journey from a life that was safe and expected all the way through to one that she chose and fought for.

The thing that makes this book so different for me was the traditional Sicilian recipes included within the chapters. Nine recipes that had me reading each word of their ingredients lists and methods as if they told an important part of the story. While I've seen loads of cooking scenes in movies, I'm not sure I ever have read them in a novel before and I loved the extra flavour it gave to the story.

When Hannah wrote to me explaining that she was a friend of Beth's and had written this book and would love to send me a copy, she suggested I might like to cook a couple of the recipes in my review. While I haven't yet had the chance, I can certainly see her Nzuddi - Vinnies - roasted almond cookies, Spring risotto and Rosolio alle Erbe - sweet herb cordial/liqueur in my future.

Season of Salt and Honey can be purchased online here.

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My sister Abby lent me Rebecca Starford's Bad Behaviour last week and I read it in about two days. I could not put it down.

Bad Behaviour is the story of one woman's experience of life at the country campus of an exclusive Melbourne school. The book examines boarding school life and bullying and gives the author an opportunity to tell her own story of life before that year away and since.

This book touched me on so many levels.

Firstly, when I was about halfway through BB I clicked onto Facebook one night and found a gorgeous picture of a group of current students of that very same school, all heavily laden down with enormous matching blue backpacks on the top of a mountain somewhere in the Victorian high country. I sat searching those 15 or so faces for ages, looking for the characters in the book (even though it's been years since they hiked that trail), trying to work out who would be the leaders and the followers and imagining all sorts of other scenarios from the book. I guess that snapshot gave a reality to the book that could otherwise have been just another story.

Secondly, BB took me all the way back to camps that I went on at school. The things we got up to, the popular girls, the cruel taunting that went on and the general day to day life.

And lastly, a book about a 14 year old girl of course made me think of my 14 year old girl and some of the stuff that goes on with her friends and classmates.

I'm sure BB ruffled a lot of feathers and upset a lot of people and I do feel awful about that. I'm not sure how I would feel if someone were to publish a book detailing the goings on of my year ten camp. However it is an interesting story and for all the reasons above - I couldn't put it down.

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When Marika from Scribe publishing emailed me asking if we would like her to send us a copy of The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade, a new children's book, I originally thought I'd say no. My girls are all now well out of the picture book department and it didn't seem like it would be relevant. But then I read Marika's review and changed my mind.

Marika wrote - It's a very sweet story of childhood shyness and fitting in - the message being that it's OK to be shy, and that it's not a character flaw to be fixed.

While stories of elves and fairies and horses are great, I've found that books aimed at young readers don't necessarily tackle the big life stuff and sometimes a picture book is just what you need to get the conversation started. This book certainly does just that.

And did I mention that it's GORGEOUS!!! Allison Colpoys illustrated this book and Davina Bell wrote it.

We've read it several times in our home, both together and alone. We've used it to discuss and understand situations we've found ourselves in and also some of our friends. I think we might donate our copy to our school library this afternoon so more kids can read it and discuss it.

Here's a cute story of how the book came to be.

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My sister Emily lent me the Ferrente novels a few weeks ago and told me I'd love them but before that I'd never even heard of them. My Mum said they are huge but I guess that shows how out of the literary circle I am.

But nevertheless I loved them!! Loved them!!

Three big, fat books that carry the story of two girl friends from childhood all the way into their womanhood. Their story is filled with descriptions of a neighbourhood, a community, of places, of times and politics, of family and of friendship.

For me, the worst part of reading these books was coming to the end of the third book and feeling like I had to say goodbye to the main characters Elena and Lila. You can imagine my happiness when Emily told me there's a fourth and final book in the series coming out this October. Yay!


Which brings me to Tracks by Robyn Davidson, which my sister Meg recommended to me and I am reading right now. And loving. No picture of the cover because I am reading it on my kindle.


Hopefully I'll post soon about Pip's new book - Craft For The Soul - which Miss Indi has claimed and is adoring and Michelle's book - A Table In The Orchard - which farmer Bren is devouring hungrily.


Phew, that's books all caught up, I'll try and do craft next I think. Or maybe an outside farm post if the weather cooperates.


In the meantime - what are you reading?

