Wednesday, May 23, 2012

 I am a repeat offender at not 'being' where I am.
 My mind wanders.
If someone pulls me up when I rush down the street to duck into the post office and rush home mind is probably not there with me. More likely I am mentally tapping my feet, desperate to be on my way.
I don't have time, I don't have time, I have things to do.
I am a shocker for this.

Always I'm telling myself...........I don't have time.
 No time to enjoy my own life. Crazy. Ridiculous.
I'm working on changing this kind of thinking.
Re-wiring my brain, so to speak.

Because really?
 We don't have time NOT to slow down NOW
 and enjoy what we have right here in front of us.
If we don't slow down right now and appreciate
 what is in front of us right now
 {how much more convenient could it be},
then when?

The image I used above, I took with my phone
 while on holiday out west, my husbands' home town.

 I clearly remember taking it.

I had left the kids with my husband and was roaming around town with both my iphone and my *big* camera in hand.
Clearing my head, resetting my mind.

When I took that picture, I was there. I wasn't worrying about anything else I had to do, or hadn't done, or anything else.

There is no feeling in the world people, like being there in the moment. It's rejuvinating.

Give your loved ones the gift of your time.
Give them the gift of listening to them. Intently.
Try and hear them a little bit better than usual.

My intention has always been to live slowly and enjoy every moment.
Reality has always been different from intention though.

I'm going to try to slow down and stop rushing through my life.


Come on in.

Wanna see my little studio?
Well, little bits here and there of it, at least?
Keep on moving if you don't, 'cause I'm gonna show it anyway.
While I didn't go tidying up before taking these, I'm also not going to be showing a picture of the whole room due to the fact that it's a disgusting mess, and really, who needs to see that?

The two shelving units above I salvaged from the tip, such an awesome find for me. Stacked one atop the other, fantastic, thank you very much.

For so long I worked on the kitchen table, lounge room floor, stored my stuff under beds, shoved in corners, where ever, you know the drill.  Finally I have a room. An entire room.
{we no longer have a spare room/guest room, who cares}

For a long time I saw it primarily as my editing space. The room where the computer lived and I would sit and edit. I stored a few props and what have you in there as well.
The sewing machine was in there too, and sew in there I did. But that was all secondary. When I started spiral binding my journals, that stuff was mainly done out in the lounge room.
This room was here to edit in.
Once the reality of the unexpected hiatus in photography kicked in I knew I had to make this room something more than it had been up until then.

My beloved collection of Japanese crafting books.

Books which have been damaged inside or outside, or both, waiting to have new life breathed into them.
A collection of colourful threads.
A collection of doileys.
Just waiting.

A somewhat terrifying tower of cases containing all manner of things. Stuff.

A wall full of patterns. Some that I've used again and again. Others have only been used once. Or not at all. Yet.

More stuff.
My bits. And Pieces.

This six drawer unit came from the same tip, same day I found the shelves. That was a good day.

Another little collection of collections.
Neutral this time.

Tools of the trade. Whatever that is.
The suitcase below houses bookbinding related things, works-in-progress, etc.
This is my studio and if I could just have a personal assistant to do the house chores, the grocery shopping, run some errands and other such little jobs I'd be quite happy in here 9-3, Monday to Friday.

What is your space like?

Monday, May 21, 2012

 Following a series of unfortunate events  (revolving largely around equipment failure and lack of funds) which saw me shelving (temporarily) my photography dreams early this year, my perhaps-I-will-learn-a-bit-about-bookbinding-in-20-years-or-so plans became my maybe-I'll-give-it-a-go-now plans.
It's pretty good therapy.

 From choosing the 'tapes' and matching up with some buttons,

 to the methodical stitching together of the pages. Which is, in fact, sometimes incredibly frustating, but therapeutic all the same.

This book is filled with sketching paper that feels just lovely to touch. It's a largish book though and the length of thread required to stitch it all together made it a difficult length to work with. I'm going to give myself a break from all the knotted thread and the next few books I do will be smaller.

