Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hamilton Gardens : Our city's best kept secret

This week my daughter and I were so lucky when we met up with my lovely penpal Mel from One Crafty Mumma, and her gorgeous daughter, Bella.

Mel's AMAZING blog is the first blog I ever discovered in 2009 and she encouraged me to start this little space (which is seriously neglected!). Here's my first ever post - but the photos disappeared when I changed blogging platforms!

Last year Mel asked if I wanted to be penpals with her and I was so excited and honoured! So we've been exchanging snail mail for a while which is SUPER fun!

I love heading to the Hamilton Gardens when we have visitors. It's our go-to place. It's gorgeous and ever changing and best of all - FREE!!! So when I heard Mel and her family would be travelling through our neck of the woods and wanted to meet up, I just knew where I wanted to show her.

The gardens were at their most splendid with lovely blooms in every space. They never disappoint.

Hanging out with Mel was like hanging out with an old friend. We just clicked and had such a lovely time. You can read her post about it here.

What is your favourite place to take visitors in your home town??

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

52 things I made {1/52}

The lovely Clare at Green Valley Crafts has launched her '52 things I made 2015' project and I am excited to join in! ( You can too, on your blog or on Instagram #52thingsimade2015)

It seems to fit in perfectly with my word for 2015 which is SLOW. Slow crafting, slow blogging, slow living. I know I can do a project a week.

I've been thinking a lot about returning to blogging recently so this will be a great way to at least one post a week.

My first project for 2015 was making a 241 tote, using the pattern from Noodlehead. You can buy it here.

It was so much fun to make, I couldn't stop at just one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spend free September : Week one

One week into Spend-Free September and apart from a little blip where I had to buy the teen's friend a birthday present, I have been doing REALLY well.

I will admit I have wanted to go to the shops for various things... BUT I have kept away which I am sure makes the temptation a lot less. Working helps as I have less time for the temptation.

My lovely friend Mel is also doing a No Spend September and I really enjoyed her post yesterday about her first week and the temptations she's faced. She's doing so well too!

The challenge for this week will be coming up with an awesome present for my parent's 45th wedding anniversary without spending.

One area we still need to do a LOT of work is our food budget. We need to make a meal plan and stick to it. It is really hard to shop and cook for various food allergies so I am going make that our focus for October. One step at a time.

And in case you want an easy birthday present for a teenager (or younger or older) this is what I came up with in a hurry on Friday for the unexpected party

Take one popcorn container (6 for $2 at the bargain shop). Add one bag of lollies ($2 at the supermarket). A bag of microwave popcorn ($1.30) and a movie voucher (whatever nomination you choose).  Wrap it in cellophane. Viola!

Apparently her friend said it was perfect. I'm doing these for all the cousins birthdays and popping a few in the cupboard for other 'unexpected' invites in future spend-free months (shh... dont tell the kids!)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Miscarriage, Autoimmune Disease, Faith and Brave

I'm still debating if I will actually post this.. or if it will end up one of the many drafts I have sitting on my blog, deemed too personal or not well written....

But I have thought about this quite a bit and it's a topic that needs to be talked about more.

Today, 14 years ago, we lost our first baby.

I was heartbroken. I had never ever felt grief or pain like that before. It felt like someone reached into my chest and ripped my heart out.

I know my story of pregnancy loss is one many, many women share. Nearly every woman I have known during my years as a parent has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility. It is still so unspoken in our society though.

Autoimmune Disease
Three years before I had been told I would never carry a live baby. So with this loss, came the expectation that this was how it would always be.
I clearly remember sitting in the Specialists office, being extremely ill with Thyrotoxicosis from Graves Disease, and him telling me I needed emergency surgery or I would die, that I had a 50% chance of surviving the surgery and I would never carry a baby. I was 26 years old.
All I heard was, we just moved someones mastectomy until next week. I felt so awful for that poor lady.

Fast forward three years and we were recently married and made an appointment to see the same specialist and talk about our options. I knew going into it that we were potentially setting ourselves up for a lot of heartache.

I wonder now about the faith we must have had to try again, knowing how much our hearts were hurting.
When we were 7 weeks pregnant the second time around, the same specialist, with the awesome bedside manner, told us, you'll lose this one too.

