Friday, December 8, 2017

let the sun shine in

It feels a little superficial and silly to say that a living space has changed my life, but our new sun room really has. When it's wet and windy outside - it's protected and warm inside, when there are dishes in the sink and the laundry waiting to be hung - you can literally close the door and turn your back on them, when it feels dark and gloomy in the house - it's bright and airy in the sun room, when you want to jam with your sisters, clean and sharpen your knife collection, darn in the ends of your socks, drink your morning coffee, make plans for your birthday party, grow plants that are a little fragile, read your book, do your homework, practise your instrument, chat on the phone... the sun room is the place to be.

Bren promises me that he'll never get sick of me gushing about how happy I am with that space, but surely 50 plus times a day must be pushing his limits.

This past week Bren and Jobbo continued paving outside the laundry. Hopefully by next week there will be an undercover clothesline and a big door at the end to close it all off.

The paving also continued to make a landing out the front door to to welcome you from the garden into the house. It's almost time to plant some grass seeds out the front and plan where the new veggie gardens will go.

This week I spent a lot of time weeding the garden, staking some plants that got knocked over in the storm, planting and harvesting.

It looks like the first of the zinnias might burst into bloom any day now which excites me no end. I've actually enrolled in an online flower farming course starting in the new year. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now and when the opportunity arose I took it. At this stage I have no idea what it means for the future of Daylesford Organics but I do love the thought of growing rows and rows of colourful blooms. I also really love the fantasy of dressing my girls in linen aprons and sending them off down the rows to pick armfuls of flowers at dusk for my photo shoots. Watch this space...

In the meantime that wild jungle of a self-seeded corn flower bed that I've been threatening to pull out for weeks now is a vision of green and blue and providing us with the prettiest posies.

The cat is still playing hide and seek and jumping out at me from all the most unexpected places.
I've been knitting up a couple of child sized socks for my master class at the Soul Craft festival.

In my class I'll be showing you how to knit a sock just like this. Using a circular needle we'll cast on the toe (pale blue), knit up the foot (red), increase for the gusset (navy), turn the heel (pink/green), knit up the leg (grey), rib for the cuff (yellow), and finish with a stretchy bind off. 

If sock knitting is something you've been thinking about trying for a while, if you've knitted socks cuff down and want to try toe up, if you want to ditch the DPN's for circs and the magic loop, then this class is for you. Imagine the fun we're going to have. I'm so excited.

Please click on this link to check out the amazing program of speakers and demonstrations and masterclasses on offer. (If you book into my class on Saturday the 9th June, your ticket includes entry to the festival, the speakers and demonstrations, a curated market, community projects, craft dating (I'm not actually sure what that is - sounds interesting), lots of spaces to sit and make, delicious food and opportunities to connect with other crafters. Sounds cool, right!

And other than all of that I've been planting cucumbers, eating broad beans, going to all of the end of year performances, reading Morris Gleitzman's After, counting down til the last drive of the school year, wondering if we should pull the rest of the garlic out, hoping for a bit of weekend sunshine it's freezing today, looking for some inserts for some old wire hanging baskets, feeling all of the feels about our girls going into grade 5, year 9 and year 12(!!!!!) next year and listening to my tummy grumbling I think it's time for lunch.

I hope you're doing really well my friends.
Has a space ever changed your life?
Do you ever feel like you're on top of the weeding?
Are you going to come and hang out with me at the Soul Craft festival?
Do you have plans to start something new next year?
Do you have something fun planned for this weekend?

I hope you have a great one!
See you next week.

Love Kate x

Friday, December 1, 2017


It's the first of December and the first day of summer and I have a head ache. I went to bed with it last night and woke up with it this morning. I'm not somebody who usually suffers from headaches and I'm unsure if this one is due to pmt, to the stress of the past few days getting prepared for the crazy amounts of rain forecast to fall this weekend, to some sort of barometric pressure (?), or if it's just here in my head telling me to slow down and have a quiet day on the couch. In any case it's really making it impossible for me to think straight, let alone type coherent sentences.

So it's another post that's heavy on photos - light on words from me today.

This week we pulled out a bunch of old tea pots that we inherited when we bought our farm. We filled them up with herbs and flowers and popped them outside the front door.

I spent a lot of time this week shuffling plants around the new green-house space. I made big colourful groups of pots, then I thinned them out a bit, then I stuck to the same colour scheme, and then I changed my mind and started all over again. I'm definitely a 'the more the merrier' type of plant lover, but I also want it to be easy on the eye. I guess I'll keep on moving them until they feel right and then I'll move on to a different corner of the room.

