Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sew together - Grow together - the book

Yesterday morning we woke up to grey skies, steady rain and a couple of coughing girls. Week three, day two of the school holidays, what on earth were we going to do? How on earth were we going to spend the day?

And then I remembered this treasure, Sew Together Grow Together, sent to me by Trixi Symonds, the author, a couple of weeks ago.

Sew Together Grow Together is a selection of hand-sewing projects developed over two decades in classes and workshops for children. The idea for this book was planted by parents who "can't even sew on a button" but wished they could play a more active role in their child's hand-sewing adventures and feel for themselves the excitement their children so clearly felt when they created something they loved and were proud to have made.
Sounds perfect hey?!

Trixi's projects are simple and completely achievable, her instructions make sense and are so child friendly that I believe anybody age five and up could make a go of them.

First our girls studied all the patterns in the book and chose one that they liked.

Then they gathered all the materials they needed, made space in the school holidays chaos of the kitchen table and got to work.

Miss Jazzy read through one step at a time, sometimes twice, and then they did it. Mostly Jazzy would finish first and help Pepper along.

Tracing, cutting, pinning, threading, stitching, snipping, turning...



This was my favourite part. We didn't have the googly eyes recommended by the pattern, but undeterred Miss Jazzy came up with the idea of using buttons. A little button glued onto a big button glued onto the owl. So cool!

IMG_9090 Ta-daaaaaaa!!!

Three little owls made from Sew Together Grow Together, by us. How great!

Just after I took this photo I left the girls and went down to collect the eggs. I asked them to tidy up a bit. When I got back half an hour later, instead of finding a clear table, I found Miss Jazzy deep in the cutting and stitching zone. She was so inspired by her new found skills that she couldn't stop and was taking them further. Using another project from the book she was making a treasure bag for her sister. Tracing and cutting and pining and stitching...

And without one speck of help from me, she followed Trixi's directions and sewed a bag. Then she filled it with treasures of her own and presented it to her sister.

Today she tells me we're pulling out the sewing machine, she's obsessed. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Sometimes I wonder if my kids will ever love making as much as I do. If they will ever be the crazy girl with the basket full of wool at the picnic, the girl with the bits of cotton stuck all over her skirt up the street, the girl that fills every spare second cutting and stitching and knitting. Days like yesterday give me a glimpse into the future and I think maybe. There is so much love and creativity and satisfaction in making something by hand, I really hope I can pass a little of that on.

Happy days my friends, I hope you've got something gorgeous going on too.


Monday, April 21, 2014

these days

IMG_8999 IMG_8998 IMG_8996 IMG_9032 IMG_9003 IMG_9016 Slow is the thing that I like the best about the holidays.

A little trickle of an idea; a thought, a whisper.
The trickle gathers momentum as it builds up speed and becomes a plan.
The trickle idea, now a fast moving stream, flows over or around obstacles, picking up and carrying stuff as it flows along, getting bigger and wider and more river like, more exciting.
The stream becomes so wide it is almost impossible to wade through and the plans and adventures become so real they must be believed, must be acted on.
These days are filled with adventures.

There are fairies in the forest. There are fires to be built. There are unusual snack combinations to try out. There are chicken relationships to contemplate. There are jokes that nobody else understands to laugh and laugh at. There are little secret notes to be written and stashed in odd places. There are songs and dances to be practised and performed. There are early, early morning adventures down the hill and there are nights crashed out on the couch fully clothed. There are episodes to watch in order. There are times spent making new friends, making clay, making gods-eyes, and there are times spent with old friends, with family and at home.

These days are chilly and long. Layers are worn and discarded as the sun hits. Boots are pulled on and off. Crazy messes are made and then tidied. Snacks are mostly eaten on the run. Hair becomes a birds nest and hidden under a hat. Games are played and to be continued.

Two weeks of adventures down and another to go.

I love these days.
I hope yours are filled with fun times too.

Big love,


Friday, April 11, 2014

knitted lately

In the interest of full disclosure I feel the need to tell you that I had to bribe those three girls to pose for these knitting pics for me. So involved were they in their game of cubby cooking that it was my only way. One chocolate biscuit each. They tried to raise it to two but I didn't budge. It was a one treat shoot.

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First the Chunky Bear Beanie.

Knitted in the squishiest, softest wool I have ever felt.

Last year when we were in Israel, one of my instagram friends, Dria, contacted me and invited us to lunch at her family's bakery, in the community where they live. It was so gorgeous to meet properly and hug her after years of looking at the pictures of her life online.

A few weeks after we got home she posted me the wool. Five different colour ways, each one equally as divine. I'm tempted to knit them all into chunky bear beanies but I should probably play around a bit, we'll see.

Ravelled here.

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Next up, a Little Scallops.  The fourth I have made. I love this pattern.

I cast this one on at The Seven Sisters Festival a few weeks back. I thought I'd knit so many stitches that weekend. I packed the boot of my car full of wool just in case. But somehow I didn't get past the band.

I think it needs a pom-pom.

Did you notice the first lost tooth? This Mama's last first, sob.

Ravelled here.

