Monday, 3 March 2014

Flower cake for a 7 year old






My baby girl turned 7 in February. She counted the days eagerly, waiting waiting.

This is her birthday party, shared with friends at the local community centre. She didn't request any silly cake decorations, and let me plan exactly how I wanted it. She did ask for a coconut cake and a chocolate cake, which of course I happily obliged her - two cakes for my beautiful girl. 

I picked these zinnias from the school garden, and I cannot tell you how simply happy they make me feel looking at them now. And watching her little face as we carried the cake out - eyes squeezed shut so she couldn't see the decorations. And loving it totally. It really couldn't have been more simple, yet more striking and eye catching and happy-inducing. I think all the school friends felt happy just looking at it - they couldn't help but keep dipping their little fingers into it. 

Mishi and I made these washi tape hearts on peach tree twigs the morning of her party. I took her hand and we went walking to gather the little twigs and then sat and stuck washi tape onto cardboard hearts. What a simply fun, enjoyable and lovely moment it was. Being ready for the party in time, and have spare time to wander and gather and craft together. 

Oh 7 Seven 7. I simply cannot quite believe you are at this milestone yet. In Steiner philosophy, seven is a new cycle - skin shedding and moving into a new rhythm. I think somehow you're leaving baby-hood more and more behind, and growing up into a young woman already. Wonderful, yet sad and scary for this mama. 

Right now you are:
Loving circus class - back bends are your absolute favourite
Wearing funky colour / print clash clothing combinations
Reading stories to yourself every day - chapter books. You lie on your bed with your legs kicking about while you read and read.
Doing cute little styles in your hair. It's still short, but you can do two sweet little piggy tails on the side.
Constantly making and creating something or other.
Continuing drawing your Foxy stories. Wow - your drawings are getting so so amazing!
Climbing into bed in the morning and playing games with daddy, giggling and tickling. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Gathered Treasures / Forest Finds





I've been making photos of some of the treasures I gather up around our forest home. I'm enjoying doing this a lot. Taking the pieces from the scattered forest floor, where they often times get lost amongst the brown of leaf litter. And putting them against a white background. Showing off these simple moments in a new environment. I've been sharing them on Instagram, but thought some of your who don't play over there might like to see them too.

I have been finding more feathers over the past few months than ever before. Gathering up their soft fluttery-ness makes my heart soar and my head sigh. They have come from all sorts of birds - emerald forest pigeon, white cockatoo, moor hen, lorikeets, parrots and more...

What treasures have you been finding and enjoying lately? 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

making the most of the light {don't rush away the days}



The kids went back to school today after an intense, but ever so fast, Summer holiday. I'm missing the holidays already. But boy was I sorta-kinda happy to put them on the bus this morning and walk home with the knowledge that I can now get started on the doing and making and planning to help the year ahead be a successful one for us, for Deadwood Creative, for our home building, for my workshops and for my creative making.

While there's so much I want to do - and I've made plans and lists and schedules (and I aim to stick to them), I also am sad that our Summer holiday is over. After such a full-on (and emotionally draining) January, I feel like we didn't really get a real and loving holiday time together as a family. I think I was rushing the holidays away, because I really needed head space from the kids. And now, I'm ever-so-sad I did that. One should never rush time away...especially when with two little ones who are ever so dear and precious.

I can feel the days already getting slightly shorter. Slowly slowly. This week I've felt myself trying to drag the day out longer. To make the most of the last few hours of sunshine. Sometimes daylight saving is annoying - other times I love it. 

On this first day back to school, I'm writing myself a mantra for how to extend the holiday feel into our daily routine.

+ Go for walks in the afternoon, or after dinner - once the dinner table is cleared
+ Bike riding in the garden in the afternoon
+ Stop work when the kids get home and be with them - delicious afternoon tea and conversation on the verandah
+ Stopping to listen to the birds calling and screeching across the sky
+ Do crafting after school with the kids
+ Have tea parties in the garden
+ Go away for weekends together - unexpected mid-term holidays
+ Take days off school if we need to, just because
+ Be late for school some times, if we need to - no excuse needed
+ Laugh and giggle together and plan what we'll do on our next holiday


Have your littles gone back to school yet? 
Are you planning all the things you'll do in your hours of kid-free time? 
Are you making delicious afternoon tea treats for when they come home? 
Here's to a new school term of happy children, content teachers and fulfilled mamas & dadas!

*these two photos are from our walk yesterday afternoon. A whole gang of black cockatoos flew over and we simply stopped in the road and watched them, and could barely count how many, but I counted my blessings that I saw them and that my babies are happy to stand and watch birds flying in the trees above us. 

