the consequences of finding oneself stapleless

ready to go

I know.  I promised there would be a quilted/upholstered chess board to share this evening.  And truly – it was going to happen.  Except that when I settled all my tools and fabrics on the kitchen table, I discovered there was nary a staple to be had for my staple gun – it being the essential upholstering tool and all.

Thus, a trip to the hardware store was in order.  And you know, with just a few gentle detours, I was able to include the Sacred Heart, Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Salvation Army Oppies on the staple gathering journey.  And that took a little longer than anticipated.  Who would know gentle detours could do that?


Oh but such treats were found!  Placemats with matching coasters.  Never used and such gorgeous colours and patterns!  They’d only just been popped on the shelf – I arrived at the perfect time.  It was kismet.

wool box wool

Two sweet boxes of L’Amour by Patons.  The box lids have a floppy sheet of clear plastic in them.  The yarn is so soft – a mix of lambswool and angora with a tiny fleck of nylon for strength.  They look so very pretty, part of me wants to leave them in their boxes for ever and simply admire them.  Only a small part :-)


A belated wedding anniversary gift for my Jules.  A vintage leather briefcase.  The clasps and handle are in perfect nick.  The leather needs some conditioning and polishing.  It will still look well loved.  Good.  I can just picture my fellow strolling up to the train in his argyle vest (just waiting for the yarn to arrive from Shetland for that – small detail), thrifted tweed jacket, felt hat from a quirky hat maker in Ireland, swinging his briefcase.  Extra good stuff!


Two dear squares of printed fabric – I immediately thought bandana/head kerchief thing. The previous owner thought cushion and stitched them together and added a zipper.  I still think they will be much more useful as scarves so will be unpicking them asap.  Such pretty colours and the lovely pattern reminds me of glorious French tablecloths.

grey sweater cream cardie

Woollen jumpers – a shop bought one from Germany – a beautiful dark grey and white fair isle.  It’s currently a jumper but I’m dreaming of steeking the front, adding almost black bands with red icord trim and frogging, and unpicking the ribbed hems – more red icord.  Hmmmmm …. still pondering.  The creamy-grey cardie is certainly hand knitted.  And beautifully too!  The only thing that needs a bit of a lift – the buttons.  They are terribly cheap and dull for such a lovely cardie.  I’m thinking a trip to the Glenferrie Button Shop is in order – and maybe those lovely woven leather buttons – yes?

baby patterns

Vintage knitting patterns – who can say no!  Not I, that’s for sure.  I tell myself that even if I never knit the precise items in them, they are still a wonderful resource for stitch patterns and ideas :-)  Mind you – there’s that baby wool that needs knitting up and there are some dear little bonnets and cardies in the Baby Encore booklet.  Oh yes!


Oh! Finally!  Staples.  Extra short ones.  The wooden chess board is a fairly flimsy affair.

first step done

And voila!  We are one step closer to a quilted/upholstered finish.  The quilted top has now been stretched and stapled into place.  This afternoon, after that slow trip to the hardware store, the rain poured down, the wind whipped round, and darkness fell extra early. Meanwhile, the little girl sat at the kitchen table writing spelling sentences and completing word building exercises whilst telling me endless Star Wars stories and crawling around under the table with the over-excited puppers.  And I listened and helped, coaxed and suggested, laughed and scolded (the puppers that is), whilst pulling and straightening and stapling and ripping out said staples and doing it all again until it looked good.

So, because there were no staples, there are now yet more thrifted treats tucked into the corners of Bootville.  Each with its own story forever unknown to us.  But that’s okay – I’m good at creating their histories, imagining who bought them – the placemats, a 21st present don’t you think, kept for good but then never used – the balls of L’Amour, a treat to herself with a special pattern picked out and yet, knitting for the children and grandchildren filled her knitting time until it was too late – the briefcase, it’s already been to the train station thousands of times maybe with the daily newspaper, a sandwich, perhaps essays to mark, or a colleague’s proposal to peruse.

Now we shall add to their stories whilst they make ours a little more beautiful.  And tomorrow – I know there will be very good progress on the chess board.  Truly I do!



goodness me!  Sometimes these days just hurry by, don’t they.  Here we are and it’s Tuesday night already.

Mum has been and gone – she’s in Brisbane now, visiting with old Nanny and Grandad who are relishing every moment of having their eldest child at their beck and call :-)

Lucy is having her holiday here with us … well, a combination of holiday and convalescing – she had a paralysis tick a couple of weeks ago and being an old lady, she really suffered and is still getting her strength back – it was very touch and go for a while there, nerve wracking stuff.

