Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I need it. We live in a small house. A lovely house, but small nevertheless. Today I have been wracking my brain trying to work out how to give myself a bit of room. Not storage space (although I desperately need that too), but space for me.

The children have their own rooms which they have made 'their own' with shelves full of toys, books and knick-knacks, and walls covered in artwork. My husband and I have a room 'in progress'. It will be 'in progress' for some time, I think! Wardrobe space is at a premium, and one side of the room is taken up with a filing cabinet, drawers and a desk. Perfect for computer time and blogging, but not conducive to crafting. And especially not suitable for an altar!

So with a bit of tweaking and re-arranging, I think I have a solution. Today would have been the perfect time to get it all sorted out, but with a kitchen hutch, a chest of drawers and a desk to move, it is going to have to wait until my muscle bound husband returns home! I am going to create a crafting nook in the unused dining room (we eat outdoors, so the dining table is now on ebay!), and I will set up my long awaited altar on my side of the bedroom.

Why is all this space important? Well, the crafting nook speaks for itself. With my handmade pledge for 2010, I am going to need it!! I don't fancy having to take the sewing machine out of the cupboard everytime I feel the need to stitch. A trip to Ikea will be on the cards for some fancy storage boxes too.

As for the altar, well, that's entirely for me. A place to return to when I need inspiration. A place where I can reconnect with the divine. A place for meditation. A place to hold items that are sacred to me - pictures of loved ones, candles, crystals and my totems.

Space for me. Boy, am I looking forward to it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas at our place...

I hope you all had a wonderful day! We certainly did. A big morning at home opening presents from Santa, followed by an equally big afternoon at Nanny Kidd's house with more present opening! We took the obligatory family generational pictures (which I will post in another blog entry), feasted on absolutely divine food (thanks, Nanny Kidd!), and finally settled into the lounge room with the karaoke machine. As crazy as they all are, I love my family to bits and always look forward to Christmas day with them.

Here are some shots of Christmas eve and Christmas day, followed by a couple taken in the rain this morning.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Slow down

I had a realisation today that hit me like a tonne of bricks.

I will know my children for far more years as adults, than I will know them as kids.

I don't know why I've only just realised this, nor why it hit me so hard. It's had a profound effect on my thinking and on my actions too. I'm slowing down. Not just in what I do, but in how I speak and in my interactions with my kids. I need to listen to them more. I need to be with them more. And I need to expect less.

You always hear people say, 'they are kids for such a short time', but have you ever really just stopped and thought about what that means? These experiences we have with them are but fleeting. The way they look, the way they react, their emotional vulnerabilities now, will be gone in a few short years. They will grow up, and find their own lives. It is our responsibility as parents to nurture them now. Love them now and be with them now. Giving them material things, or overloading their days with structured activities, is not, in my humble opinion, the best type of parenting. It feels good to give them what they think they need, but what will they remember about you when they grow up? How many toys you gave them, or how much time you spent playing with them, and enjoying them?

Slow down.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'll let you in on a little secret...

I've found a wonderful product! Soap in a Nutshell!

Actually I found them a while ago but they were packed in some obscure box when we moved into our rental property 8 months ago, and were only unpacked recently!! So what are they? Well, to put it in a nutshell (hee, hee...) they are a washing detergent that literally grows on trees. They are found in India and contain saponin which when immersed in water releases a natural soapy substance. They are fragrance free which is great for those of us with allergies. However, if you like your washing to smell fresh and pretty, you can add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil to the wash. I like to use eucalyptus and lavender. They are also amazingly economical! You use approximately 4-5 nuts per wash and these same nuts can be used for up to 3 or 4 washes!

My only criticism is that they don't work particularly well on stains that have been left too long on clothes. But then again, most chemical laden soap powders struggle with that too sometimes!

Enough of my prattle though. If you are interested in knowing more about them, click on the link above. The website is great and should answer all your questions.

Happy washing, girls!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Muesli Cookies

I found this recipe the other day and thought it looked simple and yummy. I was right! The kids and I just made a batch and they are delicious. And not to mention, pretty healthy too.

