As you know, dear folk, I’ve a weakness for a good rearrange. And last weekend, with my physiology exam only days away, turning the bedroom on its head seemed like a jolly good use of my time :-)
I’m so, so glad I did. Our bed is now under the sweet bay windows and is bathed in speckled sunshine through the lace curtains. It’s beautiful in the morning and so pretty at night too … the glow from the street lamp replaces the sun and we can hear the rain on the wee roof above us (as opposed to the steep clay tiled roof at the other end of the bedroom). And the curved windowsill has made a nice little gallery.
And my study space is now against the plain wall – much better use of space. And less to distract me :-)
Next to it is Julian’s new-to-us gentleman’s wardrobe. I found it recently at the Sacred Heart op shop in Windsor – again, for peanuts. It’s silky oak – mmmm ….. I adore the warmth and richness of silky oak. I scrubbed it back with steel wool and methylated spirits (peeyoo!) and then had to use some more of that evil paint stripper where the old vanish was especially thick.
Oh how it glows now – I have rubbed it with several coats of Danish oil so it smells beautiful too. And I also scrubbed the original handles. Not sure what they’re made of – some kind of laminated wood – or a bakelite made to look like wood and brass?
Inside, we’ve added shelves to the hanging side – this wee wardrobe is serving as a “chest of drawers” and works so well for Julian. And we ditched the little locks – well they’re still there and we do have keys for it, but Julian added magnetic catches so the doors can be opened and closed easily and neatly.
Well, I doubt whether Laurine (my physiology lecturer) would have approved, but every morning when I wake up, and every night when we go to be, I’m so very pleased I shoved everything around last weekend. Our bedroom has a wonderful new freshness and light.
Ah … it would seem I’m on a wee bit of a housewifely kick here. Today’s theme, following upon yesterday’s thriller of “ironing boards” is “saucepans”. And once again I shall protest, but they are pretty saucepans!
It’s really all the fault of the teacups. The ones we began haunting thrift shops for … for Abby’s Alice in Wonderland birthday party. I got to visiting a handful of thrift shops regularly, alright, every second day. And I keep seeing such lovely things that tug quietly at my skirt and say, please lily, please take us home and love us. And I do! Pretty silverware, cotton quilt covers that are being made up into nighties, blankets for quilt backings, a Japanese teapot for Abby, a scrummy Crown glass pie dish with a fabulously detailed flower painted on the bottom (so you can’t scratch it when cutting your pie – cool huh!). One could almost call it a bit of an obsession. One that can feel scarily virtuous … I never spend more than $10, I’m not contributing to the demand for a ridiculous glut of new “must-haves”, and I’m keeping really good stuff out of landfill. Eeeek!
This Thursday just past, I had Julian drop me off at the Sacred Heart up the street for a quick peek and then I’d meet him at the Japanese grocer. ’Cept I met these lovelies first …
They have a dear little stamp on their side proclaiming their name … “Cinderella” made in Australia. With shiny anondised lids that fit so snug. A whole set. Even Julian liked them when I brought him back to meet them.
So home they came. We’ve had the same three saucepans since we first set up home together almost 20 years ago. And they’re fine saucepans but sometimes, three is not quite enough – ‘specially for folk that love to cook. So now we have 7. Sounds like a Doris Day film.
The smallest is the most used. I can just an imagine an elderly lady grilling herself a chop each night for dinner, and in this wee saucepan, she boiled herself a potato and some peas. I gave them all a thorough wash and with a soft wooden skewer, carefully cleaned the simple engraved lines round the top of each pot. Julian says he has aluminium polish and he’ll give the outsides a buff. The insides are in lovely condition. They are nice and heavy and deeper than our modern saucepans, and the largest pot has a support handle on the opposite side. Very useful.
Our four Cinderellas have fitted in so well. Julian has taken the tiny one under his wing for his breakfast beans, tonight the largest one stoutly prepared the pumpkin for pie, and the medium one makes a lovely deep popcorn pot.
