Monday, December 30, 2013

Old tee-shirts - new rug

It's a funny time of year, isn't it? Neither here nor there, but in between somewhere.

We haven't left the farm for days.

We've been doing jobs, reading books, making pom-poms, gardening, creating yummy things to eat and spending hours and hours cooking elaborate tea parties in the cubby-house.

And I've finally started my rag rug.

A few weeks ago I spied a bag full of old colourful tee-shirts in the hall-way at my farmer boy's folks house. I quickly intercepted their path to the shed to become rags, by claiming they were exactly what I needed for my next craft project.

So for the past few weeks we've had a bag full of old tees outside the doorway of our bedroom. Waiting.

I must admit, I do have other bags and piles of future craft project materials stashed around the house. At one stage I had such great intentions for all of them. Mostly I'm still hopeful for some of them. But time marches on and new crafty plans are hatched along the way.

But this bag of tees called out to me each time I passed. And I found myself looking longingly back at it as if to reassure it and myself that I hadn't forgotten. I was just waiting for the perfect chunk of time.

Yesterday was that time.

Yesterday I dragged a big old quilt outside under the shade of the oak tree and started cutting. I knew that if I began looking through books or online tutorials that I'd get distracted and the moment would be lost. So I cut what looked like one inch strips and using a 10mm hook, I started crocheting around and around. Increasing six stitches each round.

To be honest, I'm not certain at this stage that I even like the look of it. I've spent so many hours staring at it that I can't even see it anymore. But I like doing it. I like the rhythm of it. I like the thought of giving something old a new life. I like how Jo Jo the dog keeps me company on my quilt. And I really like how quiet my mind is as my hands are busily  hooking around in circles. It's fun.

And in the end, if I like it I'll bring it inside, and if I don't, the girls can have it for the cubby. Win-win!

So how are you anyway?
What have you been busily creating?

See you next year!

Love Kate xx

Monday, December 23, 2013

Poly jungle

Our family don't do Christmas. Not religiously, not culturally, not socially. It's just not our thing. 

So you can imagine this time of year feels a bit strange. Mostly it's fine. Sometimes it feels like there's this great big party that everyone but us is invited to. But then it's also this lovely peaceful time when we have no place to go, no one to see and loads of time to spend together doing jobs we haven't had time for all year.

Today we spent a few hours in poly tunnel two. Last September we seeded tomatoes onto drip line to see if we could avoid all the pricking out and transplant shock that slows the whole growing process down every year. We had thought we were clever and on to a new thing. We had thought we would have extra early tomatoes this season.

And while poly tunnel one has thrived and grown beautiful healthy plants that look right on track for our earliest season ever, for some reason we neglected poly tunnel two. And the fat hen and dandelions took over. And the poly tunnel became a poly jungle (thanks Dee x).

We did consider plowing it all in and starting from scratch. But when we found established plants in amongst the triffids, we decided to give them a go.

So we yanked all the weeds out and fed them to the chooks. We disposed of the nest of eggs that had been there for goodness knows how long. We trellised all the vines. We fertilised them and composted them and watered them in. We whispered sweet blessings to them. And then we tucked them all into a bed of mulch.

Now all that's left to do is to irrigate them and hope that they bulk up, blossom and fruit.

Grow little tomato plants, GROW!

From our family to yours, wonderful wishes for a merry and sweet Christmas. And if it's not your thing, enjoy the quiet and the peace.

And happy growing.


Friday, December 20, 2013

EOS (end of school)

This week one year ago I was fully immersed in my book writing bubble. There was all this end of year stuff going on around me, but I was on a deadline. I had word counts and edits and chapters to write. I was locked in my office for hours at a time surrounded by scraps of paper and scribbled notes and photos and map books and print outs. My life was tap, tap, tapping away on the computer. It was such a crazy and intense time.

At one stage, quite possibly on the day my girls finished school, I remember my editor writing me an email all about how wonderful this week was going to be in 2013. How in 2013 my book would be written and out there in the big wide world. How I would have such a great present to give our teachers and friends and family. And how I would have more time. So much more time.

