Thursday, 17 November 2011

Travel with Children - tell me your stories

21 month old Minnie in Hong Kong - catching a few zzzz's

We all have stories about travelling with children; the good, the bad and those so ugly that they can never be repeated, ever until the end of time. We have heard many tips and tricks, some of which can backfire in amazing fashion (sedatives that don't sedate). But we all know that even with all the bad bits, travelling with children can actually be a whole lot of fun. Even though we had some real moments in Japan (I was seen throwing noodles as I had a major tantrum at the 5 year old) we look back, ignore that bit, and remember how fantastic it was.

The last story I wrote for Modern Handmade Child was all about planning flights and accommodation for a trip away. My story in the next edition (due out in the northern hemisphere spring) will focus on planning on packing, the itinerary and offer suggestions on the most important factor in travelling with children - how to keep them entertained. This is were you step in. Please leave your ideas, advice, what-not-to-do, and potentially melt-down saving advice here as a comment. We need you!
And while you are at it, please pop over the Modern Handmade Child facebook page (if you are into that kind of thing) and say hi. I am the faceless person behind the status updates these days and I would love to hear from so friendly peeps.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Modern Handmade Child - new edition out now!

Don't worry - you do not need to rush to the news agent or your local news stand. In fact you don't even have to move from where you are reading this now. Follow this link and enjoy the Winter (US) edition of this super little online magazine. The photo above is of some handmade goodies that accompany my story on traveling with children. For more great products and all the who, where, and how to buy biz, read the article!

In the next few days I will be calling on you for help with the next article I am writing. So start thinking about your top tips for travelling with children. In the mean time though, you have any advice on this post, please help me now!

Thanks Pocket Carnival, Sparrow Bee, Edward and Lily, and Podnip for your photos.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Late one night in Tokyo, Steve captured as all in a content moment of sleep...

Sleeping has been a long running issue in our house; about 5 and 3/4 years long in fact. Before that, it was generally great with lots of Sunday mornings spent in bed and pretty much 8 hours solid sleep every night. But with the arrival of the little people it's been problematic to say the very least. And this Mama is getting tired.

We thought that Minnie was a 'bad' sleeper and she was always fed to sleep and woke every 3 or so hours over night for more feeding to sleep. This went on until she was 2 1/2, when I weaned her from the 'book,' as she called it. For day time sleeps, I drove her around the coast and spent a lot of time sitting in the car reading. But we eventually got her to put herself to sleep at night and to only spend 1/2 the night in our bed. I think Minnie was almost 2 before she slept longer than 5 hours in a go.

The boy though, that's another story. From almost day 1 we have co-slept. Actually is was day 2 as the first night he was in NICU. Day 2 in the hospital the midwives actually suggested (after going through the standard warnings they have to advise) that I sleep with him. We had co-slept with Minnie so it was no drama - I knew what to do. We thought that we would do it a while and he would get the hang of sleeping next to but not with us. Louis is almost 18 months old and has spent every night in our bed. Every night being fed to sleep, which would be fine if he actually stayed asleep for a few hours, like his sister did. But the LouLou only manages 40 minutes or 20 or 5 or if I am really, really spoiled, about 1 hour. Then he wakes and cries and I spend another 30 or 40 minutes feeding him back to sleep. As you can imagine this makes my evening less than relaxing. I eventually fall asleep, usually fully dressed, as this merry go round spins into the night. Steve spends his evenings talking to the dog and listening to me complain, during the brief moments I am actually in the living room. Some days I don't mind. We know that it will pass, one day, and that babies do grow up so quickly. We just smile as I head up the long hallway for yet another 'getting him back to sleep' feeding session. Other days I have had it up to my bloodshot eye balls and feel completely helpless about the situation we are in.

Just so you know - Louis does not have a dummy or softie or cuddly. He does not know how to self settle and he drinks as much or my milk as a new born (well not quite but he is very attached to his 'susu')

So what do you do? What have you done? Have you tried comfort settling?

Thursday, 29 September 2011

sewing: dusting off the machine

It has only taken 5 and a bit months but the machine is out, dusted off and temporarily set up in the dinning/play room. I have been reluctant to get it out, given I no longer have a dedicated sewing room. In the move from Sydney to Melbourne we lost a few rooms along the way and we are still getting used to the different spaces we have. It always seemed like such an effort to get out the sewing things, set them up and then have to most likely put them away 2 minutes later when one of the children is waking or having a meltdown. But of course its not a hassle and I was being lazy. So we are doing a little school holiday sewing here. Minnie requested a skirt with an ice-cream on it. Today she chose the fabrics and we appliqued the design in place. And yes, it was a 'we' effort as Minnie controlled the foot peddle, with 'go, stop, slow down' directions from me. The skirt itself its made from light blue linen fabric and will have an elasticised waist. The fabric is already hemmed as its a piece of IKEA linen intended for a table runner. Easy peasy.