Then I made a From Norway With Love for the sister of someone who reads my blog. Her story touched my heart and I wanted to send her a bit of my love in return. Knitting feels so nurturing and I feel so grateful for that.

Ravelled here.

And then I knitted another one for us.

Miss Pepper chose the colours and while I found them a little challenging and out of my comfort zone, I love how much she loves it. I feel like it looks straight off the shelves of a chain store, but she'd probably love that too.

Ravelled here.

Another Chunky Cable Beanie for my farmer boy.

He loves this pattern, it suits him, it is the closest I have ever come to replacing his favourite Nana knitted beanie and it is warm and thick.

The last one I knitted him ended up wet left out on the tractor so many times that it is all mishapen and stretched. I've been thinking about unraveling it and knitting it up all over again. Can I do that? Will it work?

Ravelled here.

IMG_8921 And now I'm onto this, a little cardigan. A Tikki test knit.

I wanted to make the cream the main colour, with the charcoal the stripe, but Miss Pepper had other ideas. I kinda like the way it's turning out now.

I love the fact that my smaller two don't wear a school uniform anymore and that I can wrap them up in snugly hand knits over the icy months to come. I love the fact that they have clothes that are made just for them; from the measuring of their body parts, to the choice of the pattern and yarn, all the way through to the stitches. Every stitch a little story of the time; a grey and rainy week, a Wonder Years marathon, tomatoes and quinces and apples on the stove. Cozy times.

Keep warm my friends.
And tell me, what's keeping your hands busy these April days?

Big love


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

i say tomato

IMG_8853Can I tell you a secret?

I don't like fancy tomatoes. I know, so very wrong for an organic farmer to admit. But I'll take an under-ripe, red, round, firm tomato over a fancy, overly tasty, pulpy tomato any day.

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I think it started way back about seven years ago. We were growing tomatoes in a pretty serious way for restaurants and shops and markets and I was growing Miss Pepper in my belly. And while the tomatoes were blossoming and blooming and growing beautifully, I was sick, sick, sick.

And all through those early months of my pregnancy, my main job was to rummage around through the foliage in the poly tunnel and pick out the juicy, red tomatoes. Sounds like fun huh?

Imagine a hot sunny day, condensation dripping down the sides of the poly tunnel and off the roof and occasionally dripping onto your head or down your neck. Imagine the sticky tomato tar that covers your hands and arms up to your elbows as you reach through the plants to grab the fruit. Imagine thinking you've spotted the most perfect, plump, red tomato and when you wrap your fingers around it it disintegrates in your hand, a warm, overripe pulpy mess. Imagine breathing in that humid hot-house air and feeling like there wasn't enough oxygen for both you and the tomatoes. Imagine the overwhelming smell of the tomato plants and the tomatoes themselves, kinda acidic and sweet and strong. Imagine spending hours and hours, filling buckets and crates and feeling sick and pregnant and gagging and so over everything tomato. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

IMG_8869 IMG_8876Seven years on, every single March and April day I've been spending an hour or two in the poly tunnels picking tomatoes, and that tomato smell and the feeling on my fingers takes me straight back there and I feel a little queasy. Seven years on, while I've still lost my love for the exotic and heirloom tomato, we most certainly, unquestionably have won with our wonderful Pepper Berry. I'll take her over a Cherokee Purple or a Purple Russian any day.

Bye now


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

blogging bits & burning sticks

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I'm afraid my blogging has been getting away from me. Where my monthly average used to be 13 or 14 posts, these days it is down to four or five. I don't know what's changed. Maybe I have less time these days, maybe facebook and instagram are to blame, maybe it's because I feel like I've said it all before, maybe it's because I just got out of the habit, or maybe it's because each post seems so big and overwhelming that often it's simpler to let it go.

But I miss it. I miss taking the photos and telling the story. I miss watching the post come together. I miss that feeling of satisfaction I get when I press publish. And I miss your beautiful words and stories in the comment section. And someday in the future I know that I will desperately miss the gaps in our family's illustrated history.

The other day Miss Jazzy sat down to do a timeline of her life and there the last five years were, every birthday party, every major event and so much in-between. She had a ball scrolling through remembering her life.

I've been thinking about ways to make blogging easier for myself ever since.

And I've come to the conclusion that I need to make it simpler and quicker for myself. So for the next little while I am going to aim to publish a blog post every, or every second day. Quick little stories with only a couple of pictures that tell the tales of where we are and what we are doing right now.

I've said it before and I know it to be true; the more I blog - the easier and better I blog.

Look out for stories in the coming days about what I've been knitting, what's growing in the garden, what we are doing with all those tomatoes, what we are reading, how I'm going with the whole kind thing, what's bringing me joy and anything else that pops into my head. Feel free to offer me any suggestions you might have too.

Yay! I'm excited.

IMG_8844 IMG_8848 IMG_8843 This particular story above is one that began yesterday morning when I bumped into a friend who was taking her family away camping for the holidays, and left me feeling guilty that all our plans are for home. But then when I came home to our little farm and had a good look around I realised that our home, and all the adventures it holds, is a pretty incredible place to holiday in too.

