Is it Spring yet?

I feel as though it’s been a really big week, though I don’t have much to show for it, and my to do list is longer today than it was at the beginning of the week.

We had a family birthday to attend last Saturday night, 2 hours drive from our home, so we decided to book a BnB for the night and make a weekend of it. We took the two hour trip over 5 hours, saying Hi to horses, stopping at bakeries and playing in a forest along the way.

It’s a trip I’ve made many many times, but never taken the time to slow it down and explore along the way before. Sometimes the restless kids who cant sit still for 2 hours are a blessing!

We had a lovely weekend in our little BnB, seeing family and eating delicious birthday cake. It was just the right amount of time to freshen up the batteries a little, without creating the inconvenience of having everything looked after at home while we were away.

After the long slow drive up on Saturday, the kids feel asleep in the car during the trip home on Sunday, and we got through the whole two hour drive home before they woke up again.

Once home again it was back into the usual. Gardening, cooking, washing and dealing with a hot water service dying a slow horrible death. A fun issue we’ve been trying to sort out all week, and finally having sorted out today, with plumbers installing the new hot water service as I write this.

The week days have gone by in a blur of school holiday activities, impatiently searching my veggie patch for things to pick, uni work, tradesmen, crocheting and preparing my wardrobe and relief teaching bag for next term.

In preparing for relief teaching again next term I have wasted countless hours scrolling through resource websites, Pinterest and Instagram for lesson ideas, resources, clothing and bag ideas. I’m finding the majority of information coming out of America, and the Instagram accounts of American teachers on summer holidays is leaving me extremely jealous! Not helped by my parents stream of photos on Facebook as they enjoy the sunshine in Northern Australia right now! Haha.

So, I’m just going to go snuggle up a little closer to the fire with my crochet, ignore the to do list for a moment, maybe put on an extra pair of socks, and start counting down the days until Spring arrives.

I hope this post finds you somewhere warm and snuggly!

Abby x

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Plastic Free July

Are you doing Plastic Free July this year?

Are you wondering what on earth Plastic Free July is? Find more info here.

We’re far from plastic free in our house, and not quite at the stage where we could live without plastic for a month, but we’re continually taking baby steps towards a more sustainable way of life with less plastic.

There are some really simple changes we’ve made to cut down on plastic, like taking our own bags when shopping, BYO coffee cups, refusing straws etc and then we’ve made some more small switches gradually over the years.

We’ve switched to bar soap purchased in cardboard packaging instead of liquid soaps in plastic bottles.

I bought some mesh produce bags for fruit and veg shopping, instead of using the single use plastic bags in the fruit and veg section of the store. I then made myself some more bags when I decided I needed more.

We often forget the produce bags when we shop, and on those occasions we simply buy all of our fruit loose. It’s fairly easy to grab a hand of bananas and put that in your trolley without a bag. It does get a little annoying with 10 loose mandarins though! Haha.

We also stopped buying single use plastics wraps and bags as well, opting for beeswax wraps or Tupperware containers for sandwiches and snacks.

I’ve made a number of beeswax wraps in the past year (see my instastories here), but I’ve found they’re not quite as good as the ones you can buy online. It’s a process I’m still tweaking and I have a new plan for the next batch!!

There are a lot of great wraps for sale here if you’re interested in buying some of your own.

I also stopped purchasing dishcloths from the supermarket after realising that they all contained plastic and didn’t last very long before they ended up in landfill. We’ve been using some cotton dishcloths I’ve made for the last year, and throwing them in the washing machine between uses. None have worn out yet, but I’m comfortable with the knowledge that at the end of their life I will be able to compost them as they are 100% cotton. One less item for landfill!

I also sell these cloths in my Etsy store, and have a 20% off when you buy more than two items deal happening until July 7th. If you’d like some reusable dishcloths, now’s the time!