3 cups homemade toasted muesli (I didn't have any homemade, so I used a good quality bought one that had heaps of dried fruit and seeds in it)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
100g butter, melted, cooled
1/3 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Combine muesli and flour in a bowl. Whisk butter, honey and egg together. Add butter mixture to oats and mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes. Actually, in this weather, put it in the fridge to harden a little! Roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on trays, 3cm apart. Bake for 10 mins. Swap trays halfway through. Cool for 10 mins transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It was written in the stars

I get the picture that most people think of me as outspoken, confident and a bit of a rabble rouser. I think they are probably correct for the most part. I do love to get the cauldron bubbling! I do however, feel a little misunderstood a lot of the time. I think some people may be confused by my motives and I'm sure a few of my dejecters are probably of the belief that I place myself on a pedestal in search for fame and glory. Well, the Leo in me is mighty proud of that assumption and shouts out 'hoorah' to those souls brave enough to challenge the king of the jungle! These days though my lion is sleepy, and has handed the reins over to the water bearer and the archer. You see, I have Aquarius rising and my moon is in Sagittarius. These two aspects make for a pretty interesting existence, let me tell you!

Without going into the nitty gritty of astrology (believe me, I could go on, and on and on....), let me at least fill you in on three of the most important parts - the sun, the moon and the ascendant. Your sun sign is where the sun was located at the time of your birth, and is the common 'star sign' that is regularly referred to. Your sun sign controls the ego and it's self expression, and is, in short, how we express our individuality. Our moon sign is all about our emotions, and in my opinion, is of far more importance than our sun sign. It gives us an indication of our inner selves, and controls our instincts. The ascendant or rising sign is the sign that appeared on the eastern horizon at your time of birth. In a nutshell, our ascendant describes how we appear to the world. Here is a great description.

So from these three aspects we can gauge how we see ourselves, how the world sees us and how we handle life emotionally. I've been through my Leo phase, and whilst my ego is still a little wrapped up in the Leonine show-offi-ness, it's not who I am anymore. My ego is there, but its not going to control me. Maybe I've grown up, or maybe I've just learned that my exterior doesn't define me.

Emotionally, I am the warrior maiden, full of voice and vision. I have completely embraced her, and the emotional journey we are embarking on together is exciting. I'm not afraid to teach what I've learned, and sharing my philosophies and beliefs is of the utmost importance to me.

As for how I appear to the world, well, let's just say that it doesn't surprise me if some find me a little odd, maybe a bit eccentric, slightly controversial, somewhat left of centre and maybe a bit of a loner. That's ok with me. It was written in the stars 36 years ago. I've only just begun to learn how to live with it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Watching our pennies

....seems to be the topic of the month in my household. Due to my husband's recent job loss, and subsequent new found employment, we have lost approximately one third of our income. Thankfully we have no debt other than a mortgage, as we own both our cars (albeit, old and crappy), and our credit cards are paid off. This makes things far more manageable. The challenge for me is to manage the finances as they are, without impinging on our lifestyle.

So with this in mind, I am looking to 2010 with new eyes and new ideas. You'll all be aware of the secondhand/handmade challenge I am undertaking, and this should help balance the books somewhat. I'm also big on budgeting and I have a spreadsheet with each of our outgoings listed. We also have several bank accounts - an 'everyday account' for daily spending such as groceries and petrol; a 'monthly account' for monthly bills such as kindy fees, phone bills, mortgage payments etc; a 'longterm account' for bills such as rates, electricity, car services, rego etc. Each payday, I have a scheduled transfer from our main account into each of these accounts. It's an easy way to keep control of the money and it also helps me keep track of where we might be over-spending, or over-budgeting. We do have a savings account too, and I aim to deposit something into it each payday, even if its only $5! We find the best way to save is to pay extra onto our mortgage each fortnight. This way we reduce our interest payments and if need be, for a small fee, we can redraw this money.

As of today, I am also attempting to do my grocery shopping fortnightly. The aim of this is to decrease what I spend on food, and to keep an eye on what we eat! I hope to do a lot more baking and home cooking, and therefore reduce the amount of 'extras' I purchase each week. Hopefully by buying in bulk, I will be able to reduce costs too. I'll keep you posted with this one!

