Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Right now

Ok, this is the fourth attempt to write this post in as many weeks. Firstly, before I forget (and I reminded myself with this photo) THANK YOU all for your wonderful, kind, inspirational and nagging comments on my last post. They have most definitely helped me to get back here again ( I respond well to nagging but we'll ignore the fact that it has taken over eight weeks).

My last attempt at a " Right now" post dragged on over about four weeks and became completely confusing so it is sitting in drafts while I pretend it does not exist. This attempt is going to be done tonight and I am absolutely not going to fall asleep doing it.

Right now it has been almost a year since we moved back home after the renovation. There was a flurry of renovating activity back in Summer and then after Easter it stalled pretty much through all of winter. Now that we are coming out the other side of months of winter illness the motivation is coming back. Right now there are six completed rooms in the house, four that are half finished (undercoated) and another four that are untouched.

Right now, for the first time in as long as anybody can remember, my house is no longer blue. Yep, just yesterday, after seven long weeks of scaffolding and drop sheets and sanding and dust, a lovely painter finished giving Betsy her long awaited new frock. Here is a sneak peek, with some mulberries from my garden.

Right now we are all enjoying the beautiful spring weather and spring blooms.

Right now I am enjoying popping back to a few op shops ( there has been a bit of a hiatus there too) and finding some colour.

I love this pin case as it reminds me of the one my mum used when I was a little girl ( I think hers was the same but pale blue)

Right now these two curbside finds are lining up to get painted. The big one is a boot rack for the laundry, the small is going to transform into a stove for the sandpit.

Right now my girl is super excited to have won the prep prize for most bling'd up scooter on walk or ride to school day. We obviously know how to do good bling in this house.

Right now the kitchen art wall looks like this.

Well, look at that, an entire post written and I am still awake.  I very much hope to share some befores and afters of the last year but for now I am just thankful to be back, even if it is just in the moment of right now.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Time to get back on the blog

I think I fell off my blog. I think I started slipping off sometime last year  and while I continued for a while out of some sense of duty, this year the words whittled away and then eventually just dried up completely. The reason for my lack of words is complicated, boring and probably better left unsaid. Sometimes there are just not the words to be found.  Sometimes finding the colour and magic in the everyday no longer becomes an everyday reality. Sometimes the great unsaid becomes too great and there is nothing left to be said at all.

Around the same time that I fell off this blog I noticed many other blogs  appeared to be drifting away. Sadly, while the big commercial blogs endure, many of my favourite  bloggers (real people who love to create/craft/renovate/op shop/share the joy of their families) have been blogging much less or not at all.

I suspect many of them have defected to Instagram. I avoided Instagram for as long as it took me to realise that if I wanted to find out what was happening on West End Cottage's renovation I needed to get myself over there (totally understandable Caroline, given that your primary job is raising those four gorgeous boys not providing reno updates for me). Having dabbled there for a few months (partly due to a dodgy internet connection at home) I have come to the conclusion that Instagram unsettles me on several levels and I really need to start blogging again.

I wondered if anyone else had felt like this about Instagram so I want to share what I have noticed.
Firstly, with horror and surprise I have roughly the same number of followers after four months on Instagram as took me almost four years blogging. Despite that, I only feel like I have genuinely connected to a handful of new people. (Many of the followers are old bloggy buddies and it is so nice to find you all again). I am spending bigger chunks of my precious time looking at pretty pictures from people I do not know and will never really know because there are not enough words, there is no story and heck that picture of a cat/rabbit/vase of peonies/gorgeous vintage fabric- who did that belong to again? Because I have just seen 357 like that today and I can't keep track of who is who because there are not enough words, no story and no layers.

I love knowing that Zara has chickens, sews her own vintage fabric frocks  (and is possibly the only person with more milk glass than me),  and Kylie has a finished laundry renovation and Brismod has moved into the Midcentury house of her dreams and Elaina is teaching herself to sew and Christina knits her own socks and  Gillian is now posh cause her house is in a magazine ( and I like knew her, before she was all famous) and Ada has just painted her lounge room the most glorious shade of blue and Mel is having tea with the 94 year old lady who used to own her house and Deb (who I have never met) just knitted my daughter the most beautiful rainbow beanie because she knows she would love it.
I also feel that Instagram has a more addictive quality, there are simply so many images to keep up with, it is easy to just pop on there ALL THE TIME.
Lastly, I have noticed that since joining Instagram I am simply wanting more stuff. Having never been an internet shopper this is noticeable as I have made several purchases and am coveting more clothes/shoes/bags/vintage goodies/pet rabbits* than I ever did while blogging. The proportion of stores and stylists and people just flogging their stuff on Instagram is massive and to me feels oppressive. Maybe I just haven't stumbled onto enough creative Instagrammers but instead of feeling inspired I feel wanting and I don't remember feeling like this blogging.

