f i v e

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Five years ago today, we woke up on a farm in Mudgee. Over breakfast and coffee, I looked out the window and asked our friend/best man/witness, "do you think it's going to rain?"

"Not a chance, Gary,*" he replied, "not a chance."

A few hours later, right before our wedding was to begin, it started to pour. We had to change the location of our ceremony 10 minutes before it was to happen.

So our wedding wasn't perfect, and neither is our marriage. Sometimes I think we have to remind ourselves of that fact when we look around this blog world of ours; no one has a perfect relationship. But we laugh a lot, say "I love you" every day, and sometimes we say "I'm sorry" too. And five years in, I can genuinely say that we are happy, in love and enjoying where we are. For that, I am grateful.

*inside joke between our friends, who have been calling me Gary for 6 years now


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the candles I gave to my friends at my blessingway / photo of me and my girl by Tim / photo of me and my belly by Belinda / an Artifact Uprising photo book / birthday crown I made last week / booties I made when I was pregnant (and I thought baby would be a boy!)

It's funny, but ever since Clementine turned 11 months old my thoughts have been consumed with her coming birthday. I feel this tremendous sense of urgency to get all of my little projects done, like her baby book and her journal. And I know it's a clich√©, but I really am shocked that my baby girl is about to turn 1 and enter toddlerhood. How did this happen? As May 5 draws nearer, I can't help but reminisce. I think about my belly and how that squirmy little thing has turned into this whirling ball of activity. I think about my birth week - how long and intense it was, how wonderful it felt to hold my baby, how my heart felt like it would burst. I think about that first week at home, when it was just the three of us. Pure magic.

Along with all of the reminiscing, I've also been preparing for her birthday. We've organised a little Mexican party to celebrate our cinco de mayo girl, and while we're going to keep it simple there are still lists to make, and projects to complete. And then I get to thinking about gifts. On the invitations, we've written 'no gifts please' because she really does have enough, and our apartment can't house much more. Even still, I'd like to give her something special and I've had my heart set on a Steiner doll. Finding the perfect one (for a reasonable price) has proved harder than expected though, so I'm still not sure what she'll be unwrapping come her birthday morning.

Of course, no discussion of a birthday would be complete without talking about cake! So far, Clementine hasn't had any sugar and I don't want to break the streak so I'm turning to my favourite whole foods blogs like this one and this one, to find the perfect "healthy" cake. I've made this one before, so it's a contender, as is this one.

Tell me, did any of you go into a frenzy when your babies turned 1? Or is it just me...

family photography: 365 days of summer

Monday, April 21, 2014

Way back in July, I shared photos of Helen and 6 month old Summer, frolicking in the winter sun. To celebrate Summer turning 1, we decided to do another shoot, this time in their home. When I look at these next to the 6 month photos, I just can't believe how much she's grown! From a roly poly baby with a gummy smile to a walking, talking little girl. Amazing. I love these two so much.

11 month clementine

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's hard to believe that these monthly updates will soon be coming to an end, with Clementine's first birthday just around the corner. Once a month, for the past 11 months, I've done a little photoshoot with my girl (some were carried off with more planning and organisation than others) and then I've sat down in front of my computer with a cup of tea and my Mom's One Line a Day journal to write. I almost always ask my husband what has stood out to him over the last month, and together, we come up with these updates. As with all of my memory keeping endeavours, I'm so very glad I've taken the time to do this. And I have to say that I enjoy the process as much as the result.

Over this last month, Clementine has become more and more engaging. She claps her hands when she's happy about something or when I say "yay!", shares her food with us and thinks it's great when we actually eat it, and points at people and things of interest. One thing I'm relishing right now is that she's getting quite good at playing by herself. She'll spend ages flipping through her books, or playing with her wooden stacking toys. Other favourites include: going up and down stairs, having her hair brushed, swimming, climbing, playing peek-a-boo, pulling her diaper off, being chased, and eating sushi.

But my very favourite development is that Clementine is turning into a cuddler. She loves to be held and will wrap her little arms around my neck and snuggle into my shoulder. I'm trying to teach her to give kisses, and her dad insists that she has kissed him on the cheek. We're really lucky that she's such a people person, because this cuddling isn't reserved for just us. Oh no, she wants all of our friends and family to pick her and up and hold her as well. And thankfully, she seems to quite enjoy hanging out with babysitters. I know this could change, so for now, I'm taking advantage.

See you here next month, for her 12 month update!

p.s. sorry for the abundance of photos, I call this series: the many faces of Clementine.

sunday sewing

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Today, while Clementine slept and my husband watched the footy, I sewed. My poor sewing machine has been neglected lately, mostly because I hate cleaning up after myself once I've started a project. Maybe someday I'll have my own dedicated sewing space that can get as messy as I like, but for now, my crafting space is the living room. In our open plan apartment, most everything happens in the living room. But I digress…

With my baby girl's birthday fast approaching (!!!) I decided to make her a birthday crown, à la soulemama. I made a hybrid crown using the pattern in her book The Creative Family as well as this tutorial (such a good one!). As for the decoration, I was inspired by this crown. I had to make the elastic part much, much shorter than both instructions call for because Clementine is a tiny little thing, but I've left it inside of the crown so I can simply unpick one seam and adjust it in years to come. I failed to consider that Clementine doesn't really like wearing things on her head, so now I just hope she'll wear it long enough for me to take a special birthday picture.