This week we found out that due to the impending heavy rains, our big girls were coming home from school camp a day early. Because I'd been busy in the garden, I'd left all the usual jobs I do for the girls when they come home from camp to the last minute, and so they wouldn't be returning to fresh bed-sheets and their favourite meals. Instead I made a mad dash around and picked them some posies for their bedrooms. Luckily they loved them. 

This week we finally made a start on the tomatoes. I forgot to take a photo but you can just see the patch between the bean tee-pee and the cubby. So far we've planted over a hundred plants with more to go in next week.

This week we tied up all the tall, gangly plants so they don't fall over in the rains.

This week our over-wintered carrots went to seed. I offered them to a local wedding florist who might use them for her functions this weekend, how gorgeous would that be.

This week we started eating peas from the garden.

This week I spent a lot of time looking out of these windows into the garden, and in these windows to the green-house. I still can't believe how much I love it every time I see it.

And this week we watched a few more episodes of Ozark, I started reading my sister Abby's review copy of Fen Stories, I finished turning the heels and began knitting up the legs of my tree socks, I was humbled and excited and slightly terrified when The Soul Craft Program came out and my talk and class are included, I picked and ate loads of strawberries, I didn't listen to any podcasts because I've lost my head-phones, I sat by the lake and watched the Daylesford kids swim, I hilled the potatoes and weeded the onions, I pulled some of the garlic and left the rest, I listened to Bren's tractor working in the apples until late every night, I loved Pepper's class play, I missed our big girls and I felt exhausted but oh so happy with the choices we have made that have bought us this life we live.

I hope you've had a lovely week.
Tell me a couple of things you've been up to. I'd love to read them.

Until next Friday...(can you believe there are only four more left for this year??!)

Love Kate x

Friday, November 24, 2017

the sun room

I think I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves this week...well mostly.

I've been sitting here for the past little while scrolling up and down waiting for a first sentence to jump into my head and get me going, but I've got nothing.

This week we laid the last red brick in this section of the build, we grouted them and then washed them down. Since then I've been standing and sitting all over the room, all through the different times of the day, trying to watch the light and the shadows and the views. I am obsessively in love with this space and I still can't believe it's real and it's ours. Every time I walk out the front door I get a happy surprise and then again when I walk back in.

Every single ingredient is recycled, every bit of the build was done by Jobbo, Bren, Francis and me (if you could see the state of my grout ruined hands you'd believe it) and every single brick is perfect, except for the last one which they let me lay and by accident I banged it too hard and it's a bit lower than the rest. Oh well.

It is everything I dreamed it would be and I can hardly wait to fill it up with plants, to make more dangley macrame plant hangers and to build a chunky farm-house table and surround it with old mismatched wooden chairs.

Bring on the early morning coffees looking out over the garden, bring on reading pages of books underneath the shady table in the middle of the day, bring on homework spread out over the table, cocktails at the window bar, big dinners with family and friends filling the space, winter warmth as the low sun hits the windows and it becomes a sun-room...the list goes on.

Thanks heaps for joining us on this build so far. Next week we're continuing down the front of our house with some covered decking and who knows what else. We're pretty good at making this stuff up as we go along.

And just to keep things on track and not veer to far from my usual bog post...

I'm reading my Mum's library copy of Manhattan Beach and loving it. It's beautifully written historical fiction that keeps me up way too late at night.

I'm one and a half episodes into Jon Ronson's The Butterfly effect podcast and so far so good. Gosh I love listening to Jon's voice, and what a great story teller.

And in the tiny bit of knitting time I have during these crazy busy late spring days, I'm turning the second heel of the tree socks, I'm eating lots of strawberries as they ripen, missing our big girl who's been hiking since last Saturday, enjoying our middle girl's obsession with botanical painting and loving our youngest's garden potions and fairy rings. I'm eating lots of salads with feta and lemon juice, trying to drink enough water, contemplating buying a pair of shorts to wear to the gym, smashing the laundry basket, watching Ozark, remembering to stop and smell (and dead-head) the roses, worrying about snakes, and weeding, weeding, mowing, weeding.

I'd best be going, I'd love to mow a few rows of the orchard before it gets too hot.

Are you watching/listening/reading/growing/making anything exciting lately?
Do you have a favourite place to sit and watch the world go by?
Do you think it's crazy that we still don't have our tomatoes in?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with whatever it is that makes you most happy.

See ya next week.

Love Kate x

Friday, November 17, 2017

when it rains

Some weeks trickle along. Little moments propel us forward: packing lunch-boxes, weeding the garden, listening to podcasts, mowing the orchard, going to gym, driving the girls around...until all those little meetings and moments and musings gather together to form the week that was.

And then other weeks feel like a gush. If you're not careful they'll knock your legs out from under you and carry you down the flooded stream, feet first.

