on learning to breathe {embroidery with children}

This afternoon we got all my fabrics out (from the big piles of boxes that I brought home from the studio, in anticipation of sorting and organising and culling), to decide which ones we would use to make this little project. While we were planning what fabrics to mix&match, and how many girlish or boyish types ones we would need, we also talked about what gift we may make for the teachers. 

I had originally suggested I would make some hand-cut-stencil screen printed tea towels, from the kid's drawings. Well, I ran out of time for that - with only two days left of the school year. We eventually decided on some little embroidered coasters for them to use in the classroom. (That's after Ash looked through my crafting books and presented me with numerous day-long, one yards' worth of fabric  projects). 

So, all afternoon we had the embroidery threads and some large eyed needles for the kids, and little embroidery hoops. And some lovely designs. I must say that I was totally amazed and impressed with how all three of them had changed since last time I embroidered with them (which I must admit was too long ago). 
Ash got straight into it, threading his needle, and only needing help to tie knots and separate the six strand threads into three strands. He quickly finished one - a beautiful spiral - and set about putting his other fabric into place on the hoop, and then completed his next one with even more thought and concentration - a bird with mountains in the background.
Ari decided that he didn't want to make coasters; instead he made a piece to hang on the wall, that will stay in the wooden hoop. He needed help threading the needle and tying knots but no help at all with the size or length of his stitches. Straight away he knew what design he wanted, and thought carefully about the colours and placement of stitches. Last time he sat and did embroidery he continued to loop the thread around the wooden hoop, meaning lots of work for me to have to unstitch the errors and keep fixing it; and lots of frustration from him. This time there were only two times that happened, and Ash managed to fix it each time, with no frustration from Ari. 
Mishi took it upon herself to make a wall piece as well, and happily stitched little blops of colour and threads around her fabric, and sometimes around the hoop as well. At one stage I looked over and noticed she had new colour on her needle - she had cut the thread to length and threaded the needle all on her own. She kept on happily the whole time, cutting and rethreading the colours she wanted, telling the boys 'just do it like I am'.

I only wish I could have had a few more moments of sitting and enjoying it with them, rather than being constantly asked to snip threads of change colours and rethread the needle or  get more fabric, and some other thing. It was a noisy afternoon indeed. But, much more relaxing than any other activity we've done for quite a while, and with wonderful looks of concentration and thought about what each teacher would like. Learning to stop and breathe, to not worry about the things I'm not doing, and enjoy what I am doing. That's my constant lesson - if I only have one moment in each day that is more than nothing.

I didn't, of course, actually get the time to start cutting the pieces for the school kid gifts. And so declared to Ari that we would not being giving any of the kids gifts, as I would prefer to spend my time making something for him (or another family member) than for 25+ school kids. {What a mean mumma I am! Or perhaps one who is thinking a little more sensibly than the one who offered to make such gifts with only 2-3 days left of school term....}.
{no embroidery session would be complete without Barbie and a kid-made plane}

So, anyway - I will be turning Ashey's little pieces into coasters, and Ari's will need backings on them to use as wall hangings. If I get up early enough in the morning, they may be able to give them as gifts tomorrow. 

PS - this fabric arrived today in the post. What fast service and beautifully wrapped little piece. Oh, I can't wait for the rest* to arrive (tomorrow??). I'm so excited about the quilt making.... think I will really have to make one for myself as well. 

* I just noticed that they have my absolute favourite Fucca in aubergine and teal. It is taking every ounce of will power to not click on the buy now button, as I know these sell out quickly.

buttons & a recipe for a lovely saturday afternoon

Recipe {1} :: How to make a lovely Saturday afternoon ::
It's raining. The kids are playing with our next door neighbour boys (at their house, not mine......). I'm sitting here, with my second coffee for the day - will think about lunch when the kids come home complaining of hunger! We'll go to (their) grandma's this afternoon.* 

I'm listening to my own music (not the kid music which is on constant repeat around here. At least they've got good taste in kid music, so I don't mind having it on, but it's always good to have something a bit more grown-up).

I've been writing the big list for everything I need to do and get done before the big market (more on that later). It's more than a bit scary writing it down, and counting how few studio days I have between now and then, and we'll be away in Cairns for a week during that time as well. Family - if you are reading this - I'll be calling on some major baby-sitting and help with labeling and packing and such stuff market stuff - that you've all become accustomed to anyway.

It also feels good to be writing lists. And making real plans. For me, and for Red Seed and for my new directions. I am super excited about my new fashion range. I do like a good list to work off, and I haven't had a big event to work towards (business / creative / me wise) all year. So this is good.

