Monday, January 31, 2011

A letter of thanks and appreciation

To Whom it May Concern,
I wanted to write to you to inform you that whilst browsing my local charity shop last week, I found the beautiful tank top you knitted. I don't know who you are or who you knitted it for, but I wanted to write to you and thank you for it.I'm sorry that it ended up in the charity shop unworn. I'm sorry that the little body you knitted it for never got to feel the softness of the wool or the warmth of the love you invested into every stitch. I'm sorry that the time, energy and love you spent making this went completely unappreciated by the mother and father.So, I wanted to tell you how much I love it. I appreciate the gorgeous, soft 100% wool yarn that you chose. The colour is beautiful and goes with everything. The wool is so warm and keeps little Joa's core so snug and cosy. I love the pattern . It is so simple, but the cable along the bottom is really special. It feels 'Irish' and modern at the same time. I'd love a copy of the pattern! So, thank you dear knitter. I know that this isn't the little person that was in your mind as you looped the wool over your needles, but I wanted you to know that all the love and care and attention that you put into this beautiful piece has not gone unnoticed and unappreciated.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Yours, in love and appreciation,
Laura and Joa

Saturday, January 29, 2011

the big day out

Oh what a wonderful day we had yesterday. We travelled back to East Cork to spend the day with friends.
We arrived at my wonderful friend Lucy's house mid morning, just in time for home cooked pancakes and incredible coffee. We talked and talked, and the kids played and played until lunch time.
Lucy and Patrick are very lucky to be a part of and live right next door to the Ballymaloe Cookery school, so we wandered across at lunch time to partake of Saturday Pizza. Oh my was it good! We had 3 types, pepperoni, plain garlic and goats cheese and rocket.

It was so yummy, Rebe and Benny ate a full 12" pizza between them and begged for more.

There was a wonderful relaxed atmosphere.

Benny had borrowed a toy drill from Lucy's daughter Merrily and did much fixing of the place.

The cookery school grows it's own produce and also has chickens, cows and pigs. All of which we got to visit. The kids particularly loved the pigs, who gobbled up handfuls of grass they picked for them (and one even tried to nibble Rebe's coat to much giggling).

But that wasn't the end of our day. We had been invited to a very special friends 5th Birthday party at an indoor play area near by...
The kids ran and tired themselves out and ate Helen's incredible Lego cake, until I nearly had to carry them to the car.
It was a wonderful day filled with memories we'll treasure.
Today we are going to have a calm day filled with peace, and playing and baking and stories.
Hope you all had wonderful weekends too :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

sewly, sewly catch a monkey

(did you notice the play on words there lol)

As you have probably picked up from this blog I love knitting. I taught myself to knit about 2 years ago and I haven't stopped. But for a while now I have had a desire to sew.
I don't know why but I have felt so intimidated by it. My mother is an amazing sew-er. She makes the most incredible things (many of which have appeared here too) and they are all so beautifully finished and we just adore them. I long to be able to sew like her. So for the past few months/ weeks I have been learning.

I suppose 'being able to sew' for me means being able to draw up my own patterns.
I don't tend to knit from patterns anymore either. This is for a couple of reasons;
1. My printer is broken (Benny put foreign objects in it) so I can't print patterns off the computer and I don't have time to write them all out by hand.
2. I am too lazy. I knit in the evenings mostly when I'm quite tired and the effort of counting stitches and rows and stopping knitting to look at a pattern is too much like hard work for me
3. I have a complete inability to understand the wording and struggle with things like 'decrease at end of each row' what?
4. I tend to have a picture in my head of exactly what I want to make and I can never find a pattern for it.

So, I am slowly learning to sew, to make patterns and to make things look ok...

These two little books are my bible. I picked the kids one up from a jumble sale and fell in love straight away. I want to make everything in it for the kids. I noticed in the foot notes that the author wrote a dolls clothes book and of course I invested immediately :-)
I have made quite of dolls clothes from it, and nearly, almost managed to completely follow a pattern, but more than anything I am learning techniques.

I am writing patterns, and I am finally being able to visualise something and then make it in real life. I had in my head that this dolly needed a little green dress, with a peter pan collar. My first attempt was about 3 inches too small.the collar was way to wide on my second attempt, but then I got it.I'm really please with it and more than anything it has given me more confidence (hence the post).
The next thing I need to focus on is being a bit tidier and more organised. I'm very lazy sometimes and my drawers can end up like this...

But I am enjoying it, perhaps the kids will get some mama made clothes this year (although I cunningly bought a copy Little Clothes for Little People for my mum too) and she's brilliant at taking requests :-)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'Anything can be anything'

I have been reading a little about play recently and came across this passage in Sharifa Oppenheimer's book Heaven on Earth:

'Children need play materials that are open-ended enough to meet new needs each day, to fill the demands of their imagination. A toy needs to be 'unformed' enough to be reasonably used as many things, in many circumstances.'

I think this is so true, I try to make sure that all toys that are in our house can be used in many ways, but really it is the children that do this job for me, preferring toys (and objects) that they can use in their own games, in their own way.

I think there is a lot to do with the senses here. I have not read anything about this but just from watching the kids I see that shape is important.
This is Benny's shower. He sees the shape of the water falling from from the faucet.
It is also to do with texture, a soft toilet paper bed for a stone baby.

Movement is also important, this box glides along the floor just like a sleigh and a scarf makes the perfect harness for this reindeer.

