Sunday, September 28, 2014

38 again and 39 of 52

So I got a little out of sync with the weeks and I missed a week so here is actual week 38

eye test with dad and 'I want one of these birthday gifts for my birthday' session

and week 39 - piano with pop and zoo trip

now it's school holidays and grandies staying so it might be a little quiet again because we'll be out having fun.

love you more than keeping up, just xxx

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Make My Week - New Look 6143

See.... I did do something a bit more complex this week!

Apart from the very unappealing cover styling (what is with the 90s styling pattern companies???) I liked the sweet heart insert into the neckline on view E.

Because it is a New Look pattern I drafted (or rather just drew freestyle onto the pattern pieces) some darts in the back neckline. NL patterns seem to be fit for a very unusual figure type and all the reviews I ever read about their patterns make this same complaint - weird neckline gaping.

I also lined the bodice and did 2 layers in the skirt which I widened and did gathers instead of pleats. I also added pockets because - you know - pockets! The double layers are to combat the see-through-ness of the fabric. The birds are actually outlined in orange - here is a close up:

Aside from the fact that my neck darts needed some more taken out I was pretty pleased with this dress. The insert bit was a real pain and bits caught and I actually used a quick-unpick and I ended up hand basting it before I did the final sew. And exposed zipper - just for fun. (Shonky back view I realise, sorry, not really).

As part of the pattern you make bias binding to finish the arm and neck holes, which I rather like the effect of.

The orange band I have in my hair is for wearing as a sash but I quite liked it in my hair so there it stayed.

as it pretty much feels like summer weather here already I know this dress will get a lot of wear. It's made of poly-cotton and it doesn't seem to show sweat marks  or crease - win.

Joining in here with lovely clevers

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than an origami duck xxxx

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Learning Together - picture word hunt

This was one of those crazy activities that sort of came from something random Flip said about hiding things for them to find around the house.

On afternoon about 10 minutes before I left to get the boys for school I scribbled down 12 different words I knew they could both read or figure out numbered each and stuck them in every room of the house including laundry, ensuite, toilets, my 'sewing room' (corner)....

When they got home I gave them both a piece of paper divided into 12 sections and numbered then I sent them off in different directions to find and draw each item.

Wee Bounce started by writing the first word (which could be a variation) but they soon got into it. They went at different speeds but because they started in different rooms it wasn't a race (which often takes the joy out of things here and means the little one doesn't want to play) and they were both super engaged.

They loved this so much and it was cute (and have me some time to prep tea). We'll be doing it again for sure.

  • Word recognition - they could check if they wanted to but only once they had their idea sorted. 
  • Fine motor skills - we don't do a lot of drawing and fine motor work so some simple speedy drawings that don't have to be perfect but do have to be small are a good work out for little hands.
  • Close reading/matching - they had to find the appropriate box for each picture which is good number recognition for the little one and careful checking for the big one - achievable but an extra thinking step.
In case you can't be bothered thinking of your own words ours were - ant, car, three, tree, family, hat, teddy, cat, rainbow, cow, angel, banana.

and we had lots of fun - result!

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than a super cute picture xxx

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chic Lit

I've decided that Chic Lit (as in fairly easy, sometimes 'frothy' reads aimed at a female audience) has a happy place in my bookshelves. It's not what I usually buy but there are times when I just need something that isn't too taxing or intense to read.

But I still have specific things I like and dislike. My general dislikes are:
  •  too much sex or sex with too much details - I do have an imagination if required, otherwise I'm just not interested in reading about it thanks.
  • story-lines that are driven by misunderstandings, assumptions characters make about other characters, lies or a general lack of honesty - this one does seem to feature a lot and it does in movies too. I suppose it's to build tension but a lot of the time I find it annoying, I start to think if you would just be honest or give the guy the benefit of the doubt and actually ask him things might get on, also those plot lines feel really unrealistic to me (I know because being a journalist who spends her life buying inordinately expensive shoes, shagging strangers she met last week and eating at nice places all the time but maintaining a size 6 figure is so realistic :o) I realise that!)
  • swearing - not a fan. I try not to do it too much in real life and I will excuse the odd word but when it's every page I get a little turned off - I sort of 'hear' the words while I am reading so it feels like a bit of an assault on me.
  • when characters are too obvious or shallow or you know the plot for the whole book before you've reached the end of chapter one
Whew, now that those gripes are off my chest I'm going to let you in on some chic lit I've been consuming lately.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
This is a mother-daughter authored book which I find super sweet and kind of amazing, especially considering Van Leer is a junior in high school. Could you get through all the sweat of writing a novel with your mama and keep the relationship in tact? It's a teenage read and a romance but done nicely and a little quirky to boot. It's a better written less cheesy and shallow version of the sweet valley high books I used to read as a teenager (I know, don't think too little of me will you?!!) No sex, pretty sure no swearing and a protagonist who is not popular or self-confident. I think a lot of adolescent and teenage girls could enjoy this tale which is told by 2 different characters and has a fairy tale running through it. The novel which is a decent size and length is also interspersed with pencil drawings and silhouettes.
Details Allen and Unwin, August 2014, RRP $ 14.99 Aus.

