in between holding the tent together in gale force winds last weekend on our trip to Flat Rock campground near Lennox Heads NSW, i started cutting and stitching this sweet breakfast! i used this pattern, courtesy of Myrtle & Eunice, plus some of my own for the egg and bacon addition.

i'm not yet sure if i will make another piece of bread as i am trying to use up my icky acrylic felt so i can order some lush wool stuff in the new year. ran out of bread coloured felt so i'm thinking this meal will have to be an open-faced affair. . .


choko, our new vegetable of choice

mmmmm! we have a new vegetable in town thanks to Luke Nguyen's Vietnam which bea and i have been pretty into watching. she loves cooking shows! it's so fun. she looks at all the different dishes and asks me if i feel like eating them.

so today at the fruit and veg shop i just had to get our first
choko, aka chayote, which is a light green wrinkly fruit from south/central america. i say fruit, but it's used as a vegetable.

we made stir fried beef with choko and red onions. it was inspired by a dish from Luke Nguyen's show. quick and easy paired with steamed rice and a few salad greens.

  • 1 choko, cut into match-sticks (think french fries)

  • 250 grams of thinly sliced beef (preferably free-range or organic or both!)

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • vegetable oil

  • sesame oil

  • soy sauce

  • fish sauce

  • cracked pepper

  • a lime

  • sesame seeds

  • thinly sliced red onion (amount is up to you)

  1. marinate the beef in a teaspoon of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and set aside

  2. heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok, and add the garlic. when you can smell it cooking add the beef and turn up the heat - quickly toss it in the wok until almost almost cooked and then remove from the wok and set aside

  3. add the choko to the wok and allow it to brown a little

  4. add 3 tablespoons of fish sauce and some cracked pepper. toss the choko until it is slightly transparent looking but still a bit firm. put the beef back into the wok.

  5. transfer into a bowl to serve - top with the red onion, sesame seeds and a squeeze of lime

bea gobbled hers up!

i think it would be quite good with some fresh red chili thrown in as well. choko is high in amino acids and vitamin C, and takes on the other flavours of the dish.


christmas workshop

felt decorations from my christmas workshop assembly line. . .

i am not an assembly line lover! but i can attest to the efficiency of it, and i do like thinking about each piece and how to make it an individual. i'd like to have a little market stall or some such platform someday, so i should really get used to some semblance of an assembly line i suppose.

ah, handmade gifts to give - sometimes i think the term 'handmade' is funny because aren't most things largely handmade? and those people working under terrible manufacturing conditions are actually very skilled and efficient hand-makers of things, albeit anonymously, without reward and under deporable conditions.

i think like the term 'homemade' for things that are made locally or by an independent hand, at their home or studio. . .


an everyday miracle, last sunday. . .

last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a birth (I'm a
certified doula, or birth-attendant). I attended the birth of these clients' first daughter last year - they are a lovely couple with whom I felt an immediate connection. the family decided at the last minute to have a homebirth after an uncomfortable conversation with a midwife at the hospital.
lucky for them they know a midwife/Calmbirth practitioner, who also sometimes attends homebirths!

as a doula who has only attended hospital births my experience as a passive participant in this birth was very different. driving in the early morning to the family's house I felt infinitely more relaxed. I did not have to think about explaining my way into a hospital birth suite; I did not have to wonder whether the midwife caring for the family would be 'doula' friendly; I didn't have to wonder if the medical professionals looking after my client would respect her wishes to birth by instinct and with minimal intervention. the result was that I arrived at the family's home without any stress or anxiety of my own to bring to the dynamic, and all with little effort - the feeling of comfort and trust in the people I would attend this birth with came naturally and unconsciously as a by-product of being comfortable with where the birth was taking place and knowing that the care-provider would be supportive. and these were just the effects on a bystander in a homebirth equation!

hen I arrived mum was in active labour but still chatty in between surges. she practiced Calmbirth for her first birth as well as this one. Calmbirth uses visualization of 'safe places' to help gain mental control and calm the mind. mum by nature is a very focused person, and was extremely well practiced with controlling her breathing and focusing on getting through each contraction one breath at a time.