This past week feels like the latter. Each day felt full of change and development and motion and emotion. Some days I found myself grinning like a clown and on others hiding in an overgrown patch of the garden pulling up fistfuls of weeds trying to remember to breathe.

On Wednesday our Indigo turned 17. SEVENTEEN!!! That little baby who turned us into parents all those years ago. What a gift it is to be her mother. To watch her, to listen to her, to guide her and to be guided by her. We celebrated her with chocolate bullets, with cards and presents, with mangos and chocolate covered strawberries. What a gift you are to us Indigo Apple, our wishes for you are filled with music and passion, with love and learning and indoor plants. It's so exciting to watch the world open up to you and your sparkly eyes. xxxx

This week I was offered a great new writing job. Funny how these things happen. Ever since Slow Living magazine closed earlier this year, I've been wanting to write something more than just my blog. Not being quite ready to close myself off to the world and start work on a book, I thought that some articles and stories would be perfect. And then one day last week I got a message, had a meeting, and now I have a new job. Yay! I'll fill you in on the details when it's all official.

And then, not long after the first job was offered, I got a phone call about a one off speaking/teaching job. Again I'll fill you in on the details when I'm allowed to, but let's just say I'm very excited about this one.

I wrote a blog a few months ago about being okay with my simple life and not wanting to always be looking for and hunting something bigger and newer and more exciting. A few days ago I was driving home from school and had to pull over several times to talk to different people about the details of my new jobs when it occurred to me that I hadn't hunted it but here I was moving forward and although it is scary and new, I think I'm ready for this new stage. I think my self confidence needed it. I'm excited.

Also this week we had to pull out the first of our garlic, even though the cloves haven't separated yet. On Wednesday an earth mover came to do some work at the front of our house and the garden beds they were in were in the way. It's been wonderful to have the garlic flavour back in our meals this week. And it'll be amazing to landscape what's now a mud pit, with grass and garden and a deck.

The next thing was the rain. On Thursday morning on my drive out to school it rained so hard and there was so much water that I hurt my wrist gripping the steering wheel so tight. I had to drive so slowly but still it was scary. And it was LOUD! When I finally got home I was completely rattled and it took me ages to calm down enough to focus on the jobs I had to do. But ever since then I've noticed that the garden has exploded; colourful flowers have popped, plants have germinated, thickened up, grown tall, started climbing. And the roses!! Wow!! What a show they're giving us this year.

And then of course the green-house build continued. It took a while to convince my farmer boy that we should pull up the perfectly good (but oh so ugly) concrete that was there already and use old red bricks to pave it instead, but gosh it's going to be worth it. Even though we're not allowed to walk on them yet and have to play hop-scotch every time we leave the house, I'm head over heels in love already.

And I'm ever so grateful to Frobden, (Francis, Jobbo, Bren), for making my dreams come true and not whinging too much about your sore hands and backs. xxxx

After a long discussion recently about the fact that craft in our family and on our farm is a seasonal thing, I feel okay with the fact that I've only knitted a couple of inches this past week. When you're working outside from morning to last light, when your hands are so dirty you can't wash them clean anymore, and when your arms and legs ache from the weight of the day, knitting often gets left by the way-side. But when I do have a crazy week like the one that's just been, all action and full of decisions and brick dust, then a few rows of sock knitting feels just like home and is exactly what I need.

For those who have asked about sock knitting recently, please forgive my lack of personal response.

I swear by Wendy D Johnson's book - Socks From The Toe Up. I use her basic sock pattern for every single pair of socks I knit. I use everything in it from the cast on, to the slip stitch heel, to the cast off. I love it and highly recommend it to everyone from beginner to advanced.

Ravelry details here.

And lastly is the cat. She's not particularly great at snuggling on the couch but whenever I'm in the garden she's always with me. Creeping up and then jumping out on me making me scream, rubbing against my legs or back, making me laugh with her antics and then plopping herself down for a bath and a nap exactly where I need to be working. Love that funny kitten.

Love that first red strawberry of the season picked and eaten this morning before school, love the way the big seeds pop out of the soil with their seed hats on, love finishing great books (Bella and Chaim) that stay in my thoughts for days afterwards, love picking armfuls of flowers from the garden, love flexing my biceps and seeing actual muscles for the first time in my life, love binge listening a great podcast series, love thinking about the approaching summer school holidays, love getting a text message from a friend asking me for a beer, love hearing the sound of the tractor coming up the hill and knowing that my farmer boy is coming in for lunch, love you guys and the beautiful and insightful messages you send me, love that Australia voted YES for same sex marriage and that love is love is love is love.

