Thursday, May 29, 2014

why i love craft



This is why I love craft.

These two slippers began as two balls of yarn. One ball, the purply one, I bought from two women at the Bendigo Sheep and Wool show two years ago. I didn't love the feel of it and I didn't love the colour of it, but I did love the concept. That ball of yarn was called WOOLI by Nikki Gabriel and was a recycled blend of factory fibre waste: wool, alpaca, silk, cashmere and possum.  I just had to try some out and see how it knitted up.

The second was given to me by my friend and local shop-keeper Merrilyn. A Debbie Bliss chunky tweed made from merino and angora. I did love the look and feel of this speckley, lumpy gorgeous bluey-greeny yarn but had no idea what it would eventually become.

Both balls have sat patiently in my wool cupboard for close to two years now for just the right time and just the right project. Over the years I've pulled them out and wondered and considered and stroked them but nothing has felt quite right. Until now.

Until the past few days as we have grown closer to winter, the temperatures have dropped and the icy polished concrete floor in our kitchen has become increasingly difficult to stand on in socks. There's really nothing worse than freezing cold feet and the way the chilly feeling travels up the body making it impossible to relax and warm up.

As the days past I found myself breaking the rules by wearing my boots inside the house and at the same time wondering about a solution that wouldn't cost the crazy price of five new pairs of slippers and wouldn't involve a special trip into Melbourne to purchase them.

And then last Friday I was reading lovely Sophie's blog and it was like she had answered my question before I had even asked it when she shared the link to this fabulous list of slipper patterns. I chose the top pair, scrounged around for some chunky yarn, found those two balls and some 5.5mm needles and cast on.

Apart from a couple of issues with the way it is written, this pattern is simple, quick and so much fun to knit up.

On Monday morning when I walked into the kitchen where my farmer boy was in the middle of relighting the stove fire, stirring the porridge and making our coffee, I found him with the biggest smile on his face. His new slippers were warm, comfy, cushioned and he loved them.

There is no better feeling in the whole wide world than that which is making something for someone you love that they love.

I now have orders for three more pairs plus some for me. And I don't feel so, so bad when I sleep a little late and he's gotten it all warm and toasty in the house before my feet hit the floor.

Craft makes me happy.

Stay warm and cozy lovely people, I hope you get the chance to love what you make and make what you love.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

fire, feast and song



There's this little clearing in a piece of forest on our farm that I've had my eye on for a while now. It's a funny little spot in between two paddocks and behind the windmill dam that looks thick and bushy from the outside. It's the type of spot you could easily walk past without giving it much thought at all. But a while ago, possibly even years ago, my farmer boy took me in through the trees and showed me how there was a lovely space inside and a big pile of wood and sticks in there that needed burning. I've been thinking about lighting that bonfire ever since.


I love the feeling of walking through the little foresty bit as it opens up into a clearing. It's like our own little secret garden. And this autumn it's been particularly beautiful in there with streams of sunlight and dappled shadows.

Most weekends I've been suggesting that we head down there with a picnic and a box of matches but this past Saturday we finally did. Us five and farmer Bren's folks, my knitting, some tools, and a box of ingredients to make a bonfire feast.

We got the fire going and then we spent a while cutting down gorse bushes and blackberry plants and neatening up the space. I love being part of the whole family team that cuts down, drags over and feeds the fire. I love the roars of excitement as the branches of gorse catch alight and the flames seem to shake the high tree branches and touch the sky. I love that feeling of being burning hot on the front and freezing cold on the back and rotating to keep myself evenly warm.

And I love how after we had been working a while, the girls got to work on the feast. Working together to measure, mix, roll and cook.




IMG_9688We took turns making and baking. We discussed old cooking techniques and invented new ones. We cut and sharpened the longest sticks we could find, so we could reach the hottest fire. We ate jacket potatoes with rosemary and cheese, toasted marshmallows, and damper with Vegemite, or butter, or jam. We burnt our fingers and spilled things on our clothes and gulped down water. We went from hard-working hungry to full as bulls in not very long time. And we dreamed and told stories of the parties we would throw in the clearing now it is clear and planned to bring in stumps and slabs of wood for future furniture.



