Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Tee for Mr. T

It's no surprise that I love buying clothes as much as I love sewing for my little treasures.  And in lieu of the plethora of department and brand name stores that other capital cities are blessed with, this generally means shopping online for this Darwin resident!  The upside to this of course is that I can shop at anytime, have things delivered to my door and know that it is unlikely we will see any other little people wearing the same outfit on any given sunset market night. 

Since having a baby girl, I've acquainted myself (code name for: purchased!) with a few (read: MANY) girls clothing patterns. There seems to be so many variations on the humble skirt, pinafore, tunic or party dress, slacks or harems, blouse and romper, that I find it completely overwhelming... where to start, what is a priority sew (which given the endless quantity of clothing we as a family own, pretty much counts for nothing!), which fabric I can use from the stash, which patterns I have printed, what I have notions for... and then, sometimes, I have a few on the go at once, or can't get started because I have too much nervous energy to risk implanting in a garment!

But when it comes to sewing for boys - Hmmm. There really is not alot of choice, even still to this day.  In fear of offending anyone, I qualify my statement - there are plenty of shorts and trouser patterns, fewer button up shirts or tshirts, some nice jackets and vests.  But seriousy, they really don't get my heart racing and scrambling for my wallet like the girls offerings do.  I have started to collect a neat little group of boys patterns, however, and definitely aim to sew more for my little men this year.  One surprise that I have stumbled across, can actually be credited to my mother's collection from the early 1980's.  A KnitWit pattern featuring knit tshirts! Perfect for boys that live in shorts and tees, ' all . year . round '. 

I've tried sewing with knits a few times, with varied success.  The first time was making a hoodie around 10 years ago, not too long after receiving my Janome sewing machine.  The cuffs were a little too tight, and the fabric was cute, but too thin to wear during a cold Winters' day in Hobart.  So after gleaning some 'expert' tips from various blogs, and absorbing the 'tricks' and 'hints' from a great little article in One Thimble e-zine, I embarked on my knit-challenge - a tee for my Mr. T.

And it was not as scary as what I had imagined!

How about it?


Mr T. really did make me smile as he waltzed around the annual agricultural Show in his fresh new tee, turning a few heads. 

 Please don't shock yourself by examining my finishing too closely, as it was a bit rough'n'ready. Like running with the current black overlocking thread. And not folding the hems under enough. And failing to compare finished pattern measurements with Mr T's actual.

To be honest, it really wasn't one of my neatest sews, but I was so pleased I had completed something for one of the boys, using a [cute!] knit fabric cupled with my trademark tag and button, and didn't require any other notions (normally projects get shelved at the point of discovering this sometime in to the sew).   Go ME!

And yes, given this was a 'proto-type' of sorts, I have since gone crazy buying up a few knits fabrics, and even cut out and assembled a few tees for my youngest DS, Mr E.

Friday, 5 September 2014

a Territory souvenir

Recently, my brother and his family moved on from this place they have called home for almost three years now - Darwin.  Perched right at the top of the Northern Territory, it is a place like no other. Historically thought of as the last Frontier, it is now considered a melting pot of culture and cuisine, a place where relaxed living is the norm and where you can throw a stone, if you like, to some great destinations in south-eastern Asia.

It is the Indigenous culture, however, that truly shapes the 'real' Territorian culture.  Whilst I have visited several communities and shared in some amazing exchanges with Indigenous elders, I feel I still know very little about the Indigenous way of life.  In fact, I yearn to hear more stories and gain a better understanding of ancestry, spirits, cultural practices, art and music, kinship and family.  Hopefully, I seek out more of these rich opportunities in my work in the following years.

But, back to my brother.  He certainly did get out and about during his time here in the Territory, and he's left with some fond memories and tall tales of impressionable experiences, of that I'm certain. After all, his first baby was born here, and she will always have that tie to this unique place.

I really wanted to find a little momento or souvenir each for the three of them to take back 'home'... Challenging? perhaps...!