Monday, 27 January 2014

{Daily Creative} Make Marks Daily


My mantra for this year is to Create Daily, each and every day. It doesn't matter what it is, or if it's perfect or finished or exactly what I had in mind. None of that matters, as long as every day I am making exploring adventuring with my creative side. 

I meet people (at my workshops or at markets) who say they aren't creative at all. "I'm an accountant, I don't have a creative bone in me".... and such. I say bah! to that. I think everyone has the ability to create beauty in their lives. Every body has creativity, sometimes they just have to explore and discover it. And oftentimes we all have to push aside we preconceived notions of creativity having to result in something artistic or perfect, or exactly what we see in our head. Mostly it's not like that at all. 

Cooking a meal for our families every night is an opportunity to show some creativity, or arranging a bunch of flowers - rather than just plonking them in a vase. Even scattering cushions across a couch, or tying a ribbon in your daughters hair. All these things are creative. Humans naturally seem to be negative about their abilities (except for those that seem to over-talk their abilities!), rather than simply doing and not judging. It's important to take the joy in the doing and that in itself is creative enough. 

I wanted to share a few creatives who have been making marks each day, through their own journal-ling process. To not have any expectations of themselves except to "make marks daily". 

Claire Atkins is a ceramicist and artist who lives and works from her beach side home near Byron Bay, NSW. She works under the name Pinky & Maurice. She lives in a warm and handcrafted home - encouraging her two teenage children with their own creativity. Claire is working on a #makemarksdaily project through her Instagram feed. Join in with Claire's #makemarksdaily tag on IG, or perhaps through your facebook page or blog.





Belinda Marshall is a Melbourne based artist and surface designer, who works with colour and mark making line work in a beautiful evocative way. Belinda is currently working on a daily #arteveryday2014 project, creating a small piece in her diary each day. I am loving this approach to her creative artistic practice - to simply make, paint, draw "I have started a daily art project, just like that! Even if it's only this tiny and sketchy!" You can see Belinda's daily project on her Instagram account, or check out her bigger artworks on her website.





I aim for this series Daily Creative to be a fortnightly addition to my blog. I'd love you to join along if you're on a daily or even weekly creative making project.

* all images, except top one (which is mine), used with thanks from Claire Atkins and Belinda Marshall.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

the reality ..... online me

I have had some beautiful comments on IG over the last few days. Well, all the comments are always beautiful, but these few particularly got me thinking about what I portray through this online personality petalplum).

Let's start with the first reality right now: I have left the dinner plates on the table, a half washed up sink of dishes, and my kids have Lego spread all across the floor in our teeny leaky shack that I'll probably step on and swear about (and yell about!) later tonight. 

So, the comments I am thinking about made my heart sing to read them as it's so lovely to be thought of in this way. But then my heart got a bit sad because people are thinking I'm zen and productive and creative with no anxiety...... While I can be these things, that's not the whole of me. In fact (and especially if you ask my family) that's only a very small part of me. Mainly am I zen when I'm sitting crocheting, which isn't so productive for getting jobs done around the home or work (paperwork mostly) stuff needing to be done.
It got me thinking about how we (I) portray myself through my Instagram feed, through this blog, and perhaps also while talking to customers at markets and such. For people know very little about me, and certain aspects of me. Only what I share. 

My friends were talking the other day about the lack of reality through social media, particularly IG. How everything is so extremely perfect and beautiful. And how they'd like to see a kid vomiting or something with that realness to it. (Though I'm totally sure they could find that if they went looking!). And I've read a few articles over the past years about people portraying only the fun, exciting, beautiful parts, and how that can affect us by watching and making us feel inferior.

I do get that. That aching feeling of why isn't my life all white walls and perfect antique / modern / vintage / retro in the hottest colour at the moment. Why doesn't my life have the Instagram filter to it! Why isn't my crochet as good, why aren't my kids as pretty, why don't I have those lovely shoes like everyone else. I've had that feeling with blogs and with Instagram. 

I want to tell you why I gave up that feeling (mostly), and how. And also, why I think it's so important that we all keep showing our online personalities as the best we can.....

Firstly - it's so unhealthy to always be looking outside of yourself for happiness, and inspiration and contentment and joy. We must learn to find happiness within, from whatever we have to offer ourselves. I found at times my stomach felt tight and knotted thinking about what I didn't have, and what someone else had, and often breathless. And I was missing out on the beauty of what I do have right here right now. Completely not seeing it, or appreciating it, or acknowledging it. 

