Tag Archives: bluesfest

Return from Easter

I am back!

Back from a week of no computer, no responsibility, no children and no routine.  Back from an unintended break from blogging, sewing, crafting, and cooking.  Back from a fuzzy head – almost.

So – where have I been?  As promised/predicted/threatened I went on a road trip to Byron Bay to attend Bluesfest – a five day festival of music based loosely on a celebration of blues and roots music.  In reality there is probably more non-blues music than blues – but no one cares.  The countryside around Byron Bay is spectacular, the weather is temperamental, and the lifestyle is very relaxed.  The people who attend Bluesfest provide a lovely cross section of society – ranging from older retirees in their neatly ironed shorts and shirts through to the barefooted, dreadlock wearing hippies, with everyone in between.  I reckon I fall right in the middle of the range – and I am okay with that!  I did get good wear out of my two Tova tunics – and actually remembered to get a photo of myself in one!  (My photographer went a bit crazy….. and I am pulling a face in most but there are a couple that show the shirt….)

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Camping on site at the festival is part of the fun – you get to know neighbours, compare which bands you have seen or want to see, and share the joy in finding a clean toilet, stocked with paper…..  and compare gumboot styles as the rain hits and causes mud that has to be squelched through to be believed.

So did I enjoy it?  For the most part – yes.  Driving there and back on my own was tiring (it is about a 15 hour drive including breaks) and affected my enjoyment (I slept early on the first night and missed seeing Chris Isaak, which I regret).  On the way there I stopped and camped overnight on my own – and enjoyed the experience.  On the way home I pushed through and did the trip in one day – not as enjoyable.  I did find that looking for geocaches was a good way to break up the trip, so will be doing that again.

My ‘campanion’ (pun intended) was suffering from ‘man-flu’ and ended up leaving on the fourth day.  The rain was depressing and meant that there was mud and hot steamy crowds…..  so I found parts of it quite challenging.  There was a moment on Sunday night when I put myself to bed early and lay in the tent listening to the rain, and the sounds of a Ska band blaring through the rain, when I wondered what on earth I was doing there – and whether I really needed a life lesson in coping with anxiety and depression right at this point in time.  But – the next day the sun was out, I ended up having a nice day on my own and I got to hear/see Paul Simon singing, which moved me much more than I expected, and it all seemed worth it.

Highlights?  Meeting some lovely new friends in the campground, finally seeing Ben Harper in concert, seeing Robert Plant and Paul Simon, and Busby Marou, discovering new music through the band Current Swell, and hearing other legends like the Counting Crows, the Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, and a plethora of great blues artists.  And going into Brunswick Heads for a swim in the ocean.  Such a simple treat!

So now I am home, and back to the challenges of life as a single parent.  By yesterday afternoon I was completely overwhelmed – yet another meeting with teachers at school about my son, making new childcare arrangements after the babysitter’s timetable changed, trying to think about groceries, homework, housework, gardening, paying bills, caring for animals……..etc.  So I went to bed, convinced that I was getting sick.  This morning I felt dreadful but got up and went to work, and then to an early morning chiropractor appointment.  I quickly realised that in fact I wasn’t sick, or overwhelmed.   I was in pain.  Once I was ‘adjusted’ properly the world seemed quite decent again – and all the little bits and pieces that had been threatening to pull me under last night were quite manageable again.  A good lesson in being aware of the impact of pain on my mental and physical wellbeing!  (and a good reminder that dancing in gumboots, driving long distances, getting tumbled in the surf and sleeping on an inflatable mattress for a week aren’t good for my back…….)

My mum will go home on Saturday after her epic effort in looking after my children, then in a week the children go on holiday to visit their father.  So my mind is slowly starting to turn back towards creative thoughts.  Some bags, some patchwork, a kindle cover or two……  my sewing fingers are getting itchy…..!

Lessons learnt?  Keep things simple, enjoy the moment, and don’t forget to dance.

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I have been reflecting on a wide range of topics in the last few days. Some relate to crafting, and some to the influences that have shaped my life.  (If you want to skip the musings bit the crafting bit with pretty pictures is at the end!)

When I started this blog I thought it would be a great way to record my sewing adventures, to market my wares, and to join a community of like-minded people. So far I can say I can tick each of those boxes. What has changed is my head space. With my return to work and a new role I have had to continue my (life long) journey of finding the right balance.  So sewing gets priority over blogging, kids get priority over sewing, etc.  I suppose what I am saying is forgive me for fewer posts, and for less focus on creating new things. There will be a time when I can return to the way I want to blog and craft and market my wares, but for now it is a little erratic.