So, if anyone still actually reads blogs, I would love to know if anyone else wants a bloggy revival? Anyone else not feeling the Instagram love? And if no one is reading, woohoo, I'll just get back to writing like no one is reading and keepsake all these precious memories for my kids.

Before I forget, if my bloggy mojo can be successfully resuscitated, there are significant reno updates to be shared. I should add I'm not totally jumping ship off Instagram, but plan to be on there a lot less and on here a lot more. Lastly, I credit the existence of this post  to Mel from Coal Valley View  as she is simply the best writer out here in blog world. Rant over.

*actually this is not quite true as I just remembered coveting pet rabbits while blogging but they were much less covetable than the current rabbits (rabbits are illegal as pets where I live unless you are a magician- tis a cruel world).

Saturday, June 7, 2014


a portrait of my children, once a week. every week in 2014 inspired by Jodi

He : always easy to spot in that favourite colour. He tells me he is completely off bright colours and wants me to only buy blue and green but still the old yellow gets chosen.

She : marching in the conga line at the school fete

Friday, May 30, 2014


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014 inspired by Jodi

He : we had a cold snap. "Mama, can you please wrap me up like a sausage roll?"

She : modelling my fruity headpiece for the school fete.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014 (inspired by Jodi )
She : admiring her handiwork with our easter tree and dressing up for the day in her tutu togs ( as you do)
He : white chocolate bunny love.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week inspired by Jodi

He : we paint and he reads. Poaching my scaffolding and setting up it with all his treasures.

She : she still likes to help me with the washing, not sure how much longer this will be appealing.


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014 inspired by Jodi

He : it was only a matter of time before that loom band was reconfigured into a sling shot.

She : practising her acrobatics on the plushest grass I have seen in years. I love her little wise, confident face. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welcome to Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry - a Harry Potter party for a boy turning eight

Back in March my boy turned eight. He had just read his way through all seven Harry Potter books over the Christmas holidays and most of his mates were reading too so this party theme was set. Like all our parties this one needed to be created mostly from what we had around the house and after stumbling across a few awesome HarryPotter party ideas on Pinterest we had a plan.

Invitations were sent out to his mates inviting them back to a new term at Hogwarts. He has one friend with red hair, one friend who is a girl, one who loves frogs, two who are pranksters and one who is happy to be the bad guy so welcome Ron, Hermione, Neville, Fred and George Weasley and Draco Malfoy. Little sister was keen to be Dobbie the house elf but refused to garb up in a pillowcase so came in her Christmas elf suit with embellishments.

First up we had a sorting hat ceremony. I quickly sewed some felt onto a witches hat from our dress up box. We poked a mobile phone into the mouth hole and lo and behold as each hat passed from head to head it told everyone which house they would be in. Lots of Gryffindors obviously!

Then it was off to Ollivanders to choose a wand. We made the wands out of tightly rolled paper, spray painted and embellished with hot glue ( I found a tutorial somewhere on Youtube). Phoenix feathers optional.

Then it was straight into our first class, Care of Magical creatures. I rounded up all appropriate creatures from the toy boxes and hid them around the garden. When all creatures were located we had a quiz that determined the security code for Gringotts bank. Once the code had been cracked each wizard received their stash of Galleons to spend later at Honeydukes.

The wizard who located Neville's toad also received the first Golden Snitch of the party. As packs of Ferrero Rochers come in five's, we only had this many so they were highly coveted and an incentive to win games.

Next up was what turned out to be the absolute highlight of the entire party. Potions class. Basically lots of bottles full of vinegar with different food colourings and lots of gruesome names. Add that to bicarb of soda powder aka powdered unicorn horn and lots of sludgy, sloppy, foul slurries in various colours and a selection of beans and seeds and a mortar and pestle or two. My personal favourite was pearl tapioca cooked up with a dash of pink colouring which made spectacular pufferfish eyes.

We had a few lessons in particular potions from Professor Snape (Legoman in a wig) and then we left them to it to concoct the most disgusting foul potion. Another golden snitch for the winner of the most foul and as everything was edible they all had to try their concoctions as well- this led to hysteria interspersed with gagging.

So for the next hour there was much grinding,

 mixing and sloshing. I had stuck a massive black tarp down on the lounge room floor but of course it was nowhere near big enough.

Lets not forget the tasting,

and the collaborative creating. They used up every last Ashwinder egg, rat tail, unicorn horn and pufferfish egg available.

