Monthly Archives: May 2013

Finding time

The week has flown by!  I am convinced that it is the shorter daylight hours that make things fly past so quickly – or it could be our busy timetable.  It has just occurred to me that with the children’s winter sports activities there are only two days a week where I have no commitment involving delivering a child to some activity or another.  This could explain a lot!  I am trying to be disciplined about using my time efficiently to fit around the timetable, otherwise my little bits of ‘me’ time, those precious moments when I get to make things, will disappear completely.  I didn’t do too badly this week, although housework and making the children eat vegetables everyday may have been the sacrifices….

In a roundup of the week I have finished my first ‘giveaway’ on my facebook page, with a lovely winner from a farm in Western Australia the recipient of the art folder.  I have made 10 pencil rolls and listed them in my Etsy shop (my first new listing in quite a while!), made an art folder as a gift for a special little boy who turned 5 this week, crocheted a beret for the artist-in-residence (so fitting!) and prepared to make some more art folders.  So with a bit of juggling,  ‘crafting’ didn’t miss out this week!

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The artist-in-residence’s chosen photo of her new black beret!

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A Star Wars art folder for “Cha Cha”. 

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I also created with sugar this week, for my team at work.  Part of it was a promise to bring in my Thermomix and show them how it works, and part was an excuse to have a bit of a break for the team, talking about things that aren’t related to our jobs.  I made vanilla bean icecream and chocolate supreme icecream in advance, along with salted caramel fudge and coconut ice.  Then I took the Thermomix in and made warm chocolate custard, fruity dream (which is like soft-serve icecream but made completely from frozen fruit whipped with an eggwhite), and an orange sorbet on the day.  Sugar, sugar, sugar!  My kids were happy as they got some of the leftovers!     I was happy as I was ‘making stuff’, and those of my team who were able to attend were happy as they had sweet treats to sample.  Next time I am needing to do some ‘creating’ I will have to remember this trick – I might do a savoury sample for them next time.

On Saturday night I went out to dinner with friends at a lovely, trendy local restaurant.  I have had to admit that I have become a bit of a recluse over the last year or so.  I don’t go to the movies, rarely go out to dinner, never have an after-work drink, and rarely invite friends over for a meal.  I am not complaining – this is how life is at the moment – but it was nice to get out with adults, nice food, wine, conversation and enjoy their company.  I really should try to do it more often…….

I am sitting here contemplating the week in front of me and wondering if I will get the time to make some of the things that I want to make….  I hope so!  My head is buzzing with ideas – I just need more time (as always!).  Short of giving up sleep altogether, or quitting my job (which would have some fairly dire consequences like losing the house and not being able to feed the children) I think I have to find a way to be content with the small pockets of time I can find and savour them.  I suspect this is another one of life’s lessons – appreciating what I have and enjoying the moment instead of looking for the next moment.  Hmmmmm…..although I have improved in my ability to do this over the last few years, I am probably about due a reminder on this lesson!

I hope that you too are able to remember  to simply enjoy the moment this week.

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A productive weekend – and a facebook giveaway!

Winter has arrived early here in Canberra – the dog’ water bowl, and the chicken’s water dispenser were both frozen this morning for the first time this year. Of course this didn’t stop the children running around the yard in short sleeved shirts and pants. Each time they got cold they would each have a complete change of wardrobe, then return to playing, get hot, and have another new outfit. My washing basket is overflowing!

We have had a lovely quiet weekend. Having finally returned to full strength after my head cold, we have restocked the pantry, cleaned out some cupboards, folded the ever present large pile of clean laundry, had some lovely visitors, attended the children’s sporting fixtures, and I have, finally (it feels like) managed to sew!!

I have finished three custom orders this weekend. The first for a lady who breeds and shows Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (and my first truly new customer – we don’t have a previous direct relationship of any sort.) She requested a bag and an ipad cover.

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The second order was for a Dr Who hot water bottle cover. I actually made one last week – but it was about a centimetre (roughly half an inch) too small all round. This week I took a different approach and used polar fleece as the inner lining, as it works so well as insulation. It is still not perfect – but is much better – and has a hot water bottle in it, so I know that it fits! My lesson from all of this? Next time use calico for a mock up before cutting into good Spoonflower fabric!

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The final order was for two art folders. I took a box with my current (quite small) stash of ready made items to my office last week for one of my team to look at as he wanted a bag for his mother. I didn’t want to make too big a deal of it, as I don’t want my team to feel obliged to ooh and aah over what is essentially my hobby, nor to feel obliged to buy anything. But one of the guys saw the art folders and decided that his daughter, who is turning 8 next weekend, would love one as she is a budding artist. Then he decided that his younger daughter needs one to avoid fights, so I made two! I even went back to making the pencil pockets pleated – although it is quite fiddly they really do work better…..

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As I was updating my facebook page tonight I realised that I have hit 100 ‘likes’. So I am having my first giveaway through facebook. If you ‘like’ my page and comment on the relevant post, you will be in the draw to win this art folder.  I need to thank everyone for supporting me in my crafty adventure this year!

