Around the House

Monday, April 07, 2014

Nearly flowering grevilleas, tea lights, windowsills on cloudy days and new books. We are counting down to the holidays and looking forward to s-l-o-w-i-n-g things down. I suspect there will be a lot of band loom creating, bike riding and hanging around. I can't wait!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Little Miss Comb-over is nearly 6 months old.
She has started to tuck, crunch and roll - adorable.
She chatters and squeals - adorable.
She giggles at all her older brothers' and sisters' escapades - also adorable,
and despite frequent requests to 'stop growing' she insists on getting bigger - less adorable but we'll survive.
We'll be having our traditional half-birthday celebration on Sunday. Should we do cupcakes or a doughnut stack?
I still haven't finished her quilt but a few late nights should do it. If I can stay awake past 10 she might even have it for her 6mth celebrations this weekend. Now that she's rolling she needs something bigger than that pink blanket.

True Beauty

Thursday, March 13, 2014

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
― Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross


Friday, March 07, 2014

...for my friend's son. He loves planes so when he and his mum sat down together to choose a fq bundle it's no surprise that he picked this one, Planet Buzz by Maude Asbury. It sounds like he had a hard time choosing from all the bundles but I love what they ended up getting. I am a little in the love with the astronaut fabric and bought some to add to a quilt I am making for Sweetie. Those cheery little astronauts waving from the depths of space make me smile.

Apple Cake

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I really want a slice of apple cake with vanilla custard. I want it right now. It is pouring with rain outside and it is the perfect weather for apple cake and custard and a cup of hot coffee.
there is none of this left,
it takes 90mins to bake
and I am all out of apples.
Salivating over this photo will have to do.
The recipe is from the Monday Morning Cooking Club cookbook so it is not mine to share but if you can get hold of it you should. It is truly delicious.

Duyvken Vanilla Custard
3 tbsp flour,
500ml milk,
100g sugar,
60g butter and
1 vanilla bean
6 yolks

MethodEggs and sugar, cream together
Incorporate flour
Warm milk in a saucepan, add the scraped vanilla bean and incorporate slowly into the egg, sugar and flour mixture
Bring to bubble, whisk all the time, cook 1 or 2 mins to thicken
Turn off heat, whisk in butter
Allow to cool to desired temperature

In Lieu of Words

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I received some lovely notes and comments after my last post (hello Lucy!) and I don't quite know how to respond. I am almost without words so I am offering pictures instead. There was sunshine at the kitchen sink this morning and rainbows in the bedroom.
Wrapped in paper.
Tied with string.
A little gift for you.

A Taggie (for the time being)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I slightly overestimated how big this needed to be when I was making it last night. The little duckling will have to grow into it. Sweetie loves his lion taggie and has been bugging me to make one for his little sister too. He helped me select the ribbons and after he was asleep the other night I started stitching.
This is such a quick project, I was able to finish it with one eye on the tv (T20 cricket) while listening to J's commentary of the game. Having one of the bigs with me while I am making something for one of the littles is lovely. He chatted and shared lots of wonderful little observations with me. There is so much that he already knows and so much that he has yet to learn, it makes me think it must be both exhilarating and exhausting to be 9 years old.
While he spoke (an endless stream of quips, asides, questions and chatter) I was picking ribbons and stitching eyes remembering when I was doing similar things for him when he was freshly born, and marveling at just how close that feels. So much time has passed but I can still reach out and touch it. It is right here beside me, I can feel it. I berated myself for yet again losing myself in the drift and for not practising being present. I often remind myself of the quote 'wherever you are, be all there' (widely attributed to Jim Elliot) but reminiscences have a siren-like song that is very hard to resist.
I've just finished reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which has a lot of zen and quantum physics in it and, whilst I am fairly certain that I missed the point entirely, having big kids and little kids does sometimes feel like living simultaneously in the 'many worlds' the physicist Hugh Everett wrote about. It is not the same of course but, as Jiko would have said 'it's not different either'. It was a great read. Very thought provoking and a little hard to classify. The main character's name is Ruth, a novelist living on a canadian island with her partner, environmental artist, Oliver. All of which can also be said about the author. The book is filled with footnotes that Ruth (the character) makes about a diary she finds washed up on the shore. It is hard to tell how much of herself and her partner she has put into the book but it is hard to read it without hearing their voices.
She doesn't seem to have much regard for blogging/online writing. The japanese schoolgirl, Nao, writes in her diary at one point "I'd post her stories on a blog, but actually I stopped doing that a while ago. It made me sad when I caught myself pretending that everybody out there in cyberspace cared about what I thought, when really nobody gives a shit. And when I multiplied that feeling by all the millions of people in their lonely little rooms, furiously writing and posting to their lonely little pages that nobody has time to read because they're all so busy writing and posting, it kind of broke my heart." There are two footnotes to this passage. The first reads: "I never think anyone gives a shit," Oliver said. "Is that sad? I don't think it's sad.". And the second reads: "Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding." - Milan Kundera, Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1980.
You can see, dear reader, how this passage would not sit comfortably with me. Like Oliver, I don't think it is sad to not care if anyone gives a shit. This blog is more like an open journal than a cry for conversation so I am OK with sitting in my lonely little room writing and posting but I really don't like the idea of contributing to an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding. It would be great hubris indeed to believe that this blog stands apart from any others. I know it does not. The writing is haphazard and sporadic, the photos are predictable (feet in shoes, babies, close-ups of hand quilting, photos of flowers and beaches that look like everyone else's photos of flowers and beaches) and yet I persist. Perhaps I hope that an age in which the writer in every individual comes to life will also be an age in which the reader also comes alive and more people will be heard and considered than just those who speak the loudest and longest at the bbq.
But, back to the taggie: I used chenille and ribbons I had in my sewing stash, a little scrap of corduroy saved from an old pair of jeans that C loved so much she wore right through the knees and a special piece of ribbon that came wrapped around a gift. That beautiful rainbow ribbon is from Eleanor and her mum. Ruth Ozeki might not think that blogging offers anything of value but it has been a great source of friendship and community for me. Without blogging it is unlikely that Eleanor (and her mum) and I would have ever met.