Mothers and Daughters by Kylie Ladd
This novel is based on a week away for 4 mothers and their teenage daughters to a very remote dry (as in, alcohol free) community in the far, far north of Australia. Considerably more 'grown-up' than Between the Lines in my book this is an adult only read. Ladd is clearly a strong author and she manages to tell the story of the week from the perspectives of 8 different characters across 2 strong age bands. The narrative is pacey and the characters are well drawn. I can see this book getting a lot of positive reviews for the real and complex relationships it manages to portray. I didn't find it an easy read. There is a lot of swearing in the book (and not from the teenagers) and a lot of a way of living and perceiving life that I found hard to relate to. Mothers who are unfulfilled, unhappy and given to a lot of drinking, daughters who are risky and disrespectful (though these things aren't true of all the characters) and experiences I know happen but I'd probably rather not read about. I can imagine, however,  it will strike a chord for a lot of readers though and particularly women who are parenting through the transition of their daughter become teenagers and pushing them away. I did engage with the story though and shed a few tears, had some laughs and wanted to yell at a couple of characters loudly over the course of the novel. I'm sure there will be those who disagree with my reservations on this one and I am impressed by much of what Ladd has achieved. (She also has a PhD in neuropsychology which is pretty impressive!) I also loved the way Ladd confronts racism and challenges ways of thinking about 'cultural experiences'.
Details Allen & Unwin, August 2014, RRP $29.99 Aus, available as an ebook.

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
This novel is a real chic-lit novel. I read it fast. I laughed aloud a couple of times (which happens a lot in real life but rarely when I am reading). The central character, who happens to be a novelist writing a trilogy on the Bronte sisters, has her life fall apart and she is destined to start anew. Against the odds and everyone's best advice she buys an old manor in rural-ish Victoria which has family connections and sets about refurbishing it. There are shocks, mysteries, a love interest, a controlling sister, a disapproving great-Aunt, well loved but sometimes misunderstood children  and an ex-husband and a floozy included in the cast of characters. It is clearly and Australian setting and I think will appeal to those who have the landscape of Australia in their bones and love it's wildness and native animals. It's upbeat and happy and it's an enjoyable read. Perfect for a hot summer with a cold drink. I think Brown has invested a lot of herself into the pages of the book and I really like the interiors aspect of the novel - doing up houses is fun when you don't have to invest any elbow grease!
Details Allen & Unwin, August 2014, RRP $29.99 Aus, available as an ebook.

Interestingly both Tumbledown Manor and Mothers and Daughters confront the issue of lingering racism towards Aboriginal people. And the attitudes that have kept peoples and cultures apart across generations. In the case of Mothers and Daughters I found these both shocking (to consider some attitudes that people may still hold) but also very encouraging - to see someone who has considerable talent use this to confront stereotypes and challenge assumed ways of thinking and doing things in the context of what will be a widely read novel is 'art' changing the world.