But, from this week on, I promise I shall limit myself to once a week. Thrift shops that is, not popcorn!
Doesn’t that title entice you to read on. But really, it’s a very pretty ironing board :-)
I gave the back shed a rather major rearrange the other day and re-discovered this very sweet wooden ironing board, pressed up against a tower of boxes.
Very timely discovery too. Julian and Abby are tired of plodding out to the sewing shed to iron their clothes. Actually, they became tired of this a while ago, and in order to keep the ironing board and iron in the sewing shed, I have taken up ironing their clothes. Completely daft of me I know.
Thus it was declared that a new ironing board needed to be acquired, along with a new iron – for inside. I could keep Great Uncle Frank’s ironing board and the iron that only steams when you repeatedly press the steam button. They’re a generous pair, my Julian and Abby.
However, Great Uncle Frank’s ironing board is marvellously sturdy – not like those new fangled boards that wobble and lurch as you iron – and up popped this equally sturdy wooden one that we thrifted a couple of years ago from the footpath in Brisbane – Clayfield I think it was.
I’d painted it before leaving Brisbane – and signed it with Abby! And now, finally, I am covering it. A layer of foam first (from the hardware store), then a piece of woollen blanket (trimmed off a quilt), then a glorious piece of Anna Maria Horner – can’t quite remember what it’s called – something about gardens and a word that made me think of William Morris and the PreRaphaelites. I bought it years ago at Material Obsession in Sydney. And there’s a scrumptious piece left over that I think might very well make it’s way into a sun dress for summer.
If anyone ever decides to recover it, they’ll curse me up hill and down dale for my excessive use of staples – round and round 3 times! Oy! But then they’ll reach our green painted signatures and hopefully it will make them smile and they’ll wonder who we were and where and when we lived.
As I looked at the ironing board, sitting here in the garden, covered and pretty and in front of our chairs, it dawned on me how very useful another wooden ironing board would be, sweetly painted and covered, to use as an outdoor table. And at the end of the day, when darkness falls and the warmth of indoors beckons we could gather up our things and just fold our outdoor table ironing board back up and store it in the shed.
I did have another one – wooden ironing board that is – it was at mum’s. I can’t remember whether we sold it to the dealer, put it out on the footpath, or took it to the Salvos last time we were in Brisbane. I have a sneaky feeling I said something along the lines of “No, I don’t need it, I have one somewhere back home in Melbourne. I surely don’t need two.” Eeeek!
For now, the ironing board is sparkling away like a spring flower bed in the sewing shed, Great Uncle Frank’s ironing board is back in the hallway behind the kitchen door, and we’re just waiting on that second iron. Ah, very soon dear child, you’ll be ironing your own uniforms again.
Jules and I have given up coffee (mum gasps!). At first, it seemed like a horrible, completely-undoable thing to do. Especially since we have a beautiful Italian expresso machine that looks like she stepped straight out of the 1950s. And especially since we truly love our coffee.
But we’d been feeling as if coffee didn’t love us quite so much. I could only just manage two small cups a day – anymore and I felt as if my head could wobble off my shoulders and roll down the street. We both had irritable, upset tummies. Jules had an irritable head and trouble sleeping at night. And I … well, I have such anxiety at times that the skin edging my fingernails is most often raw and red.
After a bit of reading, it would seem that coffee was probably contributing to all of these things and more. The effect it has on our digestion and absorption of good food and its vitamins and minerals is terrible! All that effort we go to to eat wholesomely and coffee is grinding away inside us, undoing so much of the goodness.
So .. we went cold turkey. Saturday lunch time was our last coffee. Given I only drank two cups a day, I coped quite well – day 3 I had a cracking headache but that was it. Julian – he had been drinking several cups a day and oh he suffered!
