Wednesday, August 26, 2009

magic for lunch

We were headed for lunch after a mighty fine time down at the beach, minding our own business, pedalling down the road (the only one small person bikeable around here), when we got a tip-off.

Baby seal in the dunes down by the caves. Jed wasn’t going anywhere but there. Lunch, schmunch. Who needs lunch when there’s a baby seal to see. And anyway, we had an apple.
Enroute, i had to prime the small one that the mama seal might have come back for the baba, that the babyseal might’ve gone hunting for fish AND we may not be able to find it. But we’d try. Oh yes we would. Oh, and explain that perhaps cuddling and nuzzling it wouldn’t be an option. “Mama, what wild mean?”

No mama in sight. Is it just me or does baba seal look sad? DOC (Dept of Conservation) says it’s not unusual for the mama and seal pup to get separated and protocol (schmotocol) is to leave them be in hopes mama seal comes back or find them.

Small creature meets small creature. Magical.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

weaving music into every day

Most days since Jed was born, i’ve cranked up the stereo and we dance wild. I used to dance with him in my arms, now he is wild thing all by himself. I collected a kete of instruments made of natural materials and one of us will haul it out and make music along with our dancing. Or we’ll jam with just the birds and the surf in the background.
It’s my favourite thing to do in the later afternoon/early evening slump when i am tempted to crave curling up with a book by myself (yeah, right) but actually what is needed, is a little connection and play. It feels so good to let loose and i love love love watching that small person’s groovy moves.

When we’re out adventuring we’ll find sticks and make music wherever we are. Drums are everywhere...on bridges, fences, in buckets and paint pots, garden stakes and especially in tool sheds.

Sometimes, and it doesn't matter where he is, Jed will dance and tell me that he hears music in his head. Or he dances to birdsong and beats from within. I aspire to do that again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


we fished this lovely fellow out of the 10 cent box at a local opshop (that's a thrift shop for you internationals)...he is all handstitched from someone's quilt scraps. SO much love and care gone into his making. he even has shoes and teeny fingers.
a taste of what could be yours...these lovely old retro pjama's are going on my labour day market stall

and, on the way to the farmers market, the small one and i checked out Calico Cottage this morning - after many many times driving past with a sleeping boy in the back i finally got through the front door. A barn of delights if you are quilt/crafty minded.

Jed thought this was an 'oldfashioned lawn mower'. I used to have a treadle singer like this one when i lived at my sustainable best in the French Pyrenees, it was the best machine.

my favourite picture of the day...spiral fabric goodness
Orders are a bit behind schedule, i have had to sheepishly admit that i am sick, again. Most unlike me. I need to rest more. Bed at eleven pm, up twice in the night and been up at 5am the last three mornings with no naps. Ai yi yi. I know i am not alone. Big ups to all the mama's out there doing the hard sleep yards with our small ones. It ain't easy. I feel a sleep topic blog post coming on....
Until then: breathe deep, sleep when you can, know that it will change, rant to a friend or in your journal if you need to and focus on the now ... there's always magic dwelling there. Especially with these little people around. Even when curled up in a rug, sick on the couch. Really. It's always there, we just choose not to see sometimes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


A favourite at the moment is peppermint tea, fresh picked. Delicious warm or cold.
Peak chickweed season too - it feels so good to eat wild so abundantly.
It has to be spring coming, the herb garden is going wild.

It stays green throughout the year here in NZ, but there is something special about the new tender green growth of spring.

And check out this green deliciousness - the newest addition to the vintage stash. From Lets Go Retro on Swanson Rd. I love it.

Not sure what it will become but it's day will come.
Must go, small boy awake and i try not to model computer work for him (ESPecially not on sunny days like this one has turned out to be). Going to check out the rumour that the kowhai's are budding already.

