Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Naturally dyed playdough

 photo DSC_0459-3_zps01c398d9.jpg  photo DSC_0475_zps8dec26ea.jpg  photo DSC_0440_zpsa311b592.jpg  photo DSC_0452_zps2c083836.jpg  photo DSC_0465_zps4bd0a315.jpgPlaydough has been on my list of things to make for a long time now. And there was something so satisfying and strangely maternal about cooking the dough late at night, quietly kneading and rolling it into balls and packing it in a container ready for tiny hands the next morning. I felt like I'd reached a mama milestone.

The first few times we brought it out Saskia seemed most interested with feeding the dough through the gaps in the balcony railings (I just took deep breaths). Slowly, over a few sessions, she started exploring with rolling, squashing, and breaking the dough into pieces. The cookie cutters (staaaaar and 'art) fascinated her.

I used this recipe and coloured the dough using natural dyes. For each batch I boiled 1 cup of water with a good sized handful of blueberries/2 medium heads of beetroot/2 teaspoons of turmeric (seen left to right in the first photo). I let each potion simmer on the stove for 20 minutes or until it had reduced by half. I left one ball of dough undyed and made this mix with wholemeal flour - such a beautiful texture. A few drops of essential oils (I used lemon and lavender) add to the sensory experience. 


If I'm honest, one of the things I am most excited about as a parent is providing art activities for my children. Having worked in early childhood education, with a focus on visual arts, I have worked with some highly talented educators and beautiful souls, and I know I will be forever inspired by them. I've also read a lot of literature about childhood art education, and now having my own child, seeing so intimately the developmental stages and changes, there is a relevance and a deeper understanding.

If you were to ask me what I have learned about children and art play from my experience, my conversations with colleagues and teachers, and readings, I would tell you I have come to understand three key points: the value of quality materials, thoughtful, considered presentation and the luxury of time (unhurried, not specified, revisiting). There's nothing revolutionary there really, but there needn't be. It can just be as simple as that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Simple pleasures of ordinary days

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...the hidden beauty of rice grain porcelain; a birthday present that was carried across the seas
...the perfect use of such a delicate dish: to cradle these heavenly treats (teamed with peppery chai)
...her mealtime companions
...janma and grandfather brought her home a collection of shells from the south coast and she inspected every one
...the best kind of gift (green and wrapped with love)
...magic basket rides with her best friend (but it's these images that give me butterflies)
...it's a little silly that I get such a kick out of rotating the toys
...chopping into my Frankies to make gift tags

Joining Em and creating a collection of weekly images, recording simple pleasures of ordinary days.


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A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, as a one year old.

She had her first fever this afternoon - a burning hot forehead and damp curls on her neck. Her vulnerability does funny things to my heart.

Taking part in Jodi's weekly portrait series

Monday, January 21, 2013

15 months

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15 months and the Little One...
...loves to create a bit of abstract art...her favourite colour to draw with is yellow (she reaches straight for the yellow crayon every time)
...climbs on and off the sofa like it aint no thang
...felt the utter delight that is running under the sprinkler on a balmy summer eve for the first time
...has mastered some more pretty cute words (angel, pear, purple, moon, star, hippo, Humpty, Mima, egg, click when holding up her camera...) and keeps adding to her repertoire of animal sounds: owl (ooot ooohh), fish (opens and closes mouth with little pops), and bee (uuuz, uuuuz) are some of our favourites
...now walks up the stairs to our letterboxes without holding onto my hand (boo hoo)
...shows determination and focus when playing with the shape sorter, still loves making 'cups of tea' for anyone who will throw one back, but she'd spend all her days reading books or having books read to her if she could
...makes her mama and dada feel big joy and the dazzle of happy hearts

Sunday, January 20, 2013


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A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, as a one year old.

I often find this one with her nose in a book*. She'll choose books over toys almost every time...(and this makes my heart burst with happiness).

Taking part in Jodi's weekly portrait series

*and if you follow me on Instagram you'll have noticed that the basket is fast becoming her favourite little reading nook.

Friday, January 18, 2013


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In our living area upstairs we have two oversized ceiling to floor windows which would be the first thing you notice about our house if I opened our front door to you. Sliding doors take you out onto the balcony which runs the length of our house, and at one end a spiral Juliet staircase winds down to the courtyard below. You look out to the treetops and if you peek through the branches of the big old silvery grey gum you can see the Brindabellas (I've said it before, it's like being in a treehouse). Kookaburras and cockatoos visit for a natter and there's not a whisper of traffic. With each change of season our windowscape changes. I never tire of the view. It's one of my favourite things about our house in the village.

Lately we've been spending our early mornings on the balcony deck before the heavy heat of these summer days hit. Crayons in old tins, pre-loved tables and chairs made for little people, a pressed metal watering can which clunks nicely and gaps in the railing wide enough to poke your nose through: this seems to keep the Little One happy. Long enough that I can finish my first cup of tea for the day.

