Friday, December 30, 2016

the friday foxslane

Hello and a very happy Friday to you dear friends of Foxs Lane.

It's funny, now that Friday blogging is a thing, it's amazing how the pieces click together to make it so. I've started carrying my big camera around with me again (you should see how grubby it is); I've started looking at things as they happen and turning over phrases in my mind that I might use to describe them; my girls often refer to my blog and ask me if I'll be posting about this or that; you guys leave comments which delight me and inspire me to continue; and then, because they know it must be done, come Friday, my family leave me alone for the writing - which is no mean feat in week three of the summer holidays. I guess the fact that I now know that I blog on Fridays removes the guilt and the yearning from the rest of the week too.

Right now Bren's taken the girls into town to give me space, I'm sitting up on the daybed in our studio and I'm wondering what this blog should be.

I could do a rundown month by month of what 2016 looked like and felt like to me: including crafts, farm life, books, and family stuff. I could talk about the fact that we don't do Christmas and how much I love those few days of living in a bubble of exclusion. I could write about how some of my girls struggled with the no Christmas thing this year, and how we dealt with that and what that made me think about ritual and belonging and culture. I could tell you how much I've adored this past week -  it might have even been my happiest of the whole year - when all five of us worked together as a team to plant the tomatoes, cook the meals and clean the house. And then when the jobs were done, all five of us took walks around the farm, played music and sang songs, watched movies and just hung out.

Okay I've decided, after a quick check of my posts from this time last year, I think I'll go through what I wrote back then, about what I hoped to achieve in the year to come and see how that looks now in retrospect.

As well as blogging more regularly, this year 
Haha I guess I didn't exactly win in that department but at least I pulled myself up before the end of the year with my five Friday posts.
I'd love to buy a flock of sheep for land management and wool
That one I definitely tried but unfortunately rather unsuccessfully. We do have a lovely local farmer/fencer booked in to visit soon and hopefully put in some tougher, permanent fencing so we can try our hands at being shepherds again in 2017.

I'd love to play with natural dyes
I bought a book, I bought some natural sock yarn and I bought some mordant, but for some reason I never got to it. I'm not quite sure why. I'm thinking I might book into a class one day though as I might just have confused myself with all the options and possibilities and not know where to start.

 I'd love to work hard to find balance between work and play
Yeah, nah.

I must say though, that the house renovation and creation of our studio has helped with this one as it has made a space completely separate from the kitchen and garden where I can sit comfortably and read and knit while the dishes in the sink, the crumbs under the table and the unweeded garden are out of sight and out of mind.

I'd love to design a piece of knitwear
While this one is probably still a no too, I feel like I have made headway by taking a plain sock pattern and knitting a bunch of fair isle motifs into it. Counting stitches, choosing colours and selecting all the patterns hurt my brain at times, but gosh I loved knitting them.

What I didn't quite love was the sight that greeted me when I turned them inside out yesterday ready to darn in the ends!! Who would have thought there'd be such a hairy mane hiding inside. And there I had thought that they were practically finished when I cast them off. Goodness what a mess.

I posted a photo of them on instagram last night with the caption - the secret life of fair isle socks - because seriously, who knew?!

I'd love to work on being kinder to myself in my head
Let's just say I still have a lot of work to do on that one. I don't understand it and I don't like it and it would upset me so much if my girls grow up to be so self critical - but it's there and it's my truth. For now.

I'd love to find ways to get more involved with the causes that make me cry
Honestly I almost deleted this one because it makes me feel guilty that I haven't done enough. Not nearly. 

I'd love to knit a Lopi Icelandic sweater
I'd love to unfollow a few people on social media who are not kind
I can tick this one off because I remember following through with it at the start of the year and how great it felt to have them disappear from my life. Out of instagram - out of mind. It's weird the way I let some very unkind, very preachy, very condescending, people dominate my feed for so long out of some form of misguided loyalty. On the very rare occasion that I come across their negativity now it is instantly obvious how little has changed for them, while over here I no longer have that sick feeling in my stomach and that tight feeling in my chest.

 I'd love to find some new recipes to add to our tired collection
Oh 2016 was not adventurous in the kitchen by any stretch of the imagination.

I'd love to play with some botanical embroidery
I love that I wanted to but I feel like these days posting beautiful botanical embroidery pictures to my pinterest page is much more realistic.