Monday, August 17, 2009

on a mission

mmmm vintage fabric...
the vital sewing tools basket
Small house housing large spirits, much energy and many projects. Hmm.
My fabric stash and sewing gear is all stacked in the cupboard-under-the-stairs harry Potter style, alongside the linen, my patterns (mostly my own out of brown wrapping paper), Jed and i’s craftbox et c etc. I am on a mission to get more organised.
Late hours of last night found me winding bias bindings around recycled cardboard and marking them with their lengths, upending the basket i use for all my vital sewing tools and tidying, tidying. I have orders to fill and i like being able to find everything when i’m in the flow of creating.
Piles are tidy but still in the way. I’m on the lookout for a pullout drawer setup on wheels (just until i have my dream studio – or actually any studio space).

Current dilemma is how to store my patterns, other than roll them up. I’m hijacking half of Jed’s art folder until i figure that one out.
Hmm, tidying, sorting, eyeing up lightweight floral clothing, my herb garden is making a comeback...seems like Spring-like behaviour to me! Spring is coming.

mark one version of one of my bib patterns - in brown paper, i wasn't kidding

Saturday, August 15, 2009

sewing up a storm

I have a project list a few pages long. I like it that way. I could cut out ten projects right now. Finding the time to sew/make them may take a wee bit longer, given i work or am on call from 5.30 or 6am until 8pm, if not 24/ mama's of very small ones know how it is.

My favourite is coming up with an idea and then sitting down and sketching it, then trying to figure out the pattern pieces (or, i have to admit, sometimes i just start cutting and work it out as i go along). I’ll dig through my cupboards and look at how other similar things are made. I lay out fabrics from my stash and see what jumps out for that particular project. I am not very good at following orders. I can do it and probably should more often. I just like the challenge of figuring it out. So satisfying.

this one's not a true vintage fabric but a modern retro print
Taking a breather from little kids pants, i have worked up a line of bibs to sell. Such a great way to use those little fragments of delicious vintage fabric i like to use. I pulled out an old bib of jed’s (back in the days when he wore them) and took a basic pattern from that, tweaking it to make it better. I love what i’ve come up with and have orders coming in already. They’ll be available online and in a shop nearby very soon, but more about where to buy them next time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


A woman i barely know gave me these jonquils out of the blue yesterday. Next time i see her I will let her know how much joy her gift brought me. My car now smells divine and we have a harbinger of spring in the very welcome!

She had too many in her garden and wanted to share. What a great thing sharing is.
You can just get a peek of the wonder ful rocking horse Jed’s granpa made him in the background.

Jed has been into asking the camellia bush for flowers lately. (This morning in the sand dunes i overheard him talking to the bushes...’thanks for your touch plants’ as he brushed past. How lovely is that.)
Last night’s bath was a sweet smelling one! In went his camellia flowers, some jonquils and rose geranium leaves for a bit of green.

A peaceful kind of fun. (Note that the camellia's are now in small pieces!)

Sometimes i wonder what memories Jed will carry with him about his childhood...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a craftworld find

the whole posse

I'd plug the crafty people that make these but there's no contact on the tag that came with it. Lovely gift and affordable in a way that makes you wonder if these people have enough food on the table. ImaginatioNZ is them.

Visiting a healer (Nigel’s the real deal people) in the unlikeliest place of Westgate in Massey i ducked into a shop i believed was a purveyor of craft materials, which i was in dire need of. I was baffled to find myself in a HUGE store, full of aisles of little market stalls. Craftworld stocks handmade items of all sorts...from the ugly, downright bizarre to the beautiful bordering on sublime, from herbal medicines to knitted jumpers, woodworks, clothes, name it and it’s there. Quite a fascinating wander. And a heads up to all those crafty mama’s out there looking for places to sell your beautiful handmade goodness.
I found this farm bag of gorgeousness at Craftworld. I alternated between whoops of joy that i could afford it and sad that so much craftiness went for so cheap. We love it.

I have been looking into where to sell my lovingly made craftyness and you know, there isn’t a clearcut answer in a wee country like Aotearoa. There’s felt (NZ), there’s etsy of course (international), there are a few boutiquey type places (mainly in Wellington it has to be said), there’s trademe – which is not really for handmade specifically but worth a go. Anyway, i have been sick but am back on it. I have a plan. (There’s a reason why Jed says that alot) When plan (27867b) becomes concrete action i’ll let you know.

