Tag Archives: Canberra

The birthday decisions

The middle chick’s birthday has arrived, which means that I can report on the gift making and decisions! Of course the most important thing to report is that the chicks are home again, safe in the nest. It is delightful to have them back, but very noisy!! I was woken several times in the night by different ones at different times, and then woken very early yesterday morning by the birthday girl who wanted to remind me that we needed to ring her cousin, who she shares a birthday with. I mumbled something suitable (which, I regret to say, was not “Happy Birthday darling”) and went back to sleep. However by 7.30 they had all been woken and presents were presented and admired and enjoyed. (The return to ‘normal hours’ tomorrow is going to be a shock for their mother!)

After my list making last week I decided to make her a kindle cover,


and to make her a space of her own. She is currently occupying the top bunk, so a curtain,


a shelf for her treasures and a fabric bucket (that can be hung) to assist in the collation of those treasures (well – to attempt to keep things tidy really),


and a pin board (not covered in fabric I regret to say) were the contributions to her own space. She is thrilled! Unfortunately the kindle cover is too small (that will teach me to rely on measurements online instead of measuring the device before she left!!) but I have my technique sorted so will make another one with no problem, and she assures me that she will find things to use it for!

Other gifts she received that had the big tick of approval, that might prove useful ideas for anyone else looking for 9 year old girl present suggestions included a gift voucher to do a cooking class, tapestry and cross-stitch kits, and a Science kit – equipped to grow micro-organisms, isolate DNA, and various other experiments. Oh – and her father bought her a camping chair of her own – a Moon chair – that she is delighted with!

Because her father was in town for one more day he was able to take her, the other chicks, and her best friend, bowling for the afternoon, and then in the evening we all went out for dinner, with another family who are great friends of ours, for Teppenyaki – the birthday girl’s request. We very rarely go out for dinner because once we factor in the dietary restrictions, the boy’s excess energy, my usual state of exhaustion, and the expense, it isn’t worth the effort. However it was such a successful outing that we will do it again! The entertainment factor of Teppenyaki helped, with speedy quick chopping, flames, food catching, and general hilarity.

teppenyaki teppenyaki2

Their father stayed the night with us before flying out early this morning.  I had one of those delightful reminders about the advantages of not being married to him anymore when his snoring from the boy’s room, where he was sleeping on the trundle (the boy was soooo excited) kept me awake!!  Ah well, you have to laugh!

I can also report that my birthday, after my initial ambivalence, was just delightful! I ended up having impromptu wine with a dear friend at the pub down the road and as the weather was perfect we were able to sit outside and enjoy it. Then dinner out was with another beautiful friend, at a very trendy restaurant called Eighty Six where we let the waiter pick the food for us, with the instruction that we needed room for dessert! He did a superb job and we had a smoked ocean trout salad with poached egg, followed by a lamb ragout with gnocchi. That left room for my dessert of crème brulee with drunken prunes and pistachio biscotti, and hers of lemon curd with elderberry jelly, yoghurt gel and something else that I can’t remember!! Combine that with some wine, a hard lemonade (in other words lemonade with booze in it) and I was in seventh heaven! Didn’t take any photos (was being cool after all) and had a lovely time enumerating the good things about our advanced ages. We both decided that our decidedly reduced care factors were one of the best things about getting older!

Of course what would one of my random blog posts be without an update on my ‘to-do’ list? I can report that the boy’s room was returned to a sensible state, including some sorting of the toy boxes. His wardrobe was cleaned out and changed over for summer. The presents for the middle chick were completed (without me going overboard for once!). The other things? Not yet. But the weekend is not finished yet!

I hope that your weekend is going well.  The weather here is delightful – hopefully you have the same!

Fresh ideas locally

My much anticipated ‘free’ time to sew, rest, create and socialise has arrived. Yesterday I drove three very happy little chicks a few hours down the road and handed them over to their grandfather who then drove them on to his farm. The road trip was hilarious as we played a game of “I don’t spy”. The most creative thing that we couldn’t see was a disco chicken (the artist-in-residence), followed by an Egyptian pyramid (the boy) while the eldest chick had us guessing for a very long time to finally give up on something that we could see – Wattle trees. The trip home was much less entertaining and far quieter!

