9 July 2014

Taking stock...

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Making : Time for creativity. Yay!
Cooking : Lots of foods that owlets love to help cook and eat. They're always so hungry!
Drinking : Water. Lots of it. Consciously. Everyday. I'm shocked too.
Reading: Favourite magazines the latest Taproot and Earth Garden are top of the pile.
Wanting: To get my ferments going again. I've missed them! 
Looking: forward to eating some oyster and shiitake mushrooms growing in my kitchen right now.

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Playing: Farms with Tiny. I've been luring her to play with surprise playscapes. It's fun.
Deciding: What we'll do for Little Owlet's birthday. 
Wishing: The hours when the Owlets are in bed would go a tiny bit slower. 
Enjoying: Pip's Inspiration Information course. It's quite lovely and lots of fun.
Waiting: For my phone contract to run out. Tiny took a bath with mine and now the camera and punctuation don't work. I miss quick photos and exclamation marks. 
Liking: Slowing down and being present with the owlets. Creating alongside them. Thanks winter.

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Loving: Sunny Winter days. We pile outside with blankets and soak it up. 
Wondering: What I'll be when I grow up. What's next? 
Pondering: Whether to do that Horticulture certificate or not
Looking: For a new climbing tree and into ways to increase access to natural public play spaces for all. Everyone needs to play more, I think.
Considering: some juicy plans with Huz as he completes his Permaculture Design Certificate. It's going to be exciting.
Marvelling: At our garden as it grows. Ever so slowly, it is taking shape all on its own. 
Hoping: The couch grass doesn't come back as strongly this spring. 


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Opening: The curtains to the most amazing sunrises each day. 
Needing: Some quiet space every day. I'm a better parent and more creative with it. 
Smelling: Winter. The smell of wet earth on our walks. And soup in the slow cooker
Wearing: Holes in all my socks. I haven't bought socks since I stopped designing them.  
Following: My body's cues and trying to go to sleep earlier. Last night I failed dismally. 

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Noticing: Tiny seems to have grown so much bigger lately. 
Knowing: She won't be small for much longer. 
Thinking: Our owlet baby days are over.
Feeling: Sad and sentimental about that. 
Sorting: Through the small clothes each of our three owlets have worn, as Tiny grows out of them.

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Helping:  Little Owlet learn to sew her own clothes. On the machine my grandmother owned and my mother sewed her wedding dress on. Four generations. Little Owlet is so impressed with that. Bless her little vintage-loving heart. 

Buying: New clothes for Big Owlet. Everything's too small all of a sudden.
Admiring: Big Owlet's courage in performing her final drama performance for the term. 

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Getting: Photo bombed by Tiny while I work. 
Bookmarking: TED Talks and similar to watch late at night when I have a quiet moment, so I can mull them over in my sleep. This one is my favourite right now.
Watching: Mad Men. We're catching up. Can't stop. We've come so far, but there's so much further to go. And I'm not just referring to the fact we're mid-season three. 
Disliking: The culture of litigation and rule making we live in. We are losing our freedom everyday. 

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Giggling: At the funny little things the owlets say. I hope they never grow out of saying them. We try and keep them alive by adopting them into our vocabulary.
Feeling: Grateful for the strong and supportive relationships our owlets have with each other. They're great friends. Mostly.
Snacking: On medjool dates. My favourite sweet treat. They make a great smoothie too.
Coveting: The skills of these women. I think I'd like to build something one day too. 
Wishing: The weekends were longer. 
Hearing: Owlets playing piano. Chooks laying eggs again. Chainsaws in the distance. The echo of the river on peaceful evenings. Possums growling at me as I dash out the back door to get herbs for dinner. Huz coming home at the end of a long day… That's my favourite of all.

8 July 2014

Our tree...

