Friday, August 10, 2018

piece of the pie

Hello friends,

It's so lovely to see you. How's your week been?

My week has been good mostly. And a bit of bad now that I think about it. And then some in the middle too.

Actually let's do this: if my past week were a pie - one piece would be dealing with matters of creativity, one piece would be the bleak never-endingness of winter, one would be the absolute joy of my studio, one piece would be worrying about the state of the world - droughts, bush fires, violence, poverty and cancer, one would be the routine, one would be the joys and stresses of parenting, one would be Bren and his bowl turning, one would be the garden and farm and one would be family and friends. After you lift those nine pieces from the pan, the bits that get stuck to the bottom, the crumbs, and the bits that fell off the spoon are all the other stuff that makes up a week in my life, the ups and the downs, the exciting and the mundane, and the other details.

So let's get to the photo a day, hey.

august four

Last weekend we stayed in the most beautiful house, with the most gorgeous views, on the side of a mountain. It was Jazzy's musical weekend and there were many, many drives to and from school, so we decided to stay somewhere near by. It's amazing what a difference a change of scene can do for the state of mind. As forest dwellers usually surrounded by trees, none of us could stop looking out of the windows and admiring the views and the ever changing weather conditions. 

We discussed changing our fireplace and heating set-up, incorporating a grey wall somewhere, the difference double glazing makes and how much easier it would be for the girls to live closer to their friends.

It was such a lovely break from the rhythm.

That mountain in the middle of the picture window is Hanging Rock.

august five

On Sunday afternoon we returned home, and even though we'd only been gone for three days I searched every plant and tree for movement and signs of spring. 

Look at that peony go!

august six

On Monday I spotted this little vignette on the kitchen table and it looked so wintry I just had to take a picture. From the middle in a clockwise direction; the first seven eggs of the new season in one of my farmer boy's turned wooden bowls, my scrappy sock blanket, Kath's salt pig, a bowl of native limes, two overripe avocados, another of Bren's bowls and a branch of Hebe from that morning's flower arranging class.

august seven

Late last week before we went away, I started to worry about the wintry mess the farm is in, how the rush of spring will soon be upon us, and how we know from past experience that the best way to greet it is with neatness and organisation. So we made a list and slotted jobs into days in the family diary.

I must admit that due to the most unpleasant weather over the past week, many of the jobs did not get done, however the cleaning of the greenhouse most certainly did.

On Tuesday we pulled everything out, we washed everything down, we oiled the table, we cleaned the windows, and then we neatly put a lot of things back.

It's almost time to start the spring planting.

august eight

Sometime early this week in-between splitting wood, hanging out the laundry and driving the girls to school, I had a bit of a crisis of creativity. It occurred to me that my only creative expression these days is knitting, and aside from the original choice of pattern and yarn, that sometimes feels a bit mechanical.

Watching Bren turning a round of wood into a bowl feels like something different. Each cut is a decision, each shape a design. It's like he's working with the wood, sometimes he is the in-charge and sometimes the wood makes it known that there is no choice. It's beautiful to watch him work, the shavings flying through the air and piling up like carpet under foot, the lines and markings becoming exposed, the knots taking charge, the final shapes always different.

As I type this I can hear the sound of the lathe from his studio. I look forward to watching him walk past my window when he's finished to come and show me what he's made. I love watching the bowls in his hands as he shows them to me and discovers them for himself, turning, noticing, acknowledging, learning.

And so it came to pass that I needed to push myself in a new creative direction.

And so one day, after I had driven the girls to school, I clipped a branch of eucalyptus leaves on the way into my studio and then sat down and drew it. And then painted it in for good measure.

It's been years since I drew and painted and the connections between my eyes, hands and brain are rusty to say the least but I pushed on regardless. Focusing on the shapes, on the negative and positive space, on the light and shadow, and trying my hardest to draw what I saw rather than what I knew. All those art school lessons came right back to me.

I drew the stem standing in a vase, lying on the bench and upside down. I shaded in pen, coloured in water-colours, and painted in acrylics.

I gave myself permission to be bad at something and not see that as a waste of time.

I challenged myself to try to return to the process once a day.

And after a few pages in my sketchbook something amazing happened. It felt like the creativity door in my brain opened up. I started noticing and looking at my life in a different way, I started dreaming up other unrelated creative projects, I started itching for time to knot and sew and design, I felt itchy with all the opportunities and options. 

That page of branch painting is from yesterday's session. It killed me a bit when my family told me it was great. They love me and want to encourage me, but it's not great. Not by a long shot. But it is great that I'm pushing through. Painting and smudging and trying to capture something. I'm a bit happy with that. 

august nine

I started reading People of the Book. I read March earlier this year and felt lucky to find this book in an op shop a few weeks ago. I'm about 100 pages in and so far I love the way the story is being told. It feels like a treasure hunt and I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads me to next. I'm not sure how I feel about the main character though, I hope she strengthens and develops.

august ten

Today. I always thought I'd sit in the window seat in my studio to write and read and knit, but so far I haven't, not even once. Mostly I find myself sitting in a chair in front of the big window with my knitting or computer on my lap. I do hope to find a little table to sit up at soon.

But in the meantime the window seat has become a display. Glass bottles of flowers and leaves, Bren's newest wooden bowls, my just cast off and just cast on socks, and up the other end books, and wool and paints and brushes.