The biggest change we’ve made however, is thinking a little more critically about packaging when we’re shopping. We’ll opt for loose apples or carrots over those already in a plastic bag. I’ll buy a whole butternut pumpkin instead of the half pumpkin that’s wrapped in glad wrap. If I’m looking at pantry items (ie biscuits) I’ll purchase something in cardboard packaging over plastic packaging.

We’re forever making small changes, and learning from our mistakes, and we’re still making plenty of mistakes! It took us about a years worth of saying ‘we should have brought containers with us’ every time we ate a restaurant, before we actually remembered to do it last time we went out for dinner and had leftovers to bring home.

The idea of no plastic seems so daunting, but if it’s just a single swap you’re making each month, it’s doable. It all adds up! Imagine the difference it would make if everyone just switched to bar soap!

Have you made any plastic free switches lately?

Abby x

Winter days

If it has to be this cold all winter, I feel like we should at least get some snow for our troubles. We’ve had several frosty mornings in the last week. Scraping ice off the car first thing in the morning takes me back to Canada holidays, just not quite as much fun!

By the time the sun is out on these frosty days, it’s usually warmed up enough that we can get outside and try to soak some of that sunshine up. It’s never quite enough to warm our house up though. Built in the late 70’s, it seems no one was thinking a whole lot about solar passive design when they built this house. The entire Northern side of our house is shaded by a wide verandah and carport, which is perfect for summer, but miserable in winter. Our firewood stock has been dwindling pretty quickly in the last month!

I dream of ripping the whole carport down, putting in extra windows on the Northern side and growing vines, or putting in a greenhouse where the carport now stands. Maybe one day!

And so, with a couple of head colds in the house this past week, it’s been all about staying warm.

We’ve walked to the playground in the sunshine

Collected kindling / marshmallow sticks down in our creek

Sought out all the little pockets of sunshine that peek through our front windows at the end of the day.

And I’ve been keeping my hands warm with lots and lots of wool.

A new wool order and a beanie with a Pom Pom for Mr 3.

He’d been begging me for a beanie with a Pom Pom for a couple of weeks. I finally got around to making it last weekend and he’s completely in love with it.

I listed some new cardigans in my Etsy store, and posted one to a new home.

I love making these cardigans. I have another two in the works at the moment. The pattern is The Kotori Jacket by Shara Lambeth Designs if anyone is interested in making their own.

And the yarn dyeing obsession continues!

Right now I’m tucked up under an old wool blanket I crocheted a few years back, nursing my head cold, staring out the rain spattered window and listening to the sound of my kids playing in the backyard with umbrellas, raincoats and gumboots. I’m hoping they’ll stay out there just that little bit longer so I can get a few more rows of this cardigan done before they burst through the back door and we fall into the pre-dinner routine.

After a very busy weekend last weekend, I’m hoping for a well deserved quiet (and warm!) one this weekend.

Happy weekend all.

Abby x

The simple things

Yesterday was an absolute cracker of a day. We woke up to fog, and it was freezing, but once the day warmed up it was glorious.

The kids and I headed out for babycinos and a wander along our Main Street, walking past one of the big box stores which lured me in with its bare rooted trees in the front window. Two kids in tow I went in to look at the trees and realised that it was day 1 of their giant toy sale. I had a 3 and 4 year old with me. Big mistake.

So we wandered around aimlessly while the kids ‘I want’-ed at everything, past people with multiple trolleys full of toys, cranky kids, and long long lines at the lay-by counter, and then much to my children’s disgust, we walked out without buying a thing.

Without all the shiny coloured plastic in front of their faces, the moment we were home all the new toys they desperately wanted were forgotten, and they amused themselves in the backyard with some PVC pipe and an old tennis ball for over an hour.

The lesson was mostly lost on them, but I’m glad I paid attention.

The shiny, glitzy, magic stuff is all well and good, but it comes at a cost, and quickly becomes old. Happiness is made in the simple everyday things. Those shiny expensive dopamine hits sure are fun for a while there, but they don’t last.