Now, almost a week on, we’re doing fine. Julian especially. He is getting more sleep than he has been in years – and he even remembers his dreams – he says he hasn’t been able to recall his dreams for so long he can’t remember the last time. We’re both waking up clear headed and energetic. And because having coffee together was a really pleasant thing to share each day, we’ve substituted – dandelion root coffee. I bought some from the Balaclava health food store and we are percolating it in the old corningware stovetop pot.
Mmmmmmmm …. it’s so good. It’s clearly not coffee. But it’s rich and full bodied (how nescafe-corny does that sound!) with a lovely flavour. With a dash of cream it’s delicious. And we can have as many cups as we like! No caffeine.
I’ve been reading up on how it’s made – dandelion roots of course – from those dandelions that festoon our lawns. Amazing! We have heaps, so yesterday I plonked myself down in the lovely spring sun and dug and dug and dug. My tool … an old weeder we found in the garden bed – was okay, but not very prongy (most of the length had rusted and broken off) which meant that it was darn hard work to get the roots out whole, and the handle has been chewed which resulted in a sore red hand. I think a new one is in order.
Whilst I was digging, I could hear Sweetpea whimpering at the front door. She so longed to be out there with me, but our front garden has no gate and a very low fence and Sweetpea has a manic desire for the road – with tramtracks – and long, ferociously fast dashes down the footpath. So I put her on a long leash and then tied this to the front porch railing with a length of rope long enough for her to reach the front fence but no further. She had a marvellous time – she could explore every inch of the front garden but even better, she could stand up at the front fence, under the shade of the trees, and watch the world go by. She’s such a sweetie, everyone who walked past stopped to chat with her :-)
After exhausting one patch of the lawn, I’d think, “that’s it. wait ’til you get a new weeder.” And then I’d dig up a wonderful dandelion plant with roots like baby carrots and like a gambler after a win, I’d throw caution to the wind and attack another patch with enthusiasm. I learnt that those silly dandelions that pile up on top of each have rather lame roots. But the big ones, their leaves spread out like sundials, who have claimed their own home, are perfect.
I trimmed the roots off the leaves (which I didn’t realise we could eat until AFTER I’d put them in the compost), washed them repeatedly in a large bowl of water until the water ran clear, then sat in the afternoon spring sun and trimmed them up into 1 inch pieces.
We roasted them in a cast iron pan on 120 celsius for 2 hours – with the door open to allow moisture to escape. Then I ground them in the wee bamix bowl with the big blades. Now, they are in a jar awaiting tomorrow morning’s coffee – we’re curious to see how it goes. I think our current shop bought blend might be dandelion and chicory root (and so I have ordered chicory seed from Eden Seeds) but it’s all an experiment isn’t it :-)
I’ll let you know how it goes! Meanwhile, we are so glad we have ditched the coffee … and found dandelion root. And how marvellous if we can make our own! I might have to send Abby on dandelion hunting expeditions when their seeds set in the next few weeks. Then we can reseed our front lawn ’cause really, who needs grass! And dandelions sure are nicer than those wretched bindis.
This afternoon was at last deemed the right time – warm, sunny and dry – to start work on our raised garden beds. I’ve been collecting unwanted pallets for the last couples of weeks (any locals who watch me must think I’ve finally hit rock bottom, lugging these heavy, dirty things into our car!) and we are going to use them to build the frames for the beds … I got the idea from the Little Veggie Patch! Such a marvellous use of an unwanted but still oh so useful and valuable resource. You should have seen the towers of them at the dump the other day. Made me feel so sad for our living forests that end up this way.
In the spirit of cooperation, I too donned my workshorts and gloves and set to ripping apart the planks. ha! ha! Not a hope in Hades. Not a hope. I’ve never encountered nails so long and tough and embedded so deeply. So I did the next best thing … I offered to bake a cake and start on a fresh batch of white tshirts for he that COULD pull the 4 inch long nails out of the rough wood.