*Last week some of Saskia's most treasured friends (Sofia, Iris and little Archie) spent a morning with us on the balcony. There was the gentlest of breezes, a calm about the children, dress ups and games of make believe, strawberry milks in chocolate sprinkle glasses, and stolen baby kisses.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Eating: bliss balls (I finally made these from Jess' recipe and bought a good quality cocoa powder from the deli...I can never turn back now), a few new 15 minute Jamie meals (the best being the green tea salmon, miso greens and coconut rice - and the Keralan curry which makes friends of cauliflower, chickpeas and pineapple - weird, but ever so right), and these double coconut muffins which have changed my life, and I have this lady to thank.

Watching: Louis Theroux's Extreme Love reruns on ABC2 (I can't stop thinking about Joey's family in Extreme Love: Autism and the charming, still vivacious 89 year-old Nancy and her ever-doting husband, John, in Extreme Love: Dementia). I love his slightly awkward style.

Growing: hydrangeas with petals turning antique green (a present for my Christmas Eve birthday), geraniums in all shades of crimson, marigolds on the balcony table, and some rather piddly nasturtiums (biggest disappointment).

What are you eating, watching, growing?

Sunday, January 13, 2013


A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, as a one year old.

She moves fast. One second she's chief of the watering can, the next she's retrieving casuarina seeds from the cracks in the deck.

Taking part in Jodi's weekly portrait series

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Canberra: The Oaks Brasserie and English Garden

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Freshly baked date scones, dappled light from a cluster of birch trees, creamy coffees, creaky floorboards inside the 1920s cottage gallery, a white picket fence, sheltered courtyard garden tables (at a distance of more than 2 or 3 arm spans - love!),  a skip and a jump to a heritage nursery, an enchanted woodland with a soft leafy carpet for endless games of make believe, bird calls and waddling ducks.

On magically sunny days this is where we love to be.

Do you plan to visit Canberra during the Centenary? I thought I might pull together a few posts over the next couple of months with some family-friendly places around town that we often explore. I don't know about you, but I always love to travel with a few local recommendations up my sleeve... 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


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Can you see it?

These are photographs taken when we lived in Ottawa, Canada, for a year when I was one. After posting this portrait I dug out the ring bound family albums with yellowing pages and my mum's neatly printed captions, searching for the photographs that flash in front of my eyes sometimes as I watch Saskia. That peculiar feeling when you look at your child and she seems so profoundly, intensely, strangely familiar. An odd thing to say, perhaps, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

(Oh and then there is always this).

I'm such a sucker for baby photos from the 70s and 80s. I'd love to see yours...

ps. Look at my Dad doing his best pensive Lennon look!

*I'm so touched by all the comments generated by the 52 Project, and am looking forward to discovering some new blogs. Just making myself a cup of tea...

Sunday, January 6, 2013


A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, as a one year old.

This little one walks and walks and walks...but after a morning of trotting about the village paths those busy little legs needed a rest. 

Taking part in Jodi's weekly portrait series

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wishes for the New Year

K and I saw in the new year on our balcony under the twinkle of stars and fairylights. We talked about friendships, astronomy (ok, K talked and I listened) and new books.... I hadn't though about resolutions before new year's eve but I've been pondering some for a few days now. This year my resolutions aren't particularly brave or too different to what I've been doing, they seem to be a slight shift, a small change in direction. Sometimes, some years, that's all it is.

Wishing you all light and love in 2013 x

...write letters, make cards, send handwritten wishes, post clippings...do you know I'm still in the process of sending thank you cards for Saskia's 1st birthday? I'm probably about 3/4 way through a rather long list, and while it is taking me many more weeks than I had imagined, I've grown quite fond of taking my time to write out a heartfelt message (usually one or two every few days), imagining the smile a washi taped envelope might bring to someone's day. 

...finish Saskia's quilt and baby book...K will take holidays in February and I'm going to use a little bit of that time to make a good start on Saskia's baby book. The beautiful white leather bound album I bought from here sits on my desk and beckons to be filled. The quilt project I think I'll save until the cool Autumn nights.

...give handmade where possible...I made quite a few gifts for friends and family last year and I'd love to try to continue doing this this year. The response to a handmade present is always more heartening than you can imagine.

...make do...we start the year without my maternity leave & parental payments, and although we are still incredibly fortunate to have the security of K's salary, the change will mean that we have to be extra careful with (and more aware of spending) our  money. I can use what I already have in my wardrobe and craft stash with a few small thrifty purchases where necessary, and would love to learn to be a little more resourceful in the kitchen and garden. With this resolution particularly, I know I'll find inspiration in many of your blogs.