Saturday, May 31, 2014

in stitches: f-ing the ufos

I came to the sad and somewhat shameful realisation this week that of all the yard projects I've begun in my life, I've completed one.

That's OK, I am clearly a process-over-product type person. I'm quite happy that knitting and crochet serves to warm my icy fingers and steady my chatty mind. But I need to move some of the half-finished products to justify my insatiable urge to buy random balls of yarn and old needles in the op shop.

I present, my unfinished object floor of shame:

Let's go clockwise, shall we? From the top left.

A capped-sleeve dress (Little Sister pattern) in lovely soft 4-ply grey wool. My first attempt at knitting in the round. On the round. Roundways. Whatever it's called. Started in an 18month size. Child is now three.

Some kind of simple baby jumper in op-shopped rainbow yarn. I have no clue what size or when I started that one. Or the pattern.

A scarf? Using two different textured yarns in olive green tones on big needles. I think this was for Grandma.

I have no idea what that is.

A really pretty crocheted cardigan in some op-shopped mohair. Started last winter, cleverly in a size three.

A crocheted scarf for my sister's birthday. Two years ago,

A crocheted rainbow scarf for my friend's birthday in March. Just the ends to sew in. It makes total sense to have started more projects since then.

A baby pram blanket in the most gorgeous buttery yellow cotton yarn. For my son. Who will by nine next week.

A baby onesie I began during the summer I was on holidays and pregnant with my middle guy. I think it was a six-month size. Not sure it'll stretch now that he is nearly five.

I have plans to re-size some, rip others off the needles, and finish some and actually give the gifts. And also start another couple of projects in the meantime, because I know I won't be able to help myself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

purple hair, running in mud and other mid-life crises

I knew something had changed within me when I stepped to the side of the track, fearing I would vomit. I could feel my body responding to the synapses in my brain being redirected. From a long held belief of I'm not one of those people who can climb to the top of ropes, to a new pathway:

I climbed that rope.

We did our first Raw Challenge in March this year. We started training in October of last year. And I don't mean training for obstacle racing, I mean training for the most basic of reasons: sleeping, surviving, staying married. Our amazing trainer has become very much a part of our lives in that time. We owe that guy our lives, or at least some extra years of them. He is a bit of an obstacle race fan, it seemed a perfectly sane thing to sign up to do with some of our training buddies. A couple of mates joined us for the fun.

That first challenge was really something. It exposed me, literally, raw. I cried on the way home at the exhilaration of it all. The awesome feeling of having a go and achieving stuff I never thought possible. The absolute humility and gratitude of having team-mates pull me over the top of obstacles when my mind had given in. The disappointment at having given up a couple of times. I discovered my deep fear of heights in this first challenge. Specifically, the edge of heights. You can imagine how well that goes when climbing over walls, and cargo nets. I freaked out near the top of a tyre wall, and climbed back down. I froze atop a cargo net spanning shipping containers. For about five minutes I just kind of lay there. I hesitated pulling myself up the rope climb pyramid, lost my nerve so very close to the top, and slid back down the rope, my beautiful team-mate holding my feet so I didn't get burned. Self-defeat is very exposing. Experiencing the pride of finishing in the same event is a little crazy!

Our little team gathered at our place, grilled copious meats and merriment ensued. We really, really had fun. And booked the next one. A longer, hillier, chillier Raw Challenge this time. We continued on with training and eating well. I set the goal of achieving pull-ups, with a tattoo reward. I bought new, smaller pants. We counted down to May 24th. I dyed my hair purple.

Finally our camping/sans kids/ running in mud weekend arrived. We travelled north in a vaaaan and found our gorgeous destination: Barrington Tops. The whole event- challenge and camping- was held at Riverwood Downs Resort. Such a beautiful spot for our first go at vanmping. And the weather was perfection.

On our way to register for the challenge, we bumped into our training mate who would be running with her teenage son. She waved a map in the air, warned us that the course was rumoured to be closer to ten kilometres that the eight we signed up for, and that the kick-off was a (and I quote) "a two-k fuck-off hill". My nerves jangled and I worried about the run. I don't love to run. It isn't my favourite. I love to lift heavy things over and over, but running just makes me feel a weird panic. I eyeballed that rope climb pyramid, sitting smugly there in its prime position of last obstacle. Called it a bastard and vowed to get over it. We cheered on the super-fit guys and girls taking off for the competitive wave. We saw the Aussie Mudder guys come in from their 11th lap in their 24-hour challenge. Yup. They kept going round and round the course for 24 hours.

