Sunday, June 15, 2014

On Being Human

Canberra has more than one hill! And none of the other hills have an important "house" on them. 
No, I don't mean a post about being human in the way you're expecting.

I'm participating in a project called The Human Brochure (not being paid for any opinions, just so you know*). If you're anywhere on social media, you've most likely heard of it. I've been threatening to write a post about Canberra since we moved here and the Human Brochure is the perfect reason.

I've been pretty clear about my love of Canberra. Before I moved here, I didn't feel the same way. I played the same role as you most likely do. "Judger from Afar", "Speaker of Uncomplimentary Things", "Maker of Assumptions that Canberra is only about politics".

And then I moved here and my role changed. I became that annoying person singing Canberra's praises.  Just like the New York Times. "There ARE things to do here", "There ARE great cafes", There ARE some really great restaurants AND yes, even bars", "There ARE some interesting places to hang out AND interesting people to meet. Plus, it's clean and easy to get around and nature is actually a considered part of this "city". Oh, and we have a really great burger place that started in a caravan that may actually have been around before all your burger vans.

Look! Burgers! Really good burgers in little red plastic baskets with chips. 

That's the thing about Canberra, you can't judge it from afar. You can't even judge it by driving down the main street (the burger place isn't on the main street incase you need to know). Canberra has depth, man. And you can't find it driving around roundabouts on main streets.

What's that? You have an important Craft Council? Don't worry, we do too. And teeny little exhibition spaces.  

Then, in 2012, along came the Human Brochure; a Visit Canberra tourism project designed to dispel the Canberra myths. They brought 500 interstate social media savvy visitors to Canberra and let this city speak for itself. And it worked! Many of the visitors hadn't been to Canberra before and they loved it. It was great to see people experiencing the real Canberra and not falling for the stereotype anymore.

And now, ACT Tourism are repeating the project with 101 locals. And they kindly let me be one of those locals. This is the perfect thing for me - I already celebrate Canberra anyway.

Sorry. Not sorry. Food and Wine. Don't feel bad for me.

I'm in the Food and Wine stream. I know, poor me. I thought about applying for the family fun stream (for about a second) but Food and Wine it was. So, Visit Canberra are treating us 101 "humans" to a bunch of local fun and we'll all write about it. *There is no obligation for what or how we talk about it, so my opinions are not up for sale.

I'm mostly talking about my experiences on instagram and pinterest but I will be dropping by here to post things that I think fit well in this space.

Monday, March 17, 2014

An Elephant Never Forgets...until it does



I used to make a prawn salad, all the time. It was an almost weekly summer go-to recipe. Prawns marinated in olive oil, sumac, garlic, herbs and more, fried in a hot pan with a splash of white wine to cook down into a dressing for a yummy salad of baby spinach leaves, avocado, tomatoes, chickpeas and I forget the rest but gee it was tasty. I always thought I would remember that recipe given I made it so often.

And then we moved to Canberra and I didn't make it as often, actually at all, for whatever reason. And then I forgot how to make it. I was completely blank when I went to make it this summer. Damn.


I don't want to be in the same position with my Nutty Brown Rice Salad; that's it above. It's my current go to. A regular one of my minimum three salads for a BBQ (yes, a minimum of three salads at any BBQ at my place). A regular on our summer dinner table - often with meatballs, fresh tomato, sliced spanish onion and hummus in wraps. So, here's my best attempt at helping an elephant to never forget....



Nutty Brown Rice Salad

I think the secret of this brown rice salad is the flavour the rice gets from cooking in the stock and all the garlic. I use homemade chicken stock for most things but I keep a tin of (insert brand name) low-salt imitation chicken stock (what's that you say? Chicken stock for hipsters ?) just for this.

