Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas 2015 round-up.

Well Christmas has come and gone, and here I sit on this 4th day of January, reflecting on December and quietly pondering what the year ahead might bring.

Our Christmas was spent up at my sister's family farm at Mullengandra in NSW. It was quite hot, but not unbearably so. Christmas magic was plentiful, thanks to the presence of my 3 1/2 year old niece. Littlies make Christmas so very special - and her big brothers and cousins all dutifully join in with the sprinkling of "reindeer food", leaving bickies and milk out for Santa and the reading of Christmas Eve bedtime stories. 

My Mum's Christmas pudding was perfect. For me, it's always a highlight. We do the full hot Christmas roast lunch. I am a vegetarian now, and this was my first Christmas without eating meat. My Mum kept forgetting and offering me some ham or turkey while we were preparing lunch, but no harm done. I didn't miss the meat at all. I made a delicious lentil loaf and a vegetarian quiche for me to have (sorry, I forgot to take photos. I'm not really a huge food-photo taker). 

We are so abundantly blessed and there was plenty of food and presents and love to go around. We missed out on Christmas dinner with my hubby's family as we chose not to travel four hours on Christmas Day this year. I must say, it was a good decision and made our Christmas so much for enjoyable, staying in one spot. Next Christmas it is our turn to host for both sides of the family. I must remember to not be overwhelmed by hosting so many people. After all, it is just a meal (or two) and if things aren't magazine perfect, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that we are together and happy. Peace and family and fun override all else at this time of year. I hope your Christmas was lovely too.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How on earth can it be December already?

Really did we get to December so quickly? I have just a couple more weeks of school for my boys before summer holidays start. What a crazy couple of weeks they'll be. My youngest is finishing primary school, so we've got a full calendar right there - graduation, last primary school Christmas concert, last school assembly, orientation day for high school. Throw in his karate classes and grading, karate Christmas party, and basketball activities and you've got a pretty busy couple of weeks. Then there's the big boy, who's finishing year 8. His life is what keeps us super busy, mostly thanks to his passion for basketball. He now trains or plays basketball seven days a week. Needless to say, although we're super proud of his basketball achievements, we're all looking forward the break that comes with school holidays.

I'm trying to knuckle down and focus on doing a bit of Christmas shopping, although I have to say, I'm less and less enthused about the commercialisation of Christmas with each passing year. The amount of money spent on buying gifts just for the sake of buying gifts seems pretty ridiculous. Really, we don't actually NEED very much. The gift of time spent enjoying the company of our loved ones seems like the best possible gift to me. Although I'll be buying a few tokens of my love for special people, I'm definitely trying to keep it simple this year.

I have had a pretty rough couple of months on the health front, thanks to a new treatment for my autoimmune condition which I recently tried. Let's just say it did NOT suit me at all in that the side effects were really unacceptable and outweighed the benefit of the medication. So I'm back to being medication free and just trying to take care of myself and manage my symptoms as best I can. I am feeling pretty good this week, so I'll run with that and try to get a few Christmassy things done while it lasts.

On the creative front, I've been stitching hexagons together and doing a bit of embroidery.
Every year I have plans to start some Christmas crafting in about September, but yet another year has passed when this good intention has not been realised. Creativity is an essential part of my wellbeing practices, so I'm determined to carve out a little time for it over the summer holidays. I'll leave you with a couple of crafty pics, and I wish you well as we dive headlong into the crazy days of December. See you here again soon.

Anita. xo

Monday, August 31, 2015

New (two year old) quilt completed!

Hi all! I'm so happy to say that today is the LAST DAY OF WINTER! Yes, I am shouting and, yes, I know that's not good blog etiquette, but I'm super excited to kick winter in the butt today and welcome in a little more sunshine and warmth. Here's a pretty camellia bloom to celebrate. 

Speaking of warmth, there's nothing like a cosy quilt to keep you warm on those chilly winter nights. Since my last post I've finished a crafty project that's been waiting for two years (yep, I said two years) to be completed. I made a quilt in the last quarter of 2013. I even had it professionally quilted by a dear friend. And then I put it in a paper bag and put it on the shelf in my craft room and there it has stayed for two whole years!! All it needed was the binding, people! It's not that hard. Why do I do stuff like that - put a huge amount of work in to a project and fail to take it that last step to completion? And it's not only time that goes into these projects, it's money too. With the fabric (French General) and quilting on this project, I'd probable spent close to $300, only to let it linger unfinished, unused and unloved for two years. Sounds so silly to me now that it's done. The binding probably took at total of 3 -4 hours to complete - that's cutting the strips, joining them, ironing them,  machine stitching them to the quilt front and hand stitching them to the back. So now I have a gorgeous new (two year old) quilt to snuggle under, just as winter is coming to a close. Don't worry, I'm sure there'll be plenty of chilly nights left to use it yet. 