Before they left we had some other entertaining moments when we realised on Thursday afternoon that one of the chickens had flown out of it’s run and was being chased around the yard by the dog. (Why the blasted thing didn’t fly then is a mystery.) Once the dog was secured inside we decided it was time for a wing trim – so then we had to catch the 5 chooks. It was like a scene from a comedy – kids, chooks and me all running around. At one stage the kids nearly had one of the chickens, who then calmly stepped through a hole in a screening fence and out of their reach. They nearly collapsed laughing at the chicken’s attitude! We did finally capture them all and trim their wings and then on Friday the eldest chick and I put bird netting over the whole pen to provide some added protection. (Not bad considering that the air felt like ice!)

After a period of intensive costume sewing, and then the road trip, despite having been waiting for this free time for weeks, I was at a bit of a loss where to start last night and was frozen by indecision! So I tidied up the house a bit, and decided that crochet was the order of the day. I started on a beanie for myself in a multi-coloured wool. I am not convinced that it will be ‘me’ when it is finished, but I will post a photo in a day or two when it is finished and we will see!

Today I was determined that I wouldn’t waste my time, so got up early and started cleaning up in earnest. Having a clean and tidier (still not completely tidy!) house gives me the headspace to be creative. I was still not feeling particularly inspired, and was realising that I was actually putting pressure on myself to be creative because I thought I had to! But inspiration comes in many forms, so I can report that I am back on track! I had a day out in the country with a new friend – a drive, a potter around in the shops, lunch in a café, then back to town for a walk around the lake and a hot drink to help defrost. I haven’t done something like this for a very long time, and really enjoyed the change in routine. And the bonus? I found local craftspeople’s work in both locations! We went to a town called Gundaroo which is only about 20 minutes outside Canberra, but is quite historic. One of the shops we went into was built in the mid 1800’s and still has the original newspapers lining the walls – including one from 1878. (I love stuff like that!) The slightly more modern shop next door was a shop of local handmade goods. Wow! Steel sculptures, modern ceramics, intricate handknits, gorgeous jewellery, and a big wood fire in the middle of the room. And as far as I could see – all artists from Gundaroo itself. What a creative space!

The café that we stopped at for the afternoon drink also had a gallery – with local artist’s work on display. Again – just beautiful. It served as a perfect reminder that stepping out of my own space and looking at the work of others is a great thing to do to help refresh my perspective. So tonight I have a couple of small offerings that I have made myself, but also want to share with you the work of some local creative souls, to show you some of the things on offer in my part of the world, if only we step out to look at them!

Since I started selling on Etsy I have joined a couple of ‘teams’. This seems to be a great way of promoting each other’s work through creating treasuries (‘curated collections’) which can then be used for the front page of the website. The other benefit is that I have had a chance to see what people in my area are doing – and there are some very talented people here!

Hannah from BananaOrangeApple sews gorgeous creations for little people.  I think this one is my favourite – if only my little chicks were small enough to still wear it!

Toddler Girl Rainbow Dress Patchwork

I love the paintings and drawings by Kylie Fogarty. I think that with my love of camping this one is probably my current favourite Caravan Landscape Painting

The soft toys made by Abby from Oopah are delicious!


If I don’t get around to making my own cushion covers, or re-covering my old chair, then I will definitely be going to Tango and James for fabric!  Oh My Heart Cushion Cover

And then, for complete cuteness, look at these little foxes by Gemmie from handmadebyGemmie Fox


My small offerings, as I start back on the road to inspiration are projects that I have had in mind for a while. The first is a zipped pouch and drawstring bag set, that matches the overnight bag I made a couple of weeks back. I also want to make a toothbrush roll to go with it, so that it is a complete travel accessory kit.


The second is an appliqued t-shirt that my aunt asked me to make for a little girl she knows. I have been wanting to make some t-shirts, so this is the first of hopefully many!


So with a bit of local inspiration, and a bit of free time, I am looking forward to a bit of creativity this week!  I hope that you have a great week and take the time to think about who is creative in your local area.