Before long, it was our turn to queue up with fellow challengers. People dressed up as Where's Wally, gladiators, guys in full green bodysuits. We were all pretty stoked with our special new shoes.

Off we went, and it was true. The hill run was really something. I did it. I hopped over sticks and rocks, walked some of the bits when I felt too fatigued, ran down hills with soft knees like a pony, followed advice to look up, look around and remember that you don't get to do stuff like this every day. I loved it! Have I found a kind of running that I can be in a relationship with?

Onto the more obstacle-focused part of the race, we stomped through rocky creeks, jumped over big giant cotton reels, splashed through muddy water pits. The shoes I got for mother's day really made so much of the race easier. So much energy was saved by not having to be dragged out of mud for lack of shoe grip. My new babies dug into that slippery terrain and made me so happy to attack each obstacle.

Somehow, I got to the top of a rope climb. Having never attempted one, the knots in the rope were welcome. I got myself up to the second knot hold, with my hubby wrapping the rope around the bottom of my foot. I'm really unsure how, but my hands made it to the uppermost knot. I shimmied my feet up another knot, and reached my hand out to ring that bell. My fingertips just reached about a centimetre away from the thing. No ding! At this point I made the mistake of looking around and realising how bloody high I was. With my hubby and team-mates gently encouraging me to reach again, I politely requested that they assist me in getting off the rope (by which I mean, I screamed Let me get down!). Next time, bell. You wait.

Next up was a major sticking obstacle for me in the first challenge: the tyre wall. Up and over just isn't my thing. Especially on things that are really high. Again, my team-mates coached me over the top, in all my uncoordinated glory (What do you mean hold that and turn my foot in there? That doesn't make sense!) and I felt such a wave of pride and gratitude as my feet touched the ground on the other side.

Waiting for my turn on the high cargo net, a guy behind me made a joke about a nine-foot fall not being that damaging. So I walked around the thing. Next time, cargo net. Look out.

The wobbly balance beam was a bit of a moment of glory for me to be honest. It felt great stepping off the end and cheering with my mates.

Approaching the cargo net spanned over shipping containers, I was stoked to see that the wall to get onto the thing had been adapted to suit a range of ability levels. You could still rock out the flat, high wall, or you could have a crack at the same wall with a bar about two-thirds of the way up, or you could go the ladder climb up the wall. No prizes for guessing which one I took. I was so proud to make it across that cargo net span with only a brief pause to change my feet direction. So proud.

As exhaustion started to set in, and the finish line came into view, I realised all obstacle left involved up and over heights. Some rock-climbing pyramids that looked like such fun, the graded walls to jump over and the rope climb ramp. I was really struggling to keep myself together just looking at these things. I'm a bit disappointed in not having had a go. Next time, high things. Next time.

The thing that I have loved about these challenges is the empowerment. I really like competing with myself, each time doing a little better. I was grateful to feel the increased strength and fitness in my body the second time around. I like being challenged to do things that make me so frightened I can barely move. I love being part of a team that cares about each other and supports one another over the obstacles.

Cannot wait for the next one.

*not a sponsored post at all- links are for your checking out purposes only!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

shine on: my week with a black eye

I am one of those people who has never done anything exertive or interesting enough to warrant a cool injury. No broken bones, all teeth intact, not a single wake boarding concussion, in fact I don't think I ever even came off my bike as a kid.

At training last weekend, I attempted to catch one of those slam balls with my face. Heavy like a medicine ball, but with a rubber casing rather than canvas. As soon as my trainer said the words netball hold I should have known. Hand-eye co-ordination and I never developed a meaningful relationship. I held up my hands to catch the ball, felt the smart sting on my cheekbone, laughed at myself and continued on my merry way.

Arriving through the door after training, I saw that my eye was quite puffy and already starting to blacken underneath. I sent picture messages to my husband and my trainer, laughing at my own complete lack of co-ordination. Secretly chuffed with my cool workout injury.

Things got less cool throughout the week. I am too lazy for makeup most days. The first time someone jokingly asked me Hubby been smacking you around? I laughed and thought, what an odd thing to say, I don't think I've ever heard Hubby even raise his voice. By the third or fourth hilarious joke about domestic violence, a sick feeling settled in my gut, and it has stayed there, even as the bruise turned purple, and now yellowish. The solemn occasion of a funeral, along with my clumsy attempts to cover the bruise with concealer, didn't stop more of these comments. My darling, gentle Hubby was uncomfortable standing with me, hearing the jesting.