One of the things I have been musing over is how I have come to a point where all of a sudden sewing ‘clicks’ for me.  I am confident in knowing how to fix errors and in understanding how they occur, but am also confident to send my ‘made’ goods out into the world, without getting constant reassurance from the recipients (both purchasers and gift recipients) that they are happy with what I have made.  This is such a change from how I have lived some other parts of my life that it is quite liberating.  I suspect it is to do with that other life long journey of getting comfortable in my own skin.  Believing in my ability to do this means that I don’t need reassurance – I can just ‘do’ for the joy of doing.

Listening to different pieces of music in preparation for my trip this week to Bluesfest (5 days of music festival with no children – wow) has taken me on some trips down memory lane.  One of the great joys of music is that ability to transport you to another place and time.  This time I have been taken back to my first year of university and residential college (by Led Zeppelin and the memory of boys sitting around playing air guitars and air drums).  While at the time I thought I was living this mature independent wild lifestyle (yes – I am completely aware of how nonsensical that is now) I look back with the maturity of someone more than twice the age I was then and am horrified at my acceptance of the culture of bullying, alcohol, and male domination that defined that year.  I understand how it happened – I was a 17-year-old girl who had been educated at a Catholic girls boarding school, who found myself in another part of the country in a co-ed college, with a bar on the premises, and experiencing complete culture shock.  I tried to be independent for the first few days but found myself changing to fit in very quickly.  I look back and understand why my parents were so worried about me!    What strikes me in hindsight was how so many intelligent young women let the ‘men’ (who off course were boys – most no more than 20) set the rules and run the show – who was ‘in’, who was ‘out’, etc.   I posted a comment on my private Facebook page about flashbacks from the music and realized that the flashbacks weren’t necessarily fond memories but memories of a time of confusion and challenges and changes.  Of course I can’t regret most of it – it shaped who I am today – but I will be working very hard to give my children some different perspectives to take forward into life with them so that they might have some different choices about their experiences.   (As a side note I failed my first year of university and was therefore ejected from the Medical Faculty – probably a blessing in hindsight as I have enjoyed my career in the law and think I would have made a shocking doctor!)

While I could sit here and muse for hours more, there is work to be done, sleep to be had and camping supplies to be prepared.  So instead I will share my second version of the Tova tunic – I added two little buttons to this one so that I don’t always have to wear a singlet underneath.  This gave me the chance to use my automatic buttonhole function for the first time – how easy is that??  I am so impressed!  There will be buttonholes galore from now on!

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A round-up of the rest of the week/weekend?  A library bag and music bag were made.  An impromptu strip patchwork pouch to carry a gift card was made on Friday night,

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and my two girls graded for their purple belts in Taekidokai – the martial art that they all study.  I was so proud of them – the eldest for working so hard, and the artist-in-residence for keeping on going even though she was sick.  I had tears in my eyes watching her do her situps while an instructor signalled to me that she had a lot of heart to keep going as she did.

And now to prepare for the week ahead.  I may not post before Easter due to travelling, so I hope that you all have a safe and happy Easter, and are able to have some time reflecting on the purpose of the holiday.

A work in progress

I have a confession – although I love sewing and constructing, I hesitate to call myself a seamstress, because I am not good at making clothes.  However I have decided to challenge myself, and attempt to make a top for myself to wear on my trip (this time next week I will either be in Byron Bay or en route and at least in the vicinity!).  A few weeks ago I was reading a blog (and if I could remember which one it would have saved me hours of fruitless searching on the net) and the blogger was showing a photo of a tunic top that she had made – and shared that she is not normally great at making clothes.  Having identified fully with this statement I took note of the top – but forgot to pin it, favourite it etc.  To cut a long story short, on Sunday I finally remembered that it is the Tova Tunic from Wiksten, so promptly ordered the pattern.  After a few very helpful email exchanges I received the pattern yesterday (I suspect my paypal email address had filtered it out).  Last night I printed it and did the jigsaw puzzle to fit the pattern together.  And tonight I cut it out and started sewing.  I had to stop when my overlocker blew a frizter valve – but I managed to repair the overlocker, so full steam ahead tomorrow to finish it.

