Monday, September 30, 2013

knitting Olinda...x

Pattern - Olinda by Tikki
Yarn - Pear Tree 8ply merino
Colour - model's choice - dusty pink
Model - Miss Pepper aged five, almost six
Raveled - here

If craft projects hold thoughts and feelings and memories, then this cardi is a bit here and there. It's filled with endings and new beginnings. It's filled with hopes and fears and wonderings and dreams for the future. It's full of fun school holiday days spent with family, of a zillion itchy bites and tired legs from 6.30am runs. 

For the past few weeks I have carried the paper pattern in my basket at all times. 

I knitted it in bed, on the couch, at the market, by the pool, at the beach and most everywhere else in between. And I marked off each row as I knitted it in green texta. 

I loved this pattern and found it easy to follow and to knit, except for the beginning of the first sleeve which I had to undo once and reknit. But then the second sleeve was easy. 

I tried it on Miss Pepper twice while it was still on the needles; Once for the length of the body and once for the length of the sleeves. I purposely knitted it a bit too big, so it'll fit her for longer. I'm hopeful she'll be wearing it all the way through this year and well into the next.

I'm hopeful my littlest girl will love wearing her Olinda cardi as much as I loved knitting it for her. That it'll keep her warm and snuggled up with love. I'm hopeful she'll stay girly and pretty pink for a while to come. And I'm hopeful I can get a brush through that tangled hair when it's back to school time.

What's next on the sticks? Why a dusty blue Olinda for her big sister of course.

What about you?
What are you making/baking/growing/singing/cooking...
Do tell.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

stuff i thought u might like to know...x


Farmer Bren has taken over the Daylesford Organics blog!

That's right, there are now two bloggers in the Foxs Lane fam (yikes).

And wouldn't you know it, he went straight in there and did all this fancy tech stuff and now it looks completely different.

I guess we can expect bloggy bits about farming, gardening, bread baking and other Farmer Bren thoughts and theories on life.

Follow along here if you wanna.


I wrote a piece and took some photos for Slow magazine.

Slow is one of those very rare magazines that I read from cover to cover. It's a beautiful Australian magazine filled with stories about interesting people doing interesting things.

I was particularly thrilled to have our story included in the Spring issue alongside Rhonda from Down to Earth, Tim Winton, Paul Kelly, Charlotte Woods, Edwina from The Old Post Office and so many more. Like Rhonda said on her blog;  It's like I'm part of a lovely and familiar Slow family. Totally.


Have you seen this?

My friend Pip from Meet Me At Mikes is running a blogging e-course. How ace is that?!

In her very own words;
It's called Blog With Pip! and is designed especially for crafty and creative types. This course will teach you lots of valuable things about blogging, writing, inspiration and social media. It's perfect for beginners OR for people who have blogs already, but might want to refresh them.  If your blog needs a bit of TLC, this is the course for you. (It may offer a bit of TLC for you too, truth be told!)
Find out more about it on Pip's blog here.

I think this is such a brilliant opportunity to learn from one of the most crafty, cool, creative and generous girls around. Hop to it I say.


So many people asked me what the top of our pea tee-pea looked like. This is what it looks like. So far we have just sort of woven the tops of the branches in together. Later on, as the peas start climbing and the whole structure gets heavier, we might tie it all up to strengthen it.


I am knitting Olinda for Miss Pepper at the moment. It is a gorgeous lacy pattern and I am loving watching it all come together. I'm knitting my way down the second sleeve at the moment, not long to go. Hopefully she'll be throwing it over her shoulders before the week is out.


And lastly, here is my podcast from yesterday's ABC Radio National's Life Matters program.

If you want to hear what my voice sounds like, if you want to hear my nervous giggle, or if you plain just want to listen, click on this link.

Phew, that's it for me and my news for now.
How about you?
Do you have some stuff you think I'd like to know?
Are you going to click on any of my links?
Go on.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's a tea party giveaway

My friend Jodie thinks I should swap over from coffee drinking to tea drinking because it suits my image more.

I totally love this!

I love the idea of drinking tea. I love all the stuff; the tea pot, the tea cozy, the tea leaves, the strainer, and all the pretty tea cups. I love the whole ritual of boiling and pouring and turning and waiting and sipping. And I love the thought of women all over the world sharing cups of tea and friendship and love.

My friend Jodie is one of those people I knew of before I actually knew. I'd admired her gorgeous doe eyed paintings around Daylesford for years before we started saying hi in the street. I'd watched her beautiful tea business start up and develop before we'd spoken more than a sentence and then finally this year we ended up at the same cafe a few mornings a week and actually chatted.

I'm always, always fascinated by how creative women balance motherhood and creativity, how they keep the passion in their creative businesses, what drives them, where they find their inspiration and how they keep it all fun. 

