January beginnings

Sneaking out of bed before everyone else in our house this morning. The kids have been doing swimming lessons all week, and while they’ve come leap and bounds in skills and confidence, I’m most excited about the solid sleeps and little sleep ins every day!

As we roll into January, everything is happening in this little house of ours.

We ended 2018 with work beginning on replacing our ceilings, and we continue to slowly progress with that (and by we, I mean the husband, I am definitely not helping with the ceilings much).

While this has been happening we have also hosted a little birthday party for our big five year old, which meant putting all of this furniture back in place for the couple of hours that people were here, before moving and covering it all again to continue work! I’ll share more about the birthday party in another post.

The summer garden is starting to get exciting, with the last of our plums being picked last night.

And a slow but steady stream of cucumbers, zucchinis and tomatoes coming in.

I’ve also launched into tackling my reading goal of 52 books this year, reading:

  • Laura Tingle’s Quarterly Essay – Follow the Leader.
  • Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach
  • and I’ve just started on Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens

All have been good reads so far, so I’m hoping I can continue a good run of great books this year!

In the spare moments when I’m not reading, I’ve started work on a crocheted cardigan for myself, mostly so that I have a portable project to take with me to swimming lessons. I’m attempting to use up all of my leftover yarn, so it could be a little Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat in the end.

It feels a little strange to be crocheting in this heat, but I’m enjoying the process of watching something new grow within my hands, and learning new stitches as I go.

I hope that whatever January may have in stall for you, there are good books and interesting projects along the way.

Abby x

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2019

Happy New Year folks!

I hope that 2019 holds enough pockets of sunshine to see you through the inevitable storms of life (did anyone else’s thoughts just turn to Easy A?)

2018 ended on a great note for us. We spent Christmas in Sydney with family, and packed in all sorts of fun activities while we were there. We were home before NYE and I saw in the new year, sound asleep in my own bed. Perfect!

Miss E had a birthday while we were away, and so we’re now preparing for a small scale birthday party for our big five year old this weekend and enjoying a few more weeks of freedom before she starts school at the end of January!

This year I plan to continue:

  • relief teaching occasionally,
  • studying for my Master in Communications,
  • selling crocheted items in my Etsy store,
  • volunteering in our Defence community
  • keeping an eye out for any opportunities for study or employment relating to education, communication, writing and/or sustainability.
  • and Blogging. Hopefully a little less sporadically!

I have also resolved to cut take away / fast foods out of my life this year, for health, financial and environmental reasons. Wish me luck!

If you have made any sustainability goals for 2019, here is a great piece from Reusable Nation about zero waste options, and you may find my name mentioned in there.

Another goal I’ve set for myself this year is to read 52 books. I set the same goal last year, and reached 39. I’m hoping to improve on that next year.

If you’re setting reading goals this year, and looking for some inspiration, here are a few of my favourite reads from last year:

  • One hundred years of dirt by Rick Morton
  • Calypso by David Sedaris
  • Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
  • Any ordinary day by Leigh Sales
  • The wife drought by Annabel Crabb
  • The museum of modern love by Heather Rose
  • Manhood by Steve Biddulph
  • The Dry by Jane Harper
  • The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan
  • Reckoning: A memoir by Magda Szubanski

If you notice a bit of a theme there, you might be a Chat 10 Look 3 podcast listener, and if you’re a bookworm but haven’t heard of Chat 10 Looks 3, please check it out!

What was your favourite read of 2018? Are you a chatter too?

Hoping you’ve all had a restful summer break.

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

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

Books for Babies

book collage

I’m a bit of a book nerd, and Miss E is well on her way to becoming one too. Our Children’s book collection is a little crazy, between my love of picture books, my old picture books, the books I’d collected as a teacher and the books Miss E received at our BaByQ / Book Shower, we’ve got just a few.

There are these in her bedroom:

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and these in the lounge:

lounge books

and then the novels that are a bit beyond her at the moment, are in the spare bedroom.

We like to read together snuggled up together on the couch, or both laying on our bellies with the book spread out on the floor in front of us, and sometimes we lay on our back and I hold the book open up above us. I don’t think it matters a whole lot how you read to your baby, just so long as you do.

We aim to read one book a day with Miss E, though it’s often more than that. Matt reads as many books to her as I do, because we want her to see that it’s important for everyone to read. We’ll probably make an even bigger deal out of Matt reading to the kids if and when we have a little boy one day, so that our little man grows up knowing that reading is just as important for boys as it is girls.

Amongst the many books we own, these are the ones that we read over and over again:

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Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd.

