Friday, June 29, 2012

My side of the scales.

It's interesting to me that every time I publish a post about the balancing act that is the parenting game, I get emails and comments urging me to tip the scales to the motherhood side. That childhood is so precious, that it goes so fast, that soon they wont want me anymore, that they need me now, that I'll miss them when they are gone...

I know! It's all true. I am already feeling the blink and you'll miss it of Miss Indi's little girliness. I get teary looking at photos of her as a baby, thinking about all her firsts, folding her outgrown clothes, while she is rapidly becomming a teenager before my eyes.

BUT I also know how important the other side of the scales are. The me time. How I am a better, more patient parent if I have had time to consider fabric combinations, think about which lace would look better with which floral, drawn out the pattern in my head, cut bits of fabric into sleeves and skirts and bodices and then sewn them all up together again.

I am a better mother if I get a chance to write this blog, to spend time alone late at night baking with my farmer boy (lemon tart - so good!), to walk outside, to think, to make...

Like I said before, it's a delicate balance. And I certainly haven't perfected it. But I do know that today, having sewn up this dress from lots of vintage scraps, I am better equiped to deal with the school holidays that start this afternoon. Having looked after the me part of the equation I feel ready and excited to spend two weeks looking after them. Hooray for the holidays!!

How good are you at balancing those parenting scales?
What do you do for yourself to put weights down your end?
Are you on holidays now?
Have you got anything planned?

Happy Friday peeps!

Have fun you guys.  xx

Thursday, June 28, 2012

She's the boss.

Yesterday morning early, in those few precious moments between waking up and racing to the school gates finish line, I made a decision. I decided that for one whole day I would put all my own agendas aside and focus on Miss Pepper.

For one entire day I would forget the housework, put the patchwork dress pattern out of my head and ignore my computer. I would not wash, cook, knit, photgraph or write words unless she wanted to.

For one whole day I would follow her lead. She was the boss.

The usual 'you cut up bits of fabric into smaller bits so I can sew' or 'you help me fold the washing just so I can refold it when you're not looking' or 'you test every texta in the packet so I can answer emails' or 'you count the 50 stitches with me as I knit them off', patterns we have been getting into lately, have been making me impatient and her more demanding.

So for one day, Wednesday, I would be hers.

And it worked beautifully. We made up a musical in the bath, we built with blocks, we collected wood, we baked brownies, we read books and we learnt letters. And then she wanted to spell and build a farm on the ipad for a while, so I sat and knitted and folded washing quietly next to her until ballet time.

And we had a lovely day. And I didn't get impatient or feel like I had a zillion other things I should be doing, because I didn't.

And it made me think that I probably should spend more of our days completely focused on her.

And then I wondered about all those plans and ideas and words that got put off for the day yesterday. What happens to those ideas? If I stop thinking about the tea towels I want to make for our new stove will those plans disappear? If I quiet the voices to my Booba Lucy story I have in my head, will it vanish? If I squash my thoughts about stamps, will they fly away? If I stop thinking about planting onions and leeks, baking fruit bread, cutting floral squares and crocheting a blanket, will I become a Mum that sits on the couch and watches Oprah? Will those ideas ever come back to me?

I don't know. It's a scary thought though.

I think I need to work on balance. You'd think after almost twelve years at home with kids I'd have this sorted, but I so don't. One part of me is constantly panicking about her going to school in half a year and the other part is shrieking my to-do list at me.

She's calling out for me to look at her block tower......................................................................
Here I come!

Do you balance?
Do you give up your ideas for theirs?
Do you know what happens to those ideas that aren't allowed to see the light?
Do you let them fold and then refold?
Do you sit for hours and play blocks even though there are a zillion projects calling your name?

Have fun out there. x

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The French style apple tart.

We had a lesson with the boss on the Esse cooker, a bit of a fine tune with the plumber and then we filmed a YouTube clip.

We started shifting stuff back into the white rooms but tried our hardest to be choosy.

We sent Miss Indi off to a Bar Mitzvah party.

We partied like rock stars on Saturday night.
We frocked up and hung out with friends that are more like family, that share our history.

Then we tried to remember to enjoy the rarity that is the seedy Sunday.
We felt our age when it took us days to recover.

We started to consider swapping a road trip up the coast for an inner city stay.

We made crazy hair styles for school.

We were informed by Miss Pepper that teddies are stuffed!!

I knitted more stripes for the pipes.

We finished with Miss Pepper's vomits and started with Miss Indi's.

We spent the day in Ballarat while the Prado got a chunky new tow bar and new window seals.

We read cook books from cover to cover and were excited to find our name in Matt's.

My beautiful grandmother Lucy, who died of Alzeheimers three and a half years ago, started coming back to me. The good stuff, the real Dandenong road Booba, not the sickness. The memories and feelings are so precious and I am so grateful.