Once the crown was done, I moved on to some instant gratification sewing. I've been meaning to make some new placemats for a while now. Ours are old and stained, and once I spotted this fabric at Ikea I knew exactly what to do with it. The construction is really simple; I just cut out 8 rectangles (43cm by 33cm), sewed two rectangles right sides together leaving a gap, turned it right side out and then topstitched around the edge. Even my husband likes them, which is saying something

All in all, a most productive (and happy) day.

away: to the south coast

Friday, April 11, 2014

While my mom was here last month, we went down the South Coast for a few days. When we left Sydney we intended to stay for just one night, but we changed our minds as soon as we got there. It was just too good. I always love getting out of the city, and the South Coast really is the most magical place. The green rolling hills come right down to the ocean, and while you're swimming in the sea you can see cows grazing in a field next to you.

Some of our favourites from our short trip include:
  • In Kiama, we loved the shop Deer Willow. My mom and I picked up matching Turkish beach towels that are so nice, they double as a drapey scarf.
  • We stayed here, which was very kid friendly and has a beach and a pool. Score.
  • In Berry, we had lunch at the famous Berry Sourdough Cafe. I know the lines there can be insane (we were there midweek and it was totally fine) but luckily there's Milkwood Bakery if you just can't wait for your pastries and coffee.
  • Upon a recommendation from a friend, we checked out Harp Handmade in Berry. Beautiful Australia-made clothing and gelato, what could be better?
  • Me oh my did I love the rock pool at Werri Beach

my no buy month

Sunday, April 6, 2014

unrelated photos from our wander through Wendy Whiteley's garden

Way back in December, I went on one of my annual de-cluttering sprees. I even managed to get my husband on board, and between the two of us we donated more than a carload of things to our local thrift shop. It's truly amazing how much we have managed to accumulate in the 5 and a half years we've been living together, especially considering that I moved here in 2009 with just two suitcases.

Of course, I know that all the de-cluttering in the world is just a temporary solution. I started thinking that to really make a difference, we had to get to the root of the problem: buying stuff. So I decided to spend the month of February buying nothing but the essentials, which I deemed to be food, petrol, and basic household necessities like toilet paper. Now, I wasn't overly strict with myself. As a mum to a baby, most of my social life revolves around catching up with friends over coffee or tea, so I let myself spend money at cafes. I also had to cheat once; my husband's birthday is in February and I figured he wouldn't be thrilled to hear, "Surprise! It's no-buy month so I didn't get you anything!"

But other than that, my project went surprisingly well. One of the things I noticed is that because I knew I couldn't buy anything, I never went into shops (not even thrift shops) and as a result, I saved time and money. I normally have a running list of things I'm on the hunt for and I'll often let myself buy something from my list if I find it on sale. In February I found a pair of sandals that I loved, and they were a steal. I didn't buy them thanks to my commitment to no buy month, and in March, when I could buy them, I resisted. I learned that when I want something, I should write it down and wait, and wait… Often, the urge to buy just goes away. Other times, I'll find what I want for very little money at a thrift shop, which is what happened this month. A candleholder was one of the things on my list, and I spent all of March looking for the perfect one. Eventually I found what I wanted at Vinnie's for $3; it took me over a month but it was worth it.

The no buy month also made me evaluate the difference between wants and needs. About halfway through the month I ran out of one of my moisturisers. I had been using two kinds - extravagant, I know - one for day, one for night. There was a brief moment when I thought I'd just go out and replace it, surely that would count as an essential… But I knew it wasn't essential (not even close) and two months later, I'm still using the one kind.

The other thing I've discovered is the power of the internet to make me want to consume. I had to unsubscribe from all of the newsletters I had subscribed to over the years; if I don't know that Anthropologie is having a sale then I'm not tempted to buy anything. So simple. But I also have to beware of blogs, particularly home and design blogs. Our home is a pretty funky mismatch of furniture we have been given over the years. Until recently we were still using my husband's great-grandmother's couch! It's certainly not a magazine worthy home, but it's comfortable and I think we've done well to make it us while spending very little money. There is a part of me though, that pines for my dream couch and is tempted to spend money whenever I see a beautiful home tour. So I'm staying away from all those beautiful design blogs for now. Call it a breather, good for my sanity and our wallets.

Have you ever done a no buy month? I'd highly recommend it.

sakura bloom sling diaries: listening

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Unfortunately, though, we seem to have forgotten silence's value. Our days are so filled with activity, noise, and commotion that we have come to equate sound with life. Little by little we have brought our stereo speakers, telephones, and TVs into every room of the house. And how easily the decibel levels rise! […] But there is intimacy in a whisper, pools of meaning in the empty spaces between our words, sustenance in quiet."

We live in a big, busy city where there seems to be just one pace of life: fast. I'm always struck by this when I go into the city (or downtown, as we North Americans would call it). The traffic, the people and the noise can easily become overwhelming and I immediately find my footsteps quickening and my breathing becoming shallow. Even in our little neighbourhood, there is so much noise and so many distractions.

I think it takes discipline to tune out all of the background noise and make conscious choices about how we spend our time. In our home, the TV stays off most of the day, Clementine only has one toy that makes noise (which is usually switched off) and ever since our landlord sound proofed our windows, our quality of life has improved dramatically.

I find I am so much happier when our days are simple and quiet. When we have time to just be. I never have more than one plan a day, and on at least three days a week we have no plans. We just let the day unfold. It's amazing what happens when we're not dashing from place to place; it gives us the luxury of time. Time to put the baby in a sling and take her for a walk, where we can listen to the eucalyptus leaves rustling in the wind, the waves lapping and the never ending stream of "da, da, dada, da, da, dada dada" coming from the little one.

I'm thrilled to be included in a group of 17 other mums and dads, documenting the art of babywearing for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries, vol iv. 

I wear Clementine in the simple linen sling in wheat.

I'm so grateful to Luisa Brimble for not only taking these photos but for coming up with the concept for this post as well. Luisa is seriously talented, not only is she an amazing photographer she has also founded a new magazine launching soon, Alphabet Family Journal.

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