As an ex-travel agent, I find it hard to go without a holiday of some sort each year. We have always travelled, even before children. Next year we are off to Malaysia thanks to the cheap airfares of Air Asia. $1100 total for the 5 of us!! So now my challenge is to find cheap accommodation. You know - champagne taste on a beer budget, and all! I have a few months to sort this out. Who knows, maybe we'll rough it and hang out with the orangutans in Borneo!?!?

For me, being penny wise is about not compromising on the big things. I'd rather slave away in the kitchen and buy my kids secondhand clothing than miss out on the wonderful things like travelling and eating at lovely restaurants every now and then. How do you save money? And what is important to your family? Do you like holidays, or would you prefer to save for something else? Do you save at all? Or do you only just make ends meet? I'm curious. We've always had enough money for what we've wanted and needed. It's tougher for us now (a great thing, from my point of view - nothing like suffering a little for personal growth), and I'd really love to know how you all manage.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to make felted pebbles

Such a great activity to keep little hands busy, and make wonderful little toys once they are completed. They make a gorgeous fairy ring, mountains for pixie folk to climb, treasures for treasure chests, and great counting and colour recognition tools for the really little ones.

Here is a step by step guide.

1. Prepare your materials. You will need some clean, smooth pebbles (we found ours in the garden), some warm soapy water (I use washing-up detergent), some pure wool fleece and a felting needle (this is not compulsory but it helps to keep the fleece in place at the beginning). Note the six little hands, waiting patiently...

2. Using a small portion of fleece, wrap it around the pebble ensuring that it is all covered. You may need to use two pieces. Secure it with the needle, if you are using one.

3. Saturate the fleece with the warm soapy water. At first just gently agitate by rolling it in your palms to ensure the fleece starts to knit together. Once it has started to felt, you can be a little rougher. Continue with the rolling and agitating until you are happy that it has felted together nicely and has good coverage. As the fleece begins to felt it will shrink to the shape of the pebble. It should fit nice and tight.

4. Rinse the pebbles thoroughly under cold water to remove all traces of the soap. This is Master C's favourite part!

5. Put them in the sun to dry, and then play!

My not-so-everyday life...

These next couple of weeks are going to be hectic, to say the least! Busy, busy before Christmas!

This is what is on my calendar -

Tonight - crafting at a friend's house
Tomorrow night - the last of the Mama Moontime Craft club
Thursday - must fit in a gym session
Friday night - Caleb's kindy graduation
Saturday - Moondew Christmas festival
Sunday - our street Christmas party
Monday - Caleb's kindy craft night/Women's circle (still trying to work out how to be in two places at once! Maybe it can be a Daddy craft night??)
Tuesday - Moondew family day
Wednesday - Mama Moontime Craft club night out
Thursday - another scheduled gym session
Friday - attempt to wrap ALL Christmas presents while children are at kindy
Saturday - Keith Urban concert

...and I am sure there will be plenty more that sneaks up on me! Phew, I'm exhausted even typing it all!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A challenge - Part II

Ok, so I am going to do it! Starting January 1, I am going to attempt to only make, or purchase handmade goods, or secondhand items for one year. I've been contemplating this challenge for a while and with good advice from friends have decided that I can achieve this. I'm not going to put myself under any pressure, and I won't feel guilty if I have to purchase brand new. If a new purchase is required, then I aim to make sure, to the best of my ability, that what I do buy is ecologically sound, or has been made using Fair Trade practises.

As some of my commentors mentioned on the last post, the challenge is about awareness. Awareness of where my pennies are spent, awareness of need vs want, awareness of environment and awareness of quality. I will enjoy spending my money knowing that love has gone into the making of an item, or knowing that someone has decided to recycle something rather than throw it into landfill. I'm also looking forward to perfecting my skills and hope that my own creations will play a part in what my family uses over the year.

I'm going to keep a record of purchases and creations, and will update you all throughout the year with how things are running. It's an exciting ambition, and I'm really looking forward to it with the utmost anticipation!