After all the preparation for my debut at the Handmade a Markets I can’t believe I didn’t post a photo yesterday ! The first day was great – meeting new customers and other stall holders and enjoying the experience. Now to see what treats today brings!
Yesterday was my one year anniversary of blogging! Known affectionately as a blogoversary it provides a great time to look back on how far I have come, and the adventures along the way. Which I am going to do…….but not here. As is fitting an anniversary there are changes afoot. After some technical hiccups (all my own work) I have migrated all of the content of this site to a new domain provider. My year of blogging at wordpress.com has been a great start, but now it is time to open up new horizons – like having a newsletter that people can subscribe to (now), having my own shop (soon), being able to advertise companies whose products I believe in, and being able to grow.
I am really excited by the prospect of all of this but am sad as I know that some of you, who have been with me from the beginning, will probably not move over and re-subscribe. I understand – I have done it too. You mean to, but then it is one more thing to click, form to fill out, email to read, and it slips from your mind. I will be sad to see those of you who do drift away disappear but I am hopeful that some of you will follow on the adventures of this little bird!
The details? The new site is https://alittlebirdmademe.com. The difference for those of you who are WordPress reader users is that you will have to enter it into your reader as part of blogs you follow. Or you can use bloglovin’ to follow me. Or come over and subscribe.
So many options! Now I just have to try not to hit any more delete buttons….. and actually start posting interesting creative content again!
Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for your support over the last 12 months. I have loved every minute of it!!
In a fit of getting organised about how I approach my blog, my shop and my business future, I have decided to move to a self-hosted site. My website address will remain http://www.alittlebirdmademe.com but I won’t be found on the wordpress.com site anymore. I hope that those of you who follow me here will continue to follow me after the move, as I have lots of exciting things planned for 2014 that I would love to share with you!
Given that I am moving the site myself, of course, there is every possibility that things could go wrong, so wish me luck as I embark on the scary prospect of moving a year’s worth of work and memories!
My house is quiet and peaceful, the sun is shining, and the next two weeks are stretching out in front of me in a sea of unplanned possibility. What a treat!
I hope that your Christmas celebrations were full of joy. I was very fortunate and am happy to report that my day was just lovely. Our Christmas Eve celebrations with our friends went well and both desserts were successes! (More to follow on that soon!) The chicks were well behaved, and reminded me about leaving food for Santa, hanging stockings, etc. The boy gave me an early Christmas present, including a drum roll to announce it, by not just tidying his bedroom, but making his bed, arranging all his soft toys in lines on the bed, his shoes in his cupboard and putting his dirty clothes in the basket. It might sound like a small thing, but he was so excited to be doing such a good job and to have done it so well, that it was a gorgeous gift!
We read the Nativity story and talked about what it must have been like for the shepherds to see a heavenly host of angels singing and how freaked out they must have been (I love the perspective of children!). And then I had my second special gift – an uninterrupted night of sleep, with no children trying to wake me until 6.30am! I managed to stay in bed until 6.45am which makes it officially a two hour better sleep-in than last year! We had a lovely morning with presents, sharing, Lego building, Wii playing and laughing before I took them to their father’s house where they spent the afternoon and evening in great happiness. I spent the afternoon and early evening with friends at their house and had the most delightfully relaxing, happy day. Nothing overboard in food (although the Christmas trifle was a thing of great beauty and taste!) or alcohol (although a few champagnes were enjoyed a lot) and just lovely time being with friends. I talked to my parents on the phone for an hour and received the reports of the day for the rest of my family who were gathered in New Zealand and was happy to hear that they also had a lovely day.
Which means that gifts have been delivered, and the few that I remembered to photograph can now be shared! After I made the boy a hat for his birthday Mum commented that a hat would be a nice present for my father, and that if it could incorporate some orange, in honour of his Dutch heritage, that would be great. So this is the result! He informs me that it is a snug fit, which suits him as it won’t blow off easily.
My parents have recently acquired a campervan/motorhome and are very excited about the trips they will do in it. The chicks and I decided that we needed to make some gifts for the motorhome, so we used some of the middle chick’s new fruity fabric design and made placemats and a tea towel for the van. We had also wanted to make them some cushion covers for the van but time constraints meant that I only managed to make one – but I think it is pretty cute, so will have to try for another one to match it for them!
I also made a present for my grandmother, Oma. She will be 98 in February. She has 10 children, about 24 grandchildren, and (I think) 23 great-grandchildren. She was never very tall but she shrinks further every year, and yet her heart, her energy, her love for us all, and her sharp mind, never shrinks. When I was talking to my ex-husband about having a second child he was worried whether we could love another child as much as we loved our first one. I was able to illustrate that love is not finite by using Oma as an example. Each of her 10 children knew that they were loved, and that she knew them as an individual, not as one of a group. So when she requested a bag to carry when she is going out to play cards or mah-jong, or on a day trip I was delighted. Then I heard her instructions were that it was not to be an ‘old-lady bag’ and she would like something in pinks and blues, with short handles, and I was further delighted, because that very statement sums up my Oma. She doesn’t want an ‘old-lady’ bag, because she still doesn’t feel like an old lady. So this is what I made for her, and what my parents delivered to her earlier in the week on my behalf.
