Thankfully Christmas has come upon us in a rather stress-free fashion this year. Not churning out Townmouse orders until the last Christmas mail has certainly helped.
The only moment of panic was when I went to turn on the larger of my two ovens this morning to cook turkey for 10, only to find it non-responsive. I had visions of driving to my mother's with a basted turkey on the passenger seat.
The crisis was averted when 11 year old Max asked, "What does 'Auto' mean?" I'd set the clock the other day and, when pushing buttons randomly, had set something awry. Thank goodness for that. Max was congratulated for saving the moment and was rewarded with free reign to eat the chocolate Christmas baubles on the tree.
Well, he'd had tic-tacs for breakfast, so he was on a roll. Why not eat chocolate before lunch.
This Liberty sundress was perfect for our hot and humid Christmas day. I made this on Christmas Eve while we waited for the boys to fall asleep before putting the presents under the tree. The dress will come in handy for January at the beach.
I also made a little bikini bottom in my favourite fabric.
There is a matching sunhat in the works too. That I plan to finish on Boxing Day.
I hope you and your families had a lovely Christmas day. I, for one, am very much looking forward to a slower pace over the next few weeks. Enjoy the last few days of 2011!
I was very excited to receive my copy of Fiona Dalton's new book, "Hop, Skip, Jump".
This book is fabulous. I absolutely love it. Fiona is a such a talented toy maker, and the little outfits she makes for her softies are so clever.
I can't wait to find some time to make up one of the patterns in the book.
But it seems I'm not the only family member who likes to make soft toys.
This is 6 year old Henri's creation that he made in art. It made it onto the School Library display wall.
Henri was very proud when I bought my camera into the library especially to photograph it.
Since returning from Gwinganna in mid September I've changed my diet quite significantly. This is partly necessity, and partly because I felt so healthy I wanted to keep feeling that way.
Necessity because I was told that my liver is/was quite fatigued. Worn out trying to process the foods I'm intolerant to; like dairy, and sugar-rich foods. (And I don't even drink - how sad is that?)
As well as switching to an organic diet I've cut out gluten entirely. By removing bread from my daily ritual of breakfast it also removes other bad stuff like butter, vegemite, and jam - all things my body gets angry about. But probably the best thing I've discovered is this:
Green smoothies seem to be part of my personal zeitgeist at the moment. They keep coming across my path from unexpected sources. Gwyneth's talking about them, a friend of mine who doesn't have a particularly healthy lifestyle talked about The Raw Food Family. And the subject has been popping up on various blogs that aren't always health related.
In answer to your question Jane, here's a raw treat I can recommend. I have this for lunch most days.
Blend (don't juice) 3 kale leaves with an orange, some ginger, a kiwifruit, fresh pineapple and a cup of water. This kale smoothie tastes like a fruit drink, but has the goodness and fiber of the kale.
These must be good for weight loss too. On the days I have a green smoothie, I'm always lighter on the scales the next morning, even though what I've eaten the rest of the day varies. It's filling and you don't feel hungry for hours afterwards.
Corrie, you might like to give this a whirl in your Thermomix. It might be the more healthy, wholesome answer you've been seeking. You can even get a Green Smoothie app for your iPhone.
I really love the work of Thomas Paul, particularly his melamine trays and plates.
I bought this tray a few months ago, when I was having my girlfriends over for bridge lessons. It proved to be a handy drinks tray.
When not being used it lives here, on the kitchen bench. This bench is not always tidy. That little corner there is where the pesky pile of paperwork seems to gather - you know - the school notices and stuff you bring in from the car. And when I tidy this little corner of the kitchen it somehow feels like the house is disproportionately more organised and under control.
I think the tray fits in well here. Oh, and I've since worked out that it's actually upside down in this shot.
We will be house hunting in earnest next year. We are 6 people living in a 3 bedroom house. I still love our house. It's my dream house and I'd be happy to never leave. But the reality is, it is getting a little tight.
I'm not really looking forward to the looking. Our current house took us three years to find. Will and I were at odds about what we wanted. He didn't like our house on first viewing. It took a lot of persuading to get him over the line.
