New stuff

Ok, now the heavy life stuff is all updated, I’ll carry on with what I wanted to tell you about, if you didn’t already know:

Monsoons & Mangoes is heading away from clothing and towards ‘other stuff’  :)    Like quilting.  I know!!! Aside from the couple of custom cot quilts I’ve made in the past (note to self: find the pictures!), I swore I would take up quilting… never.  But somehow, I’ve discovered the deep satisfaction of sitting on a $10 thrifted cane chair, either on my deck or with feet propped on the coffee table… hand-quilting.  I LOVE!!    I want to hand-quilt everything.  Even any garments that might sneak into my creative mind: “where can I do some feature hand stitching?” :)

Today, while I waited for fabric to dry on the line, I made this little cover for Maisie’s 50c mini photo album.  In hindsight, I should have made it more of a dust-jacket type cover, as it’s slippery against the plastic, but she says it is wonderful the way it is.  Can you see the little pink stitches? :)

Mini album cover

I wrote about it on M&M Facebook page that this discovery was like finding my soul mate:  “Oh, hello. I’ve been looking for you.”  I’ve struggled to express just how lovely it is, to make like this.

I’ve drawn from an endless supply of quilting books from my local library.  The ones I am most inspired by are contemporary, using upcycled fabric, or bright and a little bit random.  Art quilts, inspired by everything I find beautiful or useful.

You already know my great love is flowers, but I also want to play with:

  • stripes
  • solids (yes, I did just type that!)
  • applique
  • wholecloth quilts.  Traditionally, the beauty was all in the intricate quilting on white fabric..  but I find myself more often in love with the backing of inspirational quits, so I want to use beautiful printed or woven fabrics as the “hero”, rather than patchwork or elaborate swirly quilting designs

Originally, I used a cotton sheet and pinned fabric pieces to it, but I have most excitedly discovered in my research that I can use a flannelette sheet design wall!  My method is umm…  resourceful: using picture hooks and skirt hangers, but it’s working for now.  One day, I’ll make a portable one.  Oooh!  :)

9 months

That is how long it’s been since my last blog post!!   It’s been niggling away that it’s “been a while”, but I didn’t think THAT long.  I could have conceived a child, gained 30kg and popped a baby out (as you do), in that time.   Nothing like that, of course…

 

My lovely girls and I moved from Darwin to Hobart, said sad goodbyes to wonderful friends and a fantastic lifestyle, and embraced long-lost family and friends and another amazing lifestyle.

Bay sunrise in Winter

We rented a beautiful home in a quiet bay with gorgeous rambling old gardens, and a delightful history.  Somewhere in my garden, or between the walls of our warm and lovely home… or perhaps in the expansive views of water and sky from my deck, or the circle of loved ones, I found myself.  I didn’t even know I was lost before that.

Lovely home

I am so ridiculously content, and my girls often tell me how much they love it here.  A local shop-keeper, who knows of our lovely home, said to me a few months ago, “No wonder you’re always so happy!”  It’s not about the house, or where it is, or what amazing discoveries I make in my garden…  it’s about living my life authentically.  I am where I want to be, doing what I want to do, with people that I love.

 

I don’t deny that I landed on my feet after taking a massive leap of faith, staying connected into that glow of certainty I felt in my belly when I decided I was moving back to Tasmania.  I had to let go of all control – for anybody that knows me well, I can be a control freak and suffered greatly from stress and anxiety until last year.  I simply trusted that whatever house was available at the time, and we were approved for – THAT was where we would live, and the girls would go to the local school, and the people in the local shops would become our new community.  Everybody we were to encounter would become part of our journey.    Thankfully, trusting in all of that paid off.

 

“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night…”

Henry David Thoreau

 

I’ll never lose your touch

She was standing so close behind me that I could feel what was undoubtedly her brightly flowing skirt, swishing across my calves.