I remember clinging on to those words. At that time I could barely imagine finishing the next section, let alone the whole book.

And yet here we are an entire year later. It happened.

Last night we had a little family ceremony to celebrate and mark the passing of another school year.

Each one of us took our turn to strike a match, to light a candle, to make a little speech about the school year that was and to burn some school work.

It's been an enormous year in the history of our family. Miss Indi started high school and dealt with that roller coaster of highs and lows. Miss Jazzy swapped over to another school and blossomed. And Miss Pepper did her year of prep and loved it.

We learnt languages and techniques and reasons and stories.

We learnt lots about other families and other kids and social networks.

At home we did projects and spelling words and readers and maths. We woke to alarm clocks, we washed uniforms, made lunches and braided hair. We dropped off and we picked up.

We clocked up the absences by taking time off to travel to Israel, to Queensland, to farm, to publicize my book and to hang out.

And we did OK, and we could have done better and we did great .

And as it happens Jacqueline my editor was right, my book came out and this summer I have so much more time and so much more space. And because of last year I know how precious that is. And I am ridiculously grateful. And I intend to make the most of these weeks of school free days with my girls. I intend to make and bake and farm and grow and swim and relax with them, with no time tables or deadlines or due dates at all.

Thank goodness for the summer holidays!

Can you believe there are only two weeks left of this year?

Big love to you wherever you are. I hope you have time, I hope your deadlines are manageable and I hope you have yummy things to eat.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the taste of early summer

If tastes and smells and textures hold memories, then broad bean season is filled to the brim with them.

The burning sun on our skin as we gather around the garden beds with our bowls and baskets ready for the harvest. The feel of the slightly fuzzy, swollen pods that we press to make certain their beans are ready. The tug of the pods off the vine. The hollow sound the fat, green pods make as they hit the enamel of the empty bowls that slowly dulls as the bowls gets fuller and fuller. The chatter amongst us. The songs of the kookaburra family nearby. The brilliant blue sky. The feeling of early summer freedom and possibility.

Then the gathering around the filled bean bowls on the blanket. The discussion about podding technique. The fleshy, spongy feeling of the pod skin ripped apart. The pop of the shiny beans as they bounce out of their tight enclosures into the bowl. The flavour of a sneaky fresh bean. Yum! The look of the empty bean bowl filling and the full pod bowl slowly emptying. The eternal 'to double pod or not to double pod' question. 

And then the cooking. Mostly just a quick pan fry in our house. Sometimes with garlic. Often with a side of eggs and toast.

And then the eating. All those summer flavours. They've been worth the long wait. They are as sweet and as garlicky and as salty and delicious as we remember. 

We'll eat them most nights for a while. Just plain and then a bit more fancy as the weeks go on. 

This is the taste of our early summer days. This is what it's all about.

The three winners of the Kester Black nail polish are;
Melissa Goodsell
Samantha Dennison

Congratulations you guys. Email me your postal deets and the gorgeous Anna will get your packages in the mail as soon as possible. Yay!

And for everyone else, I hope you are happy. I hope things are delicious in your world and that your lists are getting shorter as the days are getting longer, or shorter as the case may be.

Big broad bean love.
And tell me, do you double pod, or do you not?


Friday, December 13, 2013

Kester Black - nail polish giveaway!

I am SUPER EXCITED about this!!

Gorgeous Anna Ross makes a brand of nail polish called Kester Black that is cruelty free, carbon neutral, ethically produced, carcinogen free, made in Australia, vegan and non toxic.

Sounds too good to be true, right?!

Well it gets better. Kester Black nail polish is high shine, chip free and right on trend with all the latest and greatest summer colours.

I know, right!!

When Anna contacted us and asked if we wanted to try out some of her gorgeous range we quickly replied with a great big YES! My girls love a bit of sparkle and polish, but we are always nervous about all the icky stuff that goes into the cosmetic products and the not so ethical production methods.

To be able to paint my girls' nails in polish that is not only safe for them but for the environment is winning all over.

(Do you like my attempts at fancy cup cake nails?)

