Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Here, there and everywhere...

That's how I feel at the moment.
Scattered.
So much on the go with a new business, a new product launch, a craft circle to run and three Littles who are growing up before my very eyes.
And a tragedy in our neighbourhood which has thrown every other thought and plan out of the window and made everyone in our community, I'm sure, reevaluate their priorities in life.
The 2 year old nephew of my oldest, bestest friend, Hunny, was tragically killed by a falling tree as he slept in his cot, during a storm a couple of weeks ago. It is by far the most incomprehensible and gut wrenching thing to happen to a family and I fear there is nothing that I, nor the rest of our community can do to help. In saying that, the community have been so wonderful, so giving of their time and goods to try to help the family get through this, but really I wonder if there is anything anyone could ever do to help ease the pain of losing a child. 
I cannot bear to think on it too much as my heart is breaking, along with everyone else's. 
This family have been my family since I can remember.
Hunny and I have been besties since kinder and our eldest daughters went to our kinder together too.  And although we have all gone our own ways to some degree, I feel my childhood, and therefore my very own foundations, are firmly rooted in their family home. 
I have seen the house grow and change (as is often the case when a home is owned by a builder), watched as a third generation made it their own, and there is barely a childhood memory of mine that doesn't involve this family home.
I am but a piece of furniture in their house - even now that I'm an adult and have children of my own, they have always welcomed me and allowed me to just loiter. Just listen to the goings on of the day. Just make a cuppa and have a chat. Just be.  
I am sorry for such a solemn post but I needed to vent a little, in the public privacy of my blog.
I do plan to post some WIP's shortly and share some exciting updates about our Five but for now I shall leave you with these words: 
Hold your children close. Let them know how much you love them.  And remind yourself everyday how lucky you are to have them in your life.
Much love x

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Purpley Mits! - A Pattern Test

One of the (many) cool things about Ravelry is that you get to know lots of designers and sometimes you can be lucky enough to test a pattern before it gets published.  I was one of these lucky girls a couple of weeks ago and got to test a new pattern for a fellow Aus crocheter!  As the pattern hasn't been released yet, I won't reveal her name or the pattern details, but I can show you some pics!


The really dense stitch work will keep hands extra warm this winter
 It was so much fun to read through a new pattern and share my thoughts and - as geeky as this sounds - report back any errors and typos etc.  I've always been an editor at heart!  I got to work on some techniques I'd never used before and had to pay close attention to everything I did which was brain-draining but a good lesson in perseverance!




I tried to use only the pink and purple parts of the yarn but you can see some of the green just made it into the top right mit.
As the pattern called for a variegated yarn and a solid yarn, I had to use the only variegated in my stash which wasn't already allocated to another project, and it was California 8 ply - not my first choice in yarn but it did the job.  

One thing I have noted is that the cuffs are really tight due to the type of stitch used (slip stitches).  I tried to counter this by using a bigger hook than called for but Berry can still just get her little hands in (it is meant to be a small lady size).  When I make another pair, I will go up another hook size for the cuff and stick to the correct size hook for the body.

You can check out the project page on Ravlery here and when the official pattern is published it will be linked for you to purchase.

Happy Monday friends! x

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The First Project 2015: A Blanket for Bear

A new year is the perfect time to dust the cobwebs off the stash and start making something new! 
One of my New Year's Ideas (a lot less stressful than full blown resolutions!) is to crochet a blanket for Bear. It's been on my mind for so long but the commitent of a blanket is pretty huge and I just haven't been in the right headspace. I'm happy with the decision to start it now and have promised myself that it won't become an expectation or an effort, it will simply be enjoyable making something for my first born to snuggle in when the weather turns.  And as the depth of winter is so far away, there is no rush to have it completed, so I can meditate along to the rhythmic back and forth of a big, stripey blanket and simply enjoy the process.

I came across the pattern called Littlefolds Boys Blanket on Ravelry and thought it was just the ticket!  Simple yet lots of options for colour, and quite vintage-looking.
So I broke out the stash and got to it.  The pattern calls for a 5.5mm hook and a foundation of 142ch but I grabbed a 6mm and chained 112. 
Just to be different ;)
The pattern is simple and repetitious and I'm enjoying how quickly it's working up.  
I've chosen typical boyish colours of blues and red and thrown in some olive greens, all on a foundation of soft grey for every other row.  I think these colours will keep it looking vintage-y and also appeal to Bear's taste for grown-up, masculine style.