And although our stories are as different as the fact that I drink coffee and she drinks tea, I can totally relate and understand and admire Jodie's gorgeous tea tales.

I think you'll love her and her story too.

Where did the idea for SHE-TEA come from?

Vanessa (my business partner) and I both have degrees in nursing, when we met we were both working for a medical device company selling into hospitals. We decided that after many years of sales and marketing in the medical field that we really wanted to spend our days working in a business we were deeply passionate about and that inspired us on a daily level. We also wanted to create a business that we could build up once we started our families, which was on the agenda in the near future. 

At this point we decided to both write a list of all of the things we were passionate about in our lives, that make us happy, and come back to compare the lists. When we met up again and showed each other our lists, there was a strong common theme with 5 key factors that were identical: family, female friendships, art, tea and humour. 

We built She-Tea backwards from this list with tea being the actual product, and art and humour being our differentiating factors from the rest of the market. The tea is aimed at women to represent the value of our female friendships, and our family is represented by the fact that we have been able to stay home with our children for the past 3.5 years.

Where did the name SHE-TEA come from?

We wanted to be all about women as women by far drink the most tea, and support each other through life over endless pots and conversations. We knew that ideally a product name should spell out exactly what it is as first glance and so Ness came straight our with SHE-TEA. It just stuck.

What is your favourite tea?

Despite having tried literally hundreds of teas and herbal blends (tisanes) in the past few years, I always come back to a simple black tea, our Daylesford Breakfast tea (mix between English and Irish). When we were in Sri Lanka last month, one of the factories we visited gave us a box of single estate Ceylon tea...that's one of my new favourites as it's very strong and so we are looking at bringing it into our new Slow Tea range. It's so strong and gutsy and delicious. Close second is green and jasmine (Daylesford Lazy Lunch).

What do you think is special about your tea?

Our vision has always been to nurture, support and inspire busy women, every day and we wanted to build our range around this vision.

Originally we sat down and thought about all of the reasons women might gather for a cup of tea together. We developed a range of teas to support women through life's challenges with beautiful and amusing canisters, along with the perfect tea blends for things like hormones, break-ups, motherhood, love, health kicks and hangovers. We felt that putting some humour into the experience, and adding some of my original artwork, while sourcing amazing tea blends would be the perfect way to create something really special that women could enjoy by themselves, or share with friends as gifts and in challenging times. 

Since the first Loose leaf range, our business have evolved a lot, and we've also added a Daylesford organic / fair trade range in biodegradable pyramid tea bags which has been really popular. We realise that not everyone has time to brew a pot of tea so the bags have been a welcome addition!

Every canister also has a different work of art on the front to make our customers feel that extra bit special.

Are there any other interesting SHE-TEA facts you care to share?

Yes, we decided to start our business in 2009. We had a plan that we would start She-Tea while we were both still working, then get pregnant 3 months apart to allow us to cover each other during the new baby stage, and then we'd build the business while raising our children. This is exactly what happened. My son, Jasper, was born 3 months before Ness's daughter Addison. At this point we decided that we were the masters of the universe... and we've gone on to grow the business over the past few years around our kids' needs. Ness had a second little girl 18 months ago and with the two of us working together we have been able to juggle our responsibilities according to our kids' needs. It's been challenging for sure, but well worth the effort!

We've also just came back from a child-free tea tour that took us to China, Hong Kong International Tea Fair and Sri Lanka. It was absolutely amazing and we have started writing about it in out blog Tea Travels.

Jodie has also kindly offered up two giveaway prizes for two lovely lucky Foxs Lane readers.

Prize A - A canister each of Motherhood, Sweet tooth and Zen tea.

Prize B - A canister each of Abundance, Daylesford breakfast tea and Happy hippie.

All you have to do is leave a comment to enter.
And the giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere. Yay!

In the meantime you can check out;
The SHE-TEA website here 
The SHE TEA blog here
The SHE TEA facebook here
The SHE TEA twitter here 
The SHE TEA online shop here 
Ok, you gotta be in it to win it so comment, comment, comment and we'll announce the winners on this post on Friday. (Please make sure I can contact you).

And happy tea drinking, or in my case coffee, sorry Jodie.


The winner of Prize A is The Life of Clare.
The winner of Prize B is Amanda K.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Asparagus on toast

And then finally, after months and months of deep, dark winter, true signs of spring start appearing in our veggie garden and on our farm. Everywhere you looks there are blossoms, new leaves, shoots and growth. Plants and trees that have sat still for a whole season look like they are finally waking up, stretching out and preparing for the warm days to come.

Asparagus is one of the first and truest signs of spring, after the daffodils.