A voice of the earth, deep but softly crooning, talking of what I imagined to be sacred things with her friend. I felt suddenly overwhelmed with emotion, and deeply connected with all around me. That voice seemed to tell me: “You aren’t done yet, sister. But if you must go, you will always belong here.” I stood in that line for 20 minutes, alternately fighting back tears and the urge to run out and weep against the side of the building.

I will be leaving part of my heart behind when I move into this next phase of my life-journey. I may well be over the zapping heat and doing everything with a sticky layer of sweat, but I will always maintain a connection with this most amazing part of the world.

One month on…

If I thought I had been on an insightful journey a month ago, that was nothing to the one I am now on. The biggest surprise to me following separating from my partner was ‘falling into’ some amazing books and learning how to become more soul conscious, how to separate the ego/personality from soul, becoming enlightened, meditating and the desire to live my life with the purest of intentions. All very hooky-kooky for some, but almost every word lights up my soul and is what I’ve always believed, but not necessarily known.

reading list:
Sacred and Naked, Ruth Ostrow
Soul Illuminated, Judith Pemell
Soul Stories, Gary Zukav
Fearproof Your Life: How to Thrive in a World Addicted to Fear, Joseph Bailey


Monsoon Rains & Icicle Drops was an engaging read and also very inspiring. The Dalai Lama… I started it but was too excited by my ‘soul’ books to finish it. I will definitely borrow it from the Library again, though!

If you are feeling lost, undervalued, floundering in life, know there’s *got* to be more to life… or feel a rising spirituality or need to be more soul-conscious, then I highly recommend all of the above.

Amazing, amazing, amazing!!!

~

Something else I didn’t expect: that Monsoons and Mangoes would ever feel “not enough”. Right now, I can see a winding down in the future as I am feeling a strong pull to working WITH and for people. The public. I love people, and I hadn’t realised just how much I miss people,every day I sit alone in the studio, though I may be creatively, musically blissing out. I have more to give than my creativity. I would love to make a difference to even ONE person’s day, every day.

Soul searching

I’ve been on the most incredible, insightful journey over the past few months.

In early December I called off my impending wedding to D. Largely due to our relationship not being in a fit state to make a greater commitment and realising we were going down that path for all the wrong reasons.

Putting the wedding indefinitely on hold forced us to dig deeper and search for personal truth. For me to even go through this process meant I had to stop using alcohol to hide from my feelings and what was really happening in my life. This was the only way I could plug in my brain and remain focused on what I needed, what was and wasn’t right, what could be changed and what couldn’t.

After weeks of soul-searching and long talks, our ultimate realisation was this: we were both waiting for the other to become who we needed them to be.

And so, we separated over the weekend. Telling the girls was heartbreaking. It may feel right for us as individuals, but it feels very wrong for them. Kids are resilient though, and ultimately we know they will benefit from having happy, genuine parents who are living their lives just how they want and need to. Lily (nearly 10) has already commented on how much happier I seem.

Am I afraid of being a single mama? Not at all. My amazing Mum raised her three daughters by herself and I am wise enough to know that I wouldn’t be who I am now if our lives were different. I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood or the person I have grown into.

Many of you know I started on the journey of motherhood by myself, and that D and I separated in 2007 for 8 months. It’s never easy going into every day knowing that it’s all up to you, but it is not impossible. You just get on with it.

Cheats Moroccan Lamb

Got left-over lamb?  Chick peas?  A few eastern spices?

Day 1.

Roast the world’s biggest leg of lamb.

Day 2.

Cut all of the remaining lamb from the bone

Depending on the quantity, cook the following:

Onion and garlic. When cooked through, add :

the cut lamb (however you like – be fancy! :)

minimum of 1tsp each of ground cumin and coriander.  I also added chilli powder because I’m hardcore.

a few tomatoes, or a tin if that’s all you have

a tin of drained and rinsed chick peas (I had used a small handful in my lunch – a tuna/veg dish -earlier in the day)

a few mushrooms, thickly sliced

Simmer until it starts to smell really yummy and serve with mashed potato (or couscous).

YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’m feeling very pleased with myself for cooking a lovely meal with minimal effort.  I DO love cooking, but with the level of work  and creativity happening in the studio of late, something had to give!

Studio re-arrange!

It was a mammoth effort, but I left no box or pile unturned. I FOUND things I didn’t even know I had. how about that, eh? :)

I LOVE my new admin area!  Am I going to be organised, or WHAT! :)

It was just a cluttered mess; with things lying around that didn’t need to be.  I like it all close by, but doesn’t need to mess things up.  Now, it’s stored under some lovely sheer fabric and vintage table runner that are disguising the ugly trolley (I WILL paint it one day).

I swapped tables over – the white is now for admin and photography, and for when I need a larger space for cutting bigger pieces.  I mostly use my ironing board for cutting! :)

My cutting area!  The fan and boxes I had moved from the sewing area – then ran for the camera!  :)   All I have really done is move the mess down the wall a little :)  I don’t know how I will fare without my trusty trolley – it may be ugly, but it’s an inspiration holder!  I have now packed those ideas into the cupboard – lets hope I don’t forget.

I now have issues in the studio with where to hang pictures!!.  I need to spend time with some picture hangers and a hammer :)

The left wall is where I usually hang my clothing for photographs.  the way I have orientated the tables, means I’ve encroached into the space…   I am yet to work out where I’ll do the photos – perhaps in the garden as I really don’t like those blue walls!

The brown book shelf – one day, maybe when we move at the end of next year, I am painting it white.  Any tips on this – I am completely clueless when it comes to furniture!

The sewing table:  I had the overlocker in my accustomed spot, beside the sewing machine – but realised immediately that I had lost the space beside.  I have worked with machines on different table edges before and it was fine.

The best thing about setting up the tables like this?  I won’t be distracted as I’m sewing by the bloody computer!!!! god help me if I turn it around!  :)

Some of my personally favourite photos of M&M garments…  and a sweet little collage faux bag that Lily amused herself with while I delved into the many boxes with unknown contents.  Isn’t she creative and resourceful?

beautiful Heart Candy print, my first *bespoke* zine… and I really love the vintage embroidery prettying up my space.  The framed fabric… that WAS my order sorter-thing..  not I’m not sure what it’s purpose is.  Perhaps I’ll update the fabrics and hang it somewhere..

That’s it!  What do you think?    Do you have ideas on how I could use the space better, based on personal experience?   Do you have handy links to inspiring studios?  Yours, perhaps?  I would love to see!

Here is my Studio Envy board on Pinterest.

xx

On mothering…

I’ve been a mother for almost ten years now, and still most days feel like struggle-town. Not all the time: of course there are countless golden moments. But, I so often I think, I’m just not cut out for this!! why does it have to be so damn HARD??

Maybe if I’d had some professional help or real support when #1 was tiny (I was a single mum), maybe I would have adjusted better. Maybe if I’d had my kids earlier (I was 28 when first was born), and I wasn’t so set in my free, peaceful ways, maybe if I hadn’t read so much conflicting advice online, maybe, maybe… maybe I’d be less anxious, stressed…

My doc was quite concerned about me when #1 was 5mo… she diagnosed me with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and tried to tell me, “everything you’re doing is GOOD ENOUGH” I didn’t believe her as I was SO hell-bent on being a perfect mother, drawing on the many (conflicting) parenting resources. Drove myself NUTS. In the end I stopped reading and parented instinctively.

I’m not perfect, and every day I see ways I could be better. But I’m not turning myself in knots, trying to model myself on what somebody else says is right.

Good enough IS good enough.