Hope the view outside your window is a pretty one this afternoon.
Did you have a good week? Did anything exciting happen?
Are you reading a good book? Planning a feast? Stopping to smell the roses?
I hope something unexpected and quite wonderful is right around the corner.

Lots of love,

Kate xx

Friday, November 10, 2017

the antidote

The other day I was walking Miss Pepper down the hill into her school. I think we were just on time with not a moment to spare. We were both wearing overalls, we were holding hands and she was skipping along beside me, pulling me forward, chattering away about something or other. Along the way we greeted other people, asked them questions and answered theirs.

At one point when we passed two teachers from her school, one of them remarked on how easy I make parenting look. We took a few more steps until I realised what she'd said and turned back to thank her. She elaborated a bit, I told her briefly about my experience with the woman at the festival the week before, and we all agreed that I would use her kind words to cancel out the other's nasty ones. Like an antidote. Or anti-venom. 

Then I skipped Miss Pepper out into the school garden to play, and went about my day.

Hours later when I met my farmer boy in the kitchen for coffee we filled each other in on the stories of our mornings. He'd driven the big girls to school and I'd bumped into a friend in the fruit shop. As we were finishing off and about to leave I remembered the kind words the teacher had spoken to me. 

A week before when a complete stranger criticised my parenting I took it straight to heart. I agonised, I cried, I couldn't get it out of my head, I felt terrible and I couldn't let it go. Yet when someone I know and trust, someone who sees so many parents with children, someone who is in my day to day life, compliments me on the same things, I feel happy and then promptly forget about it.

When you look at it with a bit of distance, there's something about that story that isn't quite right.

I should have nodded politely at that woman at the festival, been upset for a few minutes and then dismissed her as a cuckoo and gotten on with my day. And then a week later I should have felt thrilled with the teacher's comments. I should have taken them into my heart, replayed them over and over, told them to everyone I met and used them to feel good about myself and my parenting.

Why am I so quick to believe a nasty stranger and so quick to dismiss a kind friend?

I keep asking myself if deep down in my heart I felt like the stranger saw my truth and was exposing me for the terrible person I am, but I know that's definitely not true. Not at all. In retrospect I think her tirade was possibly more about her and less about me anyway.

Bren thinks it might be in the delivery. If the stranger had made a rude comment and then left me to walk away and the teacher had shouted compliments at me for two whole minutes, then my response might have been different. Makes sense.

I don't know the answer but I am happy to sit with it for a while. Happy to try harder to take compliments deep into my heart and deal with criticism appropriately. Happy to report that two weeks after the verbal abuse at the festival I feel over it and that although I'll probably tell the story when it comes up for weeks to come, it doesn't hurt me anymore. 

This is the only photo I took on my big camera on our four day trip to Sydney for my birthday. Miss Jazzy in a vintage shop in Newtown trying on Converse runners.

We also went to markets, watched Beautiful the Carol King musical, ate out, drank lots of coffee, visited my cousin and his sweet family, visited the Opera House and the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, watched a movie, caught buses and trains and taxis, looked at the Bondi - Sculptures by the Sea, listened to all the noises of the people in the apartments above and beside us, squirmed with embarrassment and horror at some late night loud activity above, tried to laugh (and debrief) about it the next morning, thought longingly of the acres of space surrounding our house back home, op shopped, wool shopped, book shopped, and came home feeling happy and celebrated.

We were only away for four days but gosh it was wonderful to wake up on Wednesday morning and see our place with fresh eyes. All the colour and growth and beauty. All the mowing and weeding that needs to be done too.

Over the past week these two toes are all that I've crafted. The other night I knitted a few rows of a pattern into the next bit but then I undid them because they didn't feel right. I'm not sure where to go from here. Part of me wants to decide quickly and get on with the knitting part and the security of knowing that I've got a project on the go and another part of me is enjoying the design insecurity. 

I always feel happiest when I have a good book and a good knitting pattern to turn to at the end of the day, it's strange to think that I've been working such long hours lately that I haven't had much time for either.

And this is the birthday present I bought myself in Sydney last week. It's going to become a sweater before too long. It was hard for me to move away from the blue and grey section, but Miss Jazzy really loved this brown and the photo that goes with the pattern I plan to knit is this brown, so I chose it and so far, I'm pleased I did. Watch this space for updates.

Oh and farmer Bren chose that black on the right for a new beanie. Black is also something new for him, I'm interested to see how we go with it.

And now I'd really like to thank you guys - for your kindness, for your birthday wishes, for your sweetness, and for your sunshine. You guys fill my life with so much wonderful and I'm ever so grateful.

I hope your weekend is great, I hope the people you meet up with are kind and I hope that someone surprises you with a compliment and that you take it into your heart and use it to make yourself feel strong and awesome. 

Love Love


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