Abby is off to Year 10 camp tomorrow – with a streaming cold.  After a day of resting under the quilts on the sofa with plenty of vitamin c, hot lemon and honey tea, hot water bottles, chicken soup, and paracetamol she’s still sounding/looking/feeling awful.  Oh dear.

Mother’s Day came and went – lovely stuff.  Croissants with jam (so decadent!) and cheese for breakfast.  Woodwork in the shed with Abby and Jules.  Shoppings with Mum.  Cosy hours of knitting with the Nan, the Mum and the girlie, whilst Julian prepared a marvellous Mother’s Day Feast.   Oh yes :-)

And me … well pottering around as usual.


We visited Wondoflex on Friday – ostensibly to choose wool for baby knitting – my cousin Clara is expecting her first babe in August.  Oh!  So many lovely things to knit for little ones born into cold climates – wee dresses, cardies, snuggly stockings, tiny booties.  And yet somehow, along with the baby wool, 20 balls of heavily discounted 12 ply tumbled into my basket and somehow they wound up on my needles where they are miraculously turning into this.  Such a sweet and easy pattern – knits up wonderfully quick and has nifty little inset pockets for keeping hands cosy.  I have one and a half sleeves left to go – and a bit of finishing on the pockets.  Yum!  But where’s the baby knitting?  you ask.  Oh she’s not coming ’til August … heaps of time ;-)

knitting booi

Found this treasure trove of a book at our local post office.  Yep, the post office.  You know the deal … standing in a long queue waiting to collect a parcel, surrounded by shelves spruiking all manner of goods that a post office has no right to sell :-) But dang!  I’m glad they had this one … it is sooooooooo good!  A real how-to bible of knitting, full of so many wonderful techniques I don’t know where to start.  Makes my heart beat faster just looking at it.

scraps quilted chess board

Dusted the old chess board that came with these dear little hand painted sweeties and had a flash of brilliance.  It would look so much better quilted!  And I’ve always wanted to make a quilted chess board.  So I made the wee quilt this morning, and after being interrupted by the girl child and her sneezing, came to the perfect realisation of how to finish it off.  There’s nothing quite as good as a forced break.  I do find it allows me to ponder where I’m heading and how best to get there.  Wait til you see.  Oh yes!  It’s going to be so cool.  Hopefully tomorrow.

little sickie lucy

I know she’s sick and all and feeling crummy, but oh, how I love it when my girlie is home with me and I can fuss over her.  The house is so much lovelier when she is in the next room.  And sweet little Lucy – she loves it too.  A snoozing teenager provides the perfect cosy spot to warm her old bones, specially since the vet had to shave all her fur (her winter coat!) so as to find that wretched tick.

ultimate toy lottie man trees wooden toys

The current favourite toy in Bootville – the scroll saw.  It is the BEST fun.  It’s almost like free motion quilting – but easier!  On Saturday, Abby and I made some trees and birds (still to be painted).   And on Sunday, I made a funny little replica of Green Cape Lighthouse (bit obsessed really) for old Grandad to remind him of his wonderful adventure last summer, and Lottie and her Gentleman for old Nanny.  Every time I see these two quirky folk, I expect to be able to pick them up and shake out the salt and pepper!  Such fun.

Days filled with family and love and handmade.  My favourite things.  And yours too, I bet :-) 

we took a leaf walk

branchbranches leaning out

red against blue around the corner the first shot

We are so very fortunate to live in a neighbourhood that is filled to bursting with beautiful trees.  In spring, streets of frothy blossoms fill me with speechless pleasure.  In summer, thick, vivid green canopies cast a beautiful, peaceful light upon us.  In winter, gnarled trunks and branches stand to stiff, cold attention.  A year round of loveliness.  But it is autumn that truly captures our hearts.  We turn down one street and breath out long, wonder-filled oooohs.  Around the very next corner,  we give sharp, delighted intakes of ahhhh.

I don’t think it will matter how many times I journey round this sun of ours, such autumn trees will continue to enchant.  Today, I brought the camera with me to collect the little girls from school and asked them if they’d like to take a leaf walk.  With the camera – in turns, strap around their necks, taking as many photos as they wanted of whatever took their fancy.

Well.  What a treat.  A beautiful, slow, stopping every few feet to admire, inspect and wonder, afternoon.  They declared it the best afternoon we’ve had all year.  I’ve never enjoyed a leaf walk more … watching them choose what they wanted to capture.  How best to capture it.  Working out how the light worked.  Learning to adjust the focus.  Choosing how they wanted to compose their pictures.  Taking turns.  Being gracious and patient.  It was so lovely.

