12 Nov 2015

jacaranda


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

intentions


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

22 Sep 2015

spring - creating


It only seems like yesterday that I was steeping woollens in eucalyptus in preparation for King Winter's arrival. Yes he arrived, but didn't show himself too fiercely and has since packed his bags and departed.

Perhaps its our position on this swirling globe but the intensity of Winter in these parts can often be disappointing.  At its onset, eager lists are compiled and many a pattern is earmarked. Recipes are salivated over and the yarn and fabric stash are rummaged through with much glee and anticipation. But the dull skies and sluggish days can have me stagnate in indecision and a general "couldn't be bothered" attitude. And when the covers seem just that touch too heavy and our palates has become numbed to the flavours of stews, the first blossoms appear. Spring in all its rejuvenating glory has arrived.

It's funny how Spring's arrival often kick starts my sluggish Winter creating and focuses my attention on home crafts. Barefoot on the grass in the morning sun I feel a renewed sense of purpose, a commitment to my role here at home. Critical eyes are cast about the place and I see holes that need filling; much creating is needed. A few twirly skirts for my big girl in a dusky linen and polka dots, some cuffed pants for the little man and some floral bloomers for baby, because quite frankly a squishy, cloth nappied bottom can not have enough pairs of bloomers.

The washcloths are looking a little lacklustre so a few eco cottons have been purchased. These are mindless projects that can be be toted from the lounge, to the backyard for trampoline watching, and back again without risk of dropping stitches (and really who cares if it's wonky, it's just a dishcloth after all). I love these quick projects that give a stay at home Mumma some sort of gratification in days of seemingly unnoticeable achievements.

Whether it be the happy mess of wildflowers on the table awaiting my haphazard arranging, alpaca yarn on my needles or fresh seed packets brimming with life, Spring creativity is a force to be reckoned with. My fingers are itching and my brain is overflowing with ideas. Now to find that extra hour in the day.....

Steph x

31 Aug 2015

on the last day of Winter...


On this last day of Winter ...

~ I constantly scooped up my baby girl and squeezed her tightly. I'm hoping to imprint her baby hood on some part of my psyche as it whirs past with each new day. She is days off mastering crawling replacing her commando shuffle of the last few months with a jerky all foured movement. It is delicious to watch as it excites and frustrates her in equal measures.

~ sprigs of jasmine grace the table. Our back neighbours have a thriving vine that is sending fragrant tendrils over our fence. When the breeze is just right, the yard is flooded with that heady white scent of Summer; iced mint tea, barefoot gardening and days at the beach are not far off.

~ Christmas lists were started. With an intent to give mindfully for not only the recipients but the planet we're favouring handmade. And so we turn to our kitchen, our garden, our hands. There's jam to be made - perhaps a marmalade this year.  Will we need more jars?  And then there's a pile of dishcloths to knit. Easy to make they are always a welcome gift.   A mud kitchen is in the making for the babies as is a woodworking basket. A few knitted farm animals peaking out of our wee one's stocking will be sure to bring chubby handed claps of joy.

~ Strawberries were eaten with gusto. With so many around at this time of year we are savouring them fresh from the punnet or chopped with a tiny drizzle of good balsamic vinegar and runny cream. The surplus are being stockpiled in the freezer for smoothies. (be sure to freeze them on a tray first and then when frozen, tumble them into a large container).

~ there was much hope in the coming of Spring. The veggie garden will produce new flavours for our kitchen, and with any luck, the germs of Winter may leave for a time. Creativity seems to thrive like our seedlings in the warmer weather and I feel renewed and invigorated. So many possibilities.

As the sun lingers in the sky longer over the coming weeks what adventures do you have planned? Amidst the busyness of Spring cleaning I do hope you find time to walk barefoot on the grass and turn your face to the sun.

