Wednesday, December 29, 2010

sensitive? me???

Over the past few days I've considered a few different ways to write about the Christmas that was...

but even though I'm not always the nicest person in real life (a couple of moments on Christmas day revealed that rather clearly), I like having a nice blog... so I have belatedly learned to hold my tongue.

Then I read this book again (it's by Tony Wilson, a Melbourne based author who writes about people who like their pants pulled up high, brave flowers, and mauve traffic lights, among other things)...

Usually when I read this, I think about some people I know...

we all know that kind of person, don't we?

except today I realised that sometimes I'm that kind of person.

A person who can't bear to sleep in polyester sheets, who takes offence at tiny slights, and, well, feels a bit like I'm walking around with a stone in my shoe (or a pea or three in my mattress)...

So, perhaps this year when (if?) I write my resolutions, a little less sensitivity and a little more resilience should be on the list...

By the way, I'm not usually a resolutions list kind of person - are you? Do you have any tricks for keeping them achievable, and, well, keeping them?

PS: find this awesome book here (among other places, I'm sure!). I love teaching my daughter subverted fairy tales before she's had a chance to learn the "official" ones!

Friday, December 24, 2010

nearly there...

We are about to jump in a car and head off for Christmas with my husband's family (to be honest, we should already be on our way and I definitely shouldn't be dilly-dallying over a computer right now...), so I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and festive season.

(the closest we could get to a Santa photo this year - she's terrified of him, so a photo with a reindeer's distant relative will have to do...)

Thank you so much for your friendship, encouragement and inspiration over this year, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Catherine xo

Saturday, December 11, 2010

positive and negative (my happy list)

It's fair to say that I've been a "glass half empty" person for most of my life, from my school days when I'd get 19/20 in a test, and focus on the one mistake I made...

These days, I sometimes find it hard to see beyond the never-conquered laundry pile, or the cracks in the concrete occupying most of our little backyard...

Then I read this post by Kate, who, in spite of some very real and frustrating challenges facing her family and their farm, chose to focus on what makes her happy... and has inspired many others to do the same.

So, inspired by Kate's happy list challenge, this is what makes me happy right now...

Living in a home where creativity and imagination is valued more highly than neatness and perfection...

a place filled with "magical fabrical houses" and teapot toasties

a place where just a cup of water can create a wonderful puddle (not that we've needed to supply the water lately...)

a place where my lack of pruning has led to a safe place for a bird to nest (right outside our loungeroom window! I'm trying to keep my distance and give them some privacy, and have managed to keep this a secret from our girl)

More happy list inspiration over here (thanks Kate!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Made by other hands

I love the idea of making presents for people - especially those closest to me. The problem is, I'm a slow maker - slow to decide what to make, what colours or fabrics to choose, whether to use a pattern or make up my own (I generally choose the latter, then wonder what I was thinking halfway through)...

A little while ago, I wisely came to the realisation that if I wanted to give handmade this Christmas, I would need to at least partly outsource the making to others more productive than me.

These are two of my favourite gifts so far...

The cushion is for my dad - who has always stood up in his quiet way for justice and peace and all round kindness in the world. Made by the awesome Cath (who has also made some amazing map cushions, that are selling like hotcakes, by the looks of things!).

Quincy, a sweet bear who loves cranberry sauce, lawn bowls and playing the accordion, is made by Jess, a lovely person who I've been lucky enough to meet, and I'm pretty sure I was her first customer / groupie at her market stall a month or so ago. Quincy is going to my mum, who absolutely loves and treasures all teddy bears, and has a history of "rescuing" damaged and discarded bears and giving them a new home... I reckon Jess and my mum would have a bit in common!

I made another special purchase at Jess's market... ssshhh, don't tell my daughter...

She fell in love with Enid, the lamb after seeing "Enids" all over blogland in buttons for Softies for Mirabel. Just a few weeks ago (and after I'd brought Enid home), she said, "Mum, can you please make me an Enid? I want to stroke her and care for her and she can live in my flowery garden bedroom..." (Enid likes picking flowers, you see...)

I told her I couldn't, but that I would ask Jess... I think someone will be happy on Christmas morning!

Even though the gifts are made by others, we're adding a bit of our own handmade to the wrapping... nowhere as neat and stylish as Nic's, but still pretty good, I think!