I am happy with it so far, so here is a dodgy nighttime shot of the work in progress!  If it all works out then I will probably make another one in a different fabric – but I thought that this bright orange could work well – and as a bonus will help me to stand out in the crowd at the music festival so my friends can find me!!

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I have a bunch of other things I am keen to tackle – my girls have both asked for Kindle covers (they both emailed me from their bedroom to put in an ‘order’ – I am not sure whether to be amused or horrified), a lovely work colleague has ordered a retro styled apron, and I would like another top and skirt to take away to Bluesfest, plus a bag to carry my money, glasses, etc at Bluesfest (in a futile attempt to save my back by lightening the load – which is futile given that I will still stand/dance etc for hours at a time).  But given that there is only a week until I am on the road I have no idea what will actually be achieved!  I will keep you informed no doubt!

Pillowcases and sleep

Unwittingly the theme of this weekend has been bed-related.  First we had an unplanned sleepover with two children joining mine on Friday night, then the two youngest of the group (who I had counted on going to sleep with no drama) stayed up very late and woke up very early, involving me in their awakeness, so I stumbled around in a daze on Saturday morning and ended up sleeping on a spare therapist’s couch while one of my children attended an appointment in another room, and finally I had a burst of sewing pillowcases – five in all.  Phew!

The first three were an order for a friend who wanted pillowcases with ipod pockets for her three children.  I enjoyed matching the fabrics to the children and playing with patterns.  I also found a great way to use a panel that came as part of a fat quarter set of “The Good Life” by Riley Blake.  I had been sitting on it for a while, but last night realised that it would make a great front panel for a pillowcase, with parts of the border used as detail and for the pocket.  I am happy with the end result – and the big 8 year old girl who received it loved it.

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The one for the middle child was from the “Simple Life” range by Riley Blake – I love these colours!

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And for the boy of that house – pirates of course!

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The final two were really just an excuse to use some of the Aneela Hoey “Posy” fat quarters that I bought on a whim recently.  I love the range so much that I might have to make some more – just because!  I have listed these two in my Etsy shop and think they would be great Easter presents.

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Despite the severe sleep deprivation I felt yesterday morning (I think it was the cumulative effect of the last two weeks of travel) the sleepover was delightful.  I set up my new tent to test it out before my trip away (in 10 days she says quietly jumping with excitement) and the three big girls decided that they would sleep in it.  I was quite prepared for them to appear in the middle of the night, but they stayed out there all night, and were asleep before 10pm and up after 7am – quite unlike the younger boys in the house (who giggled so much that if I hadn’t been so tired I would have quite enjoyed their pure joy at just hanging out together).  I am assured by the girls that the tent is very comfortable, although they thought it was a little small.  Given that they usually sleep in our trailer tent which is 14 foot long, I can see how they felt that the 4 man dome tent seemed a little pokey!  I am still happy with it as it only has to accomodate two adults for a week – not a family of energetic children!

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Today we had a lazy day – pyjamas were worn until lunchtime, rules were relaxed and much idle pottering around was done.  We then went to see dear friends for afternoon tea – the boy insisted on dressing as Batman for the occasion, and arrived to be greeted by a Ben Ten Alien, so was very happy with his choice of outfit.  I delivered the pillowcases at the same time and enjoyed the reaction from the children.

I have had such a smooth day today that I am sure that I have forgotten to do something really important……but until I wake in the middle of the night with the awful realisation of what it is, I am just going to celebrate a nice day and leave it at that!

And a quick postscript – I bought a tunic pattern online today (which will hopefully be emailed overnight) in the hope of making a top or two to take with me on my travels, so stay tuned to see if I get to it in time!!

I hope that you have had a lovely weekend.

The Friday flop

Ah, the weekend.  There is something quite special about a Friday night.  All the pressure of having to be on top of housework, homework, school lunches, laundry, etc, for the next day is removed and all the rules are relaxed.  In my house the kids refer to Friday night as “Pizza Night”.  I make them homemade pizza – one gluten-free with ham and cheese, one gluten-free with ham, olives and cheese and one gluten with ham olives and cheese.  (Yes – adventurous gourmands my children are not).  They pick a movie and are allowed to eat in front of the TV, with their pizza, while I sip a glass of wine, check messages on-line, talk to friends on the phone, and let them run a bit loose.  We all just let go a bit, and breathe out a bit and generally flop.  I love it!

