Paying it forward

Acrylic painted rope bowl.

Acrylic painted rope bowl.

I’ve been busy making recently (too busy making to blog anything apparently!) and it’s been all about sharing the love around here at the moment.  

I’ve been working on some gifts for a pay it forward initiative.  I agreed to do this months and months ago with the idea that the 5 people who volunteered would get a gift from me in return for paying it forward to 5 others.  It was really interesting to see who responded to my message, some were dear family members, some close friends, others I haven’t seen since high school.  

The agreement was that I would send them something over the next year, when inspiration struck and I found something that I thought they would like. It’s taken me the better part of the year to get around to sending out gifts, but I had resolved that I wanted to send handmade gifts and I also struggled to decide exactly what would make a nice gift for some of the people I was supposed to be sending to. I have occasionally felt a little guilty for taking so long to get around to doing it, but mostly, unexpectedly, I have enjoyed taking my time over this. I’ve found myself thinking about my recipients a lot over the last 9 months, wondering about their lives, their challenges and what I can do or send that will make them smile.  I wonder if they have sensed it at all.  

Open wide zippered pouch - free pattern from Noodlehead

Open wide zippered pouch - free pattern from Noodlehead

The most unexpected thing has been how much I have enjoyed the whole process. It has been fun creating these things and wrapping them up - Imagining the surprise when the parcels arrive and hoping that they will brighten someone's day.  I can’t help thinking that I may have gained more from this experience than the people to whom I am sending gifts, although I hope they will disagree!

Painted Rope Bowl

I’m going to try to keep on paying it forward, to think about ways I can incorporate random (or not so random) acts of kindness into my everyday, I’m totally hooked on feeling like one of santa’s elves!  Do you have any ways that you like to pay it forward or favourite random acts of kindness?


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Stop Waiting.

So often I find myself waiting.

Waiting for the perfect moment to do something or say something. Too often I find that that 'perfect' moment never comes.  I know that this will likely be the case and yet still I hold out, waiting for it.

I am gradually learning (though more slowly than I would like) that it is nearly ALWAYS worth just doing something. It might not turn out exactly as we imagine but that's part of the beauty.  I had been wanting to start my little crafty business for such a long time but I felt like there were so many things that needed to be perfect before I would be ready to share it. The problem was that no matter how much work I did I never seemed to get any closer to being ready.  The more things I did, the more things I discovered that needed doing.  It was like opening a can of worms. Eventually I simply heeded this very good advice: Stop waiting, just do it.  And I'm so glad that I did.  Because there's no such thing as perfect.  It's a constant evolution and the journey is just as rewarding as the destination, perhaps even more so.

On a much smaller and less significant scale, we decided this weekend to stop waiting for our home renovation to be finished and invited our friends over for dinner amongst the mess and despite the inconveniences.  Unsurprisingly we had a whole lot of fun and enjoyed ourselves enormously.  I've got no pretty pictures to show you because the house really is a disaster, but I've got a whole new bunch of happy memories to keep me smiling through the week.

It's little moments like these that reinforce the message for me; that there may never be a perfect moment; there is only NOW and the longer we wait the less NOW we have.

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There's no place like home.

I know a lot of you are here for the sewing – but while I’m overseas I am on a forced break from sewing and my mind is wandering to lots of other things so please excuse my ramblings.  Next month I’ll be back into the sewing, but for now I am enjoying this opportunity to step back and reflect.

Green England

It is wonderful to be back home, back in the place where I grew up.  Back amongst these rolling green hills and dry stone walls.  Everything is so familiar, the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of the voices with their northern accents, the hot cups of tea.  It’s a little like being enveloped in an enormous security blanket and cuddled.

I would never have guessed at 18 where my life would take me.  If you had told me that I would be living in Australia, I simply wouldn’t have believed you.  I’m not the sort for big steps and dramatic changes.  I love home and I love my family and I wouldn’t choose to leave.  But somehow it happened, almost by accident. I never intended to emigrate, but here I am and I can’t possibly regret the decisions that led me here.  I have a home that I love, better friends than I probably deserve and a husband and children who I adore.  Who could ask for more really?

But; while these trips back home make me grateful for the life I have in Australia, I also find that they make me mourn, in equal measure, the life I could have had in England.

Sometimes I feel consumed by sadness at this thought.  England will always be home, but my life is now so fully invested in Australia that I sometimes think that I could never properly be whole again.  It feels as though my life, and my heart, will always be split in two.  But this feeling is one which only really gets me when I am already feeling tired and vulnerable.  More often I am able to see it as a blessing.  Because until you miss something you can never fully appreciate it.  I am constantly missing one of my two homes and my heart is full of gratitude for each of these beautiful places and for the lovely family and friends in both.

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Three Years Old

Octonauts Cake

My little boy is three.  Three! Growing up so fast - even though he still maintains that he is - in his own words - "tiny".

He had such a wonderful day.  His request for his birthday was to ‘go swimming and to go under the water and have an octonauts cake with blue on the bottom and orange on top.”  Which, of course, is exactly what he got.  (How could we say no to such a modest request!)

He had so much fun a the pool and did indeed go under the water.  It is so amazing to watch his confidence grow and see his joy as he discovers he can do new things.  He was also very pleased with his gifts (the mama-made elephant has been christened 'Ice Age' (I think after the wooly mammoth in Ice Age...) there were also lots of Octonauts, Dinosaurs, and Dragons.  Win.