IMG_9705 And it was all delicious and wonderful. But my very favourite part of all came after the sun set, when it was pitch black except for the fire. It felt like midnight but was possibly not long past six when the girls started singing. And for the next few hours we all sang and sometimes danced and laughed and laughed. One song after the other just voices in melodies and harmonies.

And it occurred to me as I sat up against my farmer boy watching their glowing faces and listening to their songs that finally after years and years and years of entertaining them with nursery rhymes and silly games, that they are finally entertaining us. And I felt blessed beyond measure.

I'm sure that that night when we all went back up to the house that we all dreamed exhausted, smokey, secret garden dreams.

I went down to that same space yesterday in the late afternoon to check if the fire was still burning, to see what the newly cleared space looked like a few days later and to have a few minutes of silence for myself and I could still feel something special there. I've got plans for another visit soon with a pot of soup and some Turkish coffee. Hopefully winter is kind and allows it.

I hope you are having a gorgeous day.

Lots of love


Sunday, May 25, 2014

taking my own advice


IMG_9613 IMG_9607 I am so much better at giving advice than taking it. Are you the same? I wonder if you are.

For example if you came to me and we sat down and you spoke to me about how you were feeling a bit strung out lately, nothing major but a bit depleted and like you were on the verge of not being very well, I would encourage you to look after yourself. To do something completely and only for yourself. And if possible to make it a bit of a treat.

I might talk to you about what would make you feel better, maybe an afternoon nap, or a walk around the lake, or a maybe even a massage. Then I would speak to you about how my farmer boy always reminds me that the people giving the safety demonstration on aeroplanes always tell you that in case of emergency you must place your own oxygen mask on before helping your loved ones with theirs. How can we help others to breathe if we can't breathe ourselves? We are no good to anyone if we aren't feeling good ourselves. We must help ourselves, look inwards and value what it is that we need. And we must honour and trust that feeling and act on it.

Last week on that day that I gave myself permission to stop for a while, I realised that I wasn't feeling all that balanced. Generally my pattern is to go-go-go until I am exhausted and fall in a heap for a bit, but this time I felt like I recognised the signs before hand.

I felt like I was on the edge of something with two choices. I could move forward full steam ahead, ignoring the way I was feeling, getting things done and hope for the best. Hope that I could maintain the pace, stay well and look after my family well. The other choice was to recognise that I wasn't feeling strong and to do something about it before I got sick, or got myself into some sort of drama, or just felt terrible.

See, I would have told you to help yourself by looking after yourself, but I myself would usually push on through. Push it all aside and go and stack some wood or bake a cake or something.

But for some still unknown to me reason, this time I felt the deep need to be kind to myself. This time instead of pulling on my boots and getting back to it, I made an appointment to go and see my Chinese doctor Andrea first instead.

I have no idea why taking a step to looking after myself felt so emotional but it did. I cried when I admitted to myself what I was doing.

And as I sat in my appointment describing how I'd been feeling, it suddenly occurred to me how detached I am from my body. How I only really look after myself when things are actually wrong. And how after growing three babies and mothering them for 14 years, I feel depleted and in need of some nourishing myself.

As soon as I'd admitted all that I felt better. Stronger. More grounded. I know that I know exactly how to look after myself, I just have to remember to do it. And I must do it so I can get everything I have to get done-done and to give myself the best chance I can to avoid something like the left breast thing happening again.

So this week to look after myself I am going to aim to;

  • Find a few minutes to be in complete silence without distractions for a few minutes a day.
  • Get rid of the guilt associated with doing the things I love and scedule in some knitting/crochet/sewing time.
  • Take the homeopathics and Chinese herbs that I should be taking, I always have such good intentions.
  • Start the day with a glass of luke warm water with lemon, cinnamon and honey.
  • Walk.
  • Tune in with my body and get out of my head sometimes.

I'm going to try my very best.

I hope you have a gorgeous week.

Big love xx

Thursday, May 22, 2014

listening in

I've had one of those days. Some days are wonderful, some are crappy and some days are just blah, blah-di-blah-di-blah. Today has most definitely been the latter. You know those days, nothing is quite wrong but nothing is exactly perfectly right either. It's like I've used up all my energy, and have nothing left. I've been sighing a lot.

This morning I woke up, got everyone dressed and ready and then I took myself back to bed with my knitting. I never do that. I have way too much to-do, to do that. But today I did.

