Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia day heroes

It was a public holiday today, a day off work and school to celebrate the greatness of our wonderful country. Apparently that necessitated  an entire post school afternoon of costume design and production. Actually the whole week involved intense discussions about planning the ultimate water bomb fight, secret codes for signaling the start of the bombing and requirements of action hero costume production for said fight.

I have mentioned before that our street really gets into parties. Last year two local streets combined to celebrate Australia Day with a barbie on the lawn which later degenerated into a waterfight between the Menace brothers and some older kids. So this year, they were planning a revenge assault, covert of course.
My stash of lycra, sequin and satin fabrics was raided, copious safety pins used and look what we knocked together while grieving the fact that holidays were over and school was back.

This was the trial run with the water blasting machines. Before we prepared the water bombs. Let me just say that there was no time for photos at the actual party but copious water bombs were dispatched and our old street is the perfect slope for a slip and slide. And not the shop bought kind, the original slip and slide with 3 tarps joined together and a whole bottle of diswashing liquid.  If only I had managed to get that photo of Roboboy skidding down on his knees, cape flying behind him.

I did manage to nab this one though. Can I preface it by mentioning that dirt is really good for the  immune system.

It has been raining a lot here this week. Some areas of Queensland have flooded, again. Many children have been cooped up in new classrooms going slightly crazy. This started out as a simple play in a puddle across the road in gumboots. And then the Menace brothers came home from school.

Then all of a sudden there is a mud pit, sliding area, mud pies, gumboots being used as mud carrying vessels and mud body paint. All over. I suspect the Menace brother's mother was wishing she had chosen after school sports that day. Or perhaps even that we had not moved in 18 months ago.

Me, I'm just hoping all that mud washes out of that brand new school uniform. The socks unfortunately could not be salvaged. But the memories........ priceless.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Floral flannies and teeny tiny treasures

Goodness, can you believe the school holidays are over already? Those weeks of sunshine and beaches just flew by and now I am madly covering books and washing new uniforms. I did squeeze in a tiny visit to an op shop near work this week and look at these three lovelies that were waiting for me.

 The middle one is cotton and the other two are flannelette. I have been using the soft flannelette ones for backing some little quilts as they are so soft, and not too hot. The little teeny chair came from that garage sale a while back when  this lovely girl was moving house. Miss Liongirl loves to kick back with a big stack of books.

Roboboy needed a chair cover for school this year in grade 1. After an initial thought of sewing my own, I decided to go one better and just use the standard school one as a base and embellish it a little. Add one thrifted Barrier Reef teatowel and our fish loving boy will have no doubts which chair is his.

Do any of you ever have those really quiet toddler moments? You know when it seems like an unusual length of time that they are playing quietly by themselves? At our place that only ever means trouble of some sort. Ours just involved an entire pack of newly purchased bandaids.

Lets just say the back of the baby was in much worse shape.

And my aggies finally bloomed, seemingly weeks after everyone else in blogtopia.

And most excitingly, I did start chopping up my vintage sheet stash to make a teeny tiny quilt. Like many things in this house, it is still a work in progress, but here's a peek. Please ignore the obvious wonkiness.

How I love all those wonderful florals together. Such a shame I started sewing in another midnight frenzy and forgot to add seam allowance on all sides of the square. About 5 cm out in measurements so now needs a blasted trim. I used one of those lovely soft flannies on the back.

And did you hear that the Vintage sheet swap is back on? I am so excited as this will be my first and lately I have been stumbling across some beauties, must be due to those 6 bags of stuff that just went to the Salvos. We are in the process of a massive decluttering over here at Betsy's, kind of a room by room purge. There is less time for blogging but lots to show for it and some exciting Betsy related news coming soon.

Pop over to Sophie's place for more flea market finds.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Holiday treats

Well with school holidays in full swing, there hasn't been much time for thrifting. I did manage to steal a few child free hours and felt it was my civic duty to attend one of my old favourite op shops that closed down for almost a year after the city floods in January 2011. The flood went nearly 2 metres through the whole warehouse and it has taken this long to get up and running again. Even though I have no idea how to knit, I could not leave this lovely cluster of pearlescent knitting needles behind. Heck, last year I didn't know how to crochet, so this seems like a vaguely justifiable purchase.