Last year at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, I picked up some fabric titled "‘Leaves’ - by Elizabeth Gumbaduk, an artist from Wadeye whose work is featured on the Wadeye Women [Un]limited directory.  I actually visited Wadeye in my first 'new' weeks in the Territory, so it was not without intent that I was admiring the beautiful fabrics from this particular community.  It was a striking piece, and well- worthy of my attention.  And, we all know my brother (and unavoidably his family too!) love the colour green, in all its forms. Perfect!  Whilst I'd used the bulk of the fabric for another project, I decided to make a small boxy-pouch for my sister-in-law.  And, here is the result -

I refer to a great little tutorial for these pouches (here), and whipped it up in no time. Although incredibly basic and 'easy' in terms of my steadily improving sewing ability, I just love how they turn out. Struggling to find any suitable lining fabric in my stash that did the 'leaves' justice, I settled on this lime green. Being on the inside, it shouldn't distract from the feature.

Hopefully this small gift will be useful in some capacity and serve as a little reminder of the wonderful 'Territory' that we all eventually grow to love.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

[HIGH] Tea with Karen

I'm starting to think a little about all the family birthdays we have coming up over the next few months.  Some magical moments to look forward to - for sure!  But before I get too far ahead of myself, I need to revisit the recent high tea I hosted to coincide with my dear Mum's birthday.

I just love birthdays.  I really do. Not just mine, but those of my family and close friends.  I love spoiling people, making them feel special, or just letting them know that I am thinking of them on their special day.  And whilst it's nice to have a special day just for ourselves - that once a year, I-can-eat-as-much-cake-as-I-want kinda day - it's also a timely reminder to think about who has helped you on your journey so far, and project forward a few wishes for the future.

 My gorgeous mum, Karen (Photography by Katrina Anne Photography, Darwin NT)

I really wanted to throw a little party of sorts for my Mum, Karen, and given her philanthropic endeavours since her diagnosis with breast cancer back in 1998, decided that a Host Your Own High Tea in support of the McGrath Foundation was the perfect celebration.  The McGrath Foundation plays a pivotol role in funding Breast Cancer nurses in communities across Australia, supporting women and families affected by the disease.  The high tea inititiative brings people together in a relaxed and unique environment for the common cause of raising much needed funds and awareness for the Foundation. So --  sharing devine delights whilst supporting a cause close to our own hearts? Yes! please, and thankyou!


Mum's creativity and event management skills have certainly been called upon for so many similar fundraising events in the past, so again, we joined together in calling for monetary donations, baked some edible goodness and set about sipping tea from fine china with our gathered friends and colleagues.

It was so humbling to think that our modest event, with the help of friends and family spread near and far, raised in excess of $1100 - hugely different to our initial and seemingly 'realistic' target of $250?!

Our friends have truly been amazing in their unwavering support of our family and the 'causes' we have supported over the last 16 years.  This high tea was no exception - their continued enthusiasm and encouragement really does motivate us to take part in such great initiatives, and we certainly couldn't do it without our 'network'.  One of our biggest 'fans' is Mum's best friend of 50+years, Wendy, who is also my God-mother.  Wendy was actually visiting Mum in Darwin for her birthday, and so we of course enlisted her help once again.  She is certainly no stranger to these events, and her help in making this stylish and sophisticated afternoon affair a success, was truly appreciated.

Our closest 'network' - the family; Wendy and Karen (Photography by Katrina Anne Photography, Darwin NT)

I am confident that Mum had a lovely birthday and enjoyed meeting new faces and welcoming older friends. Officially another year older now, and perhaps looking for the next challenge, Karen?!  I am also most certain that the proceeds of our little tea party will  go some way to funding the next Australian Breast Care nurse and raising awareness of breast cancer in young women - what a great birthday legacy!  And if YOU can make a heartfelt contribution, please take the opportunity to do so.  For, as they say at the McGrath Foundation, "together we can make a difference". 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

so long, no action?

Well I knew these sets of challenges would keep me from twiddling my thumbs - but really? Did I have to start out so ambitious? I'm no psychologist, but I really think this is my problem, and, my undoing. I am a HUGE dreamer, planner and perfectionist. I take on too much. I think there are some non-existent expectations of me (which are entirely my own!) and often are bitterly disappointed if I fall short. Sometimes my behaviours and grandeous ideas motivate others. Often they frustrate people, and leave some feeling slightly inadequate.

