12 Nov 2015


The morning game of "spot the jacaranda" has quietened somewhat. At every turn the purple foliage now dominates the suburban landscape. A beacon of sorts it's a reminder that even on the dull and grey days there is beauty to be seen, there is always beauty. And so, on one such grey afternoon we were found scooping up handfuls of fallen blossoms. Why? Because they were there and they were beautiful.

Then the rain came. While the warmth indoors fogged our windows we sat together, all five of us, and threaded. Honey, lemon and ginger tea for sore throats and the meditative process of selecting a flower, piercing it with the needle, gently pulling it along the cotton. Over and over, flower after flower until only the crumpled ones remained. Hung from the kitchen curtain the light illuminating their shape, their colour, their beauty suspended for just a little longer. Nothing spectacular, no raucous laughter or bountiful chatter. Just rain and flowers and people veiled by calm on an ordinary Sunday afternoon.

By the next day our jacaranda garlands were brown and hung limp and lifeless. By the end of the week, the memory of that wet afternoon had faded into the background of a busy household. Without the trumpets sounding of a fancy dinner out or a sparkly new toy, these moments are more often than not discarded from our memories.but it's these gentle times of togetherness that weave the fabric of home. Underlying all the five star moments are these quiet ones, the everyday ones, even the mundane ones. They're the boiled eggs with soldiers, the countless hair plaiting and games of drop the spoon, pick up the spoon, drop the spoon again.  It's the way he makes my tea just right, nudie runs after bath, and the carpet of crushed leaves on the car floor .

Their simplicity will be long forgotten; they'll be swept away by the constant mechanics of living. But over sweet time I hope they will steep this home and these people in feelings of warmth and slowness. Of this I am ever striving.

Steph x

10 Nov 2015

the mindful day - posture

My frame shows little evidence of my years of dancing; disciplined ballet with much emphasis on long muscles, grace and perfect posture.  Yes, my feet are still slightly turned out and bear the scars of pointe shoes,but sadly most of the long, lean muscle has deteriorated. My posture is the saddest victim of time, lack of care and child rearing. I've lost my core strength.

Carrying big babies in my belly and three unplanned caesarians have crippled my stomach muscles and the stoop I developed in protection of my wound lasted far beyond the physical healing.  I think it became my cloak against self guilt, ridicule and scrutinization. Feelings that were unjustified yet real. Feelings that I've long cast off. Yet the hunched shoulders remain and married with the classic baby on the hip stance, the muscle twinges are letting themselves be known. It's time to stand tall. To engage that core, stretch my spine and make room in my lungs for cleansing air.

With small cues about the house,  serene and tall Buddha statues, a simple note on the fridge and in the car, I'm drawing my attention to the way I stand, sit and move in a day. A few moments standing in tadasana, mountain pose is grounding and brings immediate awareness to my posture. Like a mountain rises from the earth, I align my feet strongly and "grow' up to the tip of my head. In the car I'm making sure my hips are square and that my body feels symmetrical before I start the engine. A minor adjustment to my seat and has also helped to alleviate the strain that "turtle neck"hunch common when driving. And at meals I'm mindful of squaring my body to the table and lengthening my spine.

The mindful day - becoming aware of your posture and making subtle shifts to bring balance. Feeling how it moves, and where it catches. Drawing back the shoulders, opening up the chest and standing, walking, sitting with pride and intention.

Steph x

5 Nov 2015

a creative life: process vs. product

Whether it's this time of year and the inevitable Christmas planning, or the injection of Spring creativity that often comes with a rise in temperature, but my mind and making baskets are all a whir. There are little gifts being secretly stitched come nightfall, natural dyed yarn for Wintry projects, dresses for my girls, a Summer veggie garden to plant and many ear marked recipes. But when the creative projects I have on the go resemble more of a "to do" list, it's time to step back and make just for making's sake. There's no denying that the completion of a creative task brings all manner of joy; the sense of accomplishment and pride are palpable. But often, the end product in mind can stifle the very imagination needed for its completion.

Back in my teaching days I could wax lyrical about the importance of the process over the end product. The best creative projects were the open ended ones with no defined outcome in mind. Children were encouraged to explore mediums, push the boundaries, immerse themselves in the tactile nature of something. Put simply, they were allowed to play. And without the pressure of a completed object they most often discovered new ways of doing. And isn't that the true nature of a creative mind?

So this week, find a tiny moment to just create. Weaving jasmine branches simply because the smell is intoxicating, doodling on a clean white page and letting your hands move freely, joining your babies for an afternoon of play dough. Who can refuse that squish? Or perhaps watercolour painting where the colours seep across the page; no scene, no figures, just colour. A chance to drop your shoulders, inhale a little deeper and bring your mind and body to a place of stillness. To make with your hands without judgement, to look at the world from another angle, to water the seed of creativity.

Steph x

2 Nov 2015

a small change: handkerchiefs

The sky is grey and the air thick with moisture. The gum trees outside my window have frothy streams running down their thick trunks; good, soaking rain as my Mum would call it. But after the rising temperatures of last week and the subsequent removal of flannelette sheets and woollen blankets off the beds, we've been caught off guard. There's socks on my feet and a light scarf about my neck come dusk as I try to shake off a persistent runny nose. All my babies have succumbed so there is much broth sipping, eucalyptus balm rubbing, on the lounge cuddling, and nose wiping.