Recipe {2} :: How to make buttons ::
For my little contribution to the lovely and fun ABCD gift bag giveaway, I decided to make some cookies (biscuits**). While putting it all together, I was reminded how much I like doing that aspect of event organising. (like party bags and things like that). Making the labels and tags and thinking through how it will all look. It's fun to do. A good combination of my creative and organised / planner sides. The production line of the final putting together didn't go quite as planned, due to a few reasons. 1) I left it late in the day to start baking, and then packaging up - so was rushed. That's simply the way I work, I know it now. Inspiration always stricks at the 11th hr! 2) All three kids (Ash was here too) were really excited to help me. They did the biscuits shape making, and the putting it all into bags and attaching the labels. We went through a few variations before settling on the easiest + quickest of holding it all together with a paper clip. I did want a hole punch + twine, but was too hard for the kids to do neatly enough for my likes (some things I can't let totally go of). Don't worry - the kids washed their hands about 20 times with warm water and soap while doing the making...

I got the inspiration for making button shaped cookies from Cupcakes, Cheesecakes Cookies. I'm not going to show you their shortbread buttons as ours didn't quite look as beautifully button-ish, like theirs. To our defence, we were 3 young kids + a rushed mama and we made about 140 or so, whereas they were a professional kitchen and they only made about 20 in total. Just saying.
I was pretty happy with the way they did turn out anyway. And I was really impressed by the way Ari stayed so dedicated to the job of putting the holes in all those round dough pieces. Mish + Ash did a fair bit of raw-dough eating, and silly shape making, but Ari stuck to it until they were all completed.

We made two flavours. I'm only going to give you the recipe for one, as it was my favourite. Of course, I didn't actually follow the recipe in the book. Oh no, I couldn't do anyway as simple as that - could I! We sort of started following a basic cookie recipe, but strayed so much that I think it's fair to say it's our own recipe. Here it is ::

Cardamom & Pear Button Cookies ::
1/3 cup oil (use melted butter if you like, or an oil with no distinct taste)
1/4 cup sugar (whatever sort you choose, brown probably best - I used raw, as we had no brown)
2 eggs
25 - 30 cardamom pods - crush and grind the seeds really well (remove the pod hard skins). We use a stone mortar and pestle. (which is invaluable in my kitchen).
1/4 cup pear concentrate syrup
1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour (S.R or use plain with a pinch or two of bicarb)

In your mixer (machine or by hand) beat really well the oil, sugar + eggs. They'll make a nice thick oozy mixture. Add the cardamom and pear concentrate. Then the sifted flour, and mix nice and gently (by hand). It should be a stiff mixture - if not add more flour until you can knead it easily. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper to about 3mm thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut until you've used all the mixture. (You'll need to rework and reroll it as you go, use some extra flour if it gets too sticky). Using the back flat part of a wooden skewer to make two or four holes, like a button. You can also use a fork around the edges if you want to make decorations like that (we didn't as the kids' didn't have a light enough touch, and just squashed the dough our of shape). 
Bake in at 180C, checking after 5 minutes, and perhaps turning them over. You don't want to burn your buttons, you just want a nice slightly light brown colour. Perhaps 10 - 12 mins at total most. Cool on a tray and serve at your next crafty get-together. 
I had some mixture that I didn't make into buttons, and rolled into a long round about 5cm thick. I then pinched smallish bits off and baked them like that, until nicely cooked. They had a different taste, as they we softer inside. I'm calling them Pinch Cookies. Give it a go, the rough edges got cooked in varying amounts, which meant some bits were more burned and some bits gooier than others. Yum. 
You could also freeze the log, until you need it, and use a sharp knife to cut into rounds. Which means you can make freshly baked cookies at the drop of a pin, or a button!
*yes, their grandad does live there too, but must face reality that grandma is the major drawcard and the one they especially love visiting. I know they do love you just as much grandad - it's just that, well.... you know anyway.

** does anyone know the difference between 'cookie' and 'biscuit'? I always thought it was the Australian / British word compared to American word. But then somewhere along the line I read that biscuit was factory made and cookie was homemade. I've been thinking that I do like the word cookie more, but then wonder if it's too American-ish for my Aussie friends. And cookie also makes me think of cookie-cutter (see alternate definition for what I mean), which is generic and not at all handcrafted, artistic.....
(By the way - I'm not entirely what one would call "Aussie" in any sense of the word. In fact, at school people used to think Sylv + I were English as we actually spoke correctly, and finished our words rather than dropping the last letter, as is very Aussie. "Ya' kno', 'ey" translates as "You know, don't you". Hey (or 'ey) being a particularly Aussie sentence ending sort of word.)

evidence that i do actually do work and stuff

We made some cool little t-shirts for Ari's school friends' birthday over the weekend. {It was a double birthday party, of two of his best friends - well, the ones he talks about the most; do 5-6yr old boys have best friends?}.

So, here's our studio table, which Nina and I have been branding each time we do a print run. When it's all thick and stiff with printed images we'll cut it up and hang it on our walls {inspired in large by SpaceCraft}.

For the t-shirts, Ari hand drew his design onto the contact paper, which I then cut out using a really sharp scalpel cutting blade. Then we stuck the contact to our blank screen, and printed using custom mix-on-the-screen colours. {I love swirling ink colours on the screen, each print then gets different variations of the colours through it - if you're going to try it, make sure you use colours that will mix harmoniously and not end up mucky or dirty}.