Have you got any UFOs (unfinished objects) calling to you? What's the longest you've ever left a project before completing it? It sure does feel awesome to get them done!! 

Thanks for visiting, 

Anita. xo

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mug cosies and tshirt yarn


Well, here I am sitting at my kitchen table and I thought I'd let you know just a little bit of what I've been doing and making around here. It seems to be the season for crochet at the moment. The more I do, the more I'm inspired to do. It all started with my decluttering efforts actually. As you may have read in my last post, I can't bear to throw away craft supplies, so I recently crocheted up a cotton blend lap blanket with various colours of leftover yarn. While I was fossicking in my yarn tub, I came across some other scraps. This pretty pink based multicolour acrylic was left over from a stuffed rabbit project a couple of years ago. There was only about half a ball of plain pink and the same of the multicoloured yarn. So I put them together (double stranded crochet) and crocheted these two mug cosies. I just did a chain to fit around my cups ( I think it was 34 chains) and joined it into a circle. Then I did a row of (UK) double crochet as a foundation. Then chained 3, turned my work and crocheted in treble up to the last two stitches (you don't stitch all the way to the end, as you need to leave room for your cup handle to poke through). Chain 3 and turn, then treble crochet back to the last treble of the previous row. I continued on in this way until my cosy was tall enough for my cup (I think it was 5 rows of treble crochet). I went around the edge with a border of double crochet and when I arrived back at my starting point, I chained 15 and attached it back to the base of the chain, to make a loop for a button hole. I attached my button, wove in my yarn ends and voila!! A cute little mug cosy to keep your coffee hot in this chilly winter weather we're having here in south eastern Australia. I hope those instructions make some kind of sense.  I've never written any kind of crochet pattern down before, so it may make no sense at all. Please let me know if you need me to clarify it for you.

Another crochetproject I've recently completed is a birthday present for a family member. I'm not sure if she ever visits my blog any more.....I think most people stopped visiting due to the infrequency of my posting! But I'll hold off on posting pics of her present just in case. I will be able to share it next week.

In the ongoing spirit of decluttering, I've gone through my wardrobe and had a big throw out of things that were out of style, didn't fit or were just plain worn out. I came across a couple of well loved, but past their prime long sleeved tshirts. I like the colours and the texture of the fabric, so I cut them up into strips and made some tshirt yarn (there are plenty of YouTube tutorials and Pinterest pins on how to make tshirt yarn, so I won't go into it). Anyhoo, I've been playing with this chunky yarn and my size 8 crochet hook. My first attempts at a circle shape were awkward and untidy, so I pulled them out an decided to make a simple granny square. So far it measures about 30cm (12 inches) square.  This is where I'm up to: 

I'm not sure if it will become a little floor mat or just a cushion cover......I'll let you know. It feels good to know that I've taken something that was destined for the bin, and given it another use. We have a new outdoor entertaining area at our place and I think a big crocheted tshirt year rug would look amazing out there. Of course it would be a huge project, so I'll have to make sure it's what I want before I commit to it. Have you ever crochet with tshirt yarn or fabric strips of any kind? I'd love to hear your experiences and tips. 

Thanks for visiting,

Anita. xo

Friday, August 7, 2015

Using up my yarn scraps.

I thought I'd change theme today and show you a crochet project that I finished last week. If you're a crafter, I'm sure you're familiar with the dilemma of having lots of leftover scraps that you I can't bear to part with. In this case, I had loads of scraps of cotton blend yarn. By scraps I mean a couple of full balls, several half balls and lots of little bits and pieces. Not really enough to make anything in just one colour. I've been decluttering, and I looked at all those leftover bits of yarn and I just couldn't bear to get rid of I decided to use them up. I started crocheting them into simple treble crochet stripes - no pattern. I just randomly picked colours from my stash in a combination of rows that I thought was pretty. After a couple weeks of crochet at my kids' sport training, I'd used up all my scraps and my blanket was big enough. I did, however have to call in to the local yarn shop to buy just one more ball of the blue yarn I used for the border.......and of course, now I've got about a third of that ball left over!! But I'm really pleased with his little lap blanket. I've used up some of my stash and I've gained a lovely little piece for my family to use. It's actually the perfect size for me to cart around to the boy's basketball matches/training sessions. My craft room is still looking chaotic, but there's one less bag of yarn stuffed into the cupboard. Now I just need to get around to using up all my other leftover supplies!! I do have sooooo much trouble parting with craft supplies. I'm sure I'm not the only creative one out there with this dilemma. 