they decided at the last minute to keep their just-over 1 year-old daughter at home for the birth as well. this little one was incredibly in sync with her parents - during contractions she would come in close and touch mum gently. she did not want to be anywhere but in the room with them, she sensed that she should be present. when mum and dad hopped into the birth pool the little one sat on the edge and kicked her little feet in the water, tuned into mum's contractions. she was very interested when her mum blew out through flapping lips, and imitated her noises. she was innocent to the intensity during some of the more powerful and challenging moments, yet unconsciously empathetic at the same time. incredible

lthough she is probably a bit young to consciously remember the experience, it will surely leave an impression on her and her idea of what it means to give birth. looking at photos of her baby sister being born and seeing herself present and actively engaging with her mum and dad during the birth will surely enhance their bond. there was no strange moment to puzzle over when her parents arrived home one day with a new baby. the transition would include her and some very empowering feelings - first, about being an older sister - and later, about becoming a mother.

usually at births I only tear up when the parents are meeting the new baby for the first time - but this time I often felt quite emotional at the sight of their three heads together during a contraction. this picture is what i would like to visualize for all births in a perfect world! a little family getting ready to bring one more into the fold, together. . .

their second beautiful daughter was born just after 10 am. 7 and a half hours after the first contraction. her head was born on one surge, and her body on the next. she came up and out of the water to rest on her mother's chest to take her first breath and turn pink before our eyes. their older daughter jumped in the birth pool with them and the two who became three became four.

minutes-old daughter found her way to the breast without any assistance or encouragement at all and self-attached with a perfect latch to have her first feed. a lovely perk of having been born gently and naturally - she took the next natural step after birth and began to suckle as she had been born to do.

watching the four of them fall in love, blanketed in the warm water of the birth pool it was as though they were all born together that sunny sunday.


: : Meet Me at Mikes : : My Place and Yours - 'My Collection' (or in this case, Someone Else's Collection)

my friend
julie texted me while i was camping just to tell me that the theme over at the Meet Me at Mikes meme this week is My Collections! she was so excited about Kate of Foxs Lane's theme choice that she thought i ought to know about it right away. . .

luckily she decided i needed to know, because right after feeling like it was a fantastic theme i realized i have no collections of anything whatsoever.

sorry kate, for adapting your theme slightly in order to have something to post about! after some thought i decided to write about a collection of my parents that still fascinates me to this day - Pysanky, or Ukranian Easter Eggs.

each year around Easter my mum would get out the Ukrainian Easter eggs, kept carefully swaddled in storage and put them in bowls around the living room and on the dining room table. this process (and general handling of the eggs) was always delicate as the eggs are generally kept intact. almost all of them still had their 'insides' and i recall one year one breaking and spreading its super-noxious-sulfur-smell around the house for days. i've noticed in all the images i found today the insides have been 'blown' out of the eggs. good idea i think.

aren't they incredible to look at? the colours and motifs are amazing and excellent fodder for inspiration and general marveling. i think also the shape of an egg and the idea of what an egg represents adds to the appeal on the whole. Luba Petrusha (United States) was kind enough to let me use some images from her incredible website devoted to all things Pysanky, including tutorials, galleries, symbolism, and indexes of all the different types of designs and their regions.

ok wow, now i really want my very own gigantic collection of pysanky! and don't you just really want to do some serious wax resist of your own this easter? and then keep them stored stacked by the dozens as see above?

all images are from Luba Petrusha's site, Pysanka.

thanks for having a peep at my place and letting me have a look at yours!


owl friends

i ended up making bea an owl similar to one she liked - but our friends had their new baby a little earlier than expected so we decided we should give their older daughter (bea's best-y) an owl as her big sister gift. for their newborn daughter a little singlet with her initial on it.

i was saving bea's owl for her birthday but she she saw me getting ready to wrap it for layne her 'wish' for an owl came back with a vengeance. we had to make another one in a rush this morning! big surprise she chose all pink for the fabric and was very helpful getting her new owl stuffed and ready to play. they couldn't stop flying around which contributed to their slightly blurry portrait together!

this owl only took about 45 minutes to make after making the original pattern - there are cute owls all over the place at the moment so it wasn't hard to find inspiration! most likely i will make these owls for the softies for mirabel drive ending next month - i had grand aspirations of making a turtle that can pop his head into his shell, but yikes next month is awfully soon and i'm afraid i am persistently behind in project completion. . .