Disclaimer for any serious bookbinders who may come across this post: yes, I use the term 'bookbinding' very loosely.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Simple Living

Our journey to living more simply will be ongoing and never-ending I think. I am constantly re-evaluating the things we are doing, the how, the why, the what, when and where. I received this book by Rhonda Hetzel a few weeks ago, and I really do love it.

Although it's really quite a simple book and I didn't really learn anything 'new' from it, it is so beautifully presented, and such a gentle guide and, hmmmm, kind of a tap on the shoulder saying "hey, remember this stuff, you know works, keep trying!"

The biggest thing I have taken from the book is the message for Mums who choose to stay home and not return to work outside of the home.The message, the way I perceive it, is this (in a nutshell): your work in the home is important, incredibly important.

 Although our governments and society in general are constantly trying to have us believe that contributing financially is more important than contributing to society through the work that is being done in our homes, raising our children.............this is not necessarily true.

 Every day we head out in to the world, perhaps to school, to work, to catch up or care for family and friends, or any one of a million other reasons, whatever it is.

Whatever happens each day, it may be fabulous, it may be awful, it might just be the end of the day we head for home. It should be a haven.

This is where we are raising our children and nurturing our relationships, taking stock of how we choose to live, taking care of ourselves.

In my ever so humble opinion there is too much pressure on women with children to be organising alternative care for their children so that they can return to work. Makes so very little sense to me. In my wildest dreams never did I plan on having children so I could pass them on to someone else to raise while I worked.

I truly do not feel that my government, society, my community in general, give those mothers who stay at home to raise children any support or encouragement to do what they do. Sad, really, how driven by the dollar our world really is.

Holy-going-off-track, clearly all of this is very much on my mind at the  moment............this was to be a post about bread and bircher muesli, believe it or not. Doesn't take much to get me off track sometimes.

 I simply believe that when Mums do choose to stay at home and raise their children, the world benefits from this, it's good, and there should be encouragement and support (I'm not referring to financial support when I refer to support for SAHM's, simply the kind of support where SAHM's will no longer be made to feel like they are lazy leeches of society) for those who choose to live this way.

I am getting off my soap box now, to talk bread. Promise.

I started making bread a month or so ago, I'm still trying to nut it all out.
Started out using a free standing mixer to knead the dough and baking in the oven. I quite like doing it this way but it means that we  always have our fresh bread in the afternoon, and not in the morning when we really want it.

This is one of my oven baked loaves, so yummy on the day of baking........the next day, and subsequent days....not so much. My bread is still coming out a little 'doughy', so maybe it's just because of that.

This also, obviously, an oven job, is a Spinach and Fetta pull apart. I wasn't a huge fan, it was a little too 'spinachy' for me. Surprizingly though, the kids liked it. After they got over their initial 'That looks yuck' thoughts that is.

We were given a bread making machine by one of my sisters and have used it a couple of times and will use it again. The big plus for me with the bread machine is the fact that you can have fresh bread (and the beautiful fresh bread aroma) ready to go when you get out of bed in the morning. Just sitting there on the kitchen bench waiting for you! That's gold.
The big negative is that the bread machine is a decent sized appliance and if you have an itty bitty kitchen like me.........where in the world are you going to keep that sucker? Also I really do like doing it the way I was, but there's no way we'll ever get to wake up to fresh bread in the morning with me doing it that way.
Haven't decided for or against either way yet. Going to give it a bit more time.

In other kitchen adventures, my little boy who really is just not that interested in food that's good for him, decided he wanted to try bircher muesli. We have a selection of reading material in our loo, for those who like to sit and ponder. Clary is one of these people. He often sits in there singing his little heart out, loudly. You just know when Clary is sitting on the toilet.
One day he called me to his office in the toilet to show me a recipe in a magazine he'd found in there. I didn't think too much of it, but he later brought it to my attention again. It was for bircher muesli and he was keen. I hadn't had bircher before because although I thought it sound kind of nice, I also thought it sounded kind of cold and gloopy. Which it is. But yummy! Perfect for summer (it's Autumn here so probably won't make it again for a while), and perfect just to have as a snack, as well as for breakfast.

