Friday, August 28, 2015

Yes... those are my kids

When you tuck your children into bed and as you leave you hear:

Bounce: Flip, Flip smell your armpits.

love you more than entertaining where that might have come from xxx

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yeah I Made It 35/52... New Look 6000 and Part 1 of my pledge

Welcome, in case of emergencies you will find your exit button in the top left or right corner.

So I have until 10th of September to make 3 items from my stash to fulfil my pledge, and who am I to disappoint once I make a pledge??!

I have owned this fabric for 5 years it was anonymously donated to me in my first year of blogging. I love this fabric so much - I used a scrap of it in another project but then hesitated to jump with the rest if it. Fabric does this to me sometimes.

So I've made another NL 6000 dress - the simple version. I added a couple of tucks in the back neckline to work against the general 'humpback of notre dame' that seems to come as a free bonus with New Look patterns. I also did the pleats on the sleeves wrong but hey - we'll keep that between us shall we? The neckline pleats at the front were also necessary, probably I didn't take enough bulk out of the back.

I went for a shorter hemline than I usually do on this one. I blame The Atlas - he was home when I was hemming it. (Seriously hoping it doesn't shrink when I wash it!!)

I love this dress - I feel all sorts of airline stewardess in the 60s in it.

Outfit summary

Dress - NL 6000, donated fabric, items all from stash (free)
Tights - hand me down from my sister (free)
Boots - new, bought on sale recently ($170)

Overall awesome feeling - free.

So that is one down, 2 to go. I know we can hardly wait, right??
How about you - is there something you love that you just need to cut into/use/get out?

love you more than finally making something to enjoy from special fabric xxx

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

reading that distracts you from the TV - Palace of Tears

So, I opened this book one evening just after the boys had gone to bed and then 2 nights later I closed it all finished with a book hangover - which I'm pretty sure is an actual thing.

I only read it in the evenings and I didn't stay up late but I absolutely ate it up while I was reading.

Palace of Tears by Julian Leatherdale is a blissful read.

It follows the lives of several women and one Adam Fox, builder of the lavish clifftop hotel in the blue mountains, re-named Fox's Folly by the locals. The story opens in 1914 and jumps between different voices and different years.

As the narrative unfolds we are drawn into the worlds of the women who related most closely to Adam - Adelina - wife, Freya - lover and mother to Angie, around whom the story seems to spin and not spin, and Laura who enters later. As their narrative unfolds so does the narrative of Lisa, grandchild of Adam Fox, as she assists a local historian putting together information on the place that has become known as  'The Palace of Tears'.

I would happily re-read this book any time. The characters and the storyline are nuanced and well written. There is some shocking history covered as Australia journeys through 2 wars and locals react to those of foreign descent on their soil. There are lavish parties and love affairs - all covered tastefully.

So enjoyed this read the characters are really well developed and the narrative twists and turns in all the right ways unveiling itself little by little. The relationships between the characters also feel very real and have genuine emotional depth to them.

If you like strong storylines and accurate historical elements you will really enjoy this.

details - Allen and Unwin, May 2015, RRP $29.99, also available as an ebook

love you more than hydro-therapy xxx

Monday, August 24, 2015

Yes ... When - words that can change family dynamics

Parenting, not a job for the faint of heart - or for the proud - your kids will embarrass  that right out of you... fast. That is a promise.

(Don't worry though I'm pretty sure you get to give that gift right back to them during their teenage years, I'm quite looking forward to that!)

So it seems to me we ought to resource each other when we stumble onto something good that works. When The Atlas and I did a toolbox course one of the gems, and there were many, I took away was 'Yes... when'.

It would seem that semantics are in fact important. So instead of sticking the record on 'are you kidding me? Heck no' we change the record to 'of course my darling, when...'

Let me example you up on this.

Child: Mum can we go to the park?

Usual Mama: no we are not going to the park, your room is a mess and I have asked you to tidy it 40 times (mama is not above exaggeration to make a point)

instead we try this -

Child: Mum can we go to the park?

Mama: My darling, I would love to go to the park. Let's do that as soon as you have finished tidying your room. Come and get me as soon as it's done and I'll bring the soccer ball.