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I hope that you had a great weekend!

Living lives online

In the last two days I have had cause to reflect on the impact of the internet on my life. (I could think about the impact on the world but that is too big to contemplate tonight.) It started with a presentation in my office on cybercrime. The point was made by the presenter about how much data we share with the world (and therefore with potential criminals) when he had his staff do a 15 minute exercise on what can be found easily about staff who appear on our website, and then present them with a summary. I was extremely relieved that I was not one of those targeted because I have previously ‘googled’ my name and I know how much is out there. And that was before I wrote a blog! The emphasis was on being careful about what you share online, and the dangers of sharing information online. I like to think of myself as relatively savvy about such things, but it certainly had me stopping to think about how comfortable I am about how much of my life is lived on line.

So while all of this was mulling over in my head I was also thinking about other bloggers who share information on line – whether it is about their family, their neighbourhood, their workplace, etc. I was wondering about whether they have thought about the dangers of sharing information and how they balance up their desire to share against their need to protect. I was thinking about the desire so many of us have to connect online and to share our thoughts, ideas, and words, with strangers. I was thinking about the people who fall in love with a person they have not met in the flesh, and how dating online is now more than socially acceptable – it is actively encouraged by professionals as a way to meet potential partners. I was thinking about the fact that so many people are so happy to find people who need them on line that they don’t stop to think that they might be being conned, and was wondering how, in this modern age of information sharing and education, this can happen so many times to so many people.
Lots of thinking. I was coming to the point of deciding that I am still comfortable with my decisions about how much, and what I share through this blog, what comments I have made in response to surveys or products online, and the level to which I have protected my children from having an online presence, and from having intimate details of their life shared through my online presence. In the back of my mind I was still having an internal debate about whether we ‘need’ the internet, whether I should be connecting more with people in my neighbourhood than people on line, etc.

Then a friend rang to ask if I had seen the news and whether I thought she was right in guessing who the people in the story were. She was trying to be articulate and logical (because that is her usual demeanour – calm, intelligent, logical, etc) but it took me a while to truly grasp what she was saying. That a story on the news, where the people hadn’t been named, seemed to her to probably be about a friend of hers, a woman who she knows through a pre-school connection. The evidence pointed to it, but she wasn’t sure and wanted to check with me. I don’t know her friend in person. But – I follow her blog, am part of the same freecycle network as her, bought a book for my daughter that turned out to be edited by her, and feel as if I am connected to her as my friend also knows her. So I got online, checked her last blog post, checked the news stories of a tragedy unfolding where two people went swimming, one drowned and one was missing, and their children were on the beach at the time. I checked the location, I checked the ages of children against the blog, I checked dates and intentions, I checked the news stories and I was about to ring my friend to say that I was 98% sure that the unnamed woman was in fact her friend…..when I did one last search and found that names had just been released.

Kathreen Ricketson, mother to two beautiful children, quilter extraordinaire, creator of whip-up.net, partner to Robert Shugg, an avid camper, lover of craft for children, and generous sharer of knowledge, died yesterday. The last entry in her blog?

We are bush camping at a station on Ningaloo reef, Western Australia. A dream come true — is that totally corn ball?

The news articles about this tragedy speak for themselves. I don’t need to go into the details here. It is not my story. She was not my friend. I am not part of her story. But……. I feel like I knew her. I am aware that I only knew the side of her that she revealed online (I am told that she was much quieter in ‘real life’). I look at her blog and take comfort that she died in a spot that she felt was like a dream come true. I look at her blog, and her websites and I see pictures that tell the story of her life, of her dreams, of her creativity, of her family, of her joys and achievements. I was compelled to send an email to another blogger in the US, who of course doesn’t know me from a bar of soap. But I know that they knew each other as fellow bloggers and had contributed to each other’s creative endeavours. I paused to wonder about whether I was intruding into this woman’s life by sending her an email to tell her something so personal, and so sad. But I sent it anyway. Reaching out to share my feeling of grief with a complete stranger across the seas.

So now my thoughts about living my life on line have a new perspective. I think about how Kathreen’s children will be able to look at the memories of their mother and father and capture so many of the things that parents often don’t share with kids. Some of them they won’t understand until they are older. But they have those memories recorded, to add to their own memories created through special moments with their parents. And their parents (because it appears that they have also lost their father) aren’t leaving the world unknown, without having made their mark. Their ability to share creativity has brought great joy to so many, across the world, just as their passing will bring so much sadness to so many across the world. The internet gave their parents the ability to share with so many, connect with so many, and leave an impression on so many.

I think about my own children and what they would learn about me from the internet. Instead of thinking about how I could be ripped off by sharing information online I am choosing to focus on how I can leave my mark, my legacy, and memories for my children. This fills me with much more hope for the world. It helps to combat the sadness I feel at the loss of someone who shared so much, and of children losing their parents. It makes me think that my community is broader than my neighbourhood, and that this is not a bad thing.

