Wednesday, April 30, 2014

taking stock (again)

Hello you! I just realised that it's the last day of April. My how time flies eh! So in the spirit of capturing the moment I've decided to go back and visit Pip's list. Here goes….

Enjoying: right now. For a while we've been feeling like we are on the edge of something new. Like this is the slow, calm before the next big thing. But maybe it's not. Maybe this lovely, simple, farmy way of life is it. I hope so.

Waiting: for our biodynamic preps to arrive in the mail so we can start the journey.

Liking: finding Indi and Jazzy together in Indi's bed practising singing harmonies.

Sewing: not so much sewing but sewn. a couple of weeks ago I bought some patchwork fabric at a garage sale and a couple of weeks after that I made a skirt. It's been so long for me between sewing clothes that the maths hurt my head, but I loved getting back on the old Bernina and need to do it again soon.

Wishing: for some more sunshine filled warm days before we head into winter.

Cooking: down tomatoes for sauce and podding beans.

Thinking: about heating up last night's leek and potato soup for lunch.

Feeling: like I am on school holidays after submitting all the writing and pictures that are due by the end of today. Yay!

Bookmarking: knitted sock patterns. I'm looking for an in-the-round pattern that is fitted and not saggy baggy.

Opening: the wood stove's door to chuck more wood in. (I think I've used that once before - is that cheating?)

Making : knitted feathers, just because.

Wasting: time on Facebook and feeling completely overwhelmed and full of love for you and your support with my brand new baby Foxslane page.

Wondering: if we really could pack up and live overseas for six months next year.

Following: the trend and sprinkling chia seeds on everything.

Noticing: how late we are to the garlic planting party. Tomorrow!!

Drinking : veggie juice and peppermint tea.

Reading: my way through this pile of wonderful. I think Wild is one of my favourite books ever and I'm trying to read Tiny Beautiful Things as slowly as I can to make it last and to try to remember it all.

Wanting: to have a play with shibori dyeing.

Looking: in the pantry for dinner inspiration. What're you having?

Playing: at denying the fact that I can hear mice in my roof!

Loving: splitting two year old dry wood for the fire. Such great stress relief, exercise and fun. If it were five years ago I'd totally get a coffee mug made up saying 'Keep calm and split wood', it's true!

Hoping: that we can get back into the bread baking habit.

Marvelling:  at how magnificently Daylesford does Autumn.

Needing: to hang out the laundry that has been in the machine since last night.

Smelling: Indi's new perfume and wondering how my Mum coped with my high school days with Paris and Poison.

Wearing: A cashmere Country Road jumper I bought at our school fair and waiting for someone to come up and tell me that it used to belong to them.

Knowing: how lucky I am to be working and living and parenting alongside my farmer boy.

Giggling: at Miss Pepper's sleep walking antics. Last night, very late, she came into the lounge room, looked around blankly, picked up her lunchbox (tiffin tin) and headed back to bed. About 15 minutes later she returned holding her tin with a very confused look on her face and asked us what on earth her lunch box was doing in her bed. She didn't remember any of it this morning.

Feeling: ready and excited to start the motif meditation journey tomorrow. I'll pop a linky thing up on my blog on the weekend and use the hashtag #motifdaymay on instagram so we can all follow each others' progress. If crochet isn't your thing but you want to play too, feel free to post whatever it is that gets you in the zone.

This was my April last year.
This was my Taking Stock from August last year.
This was my Taking Stock from January this year.

Hope your April's been ace!
See you in May.

Big rad love xx

Monday, April 28, 2014

monday musings x

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The season is changing. There's still warmth in the afternoon sun but the mornings and evenings are icy. The school holidays are over. The quinces are all cooked and bottled and shelved. The beans have been dried and jarred. The washing only dries inside. The wood-fired cooker stays on. There is a big bowl full of feijoas on the kitchen table. The girls pack beanies instead of sunhats in their school bags.

We have spinach and kale and lettuce growing in the garden again. The outside tomatoes are slowing down and the ones in the poly tunnel have only a little while longer. We're eating soups and stews and pies for dinners. Every bed has a blanket tucked up on the end. The freezer and the shelves of the pantry are full of summer goodness. Every day I try to spend about 15 minutes splitting wood.

Yesterday I sprained a little muscle in my foot driving far, far away and now I have to ice it every few hours, brrrr. We've been talking and learning and are about to start playing with bio-dynamics. I can't remember how I dress to stay warm and comfortable in this cold. I'm so pleased I picked up so many dry sticks for kindling over the past few months. At night we're watching sneaky episodes of Girls while our girls are asleep.