This may sound very 1950s housewife twee – but it truly isn’t :-) I’m very fond of tackling the dirty, skin-tearing outdoor jobs – I’m much more likely than Julian to be the one stripping off manky old varnish, sanding down old wooden surfaces, or digging out garden beds. But pulling apart these pallets – I may have been able to hoik them into the car and I will certainly help put them back together and shovel the dirt and compost in – but folks, in their current state, they are beyond me!
Carrot cake baking – definitely within my scope, specially with these dear little bunches of carrots we brought home from this morning’s farmers’ market. I measured the ingredients into the mixer whilst Abby grated the carrots.
White tshirt making – not so sure. I’ve never done it before. But Julian wears white tshirts a bit like Steve Jobs wore black turtlenecks. They are his standard no-think wardrobe but unfortunately he doesn’t have a good supply. Part of the whole modern clothing dilemma – all that he finds are made cheaply overseas with their inherent labour and environmental issues (cotton sounds so much nicer than polyester and surely is, but the terrible mainstream cotton farming practices with their excessive use of pesticides and immoral consumption of water make me cringe about this fibre now too!) as well as unnecessary carbon miles. Then there’s the quality of most of the shop bought ones – largely rubbish and designed to be thrown out within a year.
I thought we must surely be able to do better so have been searching for a source of environmentally sound fabric from which we can make our own tshirts within a thrifty budget. I’ve found a beautiful Australian online retailer that sells lovely knit fabrics in bamboo, hemp and organic cotton – for the same price as I can buy the regular cotton at The Fabric Store. And because of the awesome width of the fabric, I can make 3 tshirts out of 2.3 metres – that’s $12.22 per tshirt. Awesome! Now I just have to get the overlocker rethreaded with white.
Oh! And the KwikSew pattern – first time I’ve ever bought one – and I’m so impressed. The paper is so much thicker than the usual onion skin, the lines clearer, the leftover pattern pieces folded up beautifully (I can never re-fold the onion skin successfully) and the instructions are perfect and succinct.
Now! back to the carrot cake … I’ve written out the recipe for you … it’s a modified version of Donna Hay’s from her Classic Cookbook II
200 g carrot, coarsely grated
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
185 mls sunflower oil
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
the juice of half a big lemon
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Butter a round 20cm cake tin
Thoroughly beat the oil and sugar in a mixer. Add the eggs and continue to beat well. Sift the flours, baking powder and spices into the oil/sugar/egg mix and beat well. Add grated carrot and walnuts. Beat until thoroughly combined. Spoon into prepared cake tin.
Bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool – but not too much, warm cake is so irresistible!
Pour lemon juice into a bowl and spoon icing sugar in, mixing as you go until you reach a nice consistency – I like mine quite runny but if you want it thicker, just keep adding the icing sugar! Pour over the cake – starting in the middle – and smooth it out with a knife.
Find a sunny spot with your loved ones and gobble with a glass of beautiful, cold, rich, creamy, raw Jersey milk and give thanks for the beautiful food and Saturdays our planet provides :-)
Oooooooooh !!!!! I am totally bewitched with this needle felting.
And this afternoon – after a delightful trip to Little Sparrow’s new premises in Carlise Street Balaclava (one of my favourite grocery shopping destinations) – I popped on the sunglasses, took my felting bag and wee bundles of new red and green wool outside and rolled and stabbed and rolled and stabbed until the sun finally sank and the mosquitoes carried away my feet, ankles and all.
That’s right – after a cold and gloomy morning, we had SUN this afternoon! Ah, be still my beating heart :-) What could be more lovely than creative work in a sunny garden. Creative Christmas work, that’s what :-)
For all those of you dear folk who have not tried needle felting, I took these photos step by step, just so you can see what pure alchemy this is. I have always been entranced by the nature of needlework – that with just a single thread or yarn or thin and flat piece of fabric you can create something so three dimensional and rich. But needle felting – it takes this sense of wonder to new heights .