 We took our oats and added grated pear and apple, a bit of a mix of chopped up dried fruit (apricot, raisins and cranberries, I think), chopped nuts (almonds and walnuts, that's what we had on hand) some apple juice, yogurt and honey, I think that's about it. Mixed all that up and popped it into the fridge overnight.

Clary did the grating and a bit of chopping too. It looked gloopy like this when we were done.

The next morning we stirred in some milk and a little bit of extra honey and enjoyed it. Yum.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Best Homemade All Purpose Cleaner Ever.

Ok, I guess it's entirely possible that this is not actually the Worlds' Best Homemade Cleaner Ever, but it would have to be pretty close I think. And if you know of a concoction that perhaps could take out the Worlds' Best Homemade Cleaner Ever title, then share the love and pass it on to me.

A couple of months ago, I set out on a quest to minimize the amount of chemicals and artificial ickies in our life and home. I started with general household cleaning goodies. I looked at a lot of different methods and concoctions via the internet.

Of course, two of the cheapest and easiest natural cleaners available are vinegar and bicarb soda. Seriously, there cannot be a person alive who does not know that. I've known it for a long time, but I haven't been doing it! Crazy. I would do it sometimes, but I wasn't consistent. If, say, my mother-in-law was due in an hour or so and things were a bit grimy (they often are) and I hadn't noticed till the very last minute (I usually don't), I would just grab that Pine O'Clean 4 in 1 or whatever it is, and get wiping. But while doing my natural cleaning research I became very, very aware of just how efficient vinegar and bicarb are, in getting the cleaning done. Especially in the bathroom, love it.

But still, I do love the convenience (I know, I know, it's really not hard or time consuming to go the vinegar and bicarb route all the time, but even to shave seconds off the cleaning is attractive to me) of just grabbing the old spray bottle and squirting that grimy crap away.

Finally I have it. It's cheap, it's free of chemicals, it's easy.

Awesome All Purpose Cleaner

1 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons Borax
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups hot water
10 drops of essential oil, whatever you like, lavender, orange, lemon, mix them up if you want (I just used lavender)
quarter of a cup of liquid castille soap (I used Dr Bronners)

Use a funnel to pour all ingredients except for the castille soap into your spray bottle and shake to mix them up. Then add your castille soap and shake it all up again.
You're good to go. Spray. And wipe.

I use this on the kitchen benches and I think it is awesome. I used this to get rid of some truly disgusting grime, the kind of ick you find on top of the cuboard that is located above your stovetop. Do you know the one I mean? The thick, sticky stuff, like dirt mixed with oil. Sprayed this stuff on there, left it for 5 minutes and just wiped it all off. Too easy.

And while it would be nice to be able to tell you that I've got that stuff all packaged up looking as pretty as these below (from Murchison-Hume)...........

this is my stuff here. On the subject of those plastic spray bottles also, I do actually find these Hills brand ones, which you can find in the gardening section of hardware stores, to be 100% better than those crap things they sell in the supermarkets and at the $2 shops.

On the left are my stunningly gorgeous Orange Infused Cleaning wipes (again, convenience).

I simply used already-used Chux for these, soaked them in hot water/vinegar mix with a few drops of orange essential oil added. After a 5-10 minute soak I squeeze them out and stick them in the bottle, they're ready whenever you need them.

For the first batch of these wipes I actually did the orange oil myself (covering torn up orange peel with boiling water and squeezing the oil out of the peel), but all subsequent batches I just use essential oil straight from the bottle and have found that to be just fine.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We're Going on a Bug Hunt

Sometimes Almost always, it's the simplest of things that are the best. Such as the impromptu bug hunt the kids and I had together one day. We had been at our local library earlier in the day, where I had checked out these two books below, thinking it would probably be another one of those things where, you know, things just don't turn out the way you imagine it in your delusional mummy mind.