If you don't put an upper price limit on your online real estate searching, houses like the one above pop up in the results. Isn't it picture perfect? And that's just the back of the house. Many would argue that it is the best house in Melbourne. It really is exceptionally pretty. Just a modest shack that will only set you back around $28 million. Go take a peak.
But if I could have my pick of all the houses currently for sale in Melbourne, it would be this one. It's pretty, classic, understated. It's in a great street, close to the tramline that takes the boys to school and a short walk to shops. To me it's a no-brainer, a sensible and realistic move. I'd enlist the help of this clever woman, the mother of Max's school friend, to give the house a classic contemporary update. Do you think I can get Will remotely interested? Nup, naddah, not a whiff of interest.
2012 will be an interesting year.
I think I might have found a treasure this morning. What do you think?
It's hard waste collection in Hawthorn at the moment, which means people put their unwanted items in front of their houses for collection by council. Usually it's a lot of old junk like broken TVs, faded children's play equipment and the like.
Call me crazy, but I think this has potential. It's sturdy, a cute size, and would look right at home on the shady deck of a beach house (not that we have one of those). Can you picture it? Painted a lighter shade with some fabulous upholstered cushion on it.
I found myself standing next to this piece with the boot of my car open, thinking, "Should I, or shouldn't I". I thought, "No, the last thing I need is a project like this." And then I thought, "Salvation Jane wouldn't leave a find like this on the sidewalk." I drove away, then immediately turned around and came back for it. It's now in our garage and I'm wondering who can do it up for me (because it's not a job I feel I could do justice to).
The question is, what colour should I paint it? I'd love your thoughts.
I confess to feeling a bit out of sorts these last few months; just a bit and sometimes a lot meh, blah, unenthused. It's been a bit of a confusing time, trying to put my finger on just what it is that was making me feel this way. And you know what they say: "happy wife, happy life". Because I was feeling stressed and grumpy it rubbed off on the children and the whole thing just felt dysfunctional. My snappiness meant they were all tetchy. And Will, poor Will wasn't sure what was going on. His normally capable wife was losing the plot.
To cut a long story short, I waved the white flag and admitted I needed to do something. It wasn't just a holiday I needed. On the recommendation of a good girlfriend I booked myself into Gwinganna, an amazing health retreat in Queensland, where I did a week of detox.
I got back last night and I feel fantastic. It's quite incredible what a week of organic food can do for one's mood, skin and overall vitality. It was a revelation. I met some gorgeous girls. We laughed and cried together. There were some amazing experiences and it was, as they say, lifechanging.
I have returned with a focus on staying healthy and getting my little family healthy. The pantry is getting an overhaul and we're going organic. By a fortunate stroke of serendipity, one of the first blog posts I read after returning to civilisation was Jane's. She had a muesli recipe. This morning I made my first ever batch of organic muesli. I followed Jane's recipe, but added puffed quinoa. It's delicious and the children love it.
So there you go. That's a little more than I would normally reveal on this little ol' blog. You probably weren't expecting that.
Now that I feel I've returned to my normal state of vim and vigour I have itchy fingers to get creative and productive again. With the lovely spring weather I can't wait to cut into some favourite Liberty. A cute sundress for Adelaide is on the ToDo list.
Have you ever felt a bit blah? What worked for you?
We're very sad that the ski season is drawing to a close. We've just had a very exciting weekend, with Tom competing in the national ski races at Falls Creek. He joined his school team for the first time this year. On Saturday he came 14th nationally in his division, which included boys in the year above him. He is as pleased as punch and we are hugely proud of him. It's a very exciting turn of events for someone who was a beginner skier at the start of the season.
While the boys have been busy improving their skiing form I have enjoyed many indoor hours at the snow. I'm a fair weather skier so if the conditions weren't great I opted for indoor pursuits.
In a tiny apartment the housework takes but a minute so I indulged in a little hand sewing, knitting and crochet. These snowflake motifs are from this book.
When stitched together they are supposed to look like this:
Isn't it dreamy. But then I'm not quite sure how this works because the little one in the image is bigger in reality.
I guess that's where reading Japanese comes in handy, as you can understand yarn and hook recommendations. So for now I don't think these will progress much further.