I'll have a few more "made by others" gifts arriving soon... and if I don't pick up my work rate soon, I might be making some more quick orders in a few days time!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

a very cardboard christmas

For a good few years now, we haven't put up a christmas tree in our home. Partly because I have a bit of an allergy to pine trees (not major, just enough to be annoying), partly because we have a little place without much space for a tree, and partly because every Christmas we wake up somewhere other than home, with family who live too far away.

We managed to keep up this tree-free existence until this year. Thursday December 2 was the day we suddenly realised that our daughter really gets Christmas now... and that we can no longer avoid the tree.

The issues of space still exist, so a regular tree remains an option I'd like to avoid for as long as possible...

I researched some space saving ideas - I'd love a 2D version of this tree (thanks MMMC! and I'm impressed by Becclebee's DIY version too!), or this lovely little tree (down at the bottom of the post, past some gorgeous leather decorations), or maybe this bookshelf tree... the perfect tree for a family of bibliophiles, don't you think?

Then I saw an empty cardboard box, and after a bit of time convincing my sceptical daughter (well, cardboard is made out of trees...), the cardboard tree was drawn, coloured in, and cut out.

Adding to the complete laziness of this tree, I decided to make it a Christmas count-up calendar too - adding a paper "ornament" every day, instead of having to decorate it straight away!

(yes, we are up to date with ornaments - this photo is from a couple of days ago!)

Next year, I think we will need a "proper" tree - but at least this one will create no storage issues whatsoever come January!

Friday, December 3, 2010

job accomplished

Yesterday, we successfully delivered our softies to Meet me at Mikes for Softies for Mirabel. I was a bit worried about bringing a 3 and 1/2 year old child to a store with a window full of toys she couldn't have - feeling sure I'd face a constant barrage of "I want..."

In fact, she was great - handing over the softies package relatively happily (with her extra little gift for Pip, her craft hero - I'm trying to be cool about the fact she's chosen someone she's never met, who's not her mum, as her craft hero... at least she has good taste!), and saying good bye to the window full of toys, wishing them happiness in their new homes.

OK, so I did bribe her a little, with the purchase of a tiny pretty piece of fabric - but fabric bribes aren't so bad, are they?

If you are in Melbourne, you still have a few days to visit the window of Softies - or even add to it!

PS: by the way, "job accomplished" is her current favourite phrase, used after rescuing toys from pretend emergencies...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

my creative space

Guess where we are going today? With two softies finished just in time (well, actually, a day late for the window opening, but at least this way we get to drop off and window swoon at the same time...).

A big special mention to Susan, for the fabric for Bunny's "dress" (I won it, with some other vintage sheet fat quarters a while back), and for giving me a little bag full of toy stuffing as well! It was exactly the right amount to finish both softies - thank you Susan!

If you are a fast softie maker and want to join in, you still can - read Pip's latest Softies for Mirabel post here.

For more creative spaces, visit Kootoyoo.

Edited to add: there has been some conjecture regarding whether the brown softie is a dog or a pig... well... he was supposed to be a dog, but as soon as I turned him right way out, he looked a bit like a pig - so lets call him a dog/pig shall we?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

the little kangaroo

Once upon a time, there was a little kangaroo. We don't know how or why, but she found herself living in the 50c toy box at the Op Shop. Because she was so small, she fell all the way to the bottom, where it was dark and scary (and to be frank, a bit smelly).

One day a little girl came along who knew all about Op Shops, and knew exactly where to look. A new friendship was born.

The little girl said "you need a bath - you've got mushrooms growing behind your ears!" The little kangaroo wasn't so sure, but soon she felt much cleaner.

She didn't even mind being hung up to dry - it was fun, like a giant swing!

Soon she was meeting new friends, and enjoying a big kangaroo group hug.

She even learned to play dress ups, and bake imaginary gingerbread.

Dressing up was so much fun - she decided to try another dress up. "Hello, Mr Dino! I'm being a dinosaur too!"

Mr Dino thought the little kangaroo was so funny - he laughed so hard that he rolled over!

The little kangaroo felt embarrassed, but Mr Dino said "come on, little dinosaur, it's time for a Dino Ride!"

It had been an amazing day, but the best bit was still to come...

A hug from her new best friend

who doesn't let her go, even when she's sleeping.

For more flea market finds (with probably more finds and less self-indulgent storytelling), see here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

reverse finds

We've reached the last weekend in Spring, so this will be my last Reverse Finds entry for a while - phew! I've found the pressure of sticking to a weekly post no matter what a bit harder than I expected (and as it is, I cheated sometimes, setting up a link to last a fortnight).