:: Meet Me at Mikes :: My Place and Yours - Through the Front Door

this week's theme for the meme over at Meet Me at Mikes is 'Through the Front Door', chosen by Shelley from Femme de Montmartre. anyone can play by adding their post link to the list. a very nice theme choice i might add. . .

although we only rent this little townhouse, I quite like the outside of the entrance - we have a couple of little succulent gardens, some whirl-gigs and a formerly big and beautiful orchid. help! it isn't doing so well, does anyone have any orchid care tips? i've been neglecting it as previously advised but that is obviously not working. it is an awfully small area so we don't really hang out here much, but we have been known to sit out here on our little stools and eat icy poles on a warm afternoon. Bea occasionally has the urge to sit out here while eating frozen peas! Funny habit of a little so and so!

another part of the outside entrance I quite like is the big door. . .

the giant knob in the middle and painted stained glass window really give it a bit of a personality. of course the best part of going through any front door is what is found inside - when coming from a certain angle one can peek at the reflection on the mirror and see if anyone is sitting on the couch. i'm not sure about the feng shui aspects of having this mirror here, but it does gives me a good feeling when i spy someone in the mirror. today, i spy someone's little legs on the couch. . .

thanks for visiting my place and letting me have a peep into yours!

silky. . .

we are going camping this coming weekend down in northern New South Wales and Bea is getting into the spirit, packing us up in her 'car' and getting the 'tent' all set up.

this tent is made out of a 2.5 meter long piece of rainbow dyed silk from Sarah's Silks. it is beautiful and so light it floats on the slightest breeze. it's a very multi-purpose imagination toy - we gave it to Bea as a christmas gift last year but i think she is only now getting really into it.

this got me thinking about looking into silk dying over the weekend after i had a chat with my mum who used to make beautiful painted silk scarves - i really want her to get back into it so she can send some my way!

i spied fun potential projects - making your own playsilks using kool-aid or food colouring. this would make for a playsilk that is safe for little babies who put everything in their mouths as the instructions include setting the dye using vinegar, and safe for little ones who would love love love to help with the dying.


Silk pieces in various sizes ready for dying are available for ordering online from Dharma Trading Co.


i wish i had an owl like that

as we are quickly approaching our birthday/christmas season the topic of conversations bea seems to be having are based around presents and presents and what we should have to eat at her party and what is santa bringing. sometimes it feels like a lot of talk of consumption for a three year old. i'm making her presents this year and she is getting into the spirit. she saw an image of an owl softie yesterday and said 'mummy, i wish i had an owl like that. can you make one?'

how can you refuse a request like that?

i think the difficulty to refuse can be attributed to a four letter word starting with 'w'.

a little word she has come around to using somehow is the word 'wish'. we don't go to the shops that often, but when we do she is full of wishes. . .

'i wish i had a doll like that mummy'

'i wish i could have one of those. . .'
'i wish someday i could have a scooter like that'

i'm surprised that she has come up with using this word herself - i don't think i say wish much however i've rarely heard her say 'i want that doll' or 'i want that candy'. wanting/wishing to acquire something has the same desired end result. she still wants to possess a cute owl, or doll or whatever the desired object may be - she still wants things. but sound of the word feels much gentler, a wish is like a whisper, a want is foot being stamped indignantly.

i hope she keeps wishing. . .