A Tale for the Time Being was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2013.

Stitching my way into 2014

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Those HST's that I started working on just before our littlest duckling was born are finally being stitched together into a quilt top. I'd love to have this sandwiched and ready for quilting before the weekend. We are having friends over on Saturday for lunch so I'll need to pack the  machine away before then and that's my (very scientifically determined) deadline. I'm very happy with how this is turning out. Hopefully, the next time you see it there will be a sweet little baby lying on it.

Beach Day

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Christmas 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

None of these photos capture the spirit of the day - the wet weather, the cousins all playing inside, the cousins shivering after swimming in the pool despite the weather (because what is Christmas day without a swim?), the beautiful and abundant food, the singalong, the laughter and the happiness - but now that I have told you about those things perhaps you can overlay that onto the photos as you look at them. We're sitting back now, putting up our feet and feeling pretty damn good about life.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Heart full.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The house smells amazing.
We took these to the Hawkesbury today. The weather was hot, humid and windy. Poppet struggled with the heat before falling asleep in her stroller with a hibiscus print muslin wrap draped over it to keep the sun and the flies off her sweet sweaty skin.
Sweetie was beet red and desperately unhappy until he found a spot in the cricket chair under the shade of a willow on the banks. Those willows may not be good for our rivers but they are languorously beautiful and lent a little shade to our unhappy picnickers today.
G, J and JW swam in the tea stained water along the banks of the river and took turns riding on the flat deck tube squealing with delight as they bounced along the wake and the hot wind tore through their hair. They sat on the edge of their seats with their hands gripping the boat rails and their eyes wide as their aunts and uncles (and dad) took turns water skiing. C watched from the banks, joining in the swimming but not joining in the tubing until she had watched everyone else take their turns and then she rallied herself and had a go. She has a deep and impressive strength that girl. It is not as easy for her to be brave as it is for some of the others but she breathes deeply into her belly, takes her time and then goes for it. Every time I see it it amazes me. I admire her.
They ate chicken and lettuce rolls for lunch, drank bottles of water warmed by the day to quench their thirst and proudly shared the gingerbread they had made and decorated.
I waded in 'til the water was over my knees and the hem of my dress was wet to be close enough in case my little ducklings wandered a little too far out or forgot about the current coaxing them downstream. My new brother-in-law came past on the ski kicking up a spray to impress the children and showered me with warm river water. My hat and dress were soaked but it was the kind of day where things like that are delightful and not annoying.
We listened to Haim, Flight of the Conchords and Passenger in the car on the way home with the a/c turned up high and everyone safely clipped in to their seats. We sang loudly, wondered aloud about how lucky we were to have had such a great day and then the little ones fell into that lovely sun-warrmed sleep. Mr Duyvken and I carried them into the house when we got home feeling their warm cheeks on our shoulders and laid them gently on their beds so they could sleep off some of the heat.
We hung out load after load of laundry and talked about our Christmas plans, and as we passed pegs to each other under the clothesline I felt the wet grass beneath my bare feet, the warm breeze on the damp hair at the nape of my neck, and a deep contentment settled within. I want to remember this, I said, I am truly happy.
Contentment and joy to you, dear reader, with lots of love from me.

From the Notes Bag

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I got this lovely note from one of C's classmates and of course, I said yes. Although, now that I am preparing for it I am not so sure. Luckily, I will have my favourite prop(py) (hahaha.... ahem) and am going to finish by reading them a story so hopefully that will keep everyone happy. 

It is tomorrow morning at 9am. I'll let you know how I get on.

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