A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Wabi Mitts for me

Wabi Mitts

I have been looking for a great fingerless mitts pattern for sometime now and when I found the Wabi Mitts pattern by Karen Templar on Ravelry over the weekend I cast on right away. I have been knitting things lately that take some time on the one project so I was glad to have something to knit that would work up fast – a little bit of instant gratification.

I have had two balls of Naturally Amuri DK Possum Merino blend sitting in my stash, waiting for the perfect project for some time.  While the project notes suggest using a fingering weight yarn, this Amuri is more of a light DK weight so I thought I would give it a go. It wasn’t long into the knitting process that I decided these gloves were quickly going to become my very favourite things. As the fabric was created, the soft, cozyness of the yarn appeared and I fell in love. So much in love that I cast on a second pair almost immediately – these ones as a gift for a friend though. I just can’t tell you how much I love wearing htese mitts – but to give you an idea – I have been wearing them and it is still summer here….

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Knitting has become my most used craft skill over the christmas holiday period as I can knit at the same time as supervising two boisterous boys who are on school holidays…although I have to make sure that I hide the project away from the littlest ones inquiring mind and he can unravel knitting project faster that you could possibly imagine…I know this from experience.

xx Andj


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Art at Home with Kids

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When the kids were little I really struggled with the idea of letting them do art at home. It was one of those things (like playdoh and collage) that these things just create so much mess …and work..for me to clean up after 10 minutes worth of painting. However over the years I have come to find little ways to work with the messy creative arts process that allows them to have the experience of painting at home – to create that mess – and for me to stay relatively sane in the process. However, occasionally I do some painting – and whenever I have my painting things out, the boys also want to join in and create alongside me. My big boy in particular absolutely loves to be doing whatever it is that I am doing that is crafty.

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Smocks are the absolute first essential – especially because i often let the kids paint using high quality acrylic paints – which just don’t come off as easily as other paints might.

My second big essential is a large piece of clear plastic (which I originally bought for a sewing project)  that I drape over the table – you can just see it in the picture above. This way they can be messy with less stress.

Thirdly – Lots of paint brushes, rollers, scrapers and other painting implements.

Four – Good quality painting materials and mediums – Artist paints, Canvas, watercolour paper etc – when the kids paint on good quality mediums, they get a better result, they can put lots of paint down and the canvas or the heavy paper can cope with it. I also let them go back to the paintings and work on them a second and third time – helping them to see the artistic effects that can be created through layering and pulling back colours to reveal those underneath. I often buy a few canvases when they are on sale in Lincraft or Riot and tuck them away. I think that it is important to use high quality paints (though not necessarily expensive paints) when the kids are painting. This allows them to experience the way that colours blend and the speed at which  acrylic paints dry. When using watercolours it allows them to experience the different effects that you can achieve with watercolour paints.

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I personally find it hard to just let them paint without interrupting their creative process, especially when I know that if they put two (or four or six)  particular colours together that they will get mud…or when one is intent on using the sponge roller to apply every colour and they just all blend into each other. The appease my own sense of wanting to jump in and ‘help’ them I will generally only offer them a specific colour palette – or if they want a particular colour I try and steer them in the direction of a colour that might work a little better. The two of them have such different personalities when it comes to artistic expression, the little one just puts the paint down and has fun, not worrying what then end outcome will be. The big one has intent and gets very cross if something happens that doesn’t match his intent – but it is all part of the learning process and I think (and I hope) that these things help him in learning that not everything works out the way we plan it too in this life.

So as to not ‘waste’ the canvas, if I am feeling inspired, I will sometimes go in afterwards an alter their painting – probably not the best things to do with the big one’s paintings but with the little one I can get away with it.

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So this is after a few layers of paint put on by the little one, I went in with some moulding paste and a stencil and added some texture, lifted some colours back and used some alcohol inks. It’s still not finished but I have lost the inspiration for it right now, but when it is done we will have a lovely collaborative art piece. Really for them it is all about the process…and memory creation. That’s the most important thing.

Andjxx


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Holiday Hapennings

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Now that the christmas period is over and we are getting back into the swing of the daily happenings of life I thought that I should come back to giving this space more attention. The garden is overflowing with produce, not completely providing us with everything we need but doing a fine job of supplementing our fresh (organic!) vegetable intake. There is art and craft happening on a daily basis and we are enjoying the outdoors during this not too hot high summer.