Two weeks ago I sent the following email to my mailing list:
Dear friends and customers,
After almost 10 years I have made the decision to wind up Townmouse. This little business has been a labour of love for me - something I've nurtured and watched grow alongside my children.
Though with 4 children now, life is extremely busy and I have decided to give my full attnetion to family for the time being. I want to find the time to sew for my own daughter before she's old enough to say, "Yuk Mummy, I'm not wearing THAT!" Which I'm sure is coming all too soon.
I will take away from Townmouse some wonderful friendships and fabulous experiences. It's been lovely to get to know customers over the years and now count many of you as dear friends.
There are still lots of classic Townmouse pieces in stock. But once they're gone, they're gone for good. So if there's a favourite piece you like, please go to the website and grab it.
This was a decision I made over a year ago, and one that brewed for a while before that. So things have been winding down since then, as I've sold through my last ranges.
I originally started Townmouse because I loved making pretty dresses. So I sold them, in order to make them, if that makes sense. With the arrival of Adelaide though, a large part of my motivation for the business was satisfied at home. And last winter, while trying to get my summer range off to the manufacturers in the middle of school holidays I suddenly realised that things were all back to front.
I was too busy creating clothes for other people's children to make the things I wanted to make for my own. I could see that I would kick myself in years to come having spent too much time in my sewing studio and not enough time enjoying my young children.
I've been asked if I'm going to sell the business. No, I'm not. It was never about the money, and I'm too wedded to this little brand I have created. I don't want it to become someone else's, and for it to change into something I wouldn't be proud of.
And besides, there's this little blog. I will continue to blog - yes, definitely.
When I sent the email above I didn't quite anticipate the response it would generate. I have been completely overwhelmed with orders. The boys and I have been filling the post box near our house to the brim every night, and then taking the overflow of parcels down the road to the next post box. It's been a little stressful but I'm getting there. So until I clear the backlog of orders there won't be much happening here.
In future expect to see more one-off creations. Looking back over my archives though, there are a few items there I'd like to make again.
As always, lots to do, so little time.
We're heading here, to Lupino, for dinner tonight.
This restaurant is owned by Richard, an old school friend of Will's. Those Melbourne readers might know and love Becco, Richard's first Melbourne restaurant.
There was much controversy when Becco first opened about 12 years ago, because the owners refused admittance to a rather acerbic restaurant critic with a wide readership and the capability to destroy a restaurant with one cruel review. The irony is the critic would have no doubt had good things to say about Becco because it quickly became, and has remained, hugely successful. But it was a brilliant marketing strategy on the part of the owners (whether intended or not) because it gave the restaurant much attention. There were many people in the food and restaurant world who either despised or revered the critic so it was a hot topic for a while.
Lupino is Richard's latest offering. I haven't tried it yet so looking forward to a date with my husband at what I'm sure will be a great spot.
Taking me skiing in March earlier this year was all part of Will's cunning plan. He wanted to get me hooked on skiing so we could have family skiing holidays. Skiing was not part of my childhood. Give me a Queensland beach over a snow covered mountain in Victoria any day.
Well, his cunning plan worked and I am now happily embracing a ski holiday here and there. Well more than here or there. We have committed to a whole season of skiing. The three boys have enrolled in a seasonal program called "Team Extreme" which means they ski with the same group and instructor for the entire season. That's every weekend and the school holidays.
So we have just enjoyed two weeks at the snow, where the boys skied from 9am to 3pm, 16 days in a row. Yes, that's a lot of skiing, isn't it. Max and Tom now scoff at my skiing, the fact that I don't like black runs, and that I go at a more moderate pace than them.
Even Adelaide has embraced the sport. Here she is about to head off on skis for the first time. (She looks so much older in this photo.) I'm not sure how to read her expression. It looks like she's thinking, "Are you really going to make me do this?" In reality, she had the wind in her face and was probably just damn cold. But it didn't deter her. She went straight down an intermediate run between Daddy's legs, and later did the same with big brother Tom leading the way. Some friends leant us a little pair of 2 year old skis and boots. She thinks they're fabulous (she's a typical girl and loves shoes) and keeps dragging them out and trying to put them on. If I don't look out she too will be better than me soon. Fun and games.