This was one of my favourites when I was little. I can remember it being the first book I ever borrowed from the school library, when I was five years old. Miss E loves it too. I think it’s because it rhymes, is repetitive and Hairy Maclary and his pals are dogs, and she loves dogs!

Each time we read this book, we talk about the dogs, and how Penny is a dog too. Babies learn so much from talking about what is in the book, as well as reading the story. We’ve now come to the point where Miss E looks to Penny continuously when we’re reading books about dogs. She’s made the connection between books, and real life!

The next three books are board books. I find board books are great with Miss E, because I’m not precious about her bending or tearing the pages, and if she wants to put the corners in her mouth she can go for it!

wonkey donkey

wonky donkey open

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith.

I think this one might be just as fun for Mum and Dad to read, as what it is for little ones to hear. Another repetitive, rhyming book, The Wonky Donkey is also great because it’s silly. Our copy also came with a CD with the story recorded in song. Bonus!

i went walking

I Went Walking by Sue Williams.

This is a nice quick book. The illustrations are simple, and the text is repetitive. It talks about common farm animals, so we talk about the noises those animals make, and show her any stuffed toys that match. Perfect for little people!

Again, this book has a dog in it that happens to look a lot like Penny, so maybe this is why Miss E likes it as well!

where is the green sheep

green sheep open

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox.

Rhyming, repetitive and silly, this book has you looking for the Green Sheep the whole way through. Miss E loves the illustrations in this book. We have a fluffy green sheep toy that we play with after reading this book, and sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ and ‘Mary had a little lamb (whose fleece was green as grass)’.

Yes, we definitely love our books in this house, and we’re so happy to see our little girl following in our footsteps!

Abby xx

Finishing what you start

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I’m a bit of a book-a-holic. I buy books quicker than I can read them. I own a ridiculous amount of them, with a set of bookshelves in almost every room of our house.

I did a little stocktake a few days ago and realised that I’ve probably only read about 60% of the books I own. 35% remain untouched and 5% are those that I’ve started and never finished. So, I’ve banned myself from buying any more books until I’ve read all the ones I’ve got!

I’m starting with Shantaram. I started reading Shantaram at least a year ago, perhaps two years ago. I get really into it for a time, then start to tire of it, and move on to something else for a while. A few months later I pick it up again, with plans to finish it this time, only to give up again 100 pages in.

I’ve heard so many good things about this book that I feel bad for not enjoying it more. I keep waiting for something to grab me, and I’m just not getting it. 704 pages in and I’m now just finishing it because I feel I have to.

I always feel a little gypped when I read a book with rave reviews and get to the end, wondering why everyone loves it so much. I felt the same with Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, Cathcher in the Rye and Catch 22 (which I’ve started twice and given up on half way through both times). Perhaps they’re just too deep for me!

I’ll just keep plodding away at it until it’s finished. However many goes at it I have to take!

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

May Roundup

May. I like May. The Autumn leaves are beautiful, winter’s just around the corner, I’m experimenting with my winter wardrobe but not sick of it yet.

This month:

  • I got serious about blogging. I stopped just entertaining the idea of writing regularly, took the plunge and bought a domain.
  • I’ve enjoyed watching the autumn leaves in our creek.

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and patiently waited for the bulbs to start poking up through the fallen leaves.

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  • Miss E turned 5 months old and I’ve watched her learn to roll from back to belly, and then spent most of my days rolling her onto her back again when she gets frustrated.
  • I had my first night away from Miss E when we went to our 10 Year School Reunion and she stayed overnight with my parents. I only wish we’d gone to bed a little earlier than 1:45am to take advantage of a good nights sleep!

I’ve been making:

  • Bibs as gifts for friends that are having babies soon
  • I’ve started and stopped many crochet projects. I get bored with crochet projects pretty quickly. Right now I’m crocheting a baby blanket, crocheting two strands at a time to make it extra thick and soft. Let’s see if I ever finish this one!

crochetblanket

I’ve been watching:

  • TED talks.

Many of them! I watch/listen to them while I’m sewing or crocheting.

Here is one of my current favourites, about the anxieties of modern parenting.

 

I’ve been reading:

  • Home is where the heart is by Geraldine Cox.

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A fascinating autobiography about Geraldine and her journey from working in Foreign Affairs to supporting an orphanage in Cambodia. This book made me laugh and cry many times, and reminded me to be grateful for all the small things in life that I often take for granted.

Learn more about Gerladine’s work at www.geraldinecox.org

 

Looking forward to seeing what June brings!

Abby xx