The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiavereni
I grabbed this off the shelf on the 'recently acquired' section of the library (a great section to hang around in!) This is one in a series and I have read a few of them in the past. I love the characters in these books and I think Chiavereni does portray the relationships that women and men share as friends and lovers beautifully. This one centres around the gathering of all the Elm Creek Quilters to celebrate the wedding of Sarah's daughter Caroline. There are lots of quilts and reflecting how each person in the 'quilt family' came to play such an important role in their lives. I found the writing enjoyable and easy to read. My only critique of the book would be that it spends most of the book retelling all the story-lines of the other books in the series so you end up skipping a lot (really quite a lot) because you have already read what happened in those ones or, if it was the first one you picked up, quite a lot of the other novels would be spoiled. I'm not quite sure why the author does this except as a filler for not having enough to fill the novel with the current story. That said if you like quilting, thinking about 'blocks' and beautiful friendships you will really enjoy any of these novels but you won't need to read them all. Perfect for a winter's night wrapped up under a quilt. I'd certainly be happy to read other novels she has written.
Details Dutton, Nov 2011, RRP $16.00 US, available as an ebook. quite a range in there and definitely a lot of contrast between them and the memoirs I have been reading lately. I do like to change things up and each of these books have given me things to think about and enjoy. I like that there is such a diverse range of genres and weight in the 'chic-lit' family.

love you more than escaping into a different world for a few hours xxx

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Make My Week - tumbleweed blowing

my crafty space is neglected.... I can almost see the tumbleweed blowing through - but I do have 2 new projects in the pipeline after my final big event on Saturday.

So for this week - hold your breath this is pretty exciting!!

I made a baby taggy - all of 10minutes before a school pick up - I know you are incredibly impressed by me right now aren't you?

of course you are!

Everything was in the draws so essentially a 'free' make.

Joining in, totally unashamed, with much more technical makes here:

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than holding your head high while  bringing a packet of 2 minute noodles to a share a plate event xxxx

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pimp My Ride

Hello, hello what have we here?

A new trolley... I outgrew my last one

and of course it wasn't truly mine without a little fake foliage!

love you more than a bloom that causes no hayfever xxx

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learning Together - silly rhymes

Take a 'sight word', by which I mean a spelling word or a simple tricky word like - there, turn, or whatever words cause consternation at your place, or a word that you have on a list of words to recognise by sight.

Now have some fun thinking of all the rhyming words you can think of. Record them on a chart/ white board/ piece of paper

make sure you throw in a few ridiculous ones for good measure like 'zear' - you know the baby of a zebra and a deer - I can't believe you've never heard of them! What are those teachers teaching you?

Now try to write a short 4 line poem together using some of the rhyming words.

Perform it in silly voices if the mood so takes you.


  • spelling patterns when a word like 'there' also rhymes with bear, pier, and cheer you start to 'see' that there are different ways to make a long e sound. Of course in NZ (and probably Aus?) pear, peer, pair and pier all rhyme - they don't in England! Yes happy to ruin those vowels for you English colonialists.
  • playing with rhythm and language - when you try to write lines that rhyme you naturally have to adapt them to get the rhyme scheme to work properly 
  • word recognition - if this is a spelling or sight word or just a word they perpetually get wrong by the end of this activity they will have seen it written, they will have written it and they will have said it aloud several times - all without the dreaded 'write it out 5 times' ever being uttered.

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than that fat cat who sat on the mat and crushed his hat xxx

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Things to Ease the Christmas Rush

So I think we've talked about Christmas stockings before.

The Atlas had them as child and wanted to continue the tradition. I quite like the idea of them but I don't want to a) spend a lot on filling them or b) buy 'land fill' (you know that plastic junk from the cheapie shops?) so my solution?

1. Make small stockings - much easier to fill especially once there is a compulsory piece of fruit and random vegetable (The Atlas insists on that!).

2. Try to find small cheap things that I am happy for the boys to have and I think will delight them on Christmas morning.

So over the next 10 weeks or so I will buy one of these each time I shop at the supermarket (for the ones I can get there). This means an extra $5 or so each week instead of $50 just before Christmas. I will probably also buy an extra one of each thing so we can do an Operation Christmas Child box or something similar, which is an important part of our Christmas Tradition.

These are my ideas - I'd love to hear some of yours.

1. Novelty plasters - major hit last year. This year I have found Mr Bump and 'Cars' ones and some under the sea themed ones. All for about $2.50 a box.

2. Large Stick of Chalk - the other day Flip was given one of these and walked all the way home from town drawing the most random and hilarious things like 'look up' with an arrow and 'lifes hard' (so random, especially as he was drawing smiley faces everywhere!). Worth about 50c

3. Cake baubles - I quite like a bit of baking bling but I hardly ever buy it so I know the boys will love decorating the cakes to go with them. About $2-3

4. Paper Straws - I like that they are biodegradable (more so than the plastic ones anyway). These can be more pricey but sometimes the cheapie shops get them too so you can snap them up for $2-3.