So here is a small selection of their photos – interspersed with a few photos I snapped of them.  As much as I was enjoying the autumn foliage, it was their enchantment with what they saw in front of them and how being a “photographer” provided them with such a good opportunity to slow down and really notice, that filled my heart today.

looking up up the street getting the shotamazing leaf with seed pod the honey above us arranging the leaves leaves in grass holding the leaf hedge two of them green veins milky light infront of yellow sun silhouetteFinally, the camera battery expired, the sun dipped even lower, and there were empty tummies to fill.  So, with hot chips and a picnic quilt, we found the prettiest tree in the park to settle under.   After hunger was satiated, there were swings to raucously sing upon, newly working fountains to race around, bumbling friendly puppies to play with …. and a wee pocket of time for stitching.

hot chips

my basket

under the treeIt was a very fine afternoon.

a felt pocket book

I love baskets … especially old ones.  Each time I find one by the side of the road, or at the oppie, home it comes.  After a good scrubbing they are usually filled with one of my many “current” projects.  This means there seems to be a perpetual need for extra baskets in Bootville :-)

last supplies the finishing touch

in my basket

It also means that the baskets regularly venture out with me.  To university, to babysitting, to the shops, on adventures.  Anywhere where there might be a need for notebooks and laptop, or a moment for knitting a few rows, or adding a few more stitches to an embroidery.  There are *always* such moments.  Having a basket slung over my arm also means that I don’t always need my handbag.  But I do like to be able to put my hand to purse, phone and keys quickly – something that can’t easily happen when they have been buried by wool or fabric.  And so … the felt pocket book.  Started last year, finished last week.  Hand stitched out of exceptionally rigid thick felt. I had to use the rubbery grippy fabric we use in the kitchen to open tight jam jar lids just to pull the needle through!  Measured to snugly fit each of those three essentials.

a pocket book what it holds back pocket

Decorated with a wee bit of applique, embroidery and needle felting.  Finished off with a pair of pretty buttons and a long tail of red ribbon to weave back and forth around the buttons in a figure 8 … the kind of ribbon that makes me think of old manilla folders, bound up with ribbon before being stored in cavernous cellars.

clasp close up of girl and dress in hand

I’m so pleased I finally finished this very useful little pocketbook (oh my, I can surely procrastinate!) and it’s so sturdy I’m sure it will put in many years of practical service.  The best kind of crafting – the hand making at home of objects which I know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.  Thank you Mr. Morris – your marvellous words inspire me everyday :-)

embroidery basket

a seagull quilt

closeup seagulls at the beach

You might have noticed, here at Bootville, that we’re rather fond of seagulls.  When I look through my photos here, and Julian’s photos that scroll through our tellie, lots and lots of seagulls pop up.  So when I found some darling seagull fabric last December, I just had to have some.  Seagulls on a pale duck egg blue background for long shorts for Julian – just right for wearing on Mum’s front porch after a day at the beach.  And these seagulls on a soft grey background … for a quilt of course.

started way back here

I wanted to stitch some lovely blocks – my sampler quilt hangs on the back of our sofa, and I often find myself admiring its cacophony of traditional blocks.  I’m especially fond of this one – I think it has the word “crown” in its name, but as per usual, I really couldn’t say.  Hopeless I am.  But I didn’t want tiddly pieces and I wanted to space the pieced blocks with nice big squares of seagull so we could best enjoy these funny feathered critters, strutting and squawking about.

almost the whole thing the left with stickToday … I finally added the last two borders.  Still in my tidy up mode you see, and now, almost at the bottom of a big jute tote that has made its way back and forth between Merimbula the last two visits, with nary a thing being touched!  The sashing fabric was cut straight – just so happens the design is on the cross.  Neat huh!  And I added the prairie points to the four points of the compass for a bit of extra oomph – and they seem to reflect the lovely points of the pieced blocks and the sharpness of those seagulls.

all those gulls squawk head poking out

I do think the artist captured so many unique expressions – each bird has such a quaint look.  Some busy, some cheerful, some stroppy, some tall and proud.  Just like those that strut about us at the beach.

strolling on the tram bench from our end

When I had to cut the fabric into two inch squares, I still tried to keep something of the gulls in each piece.  A beak, or a tail, a puffed up chest, or some feet.  Plenty to look at.

in the tree cornerAnd I’m very pleased with the colours I chose to sit with my seagulls.  I love the incredible crispness of the white – lovely and beachy.  And the rosy pink seems to bring out the gulls’ feet and beaks.  The dark purply print – so pretty with the pink and sits well with the dark outline of the gulls.  At least I think so :-)  All in the eye of the beholder isn’t it.