: sigh :
Of course, tomorrow we have our weekly date with the Farmers’ Market (thank goodness – we’ve just eaten the last two eggs, with the last two slices of ham and bread for dinner – ahem! if you sit in the garden until after 8pm with barbed needles and wool, sadly dinner doesn’t cook itself. I know – strange) but I don’t know … I think we could perhaps go without food for the week so that we may tootle out to Winterwoods instead and get MORE WOOL!
Despite such delight, I am still working things out. This Christmas Tomtem is my own pattern – a Lily creation – and I’m very pleased with how he turned out, but there are still technical aspects I’m unsure of.
Note 1 :: I learnt how to do hands from Mama Pumpkin – but forgot the order of wool with Mr. Tomtem – think about the order of steps carefully as I progress.
Note 2 :: I wasted a good deal of green wool on his bonnet – at least half of the foundation is green – not thrifty Lily! – need to do as much foundation work with foundation wool as possible.
Note 3 :: For pairs – e.g. feet and arms – tear the required wool up at the same time to ensure I use the same amount and am therefore more likely to feet and arms the same size!
Note 4 :: All pipecleaners are NOT created equal – buy a stash of extra sturdy pipe cleaners.
Note 5 :: Skin colour cannot be fudged – another supply for the stash – and preferably something not quite so apricotty! (Funny story about apricotty skin colour – for Abby’s second Christmas, we gave her a dear little baby doll – one of those rubbery, anatomically correct dolls – and it was “black”. For the same Christmas, Mum gave her the same doll – she swears she didn’t know about ours – and it was “white”. By the time Abby could talk, these babies were Brown Boot (pronounced as in “foot”) and Orange Boot!)
Note 6 :: Leave centred elements – such as belt buckles – until the end, so that they don’t get twisted around as I work.
I’m sure there’ll be more to learn as I go on – and I’ve popped a couple of books on my Father Christmas list that I would love to get stuck into.
Until then … I shall cheerily experiment and stab away. St. Martin, St. Lucia and Mary – you’re all one step closer to your sweet felted existence!
First exam today … research methods in healthcare … such a good subject, makes me dream about designing my own research project in an honours year … I’m definitely a qualitative girl … phenomonology … listening to and understanding how people experience different events in their lives. But right now, I’m just relieved one exam is down and there are only two more to go for the year.
Post exam? We’re all cosied up in the sitting room. Melbourne spring is a fickle friend and the last week has been chilly. Tonight, feet are tucked into wooly slippers and girlies are snuggled into their flannel nighties. The doggie is snoozing under the table. My workbasket is at my feet. My needlepoint’s on my lap. Abby is drawing. Julian is trying to concentrate on his book (Steve Jobs biography – my boy is such a geek!)
And we’re listening to Bram Stoker’s Dracula at Librivox. After the high tension of Jonathon’s nightmarish stay in Dracula’s castle, we’ve been only half listening to the ramblings of Lucy and Minna – but now bam! The derelict schooner has sailed in and we’re back on the edge of our seats!
p.s. I do so love Librivox! I especially like that the titles are read by generous and passionate folk just like us – each book we listen to, we find that different readers become our favourites and we remember their idiosyncracies, applaud their efforts with doing the different voices (Gordon McKenzie’s Dracula is very fine!) and are delighted when they pop up again and again, narrating different chapters. I’ve asked Father Christmas for a microphone for my laptop so that I may play along too …
… and we had such fun! It’s a bit of a hit and miss affair here in Melbourne. Friends a few suburbs over say for the last few years they’ve had no trick or treaters – but this year they had 30 visits – and their streets were full of joyful, costume-clad children. Last year we had a bundle of visits – in the pelting rain I might add – and this year we had none. Despite Bootville leaping up and down and singing out – Halloween happening here! Who can tell!?
And Abby and Neve’s reception around our block was lame – a couple of lolly bananas and one stick of licorice each. Bizarre, as Abby commented, when you think that we are now the most obese nation in the world and the supermarkets are full of sugary rubbish! The girlies’ costumes were just too great for this, so Jules drove them down to a neighbourhood around a nearby primary school where the pickings were much richer and the atmosphere very jolly.