A few other printing shed images - the printing screens, lined up ready for the next print run, are Kindling designs. Still no photos of inside the other parts of the studio - our sewing, cutting, talking, planning, thinking spaces - lots of space to spread out and not have to tidy up in time for dinner or worry that a kid is going to step on anything. Yah for that!

marbles and gaffa tape

Dad's are so super important, aren't they.
I'm so thankful that I had an amazing, inspiring, thoughtful, funny, and strong (yet gentle) dad. But this isn't about my dad, it's about my kids' dad.

Monday was our last day of school holidays. It's also Sam's rdo (he works retail, so has Sun+Mon as his weekend). I was up to the eyeballs (literally - the eyeball talk has been going crazy here) with the kids. The holidays were fun, but also tiring. And the two weeks was long, and demanding.
Anyway. I'd bought Ari a little bag of marbles as a treat while we were away at my grandmas.{Mishi requested the blue Barbie dress she'd seen at the supermarket, and even though I'm totally against buying that sort of thing, and spending $11 on something like that, I decided to give in and get it for her. This once only. And, if you buy something for one kid, you really have to get something for the other kid - don't you}.

The kids have been talking marble runs for quite a while now. Ari makes them at school. He really loves them. And, they're lots of fun, and creative. And use up lots of bits of things. So, Sam and Ari set about cutting the tubes and boxes and old milk bottles, and gaffa-taping them to each other, and to old cds and such. Until they had a giaganticly wonderful construction.
{Gaffa tape is pretty much a staple in Sam's repertoire of mending and making and sticking and fixing. My dad, too, has a million uses for it - even though he can very easily sew, he uses gaffa tape to hem his pants; let me tell you that it lasts a good many times through the washing machine as well}.
The giggles that erupted from both kids, while I was taking these photos were priceless. Well - the cost of a bag of marbles for $3.46 (or something like that). And the endless hours of fun we'll have with putting those little balls of glass rolling down the shute. 

Have a look at this inspirational blogging dad, and his cereal box marble run. So much fun. Go and dig through your recycling bin right now for a suitable box. Well, actually - first have a look at all the other wonderful things he makes for his kids. I do love reading Made By Joel - I seem to revolve in a mostly female blogger world, so having a dad's viewpoint is so necessary, don't you think?

saying yes

Sometimes I just keep saying no.
For many reasons
It's too hard
too annoying
too messy
too much effort

I'm too mean
too lazy

couldn't be bothered.
Yes, I am a mean mother
aren't I?

Anyway. Yesterday when Mishi asked me to make playdough I said

And you know what.
It was easy and fun and lovely and resulted in many glorious hours of happy play. Yesterday and today, and probably tomorrow as well, at least.

Recipe :: 1 cup of flour {don't use expensive organic, like I did - but then again, if it's all you have in the cupboard, then just finally say yes and do use it!} 
:: 1/2 cup salt 
:: 1/2 cup of water {we steeped some Karkady flowers (Hibiscus tea) in hot water to get a beautiful light pinkish colour}
:: 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder makes a lovely soft yellow colour

{More wonderful reasons why you don't need to go and buy that fake food colouring}.
Let your kids mix the flour, salt + tumeric (or omit if you're making the pink colour), then add the water (or brewed tea for pink colour) bit by bit until you have a good kneadable consistency. It shouldn't be too doughing or wet - just add more flour if you need. Keep it in the fridge in a container, when not in use.
Give the kids a flat, easy to clean surface with some rolling pins, cookie cutters, and their imaginations. 
Then go off and have a few quiet moments on your own - or stand and watch the beauty that comes from saying yes.

{old faded laminex table and daggy kitchen floor with thanks to our house}
{chip in blue cup courtesy of our teeny tiny ceramic kitchen sink - cute, but inconvenient}
{Mishi's hair-do by herself - a look she sports most every day at the moment, in some form or other}
{lovely yellow tea towel is from here - currently on sale, though they've been in our home for at least a year or more}.

red riding hood and chocolate

It's so lovely spending time at home with my little one. She has such a wonderful interest in fabric and colours and patterns. Always asking me to make her something new - a party dress, a skirt for her doll, a new blanket, a crown, a bracelet. 
She brings me pieces of her play fabric and ribbons from my ribbon jar, and asks me to create costumes and clothes for her. Always in a very particular way. She knows exactly how she wants it - I think perhaps she can see it in her mind, though often she can't vocalise to me exactly how I'm meant to tie or pin or twist it. Some frustration does occur. 
Yesterday she asked me for a Little Red Riding Hood cape - after bringing me endless lengths of fabric to be turned into all sorts of capes and special hoods and dresses. As I had to go out to the fabric shop anyway, to get some supplies for new products for this weekends market (sneaks on that later), I decided we should choose some red for a little riding hood cape at the same time. 