Right now farmer Bren is out planting the very last of the winter veg. It might be too late for things to grow, but it will rain tomorrow so it's worth a try.

I've got a pastry shell blind baking and am trying to write a magazine article. I feel like I need to hurry up to get everything done before getting the girls.

I've started a Facebook page for Foxs Lane. I resisted for so long but now I love it over there. Why don't you pop by and say hello.

Oh and thanks for all your wonderful feedback on the motif meditation. I'm so excited that so many of you are keen to join in. I think we'll make an instagram hashtag and a weekly link-up here. Do you know if you guys can post to my Facebook because that might be fun too.

So tell me peeps, what're things like where you are?
What are you wearing/baking/making/growing?

OK, I'm off - as Willy Wonka says - So little to do, so much time. Strike that, reverse it.

Big love


Saturday, April 26, 2014

A motif a day - meditation in May

I've got this idea. It's still not fully formed or finished yet, but I've been thinking about it a lot and I thought it might help to get it out here. Writing it might help me work out the details and perhaps after you've read it, you might have some suggestions as to how it might work too.

I guess the whole thing originates with the kindness thing, which has been completely life changing and I really should blog about more. Part of being kind to myself has been giving myself the gift of time out of the family and farm chaos. Time that is mine. Time to tune out and tune right in. And I've come to the realisation that I need regular meditation in my life.

Many of my friends, and my two smallest daughters, sit regularly alone or in groups and close their minds off to the chatter and focus on something or nothing at all. For some reason I just cannot do that. I've never been able to. The second I try, it's like an invitation for a flood of ideas and lists and conversations and memories to gush through my mind. I try to focus on my breath, to come back to center, but there's never any stopping that rush of stuff.

For a while now I've been toying with the idea that walking is my meditation. One step in front of the other, breathing in and out. I lovelovelove walking. But when I look at it truthfully I can see that mostly I walk with someone else: Bren, Indi, my parents, Jo-Jo and more recently Annabel and Lola. And while we step out the miles, we talk and tell stories and laugh and plan. Walking really promotes the best types of conversations. And when I occasionally do walk alone, I usually listen to podcasts or music. So while walking is all the best for almost everything, it's rarely a time to tune out or in.

Which brings me to crochet. Yay!

Yesterday I was sitting with the girls in the middle of the kitchen garden around the fire. They were playing the most beautiful game in a make believe restaurant. They'd drawn up a menu on a blackboard and were taking make believe orders and setting about making the food from sand and leaves and flowers. I watched them for a while as I cast off the sleeve of Miss Pepper's cardigan and then I sat there empty handed. It felt strange and slightly unsettling to have finished something and not yet started anything else.

Soon after, I went inside to gather some snacks and drinks and walked past my basket of cottons and had a powerful urge to crochet something colourful and quick and just for fun. So I grabbed my size three hook, some yarn and a book and headed back out.

And for the next ten or twenty minutes I sat in the sun, in my own little world, following the pattern and letting my hands do their thing and thought about how much I love crochet. How crochet gives me that meditation. How crochet allows my fingers to be busy and my mind to completely tune out, or in. And I realised that crochet is my meditation.

IMG_7261 And then I started thinking about testing out this crochet as meditation theory. Taking some time out of the everyday-every single day.

While my plan was slowly unraveling in my mind I considered something productive like a square a day or a stripe of a blanket a day, but then that kind of defeats the purpose. My world is so dictated by the useful and the practical that this needs to be more 'just because'.

I considered some of the glorious mandalas that I've been seeing around the place, but realistically this has to be something quick to be achievable. Time is an issue. A circle of six or seven rounds seems like it'll be doable.

And then as I finished the last round of my circle it occurred to me that the whole time I had been hooking it, I had been feeling grateful for crochet. Loving the stitching and the choosing and the making. Feeling all happy inside as it came together and became something. A meditation about something I love or am grateful for feels like a wonderful thing to do.

So the plan became a little bit more formed. I will aim to crochet a small circle motif every day for the month of May. I will take 10 or 15 minutes out of the rush-rush to sit quietly and make. And while I crochet I will try my hardest to mediate/think/consider about something that I am grateful for in the world. Big things, local things, global things, homey things, all kinds of grateful things. And I think I'll blog it along the way. A photo everyday, or almost everyday and a little grateful dedication.