I haven’t made any formal resolutions for 2015 but over the past few weeks I have definitely had some goals beginning to formulate in my mind about the direction I want 2015 to take for our family. Rhythm and health need to be the main focus as we have one boy heading into grade one and one boy heading into preschool. Healthy living with less (less than we already do) reliance on processed and packaged foods in our diets. Fortifying our mental health with more crafting and time spent doing introspective artistic pursuits. Reading…novels and more intellectual tomes, and Rhythm, instilling that daily ebb and flow that helps us all to be more calm and get everything done that we need to do.

So in light of that the goals that I have set for myself include the following:

  • Read 12 books in 2015 – one per month
  • Sew (or knit) – 12 garments in 2015 – one per month
  • Try one new whole foods based recipe each week – and share it in this space!
  • Take a weekend getaway – or two – this year (We already have one planned for March!!!)
  • Learn form our work in the garden over the past year and implement these learnings so our organic produce is even better in 2015 – I’ll write about this more over the next week or so.
  • Focus on the sentiment that we have everything we need to live this life – we do not need to spend money on unnecessary wants and desires – just the things we need. (This is a hard one for me but something I need to work on!)

And thats it!! If I achieve all of these things then 2015 will have been an awesome year!

These too are the things that I will be focused on writing about this year, I really hope that anyone who does read my blog continues to do so and that I might even see some new readers hop on bard this year!!

Happy 2015!

xxAndj


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How does my garden grow? October 20th – 26th

Posie from my garden

For the love of an abundance of flowers! I am truly grateful for spring bulbs and their reliability to provide a beautiful, uplifting display well into the spring and summer. Bulbs are something that I knew noting at all about prior to moving to a cooler climate, growing up in Brisbane – they just weren’t all that popular – and possibly not all that easy to grow.

It took me a few years before I noticed that everyone in Canberra had bulbs in their garden – but not us. When we bought our house, the front garden was planted with an easy care garden which we quickly allowed to become overgrown with a jungle of grassy weeds as we fell headfirst into the blur of being parents of small children. Somethings just get let go …you know 😉

But over the next few years I slowly persisted with the weed eradication program and started putting in just a few more bulbs each autumn, and then watching how they grew. Adding a few strategically place plants here and there, and slowly growing the variety of plants that grace our front yard. It is very much a work in progress.

This year I planted some Ranaculus bulbs and I absolutely adore them. The colour and life that they add to the garden is such a delight to come home to each evening. As with any garden that is ‘in progress’ there is still much to do and many plants to be added.

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In the meantime, I enjoy the unfolding of the buds to see what colour that new plant (Columbines, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks) will bring – and hope – oh how I hope – that I get a variety of colours rather than all the same colour.

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Often my little helpers (or hinderers) are out there with me. Demanding that I take their pictures.

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I am thoroughly enjoying exploring the world of seasonal flowers and slowly trying them out in the garden to see if they grow at all in some cases, but more often that not to see the shape that the plant takes as it grows. I have planted a few varieties amidst the veggies and other plants this year to act as both  beneficial insect attraction and to use as cut flowers in the house – Cosmos, Carnations and poppies and hopefully some zinnias in summer. I planted some Dahlia tubers but I am not sure if they will grow – we can only wait and see. That’s half the joy.

Andjxx


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Art Across the Week

Here is a selection of painting that I have done this first week of March. The theme for the 52 week Illustration Challenge is Pattern and it had me really stumped. So I was just playing around and I came up with a few things I quite like.

geocircles

Geocircles

Working Girl

Working Girl

pattern repeat

Repeat

flowerburst

FlowerBurst

ChevronGirl

ChevronGirl

Blue Monday

Blue Monday


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To Blog or Not to blog

sculpture garden Canberra

Family

sculpture garden Canberra

Family

It has been quite some time since I have felt like blogging at all….it has all just felt like one extra thing to place a demand on my time. I have had plenty of ideas of things to blog about but actually sitting down to write felt like too much.

 

So I didn’t.

 

Instead I have been spending my time out in the world with the three men in my life and in my garden with my plants and my chickens…being all meditative about life.

