Friday, January 29, 2010


Hoorah for Blogger support peoples, who kindly gently solved my technical difficulty. I learned an important lesson too. Next time, i will fiddle around and try and solve it myself instead of panicking and listening to that internal (infernal) voice that says i'm not computer savvy enough to work it out. I felt slightly silly at how easy it was to fix. And grateful that the blogger folx were so graceful about it.

Hoorah for the surf lifesavers who volunteer their time to look out for folks swimming, surfing and fishing out here. They are busy busy people. These are beautiful and sometimes treacherous waters. Swim between those flags and YAY for two hour playing in the waves sessions. Hoorah for dear friends to share it all with.

Hoorah for being able to sew for an hour or so at a time, while Jed helps or does his own creative endeavours nearby. I have been dreaming up three different bag patterns from scratch, have a list of eleven things on the crafting table in various stages of construction and have finally asked a dear friend for help to get my banner and bits together for my etsy (items listed, banner and avatar on their way) and online shops and eventually website interface. Finally. Getting there.

Hoorah for the biking like crazy, rough and tumbling, playing ball and rolling down hills. Hoorah for the quiet reading of books, ceremonies of making and drinking tea, caring for his babies for hours, our little connecting chats about the world, swinging and singing in our hammock chair and this latest peaceful craze: a warm footsoak with essential oils and/or bathsalts. Wonderful. I must try it myself.

Hoorah for my friends Gareth Hughes and his beautiful partner Meghan. As of two days ago, Gareth is NZ's newest and youngest Member of Parliament. It has been an eye opening experience for even seasoned ole me following some of the media around Gareth's debut. Let alone being in it daily and still doing great work in the world.

Hoorah too, for sitting on the beach with a friend, in the last of the day's sunshine talking until the almost full moon rose. Feeds the soul that sort of thing. Been forgetting that lately.

Hoorah for Mama 'n' Jed. I just love us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

the butterfly house

The West Lynn Gardens in West Auckland, NZ....well worth a picnic, wander, wonder and a play. Staffed by a committed group of volunteers and payment a trust box at the gate. The gardens are extensive, old (well, in NZ timeframe at least) and beautiful. Their butterfly house only has butterflies in the summer months. Right now is perfect peak wondrous butterfly time.

My blogger screen is as screwy as it was last post. Grrr. I'm trying to sort it listening blogger peoples?

Monday, January 25, 2010

loving buttons

These are quite possibly the only buttons i have bought new. I love vintage buttons. One way to mainline happiness is finding a jar or tin of them in a secondhand store.

We chose these last week. Not only did they get me and a very tired small person (other than me) through 45 ridiculous minutes at the checkout counter, but they have given many hours of pleasure since. Finding teapots or stars. Red buttons or yellow. Lines of them, triangles of them. Pouring them. Coming up with ideas for projects to use them with. All while Mama tries to get some 'work', play and projects done. And yes, okay, i admit it...Sometimes plastic is cool.

An aside: I don't know what has happened to my blogspot overnight...all has changed, can't see my photos after i upload them, my choice of colours for my font has disappeared...I am hoping this is because it is late at night after a long day and all shall be revealed (as i like it) with the dawning of tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

our favourite books

Jed is a thirsty to learn, in a hurry/got things to do sort of a two year old and we’ve been into these books for awhile. I keep an eye out for books that convey important things in life. Call me picky if you like but i reckon there’s enough absolute crapola in the bookshops and libraries already, we trawl for the treasures, the ones that fit into the integrity of our lives....the ones I can see us enjoying for years to come. Either that, or real old retro ones, many of which i, er, edit out the sexist bits out as we go...but that’s another post!
We love the library (we frequent four different ones) and also have a wee library of our own at home. Many gems come from trawling secondhand shops. Many vintage ones we have are out of print so i’ll focus on the ones still available from bookstores and at your community library. Some of these have good fun CD’s with them, i love those for the days we drive into town or rainy afternoons.