Lately in our bid to live a waste-less life, we've done away with the box of tissues and replaced them with cotton handkerchiefs. Patterned, lacy, embroidered and most importantly, re-usable. In the handkerchiefs vs. tissues battle there is much to support that the humble cotton hankie is a more environmentally friendly alternative for catching sneezes. Tissue production requires more water, more energy and the landfill impact is considerable. And sadly, the majority of the tissues on the market are still made by using freshly cut trees.

 I started by rummaging through my underwear drawer and with my Grandmother's words in my ears, "A lady should always carry a white handkerchief", I found a few delicate, lace edged squares of her vintage- white of course. Next, I scoured my local op shops for pretty cast offs (they are often put with the doilies and embroidered ephemera of years gone by) and over a few weeks amassed a substantial collection; time worn and butter soft. Housed in a natural bolga basket, they can be transported from the linen cupboard to the bathroom bench should sniffles come calling.

And unlike the snotty tissues that seem to multiply around the house when everyone is sick, a used hanky goes straight into the washing hamper ready for a cold machine cycle and line drying in the sun. Hanging them out and folding them when they're dry is a lovely job for little helping hands too.

A small change: cotton handkerchiefs.

23 Oct 2015


This weekend I will

  • potter about in the kitchen, moving this, culling that. The blender and juicer are used daily now the weather is warming and they need to be in easy reach. There's been a strawberry smoothie most afternoons with chia seeds and maca powder for energy. Mmm, can't wait for the mangoes!
  • make a giant bowl of bircher muesli to last over a few days. It's been lovely to embrace mornings with a bowl of this cool, sweet mix. I use this recipe but replace the cow's milk with almond or rice milk and serve with fresh blueberries. 
  • strip the veggie garden, turn the soil over and peruse all the seed packets. Those last few cherry tomatoes, a few leggy kale plants and some rainbow beetroot are all that's left. I look forward to salad leaves, zucchini and eggplant, heaps of basil and heirloom tomatoes.
  • find new homes for most of the indoor plants. Sigh. Our littlest love is a dirt and leaf eater and while I wholeheartedly believe in her exploring the world fully, there is only so many times a Mumma can sweep a floor.
  • Collect basket loads of fallen jacaranda flowers just because. They'll inspire some weekend creativity, of that I'm sure.
  • Sit and read. I've had this on my bedside table unopened for too long.
May your weekend give you some peace, a little solitude and some clarity for the coming week.

Steph x

21 Oct 2015

everyday creative - thoughts of Christmas


* The Christmas bush outside my bedroom window as it sheds it's cream Spring garb and tries on the  Summer flush for size. The blush and cream  inspire me as my head starts to slowly fill with ideas of Christmas.  A more fitting colour palette for an Aussie Christmas don't you think?

* Noticing the light on the babies' tree blocks. It's golden and warm but I know only too well that soon it will be harsh and glaring and the accompanying humidity will disrupt our sleep. It's nice to capture it and think of the Summer adventures to come. Over the next few weeks I will hunt  for a large piece of gnarled driftwood. We will sand it back, rub golden beeswax balm into its grain and add it to their natural play space. An arching bridge to another land, a stage, a home for little woollen friends....

* The small beginnings of a nativity scene. While little ones slept a few felts were chosen, and a needle threaded. Before the first stitch was made a little voice called for her afternoon milk. I won't view it as a project abandoned, but merely a first step. All was bundled into a small basket and popped on a shelf within easy reach. Tonight, tomorrow, perhaps on the weekend. Slowly, slowly.

Steph x

19 Oct 2015

the mindful day - windowsill vignette

At dusk I light a candle and hold off turning on the fluorescent light.  In a small corner of my kitchen I watch the flame dance for a moment and survey the backyard; the sky is softening as it begins to give way to dark. Next to the sink a still life of this and that has grown - ephemera from my babies wanderings, wisps of nature, scents, colour, growth...

Behind it, the windows are grimy and flecked with water spots from the many times that little hands are washed here. The compost bucket beneath the sink is starting to smell and there's a pile of dishes waiting, waiting. I see these mundane things and more. I notice them and without judgement I let the thought go. For now, I'm choosing to bathe in the beauty - the first pale pink hydrangea flowers plucked by chubby hands and retrieved before they were gobbled up, smooth leaves and shells in shades of blush and cream, coriander flowers, the greying sky outside and the butcher bird who visits for tit bits come dinner time. From this same window  I've watched sprinkler play and subsequent mud fights, a little boy squint his eyes to the sky at every passing plane.  I've seen the wattle blossoms replaced by grevillea and soon, jacaranda. A seasonal slide show.

I take three deep breaths, notice the tension in my shoulders and pause for a tiny moment. Soon I'll be sauteing onion and garlic with a babbling baby on my hip. Weary bodies will resort to bickering and calm voices will take extra effort. And like any other evening the night time rhythm will unfold and I'll be swept along with the business of it all swaying from task to task seemingly on autopilot.  But here, at this windowsill I'll be mindful of my body, my breath, my home.

So amidst the baskets of washing, the endless meal preparations and clean ups this week, perhaps you could find a little slice of quiet on your windowsill. Find a new home for the bottle of dish washing liquid and replace it with a vase of eucalyptus blossoms, or perhaps a little pot of thyme. An essential oil burner or a candle, a seed pod or a shell; a windowsill vignette to help you slow for a few moments each day, take a few breaths and create a more mindful home.

Steph x