My Mum is often alongside me in my endeavours, encouraging me. My husband loves what I do but doesn't like seeing me stressed over my own ambitious undertakings, when I could easily scale things back a notch.  My kids really don't know what to make of the world as yet, so don't necessarily notice the small detail.

Whilst I probably don't admit it often, I am very much like my mother in my creative pursuits, standards, and ideas. No doubt because together with my father, they have been the biggest influeneces in my life. So, I can't blame my parents for the way I am, but I say...perhaps I have some 'learned' behaviours and traits?  Hehe. To know me is definitely to know my family, too!  My husband is extremely practical, realistic and supportive of me also. In fact, he sets his own standards extremely high, and I'll talk more about this soon.

Hmmm, so I'm often the 'big-thinker' or strategist, I like the planning and preparation, the thrill of starting out on something new and exciting. That's probably where I've really fallen short with the blog, as I pressed 'pause' before things really got started.  Rest assured, life has definitely NOT been on pause, and we have shared so many exciting experiences together as a family over the last five months - it's been fabulous. We have shared some really sad times too, but that, my friends is the essence of life. Taking the good with the bad.

So, best get on with my story - and yes, the challenges are still in the background, but I may just chose a different path for my 'outlet' from now on... :-)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

time to fly

10pm on a Saturday night and I am flying close to the wind for posting to my blog this week. I wouldn't necessarily say that this week has been 'busy' - which is incidentally a word I have grown to loathe and find over-used and unnecessary - but full, slightly tiring and surprisingly alot of fun.

We have enjoyed several bike rides this week with our little people, involving food en-location, plenty of laughter and giggling, and puddles - all of which little boys love.  I'm not sure if it's an unwritten new years resolution to enjoy the moment and get out more, or we're just getting back into the swing of things now everyone is settled, happy and has some capacity for joining in, albeit in stroller bike or pram. It's definitely proving to be a fun, cheap and positively healthy family activity. Today we even spent some time on newly installed exercise equipment at Yanyula Park, and rode to another park close by for something new.  The outing finally resulted in a wrong turn(!), taking us right back past our house and to a well-known fast-food-come-cafe establishment for drinks and ice cream.

And to be perfectly honest, a simple outing like this has suddenly now become even sweeter and much more enjoyable thanks to my pledge to become more organised.  This morning we had a staggered start to the day - DD of 4 months waking at 710am, DS(4) at 810am and DS(21mo) at 910am, which meant the weeks ironing* was well and truly in-hand and almost complete by mid-morning, and no other major household chores were outstanding at time of departure.   Strangely, it does feel quite liberating to have the path clear for some good wholesome family fun... I think I like it. :-)

Reflecting on this week, I really think I am starting to find my organisational 'wings' - but the difficulty really will be maintaining this quick leap out of the blocks, learning how to side-step (lots of appointments coming up), and not over-doing it - which for me often involves burning the midnight oil in order to get some 'me' time or complete little projects or even chores.  The healthy eating me of this week might just need to grasp the idea of good sleeping, and together the two complimentary habits might give me the extra boost I need.

Speaking of eating - DS(21mo) has enjoyed his time at home this week with Mummy, and 'helping' me around the house. Our activities have integrated play with chores, and on one occasion involved helping with dinner preparations. I had forgotten how such a simple task can become such a great learning experience for toddlers.  This time, it provided him with some responsibility for preparing his ingredients, albeit mushrooms and thyme - the essence of a good beef bourgioun! I value my time in the kitchen when I don't feel rushed, and by doing this together late-morning, we certainly had time on our hands, which also meant I could afford some patience and enjoy the moment with DS.

helping bee


My last reflection for the week is of the 'wings' of sorts that I created for DS(21mo). As big brother has continued to find enjoyment from his super-hero cape gifted to him by his Grandma, we thought little brother would be equally excited to have his own. So after finding some fabric, sewing it and leaving the finished cape hanging over a chair for eager eyes to discover whist I was out, I was amazed on my return that no-one had noticed the new accessory! Ultimately, crafting challenge did win on many levels however, as after a quick introduction and demonstration, little DS was also off 'flying', squealing with delight and grinning from ear to ear.