Mem Fox. Whoever you are. A beautifully illustrated book about how everyone is the same under their differences. A good multi-cultural one.

Helen Oxenbury. I imagine anything she illustrates would be worth reading. We especially love Meal One, The Growing story and very most especially, Big Mama Makes the World (written by Phyllis Root). It has to be the best creation story out.

Benedict Blaythwayt. Bear’s Adventure is a perennial favourite 'round here. Any of his little red train books. Tangle and the Silver bird recently snagged for 50 cents at an op shop and being very well loved. Wonderful artwork and beautiful true to life details.

Charles Fuge. My first love in the domain of children's books. We have a bunch of his board books: My dad. I know a rhino. Where to little wombat? Swim, little wombat swim. Sometimes i like to curl up in a ball. (And dont we all sometimes?) I love the topics he covers and how. These books have such lovable characters and much to learn.

Julia Donaldson. One ted falls out of bed, with Anna Currey. Monkey Puzzle and The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s child with Axel Schaeffler. All great. The gruffalo ones come on CD.

Jez Alborough. The duck books, especially Captain Duck. My friend Bear and It’s the Bear both come on CD and have been great at working through fears through play.

Gina and Mercer Mayer’s Just a little different is a good book about a kid moving into the neighbourhood whose ma is a rabbit and pa is a turtle...I like that the critters family are supportive, communicate well and are okay sitting in the face of the little guy’s anger. He gets pissed off that his other friends are rude about the ‘new kid’.

Eileen Brown’s Handa’s Hen and Handa’s surprise stories are perennial favourites around here. The CD is just delightful with lots of cool music, songs and great reading of the story by Floella Benjamin. I like that the stories are based in a true to life African village.

At a quick journey through our library shelves (there are two, shelves that is, in case you harboured delusions of grandeur about me), these are the most well thumbed and most asked for books. Love to hear your favourites.

Monday, January 18, 2010

a crafty respite

I know, i know! I said i'd be posting about our favourite books. And i will. It's there, all ready to go. For today though, i wanted to give a lighter post, to equalise my rant on parenting. And, i wanted to share some crafting with you. How cute is this little kimono? Made from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing book, especially for baby Coco. A new bubba in the 'hood. All vintage fabric, except for the bias binding.
Usually i create patterns out myself, it's rather nice to have a lovely book like Weekend Sewing to go to when i am crafting for personal gifting, not to sell. (i sell only my own designs)

Look familiar? I posted about my fledgling adventures in hand needlework awhile back. Here. These are the latest tunic tops. One of the pieces i experimented with ended up on a tunic. Browns this time, to balance out the last lot's blast of vintage colour.

Late one night, in desperate need of crafting, i made this. Just like my Nana had. Denim, linen and wool with a organic cotton drawstring from an old pair of Jed's trousers. A needlecase. No more rummaging in an old tobacco tin for needles!

Et voila. A little crafting respite. There's been more behind the scenes. Another time.
Speaking of crafting, i just heard about Crafternoon Tea. A groovy new monthly craft market by all accounts. I intend to make it to the next one. Perhaps even peddle my wares?!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

how to raise our kids?

How to raise kids without squishing them...
By that i mean how do we leave intact the innate wonder and sense of connectedness to this sacred web of life we are all born with?

How to raise kids that are open to the beauty in the diversity of the world and it’s people? To raise children who see the people beyond the colour and culture, yet still learn from and celebrate those gorgeous shades of the human rainbow and their dances, art, music and schools of thought and ritual.
How to raise kids who accept and celebrate families of one parent, two dads, three mama’s, only children, tribes of kids?
How to raise people who feel free in their bodies, express their emotions and respect others, who run riot in the woods and yet cradle newborn babies with adoration and gentleness, as they were at birth.