The urge to blog has been there and in fact just last week I started to get all reminiscent about how great blogging has been for keeping a timeline of our family life..chronicling where we are at in a certain place and time.

So last night when I came across a few local Canberra region bloggers who blog about Urban Homesteading, Permaculture and living a simple more purposeful life something clicked…That is where I want to be also. My family and my crafts and my garden and the cooking are all the things I love doing and love blogging about.

And so I am back….I can’t promise searing regularity of posting but there will definitely be posts…and pictures…

 

xxAndj


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A week on from my Retreat

Buddah, Avrajita

This time last week I was sitting in a yurt  in Kangaroo Valley with a bunch of strangers about to embark on my first Yoga retreat. The weekend away – run by a Canberra local,  Simplicity Retreats was something I had planned for quite some time as my introduction to the world of retreats – and I was not disappointed.  Despite the initial nervousness of spending a weekend with strangers – we were all there for the same reason – time away from our stressful lives to find space and time to contemplate.

The amazing venue in Kangaroo Valley is just what you would expect from a retreat center – a hidden gem filled with many spaces of quietude and peace.

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I have to say that while the yoga part was fabulous – perfectly paced and pitched for those who may not have done yoga for some time – the part I enjoyed the most was the free time. Time to sit in front of the continuously glowing fireplace and read from the well stocked library, to knit, to chat with others when you felt like it – or just simply to sit. And of course to snuggle up under those beautifully cozy blankets.

Yoga Retreat Kangaroo Valley, Avrajita

Avrajita

My second favorite part was the most amazing food that we were served all weekend by the amazingly positive and radiant Angie from Angie Gluten Free. The beautiful, nourishing, organic vegetarian fare was nothing short of amazing and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to try things that may have seemed out of reach outside of this environment. Angie instils love into every element of her food and I truly think that  you can taste that in the end result. I felt so clean at the end of the weekend that I was afraid to eat normally again!

Angie Gluten free, yoga retreat catering

The sleeping arrangements were in a separate purpose built area and consisted of king size bunks with an ensuite in each ‘cabin’. I shared with a lovely lady and was very comfortable.

Avrajita

As tends to happen – this weekend away came at a time when I needed it ever so much. I definitely want to go away again next year – my intention is to go Bali or Thailand for a slightly longer retreat – but if that doesn’t work I would most certainly go to Avrajita again with Simplicity retreats – it was sublime!

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Whaere has the Happy gone?

Happy Life Quote

Happy Life Quote

 

This may be the truth but of late my outlook on life has not been all that Happy. To be honest I have been far from the mother I would like to be in the past few months and this makes me sad. Circumstances in our family and working lives right now are less than idea and there is not a whole lot that we can do about this in the short term.

As someone whose natural tendency is to awfulise and catastrophise – this combination makes it very difficult for me to see a way out of the bleak reality that is our life right now.

I have just had two weeks off work which has been an absolute blessing and as this break draws to a close I am feeling a much renewed sense of capability and a small element of vision to carry me forward for the next few months. But I have also realised that I need to quiet my overactive, overthinking mind and declutter my life in order to simplify my approach. More than anything, this is about  self preservation of Sanity. I can’t make my work go away – I am the only one working right now.

I try very hard to remain positive but to little success.

I need to do something to regain the Happy Mama part of this blog. I look back on photographs from 18 months ago and I see a completely different person. One who had energy and vibrancy, one who cared much more about her appearance and level of self care, one whose eyes sparkled in pictures who was enthusiastic about blogging and sharing her life.

Now all I see is blah, dullness and how everything is just hard – right down to getting out of bed in the morning.

Surely she is still there – I’m just not sure how to find her anymore.


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Why I’ve stopped ‘Liking’ on Facebook

Facebook is a minefield.

So much information passing through our heads every time we log in – its no wonder that more and more people appear to be having issues with focusing on everyday life!

But once you take care of all of the ‘friend’s that you didn’t have in highschool’, and the ‘friends that you met at a wedding’, and the ‘friend’s of friends’ – the list could go on – you are left with the constant feed of all those blogs, businesses, charities and causes that you have ‘liked’ at some stage.