Today we sat down {with our afternoon iced chocolate + affogato} and got some ideas down on paper. Isn't this just the best and sweetest Little Red Riding Hood. Look at her wonderful whimsical shoes, which are meant to be different colours and have ribbons tied up them like a ballerina's slippers. And four hair clips in her hair.
I did some measurements and right now the beginnings of a calico (or muslin, or better still toile, as it really should be called) mock-up are on my sewing table. 
While I bought the red fabric - a mini pinwale cord in cherry - I haven't yet got any lining fabric. I was imagining some Kokka Red Riding Hood, but they didn't have any in stock at the specialist fabric shop (different place to the big chain shop), and I can only find green online. Also, I'm not quite convinced that it's the best option. 
We (the kids + me) spent a good deal of time last night looking online for some inspiration. How wonderful to be able to have both my kids (1 girl + 1 boy) interested in looking at fabric - and not just fairies or dinosaurs! 
These are a few on our / my shortlist :: Kitty Kokeshi, Starling, Spotted Owl, Clouds, Forest Hills, Dandelion Fields.  I'm waiting until I work out exactly how much meterage I need, before I order anything. I'd love to hear if you have any other options we could look at - I'm hoping this will be a cape to last her at least 2+ years, so want it to be a beautiful fabric we will continue to enjoy.

a simple line of regular domesticness

It's a public holiday here in Oz, because yesterday was ANZAC Day.
It's quiet here. The kids have been playing all about and making mess and noise - noisy and quiet noise, but tolerable noise. Sam has been really enjoying doing some hand drawing with lots of shading. Just letting the pen move where it wants, where he mind wanders. Nice to be like that - let the freedom of creativeness flow easily. 

This morning I set up a little still life for the kids to do some drawing of their own. I like to do this, mainly for Ari; Mishi still a little too young to be doing still life, but being inspired by it is good. And we have a little talk about what still life drawing means. And perspective and that sort thing. I set up some different shapes and angles and colours. A simple line of regular domesticness.
I love what he came up with. His interpretation on the lines and shapes. And also the way he then looks around the room and finds other things to draw - the Buddhas (which he started here), the bells above the kitchen doorway. And of course, a drawing session wouldn't be complete without rockets from Ari and fairies with long hair from Mishi. 

I've spent an enjoyable amount of time downstairs getting a heap of screen printing done. For the markets this coming weekend. Will you be visiting me there? Do pop in and say hi if you're around - would be lovely to meet you.
Sam and I haven't printed together for many months, and it was really nice to do. It's a quiet rhythmic process, like a little dance of not getting ink on each other, and moving easily around each other in our very small printing space.
Now I'm headed back downstairs to sit at my sewing machine. Stitch up some custom orders. And some more cumulus clutches and handbags. 

The kids did some baking. The kitchen is clean. The washing is done. 
And it's only 3pm. 
What a marvelous day indeed. Definitely the do-something day.

temple in the sunroom

We're not religious. Well, not particularly practicing anyway.

We do celebrate Christmas and Easter - but more in terms of family together time, and the swapping of beautiful, thoughtful and amazingly wrapped gifts. Or yummy organic, Fair Trade chocolate from the Easter Bilby. But we are not Christians. 

We have many statues of Buddha in our home, and Ganesha - the elephant headed God. Our Buddha statues are from India, Thailand and Tibet. We have temple bells - that I brought home many moons ago from my overseas adventures. We burn incense and candles. But we are not Buddhists.

We talk to the Goddess. And ask for help. Sometimes we {i} silently pray to the Earth Mother - Gaia.

I suppose while I do not follow or practice one religion more than another, I do have a belief of something. Just don't ask me to tell you what that something is. 

Anyway, this week we've had a temple in our sunroom. Ari has collected all the Buddha statues, and lit incense, and kept the room very tidy. He's rung the temple bells. He even had a young 3yr-old temple guard. An ancient language is spoken in our temple. And music is played. We searched through my CD collection, discarding chanting Monks, for Dona nobis pacem. We've had this on repeat for days now - which has been a lovely interlude to the regular kid music (which I love, but do get slightly over after weeks and weeks of constantness).

So, I think I do quite like the religion that we are making up. The ideals and ideas that we talk. The soft and quiet. The tidy room. The incense burning high to reach the Gods. The peaceful words and contented thoughts. The ancient language, the guarding of the temple from dragons and other such creatures. The temple artwork. The leaving it all, and packing away the icons and statues and turning off the music when life shifts to another gear for a moment or so.
I think, perhaps, this is as good as any other religion.

a treasure walk

After dropping Ari at school on Tuesday, Mishi and I walked home collecting treasures in her little bag. She loves taking little handbags and purses with her on our outings.
We found some special magic fairy stones - she picks them up from the ground and looks up at me with the most amazed and excited expression on her little face. Such joy in finding a stone that the fairies have left for her.

Picked flowers from the 
roadside garden beds. 
Or blown, 
across the path. 
Found dried 
discarded feathers 
and leaves in late 

We came home and got out a giant piece of paper. 
Pencils, treasures, sticky tape. 
What a beautiful morning to spend with my little one. 
Just us two girls. 