So now for the quilting.  Well … tying that is.  After having the kitchen table clear for a whole 20 hours, I now have the seagulls spread out atop a lovely thick, sandy coloured checked blanket.  Tying it on with grey perle.  Love this tying business.  Gets them done and on our sofas and beds.

And in this case … as we snuggle under it, I’m certain that our dreams will be extra full of those long, marvellous hours during which we share the soft warm sand with our friends the seagulls.


warming the bones

baskets abby

Oh the sun.  So nourishing.  And I so needed it today.  Monday, when popping on my spectacles, I realised that the right side of my nose was very sore.  The kind of sore your nose feels after meeting a cricket ball.  Not something I’ve experienced lately … cricket balls that is.  There was no redness, no swelling, no sneezing, no snot, no pain anywhere else – so sinusitis didn’t seem the obvious culprit.  And yet, just lightly touching the side of my nose hurt.  I expected it would pass.

Tuesday … ouch!  The pain had spread up the right side of my nose.  Still, I thought it would pass.  Wednesday … ouch! ouch!  My nose was no excruciatingly sensitive that talking and smiling made it throb.  And now – it was the left side too.

fu rosebush

This morning, for the umpteenth time, my Mum reminded me of a lovely student we knew who had developed such a bad sinus infection, it travelled to her brain and she suffered profound brain damage.  I know this sounds a wee bit melodramatic but seriously, this was a vibrant, energetic girl who one month was racing around school with the world at her feet, and several months later we were organising classmates to visit her everyday in hospital as she made a painfully slow and limited recovery.  So, on our way home from the shops, Abby and I called into the doctors to make an appointment for tomorrow.

Instead, after describing the strange pain to the nurse, she popped me straight in to see the next doctor with a gap in their schedule – such an unusual experience I didn’t know whether to feel alarmed or blessed!  The doctor was very attentive but could only find slight swelling with slight redness on the inside of my nose.  Like mum, she too was a bit concerned about the pain, so gave me a strong antibiotic to hopefully knock whatever is in there on the head before it grows any braver.  And if there’s no improvement in the pain by lunchtime tomorrow, I have to go back.  I’m disappointed to report, that so far, two capsules down, I’ve not yet had any relief.  But I’m hopeful :-)


a visitor

In the meantime, I know of a very comforting home medicine … sitting on the sunny front porch with my dear girl, our funny dog, some lovely embroidery … and our neighbour’s dog who thought it all looked too lovely to not join in.

blue sky

button close up

Such bliss … I almost considered keeping Abby home from school tomorrow so we could notch up a few more hours …oh yes,  the weather man has just said it will be sunny … hmmmm ….  And whilst stitching, my overactive, nursing-student brain visualised all those wee bacteria in my poor sore nose producing offspring without cell walls.  Bit macabre but I can just picture the little bacteria babes realising there’s nothing holding them together and bam! exploding into tiny pieces of uselessness!  Go keflex!

a lighthouse to warm my way


Done!  After a “bit brisk” start to the morning … bit brisk is how my Grandad describes cold weather – you know, frost on the grass, the temperature gauge has almost hit zero and he goes out to feed the chickens and ducks in his shorts, a short sleeved shirt, work boots and the vest my mother knitted him when she was 15 (acutally it was a jumper but Nanny pulled out the sleeves), and when we said “Shut the door!  It’s freezing!”  he would reply, “Oh it isn’t!  It’s just a bit brisk” … there was an opportunity to toast myself on the front porch, coffee beside me, hand sewing on my lap.  Lovely way to settle into the day ahead.

This is my new hot water bottle cosy.  A lovely project to sneak into the long line of things that need finishing – instead of eating a whole packet of Bloomers (the kosher version of oreos and very good too!) to celebrate finishing my essays – I painted the lovely Green Cape Lighthouse that lives in my mind’s eye with felt and thread.  Virtuous huh!

the beginning

Started by drawing my pattern …

just a lighthouse

… and pinning it on to a piece of thrifted, vintage blanket.  I adore this blue check blanket – the only blue one I’ve ever found.  Despite being blue and white – colours not usually associated with the warm spectrum – it’s just so cosy looking.  And so very appropriate for a lighthouse.  I can just imagine the lighthouse keeper’s family snuggled under blue checked blankets in the keeper’s cottage as outside, the sea roars beneath the jagged cliff, the wind flattens those trees behind them just a little more, and the rain washes everything bare.  Green Cape is a dramatic part of the coastline – I’m sure the generations of lighthouse families that lived there saw a thing or two.

out come the threads

I loooooooooove getting out the thread box.  Such prettiness.

startingAnd over the weekend, in lazy hours here and there, I added more and more colour.

on the front porch

I’m very pleased with the lighthouse – it looks just like Green Cape.  Including the little domed building attached to the side.  I wonder what they did in there?  I’ve not had the pleasure of a lighthouse tour – only explored the outside.  But one day I hope to venture in.  In fact, you can stay in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage – oh my goodness, that would be my version of the ULTIMATE holiday.  Then I would truly feel as if I was part of the Famous Five :-)


But my favourite part of the cosy, hands down, is the sun rising up from the jewelled waves.  I love the image of a rising sun … I think there shall be more on this later in the week.