Much sewing and plotting going on here. Among other things my first go at a bib – with vintage fabric. I took the pattern from one of Jed’s (from the few months he actually wore one occasionally) and it came out great and there’s more on the way. More exciting was that i managed the whole project while Jed having a whale of a time doing the dishes. It does ease up. I was wondering!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

magic in the mundane

A life less ordinary...

(‘Free spirit’ i was called many times, living my dreams as they occur to me, known to hitchhike through three countries to get to a party, living out of dumpsters, sniffing out the wise women still herbcrafting the old ways, on the frontlines of eco-activism and social pioneering (a la star family and radical intimacy), wandering and living in many many countries, being gobsmacked by beauty again and again and again...) the mundane and relentlessness of parenting in an isolated area.
But wait.

The trick is to find the magic in the mundane, the spiritual awakening in the relentlessness and sink into the extreme beauty in life. (Easy when you live where i do, oh the view, the view!)

Someone asked me why i wanted to spend a whole (and so precious) day ‘off’ at a parenting workshop when i live in that world 24/7. They (shall remain unnamed) made fun of me for being so into being a mama. I smiled and made my excuses. Later, talking to a friend and mama of two about the conversation, she rallied and said ‘ you know, so much of EVERY freaking day is relentless and kinda monotonous and mundane being a mama. You need to find meaning in this journey.’ Uh huh, question and learn and grow from the experience just for your own sanity if not for any other reason. Of course, then there is the fact that we are engaged in the most important work of our lives. If i engage in parenting as a spiritual path, i get to grow too. I use everything in my day as opportunity to grow and learn. Then there is the wee honour of being the guide, gatekeeper and nurturer of this being who has come to YOU for support on their life journey. What a trip.

Loving what a delicious tumble of things ended up on my dining table today...i feast on yellow and green on these winter days.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

peaceful parenting workshops -Auckland

colt art at piha beach (quite peaceful, no?!)

Genevieve Simperingham and her partner Dan are back in town!

Such great work they do. Well worth checking it out, no matter what ages your kids are. Transformative for the parents too.

Free talk: Friday 14th August. 7-8pm. Wellpark College. Grey Lynn

Discipline without Punishment workshop: Sat 15th August. 10-4pm. Titirangi Community House

Communication Skills and Therapeutic Play: Sun 16th August. 10-4. Wellpark College.

More info here.

For those not in Auckland or international, Genevieve runs counselling sessions and groups in Northland, NZ and does phone and email consultations from home., Genevieve's website, has many great resources. She recommends books, and has a good selection of articles on a wide range of parenting related, behavioural and family healing topics. I have it saved in my favourites. Many times i have printed out an article to hand on to someone in need.

It's radical, simple, deep, inspiring stuff. See you there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

the birthday house lives on

One cardboard box (on the large side), one knife, some crepe paper, tape, a tiny bit of creative juice, and you are ten minutes away from having yourself a sweet little house.
And that, my friends, equals many many hours of fun.

quiet times as well as rowdy...

And today, Jed has discovered he can draw on it too! Wait til tomorrow when (sun willing), i am going to suggest dragging it outside and painting it.

I have very clear memories of my mum making us kids a cardboard house like this in our garden – so i can’t claim creative rights here (and aren’t all ideas just tuned into and snatched from the creative ether we breathe and dream in anyway?) but credit where credit is due. Thanks Mum!

Monday, August 3, 2009

a big few days

The birthday morning surprises. Note the mama-made name flags. I have made those for other kids in the past and it was so lovely to make them for Jed. My son. I still wonder at the incredibleness of it all.

