Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chalk Chook

A few weeks ago, Mel from Chalk Chook emailed to ask if she could send me a little something in the post. Mel is a friend of a friend who recently started her own business making and selling beautiful handcrafted chalk. A box addressed to my girls arrived containing three special little gift-wrapped packages, each filled with an array of colourful, vibrant stars, fish, motor cars and love hearts. 

We don't have a lot of pavement here at our country home, and not a footpath to speak of in the village. In Sydney, our entire backyard was patio. Here, we have lovely, lovely (muddy, fast-growing) grass. But the girls got busy on the small stone pathway out the front and created a few masterpieces. The chalk is so much smoother and easier to use than the normal pavement chalk, and the colours are brilliant. They chalked up a storm, and when the rain arrived that night, it was all washed away leaving not a trace. If only  that were the case with the indoor art and craft sessions we have here...

With my little pair's birthday party approaching, I contacted Mel and put in an order for 25 individually wrapped twin-packs - butterflies for the butterfly party, you see. They arrived a few days later, each tied up with string, a little note tucked into each - "With love from Stella and Pearl." Party favours sorted, and I barely had to lift a finger, let alone spend a few hours stuffing sugar and plastic into lolly bags the night before the big day. And I can't tell you how pleased both the kids and their mums were upon receiving a little sugar-free take-home gift at the end of the day. Such a good idea, and so easy!

Make sure you head over to Mel's shop and check out the lovely range of Chalk Chook products she has on offer. Just quietly, the dinosaurs are hilarious!

Tiny fine-print disclaimer: I received a big pack of chalk for free with no obligation. I was a full-price paying bona-fide customer - and a very happy one - of the party favours.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Day Nerves

There was a rumour going around that I'd been looking forward to this day. After three years and six days of twin-wrangling, I felt I deserved a couple of days a week to myself. I'd had the day on the calendar for months, and have been planning a whole lot of life to coincide nicely with it and the weeks to follow.

We've had a month of milestones and major life happenings for the small people in this house. First days, birthdays, and now this. I expected to feel a pang. I didn't anticipate the kick-to-the-stomach smack of emotion that I got as I drove away. They were excited, kissed me goodbye happily, didn't look back. I edged away feeling unexpectedly bewildered. My babies.

And I returned home, looked about vacantly and was suddenly overcome with exhaustion. A bone-tired exhalation and collapse.

So busy are we clearing the path and smoothing things over for the big stuff in their lives, we forget that they're the big stuff in our lives too.

My babies.

(They had a wonderful day, were dancing in a circle at pick-up time, and we had a hard time convincing them to come home. Tonight I feel OK again. And now I'm going to sleep.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fairies and Butterflies

I lay awake early on Sunday morning listening to the rain pounding on the roof. 18 children and their parents were due to arrive in a handful of hours for Stella's fairy party and Pearl's butterfly party, which I'd envisaged as a gorgeous sunny garden event. On the weather forecast app, the black cloud had not only raindrops falling from it, but a sparkly great lightning bolt. Marvellous.

But like in all the best movies, the clouds parted and the sun made its merry way through. 18 children and their parents arrived bearing an outrageous number of gifts. They were greeted by one little girl in bright red butterfly wings and another in purple fairy wings (bejewelled by a manic mother wielding pliers and a hot-glue gun at midnight the night before). They dined at a buffet fit for two winged princesses. Their faces were painted by the best niece-in-law that ever their was. The sun shone brightly, with not a lightning bolt in sight, so they moved to the back garden and decorated cardboard wings. Then they bounced and they soared and they danced on the lawn. And their mum caught up with friends old and new, many who'd travelled from Sydney and beyond, and felt grateful for special occasions that brought them all together to celebrate, and grateful for the two incredible little girls who gave them the excuse.

Most of the ideas for the food came from Pinterest. You can find the links to far better executed versions on my tiny board here. Meringue mushrooms? Why not.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013" via Che and Fidel.

Lola: 100% five years old. 
Pearl: She had a birthday this week.
Stella: So did she.

Previous 52 portraits here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Very Boring Blog Post... let you know that, after much consideration, I've decided I need to increases prices to bring them more into line with the amount of time and quantity of materials involved. 

It won't happen till March 1st. You can buy hats at current prices until then.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1 + 1 = 3


6am wake-up. "Mumma, is it my birthday?" 

Yes, Pearl. 

"Mumma, am I bigger now?"

Presents in bed, special pink milkshakes at the cafe, painting and puzzles, a trip to the park, pizza out of a box for dinner (by request), and two small cakes for two sweet girls.

And now to prepare for the parties.

Happy birthday, my pair.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Aw, I'm feeling a bit sentimental tonight. Three years ago I was lumbering about like a pregnant elephant seal, putting things in a suitcase and making final preparations for the following day's scheduled induction. It didn't quite go as planned. But look what I brought home!