1 1/2 cups brown rice (I don't actually measure this, I just pour it into the saucepan but I think this amount is about right for the rest of the ingredients)
1 big heaped Tbsp powdered stock
3 garlic cloves, peeled plus 1 extra crushed or finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp slivered almonds
2 Tbsp pepitas
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
chickpeas - about 3/4 tin (I use chickpeas I've soaked, boiled and frozen - about a small ziplock bag full)
salt and pepper to taste and an extra glug of olive oil
chopped fresh parsley

Put the rice into a saucepan with the stock powder and 3 peeled garlic cloves, cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer rice until cooked.

While the rice is cooking, heat a medium sized frypan (one that will fit all the rice in it) over a low to medium heat. Add the oil and onions, a dash of sea salt, pine nuts, almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds and cook until the onions are soft and starting to turn a bit brown and crispy and the seeds and nuts are looking toasty.

Add the extra garlic clove and cook just a little bit more to soften.

By now the rice should be cooked (be careful not to over cook it). Drain well and add to the onion/nut/seed mix along with the chickpeas. Keep the garlic cloves that were boiled with the rice in there too, just use your wooden spoon to mash them down a bit and mix them in well.

Add a gluc of olive oil, parsley, salt and cracked pepper to taste and mix well.

You can serve it hot but I prefer it cold. Would be pretty good alongside some falafel.


Now it's turning cool enough to get the knitting needles out, I have plenty of time to experiment to get that prawn salad recipe back, ready for next summer.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I was thinking...




I was thinking about killing this space. Then I wasn't. Then I was. Then I just ignored it again.

I've been watching a few of my old blogging pals end their online space. I feel sad about that, although I know we're still connected via other means.

I've also been reading and watching and hanging in new spaces. New (to me), really inspiring spaces. Completely inspiring and hilarious spaces like Brittany's (you already hang out there, don't you?). And local creative spaces like Amanda's. And other inspiring places with local parents I already know but am not sure if I should link to.

It makes me want to hear my own voice again.

So, I'm not ready to say goodbye to this space. I like writing. I like this space. I think I'll stick around more. I don't have to be limited to only sharing crafty stuff. I can write other stuff, too. If I feel like it. I know, I know, I've said it all before.

Besides, I owe myself a post on being the Mother of a Daughter.

Actually, I can do that right now. It reads pretty much identical to this post, but where you read son/he/him substitute daughter/she/her.  Done *dusts hands*.

What next.....


Friday, June 21, 2013

Being The Mother Of A Son

Double Axe Wielding Smurf. Look closely, the kid is playing a paper jams guitar AND holding a toy axe. His own doing.

With the media and community's recent attention firmly (and rightly so, in my humble opinion) on the despicable, sexist and violent behaviour of people that should know better, I was invited by Lexi of Pottymouthama to join a very impressive bunch of bloggers to reflect on our roles as mothers of sons. 

Oh, golly, where do I start. When I first started thinking about this post I kept getting distracted by the steps up to my soapbox, where this week it features sexism, misogyny and being a footy fan and geez things are shit. 

But I think I'll leave that conversation for a time we're all together at the pub, beer in hand.

Although, when the topic of sexism comes up, I am, naively, surprised and disappointed that it still exists in the way displayed this week. I guess that's because I'm lucky. Not lucky, that shouldn't be the word I have to use. The men in my life are fabulous. Respectful, compassionate people with good values. They are fathers, brothers, sons. They are athletes, stay at home dads, artists, community workers and business people. Lovers of music, sport and reading. Some went to university and others worked hard through other paths to get where they are.

Sometimes footy requires pink shoes. 

The women are fabulous, too. Respectful, compassionate people with good values. They are mothers, sisters and daughters. They are also athletes, stay at home mums, artists, community workers and business people. Lovers of music, sport and reading. Some went to university and others worked hard through other paths to get where they are.

They are all role models. Role models in how to live and love. Of how to treat each other. Of how to exist successfully within a community. And that is so important to me, that the Smurf sees, everyday, in every way, that this is just how you live your life. It's his normal. It's normal to be respectful of each other. That we don't place value on someone's contribution, be that to our household or our nation's parliament, based on their gender. That women and men are different and that's OK but it doesn't mean that your gender assigns you to a limited number of roles. 