Do you see - those subtle little semantics?

Maybe I jest a little with my language, ;o)? But I am serious about it as a strategy. Most of the time there is a way to say yes... when. Instead of no...because. That simple word shift actually makes you feel more positive and your little one feel more like they are going to get what they want.

Of course I can't promise it will induce no whinging. I still whinge when I have to clean my room so somethings are kind of set.

So next time you are faced with

Child: Mum can I dye my hair green and get a minecraft tattoo?

You can say

Mama: Of course you can my darling when you have left home and you are paying all your own bills. At that stage I can only disapprove from afar.

See - yes... when. Try it out, it just might work a charm if you are feeling a little stuck in the 'no because' pattern.

Of course I always call my children darling and I am never less than perfect, despite what my son wrote about me on his descriptive writing activity.

love you more than still being humbled by your children after nine years in the job xxx

I would also like to add I don't actually yell, even if Flip tells the world I do. When we disagreed about this I almost said/yelled, I can show you yelling kid. (But I didn't, because I am very mature.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Power of Bloggers

Hi there philanthropist hopefuls,

It would seem maybe the internet does have some good qualities. Karen from Did You Make That has recently put together a challenge and a fundraising drive for the National Literacy Trust in the UK. Being a book lover and educator and wannabe-published children's author, this is a cause I can get behind.
Entirely unrelated photo of a small jug I recently acquired at an op-shop - for your viewing pleasure!

Karen also invited supporters to pledge to do something as well so I have promised to make 3 garments from my stash before the 10th of September - it can be done!

So whilst I go head-down bum-up into my stash I would also encourage anyone else who feels motivated to join the cause, or buy a book for a child that needs one, or read to a small child or teach the world to sing.... just because!

Until then my friends I should be cutting out. You can find out more here - should you be feeling a pledge coming on!

love you more than a zip that fits the project you started before you checked you had an appropriate zip, this is an actual, real problem xxxx

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yeah I Made It 34/52.... Wolfie

Costume loving mamas I greet you,

Flip's friends call him Wolfie, which he likes very much.

So when book week was first discussed this year he wanted to be a wolf - he wasn't too concerned about which book it came from.

I bought some fake fur and some polar fleece and used the hood pattern from a onesie sewing pattern I already had. I lined the hood in the fleece so it is pleasant (and warm) to wear. Then I made the ears by sewing a triangle of fur to a slightly smaller triangle of pink felt. By doing this the fur wraps around the felt which makes them more realistic - yes, I agree realism was probably not the overall goal!

Before I sewed the ears together I did some free motion stitching on the pink to make them.... a little more realistic!!

I sewed an elastic loop into the chin corner of the hood and sewed a button on the other side.

I then made some very simple cuffs from the offcuts, using velcro from the stash. Cue - pants and t-shirt from his wardrobe.

Face paint and we were done. He grabbed a Wolves book he bought earlier in the year.

He loved it and I'm hoping he might get further use from the hat to keep his head warm from time to time!

Selfish sewing shall resume soon...

love you more than 2 costumes done xxx

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Four Ways to Click - books with health benefits!

Relationship builders and brain lovers.... this is for you!

I was sent this book a while ago, it was published in Feb this year, and I started it, turned lots of corners to re-read and then got distracted!

So I picked it up and finished it the other day.

four ways to click -
Rewire your brain for stronger, more rewarding relationships
By Dr Amy Banks with Leigh Ann Hirschman

I loved this book. It is very accessible, even for someone (me) who has little knowledge or experience with neuroscience and it's impact on relationships. For a good deal of time psychology has been about treating people to get them to be unaffected by their relationships and where the goal has been independence.

However, neuroscience is changing and in this book Dr Banks provides compelling information that relational strength and harmony actually strengthen our brains and make for a more meaningful and happy existence.

I don't think it matters which side of the optimist/pessimist or great relationships/terrible relationships spectrums you find yourself I think this book will provide challenging and positive ways of thinking and rewiring your own perceptions and ways of being. I kept thinking of different people as I read this book and wanting to recommend it to them. I also found a couple of the sections really personally challenging and they have already had an impact on some of the ways I think and how I label my thoughts.