Yesterday, after many months of requests, we finally had the opportunity to make something out of Minnie's sewing book 'Made By Me' by Jane Bull. I got this book for Minnie last birthday and it is full of great little sewing/knitting/needle work projects for girls (most are suited for older girls who can wield a sharp needle on their own). We made the little pouches and once again, Minnie chose the fabrics and controlled the foot peddle. All is left to do is to thread through some ribbons for the draw cords and she will have 3 little pouches for pretty things and papers and pens.

I have a feeling the machine may be out for the time being. Softies to be made for the huge school fete coming up, some summer outfits for the little people and I have the beginings of idea for a dress... Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tokyo Two

We love to eat. We love to eat lots. Don't include Minnie in this - she likes to eat a few things and little amounts of them. You can however include Louis as he is happy to give anything a go. Going to Japan got us super excited about all that we could eat. Here is some of the food that we enjoyed eating and looking at.

The empty plate was what was left of the most delicious Yakatori. Yakatori bars are fantastic and the skewers of chicken, chicken skin and chicken offal are easily one of my favourite things to eat. You will see Minnie and Louis above, chowing down on some yakatori in their prams. Japanese restaurants are very child friendly, with an abundance of high chairs and great kid friendly meals, like the one pictured above. It contained some Japanese potato salad (a chunky mashed style salad), some rice, a tempura prawn, some greens, a soft beef 'pattie' in gravy and a juice drink. It also included a jelly and fruit. Louis, in particular, loved these meals with all the bits he could sample.

We all loved the drink vending machines. It doesn't matter where you are, there are vending machines. Minnie would constantly be asking 'anyone need a drink from the vending machine?' We did use them, a lot. I got a bit hooked on the sweet, milky coffee in a can and on the super hot days, we all enjoyed a cold 'Pocari Sweat' (don't you love a drink with 'sweat' in its name - so enticing?)

We ate lots of great sushi and Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) and miso soups. We ate lots of ramen and soba noodles and great snacks from Muji like pea chips (love that store). We sadly didn't take nearly enough photos.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


We have been away on holidays and now we are back, a little tired and in some ways, sad to be home. We went away to one of the most vibrant, alluring, enthralling and instantly 'fall-in-love-with' cities in the world. Tokyo. What a place.

There will be lots more for you to see but here is the beginning.

Friday, 5 August 2011

food: red cabbage

For me, braised red cabbage is winter. It epitomises the cooler months; the months that make us crave warm and comforting food. This dish is sweet and a little sour and full of flavour. And the colour (not captured too well here) is amazing.

This dish is a fantastic accompaniment to pork. I make plenty so I can eat it the next day and the day after that, just as it is. I also love red cabbage that is pickled and sold in jars. I remember travelling in Europe with a jar of red cabbage in the top of my backpack, easily accessible for snacks along the way. I think my husband (from a German background) fell in love with me because of my cabbage eating ways. We often eat sauerkraut but I think this red cabbage is my favourite way to prepare and eat this mighty vegetable.

Erna's Red Cabbage with Apple by Stephanie Alexander
3 tablespoons water
1 red cabbage, sliced thinly, washed and drained
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 Granny Smith apples, pealed and sliced into thinnish slices
1/4 cup cider vinegar
60g butter

Place water, cabbage, sugar and salt in a heavy-based saucepan.
Add apple (don't mix it in), cover tightly and cook very gently (using a simmer mat if you are using gas) for about 1 hour. I no longer have a gas cooker and find that its fine on a low temp without the simmer mat.
Lift lid and stir apple into softened cabbage.
Add in vinegar and butter.
Cook, covered, a further 15 minutes.
Stir once more. At this point I may cook a little longer, depending on how the cabbage looks and feels. You want it tender, not crunchy at all.
The cabbage should look shiny from the melted butter - add a little more if you need.
You should still be able to see apple slices, not just mushed apple.

May need a little extra salt at the table (I love salty/sweet combinations). Lovely served with Pork Cutlets. Even lovelier the next day.

Monday, 1 August 2011

modern handmade child

(A cute Louis photo, my own modern handmade child)

Sometimes when I am organised (hmmm, that's not very often, I hear you say) I write for Modern Handmade Child, a super fabulous digital magazine all about families, making things, parenting and celebrating the 'handmade.'

I have been really fortunate to be able to interview some of my all time favourite Australian crafty people and have grand plans to interview (aka stalk) as many as I can in the near future. The Autumn Issue (it's a US based 'zine) will be out soon and, as a special heads up, I can tell you that you can read all about the amazingly talented Ms Doran and the clever people behind Umbrella Prints. There, you have the scoop first!

In the mean time, if you feel like it, you can read about me at the Modern Handmade Child blog. I am not so interesting but the rest of the blog is - have a look and say hello!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

thinking about making stuff

Since the move to Melbourne 2 months ago my sewing machine has remained under its cover, hiding away. I think she is starting to feel unloved and not needed. Poor thing. I have gotten close to pulling her out of the shelves and removing her cover, unveiling her. But I can't remember where I have put the woollen suiting I am thinking about and I don't know which box holds the patterns for jackets and coats. So she stays put, waiting for a day when I can muster the strength to go through those boxes piled on top of our wardrobes.