I've still hardly moved anything into my studio in terms of furniture or art supplies. My usual pattern is crazy messy chaos and I'm desperate to keep things simple and clean in here. But I do love the look of a bit of crafty mess too: inspiring photos torn from magazines, bits of yarn in colour palettes I like, a tiny sweet posy picked from the garden, a reminder note in beautiful handwriting...I guess the key is to find a way to keep these items in a neatish way without drowning under the weight of their clutter. It might be time to pin things to the wall.

In any case there is just enough time to collect a load of wood before school so I must go.

But how about you?
How are you feeling creatively at the moment?
What's your favourite creative way to express yourself?
When was the last time you allowed yourself to be bad at something? Isn't it freeing?!
And just for fun, how would you divide your last week in terms of pieces in a pie?

I hope you have a gorgeous weekend friends. I hope it is filled with the perfect balance of productive and restful. 

See you next week!


Kate x


  1. One of my favourite books 'People of the Book', and Brooks writes about such different topics - March and Year of Wonders being two other interesting ones. Love your studio, are you prepared for another cold snap, I just saw the weather report! Up here on the Sunshine coast, 2 hours north of Brisbane, we all froze when it got down to 4 degrees yesterday. Shock horror. All relative, I was in -28 last year, now that's cool.... Melindi

    1. Oh no Melinda, I'm most certainly not ready for another cold snap. For the first time today I felt and smelt spring in the air. It was so beautiful and sunshiney. But on the other hand we've just brought a load of wood in and I've got knitting and reading to do, so if it must turn horrid again then we're ready. I hope you are too. xx

  2. I loved what "March" highlighted about communication in marriage. If you read "Marmee and Louisa," about Louisa May Alcott's extraordinary mother, you will see what a truly feckless, narcissistic husband and father Louisa's actual father was in causing the family's abject poverty (her mother even suffered a miscarriage alone in one of the many boarding houses they had to move to). I handed out multiple copies of "Year of Wonders", which I found electrifying. My Mum called me up after I sent her a copy and just opened the call with "Wow! Just, wow!" But, I was not such a fan of "People of the Book", and have to agree with you on the heroine. I was so traumatized by the section on the Inquisition that I am still shaken at the horrifying imagination for evil that religion can inspire.

    As for your approach to creativity, regardless of expertise, Chesterton would agree: “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,”

  3. How are you feeling creatively at the moment? I am at a stuck point in my sewing project. My creativity has taken a break and I hope it comes back soon. :(

    What's your favourite creative way to express yourself? Hand sewing. I've been teaching myself for the past 6 years or so. I am currently making a Regency style ballgown from the skin out. The only thing I won't make for the costume are the stockings (I never learned to knit), the fan, and the shoes. I've already made the chemise, bodiced petticoat, reticule, mobcap and bonnet. I have yet to make the gown, and the redingote.

    When was the last time you allowed yourself to be bad at something? Isn't it freeing?! I don't know how to read sewing patterns so have to eyeball things and wing it. This is my 5th historical costume I've sewn without using a pattern. Otherwise, when I make something, I purposely put in one wrong stitch - that way the worry of trying to make it perfect has been muted.

    Here's my Tudor costume - my first one:

  4. Oh my goodness that picture window view. What a sanctuary that window seat must be.

    I'm really interested in your creating for the act of creating and allowing yourself to do something badly. I don't do things unless I know I can succeed, it's the most debilitating trait.

    I'm also curious about your plans to change your heater/heating arrangement? But that's just because I'm nosey.

    Isn't it interesting how we think we will do something or use something in a particular way right up until it becomes real and then we just do something completely different. I'm thinking about your window seat and how the reality of it is different to the dream. I was always taught that once you made a plan or voiced a dream you had to complete it in the exact way you planned, hmmm that could be linked to why I don't do things if I don't know I can succeed....oh my this has turned into a therapy session, sorry.
    Anyway at the risk of repeating myself, another lovely glimpse into your charming life thank you for sharing.

    cheers Kate
    ps did you sleep better at your holiday home?

  5. Hey Kate, thank you again for sharing your interesting week. Your window seat is wonderful and got amazing potential. Every day the view and the weather and the mood will be different.Enjoy every day.
    I love your analogy with the pie. I often find there are even magical slices in one's pie. A piece of doldrum pie can turn into something wonderful because of the smile or hug by a loved one and the strwaberry sweetness of another piece can turn sour by the dreadful news of the world. I always try to dedicate a lot of my weekly pie to my family and other things I enjoy like gardening and sewing and put a lot of effort in it.
    I won't go as far and state that doing badly at is freeing but that it is natural and human beings have to get used to it. In my opinion it is important to give your best and if it isn't up to other peoples standards - so be it, it's their problem not yours.
    I love Bren's bowls, they are beautiful in their clarity and seem to come in handy for a lot of purposes. Do you oil them or some of them?
    Have a good time and let the winter blah just be the crumbs at the bottom of your pie that land in the dishing water where they belong. Best wishes from Germany

  6. As always an inspiring post.

    Not creative per se but I observed my Husband watching the tall trees over the road from our home being buffeted by gusty wind and hearing them roar....... He said "they sound just like the ocean". I loved that moment!

  7. Hi Kate So thrilled for you that you've rediscovered drawing (and painting) To me its the perfect Mindfulness exercise! Hope that recording the early evidence of spring will lift your spirits. A very large slice of my pie would have to be Pinterest, but there are worse vices out there! xxx

  8. Hi Kate So thrilled for you that you've rediscovered drawing (and painting) To me its the perfect Mindfulness exercise! Hope that recording the early evidence of spring will lift your spirits. A very large slice of my pie would have to be Pinterest, but there are worse vices out there! xxx


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