Steph x

17 Aug 2015

how to improve your gut health after antibiotics


The jar of wildflowers on the dining room table is a sure sign that Spring is just around the corner. And frankly, it can't come soon enough.  Winter saw us succumb to more than our fair share of runny noses and general malaise and what with the extra strain that breastfeeding places on a Mumma's body, I unfortunately was hit the hardest. After battling a nasty cough for weeks as best as I could with natural remedies and rest, I finally had to wave the white flag and take a course of antibiotics. Although a necessary evil that soon worked wonders on my respiratory health, their potency all but wiped out my gut flora. So now begins the slow task of healing my digestive system. Here are the ways I go about restoring my inner balance after a course of antibiotics:

~  A large jug of homemade bone broth or chicken stock is made weekly and added to almost all meals (to deglaze the pan, to loosen a sauce, in soups and stews...the uses are endless). It makes for a quick lunch when heated with freshly grated garlic, ginger and turmeric, a few snips of shallots and soba noodles and a substantial dinner when served with a big salad or roasted root veggies.  I often sip a small cup in the late afternoon to avoid the sugar low. Easy to make it is both soothing and healing to the gut with the added benefit of immune boosting qualities.

~ I take a daily high quality pro-biotic to help repopulate gut flora. It's no secret that antibiotics kill bacteria and while that is a winner on the sickness front, they are indiscriminate assassins killing off the "good guys" on their warpath. I find this one of the easiest supplements to remember to take - its the first thing I take in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. Digestive activity is usually low at these time so gives them a great chance to work their magic. A daily dose of cod liver oil is also a must have supplement to helps reduce inflammation.

~ Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and miso make an appearance at least once a day. As a potent source of probiotics I like to make a quick soup for lunch with this miso and love the fresh crunch of this sauerkraut on fresh sourdough toast. With the warmer weather coming I'm looking forward to experimenting with my own homemade water kefir. Tricia has a wonderful tutorial I've bookmarked to refer to.

~ Minimising my sugar intake. Now this one is a tricky one for me!  As a self confessed sweet tooth I will always prefer a sugary treat over a healthier alternative but with sugar aiding in the growth of bad bacteria I simply have to make better choices. A mid morning snack of a cup of  tea and a slice of cake is now swapped for a handful of blueberries, some almonds, perhaps some hummus with raw veggies or a coconut milk smoothie. There's still cake in my world but for now its a once a week indulgence.

~ Eating a diet rich in pre-biotics. Now with the risk of over jargonising, pre-biotics are the foods that fuel the pro-biotics, nourishing them and helping them grow. Garlic, leeks and onions are gently sauteed to begin most meals as well as adding legumes (lentils and chickpeas) and beans, barley and root vegetables. I chop up a selection of both orange and white sweet potato, carrots, parsnip and pumpkin most mornings and stash them in the fridge until dinner prep. A quick coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and  pepper and then roasted in the oven for an hour makes for effortless veggies and a daily supply of pre-biotics.

Has the cold and flu season been unkind to you?  Do you have any fail safe ways to protect your intestinal health?

Steph x


3 Aug 2015

today

  
Lately the day's have  been a jumble of pilled nursing bras, an on the move baby with a fascination for pot plants and mouldy windows.  Life has been good but adjusting to a new rhythm involving a mobile and food loving baby has taken it's toll on this space. What with the constant "wash clothes, hang out, bring in, put away" dance and the endless tasks of keeping a family of five thriving the words simply weren't there. My pencil has sat idle at the end of a day and evenings revolve around a bath and a hot cup of tea, a row or two of knitting and bed. And on the days when the veil of tiredness parted for a time, the words were stuck behind a wall of  judgement. What did I have to say? 

But today, today I cast aside the expectations and let the words tumble out. It felt good to write. 

I'm noticing Winter's skyline is evolving and I can feel Spring in the air. A renewal we are all looking forward to after the hibernation of the cooler months. As we play in the morning sunshine, socks and shoes feel cloying and my feet are enjoying dewy grass beneath them. Time to pay a little attention to those palid, dry feet and prepare them for Summer sandals. On my potting bench paper packets of seeds are lined up ready for planting. Poppies, cornflowers and Queen Anne's lace to attract the bees and Spring veggies; tomatoes, cucumbers and salad leaves.

Some time ago I found a mosquito net at the local op shop and today I hung it from the roof. Armed with vintage sheets and books Remy has created an undersea grotto beneath its ethereal clock. If the weather is mild again tomorrow we might suspend it from the branches of the jacaranda tree and let the baby cloud watch from within the gauzy haze.