Up the tree at Co-op today #tree #unschooling
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I've never climbed this high before! #climb #tree #climber
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A little show before home time at co-op today #coop #hobartnaturallearners #homeschooling #unschooling #playmatters
Good mates hanging out #playmatters #hobartnaturallearners #coop
Another magical day at our co-op... pushing Tiny on the swing 'til my arms hurt! #happydays #strongarms  #coop #hobartnaturallearners

We've been meeting with friends at our co-op for almost three years now. In that time, much of the play  has been witnessed, supported and shaded by the branches of one very large and beautiful willow tree. Big Owlet and I had known the tree since her playgroup days in the big hall, when she was Tiny's age. She'd stand underneath and marvel at the shadows and light filtering through the leaves.

Since we began holding our Hobart Natural Learners Co-op meets in the playground, friendships have been forged, fought over and strengthened under that tree. The children learnt to co-operate and problem solve tying a rope swing on its branches. They climbed the larger branches gleefully, facing fears and observing nature around them. We've woven willow crowns and fashioned brooms and horse reigns from it's smalls branches. We've escaped the scorching Tasmanian summer sun and sheltered from light rain under that majestic tree.

Since she was a baby, Tiny has sat in the swing underneath, asking me to push her "higher and higher!" until her bare toes touched the leaves above… We've loved that tree. A beautiful regular fixture in our weeks.

So you can imagine our shock last week when…

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This happened.

The owlets immediately flew into hysterics and tears, greatly distressed at the loss of their tree. I must admit, I did too… We called Huz and asked him to contact the council to find out what was going on. He was put through to the head maintenance worker (let's call him gardening guy), who explained the situation to him and then marched over to us to explain further.

We were spoken to quite defensively and told "Shade sails are better than trees in children's playgrounds", and "Kids can climb trees in their own backyards". "What if you don't have a climbing tree in your backyard?" I asked. "Not my problem", said gardening guy. He also mentioned (I suspect it slipped out), that it was most likely a "financial matter" as "pruning the tree regularly to cut the branches is more expensive than pollarding." Uh huh. And therein lies the truth.

When we questioned the severity of the pruning, we were asked "Oh you're an arborist are you?" Not the most sensitive approach towards a group of people who were very clearly shaken and grieving. We were also told it'll grow back again, in a few years. Yeah.

It seemed to us that there was more to the story than a small amount of rot at the top of a couple of branches, despite the pictures we were shown of the tree before. Research tells us that pollarding perhaps isn't the best course of action for an old willow tree like this. It will shoot from the top, providing a light canopy in a few years time.

But the tree will never be climbable again, removing a potential liability risk for council, certainly. The look of recognition on the children's faces as they counted 35 rings on what was once their favourite climbing branch... They knew they'd never climb it again… "I'll bring my children here and they can climb it", said Big Owlet. I didn't have the heart to tell her that'll never happen.

The tree will be more susceptible to decay and disease now. Pollarding it will grow a smaller, light, maintainable canopy at the top, which will weep down if the council let it, but they'll not let any lower branches remain, as confirmed by gardening guy. And tiny toes will never reach for those leaves from the swing ever again.

The beautiful children who play in the playground every week, our gang, have felt a great sense of loss.  The playground is so stark now. It's beauty is lost forever. They picked flowers and branches (to stick into the tree in hopes they'd re-sprout) and drew pictures and left them for the tree before we headed off down the road for a fungi walk. When we returned an hour later, all of the gifts had been removed. We suspect  gardening guy was responsible for this too. Way to add to the grief of a bunch of small children, gardening guy…

The next morning, Little Owlet told me she woke up happy, and then she remembered. Our tree. Oh.

So we're feeling a spot of guerrilla gardening might be in order. Or yarn bombing. Or something that will honour our beautiful tree (and perhaps tick gardening guy off just a little). And make us feel a little less wobbly about being there now. And I'm considering exploring the realm of landscape design again, to provide access to natural play spaces for all. Watch this space…

Have you ever lost a tree you loved? 
What is the worth of a tree that provides shade and play for generations of people living in a neighbourhood, do you think? Should it outweigh maintenance budgets?
Do you think children should be able to climb trees in public places? 

Much love. xx











29 June 2014

Creative nooks...