The four pathways that Dr Banks covers are calmness, acceptance, emotional resonance and energy. Each of these is linked to how they come into play in relationships and how they have lasting affects on our lives and relationships.

For anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by life, like they don't belong, for people struggling with emotional resilience or mental health I think this book would be interesting and encouraging. If you want a stimulating read that will challenge and extend you and also encourage you I would definitely recommend this super readable but equally academic book.

Details - Allen and Unwin, Feb 2015 RRP $29.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than a book that makes you smile while you read xxx

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

thirty four

Weekending -

helmets and no shoes!

someone finally reached his goal of saving up for skates

also, book week morning

love you more than sunshine after rain xxx

Monday, August 17, 2015

On Being Brave

Brave souls welcome,

It doesn't take a genius to work out that I am an above average extrovert. (See how I just gave myself a compliment there - I have good self-esteem too!)

As well as the extroversion I love meeting new people and being inspired creatively so a couple of Saturdays ago I bravely took myself off and met some new and inspiring artists, at a new initiative started just nearby.

How does that all count as brave? For me perhaps not as brave as for someone else but inevitably the going to something on your own, without feeling you are a particularly/ or even a somewhat, talented artist, feels daunting. It does take courage to rock up to a group when you aren't sure exactly how it works, what the people will be like and even more so when you feel you may be slightly an impostor, given that you aren't really making a lot of art.

Photo by Lily J - host extraordinaire

Fear not my friends, the bravery was handsomely rewarded with a sweet and warm reception, unlimited sharing of crafty supplies and fabulous brownie.

Big picture story? Even for the boldest and noisiest of people risk-taking is still involved in meeting new people and trying new things.

We all feel the fear of being not-enough or too-much and rejection stings .... but more often that not the risk pays off. I think of the wonderful Christchurch bloggers who overcame their fears and responded to an invitation to meet up, those same wonderful bloggers who organised a bloggers weekend where other people took a risk and responded to a bigger invitation. Because sending an invitation is risky too - putting something out there and having no one respond can actually feel just as rejecting.

Today I'd like to issue you a little challenge - how about going to something or trying something you'd like to go to/do but fear has held you back, or how about inviting somebody over, or to go to something with you.... How about we all created a little space to be brave and take a risk.....

Because it might be fabulous! It really might be fun!

love you more than a bundle of new creations that weren't even vaguely sneered at xxx

Friday, August 14, 2015

In My Neighbourhood - Recycled Reads

Hello bookworms,

Having not had the opportunity to get out on Fridays I was very excited last week to get to the monthly event at the city library - recycled reads.

That's right book lovers, second hand books and supporting the library - yes please!

The sale isn't massive but it is a lot more than are usually on sale at in the bin at the front of the library. The sale goes from 11- 4 the first Friday of each month.

Books seem to be priced at about $2.50 for non-fiction and $1 for children's books. I think I may have bought the top priced item a $5 copy of the 2013 Guiness Book of Records. (I was very popular for that!).

I also picked up some excellent picture books.

A copy of this book which I think I need or may need in a few years (giving myself plenty of reading time here!):

And some craft books - need I say more?:

So, all in all, instead of racking up library fines to support my local library I support them by purchasing second hand books and relieving them of their excess stock - I am such a philanthropist!

love you more than sore muscles from carrying too many books at once xxx

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yeah I Made It... 33/52 Roly Poly Bird

It's book week y'all!

Bounce is a lover of all things theatrical and dressing up so I knew I could really have fun with his book week costume. He wanted to go as the roly poly bird from Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile and The Twits.

He found a merino t-shirt style singlet for me to use, so I won't get cold - which really means: so I won't have to cover up my costume with a jumper. We bought an orange women's stretch skirt at the op shop and purchased 3 bags of craft feathers. I also used tulle from my stash and elastic - also in the stash.

 For the top I drew lines onto the merino with a disappearing fabric marker (but really would it have mattered what I used??!) and then made reasonably even marks along each line. I zigzagged the feathers in place going back wards on each stem to improve the hold. I used zigzag so that the top held its stretch.

