Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
Daniel’s aunt passed away early last year. Margaret was a lovely, kind, gentle, generous woman, who was beloved by all who knew her. She had the single most positive, sunny disposition I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
After Margaret’s passing, her family graciously and generously gave me her sewing machine. It is a beautiful old machine: solid, sturdy, dependable. I believe she bought it when she was first married 50 years ago.
Margaret was of that generation of women who were the daughters of WW2: practical, down to earth, creative, and with so generous a spirit that no one in their circle of acquaintance went without in times of need.
These women were taught home-keeping skills by their own mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters; skills which usually included some form of craft – sewing, needlework, knitting, crochet. Except that, to these women, it wasn’t a “craft” as we think of it today. It was a necessity. You learned to sew because sometimes you had to make or mend your own clothes or home furnishings. You learned to knit or crochet a blanket because you needed to keep your children warm. Their first thought wasn’t always to run down to the store to buy the new thing you needed; their first thought was often to try to make it themselves.
In my generation of women, it’s less common that we were taught these skills by our elders. Over time, it has become less of a necessity to be able to make or mend our own things, and more of a fad or a hobby – for enjoyment rather than for need. We have the luxury of sewing, knitting or stitching for fun, and even (thanks to Etsy and a growing trend in community markets) for profit.
I did learn some basic sewing skills as a younger girl from my own mother. And she did try to teach me how to knit (the fault was with the student, not the teacher). But as an adult, I taught myself to knit by watching youtube clips. I’ve taught myself to sew by reading various blogs and following their online tutorials.
It might seem a little distant, a little sad, that it wasn’t my mother or grandmother who taught me. But it doesn’t mean that we’ve missed out on that heritage. It was the women of Margaret’s generation that taught those next in line how to craft. And it was those women who passed it on to the next. And so on. Until someone filmed themselves teaching a hypothetical someone else, and posted it on youtube. There are countless women bloggers out there who put tutorials online, for free, for the sole purpose of teaching others. We have an almost infinite ability to learn new skills and techniques from complete strangers, from all over the world.
It’s this spirit of sharing and generosity that we continue to inherit – offering our skills and expertise to other women, openly, and with a genuine passion to see others learn new ways to be creative and to love it.
Margaret’s generation, and the generations before them, have given us a legacy. They have passed down to us a wealth of knowledge, a passion for crafting, and a wonderful way to express ourselves creatively.
So when I sit at my sewing table, and I pass fabric through the feed dogs of Margaret’s old sewing machine, and I hear the gentle whir of the needle, I think of her. And I hope she sees the love I stitch into every seam. I hope she likes that I try to sew more often for others than for myself. And I hope she smiles at the increasing confidence and joy I feel as I teach myself these womanly skills, and become a part of the legacy of her generation.2 comments
Back in January, we knew this year would be a pretty busy one for us. So we made a promise to ourselves to get away for a holiday as often as we could this year. For spring, we headed up the coast with my parents to a lovely little spot called Shoal Bay. We went there last Christmas with Dann’s parents and had an awesome time, so we couldn’t wait to go back again.
We had a great apartment with a view overlooking the water.
It was very relaxing, waking up to this every morning.
The Widg had a great time playing in the sand with his Pop…
Climbing into giant holes…
Splashing in the shallows with his daddy…
We also visited this great kids zoo, Oakvale Farm. Lots of freely-wandering baby goats, ducks, chickens, as well as the usual kangaroos, koala’s, emu’s, etc. Oh, and of course, a playground with a slide.
We went for lots of walks, took in the scenery, and did everything slowly.
Definitely a spot to return to.1 comment
Well, sometimes you can’t of course. What with all the sharp pointy objects like scissors and pins and needles. And then there’s the highly-attractive-to-toddlers brightly coloured fabrics and ribbons and trims.
So I mostly do it while he’s napping. But there are definitely times when I can make it happen when he’s awake and with me. It’s just a matter of judging his ability, on any given day, to remain focussed on certain activities for any length of time. Some days he is happy to entertain himself for a while. Some days he needs a bit more direction and attention from me.
