Thursday, January 28, 2010

getting back to nature...

This morning, after dropping 4 of my 6 kids at their new school, my mother-in-law and I took a trip to Samford. Although it is just 21kms from Brisbane city, it seems a world away with big acreage properties and a small community feel. We visited Lifestyle Garden Centre which also has a gift shop, cafe and day spa onsite. I love this tea area where you can tether your horse and refresh yourselves together - although my horse riding has been limited to a couple of pony rides on an English beach many years ago, I quite fancy the idea of riding through valleys and fields for a nice cuppa or a 'skinny latte with one'.

We sat in the cafe proper for our refreshments, but even there we felt very close to nature as these amazingly tame water dragons were scurrying all over the floor while we ate. One even sat on my feet - my MIL and I had our feet up on chairs pretty quick smart after that!

We finished our outing with a leisurely browse through the gift shop (a luxury after school holidays when a trip out meant taking all the kids too). I know I'm super blessed to have such a lovely mother-in-law (and father-in-law) with whom I enjoy spending time with. Does the thought of an outing with your in-laws fill you with joy or horror?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I bought a Bungalow...

Knowing that JJ has a serious cushion addiction (much cheaper than shoes though!) I bought her this beautiful Bungalow cushion for a Christmas present. Ever since I came across the Danish designed range of block printed homewares on Sharnel's beautiful blog, I have been on the lookout for the cushions. When I found them at a shop in my neighbourhood they certainly didn't disappoint. JJ's aqua cushion looks lovely and fresh on her white chair and, after coveting it for a month or so, the other day I treated myself to three cushions in pinks and purples (OK, so JJ is not the only one with the problem!). I don't usually decorate with such girly shades but I am very glad I stepped out of my colour comfort zone and the bonus is that it is so easy to buy a bunch of flowers to match. Have a look here for a stockist near you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

in memory...

On Thursday morning UK time, our lovely Grandma, Susieq's Mum, died aged 90. We know that she is with her beloved husband in Heaven, but we will still miss her lots and lots.

JJ and I have so many wonderful memories of Grandma even though we have mostly lived on the other side of the world and so didn't get to see her too often. When we were very little we loved to use her big collection of cosmetic samples to make her up with hideous blue eyeshadow and bright red lipstick! We would then brush Grandma's hair and style it and she would sit there so patiently and then exclaim how much she loved her new look! Grandma went to art school before joining the land army, and she could draw and sew beautifully. She was a whizz at knitting and every year we used to look forward to receiving new jumpers or cardigans with all sorts of fantastic designs. Grandma also loved crosswords and word puzzles, and her dictionary and thesaurus were very well thumbed. She even taught herself how to use a computer at the age of 80 and loved to send us emails and browse the web - what a great example that you're never too old to learn something new!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the magic of growing up...

It is no secret we love children's vintage books - the old fashioned wording and the distinctive illustrations are so appealing. Occasionally we find one that we totally fall in love with. The Magic of Growing Up is a little red hard backed book, written by Dean Walley, illustrated by Lois Jackson and published in 1968 and it is just so sweet and whimsical we just about cried when we read it! This post would be too long to include all of the cute drawings but it is the words that really captured us so we have copied them out for you below ... they just don't write books like this any more!

"Some morning you're going to wake up to a strange discovery.
Your toes are farther away.
The magic has begun...
It's the magic of growing up!
Maybe you've grown clear up to the fishbowl...
or even...
the cookie jar!!
Growing up plays tricks on you...
Suddenly your sleeves won't reach and last year's boots are much too small.
Baths take much longer because there's so much more of you to wash.
Remember all the things you couldn't do because you were too little?
Because you're growing up, now you're big enough to cross the street by yourself.
Best of all...
Now you can buy things!
Because you're growing up so much you have new jobs, like taking care of those who are still very little.
Growing up brings new friends who are still growing too ...
But not as fast as you!
As you grow up, you begin to explore the world outside of your house and yard.
It may seem strange at first.
You may even think, just for a minute, "Oh, I'd much rather stay a little."
But you won't feel that way for long.
The magic of growing up makes everything new...
especially YOU!
Growing up makes the flowers smell sweeter and the sky look wider.
It makes you want to run and dance...
and dream!
And growing up fills you with happiness when you're with someone very special, because the magic has touched you both.
If you ever think the magic of growing up may be over for you some day, don't worry...
If you keep watching the world around you grow...
If you dream and search and grow a little inside every day...
the magic of growing up will stay in your heart forever."

Do you remember the day you could first reach the cookie jar? Hope you are enjoying your 'growing up' today!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

another use for old magazines...

Keeping the children happily occupied in school holidays doesn't have to mean expensive outings or treats. Getting to stay in pyjamas all day is a favourite with my kids! Today, we kept the younger ones occupied with a threading activity using beads made from old magazines (helps make us feel less guilty about our piles of magazines - once we have torn out our favourite ideas and great recipes, the kids benefit too!) Simply cut or tear a strip of an old magazine page or a bit of junk mail, and roll around a pencil. Use sticky tape to hold the bead's shape. Bigger kids can make these themselves, and it doesn't take long to roll up a whole bowl full. The big hole means that even little ones can get some string or a pipecleaner through and make a great necklace, bracelet or just a hanging beady thing-a-majig!

