three years

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a bergamotOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa fruita garlicOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa orchard duska orchardOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa skya strawbsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Processed with VSCO with c7 presetOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgarden peaceOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAloversnightsceneshirine crowdsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstreets of tokoyostreetsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

It’s three years since our move to harvest moon hill yet it feels like a lifetime ago when we lived in the ‘burbs. So much has happened over the past year, yet not a lot has changed. We are still struggling to grow veggies on our very exposed hill. Our crappy cheap ugly wind protection blew away in a storm, and yes I get how ironic that it is. It was probably a blessing as it really was an eyesore… We bit the bullet and planted a tree windbreak around the patch so now wait patiently (or not) for this to grow and provide some reprieve from the relentless wind. In the meantime we’ve found our herbs are going gangbusters, seemingly not bothered by the often unforgiving weather. As has the rhubarb, and we did grow an epic crop of garlic though not without issues. A rust spot developed on many of the garlic leaves and we had a lot of rain when we were due to pick, so some were harvested a little before time. We figured small bulbs were better than rotten ones and the rust only damaged the scapes not the bulbs. Despite this we’ve enough garlic for the year, plus plenty to share and plant for another crop this year. We had our best strawberry season and feel the work we did nourishing the garden bed prior to planting them paid off big time. Lots of luscious juicy flavoursome strawberries made it into our mouths, the freezer, batches of jam and some for friends and family too.

The orchard is growing well despite the tough love and pear slug / cherry slug that spread thanks to the wind. We recently invested in some Biodynamic Peppers and hope this will help combat the slug and its spread. Plenty of apples on the little trees and a few nectarines and apricots, but mostly the trees are still getting themselves established with minimal intervention from us, partly as our philosophy is that nature does things well without interference and partly due to not having time to do otherwise! Our fully grown fruit trees (planted by the previous owners) provided us with a generous crop of apricots, kilos of nectarines, masses of the shiniest cherries you ever did see, with apples and pears still ripening and getting very close to picking.

There has been a couple of snake incidents, one traumatic, one more unnerving than anything else. Well, let’s face it, snake encounters are never fun, but a surprise one on the 2 day old freshly mowed grass, not far from the house, and where mum and I were walking, was quite the trauma! In my head I had built myself a security blanket of short grass, because we all know snakes don’t like short grass, they’re too vulnerable out in the open right? Wrong! Busted that myth! This not so little slitherer decided short grass was the perfect place for a spot of sunbaking. Not sure on the species of this one, but the next encounter, only 2 months later and when I had finally got my confidence back walking around outside, was a Tiger snake. Clearly identifiable with his stripes, I was able to take photos of this one as it hung around for so long. I spotted this one from the safety of my morning mountain pose, gazing out the window feeling totally blessed at the amazing view I get to enjoy whilst doing a little yoga session in the lounge room. It was only meters from the house and had decided to take up residence in the old pool that had been emptied out. Needless to say an excavator operator has been employed to remove said pool and fill in the large hole. Ol’ tiger boy will have to find a new home, and it had better be a long way from home. The most difficult part in adjusting to living in the country has been the snakes, and I’ve yet to ‘adjust’ to this aspect.

The sheep have provided us with much joy and pain. We had 4 little lambs born last year but one of the births was an emergency cesarean in the paddock by moonlight. Lucy and her lambs recovered well and are fine and dandy, but I’ll never forgot having a black wet sloppy lifeless lamb placed beside me with the vet directing me to ‘clear its airways’, whilst I also held Lucy’s legs, as in case you didn’t know (and you’d be forgiven for not), sheep are only given a local anesthetic for a cesarean so they must be held lying down to prevent them standing up whilst their side is cut open. Oh my, it was quite the experience and we were fortunate it ended mostly with a good outcome, sadly one lamb was lost so it was twins instead of triplets. Then more recently we lost old Lenny boy, and then the young boy Ziggy. We nearly lost another, Layla as she was viciously attacked by Ziggy. It seems something just went horribly wrong with him and he had to be put down. I won’t go into details as I still find it difficult to talk about, write about, and think about. Things just went from bad to worse within a week or so, and ended in one hell of a traumatic day resulting in Ziggy’s death and Layla’s near miss. It seems sheep farming is way harder than we expected, way more expensive than we anticipated, and so much more stressful and traumatic than I feel I can cope with. As much as it has been an absolute delight to see the flock grow and get to know them, having them has also taken much of our time and resources away from our main goal of growing. It’s been a tough realisation, and a sad one to admit. I’ve shed so many tears over the sheep this past year and I really don’t want to shed anymore, so we are preparing ourselves to say farewell to the flock in the hopes of re homing them as a little starter flock. We’re starting to think about how we are going to use the land and many ideas are brewing. I dare say finances will ensure they brew for quite some time yet, so maybe next year I’ll share what we hope to do with this soon to be available acre and bit of beautiful land.