So while I am doing this…
He is doing this…
Or sometimes even this…
There are certainly days where he just wants my complete attention, or he wants to interrupt me every 30 seconds. On those days, I don’t even try to get anything done, it’s just impossible. On those days, we just play lego.No comments
When we were doing the renovations to the Box, polished concrete floors weren’t that common (our builders had never done them before, and it took some research to find someone relatively local who could make it work).
Most polished concrete floors are actually a thin layer of concrete poured over the existing floor (often with colour, dye or other effects mixed into it). But ours is quite unique (we’re so special).
Our concrete floors are the actual original slab of the house, complete with faults, chips and oil stains (you can see where the previous owners used to park their cars). New sections were added where it was necessary to reinforce the structure, or to cut into the slab to insert plumbing and pipes and the kitchen island bench.
The guy who did the actual polishing commented on the aggregate (the little tiny stones embedded in the cement to make it stronger), saying that it was rare these days to get aggregate that looked like that (we think it was poured in the 1950′s).
But how does it wear as a floor? Well, we love it. It’s easy to keep clean (just vaccuum, mop with warm soapy water, occasionally it needs a coat of protecting sealant). I never worry about spilling anything on it, since it doesn’t stain and everything just wipes off. It’s especially awesome with kids. We have the concrete floors across the whole bottom storey of the Box – kitchen, dining and living areas.
In summer, it’s cool to walk on, and keeps the temperature of the house just lovely. We rarely have to use the air conditioner in summer (upstairs where we have carpeted it’s a different story). But we truly believe the concrete keeps the overall temperature of the Box down.
In winter, it’s quite cold. We do need to put the heaters on, and it takes a while to heat up the concrete (I would say a few days). Once the concrete has warmed up a bit, and as long as you don’t let it get too cold again, you’re pretty right. But we have needed to buy a few rugs to cover as much of the floor area as possible (we take these rugs up in summer).
It also doesn’t help that one whole wall of the downstairs living area is floor to ceiling glass bi-fold doors. Well, again, it’s great in summer when we can open up the whole house to let the beautiful cool breezes flow through the whole Box. But it sucks in winter (as the warm air escapes straight through the glass). So we have curtains to pull across in winter to add some insulation.
If we had the funds, there are things we could easily do to increase the heat-efficiency of the Box (like double glazed windows). But overall, we love our polished concrete floors, and we would definitely have them in any future house.
(See what we wrote about our concrete flooring during the actual reno process here).1 comment
So the weather here at the Box has been getting milder. There is still the odd cooler day where I need a cardigan, but overall, we are heading into t-shirt weather.
The Widg has quite the little collection of jeans and winter pants, thanks to some thrifty shopping (St Vinnies, markets, Big W, etc). But he is lacking in warmer-weather pants. Not quite shorts weather yet, but getting a bit warm for jeans.
You can see where this is going: I made some more pants.
He grew out of the last batch before winter hit. So it was time to draw up a new pattern for a slightly larger child. I think this pattern (and this batch of pants) will last longer than previously, as he isn’t growing as fast anymore. He is mainly growing in height, so I figure I can just roll up the pants as he grows and then they will become shorts (or I could actually take them up, depends how lazy I feel).
The green pears I have made before, but I love the stretch cotton fabric (and I had heaps left) so I made some more. The blue and white stars fabric I found at a St Vinnies store for maybe 50c, and the black and white check is some really cheap cotton from Spotlight (very cheap – a little tricky to sew with, but I managed).
I also found some great check fabrics in different colours – I love this green and brown. It actually has a very fine aqua stripe through it too, which is awesome. And I found some more of this orange and blue check that I have used previously.
I have also added little pockets to the back of some of the pants, just because it’s a little bit fancy.
It’s a shocking photo (husband is the wicked photographer, not so much me), but I hope you can see the little tags I have been putting into the back of the waistband (sometimes it’s hard to tell the front from the back of the pants when dressing the little man).