And so, after a week of making myself miserable, looking at Facebook memories of our trip to New Zealand at this time last year, and Disneyworld the year before, I had to adjust my lens a little. Yes, those shiny exciting holidays were amazing, but it’s not realistic to lead that kind of life every day of the year. It may not be the ‘making your dreams come true’ kind of magic, but there’s little patches of magic in even the most ordinary of weeks.

Everyday magic moments this week:

1. I went to Bookclub on Sunday, feeling guilty because I had not made any attempt to read this months book. As everyone slowly rolled in we quickly discovered that in fact, none of us had read the book this month! So we ate cake, drank coffee and talked about what we had been reading instead. It was one of my favourite bookclub catch up’s to date.

2. After talking about dyeing yarn last week, I had another attempt over the weekend and managed to create one I love. Now I need to find a project I love just as much to work it in to!

3. I found our first little broccoli emerging in the veggie garden, and then after pretty much giving up on my cauliflowers, I spotted my first purple cauliflower popping out.

4. Penny left the Cinderella shoes on just long enough for us to get a photo.

5. The master baker of the house (read: not me) baked tiny loaves of bread, so we could have tiny pieces of toast, that made my avocado look giant and my breakfast taste delicious.

6. and miraculously, I got a mid week post in this week! If you missed it, check out my crocheted scarf pattern post here.

So whilst it wasn’t ‘Milford Sound’ or ‘taking the kids to Disneyworld for the first time’ levels of magic, there were sparks of magic in the everyday. I just needed a 3 and 4 year old to point it out for me.

Wishing you all magic everyday moments this weekend.

Abby x

Children’s Crocheted Scarf – A Free Pattern

I have been making and selling these little crocheted scarves for a few years now. I started out with making a few for my Miss 4 when she was about 2, and then soon found we had more scarves than I knew what to do with.

A quick and simple crochet project, this is a great beginner – intermediate pattern that should take you no longer than 2 hours from start to finish.

Not a crocheter, but love the scarves? You’ll find a selection of scarves I’ve made in my Etsy store here.

**Please note that I would not recommend these scarves for children under 3 years of age unless under constant close supervision. As with anything else you place around a child’s neck (necklace, bag strap, etc) a scarf does pose a strangulation risk to small children. I would also urge you not to leave a scarf on a sleeping child as this will also place them at risk of overheating.**

Heavy stuff aside, this is a great little scarf for the 3-5 year olds in your life, and with a few alterations can be made in much larger sizes too. I’ve even made one for my Dad!

So without further ado…

A Children’s Scarf Pattern

This pattern is written in US terms. If you usually work in UK terms, please find a handy conversion chart here.

Please use pattern for personal use only, or seek permission before selling products using this pattern.

Materials:

8ply yarn. I’ve used Bendigo Woollen Mills Bloom

4.5mm crochet hook

Darning needle

Scissors

Abbreviations:

Ch: chain

DC: double crochet

St: stitch

SC: single crochet

Sl St: slip stitch

Pattern:

Ch 80.

Row 1: 1 DC into 3rd ch from hook. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78sts).

Row 2-3: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

Row 4: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each of the next 11 sts. Ch 9. Skip the next 8 sts and DC in the 9th st from the last DC. DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

Row 5 – 7: Ch 2. 1 DC in base of Ch 2. 1 DC in each st to end. Turn. (78 sts).

When you reach the 9 chains of the previous row, continue your DC into each chain as you would for the rest of the row.

At the completion of Row 7 you may like to fasten off here for a simple completed scarf, or you can add a SC border with the following step.

The last step: Ch 1. 1 sc in base of Ch 1. 1 sc in each st to end of row. DO NOT TURN. Continuing in the same direction we’re now going to work around the corner. * add an extra 1 sc in the last st and work 13 sc’s across the scarf end*. Continuing around the edge of the scarf, 2 sc in the corner and 1 sc in each st to end of row. Repeat from * to *. Sl st into first st (the beginning of round). Fasten off, weave in ends.