As per usual, I finished the edges with a quilt binding – some leftover floral for the top edges and left over blue from a quilt top I’ve been piecing over the last few days (yeah, like we needed another quilt top … it’s Abby’s fault … she insisted … don’t listen to her … she did!).

with the binding

Let’s look at the sun again, yes?  I adore felt appliques.  Ahhhhh … building up the picture with layers of wool and stitches until it is quite thick and so very textured.  It’s my favourite medium.

little rounded part

There it is again – the little domed part of the building … and the step like sides.  It does have those – they’re cut into the sides of the lighthouse.  Can’t imagine they serve any other purpose than being beautiful.  A very fine consideration for a building … something I think is sorely lacking in the ugly, utilitarian, here-one-moment-gone-the next rubbish we build today.

light and birds

The light and a few seagulls.  I don’t know what kind of light they had at Green Cape – I shall have to look it up.  But when you’re working with felt – a simple representation will do.

waves and sun

And there’s that sun and waves again.  Love!

with hot water bottle

Oh it will be so cosy when it’s nestled against me with a nice hot water bottle inside.  BTW – with regards to safety and hot water bottles, last night on the news, they reported the death of an elderly lady who heated her wheat bag up so much that when she took it to bed with her, it set fire to her bed and killed her!  How awful!  Tests done in England by the Fire Brigade have suggested you have to heat your wheat bag for 20 minutes to get it to the combustible stage.  Unbelievable.  We don’t have a microwave so have always used hot water bottles and I know they can scald if they’re not done up properly or if the rubber has perished and it leaks.  But I do think commonsense and a little bit of care keeps one safe and we’ve never had a problem.

all ready for tonight

I’m especially glad to have finished my hot water bottle cosy because I’ve hurt my back and oh that heat does feel lovely when it’s squished in behind me.  And no, I didn’t hurt it by manouvering hard rubbish into my car.  Or spending hours scrapping and scrubbing the dear little English Oak, drop leafed, gate-legged table that came home with us from the oppie on Sunday.  Or even sitting for too long at the sewing machine.  No.  I hurt it whilst at the loo.  Sitting on the loo to be precise – and twisting and leaning down to retrieve the loo roll holder that had fallen and rolled behind the cistern.  I blame my family.  If only I wasn’t the ONLY member of Bootville to actually change the loo roll, I would never have been in that position!  At least that’s what I’m telling myself ;-)

But all is well, because I have a dear little woollen, appliqued lighthouse to warm my winter.  Bliss!


the tarting up of a cheap lampshade & a hard rubbish lampbase

There were scraps left over from the 4 inches of floral quilt.  Mostly just the ends from each strip we cut.  Varying widths.  I kept them … you never know.  But late this afternoon, between a lovely, lovely long chat with tea & Abby at the kitchen table and leftovers for supper … in that autumn time when you’re waiting for the sun to sink ever faster each day, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.


Not quite Dresden Plate wedges.  Actually no wedginess at all.  But the tops mitred off like you do when making Dresden Plate wedges.  Without fail, chain piecing them is always such a delight – they look so pretty – they could almost be a wonderful necklace!

sewing the ends

Then I sewed them together, side by side, ’til they were a long picket fence marvellously thick with trailing flowers.

putting them together

Added a binding – both a smooth border and an edge to glue.

on with the binding don

And popped this pickety florally crown around a $14 lampshade from Bunnings (the giant hardware store), that is sitting atop a pottery lampbase I picked up from hard rubbish the other day.  There it was, sitting in the almost rain,  just waiting for me.  I’m beginning to wonder whether the neighbours pop these things onto the footpath just to see if they take my fancy before they plonk them into their bins.  Believe me, I turn my nose up at an awful lot.  Mind you, there were three beautiful old cedar doors today.  If only my car was a few inches longer …

very close

Back to the lampshade! The thin lawn creates such a pretty stained glass effect – will certainly keep away the winter darkness.


other side

Only now, looking at it here, perhaps they’ve not made a picket fence, but a row of gorgeous houses, rich with a cacophony of colour – houses that the Araboolies of Liberty Street would like to move into :-)  (one of my favourite, favourite children’s books – up there with Farmer Duck … who says you can’t create politically astute four year olds ;-)

looking up

Abby thinks these wee houses need clouds floating across that bare white sky above them.  Maybe, maybe a bird or two.