And now for the bit that I'm getting stuck on. I'd love to involve you guys, if you are interested and willing of course. I love the idea of crochet lovers all over the world virtually sitting together, taking time, making time, being kind and grateful to ourselves and each other and our worlds. I'd love to make this a bit of a community thing, but I can't work out how.

Do you know how?
Do you know what I mean?
Does this interest you?
Do you meditate already?
Do you crochet meditate already?



PS The last time I did a motif a day in May - I LOVED it!!
PS This project does frighten me, the announcement and the commitment and the time factor, but I think that's a good thing and I'm not going to hide from it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sew together - Grow together - the book

Yesterday morning we woke up to grey skies, steady rain and a couple of coughing girls. Week three, day two of the school holidays, what on earth were we going to do? How on earth were we going to spend the day?

And then I remembered this treasure, Sew Together Grow Together, sent to me by Trixi Symonds, the author, a couple of weeks ago.

Sew Together Grow Together is a selection of hand-sewing projects developed over two decades in classes and workshops for children. The idea for this book was planted by parents who "can't even sew on a button" but wished they could play a more active role in their child's hand-sewing adventures and feel for themselves the excitement their children so clearly felt when they created something they loved and were proud to have made.
Sounds perfect hey?!

Trixi's projects are simple and completely achievable, her instructions make sense and are so child friendly that I believe anybody age five and up could make a go of them.

First our girls studied all the patterns in the book and chose one that they liked.

Then they gathered all the materials they needed, made space in the school holidays chaos of the kitchen table and got to work.

Miss Jazzy read through one step at a time, sometimes twice, and then they did it. Mostly Jazzy would finish first and help Pepper along.

Tracing, cutting, pinning, threading, stitching, snipping, turning...



This was my favourite part. We didn't have the googly eyes recommended by the pattern, but undeterred Miss Jazzy came up with the idea of using buttons. A little button glued onto a big button glued onto the owl. So cool!

IMG_9090 Ta-daaaaaaa!!!

Three little owls made from Sew Together Grow Together, by us. How great!

Just after I took this photo I left the girls and went down to collect the eggs. I asked them to tidy up a bit. When I got back half an hour later, instead of finding a clear table, I found Miss Jazzy deep in the cutting and stitching zone. She was so inspired by her new found skills that she couldn't stop and was taking them further. Using another project from the book she was making a treasure bag for her sister. Tracing and cutting and pining and stitching...

And without one speck of help from me, she followed Trixi's directions and sewed a bag. Then she filled it with treasures of her own and presented it to her sister.

Today she tells me we're pulling out the sewing machine, she's obsessed. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Sometimes I wonder if my kids will ever love making as much as I do. If they will ever be the crazy girl with the basket full of wool at the picnic, the girl with the bits of cotton stuck all over her skirt up the street, the girl that fills every spare second cutting and stitching and knitting. Days like yesterday give me a glimpse into the future and I think maybe. There is so much love and creativity and satisfaction in making something by hand, I really hope I can pass a little of that on.

Happy days my friends, I hope you've got something gorgeous going on too.


Monday, April 21, 2014

these days

IMG_8999 IMG_8998 IMG_8996 IMG_9032 IMG_9003 IMG_9016 Slow is the thing that I like the best about the holidays.

A little trickle of an idea; a thought, a whisper.
The trickle gathers momentum as it builds up speed and becomes a plan.
The trickle idea, now a fast moving stream, flows over or around obstacles, picking up and carrying stuff as it flows along, getting bigger and wider and more river like, more exciting.
The stream becomes so wide it is almost impossible to wade through and the plans and adventures become so real they must be believed, must be acted on.
These days are filled with adventures.

There are fairies in the forest. There are fires to be built. There are unusual snack combinations to try out. There are chicken relationships to contemplate. There are jokes that nobody else understands to laugh and laugh at. There are little secret notes to be written and stashed in odd places. There are songs and dances to be practised and performed. There are early, early morning adventures down the hill and there are nights crashed out on the couch fully clothed. There are episodes to watch in order. There are times spent making new friends, making clay, making gods-eyes, and there are times spent with old friends, with family and at home.

These days are chilly and long. Layers are worn and discarded as the sun hits. Boots are pulled on and off. Crazy messes are made and then tidied. Snacks are mostly eaten on the run. Hair becomes a birds nest and hidden under a hat. Games are played and to be continued.

Two weeks of adventures down and another to go.

I love these days.
I hope yours are filled with fun times too.