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I've been examining creativity and how it sits in my daily life a bit lately, thanks the course I'm doing right now. I've always had little spots around my nest which serve to offer some inspiration, cheer things up or encourage creativity on the fly. Emergency craft stations are something I've made sure to have over the years for those times when I need to steal a moment of creative time without having to spend time setting it up or clearing it away - important with three-year-olds in the house, I find!

So this is a collection of nooks around my nest where I work, rest and draw inspiration. Right now my little secret desk is full of little things that inspire or materials I like to work with. Lots of sketchbooks to fill… potential.

There's a little space for owlet inspiration, an emergency owlet craft station and a resty magazine and knitting spot by the couch too. All these things help to remind me to keep looking, thinking, creating.

Do you have creative nooks in your nest? 
Do you keep emergency craft stations at the ready? Just in case? 
What keeps you inspired, day-to-day? 

xx

27 June 2014

A cup of tea with me...

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I've been up a couple of hours already today, starting my day in the dark with Tiny Owlet, before sneaking back to bed with Huz, and a cuppa, to watch the sun rise. I start most days like this now that Winter days are so short and it's dark for much of the time Huz is at work. We make the most of beautiful, quiet moments like this…

Other things I'm loving right now…

Mild, sunny winter days. I know they won't last, but they make things easier when you're spending so much time stumbling around in the dark… Sitting in warm, sunny windows or spontaneous walks to the beach to look for stones and beach glass are up there with my favourite things about winter in Tasmania.

Spending time with a little community of friends who feel like family… They make long days easier. We've begun organising kids swaps during the week so us home-educating mamas can get all the things done. And have a little creative headspace. It's magical. We're absolutely blessed.

Wearing primary colours. I was born in Melbourne and worked in fashion. We wore lots of black. This is big. I'm wearing lots of green, always, but brighter blues and red too. It feels cheery.

My garden is growing beautifully and as I'd imagined it would, despite winter's chill and the extreme neglect. I love that we're still eating from our garden everyday. Even if it's just a handful of herbs for a salad. Cooking with food you've just picked seconds earlier is the best.

Earlier this month I finished the wonderful Pip Lincolne's e-course, Blog with Pip. It was after reading Pip's blog, Meet Me at Mikes, all the way back in 2006, that I began blogging. She's always been supportive and generous with her knowledge and time, so I had a hunch it'd be helpful. I wanted to re-invigorate this space and find a little bit of flow again. It's been marvellous for that. I've tidied up a little and updated my About page so it tells a little more about this blog and who we are. Pip also held my hand while I finally figured out how to fix up my blog address - look at it! That took me years and one hour with Pip to figure out. Huzzah! Also wonderful are the bunch of bloggers I've connected with. One of the loveliest things about blogging is finding out how others view the world and that everyone has a completely different perspective and voice that we can learn so much from. It's been a great reminder of that.

Sensing my need to get creating again, Pip was super generous and gave me a scholarship to her current e-course, Inspiration Information*. I'm loving that and the space it's giving me to re-inspire and find my way back to doing the creative stuff I LOVE. If you find some time and cans spare a little bit of cash, I'd highly recommend Pip's courses, whether you're new to creative pursuits and blogging, or a bit of an old hand, like me, you're never too experienced to learn, listen and find out how others do what they do. Learning and sharing are great like that. I'm on a bit of a journey with all this learning, creating and sharing of ideas. I still have NO IDEA where it will lead yet (although I have some ideas), but I'm so glad I've made time to do it.

This post is part of a linkup Pip's running with other Blog with Pip graduates. You can read all about them, who they are and what they are up to over here. 

*Disclaimer: there was no condition that I rave about the excellence of either course in order to participate. Pip's just genuinely generous and the courses really are great. You should totally look into them. 