I have crafted a little, I think I’m coming up to a year working on my confetti blanket. It’s been a comfort project I can pick up at any time and add to, without thinking too much or having to concentrate on the pattern. I always love to have a project like this in the craft basket, like an old friend you can pick up with any time for a cuppa and chat. I’ve spun and made myself some 2ply and 3ply yarn, some of which was knitted in beanies. I knitted and crocheted a few scarves, started knitting some socks – my second pair ever. I got up to the heel and that’s where they’ve stayed for oh you know six months or so. I’ve loved making face serum, perfumes, and creams with my essential oils, there’s something satisfying about standing over a collection of essential oils and intuitively selecting a variety for whatever potions I’m making. Very recently I had a teeny dabble in watercolour painting, the process is meditative and relaxing and draws me into a calm place, I’m keen to learn and dabble more.

My son has continued to travel and is about to leave India for Mozambique. An internship to obtain his diving masters will see him based there for a few months before coming home! Brian is planning for more travels and wants to come back to save up for these next adventures. He covered some ground in 2018, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, then a big stint in India and Nepal on an old Enfield motorbike. My daughter and son in law managed quite a few overseas trips last year also, Japan, the Maldives, and France. Kiandra and I even went to Japan together! What a wonderful way to see this beautiful country, through my daughters eyes who has been obsessed with all things Japan for as long as I can remember. We went to Kyoto and Tokyo and enjoyed some of the most amazing experiences together. We arrived just as Autumn was settling in and filled our trip with many moments to treasure. The beautiful deer at Nara, the markets, Kimono photoshoot, Hello Sandwich tour, the ikebana class, the peaceful and incredibly beautiful parks and gardens, shrines and temples, the public transport (yes it’s that good!), the shopping, and most importantly the people. There is such a lot of them, especially in Tokyo and we found them to be so kind and gentle and polite. It was a surprise adventure for the year and one I’ll hold close to my heart.

Work life changed for Charlie and I too and we now find ourselves working locally for lovely people we both respect and admire. How lucky is that! The tricky bit is finding enough time to do all the things around the farm whilst juggling the work hours. And I know most farmers would laugh hysterically at my ‘farm’ description, we’re only on 2.5 acres and let’s face it, we’ll have no animals soon, but it feels like a farm to me. I wished and dreamed of living in the country on a little farm and now we’re here, doing just that everyday. The good, the slithering, and all the inbetweens, and I really don’t want to live anywhere else.

Wishing you joyful laughs, more peace than trauma, and surprise adventures that make your heart sing. x

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knitting sheep







It felt like I hadn’t really been crafting much lately but then I realised that I’ve made three beanies in the last month or so. One pure wool chunky knit for Charlie to double up with his pure baby alpaca beanie on the super chilly days. Both of these beanies were made with the ace “Farmer Boy Beanie” pattern from the lovely Kate at Foxs Lane. Thanks Kate, this is my go to beanie pattern now! Plus I’ve made two Baable Beanies. And I’ve cast on a third! Such fun to knit something like this and watch the image appear as each row grows. It is a pretty easy pattern to follow, even for the pattern challenged like myself, I managed to make it without one single #%$@&*!!%!! moment. I think I originally spotted the beanie on pinterest but have tracked back to find the creator of the pattern here. Thanks for designing such a cute pattern Donna!

The beanie with the darker richer colours is all pure wool, and the lighter shade beanie has a mix of pure wool and pure baby alpaca yarns, including some of my special baby alpaca I brought back from Peru. I didn’t have the same ply yarn the pattern requires, so I knitted the lighter shade one first, with 8 ply not 10 ply but used the needles recommended for the 10 ply. This produced a nicely fitting beanie, but not surprisingly it was a little too loose in the tension. The darker shaded beanie was knitted with 8 ply and finer needles, 3.75 for the rib and 4 for the body, and it turned out perfect! Lovely tension and a great fit. The whole gauge and swatch thing isn’t my favourite part of knitting, kinda does my head in to be honest. In fact I think that contributes greatly as to why I feel a bit antagonistic towards patterns. So I just do what I usually do – fluff and bluff my way through till I land where I’m happy. Not the most efficient path at times but that’s the way I roll.

I love that the Baa-ble beanie has Suffolk Sheep in it, with those being the sheep that roam around our home. It feels like I’m knitting exactly what I’m meant to be knitting. I guess I’ll have to find an Angus Cow pattern next. And just as I typed that two ducks flew by the back door, so ducks too!