And once I'd realised how much we all really need a holiday at home, we set about collecting sticks and building a bonfire where we spent the day cooking and pottering and playing and experimenting and getting absolutely filthy.

I love that despite the cold and rain, I found Jazzy and Pepper back out there in their wet weather gear first thing this morning wanting to keep going where they left off. I can remember doing that so clearly when I was little. The sign of a great day I think.

I'm going to sign off now and go and stir my bubbling pots of tomato sauce and quince jelly, but I'll be seeing you real soon.

Big love and happy holidays!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Seven sisters

A three day women's festival promoting health, creative expression and community spirit. Hosting stimulating and insightful workshops, exceptional live music, art and performance in lush natural surrounds. 

From the Seven Sisters Festival website.

IMG_8755It's funny, I've had the photos loaded and ready to go on this post for a few days now but I can't seem to get the words to feel right. I so badly want to record the days and nights I spent away with Indi so I can hold on to them and go back to them in the future when I need to remember and relive that time, but I can't. Everything I write seems too hippie and I feel too self conscious to put it out there.

Maybe it's too soon. Maybe it's all too fresh and alive still dancing around in my mind. Maybe some experiences just cannot be captured in a one dimensional space. I'm not sure.

I do know that over the two days away I went from feeling overwhelmed and out of place, to surrendering and owning my place, to reconnecting and recentering my place, to returning home to my place feeling refilled and recharged.

I guess the biggest moment in my festival experience, my biggest blessing, happened on the Saturday afternoon while walking back down the hill from the chai tent to our tent when Indi turned and whispered to me;

you are who you want to be mum

Inhale. Exhale. Such big words from my 13 year old. Such big words that I've probably always wanted to hear and feel, yet there I was completely overwhelmed when I finally heard them.

Over the next day or so I took Indi's precious words and turned them over and over in my mind. Am I? Do I? Can I be? Should I be? And then sometime later, while listening to the beginnings of a workshop about making your dreams come true, I came to the realisation that I know she's right.

I have work to do and I know I'm not nearly there yet, but I am heading in the right direction and I feel  empowered and inspired and excited to be here. Right here. And I feel grateful, ever so grateful for the time out of our everyday lives that allowed us to really see our lives for what they are.

Maybe I'll follow up this post with a nitty-gritty - this was what Seven Sisters was actually like - post, maybe not. I'm discovering that these things don't like to be forced. But if you are interested, you can check out their web-site and look at these 497 gorgeous photos (if you look closely you'll see us in a couple).

Big thanks to Jessie and the Happy Glampers for the loan of the cutest bell tent ever, to Miss Indi my traveling companion (look at that golden aura in the first pic!) and to Miss, Zoe and Nina for making it so much fun. xx

I'm pressing publish before I change my mind again.

Big love and light


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Autumn break

IMG_8727 IMG_8747 Last night Autumn broke and now winter is on her way.

It's funny but although Autumn always makes me feel a bit melancholy about the loss of sunshine and the cold to come, Autumn also seems like the time of year that I am most sure of who I am. In Autumn I feel the most me.

In Autumn there are heads and hands to keep warm. Knitting becomes less of a hobby and more of a necessity. Patterns are chosen, baskets of wool are brought out and considered and a queue is made. As soon as I cast off something it is grabbed and worn and I cast on the next.

Ravelry details here.
I love how in Autumn we can go from - there's nothing for dinner - to a table full of freshly picked tomatoes - to a saucepan full of passata - to the most delicious tomato and noodle soup ever. And all in the space of an hour.

IMG_8396 In Autumn we try to spend as much time outside while we still can. We walk to do the farm chores and sometimes we find little friends in the egg trailer.

In Autumn we pick up sticks for the wood stove wherever we go. We stockpile them in the kitchen basket and in the wood shed. It wont be long before dry sticks will be hard to find.

IMG_8616 IMG_8609 In Autumn there are always crates of fruit everywhere I look, the floor is sticky, the stove top is full and the sink is full of jam pots. In Autumn there are always rubber bands soaking, jars warming and the Fowlers machine gurgling.

IMG_8620 IMG_8674 In Autumn the shelves start groaning under the weight of filled bottles and jars and containers. We come to the end of what we preserved last year and put away what we have for next.

In Autumn every year I think of this fruit and veg grown with love, with no nasties, by us or by people we know and know love what they do and I know that we couldn't do this any other way. It makes a difference to the flavour and how good it is for us - I'm sure of it.

IMG_8624 IMG_8658 In Autumn the garden changes again, everything looks lush and green and stands up tall. Out with the old, in with the new.

This year I've been making wreaths on wisteria hoops to dry the seeds and roots for later. The world looks pretty good through coriander glasses don't you think?

IMG_8348 IMG_8578 In Autumn I feel confident that I'm where I need to be. I am busier than at any other time of the year, but as each job gets ticked off my mental list; as each tree in the orchard is stripped, as each crate of fruit gets emptied, as each pile of fire wood is covered, I feel that we are getting closer to being ready for winter. Autumn brings with it a sense of achievement. It is the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

Ours is a slow way of living but it sure is beautiful and it tastes delicious too.

Go gently friends.


ps this one's for you Heike - thanks for being so patient. x

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