I have recently started making an effort to go in an ‘unlike’ any of these ‘like’s’ that aren’t contributing to my clear headspace. Seriously, it is like a constant stream of advertising, of bloggers trying to desperately sell their latest get rich quick scheme, of fitness models pasting their perfection to make you feel guilty about the gym session you skipped today because there are only 24 hours in the day and the organisation guru ‘mom’s’ who make you feel sick to the stomach with their perfect Tiffany Blue and crisp white kitchens with perfectly pinterest worthy tupperware and linen closets with labels.

Well I am sick of it.

Isn’t there enough in this world to make us feel guilty as working mums?

It’s not enough anymore to just make it through the working week and managing to feed the kids and make sure they have enough clothes, apparently we have to check of the list in  our carefully preened ‘Home management binder’ while we work on creating a perfectly laminated menu board where we can plan our meals in advance for the next 30 days, have prepared our children a dairy free, wheat free, fruit free, nut free, sugar free…fun free…. weeks worth of stimulating lunches with cute “I love you lunchbox notelets in the shape of a heart” included

I am over the guilt that these apparently perfect people seep into our not so perfect lives. For those of us who fall into the perfectly OK category of ‘normal’, who do not feel the need to be organised to the n’th degree, who know that umm…towels and sheets…go in the linen closet. I salute you – especially if you can manage to get the said towels and sheets back into the linen closet before they are required for use again.

So the only things I am going to ‘like’ from now on are things that build up my self worth as a working parent, things that encourage my spirit, things that nourish my soul. No guilt, no shame, no sales pitches. I’m done.

I feel a little better now…..thanks!


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Who Inspires You?

Bird Soaring

With mothers day coming up this weekend, there seems to be many many posts on parenting, mothers, mothering etc etc flooding the blogging world.

Silly Talented Blogger that I am, I hadn’t even thought about putting up a post about the commercial entity that is mothers day. You see – we don’t celebrate Mothers Day. Sure, I will give my mum a call and see how she is going – but then I do that on most Sundays. I will get jumped all over in bed by my two devilish charming little boys – but that happens every day.

What I want to blog about in the lead up to Mothers day is the person who has made the biggest difference in my life – the person who inspired me to soar.

My Mum.

When I was growing up (and occasionally when I was a grown up) I didn’t have the greatest amounts of confidence in my own abilities. I blame my first born, pedantic, perfectionist tendencies.

I blame the fact that I was achingly aware of the fact that we had very little money as a family, that we were somehow different, we got by but only just.

I didn’t have the new clothes, trendy gadgets and objects that allowed me to blend in with the cool kids. I was also a bit of a nerd. It was not cool to be a nerd in the 80’s (I get the feeling though that the Hipster movement has made it cool to be a little nerdish now though – go hipsters!)

When I was about twelve I realised that I could not change this family that I was born into. However, I looked at my intelligent, motivated and accomplished mother and wondered why she would choose that life. It made me wonder a little about love and why people get married. I knew very little of other people’s home circumstances. Our money situation was all that I knew – and I knew that it wasn’t all that much fun.

Somewhere along that path I also figured out that I was the only person who could move in a direction away from the continuation of the family life that was all I had ever known.

Now you may think – well this story isn’t all that inspiring. And you would be right.

BUT, it was seeing into my mothers life and growing up in the post feminist 80’s, where opportunities for women were beginning to improve and we were told we could do anything, that showed me that I wasn’t limited – that I could soar and fly away into my own life and create my own new family life based on my rules.

I believe that this realization was one of the most important of my life. Who knows what direction I would have gone in had I not had this realization. I know that some of the decisions I have made along the way have not been the best, but I also  know how lucky I was to be brought up by someone who enabled me to go out and do what I needed to do to be better than what I knew growing up.

Even though we had very little money, we didn’t ever want for anything – being a mother now myself  and knowing what I know now – I am sure that sacrifices were made to allow me to participate in music lessons, athletics and gymnastics – not to mention every other fleeting extracurricular pursuit I took a fancy to.

I don’t think that as children we could possibly have imagined these small  guiding steps that our parents give to us – whether we know it at the time or not.  I was encouraged to fulfill my potential at every step of the way. For this I am eternally grateful to my Mum – as she was the driver. She gave me wings to soar.

aaname

Who has been the most influential person in your life to date? Was it one of your parents or someone else?