*Incidentally it really was only a weeks worth or ironing - 45 articles in total - as I had caught up on 4 months worth last weekend - which was about 200 articles! Yes we do have a substantive choice in daily apparel!

Monday, 13 January 2014

the 52-7 challenge

Ok. So we are already thirteen days into the new year, and I seem to be going reasonably well with my self-proposed challenges. Admittedly, my progress is only marked against the list in my head, as I am yet to post it here for all to see! And so, I guess I should detail it here now, and then do a defrag on my brain to make room for the organisational side of the challenges.

I hope to do the following each week- 

  • Read something - as I am not much the reader, I will lodge my results once a month and they should include a novel, magazine, journal article and some other format.  Should be something  currently sitting in my bookshelf, as sadly I have only read <10% of what I own!
  • Watch a 'full' (yes, no part-of) documentary or movie 
  • Complete one crafty endeavour or activity (perhaps also lodged once a month to account for larger projects)
  • Try one new recipe 
  • take part in physical activity at least three times per week
  • write a blog post 
  • take part in the house organisation challenge from over at LifeHacker

Rather than bore you with the details in my blog, I'll talk about particular challenge highlights and then just update an excel spreadsheet from month-to-month for our records and so you can kick my butt if I deviate too far from the pledge :-)

Just writing up my list of challenges gives me goosebumps, as it really does mean that I will have to 'find' an incredible amount of time to devote to this, or me. But then again, this is the point of the whole challenge, and the 'year of me' is not necessarily about making sacrifices elsewhere to benefit me, but being organised, thinking smarter and using my down-time more productively.  So, I had best hop to it, and stop talking about it.  Go Team Me!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

the year of ME...

a new calendar year has indeed ticked over, and whilst I have a fair indication there won't be any HUGE news, announcements or celebrations this year (like the birth of any more children :-p), I want to take some time out for me and try and set some goals to work towards.  

a friend of mine recently shared a link over at Life Hacker with some great ideas for setting personal goals and challenges for yourself during the year, helping you work towards improving your organisation skills, saving money and maintaining some cultural balance in your life.  The challenges really appeal to me, as not only do I enjoy having something to work towards and some idea of the path I'm taking - but I figure my particiaption will make me stop and take a break from the treadmill of life that I often find myself strapped to. 

yes.  A lot of mothers would know what I am talking about - the relentless set of chores that never ever go away. The most basic things that consume your whole day - for example, all things associated with clothes washing and food.  I'm sure there are varying degrees of involvement with these tasks for mothers' all across the planet, yet being the house proud mother with three children that I am, I often find myself staying up ridiculously late just so these tasks are in order and completed for the day. Once completed, or 'under control' as I like to put it, I kid myself that I will have a clean slate in the morning to do some awesome activity with the kids without a sense of housewife guilt, or that I may even afford myself some time in the afternoon to do some sewing, reading or chat with a friend. But no. It never happens like that. The housework and errands and time consumed running a house never go away.  In fact, they breed, and not necessarily at a rate proportional to the number of people living in the house. 

if your main agenda item has been caring for babies, which mine has for four years now, you are relieved to hit the three, four, five, six month milestones where you are no longer constantly feeding. Babies are by this time in great little routines and things all start falling into place. Not that the washing and food issues disappear, but perhaps I personally learn to lower my standards. Just a little. Which is neither a good nor bad thing.  !Ouch! Sometimes it kills me, but the realisation that I will go insane if I don't have some me time, kicks in.  Previously I've started on my sewing again, then I start dreaming BIG about other projects and... well achieve very little for me personally. My 'me-time' is still generally for others, or tied up in the anticipation and excitement of starting a new project that I never get enough momentum to follow through.

so, to cut to the crux of this post - i'm going to try and spend time each week following challenges and enriching my personal life, and ask you to keep me accountable. Above all, i really hope i can stick at something, make my time less about the mundane tasks and perhaps selfishly more about me. After all, a happy mummy and a happy wife will surely benefit my #1 supporters.