Of course every now and then I think of the Friday nights of a decade ago, or two decades ago, where the image of this sort of Friday night would have been depressing, and think that I am glad that I did my partying when I was younger, because now I don’t think that this is depressing at all.

The look back at the week takes place as part of the Friday night ritual.  This Friday marks the end of my second week back at work, and my first week of my new routine of starting early, and leaving early to pick up the kids.  By Wednesday I was feeling exhausted and that this approach wasn’t working, as my son was having some of his old issues again, and I was back at the school having meetings again.  But fast forward just two days and we seem to all be settling into the new routine much better, and I am able to have perspective on giving us all time to adjust before I panic and come up with a new strategy!  I am hoping that as we settle, I will be able to find a bit of a routine for my own time – that small window after everyone is in bed – so that I can blog regularly, sew regularly and have time for keeping in contact with my family and friends without feeling like I am dropping the ball somewhere.

I suspect that part of the reason that I feel so good tonight is that I have had wonderful news from my mother that some test results we have been waiting on for over a week have returned and that we don’t have bad news from them.  Many prayers have been answered and we are so grateful.  All of this has meant that her visit to us has been postponed, but we are making our way through this transition to school and work on our own quite well, so I have told her to not rush over here, and to take some time at home until we see how things are going.  A huge weight has lifted off my shoulders (although probably not as big as the one she was carrying quietly!)

So all of this means that I had a slow sewing week to start with, but that my momentum has picked up as the week has gone on.  I photographed the pillowcases and listed them on Etsy, then the next day posted them on Facebook, and they sold straight away – to the same lovely friend who bought the first set.  It is such lovely encouragement to have that kind of feedback, it spurred me on to do a bit more.  I de-constructed and then re-constructed a bag I was making for a woman I work with.  It just wasn’t sitting right and I wasn’t happy with it, even though I had ‘finished’ it and photographed it two weeks ago.  But with a clear mind I was able to see where I needed to change it, so I did, then took it to her yesterday.  I am much happier with the end product now and she is happy with the bag, so I feel good about that too.

I then received three orders in the space of half an hour or so, through my Facebook page – two library bags and a hand bag.  I feel so privileged to be able to make things for people who I know, and I have had the fun of suggesting colours, designs and fabrics through the internet – learning all the time!  Two women I work with have requested bags with specific Spoonflower fabrics, so that order went in last night.  A good friend also reminded me that she wanted three of my iPod pillowcases…..and all of a sudden I need to prioritise projects!  I am so excited at the chance to keep making great things.  Although our weekend looks a bit busy I can see packets of time for sewing, so let’s hope that the outcome is better than last weekend.  I did start one library bag last night, but as I picked it up tonight I realised that my decision to stop sewing last night due to the hour was a good one – I had sewed the front and back panels together with the front panel on upside down!  So the unpicking will occur before anything else happens.  Luckily the applique went on the right way.

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My other piece of creativity last night was another batch of salted caramel fudge……. I wanted to make something to take to a morning tea with my team today….. and any excuse will do!  The kids were thrilled that I had slipped a little piece in their lunches today alongside the healthy options, and everyone at work enjoyed it.  Now to remember to make the bit that has not yet been cut last more than a day….

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This weekend is the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show – which the children had planned to enter the cooking competition.  Unfortunately their busy mother forgot the put the entry in on time…..  but we have decided that attending and scoping out the competition for next year is a good excuse to attend this year anyway.  I have made it clear that we are not going on rides and they were all very focussed on seeing the animals and exhibitions, until tonight when they discovered the list of show bags available……. and have spent the evening examining the very long list to identify what they want to buy.  I haven’t yet determined how much money I am going to give them to use to budget for their visit, but it will be interesting to see how it all goes.

Then on Sunday I have a concert to attend – Neil Finn and Paul Kelly – two of my favourite Australian and New Zealand musicians.  I am very excited about it.  It starts the warm up to get me excited about my Easter trip to Byron Bay for Bluesfest.  Expect to be bored with the details of that over the next few weeks…..because the headliners are big – Paul Simon, Robert Plant (you know – the Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin), Ben Harper, Chris Isaac, the Steve Miller Band (even just saying the name makes me think of space cowboys), Counting Crows, Santana…….  oh look – I have already started getting excited!  I just have to get my head around the logistics of where the children will be, what camping gear I will be packing, doing the drive on my own, etc…..