At the start I felt guilty and a bit embarrassed. Especially when my farmer boy came in from fixing the tractor and my Mum came over to show me her new hair. But I couldn't help it, I felt heavy and stuck.

But then I sat there under the blankets and knitted a few rows and thought about kindness and being kind to myself and realised that I had to stay there. I had to look after myself and honour the way that I was feeling. I had no choice.

And then I felt a bit teary thinking about some of the stuff that has been going on in my world lately. Some huge life changing stuff, some house rearranging stuff, some changing of the seasons stuff, some sickness, some excitement and a lot of other bits and pieces in between. Sometimes I find having a little sob by myself feels just so sad, but also so cleansing. It's nice not to have to explain it to anyone else and just to let it all wash over me and then off and away.

After a while I got out of bed and did some things. Nothing big or bold and nothing that meant I had to get dressed. But doing nice stuff made me feel a bit better and that was good.

First I made a rainbow out of lots of odds and ends of wool. Making tidy and making pretty at the same time was always going to make me feel a bit better.

Then I picked some celery from the garden for a snack. This is the first year that we've been able to grow such great celery and eating it and running my hands over the tops of those lush green fronds is a wonderful thing.

Then I finally wove in the ends of my face washers and popped them in a parcel to post to Cath for the Bellingen ladies to pop into their Day For Girls packs. What a honour it's been to play a little part in such an important project. Thanks for organising it Cath. x


Then I looked out and found this dead bird outside my window. Poor little, tiny bird. When I went outside and picked it up I was amazed at it's weight. For some reason I had thought that it would be light as a feather but it wasn't. It felt heavy and earth-bound. I hope it had a wonderful life flying about our farm being free and fabulous and died in its sleep and not from hitting our window.


Then I took some pics of all my motifs so far. What a wonderful project it's been. The crocheting time, the thinking time, the zoning out time, the patterns and colours and cottons. 21 motifs made, 10 to go, I'm going to miss this project when the month is done.

Then I did some clearing and cleaning up of my new crafty office space, more on that later, and came across this photo of another time and place. Only about seven years ago but a lifetime ago all the same. I miss those times and those smiling faces. (I'm sobbing again…..)

Then I picked some leeks for dinner. I planted so many leeks this year and now we need the space - every 'what's for dinner?' question works its way back from leeks.

IMG_9585 And then I ended up back where I started, writing my blog in bed with my knitting for company when the words needed time.

In the end I had a difficult but surprisingly lovely day. The outside jobs never happened, I didn't do nearly as much as I'd hoped to inside either, but I listened to what was going on with me internally and I honoured that and was kind. Tomorrow I'll be better off for it.

Sending love and kindness out to you guys wherever you are, whatever you are doing.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

the very last of the tomatoes

IMG_9503 IMG_9523It's funny in life that so often you don't know that something was the last until it is over. The last time your child wears something before they grow out of it, the last time you take a photo of your baby with all her baby teeth, the last time you hug someone you love before they leave, the last time you hang your washing on the line outside before the days become too cold…

Mostly food gardening is a bit like that for me. We spend much of summer and autumn enjoying bountiful basil. Plucking those leaves and eating them on and in almost every dish we create. And then one morning the frost hits it and it's over. Burnt. And that's it for another year. It's the same with so many crops, from plentiful to finished over night.

One season passes, another begins.

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This week we pulled the very last of the tomato vines out of the garden and let the chickens into the poly tunnels to clean up the scraps. We collected every last red tomato and brought them inside, we picked crates of green fruit for the chooks, we made piles of green leaves and vines for the compost and we stashed the stakes for the next year.

Then we forked each bed to aerate them, we sprinkled rock minerals, we filled them up with compost and then we planted garlic and kale and other wintry, new season's veg.

IMG_9517 IMG_9488 For some reason this week I got to choose for the tomato season to be over. It had slowed right down but I could have probably gotten another bowl or two from the poly tunnels over the next week or so. But it feels like the time is right. The chicks needed the space to explore, the vines are getting all mushy and disgusting from rotting fruit, we need the space for the new season and the days are getting shorter and I'm running out of time to pick.