I cut the waistband off the skirt and drafted some leggings, which were sewed up into tights, at someone's request.

For the tail I sewed the stretchy skirt waistband back together at the right spot for fit, then I cut strips of tulle and tied these onto the back section of the waistband. These form the puffy tail. I used feathers and just poked them through the holes to make the tail feathery.

The head piece is a piece of elastic cut to fit with feathers zigzagged all the way around.
All in all it wasn't too expensive to put together:
Op Shop skirt $5.25
Almost 3 bags of feathers $12
everything else was already in the stash.

Completed - one very happy Roly Poly bird. Big brother - not so fussed about costumes. I'll post about his one soon.

What do your littles want to wear for book week?

love you more than a large packet of colourful feathers xxx

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

33 of 52

These crazy boys who were making fun instead of getting into their pjs last night.

Last night they were 'filming' each other performing and making me take photos.

love you more than an outtake xxx

Monday, August 10, 2015

When Changes Come... What Have I Learnt/ed

Well clearly I haven't gotten a handle yet on when to use learnt or learned!

I alluded to changes the other day and now I shall elaborate.

Two weeks ago I finished my regular teaching job. The Atlas' job has changed and he has stepped up into more responsibility which means that going in later after dropping the boys to school 3 mornings a week and being definitely able to collect them from after-school programme on at least Tuesday, isn't something he can't do anymore.

So, I stepped out of my working woman role and back into my sometimes-irregular-working-homing role. We've had visitors constantly through the holidays and afterwards so I haven't really had time to reflect on this new non-working thing.

However, I am never one to shy away from having something to say!!!

Working - the bits I didn't like

1. 6am alarms - I hate early mornings. I know those chipper - just get up early and have time to start your day right people. I am not, nor ever shall, be one of them. Also in a house where the rule is no one up before 6am I am never going to have silent time to start the day right anyway. Ask me again when my children hit the teenage years, but for now, not getting peace in the mornings!

I was leaving for work at 6.30am on the bus and arriving to work at 7.05 ish. This meant time for me to do the stuff I needed to do because in the afternoons I had staff meeting one day and another day I had to leave immediately to get into the city for something I volunteer for there.

2. Missing Out - this was a big one for me. Inevitably, the week I started work one of the boys got an award in assembly, I also missed another assembly award, a class performance and several school events. Every working parent knows what that is like, and it feels sad.

3. The Load - teaching, like many jobs, is never ending. There is always more to do, more coming up and the tail end of things that need sorting. As soon as you feel like you are getting somewhere with one thing another thing happens. The beginning of every holiday is shrouded (for me at least) with the thoughts of all I need to do in that holiday to be ready for the next block of teaching.

4. Being New - being new in a workplace is hard work - the stuff everyone else knows you don't. It's like the load thing but with more added in that no-one remembers to tell you. Also you are the new one, relationships and dynamics are established/ entrenched and you have to find your fit in the system.

5. Bringing work home - the point should be work at work, home at home but those lines blur rather easily. Because there is always more to do in teaching it means the 2 days off a week were more like one day off and one day working from home.

Working Regularly -  the bits I like

1. Clothes - let it be said, shallow as I may appear, working means dressing up, for me anyway! It's nice to have a reason to put on something you feel good/professional/smart in. When you are going to spend most of the day in the company of your home dressing up seems a little pointless.

2. Competence/Achievement - no matter how many batches of bread I make by hand or cookies I churn out there is something deeply satisfying about being in a place where you are valued for being competent and you can reflect on a job (mostly) well done at the end of the day. It's also nice to look back at the end of a 9 or so hour day and feel a sense of what you have achieved that day.

When you are at home you really don't have a full day at home - you have 9-3 by the time you have added in exercise (hardly), getting of children to and from school, sorting of general detritus, making of food, checking of computery things and lunch you can realise you actually only have 3 or so hours of your whole day. When you work you get a whole day 7-4.30 at least for me, sometimes more, you get stuff done - measurable stuff that feels proper.