Every year when spring-time comes I stop my car half way down the driveway most days to check for the green spears. Every year I walk up and down the asparagus row and carefully examine the mounds for any green shoots. I curse myself for not remembering to clear it of weeds better and inevitably snag myself or my clothing on the blackberry thorns.

By the time spring comes along, I am desperate for new flavours. I am grateful for the leafy greens and broccoli that have kept us going for the past few months over the hungry gap, but am keen for something new.

This year I got distracted and after careful searching for days, I didn't get back to the asparagus patch for a week. In this time I had seen localish asparagus at the fruit and veg shop in town and was confident ours wouldn't be too far behind.

And then one fine afternoon I grabbed the girls in between farm chores and together we went to survey the scene. And we were rewarded big time!

With fists full of the glorious green spears.

We wandered up and down the row cheering and picking and tasting and dreaming of the feast we were going to cook up for lunch.

My farmer boy cooked it.

He heated up a knob of butter and a dash of olive oil in a hot pan.
He placed the asparagus in the pan and cracked some black pepper and some rock salt on top.
And then he shook the pan occasionally to coat the asparagus and turn them.
We like ours a bit charred so he cooked them for a few minutes and then tipped them out onto some sour dough and then drizzled the rest of the juice over the top.
And lastly, a squeeze of lemon.

Simple. Seasonal. Scrumptious!!

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that practically grows before your eyes and needs to be picked each day. So over the first few weeks of spring we'll prepare it in every way we can think of. Old recipes and new faves.

Until just like that, we'll get a bit sick of eating it and asparagus season will be over again for another year. Seasonal growing and eating is clever like that.

Do you love asparagus?
What's your fave way to dish it up?

Happy weekend peeps!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

moving the chooks along

This Friday the Blackwood flock of chickens, above, will leave our farm and make their home on another organic farm a couple of hours away.

I'm guessing that apart from the drive, the Blackwoods wont notice much of a difference between their old and their new homes at all. They'll travel along as usual dust bathing, eating, drinking, scratching for bugs, laying eggs, hanging out with their hen buddies and when dark comes, they'll even go to roost in the same houses they have since they came to live with us a year ago when they were one day old.

Our lives on the other hand will be very different indeed. 

The Blackwoods are the last flock to leave our farm and for the first time in years we will be down from 2,000 chooks to just 200. From 10 Maremma dogs to two. From two wonderful farmer boys to none.

This Friday marks the next stage in our organic farming adventure.

We're excited (and a little bit scared), we're happy (and a little bit sad), but we're really ready.

Hopefully our extra time will be spent trying to find a bit more of a self sufficient balance. Making, growing and doing more, and buying less. Hopefully scaling down the business will mean we'll have more time for other plans. And hopefully someday soon, the places we deliver to will stop calling us the egg man and lady.

So it is with much happiness for them and for ourselves that we farewell the Blackwoods.

Stay tuned for the next adventures.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

how many squares does a blanket make?

and in between everything else, i knit squares.

there are 18 and a half in my pile now. the first 18 and a half squares from this book.

each one a different colour and pattern and name.

it amazes me that each new sequence of stitches creates such difference in the designs. i often wonder about the knitter who first came up with each pattern. if they were trying for something in particular or if they came upon it quite by accident?

sometimes i am completely overwhelmed at the start of a new set of instructions. so often it looks like gibberish and way too hard for a knitter like me. but i have learnt not to look too far ahead. i have learnt to knit one line and then the next. and i have surprised myself by how much knitting language i actually know.

and i love all the names of the squares; reversed out, seeded diamonds, snakes and ladders, staircase, slip sliding away...

at the moment i am resisting the urge to start sewing them all together. i think it would be lovely to see the blanket actually grow. but the patterns later in the book are very different to the patterns at the start of the book, and i think i'll need to finish them all to make sure they are all spread out evenly.

the patterns later in the book are multicoloured pictures; strawberries and houses bunnies and letters. i can hardly wait to get to them.

i always thought that for me crochet was for blankets and knitting was for garments but i guess it looks like i was wrong.

i am astounded that 18 and a half squares in, i am still so excited by this project. as soon as i cast off each square i can't wait to cast on the next. part of me wishes i would put it aside and knit a summery shawl or a pretty little pepper cardi, but i simply don't want to. this blanket and these squares are where i'm at.

i am knitting a tower and then that tower will become a blanket.

one day.

how about you, what are you making?
if you've blogged it, leave me a link and we'll come and see.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

picking up sticks...x

We were on the way back home from town after collecting Jazzy from drama class and gathering a few supplies for dinner.

Jazzy was full of stories from her day; Pumpkin props, naughty kids, hot chocolates with out milk, rehearsals, swings and popular popcorn.

Miss Pepper, eyes closed, exhausted from a late night the night before at Indi's school production, had long given up trying to get a word in between Jazzy's.