5. Bubble Mix - they are, finally, old enough to be reasonably trustworthy to not spill the entire contents of these on the first attempt to blow bubbles. Approx $1

6. Handmade decoration - fun and festive and something for their growing collections and the fact that we have no Christmas decorations here with us. free-ish

7. Washi tape - we can never have too much of that. I buy mine in Australia here and they often have rolls reduced to $2 plus free postage for 10 or more rolls so I should see if anyone wants to go in together?? (I also have a discount code if you want one).

8. Cookie Cutter - makes a fun summer project and I figure you can't have too many, right? Anywhere from $2-5

9. A nice bookmark - I am thinking of making some with little photos of them on and laminating them. free-ish

10. 'Pass it On' cards - these are a blast from my past I discovered in the Christian bookshop the other day - they are business style cards with cute/encouraging messages on the front and the back is blank for you to write a little message of love. 25c each.

So that's my top 10. If I get one every week from now I will be well sorted before Christmas and it should mean I don't end up in a frenzied over spend of land fill inducing nastiness.

What is an essential stocking item in your book?

love you more than a peaceful week before school ends xxxx

Sunday, September 14, 2014


art making

how I love to see you both at work

sweet, sweet things

love you more than new art supplies xxx

Friday, September 12, 2014

Learning Together - a little of what you fancy

One of the skills I believe is important is social confidence. Some children are naturally confident and others struggle with confidence but I want to know my boys will be equipped with social confidence to see them through different situations.

So this week rather than a 'homework activity' I'm going a bit 'real life'!

Bounce needed a new reading folder for school, which you get from the office. So in we went together. Rather than me asking it for it, paying, sorting it out.... I got him (with coaching and encouragement from the sidelines) to do it. We started with a 'good morning R (school receptionist)', 'Can I please get a reader folder'.

I did the payment as it was on EFTPOS but he also wrote his name on the folder. Of course I would have like to do that myself with fancy writing and what if he made a mistake?? but all of the greetings, asking for what you need, taking responsibility and thanking are special skills that I want him to develop.

If I was held up getting to school one day or there was some other situation arise then I want to think he will have the confidence to go to the office, speak clearly and ask for what he needs. Small situations provide good practice for him to relate to adults, communicate well and feel heard.

Photo Source Here
And for a little more, we went to the markets yesterday afternoon after school - sorry boys we're not walking home to do homework we're going out for a treat - when we got there I told them they could have up to $5 to buy a treat.

In this situation I want my boys to practice these skills:
  • decision making - it is a smallish amount of money for them to handle but they can choose from a large variety of options. Looking at options, narrowing down favourites, checking and re-checking is a little tedious and not for the frazzled or time poor but it is a helpful skill to exercise. All through life there are times to make choices and learning to do this and live with the consequences after you tried the first mouthful is an important skill. (Been caught out on choosing something that looks good but tastes disappointing? Yeah, me too!)
  • dealing with money and change - I would expect Flip to be able to tell me how much change he will get from his choice and Bounce is still working out what is less or more than $5 by looking at the prices, reading the amount to me and deciding if the dollar number is less or more than 5.
  • social confidence - waiting your turn, speaking loudly, saying thank you, handing over money... these are all important activities that children don't get to practice that often in real life contexts
Of course this is also fun, it's a treat, it's building collective family memories and I am very blessed to be able to do these things so easily with the boys.

What about you? Do you encourage your children to take the lead in shop interactions or making requests of adults at school/ kindy? It's easier just to do it myself I admit, but I get such a feeling of delight in seeing my boys take these things on and have success and positive feedback from adults in our community and in the long run these are real skills I want them to have.

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than a sweet treat for mummy too xxx

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Make My Week - Silhouette Hoops

I have made these before and even written a tutorial (of sorts!) here.

These were for examples for the craft class I ran recently. A friend emailed me the pictures and I asked her girls what their favourite colours were and chose the fabric accordingly.

I love how these can be so easily recognised by people who know the subjects.

Keeping it nice and simple round here for another week or so and then the pressure subsides somewhat.

joining in here

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than light at the end of the tunnel xxx

Monday, September 8, 2014

Memoirs - and exposing yourself

The following books are vastly different but as memoirs are the personal stories of people. I found these memoirs really interesting - I also pondered the courage it takes to write with such honesty and candor.