I'd love to teach
In 2016 I was asked by so many people to teach sock knitting, knitting in general, crochet and crafty classes but it never happened. Looking back I feel like 2016 was a year where I needed all my energy to gather and hold my loved ones with not a lot left over to spare. Hopefully next year?

I'd love to reacquaint myself with my sewing machine and sew some garments
Well, due to the renovations my sewing machine was stored in a shipping container up near the shed for a lot of 2016, but now it's set up on my desk ready to use. 

and I'd love to find a way to do a bit of housework regularly rather than leaving it until it's overwhelming
This one will forever be an issue for me. As anyone who knows me knows - tidiness and cleanliness are not exactly personality traits that I express liberally. Why clean when there's so many more fun things to do? Why scrub when its only going to get messy again? Why neaten - unless guests are coming over and I all of a sudden have a panic and see our house the way they will?

Yesterday morning though we tried something different. We divided the house into areas, allocated each area to a family member and spent the next three hours cleaning. Someone put on some loud music and we all scrubbed and vacuumed and mopped and washed and wiped. It was awesome. The fact that everyone in the house was working meant we weren't resentful at doing the job ourselves. The fact that we had time meant we could get into the nitty gritty. The fact that John Marsden allocates time each day for the students at his schools to clean their school means that our girls know how to clean and put value in the process. And the squeals that could be heard for the rest of the day as we each discovered another sparkly clean area were priceless. I hope to repeat the process each week of the school holidays and see how we can continue it into the school year.

I'm sure there's more but that's a start
Haha that's more than enough, wouldn't you say.

I guess the thing to do now is to repeat the process for 2017.

I'd like to be kinder to myself, to find one thing that is mine and pursue it, to learn how to drive a tractor, to learn how to spin and knit a garment from the yarn I've spun, to knit an Icelandic Lopi sweater, to fence some paddocks and keep a flock of sheep, to continue getting physically fitter and stronger (arm wrestle anyone), to push my photography further, to entertain more, to get involved with some of the causes that make me cry, and I'd love to write something other than this blog, imagine if my Fridays could be a whole day for writing...

I guess now I have to decide if I'll blog every day in January like I have for the past two years, or if I'll stick to the Friday blogging which feels like it's working a treat.

Happy last few days and hours of 2016 my friends.

Are you where you thought you'd be this time last year?
Do you know where you want to be this time next year?

See ya in 2017!

Lots of love,

Kate xx

Friday, December 23, 2016

stacks of wood

Hello you guys!

It's Friday again and I almost can't believe it. Where did this week go? I feel like it was just yesterday or the day before that I was sitting here on the plump green chair writing my blog. And yet here I am again.

Honestly I almost skipped this week. This week was such a big physical week that there was no time or space left for the emotional. And truth be told, emotion is where the story always sits with me. But I do know that if I miss one week then it's probably all over and I'll possibly never come back. And it would have been such a shame to miss the fourth Foxs Lane Friday.

So although the stories are about doing rather than feeling, here they are.

Last Saturday Bob the tree man turned up bright and early to cut up a few trees that had come down in recent storms, and to cut down a few trees that were too close to the house.

Then with a rotating team of family we spent the next four days turning those trees into firewood.

First someone rolled the rounds close to and then up onto the hydraulic splitter. (I think Miss Pepper was actually drawing sap faces onto that round up above, but I didn't take all that many photos of the process and that one sort of gives you an idea).

Then someone split the rounds into chunks. Gosh it's cool to watch that big blade come down and slice through the wood as easily as if it were an apple. And the cracking sound was pretty cool too.

I must admit that one or two of us did get a bit emotional on occasion when the blade opened up a gash in the wood and deep red sap poured out. At times it looked a bit like a crime scene.

Of course there was a bit of old fashioned, analogue splitting too. Look at Bren's dad John go!

It was hot, heavy and loud work. I have scratches all over my hands and arms, and my shoulders ache. But gosh it's a great feeling to put in a few days of hard work and get the job done. To build those long winding walls of firewood that now line our driveway.