How to give this up, you ask? It's not easy. I'll tell you that. And I think it doesn't go away completely, but I think that's ok. I think to feel that occassional tightness and breathlessness means we want to improve ourselves for the better, but first we must love ourselves. Two and a half years ago I stepped away from the blogging world I was caught up in (due to our living situation), and had time to really be where I am here and now. And enjoy and appreciate it just simply for itself. Not to notice it so I could share it online and boast about it, but to soak it up. I haven't found I needed to do that with IG. I've learnt instead to follow people who make me feel inspired by their images, their words and (most importantly) their community connections. And to feel happy for them for their wonderful situations, not jealous - because they are people who deserve good things too, and who work hard for those good things. 


Also - and this is the important one - I've learnt to notice, appreciate and love moments in my life that I can share. Be sharing them on IG and here, I sometimes take more notice of them. By photographing and thinking about a moment I take it in. Sometimes I don't take photos, I simply take in the moment - and that's the best isn't it!
So, instead of showing the ugly, uninspiring things that don't bring me joy in my life and my days, I actively choose to share the joyful creative inspiring nurturing beauty-filled moments. By noticing things I make them bigger in my life. 

I think this is such an important thing for us all to do. Yes, please do keep it real - you don't need to show off to friends, or to impress people, but if you share those moments that bring you real joy and where you see beauty you will notice it more in your own life, and find the anxiety of watching other people's perfect lives will diminish as you start to see the beauty of your life - no-one's life is perfect, those people are simply choosing to share the moments that bring them joy and beauty.

*I am not at all suggesting that we ignore everything bad in our lives, for some things do need to be looked at and dealt with and talked about. I think it's important to talk about a lot of things that are sometimes hidden. But if that's all you focus on, if you cannot find one moment of beauty, please please look harder at a flower in your street or the clouds across the sky or the meal you cooked for your family. (Or please go and talk with someone in real who can help you to love yourself and see the beauty in your day).

And please be kind to yourself!

Ellie xxx

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

ways to be kind


Things lately haven't been the easiest around here as we may be hoping for. 

Lots of things piling up and sitting solidly in my stomach. And keeping me awake at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am... Finally to fall asleep at 5.30ish as the light comes up. 

I am trying to be kind to myself. To be gentle and soft. To have few expectations of myself. To see the good in the little moments around me.

I haven't felt this tired since.... well maybe since I had Ross River Fever combined with Barmah Forest Virus. Or maybe since I was breastfeeding two children at once... Anyway. Tiredness adds to the overwhelming feeling of everything. 

I know all the things I have to complain about are nothing compared to so so SO many people around this planet of ours. And I know I have to put it into perspective. But sometimes it's ok to mope and feel down as well. 

Things I'm doing to be kind to myself. To find some quiet and peace and simple joy amongst it all. ::
- daily creative. Crochet, weaving, styling and taking photos, writing
- picking flowers for our home
- sticking things on the wall that make me happy to look at
- reminding myself with verbal quotes - visual cues help too
- hugging my kids when they need it and when i need it
- walking outside in the forest and the fresh air
- ignoring the outside noise that keeps pushing in in in to my brain (oh these school holidays really are stretching us to the limit of patience with both children, who will not stop talking or making noice of any sort. And yes- both my kids talk in their sleep!)
- seeing friends and just being with them - creative conversation is sometimes hard to make; it's ok to sit and be together quietly
- telling myself stories and dreams and planning new adventures
- thinking about a little getaway on my own or with my man (boy do we need some time away together!)
- I bought myself a new pair of sunglasses and they have a rosey tint. I've decided I'm looking at life with a rosey hue this year.

What do you do when you need to be kind to yourself? When life is throwing lots of things at you and you are trying hard to stay afloat?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

{quietly} in the creative



Each day I still long for quietly. Some days are much easier, some days are much harder. Some days despite the quiet around me, I have an inner turmoil within me. It's an always mindful practice to come back to now, to the quiet of now. That is how I best find quiet. 

To sit and breathe deeply. 
To think about my breath. 
To still the noise within my head and mind and body. 
To ignore the noise outside my self. 

To find quietly one must actively be quietly. Steady breathing still mind. 


I have slowed down on drinking coffee. Mostly in the hope that it'll stop some of the nervous anxiety I have over some things happening right now. Most days I haven't been drinking any at all, occasionally I will have one cup mindfully enjoying it.

I often find meditation in my crochet. In the steady constant stitches. Sometimes not - sometimes the stitches work themselves while the hurricane of life goes on with me caught up in it. The ideal is to find quietly and still amongst the hurricane, to bring it into daily life - not only practice while daily life is being still. 

Last week the girl and I stayed at home, while the boys went to the movies (to see The Hobbit). We wanted to do something special together, as time alone is rare. We set the table with paints and paper, and a pot of tea to share. The fallen roses and the cups on the table provided inspiration. We chatted together (that girl can barely stop talking ever!), but in a calm and quiet manner. I was still and in the moment while actively being part of the moment. 