Our local apiarist (an elderly fellow with bee hives in his suburban backyard) sells honey from a little stand in his front yard. It has been empty for the last few months but on our way home from school today I was thrilled to see a collection of golden jars. Pure and raw it tastes of fresh air and eucalypt blossoms. I replaced my usual English Breakfast tea with peppermint and a generous dollop and marvelled at nature's bounty. This could become a new morning ritual.

Today may you cast your eyes to the changing blue sky and be inspired. Go gently.

Steph x


15 Jun 2015

24/52


" A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."

Bijou - Her hair is getting darker by the day. 
Remy -  Playing wombat amongst the fallen branches.
Inès -  Always so calm. 

Steph x

12 Jun 2015

healing basket


The camellias are in glorious, full bloom and the days are mild.  Come mid morning we are bare foot in the sandpit and peeling off extra woollen layers. There is tea, gentle sunshine and a wriggly babe on the mat; so far, King Winter is being kind in his ways.  But ails will come regardless of the temperature. Sniffles and grazes are part of every childhood and especially those steeped in outdoor adventure.

Lately, like apothecaries of old we are choosing to heal our minor ailments in a more natural way. Our collection of tools fills a small, easy access basket - simple yet powerful remedies that are reached for time and again. Together we choose the appropriate therapy and spend some time restoring and re balancing our bodies and emotions. There's something calming in the ritual of it all.

 In our basket we have:
  • gentle salves that soothe and heal. We love arnica for bruising, calendula for scrapes and grazes, eucalyptus balm rubbed onto chests and feet for coughs and colds and lavender for headaches (massaging a small amount into temples and the nape of the neck followed by a large glass of water seems to keep most niggly headaches at bay). Although medicinally potent, perhaps their strongest healing powers lie mostly in their need for touch.
  • lavender essential oil . One drop applied directly will ease the itch or sting of an insect bite and a few drops diluted in a bowl of warm water provides a wonderful antiseptic wound wash. The calming aroma is a lovely bonus when little people are hurt.
  • our Magic Water. I fill a 50ml amber glass bottle with filtered water and then add about 20 drops of rose otto essential oil.  A fine mist of its sweet vapours and listening to a whimsical tale of  a healing fairy collecting rose petals always calms my hurt and distressed little ones.
  • a Chinese soup spoon for gua sha. When my babies show the very first signs of a cold I like to use the traditional Chinese practise called gua sha to stimulate the acupressure points associated with the lungs.  Using very gentle pressure, it is a tactile way of helping little bodies to fight germs and one they accept with delight. 
  • rescue remedy – 4 drops on the tongue to help in stressful situations (this got me through those first few weeks of school runs with a new baby!). As Bach flower essences contain small amounts of alcohol we also have the child’s version which uses vegetable glycerin as it’s preservative. I’ve found a few drops in their water bottles goes a long way to ease distress.
  • a silky eye pillow filled with flax seed for rest and calm. Combined with some lavender balm or a gentle spray of our magic water these soft pillows soothe little bodies and overwrought tempers. Sometimes lying down for a few moments with your eyes covered is all that’s needed to regroup and recharge.
  • bandaids, tweezers and small bandages.
Other helpful house hold items for healing;

  • When applied topically apple cider vinegar helps to restore skin pH. A good splosh in the bath followed by a gentle massage of coconut oil is useful for dry and itchy skin. And at this time of the year it is becoming an almost nightly ritual.
  • Manuka honey - smeared over a splinter and covered with a band aid this golden elixir is all sorts of magic. Overnight the splinter is drawn to the surface of the skin and slides out effortlessly. Manuka honey also has strong antibacterial qualities so it is great to heal over the wound. A generous teaspoon also eases a raspy throat.
  • A large pot of aloe vera sits on our front door step and when skin is irritated a gel filled leaf will be snapped off and smeared over bites or minor burns.
  • When Winter sniffles show themselves I am quick to take out my germ fighting room spray. I walk through the house throughout the day spritzing each room; it’s potent aroma lifts the spirits and keeps airborne germs at bay.
Are you becoming more selective about the medicines you use? Do you have a favourite natural remedy you call on repeatedly?