Where parents are hiding the Christmas presents…

I asked the following question on my facebook page yesterday: “OK ladies, I need some help. where are you hiding your Christmas presents this year?? I currently have one in my peg bag, strapped to my waist – I can’t hide it until the girls are in bed because they are 100% onto me! LOL”

This is what the Mums had to say:

~ We have a caravan where I stash a lot if the pressies, and that is where I also wrap them. Big plastic tub in plain view in the top of my cupboard is also a good place, kids don’t even think twice because it is in plain view

~ the back of my walk in robe.

~ Have floor to ceiling cupboards so way up the top where even the cheekiest monkey can’t climb :)

~ Car boot?

~ In Hubby’s shed locked in cupboard…

~ Are we expected to give the kids presents on Christmas ??? ;) lol

~ Same as Jane at our place. Tell the girls christmas will be nowhere near as exciting if they know what they are getting – we found our presents one year, and it was a huge let down on the day!

~ In the top cupboard of the wardrobe at my parents’ place, or leave them at the store on lay-by until Christmas Eve :)

~ I hide fakes in our pantry and tell the girls not to look in there, whatever they do. Works like a charm. They’re so busy scouring the pantry they don’t check my real spots – bookshelf and undies drawer for small, top of the wardrobe for bigger ones…

~ In plain view in a tub on top of the wardrobe. It is always there so it doesn’t look out-of-place when it is full!!

~ Mine are hidden at my neighbor’s house!! My kids are snoops!!!!

~ I layby deliberately and what i buy on sale I hide and find some of it in January or even may/June. So funny-I always forget the little things. I also set the kids up for diss appointment deliberately, makes for a better Chrissy. Works every year.

~ man hole as long as u have no pests…… they will never think to look there plus it works for big kids tooo…… heheheh

~ I like to hide in boxes already in my home; tubs full of memorabilia from long ago. They never look in tubs marked; Chris’s college textbooks!

~ I have 2 nondescript brown boxes I am hiding presents in this year. Both boxes are well out of my daughter’s reach.

Where do you hide yours? Feel free to add your comment! :)

Roast Chicken in Banana Leaves

I sat down to type this recipe out… I thought I would check google first and found it via Google Books! :) Click the image above to get the recipe.

We omitted the chilli to keep it kid-friendly ;)

RDO

I have declared today to be a “day off”.

I am faced with a mountain of laundry which is the result of working solely on M&M during last week (I usually do a load of washing every other day). I also have a child home from school*, meaning the day is going to be full of “Mummy!!” and various demands. I will work a little – packaging and perhaps a couple of simple girls a-line skirts – but to avoid the inevitable ‘seething with resentment’ at the end of the day from trying to do too much, I need to let go.

* Maisie had a bite on her belly last week that she scratched and fiddled with. It grew large and watery, with blistery edges… I was so worried about the infection that I took her to the doc yesterday afternoon – especially seeing as another little bite was also behaving like the original bite. Impetigo / school sores!! I was expecting ‘cellulosis’, not impetigo! Anyway, she’s commenced antibiotic treatment and the sores have nice scabs and aren’t looking so angry. She could have gone to school but I have kept her home.

Bush therapy

I had the opportunity to have an extra day to myself yesterday, with my family off on a 4WD adventure. I opted to join them as I already spend enough time at home! :)

Invited by a friend, we joined in with a local Darwin 4WD club, to traverse some very bumpy tracks we’d not previously explored. There was a dirt bike competition on which had closed off some of the tracks, so we ended up on what is a now familiar track, past our secret camping spot and way beyond it. SO fun. It was mostly a day spent in the car, bumping around and feeling slightly nervous about our updated suspension making some odd thumping sounds…


Being part of a convoy was a new experience. I have to say that it was a great feeling of security, all looking out for one another, communicating about the track etc via radio.


I gave up trying to take photos without our big windscreen crack! too hard when you’re bumping along :)

The weather was insanely hot and humid – a real taste of what we’re in for over the next few months before the rains properly come!

Home at the end of the day, tired but so satisfied after a long, fun day with old and new friends.