I loved spending the days with our girls and our parents working as a team. I loved watching Bob teach Indi to split wood, and for her to smash it. I loved knowing that Bob was listening to Simon and Garfunkel and First Aid Kit in his headphones and not the rock that I had assumed. Coming across koalas, and faces, and slides that Pepper had made out of  the sap and the wood was awesome. And let me tell you there is nothing that tastes quite as good as an iced coffee on a hot summer's morning after a few hours of solid work.

I'm not at all looking forward to those icy winter nights when we'll be burning through that wood, in fact I feel slightly melancholy at the thought that we're on the wrong wide of the summer solstice now, but I do feel pleased that we're prepared.

And I kinda like it when we're so exhausted come night time, that we end up in bed before the girls do.

After the wood, and the summer slashing and the rest of the farm chores, there wasn't much more week to fit farm work into, but we did squeeze in a bit of planting in the igloo my farmer boy built me after he found me crying at the thought of losing another crop to the birds and the animals.

It's made of star pickets, irrigation pipe and orchard netting, all of which we had lying around the place. Pretty cool hey!

We planted cabbages, broccoli, brussel sprouts, basil and tomatoes.

The best was having those 16 year old hands in the soil with us.

And that's that!

Like I said, lots of physical but not much emotional. Which was kind of refreshing considering all the doubting myself and plans for redefining myself, that have been going on lately.

And so dear friends, whatever you celebrate - whatever you believe, we here at Foxs Lane would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a wonderful, merry, love-filled weekend, whether it be Christmas or Hanukkah or any other day of the week.

Lots of love,



Friday, December 16, 2016

my week in ten

Hello lovely people,

Welcome back to the Friday edition of Foxs Lane.

It's been a week since I've sat in the plump green chair in the corner of our office/studio/second-bedroom with my laptop on my knees and written in this space. And despite the chaos that is my house right now, I'm pleased that I've decided that blogging on Fridays is a thing, and I'm honouring that.

So here goes. This is a list of little stories and things that have happened in my small world since last we met.

one - blog

Obviously I haven't solved all of the issues of my last blog, but I can't tell you how much blogging them has made a difference to my mental state.

I listened to a podcast interview with Colm Toibin the author recently, in which he spoke of the fear that being stranded on a desert island meant that no-one would be able to read his work. At the time that really surprised me. I had thought that a writer wrote for the love of the words, and the story, and because he/she couldn't not write. I hadn't understood that the reader was such an important part of the process. Later that day it occurred to me that blogging is exactly the same. You reading my words is part of my process. Otherwise this may as well be a private journal. I guess it also explains how the mere act of writing and publishing helps me so much with the process of growing and changing.

Reading your responses and suggestions and just knowing that I am not alone in all of this is ridiculously helpful and reassuring too. Thank you xx

So in the last week I have decided that I need to write more, I could study photography; I don't want to do anything that involves writing an essay ever again in my life; I'd love to draw and paint, and I need to work on my confidence in all of the above. It seems like I've been standing behind my girls, pushing them forward for so long that I've forgotten that I can get out there myself.

It's a process though, and if blogging it was the first step, then I'm determined to take the next few steps before I lose the momentum.

two - school

Our big girls finished their first year at their new school. And what a year it has been: from learning the culture of this new school, making new friends, hikes, bikes-rides, a six-week trip to Greece, dealing with a bully, realising that car-pooling doesn't work for our family, spending a few days each week in winter in a local Airbnb, performances, creations, subject decisions and work.

I won't lie, the fact that the school is close to an hour away has been difficult at times. The fact that their friends live so far away has meant that we have often found ourselves driving through the mountain ranges not just on weekdays, but on the weekends too. Over winter the drive was at times dangerous with frosty roads, low visibility, rain, hail, sleet and snow. The days were long and tiring.

But I have to say that often those drives felt like a gift: when the sunlight streamed through the forest, when we hit upon a great Spotify play list, when we had uninterrupted time to really talk, when the podcasts spoke directly to us, or when the world seemed too big and hard and our car felt like the safest place to be.

I'm really happy to have our girls home for the holidays, but I'm also incredibly pleased that we've found a school that encourages creativity and individuality and hard work.

three - anniversary

Last Monday my farmer boy and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. 17!!! I looked it up and the gift for 17 years of marriage is furniture! How romantic.