Relatives, friends, my kids' teachers and strangers have kindly asked what happened. People who know me well have asked, what have you done to yourself? Interestingly, people I work with avoided eye contact. I sat in the doctor's office, frustratingly chatting for ages about my kids, one of them was having high temps. Just a virus, but we were in there a lot longer than our regular three minutes. Glancing in the mirror in the parents' room afterwards, I remembered the black eye. Arriving home, I found my wedding rings I had removed to mix and roll meatballs.

It has been an interesting week, and a powerful lesson in human reactions to others' pain. Kindness and compassion are always welcome. Jokes about domestic violence are not.

If you are living in a violent or abusive situation, please talk to a trusted friend and get in touch with one of our excellent support services.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

on sliding doors and borrowed time

The past few months have been filled with messages for me. Wide-eyed stories of shockingly fast illnesses, parents of young children snatched away, heads shaking in dismal helplessness.

We are tenants, here, in this life. We don't own the time.

The only permission I needed to live my life with joy was the knowledge that the time I have is a tiny speck of sand.

So I am.

I am going to work hard to feel




I am joining the Desire Map journey with a dear friend. Not a speck of time will be wasted! I intend to suck the marrow out of my life, tiny speck that it is.

How do you want to feel?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

we went to tasmania and all i brought you was this blog post

Pure Traveller organised our trip to Tasmania for the whole extended family. This post is sponsored by Grandma, who paid for the trip! The links are just for information, no one has given me any money or products for doing so.

We travelled around in convoy, with grandparents, a great-grandmother, cousins, aunty and uncle, staying in a few spots and exploring as much as we possibly could. What an incredible place. I had naively assumed we would get through seeing most things of interest in the nine days we were there- ha! While small, Tassie is so intensely rich. So much to see and experience! And eat! And wine! We found there was plenty to entertain the kids.
We stayed at the amazing Curringa Farm, at Hamilton. We drove the hire cars there from the airport, stopping to grab our order of groceries along the way. Curringa Farm has three gorgeous cottages, we stayed in the cottage called "Out the Back". It was the oldest of the cottages, and, in my opinion, the cosiest. We enjoyed the view of the river, snuggled next to the fire when we saw the nearby mountain with snow on it, and devoured delicious cooked breakfast thanks to the lovely local bacon, eggs, milk and juice found in the fridge. This is a working farm, and the hosts offer farm day tours if you are passing through.

From Hamilton we took a day trip to Mt Field National Park. Although Tassie looks small, don't be deceived into thinking everything is five minutes away. The roads are country, with lots of things to stop and explore along the way. Allow extra time in your planning for stopping at farm gate stalls, and possible car sickness. Mt Field National Park is stunning. While Grandma, Poppi and Great-Nana sat in the warm information centre with a cuppa, the rest of us took a little drive up the hill. Where it started to kind of slushy-snow (please note, it is summer!). This pleased the eldest boy greatly, who had managed to tick off his Tassie wish list on our first day.

We headed north for a few days, staying at Platypus Park Country Retreat at Bridport, a gorgeous coastal town. I did put my feet in Bass Strait, refreshing! We did some wandering around the farm, checking out the curious cows and saying hello to shy sheep. We had a nice dinner at the Bridport Hotel, which did a good kids corner and an awesome steak.

Near Bridport I discovered three words that may have changed my life: Cold. Climate. Wines. So delicious. Thoroughly enjoyed tasting along the Tamar Valley Wine Route, particularly savouring the delicious bubbly Kreglinger goodness at Ninth Island/ Pipers Brook Wines.

A visit to Hillwood Berry Farm was a winner with the kids, the raspberries and strawberries were pick-you-own and delicious.

We headed down to Hobart for the last leg of our tour, enjoying a myriad interesting touristy things very close-by. One of my favourite places to visit was the Richmond Historic Gaol. It is perfectly preserved, so it is wonderfully tactile for children. The displays and information signs are really interesting snippets into what life was like for prisoners of the colony.

Zoodoo was another fab stop for the kids. All the favourites are there, and our middlekid ticked off his list, seeing the Tasmanian Devils. Being a smaller zoo, a morning visit will allow plenty of time to wander through the vineyards in the Coal Valley. Check out Pooley Wines (on the most beautiful setting you could imagine), Puddleduck Vineyard (a family-run, family-oriented small boutique vineyard with the loveliest hosts to pour a drop) and of course Wicked Cheese.

