Thursday, March 31, 2011

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!

sorting game
I've been a bit lax about posting activities I've been doing with the kids.  So today i give you not one, but two games to play with a three year old (sadly not really appropriate for the one year old set due to choking hazards and insufficient communication skills, so Turi had to sit these out).  These are perfect activities for wet day play or to calm the kiddies down if they have started going a bit loco.

The first game is a sorting activity (originally found on this Montesorri site).  Basically you put a heap of different beans, legumes, dried pasta etc. in a bowl and then get your child to sort them into small bowls.   When I introduced this to Minty I was fully prepared for her to reject it as a tedious, boring and pointless exercise.  Boy was I wrong.  She approached it with a quiet diligence I've rarely seen her exhibit.  I'm fairly sure this is the Montesorri equivalent of dead fish.  The house was deliciously silent broken only by the ping of dried beans hitting the bottom of the ceramic bowls.  Minty kept at it for half an hour and I even had trouble getting her to stop and have lunch!  I'll definitely be keeping this one up my sleeve for when I'm in need of a bit of peace!

sorting game
Game number two is one I devised to have a bit of fun stimulating the sense of smell.  Basically you fill some little bowls with different herbs and spices.  The idea is to blindfold the child and get them to match the scent in the bowl with one of the scents from the jars.  Minty refused to wear a blindfold which kind of defeated the purpose of the game and made matching the spices way too easy.  She still had a great time sniffing all the bowls and adding extra sprinklings of spice from the jars.  Plus we got to talking about what all the different herbs and spices were so I guess that was educational in itself.  We'll give this another go with a blindfold when Minty is feeling a bit more compliant.

scent game
match the scent game scent game
scent game scent game
scent game - having a sniff

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In which there are aliens, a girly skirt and a bird dissection...

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On Sunday we went to my nephew's 6 year old space themed birthday party.  The kids had a great time playing pass the parcel, making alien headbands, launching space rockets and eating luridly coloured alien cake.  I was shocked by how grown up all the kids looked.  I don't remember 6 year olds being so tall - I guess it's all about perspective and compared to little Turi they are like giants.

(Sorry there aren't more photos of the party here but most of the shots I took had other people's kids in them and you know the whole privacy issue blah blah)

The night before the party Minty asked me to make a 'twirly-whirly-girly' skirt for her to wear.  It wasn't exactly the task I had planned for Saturday but I am trying to encourage her enthusiasm for handmade clothes.  I'm well aware that soon enough she will probably think anything I make is very uncool.  The skirt was inspired by this little thula thula number that I sadly didn't win.  The skirt is made with soft dreamy voile cotton, and is lined with a pink underskirt.  It has a flat front waist, with an elastic back for easy wearability.  I've finished it with french seams so it will endure the regular washes and active play that comes with toddler wear.  It's exciting to finally be reaching a point in my sewing where I don't have to rely on other people's patterns all the time.  I'm really happy with the finish on this and all up the materials only cost about $10 so I think I might make Minty another couple for winter.  I think it will look really sweet with some cream cable knit tights.

I took Minty and Turi to Silverleaves to get a few better shots of the skirt but was quickly reminded why I rarely try and take posed photos of my kids.  While I had my back turned Turi managed to dissect a wing from the carcass of a dead bird and by the time I turned back around was wielding the feathered appendage about like a sword.  It was clear neither of the kids had any interest in cooperating with my plans.  After a few more failed attempts at directing the children into a photographable location I gave up and we went home.  The handful of shots I did take were some of the worst I've taken in a long time.  Lesson learned - unplanned photos taken during the course of a normal day are infinitely more successful!

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The bird dissector is wearing a deceptively sweet hand knit vest from his granny!

Monday, March 28, 2011

In which I want man hair...

Baby Lilly - laugh
I'm seriously considering chopping all my hair off.  I'm so sick of having to deal with grooming it every day.  The feline equivalent of my hair is probably a persian crossed with a stray - long, mangy, with a tendency to mat and cause hairballs.  Most days I toss it up in a messy bun and try and pretend it's not there.  The only time I comb it is after it has been washed because otherwise I end up with uncontrollable halo of frizz around my face.  Perhaps cutting it all off, man-style will only exacerbate these issues, or maybe it will free me from my bad hair rut.  I guess I can't be sure until I try it.  My husband bluntly pointed out that he thought I had a strange shaped head which he felt would be accentuated by having short hair (he is nothing if not honest!).  Frankly I'm not sure that I care… for ninety percent of the day I can't see myself anyway.  Thoughts anyone?  Is cutting my hair a stroke of brilliance or a brief moment of temporary insanity?