Never been a huge fan of tapestries before, the ones I remember seeing in my childhood were horrid (those 80's have a lot to answer for), but these much older ones are so lovely. And only $2 each.

That sage green in the floral is one of my favourite colours. I was excited to find these buttons in the same colour as well as this lovely little box for $1- I love sewing bits and bobs.

But my find of the week, this oh so wonderful little dolly cot. Even though we have a little one already, that I have been painting and making bedding for. It was just so pink and cute, I could not leave it behind. Can I also add that miss Liongirl does have a LOT of babies and 4 babies in the one cot is probably breaching all dolly safe sleeping codes.

And finally, thank you all for your many kind words on my last blog post. I feel so fortunate to have this wonderful bloggy family out there who love and appreciate op shopping, crafting, colour, gardening, house renovating and all the other small details of life. You bring so much colour to my day.

Linking in with Sophie for more treats.

Monday, January 9, 2012

To Grow with Gratitude

If I were to sum up my resolutions for 2012 in one word it would be to GROW. To extend myself, as a mother, as a crafter and as a human being. To take great leaps into the unknown, to learn new things, to expand my heart. Today is the exact one year anniversary to the day that I started this little blog. It was probably the day I tentatively stretched out my first shoot, that first curling tendril, that first leaf.

Before that I was not in a place where growth was an option.

I have a complicated child, my first child. When you have a complicated child everything is, well, complicated. Every single tiny thing is hard. To just feed your child and leave the house is hard. Spending time with other people and their uncomplicated children is hard. For a long time your complicated child does not let you sing, or take photos, or like to be touched. You start to feel like most of the joy in being a mother has been stolen.  Many many many hours are spent learning how to help your complicated child do the things that other children can just do. This does not leave much time for anything else and it can be a very lonely path to travel.

But as you walk along this road, and the weeks turn into months and the months turn into one, two, three years,  gradually the fog starts to lift and you can see something in the distance. A little light, in a little room. And a sign on the door that says, YES , you have turned the corner, it is getting easier every day. And people stop noticing your complicated child, he is a little less complicated, and you start to worry a little less.

And many, many people turn up when you need them, to give you advice, or support, or to guide you in the right direction. And then maybe one day you wake up and you are not filled with the anxious dread of how you are going to get through another complicated day. And you remember once, when you were not filled with complicated thoughts, that you loved to make things and be creative. And you want it back, and you think there might actually be a little time now. And so you start a blog. Because one cannot have a blog, without doing something blogworthy.

A year ago I started this blog with the sole purpose of being more creative. Along the way I have found much to inspire me, many new friends, and have surprised myself with what I can achieve around the day to day with two small children. What I was not expecting was that by finding the tiny moments of goodness in what may otherwise be a complicated day or week, I have come to love my complicated child so much more. I have learnt that through adversity comes strength. And with the retreat of adversity, comes joy. Simple joy for tiny things that are hard won.  I am slowly learning that gratitude is indeed the best attitude.

A few months ago I cut out a review of this book and it stuck it on my pin board. I remembered to ask for someone to buy it for me for Christmas. And it was more inspiration than I expected. John is a lawyer whose life is not in a great place. At an all time low point he has an epiphany that he needs to express more gratitude and he commits to writing a thank you note every day for a year. The old fashioned way, with a pen, paper and a stamp.

And then while shopping for Christmas presents, I came across this book and bought it for myself. Gretchen is a writer and mother of two small children in New York who realizes while she is not depressed, she is hardly happy as a clam. She does a massive amount of research on happiness and then undertakes a project where over the period of a year she will implement her distilled knowledge of all this happiness research. Given that I would describe her as a neurotic over thinker, we had a lot in common. It heartened me that she with her uncomplicated life and uncomplicated children would need to undertake such a project.

Gratitude is very current, very trendy for want of a better word. I had already been inspired by this grateful project where a young photographer mum took a photo of a moment to be grateful for, every day for a year. But I was not inspired enough to actually do it.