I love it, the kids open my eyes so much to layers of things hidden within an object. I just have to shake off my grown-up's simple way of looking at an object as it is and see it's colour, shape, smell, texture. See things for what they can be, their true potential and use (is there a lesson for life there?)
a dragon being cooked over a fire on a stove/ a doll in a pot on a cushion on a stool

space hero's about to blast off/ brother and sister in Joa's cot

a 'blaster' for monsters/ a piece of wood with scribble on it

apple juice and cookies/ old food colouring bottles and rubber car tyres

a hobo's bag with a little lost cat in it/ Mio in a blanket hooked up with a coat hanger (there is a lot of milage in a coat hanger and blanket)

This is the Queen of Ireland's treasure chest (look it's that b****y slipper again)

and her is the beautiful queen herself. Oh, how she brings light into my life. Thank you for teaching me so much Rebe x

Monday, January 24, 2011


When there's no sand and no mud, the next best things are pasta, rice and lentils...

A lovely morning spent digger-ing

brown bread and roasted veggies for soup

I love wearing Joa in the sling. I have been carrying him on my back for months now. It leaves me hands free to get on with things. He's up and being stimulated and cuddled and we're all happy except.... he is now spending all him time in the sling pulling out those tiny little hairs at the nape of my know the ones that really hurt, that make your eyes water and teeth gnash?
so I have been experimenting with a bit of Joa protection. This works best so far as he can't pull it off like a hat.

Only thing is I feel like I look like Flo, Andy Capps wife (feel like her too sometimes lol).

Oh this little man is so close to crawling, he's going backwards so I'm often finding him like this, stuck! I feel we are nearing the end of the finally infancy in this household. It is exciting!
Hope you all had good weekends x x

Saturday, January 22, 2011

all-by-myself trousers

I'm grabbing a few moments while Saturday morning den making is going on to write this post.
Benny has been potty trained for quite a while now (he started on his 2nd birthday, completely self lead). However, he has been struggling a bit with going to the loo by himself, finding pulling down trousers, tights and pants a bit tricky. This has meant that I have had to drop everything 6 or 7 times an hour to take him to the loo. So I decided the dude needed a wardrobe revamp. I found these great trousers online in the sale. I am so delighted with them. They are winter trousers, reversible with a lovely cotton print and lined with corduroy. They have a pocket on each side and are beautifully made.

I got 4 pairs; monkeys, turtles, bugs and lady birds. I felt it was a good investment as he can get them on and off himself and also they will do for Joa in a few years time. I also went to our local drapers (I'd love to take some pictures of this place, it's like a time warp) and got him pants in a size too large, which again he can manage by himself. As the trousers are thick and warm I feel we can manage without tights and if it's very cold I'll put some leg warmers on him. So now, he can go to the toilet 'all by myself'... and I may get a hot cup of coffee!

While I was out I scored this bargain from the Spillers Lane Children's Project. A charity shop that sells only toys and books, the proceeds going to a Children's project in India. This pram is a gorgeous vintage one, it's large and sturdy and cost a mere 5 euro! It's funny because I was just saying at playgroup the day before I would love to get a good pram for the kids as they have wrecked their buggies pushing each other around in them.

We ended the day with a very lovely, formal tea party with a special friend of ours.
Good day all round.

Friday, January 21, 2011

letting go...

Yesterday I had a lesson in letting go.

When Rebe got home from school she was in one of those moods. She was bored and didn't know what to do. In the past I would have listed endless suggestions or started her off on projects. However, after reading Simplicity Parenting I have realised that boredom is actually gift.

'that frustrating, "nothing to do" state- is like a hush in the crowd. Silence. What whispered voice can begin to be heard? The child's inner voice. Stand back. Anything can happen. By reaching for something to do, instead of always being scheduled or entertained, children get creative. They begin building a world of their own making.'

So, I sat her down with a drink and busied myself, waiting for an idea to hit her. It did, she decided she wanted to bake using a recipe she had written by herself.

The housewife in me was silently screaming 'no, no, no, the mess, the waste, the squabbles when Benny wants to join in!' But then I remembered, one of my favourite memories, of my mother sitting us around the kitchen table (I think I was around 4) and putting lots of ingredients (although it may just have been flour and water, but I remember it as many) and allowing us to bake away, by ourselves. So, the mama in me said yes.
she wrote her recipe, gathered her ingredients (flour, milk one egg and cocoa powder and a little sugar),
and began. I took a deep breath and let it happen and kept my mouth (and sometimes my eyes) shut.

Luckily Benny was helping Andy with some fishing business so he was well occupied.

The cakes went into the oven and were baked.
When cooled Rebe iced them with chocolate spread that I had bought as a treat over the Christmas holidays and hadn't gotten eaten.

taa daa

Benny was the taster, he pretty much just licked off the spread cause the cakes were pretty yucky.

And although it was messy, she had fun and I know she learnt something. After she tasted them she went quiet for a while then said; 'I think I'll use some butter next time and some more sugar'. It was a good lesson for us all.... bring on some more boredom!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

welcome to Sarah's workshop

Hello and welcome to Sarah's workshop. It is mostly a place for gardening. This is Sarah (on the left) and her helper planting spring bulbs, in lovely new terracotta pots. They are planting daffodils, snowdrops and tulips in the round pots and lots of lavender in long pots.
Sarah is lovely, she talked us through the whole process (in other words she talked the whole time). She then invited us to live with her forever, which was nice :-)

She had so much work to do in her workshop, especially with the spills of potting compost and the watering look suspiciously like mud pies to me, but then I have no idea about proper gardening!
Of course like all good gardeners we had a tea break to sit back and admire our work.

Here are the lovely pots of lavender she planted outside her workshop, even without blooms we receive huge wafts of lavender entering and leaving the house.
It was nice to meet Sarah and see her working. I'm sure we'll see her around a lot this year!