But just as it is now … a lovely way to welcome the quickly falling dark.




Thank you, lovely readers!  Your words, experience, wisdom, suggestions and empathy were so encouraging.  I read and re-read every lovely comment and will respond to each of you as soon as I can.

Right now, I’ve just submitted my last case study for the semester – respiratory complications in the postoperative patient – presented my research on the psychosocial impacts of metastasised cancer on a 45 year old man and how best to care for him this afternoon, and tomorrow, will set pen to paper on my second last essay of the semester – caring for a 72 year old, widowed mum with advanced Parkinson’s Disease in the home.  Full on.

But so engrossing – I really love the research component of my course – the body of nursing knowledge out there is so alive and stimulating and thoughtful.  And I feel so connected to my “patients”.  This morning, as I was putting the finishing touches on my presentation, talking about things such as the value of compassionate touch and providing care that focuses on a good life rather than a failed cure, my eyes welled up with tears thinking about poor Geoff – leaving his family when still so young with so much to look forward to.  I shall have to cultivate much steelier eyes before I meet a real Geoff.  Goodness!

Anyways … I shall probably be a bit quiet for the next few days as I finish up this current round of work.  But never fear!  There’s plenty coming up … hot water bottle covers, a finished Moomin quilt, appliques, crocheted chairs just for spinning, knitted shawls …

And you … enjoy your days, dear folk :-)  Thank you for all that you contribute to mine.



what i won’t be wearing


These are a pair of culottes.  I made them last Saturday.  Julian and Abby were out for the day.  I had a lovely new pattern and two metres of beautiful, crisp drill.  Exciting stuff for us sewists.

Now, it’s been a while since I made anything for myself that needed to fit accurately.  So I measured myself.  Overall, I was a size 18 [gasp].  Yup.  A size 18.  As for my waist – it measured a size 22.  I winced momentarily, recognising that yes, everything is a bit tighter these days.  Goodness, some things are simply unwearable.

In fact, since moving to Melbourne, I have put on 10 kilos [shudder].  Woot!  Imagine if I keep that up until I die.  Calculating that if I live to 85, that would be 3 kilos a year for 40 years which would make me 120 kilos heavier than I am now.  200 kilos.  Clearly that is not sustainable with life.

However, despite acknowledging all this out loud to myself, I continued to potter about with the culottes. Cutting out the pattern, pinning pieces together, and sewing them up.  In my mind’s eye, they were really cute. I had visions of wearing them with long ribbed black socks, black patent flats, a grey turtle neck and a jaunty black cardie.  My braids would be wound on top of my head. I’d be wearing my red sunglasses.  Oh I looked cute … in my mind’s eye.

Within a few hours, the culottes were finished and I tried them on.  That’s when the whole mind’s eye thing crashed straight through that rosy glass window and landed in a tatty heap at my feet.

The culottes – so ironically covered in elephants – looked ATROCIOUS.  It didn’t matter that I had made the right size.  It didn’t matter that they fit.  They looked bloody awful.  There would be no cute accessorising with these culottes.

At this shattering point in the tale, let me share a wee bit of backstory (abby’s word).  When I was young I was sooooo thin.  Until my late 20s my weight was in the low 50s (kilos).  I didn’t have to do anything to maintain this weight.   I was just one of those thin girls (even then my waist was wide – Mum always had to allow a bit when sewing me skirts and shorts).

By 36, however, I was 72 kg (despite years of breastfeeding I never lost an ounce … only found more!) and that was a bit yuck.  I should clarify what yuck means to me.  I never read fashion or celebrity magazines.  I don’t window shop or collect catalogues in order to choose what I will need to buy in order to keep up with Ms. Jones this season.  So looking at myself and thinking “yuck” is not because I’m following a fashion industry or crappy magazine led ideal of what nice is.

Rightly or wrongly, I like long and straight and flattish things.  They appeal to my sensibilities.  I do look at films and history and vintage patterns and paintings and photos of my family, and I like lean.  I adore the long, light dresses from the Austen era.  I love the narrow skirts of the 20s.  The straight simplicity of the 40s.  Little cardigans.  Fitted turtlenecks.  A-line skirts. I liked being thin and straight.  At 36 I would put clothes on, look in the mirror and think “oh yes, I like that”.  Then, I would see photos of myself and think huh!  That surely isn’t what I look like.  Must be a dodgy photo.  Eventually, I gained a bit of insight/perspective and acknowledged that yes, that was me and I was fat.  At 36 I had back boobs, a protruding stomach, and no chin to speak of.  And it was yuck.