3. People - I love the school environment because I am energised by interacting with people. That doesn't mean I'm not tired at the end of the day but I like other teachers, colleagues, children, families... all of it. Being around people and in front of people is good for me. I like it. Days all by myself are nice now and again but regularly it's too much quiet and quite draining.

4. Money - It's nice to be paid on a regular basis. It's good to be able to buy a really nice mixer (ahem, yes I did) from money you have earned. It's nice to feel like you have skills that are valuable and your work is worth something.

5. Efficiency - I'm not a massive routine person but having only 2 days during the week at home I achieved as much as I would in 5 because I didn't waste a minute. Those spare days were worth more because I had them less. I think that we all achieve more when we have less time because we don't have the luxury of putting it off.

So..... where to now?

Short answer, I have so many things I want to work on - there is enough fabric and craft projects and writing ideas to keep me busy for the rest of the year - but - the people thing is still a big one for me, I will miss the people contact immensely. So there might be some volunteering or some study on the horizon for me.... no straight answers yet.

How about you? Do you work in paid employment? What do you love and hate about it?

Also, what do you think I should/ could be doing with my extra hours? Do tell!

love you more than a great outfit and a paycheque xxx

Saturday, August 8, 2015

YA Titles I've been Enjoying

Hellooooo loverlies,

So winter nights are good for reading it would seem! Lately I've completed another 3 reads in the YA category all very different from each other.

In The Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker

This is Barker's first novel and it was discovered through Allen and Unwin's Friday Pitch - a place for emerging authors to get their work in front of a potential publisher. The book centres around Alice, whose identical twin sister has previously taken a gun to school and murdered 7 children. Now Alice, in small town Australia, walks around with the face of a monster. It's a small and sad life that she leads until there is a strange twist in her tale and she discovers herself in an alternate reality. This story is strange and dreamlike in its narrative, it doesn't feel constrained to conventions or Hollywood-style answers. It is clever and demanding as a read. I liked the way things unfolded and concluded but that it still felt a slightly defiant read... all the answers weren't neatly tidied up. For its realism, although it is fantasy, I think this will have a really positive response with readers. I think it will be enjoyed by mid to older teens. I will be interested to read what Barker produces next.
Details: Allen & Unwin July 2015, RRP $17.99

The Cut Out by Jack Heath

Heath is another new-to-me author even though he is now an established author with 11 titles to his name. (He started writing as a teenager when he was disappointed by the selections on offer!) This book is a great well paced easy read. Following Troy Maschenov doppelganger for an enemy agent, plucked from regular life and sent on a complicated mission to potentially save millions of lives. This book provides all the thrills and gadgets any reader of this genre would like. There's a tough girl/ double crosser/ loyal agent he has to pair up with meaning the story doesn't behave in a static-sexist stereotype. This book, and I hope the author forgives me this, is a bit like a grown up, hyped up version of the little people Zac Powers novels - not that the writing style is similar but it's the kind of book I think younger readers who liked the ZP style will adore as teenage/ emerging teenage readers. There isn't any sex or overt romance and I really appreciate that. I think my boys will enjoy this when they are a little older. Suitable from about 11+ but substantial enough for high school and beyond.
Details: Allen & Unwin July 2015, RRP $14.99

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha VanLeer

This book is the sequel to Between the Lines which I reviewed last year. I actually like the second book better than the first. It deals with more of the real world and realises some of the issues and dramas that face young people in high schools in a more convincing manner. There are some really great moments when there is opportunity to pause and reflect on the ways in which people tend to gather around similar people to make friends and the power of moving outside of your usual circles. It's definitely a fairy-tale type story and all the things that should work out do, but it's done with a few nice turns along the way. I could see my 11-14 year old self loving the romance and drama of the tale and I think it's a nice alternative to the sickly sweet and overtly image driven sweet valley high rubbish I used to read - there, now you know my terrible secrets. Appropriate level romance, some suggestion of things going beyond kissing but no sex, thanks authors! This is a collaboration between Picoult and her daughter and it flows well.
Details: Allen & Unwin May 2015, RRP $24.99

So now that you know my terrible secret, what rubbishy books did you love as a young person??

love you more than a confession made xxx