I remember during those final swollen, aching weeks feeling with absolute certainty that these babies were going to be easier out than in. Almost three years on, I still smile wryly at that one.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013" via Che and Fidel.

Lola: Unprompted (and with very little enthusiasm on my part), she made Valentine's cards for everyone in her class.
Pearl: Her latest trick - climbing onto the kitchen bench and running along it, giggling.
Stella: I rolled over this morning and found her sitting next to me eating cereal straight out of the box.

If you're a Sunday-only visitor, you might have missed this. As one lovely customer recently said, "You can never have too many hats."

Previous 52 Portraits here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You Say Pissaladiere...

Is it right to call something something even if it's not exactly the something, but takes that lovely something as its inspiration? This is definitely not a pizza. In fact, it's really just a tart. And a pissaladiere is also just a tart. A tart at heart. With no tomato sauce or cheese in sight, it's more tart than pizza. But they put tandoori chicken on pizzas these days, so...

A traditional Provencal pissaladiere is topped with caramelised onions and decoratively placed anchovies and olives. I used the onions, but added sauted mushrooms and goats cheese.

I've seen a lot of pissaladiere recipes that use puff pastry, but I think it's meant to be a bread or pizza dough. This is an olive oil shortcrust - the first time I've made one - and I was delighted with how beautifully it handled and tasted. I also liked how virtuous I felt to skip the butter.

I love caramelised onions. Making this recipe reinvigorated my love for them, slow-cooked in a little oil over the lowest temperature, helped along towards the end with a dash of balsamic and a sprinkling of brown sugar. I made them again a week later, adding some to a frittata and turning the rest into onion soup. 

French onion soup, perhaps? Perhaps no more French than this pissaladiere. But entirely delicious and entirely worth making for lunch this weekend.

You can find my recipe for this tart here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bookless on a Wednesday

It's Wednesday and I've nothing to read. Who am I kidding? I've been bookless for months. Novel-less, at least. I'm not sure what happened, but I've stopped reading. I'm still dipping into the best food book I've ever read most nights. But what's sorely lacking is a novel, a really good novel. Any advice? I can't do anything too challenging, or that requires too much of my brain. It must tolerate being read in bursts, sometimes only a page or two a night. That said, it must be beautifully written and tell a ripping tale. I certainly won't say no to un-put-downable, and while a slow-burner is fine, I have to be grabbed from the get-go. If the book calls out to me all day long, so much the better. I don't mind being taunted if the story is worth it.

I'm being taunted by this yarn. Beautiful, beautiful Quince Chickadee in richest Honey. I've enough to make myself a winter cardigan - this onethis one and this one stand out - but I need to find a break between hats to get serious about it. Winter's a few months away, and I know myself well enough to realise it might end up being for the winter after this one. But for the sake of balance, and all things good, I will cast this on before the month is out...once I decide what it will be.

I'm joining in with the Yarn Along despite the distinct and glaring absence of a book.

Also, please check out my very woolly giveaway. Two of my handknit hats are up for grabs - winners choose colour/style/size.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Very Woolly Giveaway

Rumour has it it's still summer. I've been waiting for the cooler months to tempt you with a bonnet giveaway. But what the heck - there's enough of a chill in the air in my neck of the woods this evening to warrant some wintry fun.

I've had such wonderful feedback since opening my shop late last year. A gentle, steady start to the sales, but an overwhelming number of clicks. Every day, it seems, a hat of mine features in at least one Etsy treasury. (Don't know what a Treasury is? Here's a beautiful one.) It seems people like to see colourful wool atop cute little heads.

So thrilled am I with how it's all going, I'm currently waiting on a very large yarn order. Very, very large. There will be a few new colours, as well as the lovely wool/alpaca blend I need to finally launch the range of newborn hats I keep talking about.

But in the meantime, let's give away a couple of hats. Two winners will each choose the style, size and colour of their prize. They are available in baby, toddler and kid size, and currently two styles - the Chubby Pixie and the Bumpy Bonnet. I will happily post anywhere in the world.

So if a little head you know needs warming this winter, all you have to do is be a follower of this blog (over there on the right with Google Friend Connect), check out the shop, then come back here and leave me a comment to let me know what colour you would choose if you won, or what colour you think is missing (yes, I know there is no pinky pink there.)

For extra chances to win:

2) Share this giveaway on your blog, Facebook page or even Twitter, I guess, though I still don't know what that is...

Leave a separate comment for each entry, please. I'll draw the winner by random number thingo at the end of next week.

Good luck! 

Entries have closed. Thanks to all who entered. The winners are number 44, Little Wild Moose, and number 8, Bettina Rae.


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