Drawing fairies, 
with leaf wings, 
flower dresses 
and pencil shaving 

the disco bots went to kindy

Finally finished these. Quite a while of procrastinating, and then a while of them sitting quietly on my sewing table. And then another short while of not having a dolls needle meant the bots sat with no limbs for a few days.
I finished them up on Friday morning before kindy, while drinking my morning coffee. On the verandah. With kids pushing at me,  and coffee going coldish.
I'm quite sure the disco bots had a lovely time at kindy.
The kids named them - "Mushroom Flower Butterfly" and "Sparkles".

With many many thanks to Jodie, who sent me this pattern (because of this reason).
The Disco Bot pattern is really easy to read, well written and a nice simple one for most beginners to sewing. If you look closely you'll notice that I obviously didn't take enough notice of Jodie's instructions where she says to take care when you cut and sew; as my robots have unevenly sized arms. Thankfully my kids don't mind about that, and say it's because robots are made out of recycled bits of stuff so they wouldn't be the same sized anyway.
On my softie list now is Parsley + Beet, and waiting patiently for an Ernst pattern, as I know Ari would love to have another turtle to join his clan.

inside :: outside

outside ::
It's raining today. I couldn't help but capture this image of the beautiful Chinese Elm outside the window. It's turned the most vibrant glowing yellow. Perfect against the rain-sky. And the red roof of the next door neighbour's garage.
inside ::
A boat train from some boxes we brought home today from the fruit shop. Enough space for two little creatures, and some friends. The new robot friends we made at our workshop (mini Mondays at Reverse Garbage). Ari's robot is called Ari and Mishi's is called Ari, guess who named them both! I'm sure you can work out who made which one; let me just say that Mishi did her's ALL on her own. Because she wasn't officially booked in (and paid for) the lady wouldn't hot glue it (even though Mishi kept asking when her turn was), but sweet little creature that she is (can be), she made her own without any help at all.
They are great new friends. Ari-bot has a mouth that can change from smile to frown, very convenient I think.

beep bop beep bop

We like robots around here; well, I suppose, actually, that most kids do.I had this sweet little robot from Kristen Doran, hiding in my present (underwear) draw, waiting for the right moment to hand it over to Ari.
Last Friday night we went to the Avid Reader Little Market, and Mishi chose a beautiful little handcrafted doll. (pictures another day, sorry).
Of course, Ari felt a bit sad that he didn't have a new friend. So, out came the little robot.
He loves it. Thank you so much Kristen for this perfect friend. It has all the detail that a kid loves; he keeps asking me what each button does. There are so many buttons, so many different things your robot could do.
The morning after we gave it to him, he woke up and drew this amazing illustration of 'Robie'.
Every morning Ari draws, each and every morning our house is filled with glorious images like this - and while beautiful and special and magical, it can get a bit crazy with paper everywhere.
I'd love some ideas on how you keep all the paper and artworks contained, while showing them off and appreciating them at the same time.
You can buy Kristen's robots made up, or as fabric panels - with lots of little robie friends. Over here.*bottom photos from Kristen Doran's site. Top is Ari's artwork.
**Also, just wondering, does anyone know much about kids writing styles, etc. The other day Ari wrote a whole word upside down (the word was imagination). All the letters were correct, and totally legible. He is left-handed and writes backwards just as easily as forwards, but this is the first time I have seen him write upside down. Is this natural in kids, or...... is my kid special!!. (I hope you understand the joke in asking is my kid as special, but just wondering).

i'm going to have to start sharing

My big boy decided that he can sew by himself. On my machine. He had this long stretch of white felt that we got from (possibly) Reverse Garbage. He drew great lines on it, just strips of colour. And a few cross lines as well. Simple. And perfect. In a very graphic art way. I really like his simplicity, his restraint with the shapes and lines. Just keeping it still and uncomplicated.
(Someone outside, in another house, is playing a beautiful lyrical piece on a flute, or something. Another one of those moments you have of living in the city. In a street where you can hear your neighbours breath and talk and yell, and play music, and laugh).So, after much talking, and me having to finish sewing my skirt (photos tomorrow, or some other time, I promise), I let him at the machine. First he sat on my lap, moving the fabric about with his hands, and pressing the button to reverse the stitches, lifting the foot up and clunking it down. All to my instruction. With me pressing the foot presser, to make it all go.
Then, while I was doing something else in the same room (my machine is now in our kitchen), he hopped onto the chair, and stretching his legs to reach the foot presser, he started doing it all on his own.So, my big (little) boy can sew. Have a look at that concentration.We got a box to make the foot presser higher, so that he can reach properly. And with standing over shoulder instructions from both mum and dad about being careful to not get fingers sewn on.
He did it.
He decided exactly where to start and when to stop the stitches. And then, half way through a line, half way across the 'page' he stopped, lifted up the foot presser, cut the thread. And declared it finished.
So, I suppose I'm going to have to share my sewing machine with him now, hey. Or buy him his own.