After reading 365 Thankyous, I felt differently. This was daily gratitude, but to me this was bigger. Not only was it taking a moment to be grateful but it was taking the time to write a real thank you and send that gratitude onto someone else and hopefully brighten their day. And this was enough to inspire me.

So my big scary committed project?

Every day for 365 days, I am going to write a thank you to someone who has created a positive moment  in my life. And I am going to write it by hand on a card and then post it, snail mail style. I have done eight already and it feels good.

It is scary too. That is a lot of cards, a lot of words, a chunk of time. What if I don't have the right words, what if I run out of people to thank? It will probably involve having to make some of my own cards.

So, if this inspires anyone, I have called mine " Gratefully yours, 365" as this is how I will be signing my cards. At the end of every month I will let you know if I am keeping up. Feel free to join in and bounce that gratitude right around the world. Or just get your hands on these two books, you will inspired.

I am so looking forward to learning, sharing, being inspired, being humbled and walking down this road with all of you. A whole lotta people I really like. 2012, Bring it On. And for anyone with a child, complicated or not, remember as I learnt from Gretchen, The days may be long, but the years are short.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pav-tastic milk glass moment

Remember a while back my mother- in- law mentioned that she might possibly have some sort of milk glass dish stashed in her cupboard? Well holy cow, look what she ferreted out and brought over recently. No, not the pavlova, that's my creation.

The absolutely perfect Fenton milk glass cake stand. I think I almost wept on the spot. It is sublimely beautiful, every little hobnail and frill is a delight. I had been waiting to cook something impressive in order to show off it's best features and thought I also needed to redeem myself with respect to recent pavlova efforts. This is a triple tier pavlova magic mountain special that I made for my mother-in - law's birthday. I think she was a little stunned by the absolute pavtasticness of this creation but was more than a little chuffed that her milk glass cake stand was making such a spectacular debut.

I made three pavs and was attempting a wedding cake tiered shape but pavs are obviously not that well behaved and once creamed it sort of looked more like a hat. A few more adornments and well, more like a mountain.

Yes, there was a small implosion of the ground level. Still, once covered in all the yummies, it transformed into the magic mountain special.

So easy to whip up a few meringue kisses with the leftover mixture. I didn't even pipe these, just twirled them with a spoon. My mother-in-law took the whole top layer home and we all ate the bottom two layers. The cake stand is mine to keep, never again will I raise an eyebrow over MIL's hoarding tendencies.

Other than scoffing down pavlova the start of the new year has left me reflecting on my resolutions for 2011. My three broad goals were gratitude, organization and creativity and I feel that I did make a good start on all three.

My more specific achievements are much less impressive than I had hoped. Progress on Betsy was painfully slow and frequently hampered by indecision. I'm too embarrassed to be more specific than that. On a positive note, before the year was out I did manage to start a vegie garden, plant 2 trees and 3 rose bushes, have my own chickens (until they were foxed a few months ago), pull out a sewing machine that had never been out of the box and start sewing, learn to crochet, start a sewing group, upgrade to a digital camera, start a milk glass collection, make two installations for the prep classroom  and find the best vintage sheet stash on holidays in rural Victoria. Oh, yes and I did start a little blog.

And now I'm plotting something to build on this year of progress, something big, and wishfully grand and a little scary. A project of sorts, a commitment of both time and thoughts. Want some clues?

Back soon with the whole story. Hoping someone else might be inspired to come along for the ride........

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thrifting by the sea

So, a beach holiday is always a good thing. Sunshine every day is not guaranteed but was very much appreciated. Coastal town op shopping was just the icing on the cake. Due to being Christmas/New Year week at least half the op shops were closed. That left about four to ferret through, some with the kids, some while they napped. The sheets  were $2.50 each and there were two of the middle one, the top one made me swoon on the spot. Legoman spotted the milk glass for me, he is well trained now. I returned the favour with a very cool lego find.

I love adding to an existing collection. We have about six if these Australian animal Golden books now.
Op shopping with kids can be tricky. If the toy section is small , they are not always easily amused. This would have to be my ultimate op shopping with kids find.