I am told that she likes it (which makes me very happy) and when I posted the image on my facebook page I received a lot of positive feedback, so I am thinking of making a few more in this style and calling them the “Oma bag”!
The aftermath of Christmas can often be a let down, but for me, having kept our Christmas simple, it is just lovely. I am pottering around the house tidying up, putting the children’s presents that they left here in their rooms for their return, deciding which leftover dessert I will have for lunch (so, so bad I know!) and reading some books that Santa brought me.
Now – before I sign off I have to share the desserts that I made. I have no photographs (of course!) but do have recipe links to share. The first was Salted butter caramel ice-cream. Oh. My. Goodness. It is soooooo good. Although it required a bit of standing at the stove stirring and worrying about whether I was going to burn the caramel, by following the instructions it turned out well and was declared a hit by adults, and two of the chicks. (Which meant more for the adults!) The recipe is by David Lebovitz and includes a link to tips on making caramel – great, clear instructions, and with a delicious result!
Of course, the recipe calls for 5 egg yolks, so that meant that I had 5 egg whites to use. The solution? The traditional Australian/New Zealand (there is great debate about which country it belongs to) dessert – Pavlova. The crispy outer meringue with the gooey inside, whipped cream on top, and fresh fruit (mango and passionfruit in our case) on top of that, is a favourite in our household. The recipe that I use, and that has never failed me, is by Donna Hay.
I have one slice of pavlova left, half a tub of the salted caramel icecream and a serving of the trifle made by Mrs B for our lunch yesterday. The best bit? I don’t have to share it with anyone!!
I hope that your Christmas aftermath is a relaxing happy one and that are also enjoying some delicious leftovers as you spend time doing things that you like.
Merry Christmas to all of you.
I hope that your Christmas is full of joy, love, creativity and laughter.
The chicks and I are off to a good start with the creation of our first ever gingerbread house (from a gluten free kit that my mother found for them). It may not be stylish, but it was made with love and fun and laughter by the two girls and I. We have wrapped presents (and quickly exchanged one that I had bought in error – phew!) and are preparing for some good friends to join us for the evening. We will eat desserts (all of which have potential to be stunning, but all of which have potential to flop due my errors along the way). We will read the Nativity story, we will listen to carols, and we will enjoy the company of people we love as we remember why we are celebrating.
While we proceed towards a sugar-filled/fuelled evening (which may include a glass of wine or two for the adults) I want to thank you all for your lovely encouragement and support on this blogging journey so far, and to wish you a safe, happy and joyful holiday season!
A few posts ago I commented that I was aiming to keep Christmas simple this year. I almost forgot that decision and for a couple of days there was beginning to revert to my usual practice of saying yes to everything and over committing myself. I was imagining piles of homemade gifts for teachers and teaching staff, for friends, neighbours, family, etc. I was thinking I could squeeze in a bit more sewing for other people, to offer to have other people’s children over so that they could have some time to themselves, to be creating Christmas treats by the trayful, and to be putting on the most wonderful Christmas festivities we had ever seen.
Then reality hit, I began to get overwhelmed, and I was forced to remember that this year I can’t do all the things I normally do – and that it won’t matter. So teachers received bought gifts, (with two exceptions that I will come to in a minute), I have made a donation to my charity of choice instead of making/buying gifts for my girlfriends, I have accepted that the kids don’t count their gifts and it won’t matter if one is getting one more than the others as they receive so much anyway, that a pile of fresh stone fruit (including mangoes) is better than plates of fudge, and that instead of sitting at the sewing machine I can sit at the table or on the couch with my chicks and give them the best gift of all – time. I had a practical conversation with the chicks about whether they wanted to participate in the Christmas eve mass or just attend this year (participating involves two rehearsals) and quietly cheered when they all decided to simply attend. I asked their Dad to take the eldest chick to a birthday party being held within a very busy shopping complex so that I didn’t have to navigate the other two through the crowds, and also asked him to take the chicks to see the Christmas lights at a house that has broken a world record for the most number of bulbs, so that I don’t have to try and deal with a crowd and three chicks on my own, and I reminded myself that the only person who expects all of this from me, is me.
The results? During the week I had time to sit with the middle chick and make an origami dress Christmas ornament. (We both agreed that if it was a real dress we would want to wear it!)
I finished the last of my Christmas orders today with pleasure instead of pressure.
