29 April 2012


When you are nine you create an old-time school house for your sisters and teach them Spanish and keep even the two year old entertained for hours.

When you are nine you are pushing the boundaries, working things out, trying things on.

When you are nine, you are frustrated and annoyed by little sisters, the petty injustices of family life and your parents general dim wittedness.  But you still really want kisses and cuddles.

When you are nine you think twice about getting dressed up for the school's 'Wizard of Oz' movie night, but you still do.

When you are nine you are beginning to discover the real world, both the good ('Understood Betsy', Australian music) and the bad (who is Joseph Kony? what is rape?).

When you are nine you have perfected the eye roll, the look of dismissal, the sarcastic retort unfortunately learned at your mother's breast and she remembers those parenting books that said never to be sarcastic to kids and wishes she had heeded them.

When you are nine, internal conviction is stronger than external logic.

When you are nine you are torn between the desire for independence and the convenience of having someone else do things for you.

When you are nine you are skeptical about the existence of the Easter bunny because it just doesn't seem very likely to you that a bunny would leave you chocolate but you also can't figure out where the chocolate comes from because you know your parents wouldn't let you have that much.

Ah, my darling Ruby, it promises to be an interesting year.  Happy birthday sweetheart.

23 April 2012

Easy peasy presents to make for kids

Here's a few tried and true handmade gifts we give.  Most of these gifts work equally well for boys or girls and can be adapted for various ages and all require only the most basic sewing skills.

Simple Pencil Case

As easy as it gets - calico draw string bags personalised with a stamp and filled with pencils. Add a plain journal or sketch pad for older kids, a colouring or drawing book for younger kids.


Pillowcases are simple to sew, especially if you have an overlocker to give it a more finished looks, but zig zag stitch would be fine. Personalising them makes them a bit special. We often give these with a bag of worry dolls or a good book. We gave this pillowcase with a book of bed-time poetry.

Little Skirts

I've made a billion of these little skirts for my girls and their friends. Super easy. It's all about the cute ribbon you use. There is a tutorial here. Probably works best for the 3 and under crowd.


Kids aprons, teamed with a rolling pin and cookie cutter are winners with the under-5 set. A larger size, with more 'grown up' fabric for the pocket, and a cook book would work for older kids.I simply traced an existing apron to get the pattern.

(Not a great photo of) a sweet little bag Ruby and I made for her best friend. This is very easy - two larger rectangles of fabric (one lining, one outer) and two smaller rectangles (one lining, one outer), a simple strap and a button and loop closure. We added two favourite books but a purse, or a magnifying glass, or a torch would be good too.

Satchels and Envelopes

The basic fabric envelope is as easy as can be. The pattern comes from here. This one we customised by adding a fold over top and a strap to turn it into a satchel and included art supplies.It was sewn by my (then) six year old so the stitching is a bit wonky, but it proves what an easy sew this is.

This is the same pattern, but with an envelope top and letter-writing supplies. The original pattern calls for the name to be embroidered on, but stamping looks great and is far less time-consuming.  Nina just made one of these for Ruby's birthday.


Nearly every one-year-old I know got one of these for their first birthday.  They are so easy, and fabric choices are endless.  I used an existing pinafore as the pattern and snap closures, but there is a free pattern (using buttonholes for a more professional look) and tutorial here.

I've been doing lots of small sewing lately.  I tend to go in cycles - after lots of small things I like to get my teeth stuck into a major project like a quilt, after a quilt I need a lot of small projects.  Our school has its annual harvest festival coming up, so I've been making bags, knitting hats and creating little things for that.  I'm almost ready for the next big project which will be a quilt for Lily, who will move into her own bed this year (I hope).

20 April 2012

The All Cousin Sleepover

It wasn't quite all the cousins. My youngest niece is a bit little for a sleepover, and  Lily slept in her own bed. But we still had eleven kids on the living room floor last Friday night...

14 April 2012

Getting away

The Perth branch of the family came down to the beach with us for Easter.

When our families combine we barely see our kids, except when they get hungry.   Tussles are mostly sorted out, a system for fairly apportioning easter eggs is devised and trips to the shops and the playground are made without adult interference.  I like having boys in the house, I even enjoy the constant thud of a ball being bounced somewhere, by someone, and I especially enjoy that I am not the parent who has to say 'take it outside boys'.

We had fires and sunshine.  We swam and got drenched in the rain.  There was tea and scones and a blustery view from the top of the lighthouse.  There was even a little bit of sewing.  It's good to get away.

12 April 2012


My extremely talented friend Caitlin is kindly featuring some of Ruby's art on her very cool blog PESKY

If you are at all interested in design, humour, photography, street art, slogans, ideas, Melbourne, music, ephemera, cats, lego or life, check it out. Caitlin is a clever clogs with a great aesthetic and there is lots to look at and enjoy over there.

06 April 2012

Little Red

Red Riding Hood - Ruby

I reckon this is a pearler.

02 April 2012

The Turn

Isn't it strange how summer and winter are the destinations and autumn and spring are the journeys. Is it a sign of aging that I now prefer the journey to the arrival?
The season has turned. Despite the glorious weather there is a moment, in the early evening, or in the morning, when the air cools and you know autumn is here.

The last of anything is special. The last tomato from the vine, the last of the sun on my back.

We ate tuna and rice on the lawn. I made meringues with left-over egg whites and we each had three. Grace made a computer workstation with 'sculpture stones' underneath. Nina made 'Hello'. She tried to weave leaves for the 'e' but ended up writing it. Ruby scooted round and round the deck. Lily came and kissed my hand.
'Thanks Lily'
'Lou welcome mama'.
I lay on the blanket I bought in Grenada a million years ago when I learned flamenco and had no children and tried to hold on to it all.