What a magical few days.
Jed is now 2. A few days before his birthday i go through the process of remembering back to our birthing. Labouring at home to the sound of the sea and bush to the hellish ride in over the hill at nine and half inches dilated, to the exact opposite to our ideal birth. Emergency caesarean and almost dying to top it off. Bugger. Ms Natural here has a new found respect for allopathic Western medicine now. I would’nt be alive without it. And you know what? It had it’s own magic.
I digress. A birthday weekend just passed. A wide eyed wise little person drinking it all in. Swimming, a visit to a local farm and getting up close and cuddly with baby lamb and all manner of animals, horseriding. Wandering around with a rat on his shoulder. Yup. Intrepid. Playing with his friends in the sun on our deck. A windy beach adventure with a new tricycle. With pedals AND a special horn from his best mate. Puddles and sunshine. The joys of a large cardboard box transformed into a house. Family. Yay us.

Jed and i make cards for other people alot and he loved that he got one. With a baby on it. Jed is big on babies.

Mama's late night cake creation. A tree, complete with bugs, sweet smelling jasmine flowers (makes the icing taste yum too), using fresh kawa kawa leaves and not a synthetic food colouring in sight.

Jed was clear that he wanted a party. With cake. He named his people. He deemed there should be a ‘pass de parcel game’ and wanted a pig and a lamb to come too. (Hence the visit to the farm as a compromise).I mean, really! The dude goes to one birthday party and he’s got it all down. It was small and lovely, with coffee machine cranking for the parents, homemade cards “look mama, i got some art”, much good food and good oldfashioned make your own fun and just hanging out. Good times.

A pat for Rosie. " I'm riding a horse, mama"

There was collections of old machinery all over the farm. Great stuff. Endless exploring and questions. " Mama, what that do?"

My favourite parts?
The look on Jed’s face when he came downstairs to a world transformed in honour of his birthday. The smile when he blew his candles out with his people around him. Decorating his cake together.
The morning after, when he woke at 5.30, jumped out of bed saying “i’m a Jed now, i’m SUPER guy” and proceeded to fly around the room at full happy volume. “I’m a bit happy”. And this is a kid who doesn’t know about TV yet. Maybe the superhero thing is hardwired?!
[i promise the next lot of pics will be clearer, that lens is free of Jed prints and mandarin juice now]

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Well, here they are. Pants. Or, for those not in NZ, for whom pants means undies, trousers.
I made my boy some awhile back and have been inundated with interest every time he wears them. They have passed the road test with flying colours, selling like hotcakes off the kitchen table. I haven’t got it it together to open a shop in etsy or felt yet, and can’t bring myself to sit for hours at a market. I will list them online somewhere and let you know the link. Any other ideas of where to stock them let me know.

Lovingly made, hardwearing, one of a kind, re-inforced crotch, room enough for a nappy if required, gender non-specific designs and using high quality retro re-purposed trim where possible. Available in sizes 1-3.
The cuffs are on the narrow side so they don’t catch on anything while the little monkey wearing them is climbing/playing and it keeps the leg warmer than a wider leg trouser.

There’s a stretch denim pair with the groovy check trim that is Jed’s latest prototype to run wild in and they are holding up well. I like the look of the wide leg pants, but you know, it gets awful gusty on the beach in winter and the narrower ones are our everyday favourites.

For jed, anything can turn into pants. If you’re a crafty mama and have a sewing machine (or happy hand stitching) ...recycle old shirts into pjama’s or use the sleeves of old woollen jumpers as the leg part and sew a roll of band at the top. These can look very cool. I’ve been experimenting in my odd moments spare. It was Jed’s birthday this week (involving ALOT of imaginative seat-of-the-pants crafting, late night cake creating and general rabble rousing – more about that next time!) which has been alot of fun but i am kinda looking forward to things quieting down a bit so i can get back to the crafting programme. Ahem.

Ah yes, and apologies for the photo quality, i realised (after downloading this last batch) that a certain small person who has been using the camera to view pictures by themselves for months, has developed an unfortunate (for my photo quality) attraction to exploring the lens with unidentifiable foodstuffs on fingers. After the next post you will notice a HUGE improvement. Promise.