 It was essentially every eight year old's idea of awesome ( that's Legoman's old Harry Potter set in the background, this is the first birthday in years where the birthday boy did not receive Lego).

The cleanup was also interesting.

Then it was time for some Quidditch. I had nabbed the cardboard rolls from leftover fabric rolls at Spotlight, the staff were happy to let me take a few home and they made great broomsticks without concern of broken limbs if anyone got too enthusiastic.

With seven kids it is the perfect number for Muggle Quidditch. Two beaters, two chasers, two blockers and one seeker. Poor Legoman had to run fast as he was the snitch.

And then we staggered home to spend those hard earned galleons at Honeydukes. I had written a full list with prices for each item and the kids took it all very seriously as they calculated which treats they could afford.

And only Legoman could cope with the tedious job of cutting out and assembling those Bertie Bots ever flavour beans packets that I found as a free printable.

And then finally a slab of the fastest cake I have ever slapped together at the last possible minute.

And that is how we do a Harry Potter party. Thank goodness I now have nine months to recover before the next one rolls around. I am wondering though if this may be then end of the road for parties for my boy, in which case it is good to go out with a bang. And this was all he wanted, this eight year old of mine.

Cookie and Jet, welcome to the menagerie.

Monday, April 28, 2014


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014 inspired by Jodi

He : has fallen straight into this rainbow looming craze headfirst. Oh the joy of whipping up one or three rainbow fishtail bands.

She : that first milestone has passed and the tooth is gone, caught me by surprise as she was 9  months earlier than her brother. 


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014 inspired by Jodi

He : intent and focused, designing his latest "Dream Home". This one is deep underground but has a void (inspired by the sisters on The Block) to allow in sunlight for his underground vege garden.

She : testing out her new winter pyjamas with a furry cuddle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On the road - vintage goodies in regional Victoria

It has been nearly two months since we went to Daylesford and there has simply been no time to blog about it at all. In fact there is a major backlog of posts swirling around in my head that hopefully will flood out when I have some more time. Life has been full, too full in fact for my liking, so it is nice to slow down and reminisce over those Daylesford days.

One of the things I like most about exploring a new place is sniffing out all the op shops and second hand stores. To find something to add to the collection back home and also give fond memories of the places we went to. While we didn't have any luck in the oppies around Daylesford, it didn't matter because just around the corner was the biggest collection of vintage ephemera I have ever seen.

Would you believe that when we planned to go to Daylesford I had no idea that on the edge of town was one of the largest collections of vintage and second hand goods in the southern hemisphere? I'm talking about the Mill Markets of which there are three locations - Daylesford, Ballarat and Geelong.

If you can picture a warehouse the size of a football field and then some,  you get the rough idea. It was so big we had to take a pause half way around and have lunch in the cafe! Trying to choose goodies from this kind of smorgasbord was a little challenging, but knowing I had to squeeze any purchases into a suitcase did help.

When overwhelmed with options only the most special items would be coming home but I was more than happy to swoon over all that retro colour.

So how about the goodies?

A lovely child sized apron for my girl,

An amazing retro pvc lined bag that  knew I have a true passion for pvc lined bags (this is my third),

an amazing hat the exact size for my girl ( this was the one item I chose from the Ballarat store),

a lovely old print,

and a roll of wallpaper that was sealed up and I chose for the colours ( presuming it was florals) but opened to discover it was in fact a bunch of crazy disco floral animals. Check out the 'fro on that lion/poodle creature!

As if the Mill Markets were not enough, there was also the Daylesford Bazaar in the main street but thankfully nothing was calling  my name there.

On the way to Ballarat we stopped at a tiny town called Talbot, population 258. Incredibly there was not one, but two antique shops in this tiny town. It turns out they were owned by a husband and wife, and they each had their own shop. His was enormous and chock full of more traditional crockery and furniture. Hers was more my style with vintage kitchenalia and early Australiana items. Their shops were on either side of their house, where they could pop back for lunch and to see the pets. To me it seemed a wholly ideal scenario for two collectors with different tastes. I not only found the little green egg cup but also this lovely pastel set of bowls.

The unexpected highlight was the drive back to Melbourne on our last day and all those outer suburban op shops. These three pieces of milk glass set me back $5 for the lot.

I was however very restrained and left this lovely collection for someone else.

And then at the final hour I stumbled over a wonderful pink sewing case for $5 shortly before getting on the plane - a perfect carry on bag.

In our last few hours we also made a flying visit to Gleaners Inc in Brunswick, what a lovely, lovely shop ( I may or may not have bought a dress (or two) in here).

A brief visit to the site of  "The Block",

and that was Melbourne and Daylesford and all the goodness in between.