22 June 2014

Celebrating the Seasons :: Yule

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Creating new traditions is something we love to do. A little ritual and seasonal nourishment help mark what's going on around us and put a little rhythm in our days… We tend to celebrate the biggest festivals at all the wrong times in the Southern Hemisphere and the meaning and tradition of them can be lost. Halloween and pumpkins when all around us are blossoms and berries… Or Easter eggs and spring chicks as we're harvesting pumpkins and apples. It just doesn't make sense and it feels so totally disconnected from nature. So, alongside the regular festivals, we take a leaf out of our pagan ancestors books and celebrate seasonally too. We figure you can never celebrate too much.

We've celebrated Beltane and Samhain before with great enthusiasm, but this year is the first time we've  properly celebrated Yule. 

So Yule totally makes sense in the middle of Winter! Who knew?!

Warming food, egg nog, fire, gifts and celebration when daylight hours have dwindled and it's cold outside and you need something to brighten the days… Totally logical. Yule in summer - not so much. But this weekend we had THE BEST Yule celebration. And it was so simple and fun and lovely. Here's how we do Yule - rather spontaneously I might add… we almost never plan ahead. I'll be referring back to this next year so we can do it all over again.

How to have a fabulous Southern Hemisphere Yule weekend:

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1. Go to the Winter Feast at Dark Mofo. Get there early so as to avoid huge crowds. Eat all the food while bumping into everyone you know, warming by the fire and listening to music. Get home and snuggle into bed with hotties and cups of tea.

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2. The next morning, spend a little time tidying your nest and then go for a walk and look for fungi and art in the bush.

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3. Have a picnic in the sunshine and a smooch with someone you love, as the sun goes down.

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4. Back at home, make a little Winter alter. Bring in a tree branch or two and hang some simple decorations from them and little wintry reminders nearby.
5. Hand roll some beeswax candles together

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6. Light candles around a spiral in the garden (lucky we have one already!) Tea light candles in jars will do, with a special candle at the centre - we used the candle we light at our dinner table each night.
7. Walk to the centre of the spiral with hand-rolled candles and light them ceremoniously. Have a little chat about mid-winter and weathering winter's coldest days. Being a light in the darkness and that sort of thing.
8. Start a discussion about the stars and lights from Dark MOFO, then madly dash inside while the family carries on chatting and stargazing.

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9. Sneak some handmade and simple gifts into everyone's Christmas stockings. Note that stockings  suddenly make so much sense, hanging by the fire place!
10. Invite everyone inside to open stockings and eat a hearty meal by the fire. We had a curried root vegetable pie and a pear and walnut salad with pomegranate juice, followed by fruit cake with vanilla bean ice cream and spiced, poached pears. And gingerbread and spicy apple cider before bed. Retire to bed with warm tummies and happy hearts.

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11.Wake the next morning and welcome the morning sun with a family yoga session. Sun salutations are totally appropriate. Then set the table for a breakfast feast of sunshiny things -  We had oranges, bananas and yoghurt with lemon flavoured water.
12. Send the family off for adventures while sneaking a quiet afternoon at home - phew!
13. Welcome everyone home, light the fire, have sunshiny eggs for an early dinner and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.
14. Tuck happy and exhausted owlets into bed early and snuggle by the fire with a loved one and a cat or two… Look forward to bed and festivals to come.

Yuletide blessings, friends. I hope your weekend has been gorgeous too. xx








16 June 2014

Working at Creativity


The other night I dreamt that Pip was working in a corner of my bedroom putting an excellent new workshop together and there was a surprise permaculture seminar in my lounge room. I couldn't work out where all the people were coming from. Pip thought it was happening because I'd started blogging again. Huz and I mused on that with her for a while… and the people flowed in through the front door. I was SO UPSET about how dirty and dusty my house was. But it was happening anyway and it was exciting. 