I saw Miss Pepper in the door-way and thought it was a four year old Indi.

I ate a gazillion sour oranges off R and J's tree.

I felt swollen with inspiration but itchy with lack of time.

I wondered how people with fringes (bangs) cope with constant rain.

I questioned the wisdom of having a dog.

We baked the apple tart recipe we had been saving for the new cooker.
It's the French Style Apple Tart from The River Cottage Family Cookbook.

I wanted to sit down and write stories here, but with the constant interuptions had to be happy with points. I'll get there.

So what's going on with you so far this week?
Are you making and baking?
Is it hot there or freeezing cold?
Are you guys well, are you happy, are you good?
I hope so.

See ya. xx

Friday, June 22, 2012

Getting out amongst it.

It feels like these past few days have been the coldest, greyest, wettest we have ever had. Our creek is swollen to bursting, racing down the valley and threatening to rise up and cover our driveway at any moment. It is bleak out there.

Yesterday for the first time in the year since I've joined, I wasn't inspired to take one single instagram photo. The world just felt too dark. Uninspiring.

But as much as winter is really tough on me, I am feeling good. This afternoon the painter will move out and we will move back in to our new white house, tomorrow the stove people are coming out to give us an intensive, I LOVE the look of my gang all rugged up in their hand knits, my farmer boy has more time for us as it is quieter on the farm, our home is warm and dry and cozy, I am loving the Little House on The Prairie books, I love knitting, we are having some pretty fun times at the moment my gang and I, my parents are visiting and there is only one week left until the holidays.

But having said all that, there has been one thing missing. Exercise. Yesterday my body felt stiff from cold. Cumbersome from wearing so many layers. Heavy from lack of any real, fast use.

So yesterday I rugged up, grabbed Miss Indi straight from school and we walked the big block in the pouring rain. We were saturated. Our clothes stuck to us and there were puddles in our pockets. Her sneakers were filled with squelchy puddles. And our hair dripped down our faces.

But gosh it was fun. Exhilarating.

We linked arms as we walked and remembered the joy our summer selves felt when we had walked this same track a few months before. We spoke of our dreams and stuff that is going on at school. She had my undivided attention. We screamed and yelled and laughed out loud.

And on our return we felt high. Our legs were itchy with heat and circulation. We were freezing cold. But we stripped off, hung our dripping gear from oven rail and had hot showers.

I've decided to offer her fancy gumboots in the colour of her choice if she swears to come with me at least three times a week rain, hail, dark or shine.

I need it as much as I know she does.

I slept better last night than I have in ages.

I think love and exercise and a warm home are the secrets of a good, happy, healthy winter life.

And a walk on our treadmill is good but in the fresh air is better.

Today is just as cold, grey and bleak as yesterday. But today I feel like I know the secret. Today I am  so looking forward to getting back out there with her. In-between downpours hopefully.

I think that's how I'm going to get through the next few months. After all, we are on the other side of solstice and the days are getting longer from here on.

I wonder what colour boots she'll choose.

So how about you?
Are you a better person after a walk?
How do you cope best with the extreme heat/cold?
What colour gumboots/wellies do you have?
Do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend?

I wish you and your gang such happy days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where I'm at.

It's funny how sometimes the more you plan the less your plans come true.

This week I was going to be super productive. I was going to sew and cook and bake and make and write and clean and return emails and calls. After my teary weekend, this week was going to make me feel in control, on top of things. Organised.

But then at the very start of the week Miss Pepper turned grey, got some knives in her tummy and started vomiting and is still in bed today. Miss Jazzy jumped up to reach a helium balloon and fell forwards onto Pepper's pile of chairs and hurt her knee and hasn't been able to walk very well.
And Miss 11...yep.

Added to that, a few days ago I was walking up the hill from school to get my mail and I saw my friend Noel's painting van. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I needed my house painted ASAP! I couldn't put up with that dirty cream colour for one more second. I needed white walls and I needed to start making them white right then.

So I walked up the hill, found Noel drinking his morning coffee in a cafe and booked him then and there. It was just ridiculous, plain luck that he had a couple of days free this week. Or it was meant to be.

So this week our house is back to being a construction zone. Completely topsy-turvey. The front half is empty of all furniture and filled with drop sheets and the back is full of stuff. We are going to be eating all our meals picnic style on the floor in front of the fire for a while, but Antique White USA here we come.

We've been cooking up lots of feasts on the Esse. We've been learning that she heats up quite pretty quickly for cooking on the hob, but oven baking and roasting needs much more planning and time.

We think we might name her Mona for she is a temperamental girl and is partial to a bit of a moan and groan.

I've been walking Jo-Jo morning noon and night. It's freeeeezing but it's nice to rug up and get out.