Getting my mojo back

This has been a week of personal growth and revelations. It coincided with having to miss a lot of my paid work to care for children. Could be something in that!  I should post a warning that this post contains very little about sewing (for once) and more of my self-revelation musings!!

Having time at home gave me time to clear my head a bit, to think about various aspects of my life that I tend to tuck away into the ‘when I have time’ basket, and to rediscover parts of myself. I have written before about how I have found the process of making things gives me a chance to de-stress, to focus and to work through issues in my mind. What I hadn’t really appreciated before this week is that once I start that process, I also gain in creativity.

What have I achieved this week? As I wrote earlier in the week I came up with a plan for managing my blogging more regularly. I also spent some time preparing some posts for weeks when I don’t have as much time. I looked at my Etsy shop and realised that I didn’t like the overall look and feel of it. So I did some reading on taking photos, played with my camera a bit, tried out an Etsy App for ‘fusing’ photos (and abandoned it) and then re-shot all the photos for my Etsy listings. Instead of the outdoors backgrounds I had been using,  I have gone with white. I have used the macro setting to get some close ups, and to gain different perspectives on my pieces. While I can still spot room for improvement, I am much happier with it now. (And am happy to get feedback if you have time to have a look!)


Before and After


Before and After

I was feeling a bit virtuous by this time, so decided to keep going. I joined some Etsy teams, and created a couple of treasuries (curated collections of other people’s listings – not my own), and enjoyed that so will try to keep it up. Then I made the decision that I am still a bit directionless with all of this, so registered to attend a Right Brain Business Plan workshop with Canberra Creatives.  The timing is perfect as it is on while the chicks are visiting their grandparents during our July school holidays.  I am hoping to create a plan and focus my energy in one direction instead of stopping to look at every bright and shiny thing that comes along!

June 20133

Hey look – better light today!

All of this made me feel a lot more connected with the business side of my creating.  Which lead to my creation of the new bag design yesterday (in my last post) and a feeling that I had ‘got my mojo back’.  Which was interesting as I wasn’t aware that I had lost it!  This is a recurring theme in my life.  I think I am happily pottering along, then something happens and I find myself being truly happy again and realise that until that point I have been slowly sinking into survival mode for a while, without realising it.  A year after my husband left me some dear friends gave me a gift with a card that read “Celebrating the becoming of Theresa”.  It was a sharp reminder that by the time my marriage ended I had lost so much of myself, and hadn’t realised it.  Although the pain and grief that came with the end of my marriage was so strong, and still lingers these years later, the rediscovery of myself and the things that make me feel happy and alive was a gift that kept me going.

A few years later, after being a full-time single parent for a couple of years, I am conscious that I have lost a bit of myself again.  Creating things, and having another focus in life seems to be a good way of keeping those bits of me sustained when everything else is getting a bit much!  So the realisation that I had lost a bit of my creative mojo, when it returned this week, was a good reminder that I need to nurture that side of my life too.  I am not quite sure how to do this yet, but am mulling over a few ideas as I sit and sew bags and match fabrics and colours, so I will see what pops out at the end!

These are the fabrics I am playing with for my next set of bags!



I hope that your week is full of love and support – and that you are able to nurture your mojo too!

Getting creative


There is something about a long weekend that lets you breathe out and relax a bit more.  We have a three day weekend here in Canberra this weekend and just knowing that there is an extra day up our sleeves has seen the chicks and I enjoying pottering around the nest without rushing off to fit everything in.  (The fact that none of their sports had a scheduled game on today didn’t hurt!)

Between having friends over to play (the boy and his friend spent a few hours rearranging all spare pieces of wood they could find in the backyard as part of their game – and when they couldn’t find anymore they just liberated some fence palings!) and catching up on laundry, it occurred to me that I needed a gift for the children to give their afternoon visitor.  Their father’s partner has been in the country, and in town, for a few days for work, and had arranged to come and spend the afternoon with us (yes it is complicated – but she is lovely.)   She had her birthday last week, so the artist-in-residence got to work on making a card, and I decided that this was a great opportunity to work on a design that I have been mulling over in my head for a few weeks.

The end result?  A new ‘bucket bag’!