So, I went to Weight Watchers (having had several friends who’d done this and lost a heap of weight).  The very first session I was so revolted with what we were being encouraged to eat (low fat, low fat, low fat) that I never went back.  Instead, I was VERY sensible – no junk food, no sugar.  And I exercised.  I walked at least five mornings a week and went to the gym three mornings a week.  Within four months, I’d lost 10 kilos and oh was I pleased.  Even better – when I saw photos of myself – I not only looked like how I THOUGHT I looked, but I liked how I looked.

And I was so physically strong.  I possessed muscles I never knew existed.  I had awesome stamina.  It was very cool.  There was a flurry of dressmaking and that was such fun too.  I was still 10 kilos heavier than I had been in my 20s but I looked lean and healthy. Two years later I went back to work full time for 10 months – all the exercise stopped, I was often anxious and overwhelmed, and I ate thoughtlessly and often.  By the end of the year I chucked in the job and the weight was creeping back on.

Two years after that, I had moved to Melbourne and the chin was disappearing again.  The clothes were getting tight.  Did I like it?  No.  Did I do anything about it?  I did not.  I was so homesick, and like so many others before me, turned to food for comfort.  I love cooking, I love eating, I love sharing food with my family, I love shopping for food!  And here I was, living in a neighbourhood famous for its lovely, rich food.  Ah Aviv’s!  When I worked at the bookshop there was a nary a day that I didn’t duck next door for a piece of divine strudel, or almond meringue, or the prettiest sweetest biscuits you’ve ever tasted.   There was rarely a night I went home without bagels, challah, or croissants.  And that’s only Aviv’s – there are countless other marvellous little places we love visiting.  Is it any wonder I’ve managed 3 kilos a year – and again, I feel yuck.

On top of the aesthetic dismay, there’s the slow dawning of what all this weight is going to do to my body.  The more I study, the more papers I write, the more hospitals I visit, the more I understand that being fat is really unhealthy.  It truly is.  It’s not a conspiracy, or the fad of the moment.  Being fat puts me at a great risk of developing Type II Diabetes – which brings a cascade of disasters – lowered immunity, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, increased risk of blindness, increased risk of pressure ulcers, increased risk of kidney failure, increased risk of significant nerve damage, increased risk of skeletal problems, and increased risk of mobility problems – the last of which in turn, compounds all of the above.  That simply does not match up with our dreams of moving to the country and having our own little homestead whilst working as a nurse.

Add to this the comment of a nurse educator I met recently who told us that her hospital has had to buy new beds because the old beds couldn’t take the weight.  That would be the weight of the patients – more than half of whom are obese – and the nurses – who are heading that way themselves!  This hospital had multiple occasions when a nurse would lean on to a bed with an obese patient and bang!  The combined weight BROKE THE BED.

Oh dear.  And yet despite the tight clothes (and growing stack of clothes that no longer fit), the disappearing chin, the health concerns, and the possibility of breaking a patient’s bed, I did nothing.  In between many weeks of acknowledging the yuckiness, I would tell myself, “Oh it’s not so bad.  Being big doesn’t make me awful.  Enjoying life is more important than fretting.”  Sometimes I even believed this.  Until the elephant culottes – they were the straw that broke this camel’s back.

Now one thing I’ve had drummed into me since studying nursing, is that every single person we meet is an individual who will experience life, relationships, illnesses, happiness, stress etc. in a unique way.  Everybody has their own compass to guide their lives.  And respecting that is the basis of human dignity and the starting point of every interaction I have with other people.  Which means, I get that this – my battle with weight and how I want to look – is about me.  This is not a judgement of other people and their choices.  It is simply and solely about me and what I need and want.

I want to be long and lean and strong and healthy again.  I want my chin back.  I don’t want to look six months pregnant.  I want to look cute in culottes.  I don’t want to break any beds.  I need to be able to bounce out of my bed early in the morning, feed our animals, care for my community, take long walks with my family, spend lovely afternoons swimming and playing at the beach, spend hours restoring furniture and building our home.

For me to do this, I need to lose weight – at least 15 kilos.  How?  Well … I’m walking.  I’m using Julian’s weights to build up core body strength, build bone density and increase my metabolism.  I’ve started skipping and sets of squats throughout the day.  And I’m being sooooo sensible with my food.  I’m following the I Quit Sugar recommendations – it’s amazing how many opportunities to pop something else in your mouth disappear when you eliminate those things that are full of sugar.  I have a chart in the bathroom where I shall keep track of the numbers.  And a beautiful, favourite, red checked, richly embroidered skirt lined with a dear little cream, lace trimmed petticoat that’s hanging in the front of my wardrobe for fortnightly try ons to see how the progress is going.