portrait of an artist

These photos are all taken by the little artist himself. I love the composition and viewpoints in these images.He painted this one by squeezing the paint straight from the tube, and working it into shapes. He did this all on his own, while I was doing something else. He asked me to get the paints down, while the littest one was asleep, and set about doing some beautiful and textural paintings. Pieces that needed a few days drying time.
This one, the smaller one in the middle, was a collaboration between Sam and Ari. Done with those paint pen things, straight onto canvas. Many beautiful parts in this. I hadn't even got out of bed for the day, and these two artists had completed this mini masterpiece.
The red and black piece on the left is one of Sam's canvas lipstick palms, which he has hand drawn on top of. The beetle vase in the front is by Deb Cocks, I've mentioned her before (somewhere, I think).And this is, of course, a fun and childish self portrait!

flowers for ....

Today was Grandma's birthday (my mother-in-law), so we made her some beautiful big tissue paper flowers. Ari was looking through his 'activity' book a few days ago, and decided that he wanted to make some for his Grandma's birthday.
I originally saw this book here, and got it for Ari for his birthday. Has some lovely activities and sweet photos, with lots of inspiration for kids. It's good for girls or boys, and lots of different age groups.These flowers are quite quick to make, though in reality I did most of the making, as Ari got a bit bored with the fragile job of having to gently tease out the tissue. Though, shall I admit, that I really enjoyed making them. And then going into our yard to find some sticks (and reminiscing about stick searching in the forest as a child*) to act as flower stems.Anyway - the cute photo shoot had to happen on the front porch, with the afternoon light, and the clean-faced, party-clothed children. Before we went off to dinner at this delicious restaurant.

Good night - I'm back to the sewing. Trying to finish all the last bits before we head off to Melbourne on Saturday morning.

*We used to have to collect kindling for the fire, as kids, and would often spend more time making the wheelbarrow look full with intricate stick stacking, compared to actually collecting the teeny tiny little twigs.


My head is stuffed up with too many emotional thoughts at the moment. I cannot quite get things into perspective. Hopefully a night of sleeping on it will put things back into a better peace. Or maybe I'll have to let go, and accept that some things are lost.
All is okay, don't worry. Just some more of those friendship things I've been feeling of late, come to a bit of head. Have to get over the hump of talking things out and see if we can still be friends. I hope so, but am not sure.

Other things are filling my head, squeezing things out of my eyes and ears. Giving me crazy headaches and hot heads. Ari tells me that I should just tell the headache to, well in his words "shoot itself away". He's quite into shooting things at the moment, only in words. He really doesn't have much idea what he's saying, but it gets reaction from us all!

This is Ari's daily to-do list. "clean house; play; visit grandma; robot machine music; aoolqaom ooimorinim ooaaiom" .
I wish I could take Lori's advice and increase my personal white space . Just not happening at the moment. This week particularly has been so busy with different things. Working more hours than usual (two days for me and two days for Sam), and a new small business course two days a week for me.
We did have a wonderful morning meeting some new friends at a lovely park. So so so good to meet someone and be able to chat and have so much in common, and your children get on well. A sweet little boy, with such lovely manners, who takes in so much around him and talks to us all. Ahhhh, I can see many many fun moments spent with this mama and little one. And also many mama only outings for us grown ups. Sounds fun, hey!

Talking about Mama only outings. I have been getting out a bit more without the kids dragging off me. Apart form working where I finish at 8pm, and then bus home to (hopefully) in bed kids, I went out for dinner with some friends last weekend. Just me and them. Glorious. I can't wait to do it again.

So, a few other things are: I have joined this little swap, on a newly discovered blog. Go and have a look, sure to be fun. Even though I have so much work to be doing over the next 2-3 months, this is something that I want to be part of. It's a kid focused swap - and I know my two little ones will love to receive something for themselves. They are always complaining that they don't get anything. And believe me, the junk mail catalogues aren't good enough for discerning Ari. Though Mishi is quite happy with them.

I am still trying to compose my New Year's thoughts/resolutions. Starting to think it won't quite happen, so not stressing too much. A few little things I'm wanting are to do some more writing. I found this the other day, while I was cleaning up some old papers. Written in my diary while I as on my backpacking trip on my own. So, I'll let you know when I add more writings to my other blog :: lines on a page.
I really like Jade's idea of authenticity. And Anna's word of change. Apart from stop-procrastination, I also would like to try and be more conscious, more in the moment. Not always planning and thinking the next thing. very hard for me, and this year especially when I know that I want to achieve so much professionally with Red Seed Studio, and personally especially working towards a new house.
What are your new year thoughts and resolutions and words??