I've also learned a bit about myself. It seems that I am more committed to blogging than cleaning up... and that, while I've given away a fair bit, there is much more to do. I've also learned that I need to focus not just on getting rid of things we don't need, but also organising what we do need...

So this week, I've done a bit of cleaning up - I spared you the before picture of our fridge, but here's the after...

It's a bit empty (except for eggs - guess who had eggs in bread for dinner?), but hopefully after a bit of meal planning and organised shopping, it will be filled in a more organised way, with a bit less food waste (nothing like a fridge clean out to induce food waste guilt...).

Now I just need to go through the freezer... and pantry... and plastics cupboard...

If you have a reverse find post to share, feel free to add a link below!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

my creative space

This week's creative space is inspired by... last week's creative space!

(or, more accurately, by our daughter's artistic response to last week's nature find)

I loved the way she represented the nest in her own energetic style... which led me to reconsider some plans I'd been making.

I'd recently bought a pile of blank teatowels with the plan of getting our daughter to stamp them with potato prints, and using them as presents or present wrapping for some family and friends. I'd come up with some design ideas, and had thought about ways to get our daughter to put the prints in the "right" spots on the tea towels...

Then I saw the nest, and realised that would be a GREAT design - and her own design too.

So out came the tea towels and a brown fabric marker - and nests were made.

I reprised my "one cut" stamp making technique - this time with an egg shaped potato. The (opped) corn cob holders were a plan to keep child hands away from paint (it actually worked!).

These are a few of the results - I love the way she took the nest idea and made her own modifications along the way...

(I think I had similar help to Jess with my photography this week!)

I did decide to have a play with another potato print design - I like these clouds, but they were harder work, with closer supervision, and occasional instances of me completely taking over...

She also got to make a couple of her own designs - I think she really appreciated being trusted with these "fancy tea towels" (even though they were pretty cheap!) and did a great job!

For more creative spaces, visit Kootoyoo.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

reverse finds

I have an "unallocated present" box in my place - a place for presents I bought for someone, then changed my mind, or found the "perfect" present later. The plan is to look at and use these presents before buying anything new... which works - sometimes...

Unfortunately it's been a while since everything actually fitted in the box... so I'm taking the tambourine and puppet from the top of the pile to the "Wishing Tree" - I know Target and Kmart both have them, and I'm sure a lot of other organisations have their own. I hope I am forgiven for giving a "noisy" present.. in my defense, I actually bought this for my own child (and then she got one from someone else).

Hopefully I can allocate a few more of these presents for christmas this year, too!

Are you giving away / clearing out too? You can add your link to the list below, if you like!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

my creative space

It's a slow day here in my creative space, so I have decided to spend some time admiring the work of other makers - both online, and in our own backyard...

We did spend a bit of time imagining what it might have looked like before it was abandoned...

For more active making, visit Kootoyoo.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

my creative space

Today I planned to avoid the siren call of Kirsty's My Creative Space... instead, here I am... just quickly to say hello and do a little (entirely understandable) procrastinating...

Tomorrow I am presenting at a conference, speaking in front of a (hopefully not too big) crowd... so my creativity is being focused on strategies to remember what I'm saying, to breathe and speak slowly, and to keep my hands from flapping so much I take off and fly away (maybe that's why they call it fight or flight??)...

The other part of my creative brain is finding little ways to keep a little person happy and calm today. The toilet roll forest, and the black felt "dirt", were actually her idea - I just helped with the fabric "leaves"...

Looking forward to popping in on a few of you today during my "study breaks" and having a better look around after the conference is finished!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

flea market find

While driving along the other day, I suddenly realised I was in hard waste collection territory. I tuned my antennae, and almost immediately noticed this...

It wasn't so functional when I found it, but after a few screws and washers, and a bit of a clean up, it works again - in a slightly hesitant way, but that's fine by me.

I even love its paint spatters...

For more finds, visit Her Library Adventures... there is talk of a challenge... not sure if my find will fit, but I'm too excited, and wanted to post about it straight away!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

reverse finds

This week, I gave up on trying to find something of my own to give away, so turned to my husband's part of the wardrobe - surely with my help he could give away even more...

Instead, my contributions were on the "keep it" side... "maybe I could do something with that old t-shirt"... "some of the denim in those jeans is still good, surely I could reuse it ..."

Despite my "help" this modest pile did make it to the op-shop...

Feel like joining in and doing some clearing out of your own (however modest or large...)?

Add your link below - this one will stay open for two weeks, as I'll be away from the computer next Saturday.