Thanks for visiting,

Anita. xo

Friday, July 31, 2015

The stuff that actually matters


The stuff that matters is not "stuff" - ie. material possessions. It is not what kind of car you drive, how big your house is, how many clothes you have. It's people that matter. It's kindness that matters. And love. A friend of mine has been confronted by some very scary medical news these past couple of weeks. While the diagnosis is not clear yet, it is serious enough to make me step back and remember that life is so fragile. Life is so finite. We have to make the most of every single day. And that doesn't mean we have to do big, exciting things with every day. It just means we have to focus on what really truly matters: love, kindness, compassion and our relationships with other people. That's all that matters.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Facebook fast.

I recently took a two week break from Facebook. It was during the school holidays, so I could say that I did it so that I could be more "present" for my children during their holiday time. And that was certainly a contributing factor. I was more available to them, and I was setting a good example for them by not having my eyes glued to my phone or my ipad constantly. However the reason I needed a Facebook break was bigger than that.

I had become more and more addicted to constantly scrolling through Facebook, determined not to miss a thing! There were so many posts from friends and family, posts from artists I admire, posts from inspirational living pages, health and wellness pages, local community noticeboards, local businesses, businesses from across the other side of the world, art and craft communities, health communities, food could I keep up with it all if I wasn't checking Facebook every 10 minutes to make sure I hadn't missed anything?!! And if I just disappeared from Facebook, wouldn't all these people forget that I existed, or at the very least, be highly offended if I didn't "like" or comment on their every post. I didn't want to upset people.

Eeeeeek! The whole Facebook treadmill was causing me quite a lot of stress and anxiety. Which is exactly the reason why I needed to STOP!

  And do you know what happened when I stopped? The world didn't stop turning. I politely excused myself from Facebook for a while and nobody got upset. In fact, ironically, before I completely removed myself from Facebook, my post explaining why I was taking a break got a whole lot of likes and supportive comments! I'm guessing I'm not the only one out there who feels Facebook overwhelm from time to time.

Something else happened when I took a break from Facebook..........I made these:

While I waited in the car or on the sidelines at basketball training, I crocheted. I did spend some time on Pinterest gathering some inspiration for things to make (thus the cute rope bowl) but I didn't linger on there endlessly and get overwhelmed with what to do first. While we watched TV together as a family in the evenings I worked on my crocheted scrappy blanket. It felt soooooo good to actually have something to show for my time. I haven't been making much art lately, because it sometimes feels like you need a huge chunk of time and all your supplies and a clean studio to make art, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all that and not START. Crochet, knitting or hand stitching is so portable. You can pick it up and put it down again after just a few minutes if you need to. In this way, you chip away at a project slowly and you actually DO IT. So satisfying!

I also spent some time just alone with my thoughts; daydreaming, planning, pondering, relaxing and recharging........when you're on social media constantly there is no room for that kind of thing. You get information overload and it crowds out anytime for introspection and contemplation, which, in my opinion, are essential for a healthy mind and soul.

Did I miss stuff while I was away from Facebook? Probably. I know for sure that I missed wishing several friends a happy birthday, but if the truth be told, before there even was Facebook, I probably wouldn't have known it was their birthday, or if I did, I wouldn't have remembered to send them a card or a call them anyway. So if you were one of those whose birthday I missed, please accept my belated happy birthday wishes and know that even though I didn't send you a Facebook cheerio, I hope you had a lovely day celebrating the anniversary of your birth. xoxo

 So the question is, now that my two week fast is over, am I back on Facebook? The answer is "sort of". I have checked in, had a few scrolls, liked a few things over the past couple of days, but to be honest, it felt kind of dull. I don't feel that addictive pull to "keep up" and stay involved in everything that's going on there. If the truth be told, life isn't actually going on inside Facebook. It's going on in the big, wide world. I don't feel the need to know about what's supposedly going on in other people's lives every second of every day. I'm enjoying actually living my life. Doing things, makings things, talking to my kids, daydreaming and spending time with my thoughts. I won't put a full Facebook ban on my life, because history shows that feeling like you can't have something leads to feelings of deprivation, and that just makes you want the banned item even more. But I do plan to keep Facebook's place in my life a lot more low key. If I feel like it's becoming too overwhelming again, I won't hesitate to do another Facebook fast. It's been invaluable to me and to my family.

Have you ever taken a Facebook fast or a break from social media? How did you feel about it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Anita. xo