Baby Lilly
Today's photos are of my precious niece Lilly.  I've been wanting to have a photo shoot with her for ages now but somehow haven't been able to arrange it (maybe the fact that we live an hour and a half away may have something to do with it).  This wasn't exactly the photo shoot I was hoping for - more like lying around on an old nappy in the middle of a wild 6-year old birthday party - but I'll take what I can get.  Lilly is pretty dang cute so I don't think the photos suffered too much from the lack of planning.

More about the wild party and a look at Minty's new 'twirly-whirly-girly skirt' tomorrow - stay tuned...

Baby Lilly
Baby Lilly - tummy timebaby Lilly

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My creative space...

Bear Hat
Bear Hat - sad bear Bear Hat
Turi's name is Spanish in origin and means 'bear'.  This is largely why I chose it (seeing as my husband put his foot down and said I was absolutely not allowed to name him Bear.  I think he was worried people might think we had named him after Bear Grylls - though seriously what would be wrong with that??)  Anyway, I digress.  I often call him 'little bear' - so I decided It would be fun to make him a winter hat inspired by his name sake.  It is made with lovely soft chestnut coloured wool I picked up at Tessuti and lined with cream coloured flannel.  The pattern is from Liesl Gibson's Little Things to Sew.  Don't be at all surprised if you receive one of these from me for your baby  - I'm getting cute overload seeing Turi wear it and want to share the love!

Bear Hat - happy bear
Also this week on my sewing desk…

vintage patterns
some amazing girl's vintage patterns I picked up at the op-shop in Wonthaggi for 50c each!! 

fabric fabric
some fabric treasures from my recent shopping trip…

Hopscotch Skirt pockets
and the beginnings of a little skirt for Minty.

More creative spaces here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In which the hills are alive with the sound of Minty...

vintage dress
My parents are organised hoarders.  Name an item from our childhood and they probably have it neatly packed away somewhere in a box at the top of one of their cupboards.  But recently they have begun to 'declutter' and more and more items are finding their way to the op-shop.  Luckily my mum had the foresight to offer me this little dress before she threw it away.  I can't help but laugh a little when Minty wears it, as she looks like something from The Sound of Music.  But Minty loves it and it certainly made a fashion statement when she wore it to playgroup!  I am tempted to upcycle it into something a little more modern - perhaps remove the bodice and make it into a skirt?  Or perhaps I should emulate my parents and keep it untouched for posterity? 

And because it has been a while, here are some excerpts from the dictionary of Minty…

I think perhaps Minty might have a future as a copy writer.  She has an uncanny ability of making food more magical and therefore infinitely more appetising…

silver syrup =  golden syrup
fairy toast = fairy bread
smiley button = carob button snapped in half (she demonstrated the logic of this by placing the half circle of carob in front of her mouth and grinning to show me how the shapes matched)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In which life is good...

Minty and Bella
Sorry I've been a bit quiet around these parts.  I've been taking a bit of time for myself.  I went back to Melbourne yesterday without the kids for some retail therapy of the fabric variety.  I went to fabric heaven when I found Tessuti in Flinders Lane.  I couldn't stop smiling and stroking all the beautiful fabrics.  It is absolutely to my taste and I was hard pressed to find a bolt that I didn't fall in love with.  And don't even get me started about the Japanese pattern books, ribbons and buttons.  The staff are lovely, and almost as stylish as the store.  Have a gushed enough?

I also stopped at Clegs for some cotton voile, and Lincraft (blah) for some plain flannel.  I'll give you a peek at some of what I bought in the next day or so.

While I was in the city I stopped at The Cupcake Bakery for a tiramisu cupcake.  I was absolutely prepared to be less than impressed but seriously people the buttercream on that cake was to die for (probably literally as I'm fairly sure my arteries won't thank me).  And keeping in the cake theme I also went to Cake Deco in the Port Phillip Arcade.  This shop is such a treasure trove and totally worth a peek if you find yourself in that part of the city.  I stocked up on cupcake liners and some other fun bits and pieces.  

I've also been doing a spot of sewing which has really helped to lift my mood.  There is something about fitting together the pieces, like some kind of three dimensional jigsaw puzzle, that quietens the buzz in my head and soothes my soul.  I should have some cute things to show you in the next few days.

Pictures are from a birthday party we went to on Sunday.  It was such a gorgeous afternoon - and as you can see from Minty's satisfied expressions the food was amazing!

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Japan with Love...

I'm participating in the bloggers day of silence today.  Just wanted to share this link to some incredible photographs.

Normal posting will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In which I don't win parent of the year...

When I first became a parent I had visions of creating a childhood bubble free from the trappings of our consumer culture.  My house wasn't going to be full of plastic crap, my kids weren't going to watch TV, the words 'control' and 'crying' were never going to be used adjacently in a sentence coming out of my mouth and I certainly had no intentions of bribing my children.   I guess it's easy to be idealistic in theory.  Reality is somewhat more difficult.