Botanical Gardens

Met up with Anna from MangoLime after school yesterday at the Botanical Gardens AMAZING playground.  So long since I’ve been there, but it’s one of my favourite places in Darwin.   There is a bunch of pictures here, that I took a year or so ago.

After we snacked and the kids ran off to play, we caught up on the happenings in the worlds of MangoLime and Monsoons & Mangoes, and then took some photos of some recent work…  Always so worth the effort as clothing looks best on people! :)

For sale @ Etsy

Next, I twirled and twirled and… got very DIZZY trying to capture the beauty of this awesome patchwork skirt!

WHOA!  Reminded me of drinking two-buck-chuck when I was 16, and spinning on the beach…

Anna & all the kids

Then it was time to leave…  after some carry-on from my eldest about carrying a bag (with her running shoes in it), and one last turn in the maze, and a clamber over the rocks… we said our farewells and headed home.

Getting out of the car, Lily asked, “Where’s the blue bag…?”  OH NO!  Left behind at the maze.  I was absolutely furious!!   Amidst much ranting and raving from me, we drove all the way back (well, only 20mins, but that’s a LONG way to a Darwinite!) and sure enough – the bag was well and truly gone.  Home again, amidst lots of tears from Lily.  I’m about to cal the Bot Gdns office and the Darwin City Council to see if the bag might have been handed in.  Cross fingers, for us.

I really, really love patchwork!

You know,  years ago a friend suggested I try patchwork as she knew how much I loved sewing…  Back then, my thoughts on patchwork were much the same as knitting – total waste of time.  A skirt should take an hour or two, not 5-10, right?  All those fiddly bits of fabric?  Forget it!!  :)

An accidental patchwork experiment a couple of years ago, to use up some scraps, and before I know it, I’m “famous” (hehe) for my patchwork skirts and dresses.

I think this was the first.  I think I’ve gotten better, what do you think? :)

As back-breaking and exhausting as it can be, it’s SO rewarding.

Selecting the fabric

Cutting all the little squares and forming the tiers

Twirly skirt perfection

and then piecing it all together… to be rewarded with AWESOME!

Do I have a patchwork skirt?  Yes, I do… just a knee-length as generally the weather isn’t favourable for long skirt (picture swathes of fabric clinging to sweaty legs & me tripping over)… but one of these days, I’m going to dedicated time to making myself one as I absolutely ADORE wearing them for photos :)

one-on-one time

We’re having a very slooowww  weekend.  My man has been out at work, fixing/updating the suspension in our 4WD, and I’ve been flopping about with some sinus/suspected cold, doing not much at all!

I had zero energy yesterday, but the way things worked out, I was lucky enough to have some one-on-one time with both of my girls; something that doesn’t happen often enough.  It’s unfortunate as I really am better in a one-on-one situation and find it really stressful when they both want me at the same time.   I find it so hard to strike a balance between meeting the girls’ needs without being overly-indulgent, and D & I meeting my our own needs, without neglecting theirs.   We just muddle through like the rest…. sometimes we’re awesome, sometimes not…

Today it’s just Maisie and I (who are about to go into the studio to make some baby pants for her doll, who is ‘toilet training‘) and perhaps have some pool time, while Lily is off with Danny helping to fix the car (and riding her bike around a massive paved area with a friends’ son).

In other news, I used some of our compost this morning, when Maisie and I planted out some seeds…  I learned that egg shells don’t break down :)

Edited to add:

I drafted a pants pattern and before I even cut the fabric for it, I was making Maisie a very cute little skirt in this fun spotty cotton jersey :)  Perfect skirt for her as it’s stretchy, and she doesn’t like skirts long (which is a pity, as she has a lovely collection of Monsoons & Mangoes LONG skirts in her wardrobe ;)

The doll pants:  First pair were a fail for the particular baby we were making for;  I underestimated the thighs!  :)  They were given to a smaller baby and much bigger pair were made for the ‘toilet training’ baby :)  Everybody’s happy xx

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