How to raise kids to find their gifts they are here walking the earth to give.?
How to keep intact and encourage the love and respect for natures complex and shining web that sustains us all?
How to seek affinity with all her creatures: no-legs to fourleggeds, finned folk to leafed ones? How to grow that deep running sense of place and belonging?
How do we share our visions of the sustainable world we strive toward? And yet dance the gap between what is healthy in our societies and what is ailing and in need of care and transformation?

How do we celebrate our struggles and be clear about what we learn along the path of creating social change? How do we express apology to our children when we are not clear in taking responsibility for our anger, or our fears, or our pain. For we are but human.

Kids learn from us. Their play echoes our movements and the dances of our daily lives. Our ways of coping in times of stress flags for them how that is done. Our ways of relating to our partners, neighbours, shopkeepers, sisters and fathers form frameworks of possibility as our children soak up all that unfolds around them. Our laughter as we skip through puddles and slow down enough to talk to bugs tells them we are worthy of being their guides, that we are still in touch with our true selves.
Through guiding our children we are reminded of the importance of all these things for our own selves. When we neglect our own vital selves and live solely to serve others, we cheat our children out of learning that we all need time for ourselves, for our hearts to sing, feet to stamp and our quietness to gift us with vision of the path ahead.
We learn through their soaring and stumbles. We learn our children are our teachers too. Parenting as a spiritual practice. On my death bed, and it is one of life’s mysteries when that time will come, i will not be wishing i worked more, bought more things or spent less time with my child.
I imagine there are many many answers to these questions. Here are some of mine: Intuition, bone-deep instinct, shining-eyed tribe/family, mindfulness, belly laughter and freeflowing tears, the powerful blessing of touch, interconnectedness...and books. Yep, books can help us in so many ways. Next post i will be offering up some of our favourite books that reflect who we are, who we learn from and who we strive to be.

My most treasured possessions - two shells Jed found down South, carried them tenderly all the way back to me and presented them like some might diamonds.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the new cheese biscuits

I couldn't find my cheese straws recipe so i invented one on the fly. It turned out delicious and way better than the original. I like it when that happens. I even wrote it down as i went:
Cheese biscuits (NZ style)
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup white flour
sprinkle of quinoa flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
about 60 grams of organic butter - chilled and chopped
approx 1/2 cup of organic milk
1/2 cup organic cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan
Do the usual: mix together the dry ingredients, chop in the butter (i use my nana's pastry cutter), then mix in cheeses and milk to make a kind of dough.
Roll out to cut out shapes or make the classic straws.
Kids and grown-ups all liked these. Jed helps me cook "we cooking togegger mama!"
"you need your apron on mama" and a great thing about these biscuits is i don't think it is possible to overwork the dough...perfect for busy little hands.
We like them plain eaten out and about on adventure, or with dips.
After they cool put them in a sealed container and they'll last a few days...if they don't get eaten before then!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

garden glad

Motherwort - Leonurus cardiaca. Ready to be picked for tincture-making.

Loving runner beans, cucumbers, beets, salads and courgettes at the moment. Beans come top of my list today. The bean flowers are scarlet-beautiful, and the crop of fresh beans to steam every night...just sweet and delicious.

Jed's friend. He insisted i take this picture.

The tomatoes are looking good. Rubbing my hands in anticipation of the tomato sauces and chutneys to come.

We'll picnic at the merest mention of fair weather but the season is truly in full swing now. There is something special about picking vegetables and herbs, preparing the meal and then returning to the garden to feast...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

digging of two kinds

Jed’s Aunty Chelle gave him the best present ever. A real digger. The day after she gave it to him he woke up at 5am desperate to go on it. I was desperate to go back to sleep. I ended up holding space for him to get some big feelings out and have a good cry. It had been a very full few weeks and a good release had been brewing. He then thanked me for holding him and we curled up together for another sleep. If only we adults were all as emotionally wise as this one. The world would be a very different place.