It will be interesting to see how long this blanket takes as I plan to make it a full single bed size - I'll be sure to keep you up to date with its progress!
Oh and a big Happy New Year to all! x

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kid's Chores for Christmas Cash

On my way home from one of those dastardly Big Centres yesterday, I had a Grand Idea and I thought it was good enough to share with you lovely friends!

Yesterday I made my last dash down the mountain to pick a up a layby and a few bits and pieces... when it struck me - our kids don't have any gifts to give to each other!
To our family, Christmas is all about being together with those we love and care about. It's about the spirit of giving - to each other and those less fortunate.  It's a time to be merry and thankful and generous and eat lots of delicious food!
So what a fabulous time for the children to stop the fighting and bickering and name-calling and so on, and think about how well they really know one another.  How much they really do love one another. Because they do.  They just have a funny way of showing it sometimes!
So back to my Grand Idea.
I have written up a list of chores for the kids and each chore will earn them a set amount of money.  I think I'm being pretty generous with the amounts - it is Christmas after all!
From now until a few days before Christmas, the kids can do their chores and earn as much money as possible.
There are three conditions for the money they earn.
One: The money must be spent on your siblings and other loved ones. 
Two: The money must be spent locally.
Three:  Any remaining money is to be donated to a local charity.

I ran this idea by the Big Kids last night and they thought it was GREAT!  
I love it. 
I'm so happy that they are excited about the idea and hope it really works to help nurture the spirit of giving within them.  It may even teach them a little about economics!

Here is our list of Kid's Chores for Christmas Cash:

Feed the dogs 50c
Empty the dishwasher $1
Tidy bedroom PROPERLY $5
Clean junk out of the car PROPERLY $5
Fold AND put away washing (10 pieces) $1
Empty compost 50c
Water plants 50c

There is plenty of room for more chores... I just have to think of them... suggestions welcome!

So they have the potential to earn a good amount of money over the next couple of weeks, enough to buy some decent items ie. not just plastic junk.  I'll be really interested to see what they choose for each other and for Baby and will definitely let you know.
  
If you like the idea and give it a go, I'd love to hear what chores you come up with and how it goes for your family!

Much love and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours (just in case I don't make it back before then!) x

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's not always sunshine and lollipops


Baby likes to pull pegs in half.  
It's one of those toddler-things which had faded from the here and now as the older two grew but I now remember them enjoying doing the same thing.



Today I saw this collection of broken pegs on the patio but instead of getting cranky that there are a few less pegs to use or worried about making more landfill, I had a memory.  I remembered why I didn't really mind when pegs got broken.  

I didn't use pegs on the washing line for years.  
This meant the washing took longer to dry as it had to be folded in half to stop it from falling off, and many many times a strong wind would blow most, if not all of the washing off of the line, only to be trampled over by muddy dogs and tangled in thorny bushes and I'd have to re-wash and re-hang the whole lot.
'Buy some ruddy pegs!' BigBadWolf would say.
'Oh... yeah... next time I go shopping...' I'd reply vaguely.

Yet still I didn't buy pegs.

And today, looking down at that pile of broken colour, I remembered why.

Having pegs of varying colours means that they can be categorised.  
These particular pegs came in four colours (and I'm pretty sure they have been available in the same colours for a few years) - pink, blue, yellow and green. When there were four of us, this seemed a nice bit of harmony and I would associate a colour of peg with a member of the family - pink for Berry, Blue for Bear, yellow for BigBadWolf and green for myself. 
Unfortunately, if I ran out of a certain colour of peg, I'd be stuck.  Frozen in deliberation.  
Do I use someone else's coloured peg?  
Would that indicate that I thought more of one person or less of another?  
What if I used someone else's peg then ran out of that colour when it came to hanging out that same someone else's piece of washing?  
Do I un-peg the item I hung out using someone else's peg so that I could use that same peg to hang out an item belonging the associated someone?