Big love,


Friday, April 11, 2014

knitted lately

In the interest of full disclosure I feel the need to tell you that I had to bribe those three girls to pose for these knitting pics for me. So involved were they in their game of cubby cooking that it was my only way. One chocolate biscuit each. They tried to raise it to two but I didn't budge. It was a one treat shoot.

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First the Chunky Bear Beanie.

Knitted in the squishiest, softest wool I have ever felt.

Last year when we were in Israel, one of my instagram friends, Dria, contacted me and invited us to lunch at her family's bakery, in the community where they live. It was so gorgeous to meet properly and hug her after years of looking at the pictures of her life online.

A few weeks after we got home she posted me the wool. Five different colour ways, each one equally as divine. I'm tempted to knit them all into chunky bear beanies but I should probably play around a bit, we'll see.

Ravelled here.

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Next up, a Little Scallops.  The fourth I have made. I love this pattern.

I cast this one on at The Seven Sisters Festival a few weeks back. I thought I'd knit so many stitches that weekend. I packed the boot of my car full of wool just in case. But somehow I didn't get past the band.

I think it needs a pom-pom.

Did you notice the first lost tooth? This Mama's last first, sob.

Ravelled here.

Then I made a From Norway With Love for the sister of someone who reads my blog. Her story touched my heart and I wanted to send her a bit of my love in return. Knitting feels so nurturing and I feel so grateful for that.

Ravelled here.

And then I knitted another one for us.

Miss Pepper chose the colours and while I found them a little challenging and out of my comfort zone, I love how much she loves it. I feel like it looks straight off the shelves of a chain store, but she'd probably love that too.

Ravelled here.

Another Chunky Cable Beanie for my farmer boy.

He loves this pattern, it suits him, it is the closest I have ever come to replacing his favourite Nana knitted beanie and it is warm and thick.

The last one I knitted him ended up wet left out on the tractor so many times that it is all mishapen and stretched. I've been thinking about unraveling it and knitting it up all over again. Can I do that? Will it work?

Ravelled here.

IMG_8921 And now I'm onto this, a little cardigan. A Tikki test knit.

I wanted to make the cream the main colour, with the charcoal the stripe, but Miss Pepper had other ideas. I kinda like the way it's turning out now.

I love the fact that my smaller two don't wear a school uniform anymore and that I can wrap them up in snugly hand knits over the icy months to come. I love the fact that they have clothes that are made just for them; from the measuring of their body parts, to the choice of the pattern and yarn, all the way through to the stitches. Every stitch a little story of the time; a grey and rainy week, a Wonder Years marathon, tomatoes and quinces and apples on the stove. Cozy times.

Keep warm my friends.
And tell me, what's keeping your hands busy these April days?

Big love


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

i say tomato

IMG_8853Can I tell you a secret?

I don't like fancy tomatoes. I know, so very wrong for an organic farmer to admit. But I'll take an under-ripe, red, round, firm tomato over a fancy, overly tasty, pulpy tomato any day.

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I think it started way back about seven years ago. We were growing tomatoes in a pretty serious way for restaurants and shops and markets and I was growing Miss Pepper in my belly. And while the tomatoes were blossoming and blooming and growing beautifully, I was sick, sick, sick.

And all through those early months of my pregnancy, my main job was to rummage around through the foliage in the poly tunnel and pick out the juicy, red tomatoes. Sounds like fun huh?

Imagine a hot sunny day, condensation dripping down the sides of the poly tunnel and off the roof and occasionally dripping onto your head or down your neck. Imagine the sticky tomato tar that covers your hands and arms up to your elbows as you reach through the plants to grab the fruit. Imagine thinking you've spotted the most perfect, plump, red tomato and when you wrap your fingers around it it disintegrates in your hand, a warm, overripe pulpy mess. Imagine breathing in that humid hot-house air and feeling like there wasn't enough oxygen for both you and the tomatoes. Imagine the overwhelming smell of the tomato plants and the tomatoes themselves, kinda acidic and sweet and strong. Imagine spending hours and hours, filling buckets and crates and feeling sick and pregnant and gagging and so over everything tomato. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

IMG_8869 IMG_8876Seven years on, every single March and April day I've been spending an hour or two in the poly tunnels picking tomatoes, and that tomato smell and the feeling on my fingers takes me straight back there and I feel a little queasy. Seven years on, while I've still lost my love for the exotic and heirloom tomato, we most certainly, unquestionably have won with our wonderful Pepper Berry. I'll take her over a Cherokee Purple or a Purple Russian any day.