We celebrated by leaving the girls at home alone and eating dinner on the balcony in the forest at a restaurant nearby. It was gorgeous and delicious and romantic.

four - books

I finished reading The Sisters Antipodes, which I loved, and Goodreads sent me an email to let me know that I've read 42 books this year, 13,273 pages and one book that 2,090,390 people have also read - The Catcher In The Rye, crazy. But there are still a few weeks left, so I'm hoping to get that tally up at least two more notches.

five - knitting socks

I've slowly been knitting away at my fair isle socks and am hoping to have them off my needles by the end of this weekend. I'm so excited to show them to you.

six - Tom

Last Saturday I went to buy some ceramics from some local ceramicists who were having a stall outside the supermarket in town. While I was there, as well as buying some GORGEOUS pieces, I had a long chat with a woman who is friends with the couple we bought our farm from. I told her I'd been thinking about them often while we were renovating and she told me that the woman had died and the man was devastated. Of course he was. She told me that she would send our love but she thought it would be too painful for him to ever visit us again.

Last Tuesday he showed up. He drove in, introduced himself and came in for a cup of coffee and a tour. He was so open and honest and sweet with us that it just about broke my heart. He said his visit had just been spur of the moment and he hadn't known how he would feel being in his old home again, the home he had built and shared with his wife, but surprisingly he liked it. He loved what we've done and walked from room to room admiring the details. He left with a dozen eggs and promised to come again soon, hopefully in apple season, to help with the harvest.

Bren says that it's very Celestine Prophecy, the way he showed up just after I was talking about him. I think I'm just happy he came at the end of the renovation rather than the bomb site stage in the middle. And I'm pleased he felt comfortable here and that he'll come again.

seven - garden 

After suffering too many heartbreaks, and crying too many tears in the market garden thanks to the birds and animals helping themselves to our crops, my farmer boy built me a massive cage from star stakes, pipe and orchard netting. I'm hoping to get a fencer in early next year to build a more permanent version, but until then this is brilliant! So far I've planted my corn in there, with loads more to come this weekend.

eight - spoon

We celebrated the last day of school with dinner and drinks around the fire. Pepper cooked strawberry concoctions, Jazzy came out of her room to visit, Indi played with some Waifs songs, I knitted my socks and my farmer boy carved a double-ended spoon for the mother of a baby who had told us that spoons were silly because babies poked themselves with the wrong ends.

nine - firewood

For the next four days, starting tomorrow, we'll be working on our firewood for next year and the year after. Bob is coming with his chainsaw to cut down a few trees that are a bit close to the house and then we'll use his hydraulic splitter to cut them to size and then make stacks for the winters to come.

I love that I have my blog as a record of the last time we did this so I can remember and prepare for this time.


I can't think of what number 10 should be and I'm in a bit of a rush to finish this off and get dressed to go out to a party, so I think I'll dedicate it to anyone out there who is having a tough time at the moment. I hope your troubles ease, I hope you find comfort and feel supported, and I hope by this time next week when I write my blog your world looks a little rosier.

Until then, tell me a thing, or 10, about you.
What are you thinking about? How are you feeling? What are you growing/mending/baking?
I'd love to hear all about it.

Big love,


Friday, December 9, 2016

my inner toddler mother

How are you?
How's your week been?

We're finishing off the school year and really starting the growing season here at Foxs Lane. Endings and beginnings. Everything and everyone is growing up and moving along.

But in amongst all of this progress, I've been looking backwards a lot too. I've been thinking about mothers of little, tiny kids. Mothers who are so consumed by their children's welfare that they often neglect their own. Probably the mother that I was when I started this blog way back then.

You know that woman standing in the doorway of the cafe you're sitting in. Her hair is in a messy pony tail trying to hide the fact that she hasn't washed it in days, and her clothes look like she's grabbed them off a pile next to her bed. In one hand she carries a bag filled with healthy snacks, books and other things to keep her children entertained and fed and cleaned. Whilst the other is filled with the hands of her little children, constantly pulling her forward and sideways and then back. She looks tired, and overloaded, and consumed with their details. Her children on the other hand are dressed immaculately. They are colourful, and clean, and cute. And they chatter and sing while they look for a place to sit. And she directs them, and organises them, and doesn't sit until they are all settled. This cafe visit is just the start of a day that will be filled with swimming lessons, and library visits, and time at the park on the swings.