These role models and people that surround our family also support him and his choices - regardless of whether he wants to wear pink or blue. They are people that understand your favourite colour does not  define who you are and that the colour you choose is such an insignificant thing when compared with how you treat other people. 


The Smurf's colour choices for this year's scarf.

They are people that help him put his dress ups on whether that's a giraffe suit, a super hero costume or a princess dress. Because they understand that dress ups are just that, dress ups. 

They are people that will sit down with him and cuddle his baby doll or kick the footy, because that's what he chooses to play with. 


Smurf Puppet Theatre show for babies

There is no judgement, just honouring of the childhood of one awesome Smurf and helping him to work out who he is and what he likes.

Initially, I admit, I was surprised to have a boy. It wasn't that I wanted to have a girl necessarily. I truly didn't care, as long as my baby was healthy. But, I grew up surrounded by lots of women. Strong, independent women who were fabulous role models for me. I assumed that I could be a better mother of a girl, as I understood them. It wasn't rational nor was it scientifically justified in anyway, obviously.

Aways support your team, no matter how crap they are. 

I couldn't be happier to be the mother of a boy. My Smurf is a sensitive, kind, compassionate boy. He is funny and he makes me laugh. He is creative and curious and capable. His preferred mode of getting around the house is to slide on his tummy (yes it drives me bonkers) and he likes to run a lot when he's outside. He has taught me a lot about masculinity and being a boy. I see him being shaped every day by the role models in his life and it makes me feel happy and safe and that he has an amazing future ahead of him.

And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about, guiding our kids to their futures and hoping that the values we have given them help them find their way along their path.

If you haven't already, you can visit the other bloggers posting today on "Being the Mother of a Son" (a very impressive list!):


Meet Me At Mikes - meetmeatmikes.com
Kootoyoo - kootoyoo.com
Pigeon Pair - pigeon-pair.com/
Hugo and Elsa - hugoandelsa.com/
Checks and Spots - checksandspots.com/
PottyMouthMama - pottymouthmama.blogspot.com.au
Mrs Smith: fuffenscheit.blogspot.com.au/
Mamabake: mamabake.com/






Monday, June 10, 2013

Sewing Smurf


My Smurf never ceases to amaze me. This weekend we collaborated on a craft project I have been thinking about doing together for the longest time.

He drew his own images on fabric and I sewed them into something 3 dimensional and filled with stuffing. Only, my vision was slightly wrong. I didn't do the sewing, the Smurf did.


After learning how to lift the presser foot, manually move the needle, place the fabric and cut the thread he was ready to sew some lines. And then turn corners.


He was busting to bring his fabric drawings to three dimensional life. A tree with bark, leaves and birds to become a soft toy and a tree with an owl surrounded by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a cushion.

And so off he went, after carefully choosing his backing fabrics (flannelette for the back of the soft toy as it will be cuddled and the flannelette is soft!). He sewed some parts completely by himself (foot on peddle and guiding the stitching) with verbal guidance from me and some parts with me physically helping to guide the fabric or sewing a line first for him to then follow on his own.


He could not be more proud of the outcome. Nor can I.


He is busy planning his next few creations. Every time I look at these photos my heart feels like it might literally burst with pride.







Saturday, May 18, 2013

On Loss

This week I lost a friend. It was a sudden and very tragic loss. The tragedy includes her partner. I am so sad. I am feeling so many things.  I am watching her friends and community grieve. Some of them are my friends and community, too. The loss is so much bigger than anyone can comprehend. Two parents leaving behind two cherished young children. It will take so much time to heal.

This is all playing out in my daily offline life as well as my online life. I know you know my friend. I know you know her because you probably have an online connection to the craft world. If you have that connection then you most certainly know Kathreen and her website Whip Up.

I have been consumed by these happenings in my offline life. Not in a bad way, but a necessary way. Doing my fumbling best to support our common friends. Soozs thoughts on circles of grief (bottom of the post), and how I care for those in a smaller circle than me, are ringing so loudly in my ears.