Felt Nigiri!

these little felt nigiri tid-bits are altered versions of patterns from Umecrafts on Etsy.

they are part of Bea's birthday gifts, and i had more felt sushi planned (avocado maki rolls, her favourite) but can't for the life of me find avocado coloured felt. it will have to be ordered!

there are the most ridiculously charming japanese craft books floating about, i am awfully inclined toward the felt food instructional books. . .

how amazing are they! all these books are from Pomadour's Craft Cafe on Etsy. if only i were a better hand-stitching person, sigh. . .


op-ity op shop

what a nice and crowded thrift shop shelf!

bea and i had quite a lovely morning over the weekend looking in on some very choice opportunities at the Burleigh Heads RSPCA op-shop. i was very close to nabbing those orange storage containers but was stunned to see quite a hefty price tag! i must say, there are not as many really thrifty shops as there used to be.

we did find some nice old sheets and pillowcases for stashing but i did restrain myself for the most part mainly (only) because i only had a tiny bit of cash ($10). what i did also find - actually what i originally set out to find - was a very nice plate with pretty flowers on it which i do have some fun plans for. . .

well, off to do some sewing! i'm horribly behind in birthday sewing and as a result also behind in christmas gift making. i've cut out the pattern for a quilted bodice dress for bea's birthday. it is from the book Carefree Clothes for Girls by Make Good Books, which is a series of japanese craft books translated to english.

image source

i want to make every article of clothing in this book and then make bea wear these articles every day, forever. i will have to work fast though because the sizing is so japanese that my almost 3 year old necessitates size 6 in this book! she is a little big for her age but size 6?

so if you think your 1 year old is going to be too small for any of these patterns (they are all made in sizes 4-7) think again! you could probably start sewing now, but without the seam allowance.

OK! off i go. . .


:: Meet Me at Mikes :: My Place and Yours - 'Secret Weapon Du Jour'

when i spied that this weeks
Meet Me at Mikes, My Place and Yours meme theme was 'Secret Weapon' by My Bricole my first thought was that i might have trouble coming up with something post-worthy.

could i really be that interesting?

this poor old thought was luckily closely followed with a flood of potential secret weapons, all created equal, all suited to different scenarios. i wondered, could i do a post about a myriad of secret weapons or would that be greedy? showy even. hmmm. i decided to postpone posting until i could come to a better conclusion.

fast forward to now, and having had the day to think about it i think my daughter is my biggest cure-all secret weapon but that each little area of my life has its own to boot. knitpiks harmony circular for knitting two socks on one needle, rotary cutter, the Joy of Cooking book, or my most dangly gold earrings - to name just a few.

so, i have decided to go with an object that was my secret weapon du jour. i have had a sort of un-fun week at work. we all have those kinds of weeks or longer - luckily for me this week my little secret weapon was around, sitting cheerfully on my desk.

i found this little soup bowl in the back of a kitchen cupboard in the office. i kept my eye on it for several months, and when it became apparent that no one ever used it, i kidnapped it and brought it to live at my desk. it gets quite a lot of attention from me - i like to put soup in it and i think that this bowl enjoys fulfilling the purpose for which it was made.

the quaint scene on it i imagine involves making a chicken and barley soup of sorts. this reminds me of home and family. especially my grandparents who very much enjoyed a lunch of barley soup and crackers. although this object on my desk is just a thing, it elicits a complex range of thoughts, memories and happy feelings - a soothing tincture during a long day at work.

i like it when material objects take on meaning, further than just their beauty. there was a book my mum read to me when i was little called The Velveteen Rabbit that explains this phenomenon very sweetly.

thanks for visiting my place and letting me have a peep into yours!


dear wee pyjama girl

this little girl is my first attempt at what i think could be considered embroidery! she was inspired by the amazing work of Jenny Hart, founder of Sublime Stitching. although trying my hand at embroidery was fun and i think i could do it again sometime, that time will not be soon. just a dabbling i believe. i am currently into dalliances with lots of little bits and pieces. for the moment, i like it this way - testing the waters here and there.

i've inherited this tendency most definitely from my father. my childhood is filled with memories of his various exploits - wood turning, decoy carving, gem faceting. some of my most vivid recollections involve sitting pyjama-clad on the steps to his downstairs workshop watching and smelling the wood burning tool, hypnotised, as he gave loon decoys feather texture. joining him at the lapidary club and making cabochons. asking questions about all the tools and what they might be used for. the suspense and intrigue at being sent upstairs to wait while a noxious glue was being applied. the thrill of being allowed to paint part of a duck's bill. many a cosy winter sunday was spent absorbing his projects with much interest.