But, we didn't. She is now an amazing 13 year old. And the miracles didn't stop there, we also have our 11 year old and 8 year old miracles. Perfect little miracles.

I can't help thinking, what if we hadn't taken that leap of faith. What if we had believed that miracles don't happen to people like us?? We were so BRAVE.

I've noticed, that as I've grown older I am not nearly as brave as I was then. I have let fear take up too much of my heart and mind. I have lost confidence in who I am and the woman I am destined to be.

I choose to watch my kids zoom around the scary roller coasters, while I sit on the sidelines. I choose to quietly watch the friendships blossom around me too scared to put myself out there for fear of being rejected. I choose to work in a job that is 'safe' and doesn't challenge me, instead of seeking a position I am qualified for that satisfies me academically.
I choose safety every time, over taking a risk.  I have forgotten how to trust, have faith and how to believe in miracles. To be brave.
Post image for Monday Quote: Brave
image from here

Maybe its time to take some steps for a BRAVE future me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I have knitted away winter

Well that's not quite true... winter it seems is still very much here in the Waikato.

But, I have spent much of winter knitting in every little snippet or pocket of time I can.

I take my knitting with me to work and knit in my breaks and if we go somewhere in the car on the weekends.

So now I have dusted off my blog I thought I would share some of my knitting.

For my birthday in April I (bought myself) this beeeaaauuutiful Malabrigo Rio's yarn.

I spent ages looking for the PERFECT pattern to knit it up in and decided on the GAP-tastic Cowl on Ravelry.

I LOVE this cowl. I love the yarn, I love the colour. I wear it almost everyday.

And I forgot to mention how soft and warm it is!

Stay tuned for more yarn tales....

Pattern: GAP-tastic Cowl
Yarn : Malabrigo Rios
Needle: 7mm circular needle

Linking up with Currently Creative and Show & Tell

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spun it. Dyed it. Knitted it.

Recently I bought a spinning wheel and must say I am addicted to the gentle rhythm of spinning. It is possibly the most relaxing craft I've ever tried.

I am still learning and appreciate the guidance and experience of the lovely people around me who spin and dye ( especially Talia).

This spin, below, was one of my first. I spun the yarn, dyed it with Grape Koolaid and then I knitted it into hand warmers for my sweet girl. And its like scratch and sniff because they still smell like Grape Koolaid!

There will be many more spinning tales to come on here... I promise x

Hand warmer pattern can be found here : Fingerless mittens
Knitted with : Grape homespun
On : 3mm dpns

Linking up with Currently Creative and Show & Tell

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments and support for our Spend Free September post yesterday! It was so reassuring to know others understand and feel the same way.

We are planning to have a de-clutter and garage sale to try and eliminate some of the clutter and also use the money towards a new fence (because the old one is falling over!)

I have made sure that everyone is all sorted with clothes/shoes/school uniforms but if an emergency crops up we'll look at things as we need to.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spend Free September

For this month, our family challenge is going to be no spending in September.

We don't spend huge money on things normally, we rarely buy clothes, shoes etc and make/grow/bake all we can, as well as making all our own cleaning products.. but.. we seem to fritter away money without giving thought to where it is going and we want to change that.

We also have TOO much stuff. Several international moves have seen us collect quite a lot of 'crap' a long the way. We have three crockpots, two rice cookers, two blenders.... you get the picture!

I'm ashamed to say we have about a dozen unpacked shipping boxes still in our garage. (oh the shame!).We spend so much wasted time trying to find things we've misplaced or money replacing lost items that then turn up. I'm sure we are not alone in this consumer driven society of ours.

We really want to simplify our lives and cut the clutter in our physical world as well as how it clutters up our brains.

This is a far cry from the me who used to love shopping. I somehow thought that trading in my 'mall' shopping with Op shopping was better... but alas, crap is crap is crap. Where-ever you buy it, if you don't need it. I am also aware that my spending was to fill a gap, and I need to work on how to fill that in other ways.

So there you have it, a month with no non-essential spending. We'll still be buying food, petrol etc. the essentials only.

More than anything this month I hope we become more aware of how we are spending the hard earned money we make because our time is precious and who wants to waste an hour at work so we can buy a magazine or two??