Of course next year, if I go to no effort at all, we’re bound to have children marching up our drive. But I don’t think that’s likely – the lack of effort that is! – I think Halloween is marvellous and I shall don my costume and light up my house year in year out :-)
Abby’s costume – vintage ball dress thrifted from Windsor op shops, veil a very last minute affair after we failed to find the veil I made for her corpse bride costume 4 years ago. So I gathered the short end of Nanny Dougall’s lace tablecloth and stitched it onto the velvet headband I wore to our wedding and added bunches of dead oak leaves from the backgarden and spikes of long pointy purple flowers which I think are from an ornamental garlic. We added a dusting of decay and a showering of glitter. Oh my girlie – she looked so gorgeous!
And on the crafty front – the last few weeks have seen me stabbing away at my first needle felting project – an exquisite Dutch creation from the beautiful Steiner store “Winterwood Toys” – a long way to go but oh we do love it. I suppose it is a rather large affair for a first attempt – and I will admit, half way through stabbing that mama into shape I was completely overwhelmed.
But I decided if I was going to try it, it might as well be something worthwhile – and so we have the Pumpkin mama, her wee babe, little girlie and a trio of pumpkins. And now – umpteen hours later – I am smitten with my deadly sharp needles and foam board and plotting to squeeze another trip out to Warranwood later this week for more supplies … there’s a Mary and Holy Babe and a St. Lucia just itching to be made. It is such a magical process – you start with a narrow piece of dowel and several hanks of fleece and voila! You shape a person. Ha! Extraordinary.
There was a banner – but despite a lot of handwork, it didn’t get sewn up in time – and an owl, whose feathers the girls patiently cut out for me – but he won’t make an appearance until next year either. However, there were a pair of coconutty ghouls … super quick and easy but they definitely need nicer hats for next year. And a kindergarten style ghost to man the front door …
It’s Wednesday – that means park day with the little girlies. Today was extra special – it was little k’s birthday so we celebrated with a castle cake – including candles that just couldn’t be lit and icing sugar that wound up all over us the wind was so strong!
There were also outrageously coloured slushies, a branchy tug of war, tree climbing and then home for a bit of halloween fun. It was marvellous.
We made paper pumpkins for Halloween. I followed a link to a link to a link to a link from my news reader, and despite lots of googling, I cannot find the original post! They are so simple – the girlies loved making them – and they look fabulous. You should definitely try them.
We used two sheets of card (um, the size bigger than A3). I cut them in half width ways, then the girlies took turns chopping them up with the guillotine – we aimed for a consistent width, but weren’t fussy if it didn’t happen. This prompted lots of talk about the chopping off of fingers (their fascination, not mine!), how much more of an effective deterrent a guillotine would be than the naughty step (their idea, not mine!), and how terrible it would be if they DID chop off their fingers and I ended up in The Age as the “Guillotine Nanny”, sobbing in court, protesting that “All we wanted to do was make pumpkins!” Rest assured, the guillotine does have an effective safety guard and the girls were very sensible and careful … and well supervised :-)
Whilst one chopped (and came up with all sorts of gruesome scenarios), the other punched holes in each end of the strips. The wee girlies were so marvellously focused and conscientious – they were so sweet and enjoyed their allocated tasks so much. I’d forgotten how much fun crafting with little ones is.
Then we threaded the strips onto half metre lengths of green ribbon. I knotted the bottom after little i whipped all her strips OFF. Once they were all on – 18 strips – we took the long end and threaded the other end of each the strips back onto the ribbon so that the ribbon formed a spine through the centre of the forming pumpkin.
We pulled it nice and taut so that the pumpkins are quite squat (this ensures the best “sit”) and then tied the leftover ribbon into a bow with a nice tail – quite leafesque! Then we spread the strips out to make the rounded pumpkin shape. The girlies were utterly delighted – they kept doubting my assertions that these long straight strips would become a pumpkin. But once they saw how it worked, they were coming up with all sorts of things they could use this technique for. We decided we will definitely make smaller Christmas version to hang on the tree and the girlies are keen to make them into bunting to hang in their rooms.