When I checked those books out I was thinking it would be nice if we could spend a couple of hours searching out bugs, looking them up in our books, sketching pictures of the bugs, etc, etc. But deep down I thought that realistically we'd probably just take the books home, they'd be misplaced for a while and then I'd have to pay the late fees and suck up to the librarian in order to be able to borrow more books in the future.

 Amazingly.............. I'm not quite sure how.................the second, 'realistic' scenario did not happen.  Somehow the incredible couple of hours spent together, with no fighting, and no whinging, just being out of the house, but still at home (that's the hardest part to believe because for a while there I felt like I couldn't possibly even be on my usual planet), the scenario which I had seen in head, played out.
With just the two books from the library, and a couple of old glass jars.....................we filled an afternoon at home. Peacefully.
I banged a few holes into the lids of the jars, so the bugs could be held for 5, maybe 10 minutes or so.

 Just long enough for a few observations to be made, for documentation.

After quite a while catching a much-wider-than-I-expected variety of bugs (and spiders) in the backyard, we moved to the front where Clary bounced around like a kangaroo, trying to catch some moths (success!)

This one not a moth, not actually sure what he was, but there were lots of them.

I will remember this day for years to come, and speak of it in a terribly excited voice.................."Remember the day when the kids played together, happily? Outside?"

ok, I'm being a wee little bit over top dramatic, but if you're a Mum who has spent days and days on end at home with children................then you might get what I'm saying here.


note to self: better go and find those books because I think they're probably now overdue.

Trying to make more time for the crafty things in life, I am a touch, ah, obsessed with making books at the moment. Still struggling to find a balance, to be able to accomodate all of the things I love, to have a little bit of it all in most days, and make sure that absolutely no-one or nothing ends the day feeling unloved. Hmmm, that's a tough one, but not impossible I have to believe ; )

I guess that can explain why the blog sits silently so often, and why I am only just posting this book which was made, probably about a month ago now. As much as I love to be creative sometimes it all just has to be put on hold. Sometimes family and friends just need a little bit of extra attention, a little bit of extra time. To make it all work. To make sure everyone is ok. There are so many pieces to the puzzle (our lives), I really don't know how some of you do it........ those who blog regularly, beautifully, and keep your whole life running, just so. I'm a little DO you do it?

Anyway, on with the post : )

I made this journally scrapbook with a little boy in mind......a potential treasure chest in the shape of a book.

I sewed pockets from cardstock and paper, added a bit of tape here and there. I can't believe I don't have a picture of the tags I put in that pocket, really??! Perhaps I can add a picture later if anyone is interested, it's not really mind-blowingly exciting I guess ; )

Simple shipping tags, covered with book pages, some decorated with old stamps, or other paper things. You know.......paper things.

A pocket made with a piece of map (foreign, didn't pay much attention to where the map is from, let me know if you know where it is)

The map pocket holds a mini World map.

Here, a mini book within the book, decorated with tape and more stamps. I bought a couple of little ziplock bags full of stamps at an op shop once.........brilliant purchase at 20 cents a bag! Next time I add a little mini book like this, I would do that hole with an eyelet, I think.

I filled yet more pockets with little envelopes I had made from saved book pages. Perfect for holding little notes written for friends, or perhaps a leaf, a feather found on a backyard adventure.

I included, in this pocket, some larger envelopes. I really am happy with the way this book turned out and I'm working on some more. I do plan to get some stock in my Etsy shop one of these days.

Just want to give a little share on this, although I shouldn't because it's just a practice book and I have a lot to learn here. I wanted to have a go at  a little journal with an exposed spine, pages held together with a simple running stitch. I really enjoyed doing this, loved the process, loved the end result.

I didn't put a whole lot of effort into choosing the absolute-just-right cover pages, spine ribbons or anything else because the purpose of this exercise was really just to have a go at it. It's filled with a mix of hodge-podged together paper scraps and this 'n' that.

Could there be a more perfect hobby for a paper/book/upcycling/diy obsessed person than bookbinding?