29 May 2015

intentions


colour inspiration , Autumn sky, straw hats and cassia flowers

This weekend I will
  • stew organic pears and apples for a little lady who is showing a very keen interest in food
  • set aside some time to explore my daily rhythms
  • run a deep bath, light some candles and try to revive my post pregnancy skin with a slow facial massage
  • leaf through my garden books and plan a little flower garden for around the sandpit. The babies and I will wander the nursery and choose "bee friendly" plants and then take them home and plant them in the cool earth.  
  • Polish the winter boots with a beeswax salve and wash the wool blankets with eucalyptus and lavender oil. It is time to add them to our beds and I must admit to loving the ceremony of it all.
  • see if the bottle green kale leaves are finally big enough to pick a few. They will be sauteed with garlic and cubes of pancetta and then devoured greedily with a fried egg (runny yolk of course). 
  • Finally cast on a little yellow bonnet inspired by the yellow hues of Autumn.
I hope your weekend is recharging and peaceful.

26 May 2015

too much op shopping


Tucked behind a "World's Greatest Dad" mug and a half used scented candle, is a hint of powder blue. A delicate curve, a gold embossed rim - an ornate platter of days gone by. And so I quicken my step and snatch up this treasure for my own. All too often this scenario unfolds whilst op shopping and as a result our cupboards have been bursting with gilded, vintage treasures. I have dutifully applied a rule of "beautiful yet practical" to my purchases but how many platters does one family need?

Op shopping or thrifting is a wonderful way of making do; it is the epitome of recycling.  One man's trash is another man's treasure but the hard part isn't wading through the abundance of discarded "trash" , it's saying no to the "treasures".

Clutter comes in all guises and nostalgic pretties have the same habit of accumulating as less appealing fripperies. My hunting for delicate treasures made op shopping less about purchasing essentials and all about the "collecting" of something. I'd be heard exclaiming, "Oh, I don't have that particular pattern of Pyrex bowl!", regardless of whether I needed any more bowls or not (for the record, I did not!)

So I started taking note of my kitchen comings and goings. I noticed that I reached for the same tea cup day after day. The stacks of plates and  platters, no matter how beautiful, were rarely used bar a few. Balanced in hard to reach places, they made meal preparations difficult;  the constant un -stacking of fragile pieces in order to reach the one I wanted was frustrating.  These bargain beauties were not only cramping my cupboards but stifling my kitchen creativity.  And so a purge ensued.

I took everything out and spread it across the kitchen benches and spent a pretty moment casting my eyes over pastel hues. Those items that hadn't seen the light of day were quickly boxed up and passed on for others to enjoy. The fence sitters needed a little more thought - what exactly would I use it for, and how often? Finally I had a small selection of pieces, the old favourites, that I happily reach for time and time again. Coupled with pieces made with soul these vintage treasures grace our table daily; they bring joy. And isn't that really the aim of simplifying?


21 May 2015

20/52


" A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."

Bijou - Always so expressive. 
Remy -  He's taken to having his morning tea outside while I hang out the washing. It's really quite lovely.
Inès -  Discovering the wonder of her hands. 

Steph x

13 May 2015

handmade


silver crescents, her muslin blanket and earthen bowls for soup

Hanging from my earlobes are delicate silver crescents. Classic and beautiful, they bear the intricate markings of a maker.  Embedded in the small details and embellishments, the curves and the shine are not only the aesthetics of a jeweller but also, her journey as an artist.  The seed of creativity, the fashioning of raw materials into something practical and beautiful, the elation when a vision becomes reality and all the frustration when it just doesn't work.  There are many hours hammered into these small hoops and when I wear them I feel a connection to their maker, to humanity.

Lately I've been popping little pieces of handmade into my Etsy cart and eagerly waiting their arrival. Slowly, slowly I am replacing the worn, the broken and the down right ugly with pieces filled with soul.  Yes, pennies have to be saved to make these purchases but they speak of a shift away from the fast fashion, "use once and throw away" philosophy.  I'm really scrutinising what we use on a daily basis and keeping our possessions to a minimum. Pieces of superior workmanship are chosen with care to imbue our home with individuality; we're defining our own particular style away from a mass produced, cookie cutter aesthetic.  This conscious consumerism feels good.