After we tried and fell in love with Kester Black (even I have blue toes), we asked Anna some questions.

Where did the name Kester Black come from?
I was holidaying in the Queen Charlotte sounds (New Zealand) with some family friends about 6 years ago and we took their boat out to find a nice sheltered bay to swim in. I was taken to St Kester Bay and the only house in the whole bay was owned by a priest. St Kester Bay is the most beautiful place I have ever been to and I wanted to use that in my name. A few days later when we went back to the same bay, there was a group of people there who were dressed head to toe in black. And that's how my name came about.

Which is your fave shade to wear?
My all time favourite is bubblegum.  

Which celeb would you fan-girl over if you saw them wearing KB?
Kimbra. She is awesome. I think she is a few years younger than me and she's a kiwi too. She also does a lot of volunteer work and supports a lot of different charities.

What book are you reading at the moment?
I am reading two at the moment. Eating animals by Jonathan Safran (what an eye opener) and another business book called the E Myth by Michael E. Gerber. It's a business book about why most small businesses don't survive. 

What is your fave food?
White rice. I love it. If I could eat it every day I would. I was in Japan for a month a few years ago and my Japanese friend taught me how to make the best sushi rice. 

Coffee or tea?
I don't actually drink either. I have just got on the soy hot choc band wagon though!  

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fashion designer. I did get a degree and work in the industry for a while, but I realised it wasn't really for me.

What is your dream for Kester Black?
I would love to have a small team that work for me who are really passionate about making high end ethical beauty products. I am currently researching into how to grow my brand from where it is, and think the next step will be to expand my product range. 

I'm not going to write my guide for ethical gift giving but if I did, Kester Black would be right up the top. We are such big fans on so many levels.

And now for the fun bit. Anna has kindly offered to send THREE of you guys her entire range of 15 summer colours!!

That's three prizes of 15 colours each. Amazing right!
Sorry Australia and New Zealand residents only.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below and please make sure I have a way of contacting you. We'll draw the winners next Wednesday and Anna will express post the packages so they will hopefully arrive before the big day.


In the meantime, why don't you check out;

The Kester Black website
The Kester Black Facebook
The Kester Black instagram
The Kester Black twitter
The Kester Black blog
The Kester Black shop

Happy weekend.
Be sparkly.

Love Kate xx

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

dream catching

The Dumbo Feather fete was wonderful.

We sold books, we chatted to loads of people, we drank Airstream coffee and ate mushroom burgers, and we bought stuff off the other stalls too. 

But I think the absolute best part of my day was something that had nothing to do with me at all.

The best part of my day was the dream catcher workshop run on a long wooden table in the Dumbo Feather board-room.

According to

Dream catchers are one of the most fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the centre of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught in the web and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.
Bowls filled with wool, different sized hoops of smooth wood and the most gorgeous and patient teacher you'll ever find. What could be better, right?

My three girls spent hours wrapping and knotting and threading and creating the most gorgeous dream catchers. And that was ace for so many reasons.

And as great as all that market making was, the VERY BEST part for me was the part when we came home and without the exact materials she'd had before, Miss Jazzy made one her own way.

She went into the forest, came home with a bundle of sticks, and spent the rest of her afternoon and evening, making her own version. I LOVE THAT!!!!!!

She was unstoppable. Making and making and making and making. Each dream catcher slightly different than the last as her hands moved and her ideas grew.

How great is that feeling!

Of course now, with a house full of dream catchers, we'll all be sleeping sweetly with not a monster, or vampire, or bear, or bushfire in sight. Hooray for that!!

And yes, I know you are positively itching to make your very own dream catcher now aren't you.

Click here for some YouTube action- you'll be surprised at how simple and fun they are to make.

This weekend we're planning to collect feathers and make some yarn wraps for the dangly bits. And I'm going to make one too. I can't believe I haven't yet.

Sweet dreams - dream catchers.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pom-pom bombed prezzies. Yes!

It's Thursday and we're in market prep mode.

It's been a little while since we've done a market and I must say this before part, where we're talking about what to sell and how to make it look pretty, is a lot of fun.