I have been avoiding this space and yet at the same time somehow strangely drawn to it. But I feel now is the right time to come here. This space, this incredible community I am part of, without it I would have never met Kathreen.

Kathreen's connections are prolific. She had such a self-less and collaborative approach to the way she went about things that community naturally built around her. I feel as though the whole world knows about this and is feeling the loss of these two inspirational people.

When we spent time together, we rarely chatted about Whip Up. We chatted about education philosophies, ethical farming, raising boys that like pink (mine), secret farmer's market tips, fox attacks on chooks, once in a lifetime family adventures around Australia... you know stuff. We would say we would catch up for a quick cuppa only to realise three hours had passed.

But you didn't need to have shared a cuppa with Kathreen to feel her loss. A friend talked so eloquently last night about how meaningful online connections can be. How real they are, especially in the crafting community. It is something people outside of the community can struggle to understand. And tonight I remembered that I wrote a post about just that...on Whip Up. (And here I go with the tears again). It was reading that post that compelled me to come here and write.

" I never imagined a connection via a computer could feel so real. But you must have felt it too? "

This is why I know you're hurting, too. Because even though you may not have had the privilege of sharing a cuppa in person with this beautiful, gentle, sometimes cheeky, incredibly talented woman; you didn't have to. You know her because you, too, were part of the wonderful community she created and nurtured. You've nurtured it too, just by participating.

We are all in this together.


** A donation account for Kathreen and Rob's children has been established to help support them in their futures. If you can spare anything, even as little as $5, it will help. All the details are here.






Monday, May 13, 2013

The Surprise Pet Cemetery and Fresh Garden Fun


I can't take it any longer. The itch cannot be ignored. It's time to get into the garden. We no longer live in our sweet little 1950s museum house with the amazing garden. The house is still standing, but not for long.

We have been in this, the shoebox house, for around 6 months now. It was so difficult to be here over summer without a healthy garden bed to stick so much as a seed in. I did manage to console myself to a couple of hanging baskets of herbs perched on the rambling branches of the Manchurian Pear Tree.

I dug around, studied the sun moving across the garden, even chucked a few seeds in a bed to see what happened. The outcomes didn't make me happy. Terrible, terrible soil. The best looking bed completely shaded for most of the day. No seeds struck. At least the chooks were happy. Well, when they're not being bossed out of the coop...


I despaired. And then I noticed the back corner of the garden. I usually ignore it. In my mind it is assigned as chook scratching/cat rolling/poisoned bed of former weeds (the landlord knocked everything off with some handy dandy garden poison).


Then I noticed the sun. Perfect, full, warm sun blazing down on that bare patch, all day long. I asked every one I knew with the teeniest inclination towards gardening about the ongoing presence of that handy dandy garden poison (I have not ever and will never use it). And I dug around to see what the soil was like.

Things started to come together. Apparently the poison doesn't stick around for long. The soil can be cheaply improved with all those ausumn leaves floating about, a bit of gypsum and a planting of green manure. The bark chips can be raked away. The chooks can be told to scratch around elsewhere. It's all good.

Other than the pet cemetery I unearthed, with the help of those scratching chooks. That wasn't so great. But according to yet more (this time expert) advice, the presence of the cemetery is not such a bad thing. Creepy? Yep. Problem for the soil? Not at all, in fact it's good.


So I'm soldiering on with my new bed in the perfectly sunny spot. Albeit with an alternative plan that doesn't involve me improving the soil. I scabbed some abandoned bricks, from a lovely neighbour, to mark out the bed and I'll be adding half a trailer load of veggie mix. Then, instead of growing broad beans to only dig back into the soil, we will get to eat them! And our usual winter greens and spring onions and whatever else I decide to pop into that warm, healthy veggie mix. Yipee!


That photo above is the bed, ready and waiting for the veggie mix. I'm already planning the summer garden and it's not even properly winter yet.