The message wasn't lost on me… Just put pen to paper, needle to fabric, hook to yarn, ink to squeegee and begin. It's been so long since I allowed myself to make anything for me, other than words for this blog or Spiral Garden. In a nest with three busy owlets and a list of jobs and chores longer than my arm… Plus my lovely Huz who I can never have enough time with… I'm always putting everything else first. I really have to battle (mostly with myself) for creative time. It seems frivolous. But to make time for creativity is key to my happiness and health. It's one of my favourite and most important forms of self-nurture. It's what gets me dreaming about what's next, pushing me forward. There's an excited little creative ball of energy stuck inside me and I really need to do something about it. Just for me (and possibly those I live with - ha!). Regardless of the state of my nest. And it's time to commit to working on my bigger permaculture plans because there really is no better time. I'm hopeful the two will combine. 

Huz will begin his PDC in a couple of weeks, which will be HUGE for him in terms of thinking outside the work/life box and finding out about all things permaculture. I'm very excited for him. I'm hoping it'll be the beginning of some exciting future thinking for us, in which we give back to our community. 

For me, my focus will be extracting some of those seeds of ideas I've had forever. Getting my creative juices really flowing and MAKING ALL THE THINGS! Not just the ones that I can put in our shop or make to order, but the ones that make me happy. Who knows where they will lead? Somewhere exciting, I hope. 

Do you have creative plans that you struggle to let out?
How do you make time for creativity? 
I've been looking at this e-course and I think it will be really fantastic. I can't quite afford it this month, but if you do, let me know how it went, ok? 

xx 

11 June 2014

30 Ways to Enjoy Winter :: Beating the Winter Blues

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Once upon a time I was a winter person. Always preferring to rug up rather than strip off, I liked winter's crisp air and stark light. Then I moved to Tasmania. Winter is very beautiful here, but it always takes some bolstering to be ready for the cold and the shortened daylight hours. Along with some vitamin D, we need to have a bunch of things up our sleeves to make it fun and keep us happy. Here are 30 ideas for keeping us (and hopefully you) active, warm and happy this winter.

UntitledMorning yum v.2 #chickensoup #leftovers #winter #bowlfood
In her element #arvotea #scones #tinyowlet

Wake up with yoga or some other movement that stretches your body and calms your mind.
Eat something nurturing, fresh and rainbow-coloured.
Try some different teas or warm drinks. Find one you like. Make a ritual of it.

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Go for a walk in nature.
Spend time in a landscape that's bigger than you.
Find inspiration in beautiful things that are much smaller than you.
Find a pub with a fire and cosy up over food and drinks, while recounting a long outdoor adventure.

It took three years but I finally finished Little Owlet's ric rac doll #shes wry happy #stillhavetomakeitswardrobe #sigh  #babiesshiftprioritiesok #done
We love our local farmers market. Do you? WIN a gorgeous Phoebe Wahl "Support Local Farmers" print OR a super fun "Lets Go the Farmers Market" kit! Comment on this photo or send us a message and let us know how you first heard about Spiral Garden. Was it

Make something by hand for someone you love.
Send a letter in the post.
Go to a concert or a film. Come to Hobart for Dark MOFO.
Visit a farmers' market. Make it part of your week.
Spend some time in a book shop or oppy and find a book you like. Devour it. 
Do something that challenges you - like my brave and wonderful Dad, on the first day of Winter.
Learn something new or how to refine something you do. I've been doing this.
Take a course -  Maybe an e-course or something local… This looks good.

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Plan a little getaway - visit a shack, go somewhere beachy, have a sleepover at a friend's place.
Light a campfire in the backyard.
Cook something in the coals.
Spend time gardening - plan, explore seed or tree catalogues, plant green manure, make compost.
Look for edible winter greens in your neighbourhood. Get to know your weeds. 

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Spend time with people who make you feel happy.
Wear something colourful everyday.
Wear what makes you feel good (even if it's texta all over your face, like Tiny).
Buy or knit some warm woollen socks.
Layer up. “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” ~ Ranulph Feinnes

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Sort through your things. Think about what you need. Make space. 
Decorate a little corner of your home. 
Buy or make some art, then find a spot for it in your home.
Celebrate the dark. Turn the lights out and light candles and enjoy the quiet.
Take a long bath with oils, colours, candles… and someone you love, who makes you giggle. 

What are your winter survival tips?
Happy wintering! xx

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