The biggest tub of random buttons to sort through. This is so up Roboboy's alley it's not funny. He probably thinks this out ranks Seaworld for a fun afternoon. So I just left them there ferreting through, choosing all the colourful ones while I had a good prowl around the rest of the shop. Even after we arrived home we got more mileage out of those buttons with more sorting and selecting. And unbelievably, there was a 50 % off sale at the op shop so those 200 buttons came to a sum total of $1!

This supremely awesome towel was thrifted a few weeks ago back home for $3 but I had to share miss Liongirl's delight at the discovery that it completely matched her new favourite birthday swimmers from the best Aunty in the world.

It's very important when you are exploring rockpools looking for treasures of the sea, to be appropriately attired.

We stumbled across a heap of hermit crabs. That only means one thing. Time for a hermie race. Draw a circle, select your hermie, racers to the centre of the ring, then go go go. For the record, my crab "Big Mama" powered home and crawled completely off the race rock while a few of the others barely even woke up.

 I love having a sense of building a history at the place you go for holidays. A collection of memories of the passing of time with your small children. I took this photo back in February of my Liongirl.

Just a little moment of deja vu.

Same girl, just a little more hair and longer legs. Same attitude towards politely requested photographs.

Moffat Beach Caloundra, we will be back, hopefully soon.

Happy Merry New Year

Well you won't believe what we have been up to. Although you may have suspicions due to the extensive blog hiatus. We did the unthinkable and absconded for Christmas. To the beach no less. And I must say, I would highly recommend disappearing for a week from Christmas Eve, the only negative being the process of having to stuff all the presents in the car. Feng Shui Nonna came and stayed for few nights and brought a teeny tree for us to redecorate on arrival so we didn't miss our house or the Christmas lego too much.

Roboboy was quite concerned that Santa may not realize we were at the beach and would leave the presents at home, but gosh that Santa seems to be switched on.

Santa had obviously taken note of the school work book complete with detailed drawing of the requested item. With accompanying text just to be sure, "Aleene Con Cwest" (Alien Conquest). I myself just breathed a great sigh of relief that the most wanted item back in June was still highly prized come December (one wouldn't want Santa to not hit the mark of course).

And Liongirl, well anything pink and she is pretty much happy. The prized items appear to be a toy manicure set from her cousins which she wields with gusto on any set of nails she can find and a talking My Little  Pony Fairy wand with my all time favourite cracker of a line " I'll be the best looking pony in the library". The Duplo hospital that she has been coveting on every visit to a Target all year appears to be providing therapy of sorts as she provides medical care inter mixed with periods of  Time out for various infractions.

I did make a pavlova of course, it's completely traditional and pretty easy. Unfortunately due to an incident best described as an implosion, this is the best photo I can provide.  Can I add that before I dropped that very large dollop of cream on the top, it did look perfect. Liongirl thought the whole event was for laughs and frankly any pav disaster can be recovered with a slathering of cream and fruit and no one is any the wiser when it comes to the eating part.

We had a barbeque lunch and then spent the rest of the day playing with our Christmas cracker racing Santas,

as well as a lot of this.

Liongirl suddenly worked out how to swim a few weeks before her third birthday and is just like her brother- completely fearless in the water with no awareness of her limitations whatsoever. She can easily swim 3-4 metres now but would probably then sink like a stone when she had to stop and take a breath. Makes for constant parental vigilence but so pleased she is a water baby too. She was not so at ease with the ocean waves though, which meant some quality time for Roboboy and I to hang out and make some sand creations.

Mother and baby dolphin of course. There is always time for a moustache, and a general horse around.

And how about rounding the day off with a spot of ocean gazing from the bedroom window.

While getting stuck into reading some delicious Christmas presents as the kidlets collapse with icypoles in front of the Octonauts Christmas special on ABC kids. Could life be more blissful than this?

Actually yes, it can be more blissful. Just wait until you see the spoils of regional coastal town op shopping! Back soon, and wishing you all a very happy merry New Year.