So this season, perhaps for the first time ever, I do know that I have just picked my last crate of tomatoes. I think I'll oven dry a couple of trays, eat as many as we can in sandwiches and salads and do one more batch in Fowlers jars. It's a strange feeling and I almost feel like I'm cheating mother nature, but I can tell you that late season's tomatoes never tasted so good. I am enjoying every single one like it's my last - because it is almost my last.

Happy season of green, southern peeps, and for those of you up north, enjoy your bounty.

Big love x

Friday, May 16, 2014

This weekend you might like to….

LISTEN - to Miss Indi and Geoffrey Williams' recording of Ho Hey. #proudmotheralert

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MEDITATE - by taking some time out for yourself to crochet/knit/sew a motif. The weekend is such a great time to catch up or even start on your motifs. And if making them is just not your thing, why don't you check out the #MotifDayMay hashtag on instagram, there's some really gorgeous stuff going on over there.

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KNIT - Gidday, the brand new pattern by Tikki Knits. It is such a cute little cardi, I'm really hoping Georgie releases the mama version soon, I want one too.

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LOVE - the season you are in. Get out amongst it. Lay in the autumn leaves here, pick a bunch of bluebells there, breathe it all in, we'll be moving right along soon enough.

LISTEN - to this podcast about understanding chicken pox. Yep, Miss Jazzy has the miserable things (not in this photo of course), I wonder who's next. (Thanks for the link Farmdoc xx)

IMG_9238 IMG_9247 POD - your beans and save them in jars, some for eating over winter and some for replanting next year.

And above all have a gorgeous few days. We're hoping to do a bit more work on the woodpile and we're planning to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at The Rex tomorrow night. Yay!

How about you, got anything fun planned?

Big love


Monday, May 12, 2014

cutting the firewood

IMG_9323 Life in the forest is funny. Practically the moment after we finish worrying about the threat of bush-fires, we start lighting fires.

One day we have bags packed at the front door filled with our valuables, we have water pumps filled with petrol ready to go and we have a list on the fridge with every one's task, should the worst come to the worst and we have to evacuate.

And the next day the temperature drops and our priorities change. Just like that. Now instead of worrying about fire, we're worrying about the fire going out.

In our little home in the forest, the fire cooks our food and keeps us warm. Over the wintry days we are always scrunching up bits of newspaper, gathering twigs and sticks for kindling, splitting chunks of wood and constantly opening the cooker door to make sure it's still going and burning hot.

When we first moved here I used to cry every time a tree was cut down on our farm. I used to mourn the habitat and the beautiful part of our environment. 13 years later I am more practical. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad, it just is. These days I know that living on the edge of the Wombat State Forest, with 20 acres of bushland as our own, it is important to manage our trees. I know that we need to get rid of trees that grow too close to our house, that occasionally we need to thin out small sections of the forest in order to let some of the trees have more access to sunshine and thereby grow, and I know that we need to use these choices to cut firewood to heat our home and to cook our food. I also know that each year we plant hundreds of fruit, nut, native and exotic trees in unforested areas of our farm.


Over the past few days we've been cutting and splitting and stacking the wood that will do these important jobs in 2016. For wood to be hot burning and efficient it needs two years to season and dry out.

Last week my farmer boy carefully selected the six trees to come down and marked them. Bob the tree man came early on Thursday morning and cut them down. We built a bonfire as tall as a house with all the small branches and leaves and watched and listened to it crackle as all the oily leaves caught and burnt. Then Bob cut the trees into rounds and we split them, carried them and stacked them, me and farmer Bren and my dad.

This year for the first time we hired a hydraulic wood splitter. In the past we've always done it by hand which is certainly quieter and more idyllic. Farmer Bren still thinks he can keep up by hand but let me tell you that after watching this thing slice through a one metre round as if it were butter, I'm never going back.

So far we've done 16 cubic metres, with another eight still to split. It is heavy, loud, dirty work. When we come in at night I have to take my overalls off by the back door and shake all the wood chips out before I come inside. It is hard to imagine my hands will ever be clean again.

But there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of coming inside after a hard day's work. That feeling and knowledge that the effort we are putting in now will keep us and my parents warm and fed in two years time. That we are looking after ourselves, planning for the future, teaching our children practical life skills.

On sunshine-filled autumn days like these days, I feel so happy to be living like this. It makes so much sense.

I hope you have a gorgeous week my friends.

Big love,


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