Thinking about that woman makes me feel sad.

Partly because I was her for so many years. Mostly I really loved being her, being the centre of their universe and hanging out all day with those funny little beings. Anything could be made into a fun activity: from the cooking, to the laundry, to the checking things off a shopping list. But I also remember sometimes feeling so relieved to be able to stand (hide) behind my kids, for them to take the spotlight and the lead, while my baby brain and I stood back and waited.

I was that mother for so many years that the man at the post office once told me that he didn't recognise me because I was alone, that he hadn't really seen me before, when he actually saw me most days of the week.

And partly thinking about that mum makes me sad because I am still her. Well not literally, but feelingly.

Although my youngest baby is nine and all three of my girls go to school full time and are in some ways extremely independent, I still feel like the toddler mother fussing along behind them, fixing the details and putting them first. I'm a stay-at-home mum and a work-from-home mum. That's what I do. And I think that that's been okay til now. But for some reason I need more now. I need something bigger. I need something that is mine.

I've asked a lot of people in my world about the toddler mother thing lately, and have been interested to find that nine seems to be the magic age when mothers feel like their selfless time is up. Mothers of nine-year-olds go back to work, and study, and add titles to their bios like writer and editor and designer.

I'm not sure what any of this means, but I do feel less alone in my need to escape my chrysalis and spread my wings.

I am not even close to the woman, (girl ?) I was before I had babies, and the woman who I've become since then has evolved over time, but I want more than that now. I want to be able to dig deep and ask myself what I love doing. Not what I love doing with my family, or for my family, but what feeds my soul. Mine. I want to strip back the feelings of obligation and habit and safety and see what's underneath. I want to make some changes and put myself out there and see what I get back.

And I want to box up my whole wardrobe of mum clothes: the easy-breast-feeding, the fit-a-pregnant-belly, the what-was-I-thinking, the loose-to-cover-all, and the plunging necklines, and I want to start again. (Ethical, sustainable, organic clothing brands recommendations please?)

That internal mean-girl voice is screaming at me - First world problems! Who cares? Close your computer and go and do something useful!

And I will. Because for now the voice that calls me the strongest is the voice of my garden. Plunging my hands deep into the soil, digging a hole to plant a seed, watching and watering and harvesting, that is my happy place. That is where I find my peace.

But there will be something more in my future. My mind is open to thoughts of study, to work in other fields, and to changing things up a bit around here and maybe branching out into something new.

I'm putting it out there universe, I wonder what you've got for me.

Big love

Friday, December 2, 2016

the lentil pancake blog

It's three o'clock on Friday afternoon. I'm sitting cross legged on the green chair in the picture above, with my laptop on my knee. It's quiet apart from the croaking of the frogs in the house dam to my right, and the crowing roosters in the distance to my left. My entire family have been gone since nine this morning. I've had the whole day to do with as I please. And yet since nine o'clock this morning I've found a hundred excuses not to sit here and do the one thing that I really have wanted to do all along, and that is to write my blog. 

I've done some knitting, I've hung out some laundry, I've washed the dishes, (I probs should have vacuumed the carpet in the photo above - oops), I've watered the garden and I've made sure that I'm up to date with all the social media, but it's 3.20 and my blog is still unwritten.

I've always maintained that the more I write, the more I write, the better I write, the happier I am. But something happened a few months ago that stopped me writing and I haven't known how to come back. Something made me ask 'so what' and 'who cares' every time I thought of something little I wanted to say, so I stopped wanting to say it. It can be so mean at times that internal voice of mine.

So I started looking at the bigger stories in my world, but mostly I found that they weren't mine to tell. Blogging as a mother of teenagers is such a tricky juggling act, a crazy adventure. I'm on my toes and my lips are sealed.

There's a little thing in our house called the lentil pancake. The lentil pancake is the first pancake you make in a batch. You always chuck it in the compost because it tastes like the lentils you cooked in the pan the night before, but you have to make it so you can get on with the important task of making the rest of the yummy stack.

So I've decided to think of this blog as my lentil pancake. I've been putting it off all day, it feels sticky to write and there's an excellent chance I'll chuck it in the compost once it's done, but I have to write it, I know I do.