Monday, January 18, 2010

brown paper + string + bottle...

Here is a quick and easy table setting for a Monday. Wrap some brown paper around little bottles (these are Italian juice bottles that you can buy in packs from the Deli but you could use jam jars or little vases too), write names on and tie them up with a bit of string. Brown paper table runners mean no washing up (hooray!) and you can have fun drawing place mats (we used a simple stencil for the corner design), writing messages or being as creative as you like. A few leaves from the garden complete the casual vibe but a beautiful flower in each bottle would look feminine and pretty. Now all you need is a crusty loaf of bread, a cheese platter, fresh salad, a selection of chutneys and a nice bottle of wine... perfect!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

loving our new machines...

JJ and I got together yesterday to do some work and ended up being sidetracked (as we often do) into making cushions. We make a lot of cushions for our own homes, but we readily admit that we often take short cuts and rarely finish them off on the inside or add buttons or zips. However, we have been experimenting with the wonderful new sewing machines that we both got as a combined birthday/Christmas present from Mum and Dad, and as they automatically sew beautifully neat button holes, we thought we should pick up our act! It is embarrassing to admit just how excited we got watching my machine sew these button holes all by itself.

We used some Florence Broadhurst fabric that we had tucked away in a box which we paired with linen for the cushion in the top photo, and some cheerful floral fabric for the one below (totally overstuffed we know, but we didn't have the right insert). With so many half finished projects around our homes, it felt so good to complete these.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

making life easier...

While I didn't make any New Year's Resolution this year, I have decided that 2010 is the year I try to make life easier for myself. With 6 kids between 11 years and 11 weeks, a home based business, a house being renovated, and an ironing pile that is almost as high as I am, I am on the lookout for ways to simplify and organise everyday life. A fantastic start has been joining up with Aussie Farmers Direct. On a Tuesday and Friday, a milkman (I'm not being sexist - I have been awake feeding my little Tilly when he has arrived!) leaves milk, bread, eggs, cheese and juice on my doorstep in the middle of the night, and on a Thursday afternoon I get a big box bulging with fresh fruit and veg. With the money deducted straight from our account, and the ability to change or cancel an order online, the whole process couldn't be easier. Knowing that all the products come from Australian farmers or local businesses and are as fresh as can be is a huge bonus. This is going to save many late night trips to the service station when my hungry children have devoured their way through all the bread and milk in the house... Millie, however did you manage when your 5 boys were teenagers?!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

two today...

JJ's gorgeous little girl, Sienna turned two today. With an incredibly cheeky smile and cuddly nature, she is one much loved little poppet. Sienna is totally fearless when it comes to climbing, exploring, and swimming, and seems to be heading for an illustrious sporting career. However, at the moment she is very scared of everyone outside of her family, even other children, so JJ is not having a party for her as she would not enjoy it one little bit! Instead, grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins will celebrate next weekend with a special cake and lots of cuddles! Happy Birthday beautiful Si Si!

Friday, January 8, 2010

a rainbow of colour...

We are very excited to be taking these new vintage butterfly artworks to the Boutique Markets this Sunday. We get a real kick out of cutting the butterflies for these frames (so much better than ironing!) and we particularly love seeing them grouped in their rainbow colours. We have vowed to make 2010 the year we make some mondocherry artwork for our own walls (probably six of these butterflies, all in different colours) - just as a builder's house is never finished, an IT expert's computer always seems to have a bug, and a Dr's children are always sick, us mondocherry girls have very little of our own creations in our homes!

Hope to see you at the markets if you live in Brisbane. If not, remember all our work is available in our online shop and please email us with any requests or questions. Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

back for the new year...

A belated Happy New Year to you all! We are having a slow start to 2010 - getting back into routine always takes a while after the excitement of holidays.

I had a really lovely Christmas with very excited children, lots of yummy food and plenty of laughs with the family. At my place, excitement had reached fever pitch by Christmas Eve with the four oldest children having discussions about whether Santa travelled at the speed of sound or the speed of light, if Santa would prefer beer or milk with his cookies (for the record he drank the milk and took the beer - good to know he doesn't drink and drive!) and which of the many Christmas movies we watched was the most accurate depiction of the North Pole!

JJ and her family had a slightly less enjoyable Christmas with all 4 of them coming down with a terrible vomiting bug which wiped them out completely. They then came home from a week up the coast to find a possum had moved in while they were away. After removing it from it's hiding spot behind the microwave, it took many hours of cleaning and sterilising to remove all traces of the possum which had been very busy in the pantry, kitchen and playroom!

Susieq went back to Dubai for Christmas after being in England for the last 3 months nursing her very sick Mum. After a very low key day (Christmas is not celebrated out there of course), she and Dad went off to a desert resort for some R and R.

This week it is back to work preparing for the Boutique Markets this Sunday, making lots of cookies to keep the children going in the school holidays, and pottering around the house - January always makes me want to clean, organise and file!