When I eat soup in an earthen bowl made from locally sourced clay or when I wrap my baby in a crocheted blanket I feel the kinship. Makers creating with passion, honouring traditions and passing on their unique character within their work.  In an often disjointed and robotic world this connection gives me a real sense of peace.

* silver earrings by Christina Lowry Designs. The lovely Christina is offering a generous 10% off any purchases until the 31st of May using    the code LITTLEWREN.
* muslin baby blanket by Willaby
* ceramic bowls by Elke Lucas, Joseph Daws, Susan Simonini

11 May 2015

19/52


" A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."

Bijou - A checkered dress and little straw hat - my little Laura Ingalls.
Remy -  Joy is a little boy in a ute full of sand.
Inès -  She sucks her bottom lip when she's tired.

Steph x

8 May 2015

intentions


There is a stoneware vase of white roses on our dining table. Some petals are still velvety and unblemished whilst others are turning papery and transparent. They look a little flat after a week or so away from the earth and I can't help but droop with them in sympathy. This week has been a long one with lingering sniffles and a girl keen on asserting herself as she navigates the role of big sister. But ah, it's the weekend.

I'll fight the urge to write a list of plans as I do for the week. These be restricting on weekends and when left undone have a way of deflating, a feeling I could definitely do without. Instead I'll jot down a few intentions - a simple manifesto for the two days. May they inspire and motivate me.


  • For every negative thought, or case of the grumps I will drink a glass of water. As the weather cools I'm often neglectful of my water intake and the lack of it could be the very cause of said grumps.
  • Lie in child's pose for a time. Stretch my muscles, let my body sink into the floor and exhale. Smile.
  • Make a simple omelette and savour it with parsley from the garden and lots of cracked pepper.
  • Take off my shoes and run my toes through the cool sand in their sand pit. The combination of cold sand beneath me and a warm scarf about my neck will be sure to enliven the senses. Tea resting on the grass beside me and my knitting basket handy will make it all the more sweeter.
  • Watch Rachel Khoo and maybe, just maybe book in for that haircut. I had a fringe a few years ago and it might be time to embrace it again.
  • Buy fresh flowers.

Wishing you a gentle and light filled weekend.


5 May 2015

garden


Not that long ago it was an uninspiring corner of our backyard. Choked with leggy ferns and stones, the soil was seemingly stripped of life.  Yet the light was good. "A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day" so they say is necessary with the more gentle morning sun preferred. A tap within easy reach, good drainage and a quick slipper clad trip from the kitchen to pluck and snip for evening meals. If I squinted really hard I could almost see the landscape begin to reveal itself - our vegetable garden.

In the spirit of  "make do and mend" we set ourselves the challenge of creating this kitchen garden for free.  Seeds, compost and manure could be purchased but the nuts and bolts of it all had to be found, traded or created.  A motley assortment of bricks and pavers were scavenged  in dark crevices under the house and a chance conversation at a nearby building sight yielded the last few. Four garden beds were then mapped out; an ochre perimeter to keep grass away and define the space.  The soil was turned, and turned again. Finally, rotted manure and good compost added nourishment and encouraged necessary minutiae to set up home.  And when the earth was rich and friable we began planting.

The tiny specks of leek seeds *, round and corky beetroot ones and cucumber, "Just like in the real cucumber!" said Remy. Careful furrowing, measuring distances between and gentle watering. Such precision and much scrutinising certainly bore the marks of "amateurs" but we were all involved; we were all so keen.

A few months have passed and our yields have been modest. One could hardly call them a harvest yet we take our basket out anyway. This ceremony of plucking this and that to grace our table brings us together in a common joy. To watch seed turn to plant, turn to fruit, is such a wonder and I'm thankful that already, my children are learning where their food really comes from. Yes, it's scrappy and a bit rough around the edges. But our veggie garden has brought satisfaction and a deepening respect for home. We spend more time together outside than before, we're tending something with care and consideration, and we are ever hopeful. A manifesto for living perhaps? I have no doubt this vegetable garden will enrich our lives in so many more ways than just filling our bellies.

Do you have a vegetable garden? Are you a gloves on or off kind of gardener?

* We purchase our seeds from Green Harvest, an Australian, organic gardening website. The range of heirloom seeds is wonderful and they provide great advice on what to plant in your area.