So here goes - 10 random things about now;


This was the last pair of socks that I cast off. I made them for Jazzy's thirteenth birthday. These socks are made from yarn I bought off someone who didn't want it anymore, I made the pattern up but had to reknit parts when my tension was all wrong. These socks jiggled around in the bottom of my basket for about three weeks. I knitted them while watching episodes of Outlander and as I sat huddled by the fire and wished for winter to become spring. Although these socks contain the memories of two separate incidents where the recipient expressed her doubt in quite strong words, I'm happy to report that these socks, knitted extra long to be worn under Doc Martin boots, are being worn at this very moment and have been on and off for most of this week.

Details here


October/November being birthday season around here means we've all, with the exception of our farmer boy, turned another year older, and wiser, and more wrinkly (that's just me).  Miss Pepper celebrated turning nine with a pussy-cat roller-skating party, which of course makes perfect sense as she wants to be a roller-skating vet when she grows up! Thank goodness for Pepper.


Despite the fact that I announced loudly at the start of birthday party season that I was retiring from making pass-the-parcels and other party games, something crazy overtook me the night before each invitation had to be handed out and I became obsessed with the cutting and the gluing. I spent hours on Jazzy's flower pots, and Pepper's cats had arm and leg joints that actually moved!


After weeks of wind, rain and worry, the sun came out and then the apple blossom followed. It was patchy, and unlike other years there wasn't a week where all of the orchards were in flower at once, but we are hopeful of a medium-sized crop and are ridiculously excited to eat them.


The story this photo tells is of bonfires of apple prunings, of learning how to use the new lens I got for my birthday, of after-school barbecue picnics, and of shrieking girls lifting branches filled with flames high up into the air.


Six is for the music, because with four of the five of us now taking voice and instrument lessons, there is never a moment without a tune.

Actually, I wonder if the click-clack of my knitting needles could be considered some form of percussion? Do you think?


The flowers Indi picked for my bed and the books I'm reading.

The top one my mum passed to me this morning and I haven't started, Outlander I'm 160 pages in and loving, but I'm yet to come across a description of a knitted garment, which is disappointing, as any knitter will agree that was a highlight of the series. I've read some of the Tim Winton stories before and I've heard him discuss some of the others in interviews so it's at the bottom for now but my farmer boy has bookmarked a couple for me that he thinks I'll love and I look forward to them.


Eight is all about how we've been living in a renovation site for three months as we slowly turn our ugly duckling house into a swan. Indi has a new bedroom, we have a new studio/office, the lounge-room has new shelves and there are lots of new/old doors and benches and desks around the place too. 

One afternoon Bren's dad walked in to say hello and having elbowed his way through piles of boxes and kicked his way through drop sheets and tools, he called out BOMB SITE! BOMB SITE!! And for a while it did feel exactly like that. For even longer, because Jobbo our builder only worked with us for two days a week. But sitting back now, almost at the end of stage one, and seeing how beautiful everything looks, how every single piece of timber has a story and how happy it makes us living here, I can say that I'll be pleased to spend another three months living in a bomb site next March when we take on stage two.


These are the socks I'm knitting right now. I thought they were for Indi's sweet 16 year old feet, but she thinks they might just be too bright. I'm obsessively loving knitting them though and I won't be at all upset if I'm the one who ends up wearing them, that's for sure.


No random post of mine would be complete without a bit about the garden. As with the slooooooow arrival of the sunshine this year, so it is with our growing season. But I'm happy to report that I've filled up the kitchen garden, the hot house is BURSTING with seedlings, the poly tunnels will be planted out this weekend, and hopefully everything else will be going in next week.

So far we're eating snow peas, and strawberries, and lettuce, and spring onion, and garlic.

And that's it! I'll leave you with a photo taken from where I sit. I didn't clean it up before I took it, but hopefully that'll just inspire me to take some better shots soon and show you around all of our new spaces and tell you their stories.

Any finally, thank you if you're reading this, for sticking by me and encouraging me and making me happy. If you've messaged me asking if I'm okay and when I'll be back here, thank you for that too.

It's funny but at the same time as I want my girls to know that they are so much more than their social media stats or content, here I am rather hypocritically putting blogger in my bio. Go figure.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend my friends.

Oh and if there's anything else you'd like me to blog about please let me know. It might just shut that 'so what - who cares' voice up once and for all.

Love Love

Visit my other blog.