Then the girlies drew pumpkiny facial features onto paper, coloured it in with black marker (we didn’t have any black paper – but that would sure work well!) and we glued them on.
Their bottoms are a little wobbly because of the knot – I think I shall get some of those brass pins that can be split open and flattened for the bottoms … if they are long enough? Hmm … have to check it out. And little k’s left the back of hers open because she wants to sit a tea candle in a wee glass inside it so that it glows spookily.
Then I just have to show you. I arrived home to an intensely frustrated Abby. ”Where is the cake!” she shrieked. ”What cake?” I asked. ”The cake you baked!” she jumped up and down flapping her hands. ”I’ve looked all over the house for it – I can’t find it! I can smell it! But I can’t find it! What did you do with it?” Her shrieks were accompanied by a lot of teenage giggling, gesturing and silly melodrama.
And my Wednesdays – they are the loveliest fun – I still can’t believe I get paid for it!
For thirteen years, as my girl has stretched and grown, the beginning of each new season has brought with it the need for new night clothes. Yet another way of marking that “Goodness me, yes! How you’ve grown!”
I’ve made countless pairs of pyjama pants – flannel, cotton, short, long. In the early days, I made pyjama tops – they were trickier! – now we buy pretty coloured tshirts to go with handmade pants. There’s been handmade night clothes for Christmasses and birthdays and holidays and sleepovers. And there’s often been matching pillowcases :-)
I’ve made lots of flannel nighties, but not many cotton ones. I think the last cotton one was a darling little blue one with purple eyeores and pink rick rack when Abby was two. This spring my girl has declared her fourteenth warm season to be the season of cotton nighties.
And we aim to make them all from what’s already in the sewing shed. There may be a call for a metre or two of bias tape or trim – but buttons and fabric? We have that covered. I’m even planning a special birthday nightie – with each piece cut from a different fabric (my girl rarely drops by here for a read, I think I’m safe ;-)
First off the sewing machine … the Scotty Dog nightie. We bought this fabric – a lovely vintage cotton seersucker – last year at Lost and Found in Fitzroy. There was the utterly perfect amount of fabric for a nightie – every piece neatly cut out with enough left over to trim a pillowcase. Yes, we still like matching pillowcases. Trimmed with soft cotton navy rickrack and some deep broderie anglais that Nanny gave me years ago.
I didn’t quite get it finished before I had to leave for nannying yesterday afternoon so left it on her bed with the pincushion, a spool of thread and a handful of blue buttons. She didn’t get the hint. Hm …. I had to sew them on when I arrived home later that evening!
All the other night clothes that mark Abby’s journeys round the sun are folded away in a box. I can cheerfully hand over the shop bought items – but the handmades, they hold so many wonderful memories. Of choosing the fabrics together. Being so pleased when I’ve found something at the store I’m sure she’ll just love. Picking out the trims. Making them up whilst she played at my feet, or chatted by my side. Hand sewing the last details then pressing them neatly and laying them out on her bed for her delight. We’ll be keeping those handmades. You never know who might wear them next.
Such a different day today. Dark, grey, cool and drizzly. The house is silent. The girlie’s at school. The husband’s at work. It’s just the dog and I, peering out into the gloom. Thank goodness for my radiating sideboard huh!
So I tackled chores … including the “onerous” task of trawling through Eden Seed’s website, compiling a list of all the extra seeds we want for our summer harden – Popcorn Golf Ball – why wouldn’t we! I cannot wait to harvest our own corn and then pop it – awesome!
As I scrubbed the bathroom basin, I pulled back the curtain and peered out … there’s our new wee courtyard … and in one of the tall thick shrubs that line the fence – a wonderfully round, sturdy nest. Freshly lined with soft, feathery, green ferns. Must be in use – what a marvellous thought.