For me though the best moment of the day was when he was sitting quietly at the table, after all of our guest had gone had gone, when he quietly observed to himself ‘That was a lovely birthday’.  (Heart melts)

Birthdays have taken on a whole new meaning for me since our children were born.  It is impossible to celebrate their birthdays with out remembering the day they were born and all the emotions that went along with that.  It is impossible not to remember the newborn baby they once were and the way our world changed in an instant when they arrived.  It is impossible to imagine our world without these amazing little people, without the happiness and the love and the laughter that they bring.

I love that birthdays give us the opportunity and perhaps a reminder to stop and appreciate the people we love for who they are.  A whole day in which we focus on all the amazing things that make them who they are.  

Happy Birthday Jacob.  You are the dearest little boy.  I love your cuddles and your smile.  I love your enthusiasm, I love the way you talk and the way you gesture with your arms when you do.  I love watching you grow and learn but I wish could bottle you, just as you are, so that I might always be able to hold onto the gorgeous little boy that you are in this instant.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart.


Growing Up!


I discovered today that the children’s playschool teachers are going to move Jacob up to the kinder room in a couple of weeks – I’m a little emotional about this news. On the one hand, I’m really happy for him – it’ll be an adventure and he’ll get to be with the big kids and in the same class as Ella for the year, and I’ve no doubt that he’ll learn heaps and absolutely love it, but there’s a little part of me that is crying ‘but he’s my baby! He’s still 2! He can’t be in Kindergarten!’ 

It seems to me that one of the most unexpected things about mothering is the way in which watching your children grow is like a series of tiny bereavements.  While we delight in their achievements, in their growth and development, there is always a part of us that aches for the baby, the toddler, the small child they once were; the tiny person who is lost forever, who we will always miss enormously while we sit here loving and marveling at the amazing new child who has emerged.  I suppose it’s just another reminder of how we need to treasure every moment, how we ought to aim to let all the frustrations just wash over us and cling tight to these wonderful moments which will one day be just memories.

I’m feeling rather tearful writing this and am suddenly consumed with an ache for my little ones.  I’m going to go and pick them up from playschool now  - don’t worry, I’m pretty sure that this sadness will have passed within about 10 minutes of our arriving home, when I will be yelling, tearing my hair out and wondering exactly how many more years of this I’ll have to endure before they can leave home!

For my little sister as she prepares to meet her baby...

Dearest Ruthie,

As I write this, I know that you are at the hospital working very hard to bring your little baby into the world.  I'm writing because I am finding it very difficult to be so far away and so unable to do anything to help you. (Although I have to admit that even if I was right by your side there would be very little I could do to help you right now!)  Still, I wish so much that I could be there over the next few weeks to help you with the mountains of laundry that you're about to experience and to cook you nourishing dinners and delicious cakes to sustain you while you nurse your new baby.  

But I can't be there right now so I will have to offer what help I can in the form of advice and support.  I have been thinking a lot about how I felt after Ella and Jacob were born, trying to remember what I struggled with, what helped me most, but to be honest much of it is a blur of emotions.  Here's what I can tell you:

There will be times when you will look at your baby and feel like you will burst with love.

There will be times when you will want to put your baby out of the window.

You will feel elation and despair and everything in between, possibly all in the space of 10 minutes. 

You will cry for no reason.

Parenting can be difficult and stressful but also beautiful and amazing, often all at the same time.

You will be a wonderful mother.

I will always be there for you, to listen to your worries. I will be awake when everyone else around you is asleep. I am only a phone call away.

I am so unbelievably excited about your new arrival! Partly for you, because I know what an amazing roller coaster ride you're in for and partly for myself because I can't wait to have motherhood in common with you. I feel like it will be such a wonderful bond and I know that seeing our children playing together is going to be so special.  

I love you enormously and have complete faith in you. You will do a fantastic job of raising this brand new person and you will help them to be the very best version of themselves possible. 

You can do it!


What will your story be?

Who am I?

Where is the meaning in my life? What is really important?  How can I make a difference in the world? These are all questions that I have been thinking about a lot recently.  There are a lot of things in my life recently which have been steering me towards these questions; the death of my grandmother, my sister's impending first baby, the role I have with my own children, the ways in which becoming a mother has changed me, these first steps that I am taking towards doing the things I love and starting my own business,.

This is me with my granny when I was about 6 months old.

I have always known that my Granny Olive was a pretty special lady.  I have also known for a few years that she wrote a book about her life experiences.  I'm not sure why I never asked to read it until now.  I think it was a combination of my failure to realise that getting a copy was as simple as asking my mum to email it to me, and my own self absorption in my busy life as a new mum.  I regret it so much now.  I have just finished reading her story and I wish so much that I had read it years ago, there are so many things that I would have liked to talk to her about, so many questions I could have asked.  It really started me wondering what my story is going to be? What will I have to show for my life by the time I (hopefully) reach old age?  What lessons will my own grandchildren learn from me?  Will they be proud of the person I was, of the things I have done?  Will they see a life lived with love and compassion, a life lived with courage, strength and joy?  I hope so.  It's so easy to keep on plodding through life, to get bogged down with day to day tasks and forget to stop and look up, to look around and appreciate how lucky we are to be living in this moment.  We could all do with taking a little more time to notice the special moments in every day, talking a little more time to consider our actions and think about how we can enrich the lives of those around us, of those we love.  I don't believe that living a meaningful life requires doing remarkable things - I think it is more of an achievement to do ordinary things in a remarkable way.  

What do you think?

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