And you have a complete scarf!

This pattern is easy to alter to suit your preference. Add more DC’s to your rows to make it longer, more rows to make it wider, add details on the ends like tassels, or leave it as is. See a few variations I’ve made in my Etsy store.

Happy crocheting!

Abby x

Friday again

I always have the best of intentions for a mid week post, and then in the blink of an eye it’s Friday again and I didn’t get around to it. I went so far as to write and photograph a crochet pattern to share with you last weekend, and yet it still sits handwritten in my notebook waiting to be typed. Next week? A toddler scarf pattern is on its way anyhow, maybe mid next week. Probably next Friday…

Things I HAVE achieved this week –

We’ve been helping to prepare my husbands Grandma’s house for sale and had a bit of a family working bee last weekend. We sorted through books and towels and kitchen appliances and while there was definitely not a high volume of ‘stuff’ there, it did make me think of the Swedish death cleaning trend and what a great idea that is. So if you come to my house in my retirement years and find I own only one tea towel, two coffee cups, two knives, forks, spoons etc – you’ve been warned!

I also helped out with rebuilding a rail/balustrade and painted it during our working bee. It’s probably a year or more since I last had to paint anything. Not my favourite job, but this was pretty quick and painless. Now I’m wandering about my house constantly noticing how badly my walls and ceilings need repainting and trying to muster up some energy for kicking into that boring job!

We walked away with a few bags of yarn and a trailer full of pot plants too, both of which have kept me pretty busy since!

With huge quantities of yarn to play with I’ve been crocheting in every spare second. Mittens for each kid and I started a new blanket, which I’ve been lugging about the house and to craft night in a big basket.

I also had a play with hand dyeing some plain wool with food dye during the week. I wasn’t happy with the colours, but had great fun with the process. I will have another play with some different colours this weekend.

Mid week I discovered that Miss 4 seems to have grown 2 inches over night and desperately needed some new jumpers and jackets for kindy. I ended up getting her a jacket and track pants in the boys section of Target, because I was so disappointed in the girls section options! Read more on that here.

Sticking to what I know best, I headed to Savers on Thursday and picked up a pile of clothes for both the kids and myself.

For the kids I ended up with 2 x skirts, 2 x shorts, 2 x dresses, 2 x jumpers & 5 x tops.

For myself I bought a coat, a vintage jacket and a pair of shoes.

All in great gently used condition, in brands – Witchery, Zara, Cotton On Kids, Milkshake etc.

I love Savers. We’re doing a kindness to the environment by using what already exists instead of supporting the fast fashion industry, we’re typically buying better quality brands than I could justify spending money on if purchased new, we often find really cute quirky items not found in the big box stores and we’re saving bucket loads of cash. My only regret is not getting started shopping there when my kids were babies! Oh the money I could have saved!

Aside from all that I’ve been…

Reading

True Stories by Helen Garner. This is my second Helen Garner read, and I love her style!

Listening to

The Slow Home Podcast – my absolute favourite podcast. The link here will take you to last weeks interview with Rob Greenfield about small steps we can take towards a better world. A great listen!

Planting

My celery seedlings, ground covers, poppies, pansies and transplanting all those pot plants into our garden!

What have you been making/reading/listening to lately? Do you think you’re the Swedish death cleaning sort? What great secondhand bargains have you picked up recently?

Happy weekend folks.

Abby x

Crochet blanket: Finished!

IMG_7417Finally!

Remember way back in May when I mentioned that I’d started crocheting a baby blanket (here) and soon after realised how time consuming and expensive it would be and decided to keep it for myself?

I’ve finally finished that blanket!

It’s not perfect, but I’m okay with that, I’m sure I’ve said it before, handmade is not supposed to be perfect.

IMG_4964Here is my terrible ‘I’ve just finished it and even though it’s dark, and the light is terrible, I have to share it immediately’ photo.

book and blanketI’m not minding our chilly start to Spring so much now that I have this baby to keep me warm while I’m reading.