May you never drop a stitch in a tricky spot x

podcasts and craft wagons












The other week I felt like I was the last person on earth that hadn’t opened the Podcast app on their phone. So I decided I was going to investigate this whole podcast thing that I kept hearing about, and a few days later this great post appeared on one of my favourite blogs, Meet me at Mikes. Put it out to the universe and suddenly it comes to you hey? Well after a great head start thanks to Pip, I soon found a few more subjects that piqued my interest and I’ve been ‘podcasting’ ever since. On the drive to and from work, when there’s crap on tv and even when I get outvoted in the tv watching stakes, and there’s some sort of ruby/hunting/fishing show on. I pop my little earplugs in and I’m off in another world learning about amazing people, what makes for good design and why we like to swear. It’s brilliant! Have you tried it yet? What do you listen to?

The first week of spring has brought with it all sorts of beautiful and not freezing mornings, sparkly sunshine on jasmine and dewy raindrops on blossom. My maybush is flowering, the birds are extra happy and chirpy, and it’s a teeny bit lighter when I get home from work. We’ve picked and eaten lots of fresh greens from the garden this week and I’m looking forward to the veggies growing a bit faster than the slow mode of winter. Cakes were baked and eaten in celebration of all the Leo birthdays plus one early Virgo birthday in our family. I made a flourless zesty citrus cake with sweet potato, loosely based on this recipe, a decadent chocolate chip cookie cake loosely based on this recipe (thanks Reannon!).

In other news I’ve been struggling to fit in craft time of late – unheard of for me as I’m usually pretty good at prioritising this, I know my sanity suffers if I don’t. But for some reason it’s taken a back seat for the last few weeks while things got a little chaotic around here in the wardrobe/declutter/move furniture in every.single.room to a new spot mode. Finally we’re settling back into a regular state of slightly ordered chaos, only a bit of furniture rearranging to go, and most of the crazy chaos is gone (some of it just moved outside to the garage!). Anyways, as a result of the lack of craft, unsurprisingly my health has started to suffer and I’ve been feeling a bit average / stressy / overwhelmed… so I got to fixing that by casting on a beanie at the beginning of the week and casting off by the end of the week. It felt so satisfying and so good to be crafting again. I used some fave chunky baby alpaca which was a delight to knit up. The squishyness is impossible to describe or see in the photo but trust me, you’d want to curl up and sleep in this beanie if it was big enough. I talked my son into modelling it for photos again, ‘just pretend you’re a pixie in the flower garden’ I said… you can probably guess which photo is the one I said this in?

Don’t you think it’s funny how even when we know what’s good for us, we still fall off the wagon and forgot/stop to prioritise the things that bring us peace and make us feel good about ourselves and life in general. I’m back on the wagon again and even cleaned out my yarn basket and got myself a few new projects to play with. Bring on the craft and spring sunshine I say!

Wishing you a gentle cushioned landing if you fall off your wagon, and giving you a leg up to get back on again.

one + four = life (baking, knitting, gardening and belts)

The one + four = life series is a ‘lovely weekly visual treat’ created by the lovely Pip from Meet me at Mikes.

herby muffins
Baking
These are my ugly but delicious Herby Bready Muffiny Thingys. Quite the mouthful I know but very tasty ones at that. Adapted from my Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread recipe they are fast becoming a fave regular breakfast for me. Only a minute in the microwave and a generous lashing of butter and I have myself a filling healthy tasty warm breakfast. That’s a winter winner in my books.

beanie love
Knitting
I started another beanie as soon as I finished the Baby it’s cold outside Beanie. I’ve since finished this one and am considering which yarn to use for the next one. I’m a bit addicted to beanie knitting I think. They’re fast and satisfying, what’s not to love?

veggie patch
Gardening
I’m so thrilled with my celery babies… having only recently learned about the whole grow-a-new-veg-from-the-old-veg thing. Do you do that? Do you know about it? Chopping the bottom off your celery and planting it? “They” say to put it in water for a week or so first, to get the roots started, but the lazy option of planting said celery bottom direct into the soil works too. Yay for shortcuts and cheap veg I say.

belts belts belts
Belts
Thing number 196 about being married to a leather man: You will stumble across long strands of leather, stretching from one room to another, tied to chairs, doors, cupboards etc, tempting a midnight trip should you forget they are there.
Some of these belts are in Charlie’s Shop already but most of them are still to be photographed and listed. It’s on the list. But recently we spent a bit of time creating a new item for the shop where you can design your own plaited belt. You simply pick your plait type, leather colour and buckle type, and Charlie plaits it up. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for ages so to finally tick that one off the list is super satisfying.