That digger has seen many hours of work since that day. Jed has it set up in his corner of the garden. Next time i have a tree to plant i know who i’m going to call in to dig the hole.

I have been doing some digging of a different sort. Into myself. I have been thinking about my life. In my sixteen years away from NZ I lived in many different countries and sometimes those different chapters of my life seem very separate. Times of reflection, like i have fallen into at the moment , help me to integrate and resolve any raw pieces i have left flapping around. The people i have loved and learnt from, the land i have set roots down into and then torn away, the seas i have crossed and work i have done. It has been a beautifully crowded life and at this point in my process, my thoughts turn to how to bring my gifts to help create a more sustainable juicy world. Something i have done in various ways over the workshops, writing, speaking at conferences and gatherings, event organising, campaigning, chaining myself to various things for various causes. Mostly i have lived on the fringe of the mainstream i guess. Now i am dipping in and out of all sorts of tributaries and streams and edges and feel a bit lost sometimes. I am re-assessing what my role is now, here and now. How can my gifts be given well? More writing? Articles? Another book? This blog? Start giving workshops again?
Most of my tribe, the people i have loved longest, seen the very hard times with and soared with, are all living far away. I struggle to stay connected. I miss feeling met in relationship and the honest feedback that only the closest true friends offer. I miss the reflection of my own values in others eyes on a daily basis. I miss giving workshops with others. (One particular other actually, hi sky.)And so my thoughts go to how to build my worklife and community here. (I just re-read Marge Piercy's Women on the Edge of Time, to remind myself of what the world we are creating might look it, possibly my very favourite novel). For selfish reasons and also because i believe that is what is needed if we are to live well on this earth.
This isolated way of living we Westerners have created for ourselves is a strange way of being and is very far from the villages and extended families we dwelt in not so long ago. I parented in a larger family base (the Star family) within intentional community (Twin Oaks) and it saddens me that Jed does not have other adults bonded to him and committed to guiding him on his path as it unfurls other than his parents. One of whom he doesn’t get to see very much of. My heart is light today sitting with all this. Yesterday i cried and just wanted to sleep, or move back to Twin Oaks. Today my face is lifted a bit higher. I am grateful i have gifted myself the blessing of just sitting still these past few days and not distracting myself with the pile of things to do.

So you have it, musings of the heart on a summer’s afternoon. No lists of things to do yet. No huge revelations. Yet! No flashes of brilliant resolve, just being gentle with myself, appreciating my practice being my everyday life and sitting with the quiet powerful inner work of transformation. Making peace with what is. Plotting the synopsis of the next chapter of my life. Following that flow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Organic NZ magazine article

This arrived in my letterbox today. The Organic NZ magazine is always a good read with the added attraction that I have another article on organic kids clothing in this, the Jan/Feb 2010 issue.

Ahhh, I remember writing it well. It was the last gasp of sleep deprivation. The minute i accepted this, a short deadline piece, a certain small person's sleep went out the window. It was a shocker of a week. One of those classic up 3, 4, 5 times a night ones, when the day begins at 5.30am and ends somewhere beyond 8pm. I did phone interviews and research all week on this sleep deprivation, managed a somewhat decent sleep on the friday night, sat down to review my notes and the draft i'd written and laughed. Yup. An imbecile had been using my laptop. It was a stern lesson to me about how powerfully lack of sleep can affect our brains.

Anyway, i wrote it (thanks Meghan for reading over it to make sure i wasn't totally incoherent...always good to have feedback) and here it is. In print. I like it. It is proof of what a sassy woman can do WITH SOME SLEEP in her. I like that it's part of how i am starting the new year.

For those of you who have recently joined us...Jed has been a dream in so many ways and sleep has not been one of them. Scenario's like the week described above have been the norm not the exception in the last few years. That is behind us now. There is a celebratory 'YAY for sleep' party planned for next month. A knees-up for mama's and small ones alike.