June 20131

I was keen to play with different fabrics to create different looks.  This was my first one and I like the way the colours and patterns worked together.  We presented it to our visitor this afternoon and she liked it – and promptly put it to use (always a good sign!).  So I decided to make another one and perfect the pattern a bit.  For this one the only real change I made was making the strap a bit wider.

June 20132

Hmmm…. the contrast between nighttime and daytime photos is pronounced isn’t it?  Might have to reshoot these tomorrow!

I might try the same shape with a more integrated ‘wrap around’ pocket as the next variation.  I am also toying with the idea of making a tutorial on how to make it.  (I have been spending so much time looking at other people’s tutorials recently I am thinking it is about time I gave something back!)

Tomorrow my plan is to get to the Handmade Markets that are being held in Canberra.  I have wanted to attend for a long time (they are held several times a year) and this weekend there is nothing more pressing to prevent me getting there (so far!).  I hope to walk away even more inspired to create some other designs, or combinations of colour and pattern.  They are also holding an event for “Knit in Public Day” – and I made the mistake of telling the artist-in-residence about it.  So now she wants to learn to crochet (because I can’t knit!) by tomorrow afternoon so that we can go and participate.  Hmmmm……wish me luck.

I hope that your weekend is going well.


A week

This week disappeared before I truly realised it had started.  One overseas trip, events to celebrate the 100th birthday of Canberra, a bit of crafting, time with my mother, and the week has gone!  The trip to New Zealand sort of swallowed the rest of the week, although it was worth it from a business point of view.

The last time I went to Wellington, about a year ago, I was nearly blown away and the wind was so strong our hotel was swaying.  This time, however, the city turned on its charms and the few hours we had out of meetings were delightful!  On the one evening we had there (having arrived at midnight on the first night) it was so good to be outside that we walked to the waterfront for dinner, and then home again as the night was balmy.  I didn’t have time to make myself a travelling work bag so took one from the etsy shop instead – and then photographed it on tour to keep myself amused.  It was a good chance to test one of my designs too – and it worked well!


By the time I got home on Thursday night I was exhausted but delighted to see my children who were happy and had behaved for their grandmother, much to my relief!  This weekend is a long weekend and the city is in full celebration mode.  On Friday night we had a spontaneous trip to see an installation called “Enlighten” displayed on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery, the National Science Museum, the National Library and Old Parliament House.  (Sometimes living the in nation’s capital is amazing!)  So inspirational and the kids loved it too.

Enlighten1  Enlighten3 Enlighten2

Saturday morning the spontaneity continued and we made a mad dash to the steps of the War Memorial to watch the hot air balloons that are participating in the annual festival – including a Darth Vader balloon that had the boy very excited!  I didn’t get a photo but we may try again another morning this week.

We also acquired two new additions to the menagerie when one of my colleagues was looking for a new home for his Campine chickens, as he and his wife had realised that their yard was not the right size for chickens.  So Silver and Creeper joined Isabelle, Goldie and Yoda and, apart from a lot of squawking, seem to be settling in.  Our egg supply is assured!


After attending to the various household necessities (like grocery shopping) I finally had some time to do some sewing.  I have a number of orders waiting to be made and was fretting a bit that I wasn’t getting to them.  I have realised that, despite lots of great marketing ideas and creative ideas, I can’t really ‘grow’ the creative business very much at the moment as I just don’t have time to make all that I want to make.  I am realistic enough to know that there will be a time when I have a bit more flexibility with children and work, and that I will be able to build it up then, so for now am just tucking away my ideas for ‘the right time’!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese capes were ordered by a friend for his two nephews who have the same first initial and who, he informs me, support St George in the Rugby League……  he thought they should be the same to avoid arguments but I did put different patterns of stars on them to help their mother settle disputes about ownership!


A bag for a school boy to carry his flute music in.


A Tardis bag made with fabulous fabric from Spoonflower, made for a friend who has a niece who is a Dr Who fan.

After my efforts over the weekend I can tick a few orders off the list, and will hopefully get a couple more done tomorrow, before another crazy week begins.  Let’s hope for a continuation of the lovely weather, and some spare time appearing magically from thin air!

I hope that your week has been full of balmy nights and creative ideas!