Last night close to midnight we went walking and met Farmer Bren in the back paddock closing in some chooks for moving. The night was inky black, the grass was crunchy with frost and the kangaroos thumping around the forest sounded like dinosaurs. It was quite an adventure.
I've been sewing a little to escape the chaos. A little apple dress.
And a Mixy Matchy dress for my shop.

Yep! I have decided that my girlies have more dresses than they need and I have more floral fabric than I need and so I am reopening Everything But The Thread. It'll be slow going at first but I'm thinking dresses, fat quarter bundles and some other bits and pieces. Oh and I'm thinking it needs a bit of a make-over too.

I've been knitting stripes to cozy our Esse pipes. Using up lots of scraps and odds and ends. I'm enjoying the mindless knitting but itching to get onto something a bit more interesting.

So that's me. In a rambley roundabout kinda way.

Now off I go to play nurse mama to this little.

How about you?
What have you been up to so far this week?
Do tell.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy week cake.

I've had a bit of an over emotional weekend.

I've cried oh so many tears.

Nothing big or major or terrible happened. It was just a feeling of rawness. Like everything touched me too deeply. The little stuff that usually bounces off, didn't. I think I might have cried as much as my pre-teen. It was all a bit too much.

I cried when he tripped over the chook fence and fell and then limped. I cried when a gorgeous friend sent me a pile of books in the mail. I cried when I read the intro in one of those books to my grandmother's chocolate cake. I cried because I miss my grandmother so deeply some times. I cried because my smalls didn't let me talk to the painter. I cried when my farmer boy told me he wouldn't leave until tomorrow. I cried at a couple of gorgeous blog comments. I cried when the dog poo got smeared on the car seat. And I cried when one of his mentors told him he is doing a great job. He is.

I have no idea what it's all about. I do know that I feel exhausted and overemotional.

So late this afternoon Miss Pepper and I made a cake. We used Claudia Roden's chocolate almond cake recipe from this book. I would have liked to bake my grandmother's cake but we didn't have any buttermilk.

I don't have a problem with being over emotional from time to time. It's cleansing even. But I really wanted to mark the end of this crying weekend. I wanted to finish it off sweetly so I could move forward into the new week happily.

This is going to be a great week. Farmer Bren has his first consulting job, our house is turning white on the inside, there is going to be a mega declutter, the countdown to the winter holidays is on and I have a great frock to wear to a fabulous fortieth. It's going to be good.

And the cake was so good too. It took ages to get the temperature right in the oven. It was almost impossible to get it out of the tin (why didn't I use a springform??) But the girls loved it. Even the non cake eating one. And we smiled as we ate it and talked about our best moments of our day.

Alright new week, I'm ready for you.
Let's have a super sweet one, ok.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crayon muffins.

Mostly on a Wednesday it's just us, Miss Pepper and I. The big girls are at school, her friends are at kinder and her Daddy is being a farmer. On the other days we have an activity like bush kinder or creative dance to occupy us, but on Wednesday we have the whole day until her ballet at three.

Today I decided to start the day with a trip to the community op shop. Let's let the op shop decide what we do with our day I told her. Let's listen for clues to how we should spend our time.

So we went. And we looked around. And we chatted to our friends working there and our friends also looking for treasures. And we found one Fowlers jar, some chalk, a fairy costume, a tapestry cushion and right up the back of the toy section we found a gorgeous, old, beaten up Cadbury tin filled with bits of crayons.

We quickly paid up our one dollar for the lot and scooted home.

We took the labels off the crayons and broke them into small pieces.

And then Miss Pepper carefully divided the crayon bits into a muffin pan.

And then we cooked them for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven (see I'm all old school cooker these days).

We made one batch by cooking them straight in the moulds but we had trouble getting them out, so the next batch we used patty pans. If you are going to make some of your own I recommend the patty pan method, so much easier and so much less mess.

Also, I think I left our first lot in a bit too long and they ended up quite brown on the bottom. The second time we did it I checked on them often and took them out of the oven as soon as they had melted, but before they became too soupy. The second batch were much brighter and better.

And then we drew and drew and drew.

Do you remember those coloured pencils that changed colour as you drew and twisted them? Just like that. So much fun.

It does seem kinda strange to make crayons from crayons, but they were scrappy old crayons and the journey of making our own multi coloured crayons was ace fun.

I'm super excited for the big girls to come home and play.

Have you ever made your own crayons from crayons?
Do you think we could make candles the same way but with a wick in the middle?
Have you found any treasures at the oppy/thrift shop lately?
What did you do today?

Later dudes. x

PS. For all those that asked on my last post; to the left of the Esse wood cooker we have the companion cooker which has a gas cook top and an electric oven. For hot summer days, for when we are lazy or in a rush, for when we get home late, for when we need more than two ovens.

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