The Friday flop is kicking in – the house is a bit messy, no sewing has been done, the kids are asleep and I am about to head to bed to read for a while.  I hope that your week has been good and that you have great weekend plans to be excited about.

New ideas

Balance has returned to the nest since my last post.  We have been out and about, and while chores were achieved, so were fun activities.  More of that later.  I have also managed a bit of sewing, and as a bonus, have been able to organise my sewing gear a bit more too!  A lovely new box from Spotlight has room for all the ‘things’ I was throwing in a basket – and then digging through every few minutes, creating tangles of hook and loop fastener, thread, offcuts of interfacing, etc.

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I received such lovely support following my post – both here and privately.  Thank you – your words do make a difference!

On the sewing front I have been beavering away at my ‘to do’ list – making more bags and constantly exploring new ideas.  A lovely friend (and one of my best customers so far) asked me to make a bag for her sister – a new Mum, in Ireland, with a 30th birthday.  I started thinking about when I was a new mum and finding that balance between being completely focussed on my child but also trying to retain my grown up separate identity, (in a midst of bags covered in ducks and toys etc) and decided that she needed a bag that looked good, but was also useful to carry ‘mum stuff’.  So I sat down and designed a new bag!  The photos are a bit ordinary due to rain outside meaning flash lighting inside…but you get the general idea.  I put a slip pocket on the outside, 6 slip pockets on the inside, and a zipped pocket.  I am thinking of it as a Tardis – average on the outside and enormous on the inside!  Now to play with different colour combinations!  (And different pocket combinations/arrangements.)

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It also gave me a chance to play with some new fabric that arrived here on Friday morning!  My fabric addiction is well and truly being fed at the moment.  The ideas and possibilities that come with new fabric are delightful.  The deliciousness of the prints for children have me thinking of skirts, pillowcases, art wallets, bags and more!  The prints that aren’t specifically designed for children lend themselves to all of those and more.  My brain is ticking away busily, creating and re-creating ideas and combinations.  So much fun!

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Of course, because, as I have now confessed, I am good at creating my own pressure, I want to be using it all instantly!  However I am just remembering to breathe, to enjoy the other aspects of my life, and to enjoy the dreaming, because, lets face it, the dreaming is often better than the reality!!

The children and I have been doing all sorts of things now that the cranky mum has gone away again!  We have geocached (and found some nifty hides)

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had a trip to the zoo (which we plan to be the first of many),

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played board games (‘Carcassonne’ is our current favourite),  baked (from great heights!),

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spent time with friends, and talked.  I have even managed to start the seasonal cupboard clean out!

I am also enjoying doing a bit of researching into camping gear.  I have a camping trailer, that I love, and which is now set up just the way I like it, so I don’t need any more gear for it.  (I can’t believe I actually said that, but it is true!)  However, my mistake for the Easter booking means that my friend K and I can’t take the trailer with us when we travel (sans children) to Bluesfest at Byron Bay.  In order to overcome my frustration with myself I am immersing myself in research into the best tent for the best price for us to take instead.  (We have been offered tents to borrow, which would be the sensible option, but that isn’t half as much fun as researching accessories for my favourite sort of getaway!)  K and I keep having phone calls and text messages where we share our latest find, and then talk ourselves into the sensible borrowing option, and then share the next find!  We are as bad as each other!  Having been friends since we were 11, it probably makes sense that we operate in a similar way.

While I start to think about getting organised for the return to school and work, and rearranging my work life so that I can continue to provide my children with the level of support that they need at the moment I am trying to continue planning for other fun activities for them.  So, with the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show coming up soon, I have asked the girls if they would like to enter the baking competition run for under 12s.  They are very excited at the prospect and are already planning their gluten-free entries for the general entry section!  They were disappointed that they can’t enter the sewing section as entries closed two months ago, but I pointed out that two months ago neither of them knew how to use a sewing machine, so a bit more practise before next year would stand them in good stead!  I love seeing the benefit of having been able to spend all this time at home with them. I am realistic that I can’t financially sustain that as a lifestyle for us long-term (apparently it is the law to clothe, feed and house them) but am certainly working on coming up with a work arrangement that will allow me more time with them after school than we have been able to manage for the last year or so.

While I am itching to be creating, I know that doing all of this other ‘stuff’ is good for me too!

I hope that you are all managing to do the things that make you happy.