This afternoon we've been pom-pom bombing copies of my book. It's been a lovely indoorsy thing to do on this freezing cold summer's day and I think they look super cute too.

In fact I thought you might like to make some of your own.

Here's how we did it;


  • your prezzie
  • plain wrapping paper
  • sticky tape
  • wool
  • scissors
  • a pom-pom maker/cardboard ring

First wrap your prezzie in plain paper.

Then tie some wool around your package a few times.

Use your preferred pom-pom making method to make three different sized pom-poms. Or two of the same and one different. Or all the same. Whatever you like.

Fluff your pom-poms out and give them a little hair cut if you need to to neaten them up BUT leave the two strings you used to tie them up long.

Tie one pom-pom at a time to the middle of the present using the long strings you left on your pom-pom. After you have tied them up, you can trim them off too.

You are done! Simple pimple, right.

Sit back and enjoy your pretty pom-pommed prezzies.

Oh and instagram them too. Of course. They look so pretty, how could you resist?

Let me know if you make some, I'd love to see.

You can buy these ones we wrapped with a bonus book inside at The Dumbo Feather Christmas Fete this Saturday from 8am-1pm. Yay!

And I am super thrilled to be linking up with amazing Kirsty again at my fave meme My Creative Space. 

Happy making!

Lotsa love.


Monday, December 2, 2013

hairy carrots

I love how every season on our farm brings with it different jobs to do. Different tools to use, different crops to look after, different clothes to wear, different problems to solve and different to-do lists on the shed-wall.

I like that there are jobs that have to be done every single day, and then others we get to when the conditions are right and we have the time.

Today on our farm on the second day of summer; we gathered the eggs and fed the chooks, dogs, alpacas and bunnies. We washed out and got ready a mobile chook house that is being picked up in the morning, farmer Bren spent a while playing with irrigation and I planted out some tomatoes. We picked the very last of the hairy carrots, we watered, we searched for strawberries and we weeded and forked over some garden beds. When the girls came home from school we picked broad beans and spinach and Miss Pepper watered the garden (and us). And finally, after the sun went down and the day cooled off a bit, farmer Bren went down to the market garden and plowed in a green manure crop to prepare for bean planting and I carried on with the spinach picking and preserving.

So far, our summer days are long yet we always seem to be catching up.

So far I'm feeling so terribly grateful for the warmth and the sun and the fact that finally, finally things are starting to grow again. It's a slow season so far but it'll all be worth it in six weeks or so when we finally bite into the first tomato of the season. Oh how I'm missing tomatoes.

But gosh how I'm loving all the salad greens, the garlic scapes, the broad beans and the peas. Veggies certainly taste sweeter when you've waited a whole year for them don't you think?

Have a beautiful one peeps.


Sunday, December 1, 2013


It's Sunday, it's warm and we have no place to be but here.

The days leading up to now have been busy, busy, busy and the days to come are looking just as mad. So today we're staying right here. We're catching up, we're keeping cool and we're taking it very slowly indeed.

Mostly my morning has looked like this. Pretty, summery coloured cotton, a crochet hook and coffee.

I'm doing my first market in forever next weekend and I've been hooking up some bunting motifs to pretty things up and quite possibly to sell. I guess I'll just have to see how many I get made.

I'll also be signing and selling my book, Vantastic. It'd make a great prezzie for your cousin/sister/teacher/bestie don't you think?!

The details are above. There will be heaps of cool makers and stuff there. PLEASE COME!

Meanwhile Miss Pepper is excavating crystals from a rock.

Miss Jazzy has a pen in her hand and her nose in a book. Always.

And Miss Indi is making pom-poms. We're thinking we might wrap some books up for the fete and make them all pretty. Brown paper and pretty colored string and pom-poms how fun!

And my farmer boy is planting peas, pruning roses and watering.

What a day!

Let's hope the rest of summer is as gorgeous as the first day.

Big love to you where ever you are.
What have you been up to lately?
Do you think you might come and visit us next weekend?
Hope so.

Happy new season.


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