RIP Kathreen Ricketson. Thank you.

Golden Book Gown: Refashioning at it’s Finest!

This is my first ever reblog – prompted by the post by The Renegade Seamstress on a gorgeous example of refashioned clothing – a dress made from Little Golden Books. Enjoy!

The Renegade Seamstress

There are not too many things that make me say, “Wow!”

But, holy cow, when I came across this Golden Book Gown by Ryan Jude Novelline, I was absolutely amazed and I thought you might enjoy it as much as I did!

The bodice is made from the golden spines of original Golden Books and the dress is made entirely from the pages.

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Now this is refashioning at it’s finest!

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The busy nest

This feels like ‘the return of the occasional blogger’! The last week and a half have been a blur of juggling children’s sporting fixtures and training, work, and then the first of the cold season bugs.  I have had some great thoughts of things to share on the blog, but as I succumbed to the virus (a head coldy sort of thingy) it had to slip down the list of priorities. I am still in recovery mode, but thought it was worth recording a few of the happenings of the last week or so, not the least of which was Mother’s Day.

My beautiful children never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity, creativity and love. On Saturday afternoon when I was sinking into the haze of illness and had slept for several hours while they had the run of the house I was instructed not to enter the kitchen. They assured me that everything was fine (!!). Then the two girls said that they needed to go to the shop to get some ‘stuff’ for mothers day. Although it was close to dusk they insisted that they could ride their bikes and be back quickly, so I gave them some money and sent them off. They returned much later (after I went out looking for them) with 1 kilo of bacon. They explained that they had some difficulty getting served at the deli counter and that the bacon was on sale and seemed like a good price so they ordered a kilo! I wish I had been a fly on the wall as they worked it out between themselves!

On Sunday morning they were all so excited about giving their gifts (bought on a shopping trip with a beautiful friend, and then topped up at the mother’s day stall at school) and preparing my breakfast, that there was no chance of a sleep in. The effort that they put in was astounding. The menu alone made my day!

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I enquired about the ‘Bacon and egg magic makers’ and was told that they were bacon and egg cupcakes that the middle child had spotted on Pinterest (!!). They threw in a side order of “everything tastes better with bacon”. The food was delicious and they only suffered one bacon fat burn between them!

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I then had a container of chocolate chip cookies presented to me with a card in honour of being “ the first and probably only guest at our cafe”! This was the cause of my banishment from the kitchen.  They then presented me with the bill – and my payment was calculated in hugs and kisses – the best sort of payment!

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Although I kept sleeping on and off throughout the day, and was grumpy and tired, they really went all out to keep making sure that it was a special day. I am so blessed to have such amazing children!

In crafting news I have been busy, although I didn’t photograph all of my efforts! I had a birthday to attend for a friend’s 40th. She loves accessories so the obvious choice of gifts was a bag. I wanted to try a different pattern, and given that this wasn’t being made for sale, thought I would try out an online tutorial, so went for the Tohoku tote. Although my late night sewing meant that I put the bow on upside down, I was still very happy with the result, and decided not to unpick the whole thing on this occasion (mainly because I was out of time!)

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The theme of the party was “Gone before their time. Famous and died before they were 40”. This is a family who really do love a fancy dress party and always go to a lot of effort, so the pressure was on. I initially thought of Patsy Cline and had images of fringing etc, but as always, time was ticking on and I hadn’t made it to the shops. So I went with the slightly obvious (there were 5 of us with the same idea) of Amy Winehouse. I found a wig online for a very reasonable price, and after some funny communication with the security guard at my office, it was finally delivered. A bit of teasing and stuffing with bath scrubs and I had the height of the beehive right. The artist in residence drew the tattoos on for me (after assuring me that she was only using washable markers) and face paint did the eyes. The end result? Voila!  (Very different from my normal look I can assure you!)

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Luckily I didn’t channel too much of her character and was in very good shape, with all make up and tattoos removed, by the time I was picking up the kids from their sleep-overs the next morning! It was a great party – something about fancy dress always makes for a fun night.

Other creative endeavours have included a large pile of pencil rolls, and toothbrush rolls and a superhero cape to fill some orders.

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I have a few other orders ready to start on, as soon as I am up and about a bit more. Plus, all this time in bed has given me lots of time to think and plan and come up with more ideas! Dangerous territory for a woman who is already time poor!

There is a suggestion in my office of having a craft sale in November as a fundraiser for the social committee (which often also gives part of the proceeds to charity) and I have been thinking about the work involved in building up enough stock to set up a stall. As a result there are lots of ideas percolating around in my brain.

In other news the winter sports season has started well. The boy had his first rugby union match last week and scored two tries, so he was thrilled. The girls are both in the under 11 hockey team and won their first game 3:1, with the eldest chick as goalie, and then this week they tied 3 all. They have a lovely team, with very supportive team members and a great coach so I think it will be a good season.

For now, I am back to bed. I hope that this finds you all well and warm, wherever you are!