It's not only the coloured pegs though (which, for the record, BigBadWolf bought in a fit of domesticity a few months ago).  I now have some extra strong, transparent-ish pegs which I actually bought to use in place of pins for sewing handbags and the like.  I came across them while decluttering the craft room and innocently thought they'd be put to better use in the laundry.  
That little voice, backed by the biatch that is hindsight yells to me in her told-you-so voice, 'WRONG!'
Today I had two pieces of washing left to hang out, each requiring one peg. I had only one coloured peg and one strong peg available. The coloured peg could not be associated with either of the two people who's washing was to be hung out.  If I used the unassociated coloured peg for one item, then I'd be using the stronger peg for the other. Does this mean I want to hold on tighter to one person than to the other, meaning that I care more for one than the other?  Does it mean that I think less of the person who gets the unassociated peg, that I think they are unimportant and it matters not what colour peg I use for their washing, therefore inferring that I care not for them?

Of course the answer to all these things is No.  
No, I do not care more for one member of my family than for another and No, neither the strength nor the colour of pegs in any way determines the fate of any person in my family.  
But to an Obsessive Compulsive brain, that is how it feels.  
And just two weeks ago, my psych decided to try me on new medications (as the weight gain from my current meds is beginning to become a concern of its own).  Ping!  
That explains the memory, the seemingly sudden resurgence of these 'issues'.

Being aware and purely, 100% natural in mind and body is real and honest and - I'd like to believe - achievable, but being 'blissfully' ignorant of... or muted to... or even distanced from the reality of an OCD brain is so much easier.  It makes room for so much more fun.  And it's a feeling of freedom from my own inefficiencies I can't even begin to explain.  
The funny thing is, I'm not even medicated because of the OCD. It's something I've had for as long as I can remember - at times it's been annoying, at others it's been crippling but I learned to live with it.  Having a hiatus from the OCD was an unexpected benefit of being treated for a bunch of other anxiety disorders.  I guess that's a positive to focus on, right?

So that's where I'm at.  Sorry if it's a little too much information but it's a really big thing in our world right now and I felt the need to share, get it off my chest, so to speak. 
Although most of our days are super-ace and filled with love and fun and optimism, it's not always sunshine and lollipops.  And that's life, isn't it?

Much love x

P.S Now that we have Baby, I associate pink and green with her which gives the little treasure twice the chance of having an associated peg used to hang out her washing. Lucky Baby!

P.P.S The aforementioned is only half the washing 'ritual'.  We'll save that for another fun, exciting post ;)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mid-November update

Hello lovely people! 
My apologies for being so distant of late, I truly have been so busy - as I'm sure you all have too, given the impending festive season :)
Here's a quick, un-edited, might-be-boring update on what we've been up to these last couple of weeks:
Spots
Baby got spotty but the doc assures us it's just a virus crossed with a reaction to being exposed to a saltwater pool or something of the sort but no need for any over-reaction on my part.  Spots have gone  now so all good!
Crafty work
I crocheted a snowflake! It's part of a new 'job'... Behin-the- scenes social media stuff - suits me to a tea :) More info to come soon!
Making
Berry had free run of my jewellery supplies and made me these beautiful gum leaf earrings! She is so creative and inspires me everyday :)
Crochet
These little bear slippers are from the Mollie Makes Christmas issue. Not quite finished but super cute already!
More stuff
On top of the above, I've been scouring the Internet for Christmas ideas (decorative, culinary and presents),trying to find the 'right' BBQ for our family, decluttering and listing heaps on ebay, getting well into housework in prep for Christmas visitors, chasing a newly-running toddler (my Baby is a toddler now - eek!), creating a crafty haven in the spare room, soothing three chronically coughing peeps (including myself) and generally trying to do MamaBear stuff! It's been busy and so much fun and I am looking forward to sharing all our exciting new things with you real soon xxxx