Here is my pants model wearing the black and white check:
I will have to take some pics of the little guy wearing the actual pants. If for no other reason than to prove that they actually function as pants. And any excuse to show my sweet little boy.11 comments
Just a quick one to say “Happy Fathers’ Day” to all the dads, grandfathers and dads-to-be out there.
Fathers’ Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the many ways these men have provided for us, supported us, sacrificed for us and loved us.
To the men who are our fathers and fathers-in-law, and to the men who are fathers to our children, thank you.
Sorry for the break in transmission folks, it’s been a little busy here at the Box lately. Nothing too exciting going on, just life in general. Birthdays and visitors and car repairs and all of us catching the cold and sharing it around.
I have been doing a little bit of sewing (just more pants for Noah really), but I have heaps of ideas for new projects and never enough time to try them all out. Now that the Widg is crawling I can really only sew when he’s sleeping. But I usually find a bazillion other things that need doing when he’s sleeping (like cooking, cleaning, showering), so sewing gets put to the bottom of a long list. Bummer.
I wanted to share this little gem with you: the lovely and sweet hubster gave me these very cute tea towels as part of my Mothers Day present (yes, way back in May).
But before you get all “he bought you tea towels?“, his words as he handed them to me were “I thought you could sew something nice out of these”. He knows me well.
I really love the colours and the prints, but I have no idea what to turn them into. Thoughts? Ideas? C’mon people, I need your help!11 comments
I’ve written previously about the amazing gingerbread cookies that we had at the Widg’s birthday party. And I promised to give more details about them, so here it is.
PassionCookie is the wonderful creation of my good friend Bryer. She has always been an absolute genius baker, so when she started up her own business, it was a no-brainer that she could do great things.
PassionCookie creates delicious handmade gingerbread cookies for special occasions and events, as well as selling direct to the public through the Eltham Valley Pantry, Macadamia Castle and local markets. They can also create special occasion and novelty cakes, as well as the great photo cookies, by special order, through their website. And they can deliver Australia wide.
And because their cakes and cookies are made to order, they can cater to just about anything you could possibly want. They are especially good at catering to particular dietary needs (Bryer and her clan are the actual stereotype of an allergy-blessed family, so they know all about that).
Basically, they’re really yummy cakes and cookies, and you should check them out.
Note: We’re not being paid to write nice things about PassionCookie. Although Bryer is our dear friend, we genuinely love her stuff, and we wouldn’t say nice things about her if we didn’t truly believe them. Just ask her, she’ll tell you.
I am notorious for having stacks of magazines piled around the house.
I love to pull out a stack every now and then, and flip through them to get a regular dose of inspiration. It’s really just an excuse to look at pretty things.
So far the Widg has been pretty good with “no touching” the ones within his reach. Considering he quite enjoys tearing paper.
However, a lot of my inspiration these days is online. I follow a lot of blogs – everything from interiors and decorating, photography and typography, to sewing and crafts. But how do you “store” the images you find online, so that you can peruse them again and again when the mood strikes? I have gone through various phases of bookmarking, even saving the links onto a google doc. Now, finally, some interwebby genius has come up with the answer. Pinterest. And it’s not just for fancy-pants home decorating ideas. You can pin anything to your boards, whatever you are interested in. For example, if you were interested in collecting rare and unique spoons, well, you could pin pictures of them to your boards. You could have different boards for different types of spoons. A board for wooden spoons, one for ladles, one for teaspoons.
I’m finding it very useful. There’s more information about it here (and they explain it better than me).
There are so many things I love about this image.
The casualness of hanging a picture on your wall with tape – so what if the tape leaves marks? They’re YOUR walls. Paint them.
Using gumboots as a vase for flowers. Why not?
That knitted blanket, so neatly folded, so cozy looking, such a pretty blue-grey. And the fabric on that pillow, lovely. I think my friend Jen has a dress in a very similar print.
And then finally, that bright, sunny, yellow chair. Makes me want to paint everything around me in bright, happy colours. So cheerful.