I have some exciting news, but I'll leave that for a post all of it's own. It's the reason I have so much work ahead of me in the next many months.
Also, I have a giveaway planned, maybe this weekend or next week sometime. So check back.
Good night friends. Take care.

an artists interpretation + a day remembered

We are having a garden tea party on Friday, for the kids. Just for fun. And I'm so excited about it - the setting up of the garden, the food, the decorations... even the too too sweet invitation that we made. Don't you just love Ari's drawing of the tea pot, with tea cups and cupcakes - all up on little pedestals. (If any of you have ideas, photos, links or inspiration - or just some fun thoughts - on how to make our Garden Tea Party even more fun and magical and special, please be sure to let me know).
He got a whole tea set out of the cupboard, and set it up to draw it. I'm really loving his drawings at the moment. Every day they seem to have changed and evolved, only this week he has started putting little swirls on everything; wine glasses for elves, and his writing, and the machines he makes.
A plate machine, or a bubble machine, or a robot machine. Quite technical, with buttons and particular bits here and there that all have a purpose and do something. I often wonder if he'll be an inventor; I know he'll be an artist (oh, he is an artist - he tells us that!).Today we went into town so the kids could go on the Christmas train. (They set it up each Christmas in "Santa Land" in Myer; the kids ride for free). We went in the other day, but Ari was too scared to go (not a good experience from last year, where he was the only one on the train) and Mishi too little for me to let her go on her own. So we came back today, with big cousin Ashey. Mishi spent all weekend saying "Ashey, Mishi train. Ari" (and shaking her head). So today the three of them sat in a row, Ari in front, Mishi in the middle and Ashey behind - with his hands resting and holding on to Mishi - being the wonderful big cousin, protecting her incase she got scared in the tunnel. So lovely to see them like this.
And then this afternoon both the boys drew a drawing of the train, and them on it. Ashey's is very techical - the part that the driver pushed to ring the bell, and thesmoke coming streaming out, and other children in front of them, and the section where the big Santa head was - the part where you go in to see the photos they take of you. And the train track - oh, I love that train track!Ari's was so different. He still has the wheels and the carriages, but the main parts of the picture are him (in front), Mishi in the middle (with long hair), and tallest at the back is Ashey. Both boys now recently had their hair cut (shaved), as you can tell in Ari's drawing.I so so so love this visual memory of their train ride - the things they remember about it, and the way they interpret it. And the difference between and six year old and a four year olds drawings.
(When I find one of the Special Gold Santa Express tickets I'll scan it and put it here, so we can all remember - the boys carried their's around all day with pride).

PS - petrol today was down to 85.9cents per litre. Has not been so so low for many years. It seems that now it has dropped below $1.00 it just keeps going. (No brain energy to do link-searching for you overseas readers, but we have not had petrol below $1.00 for many years, the past year it had been almost at $1.60 a litre. Even though we complain, Australians have cheaper petrol than most countries. Also, our interest rates have dropped over the past 6 months - our mortgage is finally starting to ease a bit. And, we just got a lovely little Christmas bonus from Kevin). Despite all this, Brisbane city didn't seem too busy today, only 9 days out from Christmas, though we did our part to help the economy. Especially at this lovely store (which fits into our handmade Christmas pledge). Okay, okay - I'm not so silly as to not know that we are having an economic depression worldwide.

Okay, having photo loading issues - so this is all I can get for now. It's after mid-night, I really should go to bed, and not sit here fussing. Check again in a few days, hopefully Sam can sort it out for me (me, who doesn't know a lot about computers, tries to work it out myself, and doesn't listen too well when someone tries to help me....). ::fixed it::

Good night.

this is finally off my to-do list

Have had this little project sitting in my head, and then half completed sitting about waiting to be finished. Finally late last week I just DID IT!

I am so so so happy with the results, that I've wanted to use the bag every day. And show it off to the lovely ladies in the lift going to the supermarket, or down at the swimming pool.
Ari drew the picture straight onto the easy-cut stencil paper. It was similar to a drawing he'd done a few days earlier, and I gave him strict instructions to make it a good drawing. (You know when they have the 'good paper' to make a card for a relative and they just scribble, when only moments before they'd produced a 'masterpiece' on a scrap).
So, I hand cut the stencil. Which I love doing. Really fun - maybe I should do more papercuts and work with that more.

Then that stencil sat around while Ari and I waited for some time together without Mishi. So that he could help me with the screen printing.

Ultimately I think he got a bit bored with the whole process of setting up - taping up the screen, mixing the ink, setting up all the fabric and marking it all out. But finally we got to the fun part of pulling the squeegee across that silk stretched taut over the frame. And that perfect sound it makes.

And even though the prints aren't perfect I love them. Actually, it's because they aren't perfect that I love them. I love that my son, my not yet four year old drew (we call it designed), and then hand screen printed his own bag. And I sewed it up for him. We also made one for a friend's birthday, which we gave with a sweet little book about a platypus.

I used the hemp / organic cotton that we use in our Red Seed Studio cushions. The natural as the main bag body, printed with blue ink, and then teamed with blue handles and a blue collar (well, the inside top bit of the lining - as the bag isn't fully lined due to the fantastic weight of the fabric on it's own).
More bags will be coming soon. I do think we have enough bags in our house, but I love them. So, more gifting needed. Also, if anyone is interested in a custom design bag or purse or cushion, I'm really interested in moving in that direction.