Happy page turning!!

xoxo

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Ulman Files

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Happy Friday you guys!!

Firstly, thank you all enormously for your kindness and your care in the comments and texts and emails you sent me after my last post. I have read every single one and they meant the world to me, your support and your community is the best medicine of all. And I'm happy to report that I feel like I'm on the mend. Finally. Thank goodness.

OK, now on to much more fun stuff. This is a post about my family, my Mum and Dad and us four girls and what we are doing right now. Just for fun and because I am so very proud and I think you might be interested in our goings on too.

Firstly is sister number three Emily Ulman, that's her at the top.

Since the middle of last year Emily has been recording her third CD, Wear It Well, and to help her get it over the finish line and pay for things like mastering, artwork, a publicist, the tour, a film-clip and pressing the actual music to vinyl and CD, she needs our help.

Emily has launched a pozible and it would mean the world to her, and to me, if you could chip in a few dollars. The rewards are many and awesome including having coffee and cake with me and my three sisters - which could be fun!!??

Being a creative person although highly soul enriching is not always enriching in the dollar department and it makes me happy that there are things like pozible campaigns that make it easier for us to support each other and get our dreams into action. It makes me doubly happy to know that people are supporting Emily who always, alway supports everyone else. And it makes me tripley happy to think that hopefully soon, we will have a new Emily Ulman soundtrack to our lives. Yippeeee!!

Click on the possible site here - http://www.pozible.com/project/193712 And thank you!!

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My youngest sister Abigail Ulman has recently published a brilliant book called - Hot Little Hands!!

There are some beautiful reviews of Abby's book on the Penguin site here.

I loved every word on every page of Hot Little Hands, Abby is an exceptional writer and I feel as proud as proud can be. But I do have to mention that for me, being eight years older than Abby, in a way she'll always be about twelve to me, and reading about some of the things that some of her female characters get up to made my eyes almost pop out of my head. My little sister shouldn't know about all that sexy stuff, should she?

You can buy your own copy of Hot Little Hands here - http://www.readings.com.au/products/18856456/hot-little-hands.

I've got another post with a HLH giveaway coming up soon too.

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While Meg Ulman, sister number two, and her family are busy putting the finishing touches on their book - The Art Of Free Travel due out this October - they are holding workshops each Saturday.

The workshops Learn To Forage Like A True Locavore are held in Daylesford and include a two-hour walk, instructions on how to identify and safely harvest edible weeds and conclude with a foraged and homegrown meal. Just look at that beautiful feast, how inspiring and gorgeous and delicious does that all look!!

To book for the workshop call - 0418523308.

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Our mum, Vivienne Ulman, in between looking after all of us and writing her own novel is caring for her own father, our grandfather, and trying to make sure that he leads the best, most dignified, love-filled life that he possibly can.  Our society doesn't seem to be all that well set up to honour our elders in a time when they need more and more care and my mum is making it her job to find ways to keep him comfortable and happy and safe.

You can read my mum's blog The Writing Hive here and read about her first book Alzheimer's: A Love Story here.

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My dad, Ross Ulman, when he isn't driving his electric car as discussed in the latest issue of Renew magazine, he's walking 14,000+ steps per day, volunteering at my girls' school, working at a Ballarat hospital, baking and delivering challah to each of his Daylesford daughters each Friday, selling tickets at the local cinema, helping out in the local kitchen garden program, doing maths homework with my girls, pole-walking around Daylesford in the early morning with a bunch of people not scared off by the cold, and supporting and loving his five Ulman girls. What a man (or an honorary woman as we used to call him when were growing up)!


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Which brings us to me, the oldest and bossiest Ulman sister.

Right now I'm madly picking apples, I'm printing and stitching apple bunting for our stall at The Lake House Daylesford producers day this weekend, I am mothering and lovering, I am taking photos and writing my article for the next issue of Slow magazine,  I'm knitting the second sleeve of my Amanda cardigan, and I am trying to play catch up with everything else.

I'm feeling proud and happy and inspired.

Are your friends and family doing ace things too? Care to share?


I hope you guys have a gorgeous weekend.


Big love!

xxxxxx



Oh and Carol @ Perennial and Mara Macs, please send me your postal addresses, you've won Michelle Mackintosh's Snail Mail book. Hooray!! x

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