And this reminded me of the nest I described for Abby when she was little – she must have been late 3, almost 4. We were at the supermarket and I had bought pads. Yep, this is a menstruating story :-)
She was unpacking the trolley for me – you know what they’re like at that age, feeling marvellously helpful and important as they take over these simple tasks – and as she placed the pads on the counter, she wanted to know what they were. As she already knew about mummies and tummies and babies and how those babies got in and out, I decided that only the truth would do. And she loved it. It became a story that she enjoyed hearing about, sharing with other members of the family – and I’ll never forget her, years later, telling her best friend (a boy!) who was utterly nonplussed and simply responded “Oh.”
It also meant that for Abby, menstruation was never a mystery or something to hide away. Indeed, she has coped – “coped” is almost the wrong word – it suggests something bad that needs to be endured – but for want of a better one, she has coped with amazing situations with awesome good humour and ease – and made it a complete non-event for those around her too. I have been speechlessly impressed – at her age, I would have been – indeed was! – a nervous wreck who would have fallen to tearful pieces over the slightest mishap.
I truly believe it all stems from this story. Of a nest. It went something like this …
This nest – that we call a womb or uterus – is inside mummies, and it is here that babies grow. Every few weeks – once a month – the nest prepares for an egg that wants to grow into a baby – it becomes thickly lined with lots of soft sponge made of blood and tissue – similar to how a bird builds a nest to lay her eggs in. A mummy’s nest is the perfect place for a little egg that wants to grow into a baby to snuggle. The thickly lined nest will keep the baby safe and warm until the baby is ready to be born.
And the mummy’s nest does this every month. It doesn’t know if an egg is going to snuggle down and become a baby or not. Most often, there is no egg wanting to grow into a baby, but the nest gets ready just in case. It wants everything to be perfect for that baby so it takes good care to get it just right.
If there is no egg that wants to grow into a baby, the nest doesn’t need all that lovely thick lining, so when nothing happens, it sweeps it all out. Remember, this is all soft and spongy and looks just like blood and it comes out of the mummy’s vagina. She needs something to catch it and soak it up – so she uses a pad. This blood doesn’t hurt mummy – it’s just the nest, cleaning up for the month, before it needs to start building a fresh nest for the next month, just in case …
Obviously this is a huge concept for a little one. And one that was not grasped in an instant. Oh no, there were lots of questions and wise nodding and pondering and more questions and drawings done and the story was told and retold and added to and improved …
When the time came, what happens to women each month was something Abby had lived with and understood for her whole living memory. Just the way I think it should be. I’m so glad I shared this story with my girl.
And I so hope we get to see some lovely baby bird action in that nest outside our window. It would certainly be the portent for a good and fruitful summer.
After an exhausting and wet Saturday taking a year’s worth of prunings to the green recycling centre (in a hired flat bed truck) it was soooo good today to soak up the sun. Firstly at the Mt. Eliza farmers’ market (an early start, after returning the truck) then working, cooking, eating, playing and planting in the back garden. Such a good way to spend a Sunday.
:: Abby’s breakfast – a goose egg – from an absolutely lovely family we met at the market – the Grassers – farmers of beautiful free range black pigs, geese, chickens and a dairy herd (oh my, the milk!)
:: where we ate the freshest salad (ingredients from the market of course!) with garlic pork sausages, farmed by the Grassers, butchered by Gatti’s Family Butchers in Yarragon, and barbequed by Jules – yum!
:: and squabbled over a roasted peach and blueberry pie from Rayner’s Stonefruit Orchard – boy are we going there asap! And you can pick pomegranates in May! Oh – Abby and I adore pomegranates but just cannot justify buying those that are flown in from the US
:: we found a dear little plant stand in a garden bed, hidden beneath a thick curtain of ivy, which Jules wants to spray paint and use as a drinks container (with ice) for lovely long summer evenings – until then, it’s providing sanctuary for the crocs from the dog – she does love them so