(peg) friends

Last weekend, Ari sat down at my desk and made some little friends. Mishi was asleep. I sat and folded washing, and finally had an empty washing basket to start the next load with.

It was really lovely sitting on the floor, with Ari beside me creating little people. I spread everything out for him, with some glue and let him make them anyway he liked. Fluffy hair, clothes wrapped and stuck any which way. Lots of character, these ones! I must admit that I helped him with some, I wanted to, as much as him needing me to. See that one with the very stylish coloured hair do - it's a whole heap of ends of threads from my sewing that I twisted into a bun sort of shape and stuck to her head.
We gave these ones to Grandma, as we already have quite a few little friends at home.

Along with these little flowers that I cut from some scrap fabric, and we glued onto coloured sticks, with red bead middles.

Some I made a long time ago, and these three came home from Momo's house a few weeks ago. Please check out her collection. They are going to market soon, and I had to buy some off her before everyone else saw them.

Our little friends are a bit messier than Momo's, but in general, I'm a bit (well, a lot actually) messier than Momo. I wear lots of colour and prints and so do my kids. Momo wears lots of simple and monotone, with minimal prints and her son normally is quite similar.
Very different styles - yet somehow we still have lots in common. And can spend a lot of special time talking and planning and creating and playing, and also just being and not having to talk - that to me, really is one of the most important aspects of friendship; being able to sit quietly together.

We had a little craft night at Sylve's house a few weeks ago, and Momo brought a basket to make more peg people. She made one for Ashey - the only kid who was there, he was wide awake - at his request. And Sylve crocheted him a little sleeping bag for the tiny person. He took it to show and share at school, where they loved it. Maybe Momo and I should organise a school crafternoon.
My two little ones are wonderful friends at the moment. They are playing games together so well. Ari seems to have reached a new level of sharing and Mishi a new level of interaction. They play shops, and take it in turns to be the shopkeeper - buying books or necklaces, setting up a little counter and a scanner and carry bags. You should see the set-up at Grandma's house, where they play shops every single visit.
Today, while I was making more sticky sultana + apple buns, and casserole for dinner, the kids set up a rocket ship in the kitchen, with all the chairs, and played make believe games happily for such a long, wonderful time. Mishi copies so much of what Ari is doing, yet she doesn't do anything she doesn't want to! It's so lovely hearing them talk together, telling stories and making up games. Running alongside, sharing, be loving and kind. Sometimes they both chatter on the old (no longer working) mobile phones; "uh huh. hmmmmm. yep yep. mmmmmm", with stern looks on their faces, flapping you away if you talk or make any noise as they are "on the phone".

I have lots more posts written in my head, they just don't seem to be making it out through my fingers and onto the computer and into blogland. Soon. Unless I forget them all......

potato people

We have had this wonderful book for quite a while, and enjoy reading and talking about it. "The Potato People" by the fantastic New Zealand author and illustrator Pamella Allen. It's about a grandma and her grandson who spend each Friday together (his mum works, I assume she's a single mum). One rainy day they make some potato people using four potatoes and some thumb tacks and scraps of fabric and other little pieces. After a few weeks the potatoes start to grow horns, and Grandma plants them.

We've talked often about making our own little people, and finally this week I remembered to buy some extra potatoes for Ari to use. Yesterday he sat down, while I started dinner, and made some amazing and fun creatures. Each potato seemed the have many reincarnations as he pulled bits out and changed bits here and there. Some wooden bamboo skewers and coloured thumb tacks was enough to keep him happy and creatively thinking for quite a while.
He made stories up about his robot potatoes, some had head phones, some had poky ears, or buttons. They had spiky hair and cute little coloured eyes.

When he woke up this morning the first thing he asked, before even out of bed, was if the potatoes had grown horns yet. He wanted to run and check to see if they were decomposing and getting ready for the compost, or planting heap. I told him that they'll take a little while before they start to grow shoots.
In the meantime we'll watch them each day, waiting and looking. And learning more about how things work, how our food grows, how seeds are different shapes, how plants - and even animals - can grow from different beginnings.
Rare moments of sitting quietly reading, together. They are looking at - reading - Beatrix Potter, and choosing which one they like best.
And Sam and I will marvel, once again, at the ingenuity and imagination and ideas and intelligence and creativeness of our son.

This is a pull-along Humpty Dumpty that has been mine since I was about 3 years old. Been through a bit this little one, but made of tough Fisher Price quality.
Another favourite Pamela Allen story is "Mr McGee and the Biting Flee". We all (me included!) get quite laughy when we get to the part where he removes all his clothes, to find the flee, and you get to see little bits of the naked man before he jumps into the ocean. Not a whole lot of kids books show that part of the body. Please, see if your local library has any of her books, a long list, they are all quite wonderful for the pictures and well and the language and simple stories and words.