For some reason, I cannot recall it now, I decided to crochet this blanket using two strands at a time. This made it double the weight and double the cost, but also doubly warm and cuddly.

folded blanket

blanketNow that it’s finished. I’m happy to put away the crochet hook until next winter.

Miss E enjoyed the time I took taking these photos. It was a great opportunity to catch up with the incredibly good looking baby that lives in our walk-in-robe mirror. Hehe.
IMG_5016On to the next project! Sewing this time 🙂

Abby xx

 

 

August roundup

 

We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary this month, as well as Miss Penny’s birthday, and the rest of the month was pretty cruisy. Just the way I like it.

IMG_4240Matt found some ricotta cheese going cheap and so decided to make spinach and ricotta ravioli. Somehow I got conned in to helping. See those little fork marks on the edges? I did those!

IMG_4339Miss E and I explored the kitchen cupboards for things to play with. A muffin tray full of duplo bricks makes a fantastic sound when you kick it! Or so Miss E thinks…

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Matt had my best interests in mind when hiding the chocolate, but I found it anyway.

He also had a bit of a funny mishap with chopping down a tree.

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Someone has discovered the TV cabinet drawers and cupboards.

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We’ve made a point of making our Sunday’s a family day, and usually end up in a park somewhere.

IMG_4660Penny and I have been putting our feet up and soaking up the sun whenever we get the chance.

Speaking of sun, I can take further advantage of it now with my new washing line! Woo!!!!

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I’ve been reading:

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.

This was a fascinating read. Northup was a free African American man, kidnapped and sold into slavery. This book was his account of his experiences as a slave for 12 years. It’s a heart wrenching and heart warming story about the best and worst of humanity. It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I’d sunk my teeth into it, I devoured the whole thing in a couple of days.

I’ve been making:

IMG_4236Some cute little bibs for a beautiful baby boy we met last week.

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I finished another triangle quilt top but haven’t gone any further with it yet.

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I then made another quilt as a gift which I can’t share just yet, but here’s the bias tape that I decided to make instead of buying pre-made. Everytime I make a quilt I tell myself to buy bias tape this time, then when I go to buy it I think it’s a waste of money and decide to make it. Then when I make it, I vow to buy it next time. Only to repeat it all over again.

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and the crochet blanket is so very nearly done.

I’ve been listening to:

I downloaded the ‘I Heart Radio’ app, and have been listening to some new music that’s similar to the stuff I already know and love. I tend to listen to the same CD’s and playlists over and over again, so some new tunes feels refreshing and helps makes boring housework a little more bearable.

August, you were swell, especially this last glorious sunshiny week!

Here’s to September, and Spring!

Abby xx

July Roundup

If I had to describe July in one word, that word would be ‘Cold’. Frosty car cold. But aren’t the patterns in the ice so pretty?

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but somehow, not cold enough to slow down our veggie garden! How weird is that strawberry?!

IMG_3704I’ve spent a lot of time this month making baby food, and stocking up the freezer.

IMG_3682Matt’s been tidying up and organising his man cave. I’m jealous and thinking that I need my own man cave!

IMG_3910and working on the pizza oven that I wrote about here.

IMG_3869Penny’s thoroughly enjoyed having Matt working in the yard, and forgetting to close the car doors.

IMG_3868I took advantage of a bargain at the supermarket and bought myself some pretty tulips! I just wish that they looked like that forever, and not as sad as they look now 😦

IMG_3907and I had my hair chopped off, not exactly the way I’d hoped to.

IMG_4011Miss E learned how to sit up this month, and now gets cranky any time she find herself on her back or belly.

She also had her first swimming lesson and absolutely loved it. She spends so much time kicking her legs all the time, that we knew she’d have to be a little fish in the pool!

e swimming lesson

I’ve been reading:

I finally finished reading Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m not sure how I’d managed to get so far through life without having read it before!