today, my workspace is not a basement full of lathes, drills, wood burning tools and gem faceting machines. we live in a rather small unit - luckily we are in possession of a rather large table upon which my crafty little corner usually overflows. i will have to be satisfied with this space for now, but i would like more room someday. at the moment you will find porcelain paint, felt pieces, balls of yarn, spools of silver wire and stacks of fat quarters. the sound of a sewing machine humming along instead of the squeals and screeches of saws and drills - or the even quieter, almost inaudible sound of a rotary cutter slicing through fabric.

i feel happy to have inherited a love of making things with my hands - it feels meditative, fulfilling and motivating. when i see my little 3 year old daughter making 'quilts' from scraps i've given her and pretending to knit with some spare yarn and needles, i think she too someday will want to make things with her hands, and recall my little workspace and the fun we had there.


make it: fabric wrapped bangle earrings

i have a big love of big earrings, but sometimes they can hurt the lobes a little after a long day of dangling! these lightweight, fabric wrapped bangles are made using scrap fabric and yogurt lids from the recycling box. they are very quick and easy to make and require no sewing at all.

you will need. . .
  • scissors
  • small pair of pliers
  • quick drying glue
  • recycled plastic - plastic container lids work well)
  • circular template to trace the shape of the earrings - here is one i prepared earlier, which make earrings approximately 5 cms wide
  • scrap fabric cut into strips approximately 75mm wide. it doesn't really matter how long the strips are, but longer is better as it is a pain to keep gluing ends down
  • earring hooks - easily thrifted from an ugly pair around the house or from the op-shop
  • thin wire to wrap around the top of the hoop and secure the earring hooks - i used 24 gauge silver-plated but anything flexible enough to wrap neatly will do

to make. . .

  1. trace the shape of your earring onto your chosen piece of plastic and cut it out
  2. starting at the thickest part of the hoop, tightly wrap the fabric strip around the plastic. make sure you are overlapping each wrap enough so the plastic doesn't show through
  3. when the whole hoop has been wrapped, glue down the end on the backside of the hoop
  4. when the glue is dry, wrap a bit of wire around the thinnest part of the hoop a few times, slip the hook onto the wire and create a loop for the hook - make sure the back of your earring will end up facing the right way if the glue is obvious
  5. wrap the rest of the wire around the hoop and tidy up the wire ends

that's all folks!


tea towel of the week

it was a very nice weekend - one that felt very long, which is always nice because it was just a regular old 2 day-er. i feel like i did get quite a few things done, including the partial completion of a few things from my recent things to do list.

the above lunchbag was made from one of the faulty tea towels i've inherited. it turned out as a rather large and slouchy lunch tote with snap closure. it was a quick sew as it only has 2 side seams. it is similar to one found at purl bee but the triangular corners and edges of the bag are stitched on the outside to emphasize the likeness to a brown paper bag.

i also made yogurt, which turned out ok, but still a little too thin for my liking (we've grown very accustomed to such lovely thick greek-style yogurts haven't we!). i had big aspirations of taking a lovely shot of a spoon upside down with the yogurt stuck on it, looking creamy and lovely and gravity defying. but alas, i suppose if you don't use cream and gelatin or some other thickening agent home-made yogurt is always going to turn out a little less thick and creamy. and it is a little lumpy. but it tastes like yogurt! and i think i have an idea for the next batch including using a little agar agar in the boiling milk as we don't much like gelatin around our place.

in a kind of a frenzy saturday, i sewed the applique letters onto the bunting for BB's happy birthday banner. i think i don't like applique, although it looks nice. all that is left to do is sew the bunting into the binding it will hang from. i think BB will be suitably impressed to see it blowing in the sea breeze at currumbin where we will have a Morning Tea 3rd Birthday party next month. . .
i hope you too had a lovely and productive/unproductive but still lovely weekend!