And I’m sharing this awkward tale with you.  This was the problem with my crocheted white smock I alluded to last week.  It was another instance of popping on my 3/4 length black pants, adding the white smock and asking Julian to take my photo.  Only to find that I looked nothing like I expected.  So in writing all this down,  I am hoping that having someone else watching as well will keep me on my toes.

I’ll let you know how it’s going – in three weeks time?  Hopefully there’ll be good progress to report.  As for the elephant culottes – I think I’ll chop them up into other things.  Because by the time they’ll look cute with those socks and flats and turtleneck and cardie, they’ll be tooooooo big.

~ loveliness found ~ 16/52

 if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
please leave them in the comments or share a link to your place!

basket of knitting

~ a basket filled with beautiful but under-appreciated yarn, bought many years ago,
now being knitted into something warming & special
for someone very loved ~

extra warmth

~ dragged in from the sofa to my cold & lonely, late autumn bed,
so scrumptiously cosy ~

easter decorations

~ a little girl oohs and ahhs over the easter goodies still waiting to be put away
& then sighs that she feels sad for her mum,
she has to work so hard and never has time to make nice things
- a good reminder of how grateful I am for the blessings I have ~

butterfly pillowcase
new pillowcases

~ oh how I do love making pillowcases …
one for the little girlie & a pair for me,
such simple pleasure ~

new colour~ the end of the bleached look, thank goodness!
& with no papa to help, it’s up to mama to make it work -
I had performance anxiety ~

oast pancakes

~ Heather’s fabulous oaty pancakes, we love them so!
find the recipe here ~

freshly washed

~ the dust became more than I could bear …
time to wash the back door china ~

moomin quilt

~ tying the Moomin quilt – we’re working on the jigsaw principle …
leave it on the table with scissors, thread and needle at hand,
& it will get done in little bits of time ~

sheets~ finding the sun … & something to hang them on
I do declare I MISS the hills hoist ~



We cracked open our copy of Good to the Grain this morning.  Such a treasure trove of yumminess.  This morning, the pretzels were calling.  I feel a bit like Maria in Sound of Music when it comes to baked pretzels.  You know that bit where she sings … “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.”  Well, I think I must have eaten a pretzel somewhere in my youth or childhood and it must have been exceptionally good, because now, I only have to see a baked pretzel and I’m hungry.  Chewy, dense, salty.  Yum!

We used a different mix of flours to those recommended by Ms. Boyce – working on Hugh’s 500 grams of flour for bread dough, we used 250 of wholemeal spelt, and 250 of rye.  Without any white breadmaking flour the proving was slow, but a couple of hours on the floor of the sunny front porch saw the dough double in size.


Rolling the dough out and folding the ends in to form the pretty little shapes was such fun.  Then it was back to the front porch whilst the baking soda bath came to the boil.  Have you ever added baking soda to boiling water – it was awesome!  Made us feel as if we were gathered around a cauldron rather than a pot.

boiling them

Abby took charge of bathtime.  She was meticulous with the timing – into the pot, 30 seconds, turn them over, 30 seconds, back to the tray.  It was amazing how much that quick bath plumped up the little pretzels.  Abby was suitably impressed – after being rather scathing – that they didn’t simply fall apart when dropped in.  I had faith :-)


The picture in the cookbook showed pretzels artfully sprinkled with flakes of salt.  As we sprinkled the salt, each flake hit a pretzel and fell off.  Hmmm …. so we used the regular salt grinder for flavour and then, not to be defeated, patiently stuck a few salt flakes on for effect.

As with anything home baked, the minute we sat down to enjoy the warm, fragrant and very tasty pretzels with butter, Fu stood imploringly, front paws on my lap, waiting for her own pretzel.  Funny pup.  And we – being silly owners – gave her one.  Off she trotted to the back garden, pretzel in mouth.  As soon as she saw me, watching from the back doorway, she stopped dead in her tracks.

i said its not mine

“What are you looking at!”

not my pretzel

“Nope.  This is not my pretzel. “

i have no idea how it got there

“And I certainly have no intention of eating it.”

I walked away – but not too far :-)  and as soon as I sneaked a look, there she was, stretched out, pretzel between her paws, licking and pulling and chewing …

now i can eat it mmmm chewy

… until it was all gone.

Being just Abby and I home, we still have plate full.  Perhaps most for the freezer and a couple for dinner with scrambled eggs.  Yes that sounds good.  And pretzel making?  Highly recommended!