I enjoyed getting lost in the 19th Century romance, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Pride and Prejudice but I guess that’s to be expected, given that Pride and Prejudice is the far more popular of the two!

I’ve picked up Shantaram again, as I mentioned here, and as I expected, haven’t got very far with it yet!

I’ve been making:

Lots of things it seems!

IMG_3673The Taggy Cube I wrote about here.

princess and bookThe Princess and the Pea playlet I wrote about here.

IMG_3956Some fabric blocks for Miss E to play with.

IMG_3769and work on the crochet blanket continues, a little slower than before, but I’m still going!

I’ve been watching:

Not much really.

Though this little video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and made me stop and think…

Maybe I should try baking more!

I’ve been listening to:

A couple of weeks ago we went for a bit of country drive to visit some of my family. A four hour trip, and broken radio reception, meant we listened to podcasts on the road.

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One podcast we listened to was a conversation between Richard Fidler and John Safran, an ABC radio presenter and a Triple J radio presenter, respectively. This podcast was fascinating, talking about John Safran’s new book about a murder case in Mississippi. Now I need to read the book! Well played Richard and John!

July, you were lovely!

August, some sun please!

Abby xx

June Roundup

How on earth are we already half way through this year! Slow down already!

It’s most definitely winter here now.

My lounge room is constantly full of fold up washing lines, as nothing dries outside and I can’t bring myself to use the expensive dryer.

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We’ve had our first few pickings from our veggie garden

vege pickings

and we’ve had some good rain that’s got our creek flowing

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and we survived our first bout of baby illness, with Miss E and I both getting Hand, Foot and Mouth whilst Matt was away.

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I’ve been reading

Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall

&

The Gift of Sleep by Elizabeth Sloane & Mia Freedman

Get the feeling we’re not getting much sleep? I’m not entirely sold on everything either of them have to say, but I’m finding some of their suggestions helpful, and I’m now loosely following some of their routines. I like to read widely, then develop my own strategies with a little from Column A, a little from Column B and a little from Column I’ll-just-make-this-up-as-I’m-going. Both books offer an approach for teaching your baby, toddler or child how to self settle at night. They also give routines to follow around nap times, feeds etc, which is the part I’ve found most helpful. If you’re fairly open minded and you’ve got a little one keeping you up at night, they’re worth a read.

I’ve also been listening to audiobooks as mentioned here. I’m reliving my childhood, listening to The Secret Garden and now A Little Princess, both by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I enjoy the stories as much as I enjoy recalling reading them for the first time as a kid. I love a little escapism every now and then.

I’ve been watching

I really don’t watch much TV. I find it far too passive and get bored easily. But, I will always make an exception for Offspring! I’ve loved this show since it first graced our screens, and I never miss an episode. At the moment I’m finding it a little exhausting with all the crying it’s making me do, but I don’t mind. I love Nina’s style and her clumsiness. I love the non-stop awkwardness and the way I’ve fallen in love with all the characters. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, it may be because it’s an Australian drama series. If you’re outside of Australia, and can get your hands on it, I’d thoroughly recommend it!

I’ve been making

The crocheted blanket continues! I’m nearing halfway now, and I’ve reached the point where I just want it finished so that I can move on to some of the fifty million other craft projects I’ve mentally started. I really need to just stay away from pinterest… and Instagram… and all the blogs I follow… Far too easily inspired/distracted!

blanket progress

I’ve also made the crocheted face washers mentioned here

and I made a new cover for our boomerang pillow for Miss E

boomerang pillow

It’s nothing special, I just used some cheap end of bolt fabric because anything was going to be better than the old faded black pillowcase that was on it before. I tried my hand at crocheting the edge. I’m not thrilled with the results, but I gave it a go, and it’s serving it’s purpose!boomerang pillow crochet

June hasn’t been very busy, but it was long and challenging. Looking forward to a happy and healthy July!

Abby xx