I can count the number of times I've slept through the night in the past twelve months on one hand.  More often than not I (or Mr) spend several hours in the middle of the night tending to wakeful children.  When it comes to sleep Minty operates by the motto, 'outwit, outplay, outlast'.  In fact come to think of it Minty would probably make the ultimate survivor contestant.  She eats virtually nothing, would happily go for weeks without bathing, loves to go to the toilet outside and has more stamina and determination than anyone else I've ever met (adults included).  

Anyway, I digress.  Frankly it's difficult to keep high parental standards when you're extremely sleep deprived.  I've already broken my commitment for Lent.  The past couple of days we've watched more TV than I care to admit.  If I was going to make excuses I'd tell you it was because everyone has been sick, we've been cooped up in the house and I've been having trouble even keeping my eyes open let alone coming up with meaningful activities to keep the kids occupied all day.  But no one really likes excuses, least of all me.  So all I can do is wake up tomorrow and try again.  Try not to resort to ABC for kids, try not to operate on a short fuse, and try not to be that parent who garners scornful looks from strangers for her out of control children.

Pictures on our way to the doctor.  I thought I was being a responsible parent seeing as the kids have been sick for 3 weeks.  The doctor on the other hand seemed to think I was this lady.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In which things are up in the air...

With the way things are developing at Fukushima it is looking as though our trip to Tokyo is increasingly unlikely to go ahead.  I can't imagine what it must be like for people living in Japan waiting for this to all play out.  I can't stop thinking about the people who work at the plant and have to continue frantically trying to avert disaster, in the face of the threat of radiation, injured coworkers and the tragic quake and tsunami that has no doubt affected their families and loved ones.  I think I'd just be in the foetal position somewhere sobbing.

Speaking of being unable to function… I'm currently operating on four hours of sleep (for the second night in a row), and seem to have finally succumbed to the horrible cold the kids have had for the last three weeks.  I'm officially too tired to eat dinner, or write anything remotely comprehensible about what's been going on around here, so I'm signing off and going to bed.  Catch you all on the flip side.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm really struggling to write at the moment.  Everything seems pretty trivial right now in the face of what has been happening in Japan.  It's hard to imagine how something so horrible can happen in the land of bento boxes and washi tape.  I'll try and get my act together tomorrow and give you a bit of an update on what has been going on around these parts.  But for now just a quick thank you to everyone who helped out after my last post.  The universe and I are sending love your way!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In which I fall in love and ask for your help...

I took the kids to the Cowes night market tonight for an ice-cream and while we were there I fell in love… with Thula Thula.  I think I must have been living under a rock because Naomi the designer of these gorgeous kids clothes lives virtually around the corner (in Wonthaggi) and somehow I haven't heard about her until now.  So I'm asking you for a favour - please head over to the book of faces and 'like' Thula Thula, then leave a comment saying I referred you.  If I refer enough people I could win a $60 voucher… and then I could buy this dreamy skirt for Minty, or maybe put it towards a little winter coat for her.  I realise it is probably tacky using the blog like this to try and get you to help me win a competition, but sue me I really want to win!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Garden Explorer

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

shrove tuesday...

Pancake day today - one of my favourite days of the year!  Sadly it also marks the beginning of lent, 40 days of abstinence.  This year I am planning to give up TV.  No I don't mean that I will give up watching TV (are you people crazy??), I mean that I am not going to let the kids watch TV.  Those of you who are parents will know that this is a bigger sacrifice for me than for the kids.  Turi doesn't even really like TV, and though Minty often asks (read nags) to watch something in reality she would rather go to the park or spend time painting.  I think I'll still let them watch one movie a week, because I'm not sure I can go all week without some alone time - I'm not a saint after all.  It's going to be a long few weeks… I'll let you know how it goes.

Today's pictures are a peek at some photos I took for a friend last week.  This is little baby Maggie and her big brother Thomas.  Very sweet little kids and good fun to photograph!

Monday, March 7, 2011

In which I give you a peek at our walls and Turi is starving...

You might remember back when I decided to paint my bedroom navy blue.  You'd be forgiven for thinking we never actually went through with it seeing as I never posted any photos.  Truth is after we had stripped all the wallpaper and finished the painting I was totally over the project and never went any further.  I got busy, life got in the way.  So we're still using our mismatching doona cover, there are no pictures on the walls and the only decorations are the toys the kids drag in there and our clothes that they constantly pull off our open shelving (which I had intended to replace) and strew around the room.

On the up side, I love the new colour.  It is warm and inviting and makes the room a lovely place to sleep.  Plus it is really fun to photograph in there - really switches things up.  One day I will get around to 'dressing' the room, but in the mean time we will just try to enjoy the space in all its unfinished glory.

All these pictures were taken in our bed (very early) this morning.  In case you're wondering, Turi is flipping out because he wants another piece of toast.