Finding quietly within the chaos of creative is indeed a wonderful thing. Somehow you slip into a new sense of making and creating. Not thinking about what you're making, simply making. I wish for more time spent quietly with my making this year.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

in the raindrops and the early mist



"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf" Rabindranath Tagore

The weather has been quite spectacular this past month. Hot hot days combined with afternoon Summer storms. Creating beautiful scenes everywhere we look. 

I captured this lightning shot on my phone - after a crazy hot and sticky day we headed for the creek to cool down, only to be joined by the most amazing company of thunder and lightning across the valley. A quick jump in the water and then driving home in the pouring rain.

I endlessly find inspiration in the tiny minute details of a blade of grass or a thread of spider silk. A rain drop rolling down a leaf is such an intoxicating moment to enjoy.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Crochet a day :: Hexie Blanket




I'm starting as I mean go on, this year.
Apologies for not being here for the past... months? So much to fill you in on, instead I'm just going forward. {You can find me most every day on Instagram - if you don't follow me there, you can watch along online here.}

On New Year's Eve I stayed home alone and started a crochet blanket. I aim to stitch hexies every week (I'm not committing myself to one everyday, but if I got 7 made in a week that would be good). This way I'll have a blanket or maybe even two ready hopefully for Winter cool. So far I have 33 hexies made. So I'm far ahead for day 10 of the new year. 

Compared to my crochet stones, with teeny tiny hook and thread, the larger hook and thicker yarn stitch up so quickly. I'm enjoying working on them bit by bit. Last night I stayed up late stitching away and piling up the stack of hexies. So far today I haven't touched the hook or yarn - except to move it from one shelf to another. 

The pattern is from the lovely Michelle of Poppy and Bliss. Check out her delightfully fun crochet projects and bright colours.

I'm aiming to make at least 80 - 100 hexies. They're all different sizes and the yarns are a combination of op-shopped and handspun wools that I've gathered from the local yarn shop and the environment centre. We'll see how I go with joining them together.... I think it'll be an "organic" finish, but that's ok. 

For me - this year. I'm working on the idea of do it rather than the perfection of waiting to be perfect at it. There's so many things I don't get started, let alone finished, as I feel I won't be good enough. This year - good enough is good enough (not in everything, but in my personal creative making).

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Creative Business Talks - in conversation Teegs from Ink and Spindle


This image used with kind thanks to Artisan Magazine

Tegan Rose is one-beautiful half of the dynamic duo that is Ink & Spindle*; one of this country’s top bespoke screen printing businesses, and a true success story for any small business creative aiming to follow a sustainable and ethical path.

Tegan, call her Teegs, started her career as an art teacher, and discovered she liked the art making and teaching more than the department and rules. A chance meeting led her to her now business partner, Lara Cameron, and the start of a beautiful business that has grown and flourished since it's beginning five years ago.

Ink & Spindle hand screen print organic sustainable fabric, using designs that are organic and nature-based, with modern interpretations and stunning colourways. But this is not all that the pair do! Teegs and Lara are eager to share their passion for sustainable and ethical business with others by sharing their story and experiences with interns as well as their 'competitors'; other creatives and makers.

Being naturally generous, Teegs is back in her heart-home town of Byron Bay for a short while (after sailing a pirate ship from Melbourne. Yep. It's true. She's the daughter of pirates!), and can’t wait to share with you her insights into small business, staying sustainable and ethical, collaborations and partnerships, a view into the fabric and fashion industry, as well as how to stay connected to your true journey and build a work/life balance that makes you contented and fulfilled.

This talk will be an informal night, with questions being answered along the way. Teegs has a broad knowledge on pricing, wholesaling, markets and trade shows, as well as collaborating with others (collaborations include NancyBird Accessories and Matt bags), open studio days, running a Pozible campaign, applying for grants and much more. Ask the question and she’s sure to know the answer!

There’ll be cake (did I mention Teegs’ brother is a chef….), conversation, new friendships and beautiful connections made on the night. Please bring along some business cards to share with others. 

*please please go and visit the Ink & Spindle website, it's such an amazing site with fabulous features, including colour matching their designs and base cloth. I find I&S to be a youthful, vibrant partnership with forward thinking in their business aspect, combined with a heart-felt and honest approach, honouring traditional skills and environmental concerns. 

Conversation with Teegs from Ink & Spindle - Wednesday 9th October, 6.30-8.30pm. Held at Byron Lifestyle store and coffee shop, 109 Johnson St, Byron Bay. $45. Bookings essential - book online here.  

** all images used with kind thanks from Ink & Spindle website, except image of Lara and Teegs used with thanks to Artisan Magazine.
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