A little aside: I forgot to say that the lovely purse you can see on the top of the tote i featured in yesterday's blogpost is by Bella Threads. I snaffled it from her stall at the Nelson Markets. Check out her shop... loving her creations.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

weekend sewing

Heather Ross' tote - in denim with vintage fabric lining. Perfect for life near a beach with a small one. May i never lose my keys again (it has a wee pocket inside).

I have had a few projects from Heather Ross’ book, Weekend Sewing, cut out and all ready to go under all my sewing pile of ‘things to do’ for months and months. They were to act as a carrot. Other things kept taking priority. I’d get ambushed by an unexpected birthday or friends. So! A new year ‘n’ all...i finally dug them out and sewed them. In a weekend no less. FYI: Weekend Sewing is the most gorgeous book y’all. I know it’s everywhere online but don’t be’s everywhere for a reason. Simple good projects presented with a beautiful aesthetic. You can build onto her basics with flairs and tweaks of your own. I got it out from the library – the patterns were all there – and loved it so much i couldn’t bear to part with it and bought it.

Heather Ross' shirt in vintage floral lawn. Keeps that sun off.

Only thing is, when i sew for myself, i often gun it and the result is way less presentable than the immaculate creations i sell. Ahem. Kinda nice to let loose.

Jed modelling his new bag. Two going on twenty.

I enjoyed my seven days of blogging. Thanks for being there. I'd like to do it again, perhaps with a theme. Like following a campaign or project. We will see.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

the aftermath of bush fire

In our sleepy little seaside 'village', just before midnight on New Year's Eve, someone let off a marine flare from their home at the end of a cul-de-sac, straight up into pristine bush behind them. We're in summer here in NZ. For a rainforesty sort of a place it is dry at the moment. Minutes later the whole hillside was in flames. Most spectacular and ridiculously pointless. The wind blew the fire up onto the ridge and down the other side before it slowed. Three houses and many creatures homes were in the danger zone. That's how our volunteer firefolk spent their new year. Trying to put that raging fire out. Ten fire trucks and helicopters with monsoon buckets. Hot spots were still smoking 24 hours later. We're used to hearing helicopters out here. It is usually the Westpac rescue helicopter looking for someone who got in trouble in the surf or fishing off the rocks.
Thanks to all who worked their butts off fighting that fire.
Note to ourselves: marine flares have their place in the world. That place is not near bush. Don't even get me started on fireworks.

The tail-end of the action on New Years Day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

may the new year bring all you need

I just skimmed at high speed through my photo's for one that would sum up how i feel about the dawning new year. I had imagined a nature pic, all sky and crashing water, perhaps a sunrise over the horizon. Nope, this is the one that jumped out at me and wouldn't go away.
-Something about the intensity and focus of Jed applying himself to writing reminded me of what i need to launch my projects into the world.
-Something about the fact that he's 'writing' in my healing book/journal...speaks to me of that constant process of growing into being Mama and sharing what is important to me, with him. But still keeping sacred Mama space too. That perennial dance Mama's do.
-There is something about him being naked. I have been reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes' book, Women who Run with the Wolves and have been painfully reminded of all the ways i am contracted, hiding behind, in some ways not letting my whole self dance this life. I got hurt, very hurt, a few years ago now i see how i have been not jumping in, but standing back watching. Still testing the waters. Time to let that rest. The time for thriving is now.

In this picture i see a glimpse of the future, into a small person who actually reads and writes and stands confident and connected without mama physically there as back-up. I am so grateful to be chosen to be guide for this being and i am in no hurry for that growing up thing. I am content to chat to stick insects and pretend to be cats whenever we climb the stairs, or badgers burrowing in the newly made bed for as long as we do.

Friday, January 1, 2010

colouring my world happy

look what vintage fabric just arrived!
i can't seem to bring myself to wear any black these days...

even lunch is ablaze with colour...

(and yes, i did forget to blog yesterday, ahem...two today to make up for it)