I also came across a very interesting little read on the internet this week that I wanted to share. Five things I’ve learned about the creative process by Ben Lee is inspiring and encouraging. An interesting article that helped me look at the creative process a little differently, I thought you might like it too. Let me know what you think?

May you tick something off your list and enjoy hot buttery bready breakfasts.

baby it’s cold outside

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Baby it’s cold outside Beanie.
Yarn 1 (Dark Grey) = 50% Baby Alpaca, 30% Merino Wool, 20% Bamboo.
Yarn 2 (Light Grey) = 50% Alpaca, 35% Merino Wool, 15% Silk.

Just popping in quickly to say hi…. ‘Hi!’ …. and to let you know I finished knitting my beanie. And shock of all shocks, I’ve actually popped it in my shop! I think it’s the first thing I’ve listed in my shop for months. It’s reinvigorated my determination to concentrate more on making items for the shop. I hope you’ll be seeing a refreshed shop within the next few months… or as fast my hands can knit, crochet, snap, type, repeat… etc etc etc…

Meraki

Is that not the sweetest way to describe the process of making something with love… of doing what you love… of following your creative drive to make… of quite literally putting your heart and soul into what you make…. I stumbled across this new-to-me word on instagram via Desert Wanderer. I just love it and am so pleased to have found the perfect little word to describe how a bit of my heart ends up in everything I make.

Speaking of sweet finds, I’ve got two more I wanted to share with you today… just because.

  • The Moral Bucket List isn’t a 5 second read, but it’s well worth the few minutes it’ll take you to read it if you are looking for some inspiration.
  • And this one… because love is beautiful and love that stands the test of time is pretty special.

What are you reading lately, care to share a link?

Wishing you warm Meraki beanies for when it’s cold outside baby!

Thanks to Skye for the Moral Bucket List link, and a special thanks to my beautiful daughter for the beanie modelling xx

turquoise baby alpaca cardy

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I finished a piece of clothing! A real deal wearable cardy… that I love! It’s a bit amazing… you see I’ve started a few over the years but never quite finished them. And by started, I don’t mean a lame go at the band or something… I mean made the front, back, and one sleeve on one of them! But then something always happens… bored, yarn issues, get distracted with multiple other projects, make a HUGE mistake… and I don’t finish them. It used to be the cycle of a lot of my crafty endeavours… start stuff but not finish. Now I’m hellbent on finishing what I start… to the point where I’ll sit up knitting until 2 am to finish it because I’m so damn excited that I’m about to finish something! #crazycrafter!

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I first spotted this cardy on IG via the lovely Corrie from Retro Mummy. It’s called a Kina cardy and Corrie was knitting a gorgeous kiddie version, but you can find the free pattern for the adult version on Ravelry here. It’s a very easy simple pattern to follow, great for a beginner pattern follower (moi!), as it’s knitted from the top down in one piece. I made a couple of tweaks … of course… I extended the sleeves a smidge… I also made it a little bit longer overall and of course I popped some Pom Poms on it. I’ve yet to add the button at the top as the Pom Poms are more decorative than functional.

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This is the first thing I’ve knitted with my stash of pure baby alpaca yarn I stuffed into my carry on suitcase, sat on it to close it, and carried it back all the way from Cusco! Man that suitcase was stuffed full, and there were more bags (of 10 x 50gm balls!!!) stuffed in our regular big suitcases too. I was only slightly embarrassed when they had to open my luggage at one of the many airport security checks, and sheepishly mumbled ‘yes I like to knit and crochet a bit’. All I can say is it was so worth it. The yarn is exceptional quality and so soft and light and fluffy and warm.

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As you can see by the different colours in the photos, it was really difficult to capture the true colour of this yarn. Turquoise just wants to break my camera for some reason. It looks blue in the photos but it’s true colour is closer to this last photo.

I think knitting yourself a piece of clothing is a huge leap of faith. What if you get to the end of it and it looks crap on? And what do you do when you make a mistake? Unpicking Knitting is hard, unlike the forgiveness of Crochet. But I’ve got to say, the satisfaction of making something that I can actually wear is huge. So give it a go… if you haven’t already… you don’t have to be an expert. Take that leap of faith… cross your fingers it will fit… and look ok… and if you do have to unpick, my best advice is to do it slowly… whilst eating chocolate.

Wishing you proud I made it moments and coolish summer days so you can wear your knitted goodies!

PS: Yes I probably should have dead-headed the rose bush behind me for a prettier backdrop… but you know… I like my gardens wild and rambling (reads: ‘slightly’ unkempt).