To Begin to Know by David Leser
Leser's family escaped the Holocaust to NZ and then Australia. His father became an institution in his own right as a publisher of the most glamorous of magazines first in Australia and then throughout the world. Leser's world growing up was one of glamour and prestige. For much of his life as a writer himself he sought to push against his father's world, to balance the loving and loathing he found in the world of his father and to an extent in the man himself.

Leser writes with real honesty - at times his experiences are somewhat alarming and his own prejudice against the rich and privileged for much of his life is also evident. But he writes with humanity and with the humility that comes from honest inward seeking. He paints himself neither as hero nor victim and he explores the tenuousness of all his relationships, especially that of the father and son.

His work has taken him all over the world and into the lives of many different wonderful, and not-so-wonderful people but again and again it comes back to who he his, how the wisdom of others has influenced him and the enduring power and influence of his father's role in his life.

I think this book would interest anyone who wants to write, anyone who is exploring the complexities of their relationship with their family of origin, and anyone who is prepared to consider searching and judging themselves more deeply.

It is a story of success and loss and ultimately for me of finding contentment and peace in the imperfection.
Details Allen & Unwin.July 2014 RRP $32.99 Aus available as an ebook.

Dress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti
I was excited to receive this book - it's about measuring your life by the clothes you wear. I could relate right from the get go! Vashti chooses a dress that signifies each year of her 20s - and there are photos, yay! I would have been so disappointed with just sketches or worse, nothing.

The book has a chapter (plus a couple) for each year in Vashti's twenties. Each chapter outlines major events, triumphs, disappointments and disillusions and each describes a dress and a significant day that encapsulates what that year essentially meant to Vashti.

Far from a dash of fabulousness from one year to the next this book tells the story of a woman caught in her twenties watching the rest of the world find their way as she looks for hers, in many places. Vashti's twenties unfold with rather a lot of personal difficulty but end with hope and answers. I think many people would relate to Vashti's journey and even if you are just in it for the clothes - you'll like it too. Baby pink cross-over jumpsuit anyone?

Details Allen & Unwin August 2014 RRP $27.99 Aus, available as an ebook

Blood and Circuses by Lex Marinos
I so enjoyed this memoir. Marinos' life in radio, film, theatre and TV is so interesting and the variety of opportunities that have come his way because of his talent and also because of his Greek heritage and being a 'wog' (which, as a non-Australian, I think is a derogatory term used on anyone of non-English European heritage). From growing up feeling ashamed of his heritage to coming to value it and recognise it as part of who he is Marinos is engaging.

His life is full of adventure and mischief and he has certainly achieved a lot and had many wonderful experiences so far. As a person I imagine he'd always have a twinkle in his eye and a plan for misadventure in mind.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone who loves theatre and performance (and sport!) and is interested in how it developed at time when Australia was learning to love and value its own uniqueness rather than try to imitate 'the English way'. For any fans of Marinos in any of his multitude of roles - radio, film, theatre, TV this book will share more of the man whose talent they admire. Marinos tells a good tale, he is entertaining and there is such a lot going on in his life the book never becomes dull.

Details Allen & Unwin July 2014, RRP $32.99 Aus, available as an ebook

I guess what makes all of these memoirs work is the author's commitment to honesty. (And the fact they are good writers!) When you read them it really feels as though they have 'dropped the towel' and let you see the true them. They have resisted the urge to write themselves well and honorably and have owned their shortcomings and failures, and so you relate to them as people.

Their own ability to allow you to see the true them and possibly judge them means that you don't. It must be very freeing to be in the public eye and to write books like these because you no longer have anything to hide - if people want to expose you, you have already done it yourself. Perhaps we all need a little more of this kind of sharing?

love you more than having nothing to hide xxxx

Sunday, September 7, 2014


school sports day

with very limited (7 minutes) battery life

love you more than being organised in advance xxx

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Make My Week - Little Inspirations

This week I've been remembering Christchurch and 4 years on

Encouraging myself (obviously I'm raising boys but it doesn't work so well in the context of the quote to change it to 'and may we raise strong boys!)


and dreaming.

This week I've been making little quote images to make magnets with - simple? Yes but some weeks require simplicity and speed :o)

What do you need today?

Take the one that's right for you xx

Joining in here
 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than the right word at the right time xxx