I had an afternoon of craft with the middle chick and the boy, experimenting with embedding objects in resin to make Christmas ornaments (and will hopefully have results to show you in a day or two!) The eldest chick and the boy and I played Monopoly for over an hour before it got too much for the 7 year old boy.
(Yes that is his piece sitting on one of my railway stations….about the time he realised that I had become a slum lord and started to go off the game! Must remember not to be so competitive when playing against someone soooooo much younger than me!)
The situation was saved though when three chicks had a water fight to cool off after the heat of the day and I was in charge of the hose, with instructions that I wasn’t to be a target! (Still can’t believe that I got away with that one!!) In other words – by keeping it simple I have had a wonderful day with my chicks with no anxiety attacks, no yelling, and no crying. (And that was from all four of us!!!)
My body is giving me clear signals when I have pushed too hard, or taken on too much. I can’t pretend for more than a few hours that I will be able to juggle lots of balls as I normally do. It just won’t let me anymore. Initially I was resenting this restriction, and feeling constrained, inadequate and that I was a failure. Now, however, I am starting to accept that there are benefits to keeping things simple, and stripping Christmas back to the things that are important – family, love and joy. Time to just enjoy my chicks instead of being worried about tackling the next thing on my list. Time to have them cuddle up to me on the couch while we watch a dodgy Christmas DVD with Danny de Vito in it. Making little things for each other instead of going out and buying more and more and more.
With that sense of simplicity I can share an image of the only handmade gifts that I presented to teachers this year. The middle chick’s fruitastic design on the linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower made into tea-towels. I might have to make some more!!
I have learnt a lot this year, about my passion for creating things, about my need to find a proper balance in my life, about the challenges of raising a child with special needs, about the fact that superwomen run out of puff after a while, and about the importance of family. This lesson about stopping to enjoy time with my family instead of feeling the need to do everything, and do it well, is possibly the most important lesson I have learnt. As we go into Christmas it is my fervent hope that this is a lesson that I remember, and apply, every day from now on.
I hope that you are able to find the simple joys in your Christmas or holiday celebrations, and that you are able to feel the joy that it is meant to bring, instead of the pressure that so often accompanies it.
The last few days have been flat out busy while we have tried to prepare for my Mum’s departure back to New Zealand today. She was with us for eight weeks in the end, and wrapped us all up in her love and helped us get through some of the roughest patches we have had in a while. I am trying hard not to think about her not being here, but have noticed that there is no one offering to make me a cup of tea, reminding me to drink more water, bringing in the washing, planning the evening meal, or giving my chicks their own little piece of attention in the midst of a busy house. Oh boy will we miss her.
But in the quiet space following her departure I have managed to load photos of some of my latest creations onto my Etsy shop, and have decided, in celebration of my successful market, and because it is Christmas, that it is time to have a sale. So if you enter the code XMASSALE in the coupon section at the checkout at any time until 21 December, you will received a 20% discount on your order. There are some smaller pieces that are just right for stuffing stockings too! My little Christmas thank you to everyone for supporting me this year.
I have had a break from sewing today while I cared for my sick middle chick who has tonsillitis, and ran various errands. One of the errands was to collect the finished memory quilt from the very talented Raylee at Sunflower Quilting. This was the quilt that I was asked to make using a sarong and a light cotton island shirt that my housecleaner and her husband wore for their beach wedding in Fiji. I am thrilled that I can present it to her before Christmas! I hope that you can get a feel for the finished product from these photos – my designated quilt holders (the chicks) had left for the day before I remembered to take the photos!
I will start sewing again tonight to finish some custom ordered superhero capes in time for Santa to pick them up for their recipients. Then I will be cleaning up the disgrace that my sewing space has become and then……wait for it…….moving all my sewing things into the spare room and claiming it as my own! Although the two oldest chicks were desperate to go back to having rooms of their own, they now have rooms of their own at their father’s house, so I decided that it was time to be selfish and have a room for myself. I will keep a single bed in there so we have room for visitors, but the rest of the room will be my domain! (And it just happens to have the best aspect, and therefore light, in the house!) All that room for fabric storage! Danger, danger, danger! All that clutter removed from my bedroom! Peace and tranquility shall return! (hopefully.)
Part of the craziness of the last few days was my attempts to finish all the presents that I wanted to make for Mum to take with her to New Zealand to deliver to the rest of my family, who are gathering for Christmas there. I can’t show you any photos yet (and of course forgot to photograph a couple of things) but am happy to say that I was able to tick everything off my list (once I simplified the list of course!)
So now all I need to do is remember where I have hidden the little bits and pieces I have gathered for the chicks, wait for the postie each day (she is currently doing two deliveries a day, bless her!) and stumble through the days until the 25th when the chicks leave to visit their father’s family in Victoria and I have a quiet house for a couple of weeks.
I hope that your Christmas preparation has not been two busy and that you are faring well amidst the seasonal chaos.