And as I drove them, and listened, and mmmmmed, my head was filled with election worries, what to make for dinner, finding time for half an hour on my new/ancient garage sale freebie exercise bike, how glorious the early evening light was and whether or not I have planted enough onions.

And then it occurred to me that by the time we got home, the fires would have gone out and the house would be cold.

For a second I felt annoyed. Country life is dirty and so terribly time consuming. How easy and neat it would be to simply push a button for heating. How much more time I would have in my day.

But then, as I drove past our house and up into the forest near our back gate I changed my mind quickly.

The late afternoon spring sun was coming low through the forest trees all dappled and sparkly. Everything looked wonderful and magical and beautiful.

We three got out of the car and spent the next 10 minutes or so gathering kindling. Each of us collecting arm fulls of sticks and then together making a pile. Each of us in our own spaces and mostly silent but for the snap of twigs and the crowing roosters down the hill.

A small pile of sticks. A medium pile of sticks. A big pile of sticks.

And just like that we piled the pile into the back of the ute and we were done.

And as I drove us and our kindling back home, I realised that the bit I had thought of as irritating ended up being my favourite part of the entire day. I felt lucky to have had it.

Are you having a nice weekend?
What's been your best bit so far?


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

blowing in the wind...x

Finally it's spring-time.

And in amongst the bees and the blossoms and the beautiful sunshine filled days, our family are preparing for the next stage of our farming journey.

The stage where we scale back our family farm business and reclaim the growing as our own.

The stage where we step out of the business world for a while. We stop looking at the end product as a commodity, as something that sits on a spreadsheet to sell and be paid for. And we stop trying to get bigger and bigger just to pay the feed costs, the wages and that stack of bills that constantly sits next to my farmer boy's desk.

It's time for us to remember the feelings of excitement and inspiration and ideology that brought us here in the first place.

We've had a wonderful, incredible, successful, first 12 years on our farm, but now we feel ready for something new. A different kind of farming. The next chapter.

So from the middle of this month we'll be stripping it right back to basics. My farming family and I. Simple. Small. Sustainable.

Truthfully, I think we've been ready for something new for a while. We've been waiting for inspiration to strike and take us in a new direction, but we've been so busy and so exhausted that even if it has struck, we haven't noticed it.

Our future is wide open. Maybe we'll open a tiny on farm provedore? Maybe we'll revisit biodynamics? Maybe we'll start a 'pick your own' adventure? Maybe we'll specialise in something? Maybe we'll run courses? Maybe we'll have time to visit the bees more often, get some milking goats, build a studio, host events, write another book....the sky is the limit.

We will be staying on our farm. We will still be Daylesford Organics. We will continue to provide eggs and seasonal fruit and veg grown with love and integrity to our local area. And we will keep our organic certification.

We're really excited to see where the wind blows us. We're really excited to feel excited again. And we're really grateful for all the support and loyalty we've been given. Thank you!

We can't wait to share the next stage of our farming journey with you.


Sunday, September 1, 2013


This morning while we were discussing planting peas, my farmer boy suggested we build an enormous tee-pee structure that they could climb up and the girls could play in. 

We toyed around with the idea for a while, and then we got to work.

First we chose a tee-pee site, Farmer Bren showed the girls how to draw out a big circle with a metal peg and some rope, and then we dug out the grass and dirt from around the circle.

When it was time to gather the wattle poles for the structure we headed down to the back of the old orchard with the chainsaw. The farmer boys had cleared the wattles out of the creek a few weeks before, but they still needed their heads chopped off.

To get to the where the wattles were we had to cross the creek. Those of us with long legs simply jumped over. But those with not so long legs got a bit stuck.

Once the water went over the top and into Jazzy's boot, the two smalls went back to the side they had come from.

We thought they'd probably go and play in a tree or on the back of the ute or something.

Oh yeah, and there were prickles in the creek.

We kept working, me pulling out the longest, straightest poles and him neatening them up.

And we saw that the girls were busy but weren't sure what they were doing.

And then after a while it all made sense.

A whole lot of sense.

They were problem solving. ...Can't get under it, can't get get round it, can't get through it...they had to get across it...

We sat and watched them for a while.

And then we tried it out for ourselves. Their bridge was good and strong and tough enough.

And we trekked back and forth on it about 15 times with our bush poles.

When we got home we made the tee-pee.

We planted it out and watered it in.

Now all that's left to do is to wait a few weeks for the seeds to germinate, to grow and then to climb up the poles and create our pea-tee-pee.

Imagine how fun it'll be come summer to shelter from the sun inside and to reach up and pluck a pea from the vine as a snack. 

Form. Function. Food. Father's day Fun!

I hope you've had a fabulous day. 
I hope you have a wonderful week this week.
Got anything special planned?

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