Sunday, October 26, 2014

Top Five: Online Stores for Christmas Shopping

Having run my own store, I understand the importance of people shopping locally and supporting small businesses so I tend to spruke my favourite local shops a bit.  However, come Christmas time you might be after gifts that you simply cannot get locally and that makes online shopping a great alternative.
So in this post, I'm sharing my favourite online stores - and we're going global! 
In no particular order, here are my top five fave online shopping locations:
Ezibuy
Ezibuy used to be known as Myer Direct and they sell clothing and homewares aimed at a variety of ages and styles.  Recently they've started distributing for Next, a popular UK departement store, so they now offer some fashionable kids' clothes too.
A lot of the Ezibuy fashions aren't to my taste (they tend to be aimed at the over 50's) but they sell so very much that I can always find something that I like, and they often have some nice clothes aimed at younger women under their Emerge label.  
Oh and they have some lovely shoes!  I've always found their products to be made of high quality fabric and can't fault their service.  You can order online, by phone or by mail and they make returning items super easy too so if you're not happy or something doesn't fit you can send it back free of charge, using the same bag in which you received it.  Easy-peasy.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, they have some really nice decorations including glass baubles (see below) and these retro-esque ornaments.

Assorted Red Decorations from Ezibuy.com.au
You can find some pretty neat items in their clearance sales too! 
Shop at Ezibuy: for seasonal casual clothes, shoes, homewares, bedlinen and festive homewares


Peter's of Kensington - oh wow, so many things! I buy from PoK a couple of times a year - everything from bakeware and coffee mugs to kitchen linens and science kits for the kids.  They stock major local and international brands such Ashdene, Robert Gordon, Cath Kidston and Royal Doulton and the website is super easy to navigate.  You can find something for everyone at PoK whether they're into cooking, gadgetry or home decorating and there are many, MANY bargains to be found!
Approaching Christmas, PoK are packed full of snazzy decorations from the likes of Swarovski and Waterford and also offer heaps of great gift ideas, hampers and festive tableware.
This new range of mugs from Ashdene is super cute
Shop at Peter's of Kensington: if you want brand name homewares at heavily reduced prices; if you are looking for gifts that you won't find at your usual department store; if you want the latest in festive kitchenware.

The Book Depository - books!  Pretty much every book you can think of, at great discounted prices, plus free delivery.  If you want to buy for Christmas, however, best get in early as a lot of deliveries come from overseas and can take awhile to arrive.  You can spend hours browsing their categories for new and upcoming releases.  Hours.  So. Many. Books.  
Mostly I buy craft books, kids' books and colouring books but I also got some books on sausage making and preserving meats for my bro last year - The Book Depository has books on EVERYTHING!
There are loads of new Christmas titles coming out about now including The Swedish Christmas Table which could add a whole new element to the Scandi theme so many of us love!
The Swedish Christmas Table: Traditional Holiday Meals, Side Dishes, Candies, and Drinks
The Swedish Christmas Table is on my wishlist this year

Shop at The Book Depository: for every type of book imaginable.

Etsy- anything and everything handmade.  A world of original, handmade, vintage items on your desktop (or tablet - their app is great and makes mobile shopping far too easy!).  Original artworks and prints, kids' clothes, handmade leather shoes, every type of craft supply imaginable, handmade jewellery that is so beautiful and individual.  Etsy is a joy to browse, a virtual world of creative discovery.  
Crafters go all out at Christmas and Etsy becomes loaded with everything festive from Christmas pj's for the kids to hand sculpted ornaments.
Shop at Etsy: if you want something original, handmade and like buying straight from the maker, for one-off gifts ideas for the hard-to-buy-for.  Also great for jewellery findings, fabrics, indie patterns and vintage items.

eBay - chances are that if somewhere out there, someone is selling what you need, you'll find each other on eBay.  I tend not to buy new things on eBay so much as second hand and vintage. Old teacups and saucers, little pottery statues, books from my childhood and fabric.  The international sites can offer lots more than your country's site so don't forget to play around with that dot com!
Come Christmas time, people are sorting through their old decorations and getting the house spruced up for celebrations so there is a treasure trove of other people's stuff to look at!
Shop at eBay: if you want to recapture your childhood, are looking for a bargain or if you don't know where else to try... you'll find it on eBay!

So there are my Top Five online stores for Christmas shopping! :D