Thursday, November 19, 2015


I should be doing so many things right now that my head hurts. I could list them but I suspect that wouldn't help.

I thought spending 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer might help. So I got changed and hopped on and loaded a podcast, but then something happened and it didn't work so I had to get back down and turn it off at the wall. And now I'm sitting here in my exercise gear thinking it might have been a blessing after all, because wearing exercise gear makes me feel good and sporty, but exercising makes me sweaty and tired, and if I have any hopes of doing any of the things I have to do before the night is through, then tired is not going to help.

So while I'm here and procrastiblogging I want to talk a little bit about handmade. The giving and the receiving of handmade to be precise.

If you have ever read this blog before you'll know that I'm a bit of an obsessive hand maker. Despite the cost of the materials and the time it takes to make something, I'd rather make it a million times more than I'd like to buy it. And because I make stuff myself, I know how much time, energy, effort, money and love goes into handmade.

And because it does take all that, I love to make and give things to other people. I like to choose the project carefully, gather the materials together and then make the object with the giftee in mind.

Recently I knitted the socks in the top photo for a friend who I haven't seen in years and years. Good quality sock yarn isn't cheap and the socks took me a couple of weeks to knit but I loved every second. And while I made them I thought about my friend and how she's going through such a difficult time, and I felt happy that I could knit a bit of my heart into them and send them off in the post to her.

But then as I was knitting the last few stitches I started wondering about giving a handmade gift to someone who may or may not make things by hand herself. Would she understand what my socks and I were saying? Would she think a gift of socks out of the blue is a pretty weird thing? Would she even know that they are hand knitted?

Would she feel loved every time she put her toes in them and pulled them up over her heels? Would she be happy that although life might be a bit crappy at times, someone somewhere down south cares about her? Would she save them for special occasions, or would she wear them everyday?

And does any of that really matter because I loved making them and I loved making them for her and making them made me feel a tiny bit less helpless?

In other news, today the sock knitter, me, got a pair of socks in the post from another sock knitter, Donna from New Zealand. Up until the time that I opened the parcel I'd been having a pretty overemotional day, mainly due to the crazy list of things I have to do that I mentioned before. But that all changed when I pulled out those socks. Those beautiful socks.

And I noticed how they are made up of so many scraps of wool which means Donna would have had to darn in all the ends. And I saw that they are crazily beautiful and happy. And I felt giddy about all those stitches and all those hours and all those kind hearted feelings. I was, and still am, overwhelmed.

I guess I'm just interested in what you think.
Are you a hand maker and giver?
Does handmade have more, or less, value to you?
Can you personally feel the love in a handmade present?
Do you think I should write a note explaining that I knitted them?
Do you think I should stop this and get on with what I really should be doing?

I know you're right.



Oh and the socks at the top are raveled here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

a birthday in the forest



It's funny how time changes us. How the years help us to rearrange our priorities and see cracks in what we once held as truth. Seasons pass, and we experience, and we learn, and hopefully we grow. And sometimes the things we once thought to be law are not the only way any more.

Sometimes it's hard to let go, but often we have no choice.


Three years ago after planning and preparing and throwing 25 birthday parties for my girls, I wrote a blog post stating my 10 ingredients for a top birthday party. Since that post we have celebrated seven more birthdays in much the same way; themes, invitations, crafts, activities, games, food, cake, presents.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are from my own childhood birthday parties and some of my best parenting moments are from parties we've thrown for our girls.


But this year something felt different. Something had changed.

I'm not sure if it was the fact that we had just spent three months away from the farm and were feeling completely overwhelmed with all that we had to do upon our return. If maybe after 32 birthday parties we felt burnt out and in need of a change. If the fact that four of our birthdays fall in a five week period would mean that planning and throwing parties would be all that I would have time for upon our return. If the thought of 10 or 20 kids running wild for three hours with their inevitable sugar highs and lows didn't feel all that appealing. If we needed a break from planning and playing the same old games...I don't know.

But once I had allowed myself to acknowledge the doubt, there was no turning back.

And then a couple of months ago in Greece, after overhearing the intricate and in-depth plans for a Harry Potter themed eighth birthday party, I made my decision for certain. This year would be birthday extravaganza free.

I have to admit there were some tears and a MASSIVE tantrum to begin with. Birthdays and friends and treats and presents have become a package deal.

And there was a huge chunk of guilt on my part too. I knew that our decision was right, but it hurt my heart to deny my loved ones what they so desperately wanted.

But what I wanted and what I looked forward to, was a complete change of plan. I wanted to reinvent our way of celebrating, even if only for this year.

I wanted to really focus on the handmade; for presents, for activities and for snacks. I wanted to keep it as small and as intimate as could be. I wanted to put an emphasis on this beautiful environment that we are lucky enough to call home and gorgeous springtime that makes our special days sunny and bright. And mostly, I wanted to look at the birthday person and plan a celebration that suited them.


On the weekend we celebrated Miss Indi's birthday, with a pancake breakfast, a hand knitted crown (raveled here), a pile of hand made cards, a tiny spoon necklace carved from apple-wood and lots of freshly cut bunches of flowers.


In the afternoon we five and her grandparents took a table into the forest and had a picnic made up of some of her favourite foods. We made gods eye's, we listened to her favourite music (which is also her grandparents' fave music), we started stringing up our forest weaving loom and farmer Bren carved the beginnings of a sycamore spoon.

It really felt like we were all gathered to celebrate our freshly turned 15 year old. It felt like we had time, that we were really ourselves and it made me happy.


And even though I have no idea how we'll celebrate next year, I have loved this year and hope that some of our new found ways of celebrating each other become family traditions. The week's lead up making cards and presents, the bush walk, the chocolate chip cookies, the picnic, the hand knitted crown, the pancakes, the birthday person as DJ, the forest craft.

The simple yet perfect celebration of someone we adore.

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