Bye now


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

blogging bits & burning sticks

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I'm afraid my blogging has been getting away from me. Where my monthly average used to be 13 or 14 posts, these days it is down to four or five. I don't know what's changed. Maybe I have less time these days, maybe facebook and instagram are to blame, maybe it's because I feel like I've said it all before, maybe it's because I just got out of the habit, or maybe it's because each post seems so big and overwhelming that often it's simpler to let it go.

But I miss it. I miss taking the photos and telling the story. I miss watching the post come together. I miss that feeling of satisfaction I get when I press publish. And I miss your beautiful words and stories in the comment section. And someday in the future I know that I will desperately miss the gaps in our family's illustrated history.

The other day Miss Jazzy sat down to do a timeline of her life and there the last five years were, every birthday party, every major event and so much in-between. She had a ball scrolling through remembering her life.

I've been thinking about ways to make blogging easier for myself ever since.

And I've come to the conclusion that I need to make it simpler and quicker for myself. So for the next little while I am going to aim to publish a blog post every, or every second day. Quick little stories with only a couple of pictures that tell the tales of where we are and what we are doing right now.

I've said it before and I know it to be true; the more I blog - the easier and better I blog.

Look out for stories in the coming days about what I've been knitting, what's growing in the garden, what we are doing with all those tomatoes, what we are reading, how I'm going with the whole kind thing, what's bringing me joy and anything else that pops into my head. Feel free to offer me any suggestions you might have too.

Yay! I'm excited.

IMG_8844 IMG_8848 IMG_8843 This particular story above is one that began yesterday morning when I bumped into a friend who was taking her family away camping for the holidays, and left me feeling guilty that all our plans are for home. But then when I came home to our little farm and had a good look around I realised that our home, and all the adventures it holds, is a pretty incredible place to holiday in too.

And once I'd realised how much we all really need a holiday at home, we set about collecting sticks and building a bonfire where we spent the day cooking and pottering and playing and experimenting and getting absolutely filthy.

I love that despite the cold and rain, I found Jazzy and Pepper back out there in their wet weather gear first thing this morning wanting to keep going where they left off. I can remember doing that so clearly when I was little. The sign of a great day I think.

I'm going to sign off now and go and stir my bubbling pots of tomato sauce and quince jelly, but I'll be seeing you real soon.

Big love and happy holidays!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Seven sisters

A three day women's festival promoting health, creative expression and community spirit. Hosting stimulating and insightful workshops, exceptional live music, art and performance in lush natural surrounds. 

From the Seven Sisters Festival website.

IMG_8755It's funny, I've had the photos loaded and ready to go on this post for a few days now but I can't seem to get the words to feel right. I so badly want to record the days and nights I spent away with Indi so I can hold on to them and go back to them in the future when I need to remember and relive that time, but I can't. Everything I write seems too hippie and I feel too self conscious to put it out there.

Maybe it's too soon. Maybe it's all too fresh and alive still dancing around in my mind. Maybe some experiences just cannot be captured in a one dimensional space. I'm not sure.

I do know that over the two days away I went from feeling overwhelmed and out of place, to surrendering and owning my place, to reconnecting and recentering my place, to returning home to my place feeling refilled and recharged.

I guess the biggest moment in my festival experience, my biggest blessing, happened on the Saturday afternoon while walking back down the hill from the chai tent to our tent when Indi turned and whispered to me;

you are who you want to be mum

Inhale. Exhale. Such big words from my 13 year old. Such big words that I've probably always wanted to hear and feel, yet there I was completely overwhelmed when I finally heard them.

Over the next day or so I took Indi's precious words and turned them over and over in my mind. Am I? Do I? Can I be? Should I be? And then sometime later, while listening to the beginnings of a workshop about making your dreams come true, I came to the realisation that I know she's right.

I have work to do and I know I'm not nearly there yet, but I am heading in the right direction and I feel  empowered and inspired and excited to be here. Right here. And I feel grateful, ever so grateful for the time out of our everyday lives that allowed us to really see our lives for what they are.

Maybe I'll follow up this post with a nitty-gritty - this was what Seven Sisters was actually like - post, maybe not. I'm discovering that these things don't like to be forced. But if you are interested, you can check out their web-site and look at these 497 gorgeous photos (if you look closely you'll see us in a couple).

Big thanks to Jessie and the Happy Glampers for the loan of the cutest bell tent ever, to Miss Indi my traveling companion (look at that golden aura in the first pic!) and to Miss, Zoe and Nina for making it so much fun. xx

I'm pressing publish before I change my mind again.

Big love and light


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