So until then, perhaps I can start with a needle and thread? I know where they are and that is a very good start.

'Happy Gloves' by Miyako Kanamori is adorable book I recently purchased at a big book sale. Miyako Kanamori is a Japanese crafter and author of several very cute crafting books. In this book, all Kanamori's creations are made from gloves, which I think it makes a lovely change from socks. We love the little friend on the cover and the blue elephant. This week I am going to scour the op shops for gloves and see who will be coming to live with us first - perhaps the little red car?

What do you think?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

good morning, balloons

Some mornings this is what we see from the back of the new house. Silently floating across the morning sky. Making us smile.

Good morning, Melbourne - I hope you have a lovely day.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Our baby turned one on Sunday. One whole year of being here, with us. Of course it seems like he has always been here, making us smile. He loves to dance and sing and brings us the remotes to turn the stereo on. He stands in front of the speakers waiting to hear the tunes and starts bopping to the beat. If we talk about dancing, he will dance. He is loves to play chase up the long hall here at the new house. He loves to 'read' and to draw and to throw his food all over the house. His face lights up when he sees Minnie and he seeks her out to give her a hug. He says 'hello' and 'bye' and 'Mama' and growls at the dog. He wakes every one or two hours and has no idea how to put himself to sleep. His still drinks a few pints of my milk a day. But all his sleeplessness, his food throwing and his wild temper are forgotten when I look into those brown eyes and that smiling face. Louis, you are a delight. Our very special heartwarming and heart mending delight.

Louis has been walking now since just after he turned 10 months so he got new big boy shoes for his birthday. Our tiny, dainty little boy looks way to small to be walking, let alone the fast paced 'running' that he has perfected. And he got a trike, a shiny red Radio Flyer trike (that he is way to small for). To celebrate his birthday (and a very special mothers day) we took a trip to the Werribee Open Plains Zoo to look at the big animals and to unearth some fossils. And there was cake. And more cake to come at the party later this week. I think it is proper that a first birthday celebration should perhaps last at least a week or two?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

good bye Blue House

The last few months have been crazy. Truly freakin' crazy. We got the house ready for sale, difficult as it was with Steve only home on weekends, but we did it. We listed it on the market and it sold within a few days. It was sad. Sad to say good bye to our Blue House. An exhausting end.

So much has happened in this 3 months. Louis started walking just after he turned 10 months. Stella fell in love with school and had to say good bye. And we packed up our house, said some big teary good byes to our sweetest friends and moved.


I am in love with Melbourne. In love with our part of this big city and sad for the house and, importantly, the people we left behind.

Oh life, you like make it tricky!

(Just a few shots of the blue house from the 'For Sale' listing - kitchen, house, Minnie's room, playroom, back deck)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

9 and a bit months

And I can't remember what it was like without him.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

the purge

The purge has started. It should have started weeks ago but a non day (and night) sleeping baby means I am a little behind in 'Operation Get this House sorted so we can sell It.'

I need to offload a whole lotta stuff and hopefully this is where some of you may be able to help. I need to find a home for our piano (sniff, sniff), some furniture, lots of fabric and a TV. There will be more as this is just the beginning. So if you live on the Central Coast (NSW) or in Sydney and you would like a piano, for example, just flick me an email. Everything is for pick up only. Most of the fabric is collected from op shops and around the traps and may be of use to someone, who like me, loves fabric.

We will be moving to a much smaller house in Melbourne and I just need to simplify and streamline what we have. I am looking forward to it as I am feeling weighed down by it all at the moment.

And did I say it's all free. Yep, a free piano.

Oh, and if you are looking for a house, I have one of those too. But of course, not for free...

*completely unrelated photo of a young Minnie. I still can't believe she starts school in a few days

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


The days are disappearing so quickly.

Before our very surprised eyes the big girl has turned 5.

5 years old. Not a baby anymore. Not a pre-schooler for much longer. 1 week away from the most awaited day in her life. She has been wearing her uniform at every available opportunity since November last year. She is bursting at the seams to get there. I am the one who has to stop my self from telling her how much I will miss her incessant chatter when she is not here; my sidekick, my helper, my little friend.

The baby is 8 1/2 months old now. Standing at every opportunity, speed crawling around the house. He has given up on mush and only likes finger food. Asparagus yesterday, broccoli today. Watermelon and nectarines are his favourite.

And in the middle of all this we are gearing up for a move. A big move away from dear, sweet friends. Away from the humid nights and the scent of our frangipanis. A move back into the heart and the guts of a big city; the lovely big city called Melbourne.

Hello my southern friends, we are heading your way.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

some time has passed...

But I am still here. We are all here and well and happy. Back from a cold Christmas on the little island.

Some very big changes ahead. Very big indeed. A new year and soon a new place to call home. But not just yet. Time for sorting and renovating and packing. Time for a first day at school. Time to sit on the beach and to miss it already.