Tasmania really was a wonderful family destination. I'll be back soon with a quick guide to travelling Tassie with a young family. What are your Tasmania must-do's?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

in stitches: kensington pants by terra's treasures tested

I received a copy of the Kensington pants PDF pattern for free to test.

I love a quick, easy sew. My laziness is only matched by my love of quirky, individual design features. Terra's Treasures has just released the Kensington Pants PDF pattern, and I got to take the pattern for a spin, making the shorts version for my small girl. With a sweet yoke waistband, contrast piping and gathered patch pockets, these duds are truly my cup of tea.
Printing, piecing and cutting the pattern were a breeze. The colour-coded sizes were very easy to follow, and the pieces matched up with beautiful precision. I loved the layout of the instructions too, easy to read and follow, with lots of pictures. I used up some peachy-pink chambray from my stash (op shopped) with some vintage sheet floral for contrast. I sewed up the shorts in a size 2, shortening the length a tad and adding a contrast cuff to the bottom. I also made a sweet little top to match, using the free Perennial Dress pattern from Sewpony (this one is super cute too!).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

simply living: a less toxic life

I received a copy of Less Toxic Living to read prior to its publication.

Our fourth seachange anniversary is coming up early next year. I can't believe we have been here for almost four years, and yet I can. Our little man was a baby in a sling when we arrived at these sandy shores. We have changed such a lot in that time, not just our growing family and moving homes.

Living close to the sea has had a profound effect on how we see the world, and how we live in it. You can't see the rainwater wash directly into the ocean every day, and not be offended by the visible rubbish, and question the toxic things that can't be seen in the water.

And so, in those four years, we have gradually made mindful changes. Really just small things, one at a time. In a completely imperfect, trial-and-error kind of way. There has been some really simple changes, and some new things to learn, in an effort to live more simply. Remembering bags for the grocery shop. Packing school lunches in reusable containers, minus the pre-packaged snacks. Making my own laundry detergent. Growing some food. Keeping chooks. Composting.

None of these are new things, revolutionary things. But that's my point today. We can minimise toxicity in our lives in very simple, everyday ways. I recently read Less Toxic Living by Kirsten McCulloch (with a whole bunch of fantastic co-writers). You may know Kirsten from her ace blog Sustainable Suburbia. It was such a pleasure to read, full of great mini-guides for living a less toxic life. Information about toxic chemicals in common plastics, cosmetics, cleaning products, candles and toys. And information about what you can use instead. My favourite part? No panic-mongering. Just useful, sensible ways to reduce toxins. You can tap into a section that grabs your attention or interest, work on that in your life, and see what impact it has. Easy! I became quite interested in the idea of using plants inside to filter toxins in the air, so guess what my next little project is?

I would absolutely recommend Less Toxic Living as a springboard into living a greener life. If you are already a bit conscious of reducing toxins, this would be a great resource for family or friends new to these ideas.

You can download Less Toxic Living for free as an eBook. If you download before December 3rd, you can get some special bonus treats: some handy printable guides for your fridge and wallet, a free chapter and recipe from Alexx Stuart's Real Treats and a discount voucher from Queen B candles. Lovely! Just pop in the code HAPPINESS to get your free goodies. If you would like to purchase a paperback copy of the book, you can do so here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Monday, November 11, 2013

I've found myself saying, just lately

Wow! How did that pumpkin get there?

Yes, darling, grown-ups have stomachs, too.

Guys! You have got to remember to put away your textas!

Does anyone know where I put the keys?

Does anyone know where I put my glasses?

Does anyone know where I put- is anyone listening at all?

Thanks little mate, I think this dress is the most beautifullest, too.

I'm in here. In the bathroom sweetie. Just in here. Yep going to the toilet. Poo. Oh, hey, you got the door open, that's cool. No thanks, I don't want any sultanas.

I'm not missing bread at all! (eye twitch) Or pasta! (twitch, twitch)

Where are your pants?

I'm not sure which minion is my favourite, kiddo. Maybe Kevin?

Just lay down and close your eyes! It's time to rest and relax! Right now!

I think a diamond gem would have more power than an emerald in a battle.

I want to marry you again.

(breathe  it all in, these fleeting moments disappear like the grains of sand forming the seashore)


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