makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I haven't read nearly enough this year (I wonder why...), but there have been some very interesting and even brilliant books gracing my bedside table.

The one that I enjoyed more than I thought I would: All That I Am by Anna Funder

The one that lived up to the hype: Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The one that I wish I'd written: Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett

The one that made me cry: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

The one that I cooked from most: The River Cottage Family Cookbook

The one that I loved reading aloud: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The one that started so well: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

The one that I'm reading now: The Paperbark Shoe by Goldie Goldbloom

And the ones that I'm excited about reading next year?

NW by Zadie Smith

The Life by Malcolm Knox

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes

The Mousewife by Rumer Godden

Sunday, December 2, 2012


We are a couple of dreamers; always fantasising about the future, forever imagining a more beautiful existence. He went to med school because his head was full of the fantastic tales of his grandfather’s travels, and he dreamed of living overseas and having his own adventures. I write because I love ensconcing myself in the minds of other people and imagining myself into their worlds. When we lived in a tiny and mouldy bed-sit in London, we would spend our Sunday mornings in bed, drinking tea and eating toast, and pawing over a photographic book of flawless Australian beaches. We imagined our children running on the white sand, swimming in the clear warm water, the sky a startling and perfect blue above them. With luck and foolhardy resolve, we somehow made it happen.

But it is so easy to get caught up in dreams. You can forget to enjoy what you have. You move onto the next dream and you grow accustomed to the dreaming, always imagining something better, some place else. You can fail to see that what you have, right now, is pretty damn wonderful. Last year, around the time we found out we were expecting baby number three, we made the decision to stop obsessing over questions of “what next?” and to put aside the five and ten year plans. We decided to live in the now, and to invest, emotionally, in the beautiful place we live.

Little children are all about the now. Their needs and demands anchor us to the present. They draw our wandering minds back to the immediate. They force us to see that now is the moment, and that building a sandcastle on the beach is the most perfect thing we could be doing on a Sunday morning.

Today we released the happy home “Now”, which we received earlier in the week from Kellie at 1000 Homes of Happiness. We left it in our favourite place to be on a day when the sun is shining and a gentle breeze is blowing: under the shade of some trees down by the beach. I hope someone finds it and pauses to see the beauty, all around, in that moment of stillness. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I don't drive. Some people seem to think that this is the most interesting thing about me. I really hope it isn't so, but it is, of course, a little unusual for an Australian mummy not to drive. Anyway, for the record, the reasons I don't drive are:

I haven't got my license.

I am not very co-ordinated.

I am easily distracted, especially by the demands of small people.

I panic.

I am scared of crashing and hurting my children.

I don't have time to learn right now.

Sometimes, I wish I was like one of the other mums in their shiny cars. When it's raining, or very hot, when we're late and miss a bus, when my daughter is whinging about walking, when there are strange characters traveling with us who make me feel wary, when a parcel gets taken to some depot in the middle of nowhere, when I have to race around and there just isn't time to do everything...but mostly I don't mind not driving. It slows me down in a good way; it forces me to keep things simple. I love walking because you see so much, and it keeps us fit. I like using public transport because it makes sense in terms of the environment, but most of all, I really like the way it brings together different people. My daughter has made friends with a girl from her school who catches the bus with us. There is 7 years between them. If it wasn't for the bus, they would probably never have connected. There are other kids from other schools who ride the bus; now we know the faces of so many people who live around us. We chat with old people, other mums and dads, people going to college, or work. We have all manner of random conversations on our journeys. For lots of kids, catching the bus or the train is a novelty; my children do it every day as a normal part of their life. Even if I do eventually learn to drive and become like all the other mums, I hope they still feel at ease on the bus, in amongst all those interesting people. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

As we watched the kids run down the most beautiful beach to meet their grandparents, my other half sighed, and said "It would be nice to live here, wouldn't it? Maybe I could write some really successful blog or something." I wonder how often that sentence gets uttered on holidays...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ever since I read the play at university, I've been a bit obsessed with the character, Nora, from Ibsen's A Doll's House. I re-imagined her as part of the novel I wrote before I had children, but I never envisaged her like this:

It sent shivers up my spine. Watch it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

On the last days of the holidays, we* made dream-catchers, and I couldn't get this poem out of my head:

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Music & Moonlight, Arthur O'Shaughnessy

* By "we" I mean the mums - after threading a few beads, the kids pretty much ran amuck, while we got creative. Hey, we tried...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My camera gets "borrowed" a lot, mostly by my daughter, and just occasionally by her brother. This makes me a little nervous, but I love discovering the photographs they've taken. The compositions are so unusual, and the things they choose to photograph are often surprising. I feel like I've been given some brief insight into the way they see the world...

Friday, September 28, 2012

I just discovered this very cool website, and thought I would share it:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Inspired by this website and the beautiful Spring sunshine, we met up with some friends yesterday to make these fairy houses:

 We're going to leave them somewhere quiet in the hope that a few fairies might move in...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In our kitchen...

Poached Pears

Pumpkin scones

Apple and Kiwi Jelly

Preserved Lemons

Anger Management

Banana, Pineapple and Coconut Cake

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I set myself a bit of a challenge at the beginning of the year: to read a list of twelve books that had been lurking on the shelves for way too long. Rather inevitably, I haven't done too well. It's almost September, and I've only read four. I thought I'd get some reading done while breastfeeding, but instead I've mostly been staring vacantly into the distance in a state of utter exhaustion, or reading nonsense on my phone. No surprise there, but what has been surprising to me is how quickly we've moved onto "grown-up books", as my daughter calls them, or books that are more about words than pictures. All of a sudden, we are devouring anything by Roald Dahl; reading Tashi collections for the third time; and relishing every chapter of Charlotte's Web. Even the almost three year-old is captivated: long gone are the days when he could only sit still for half a picture book, and I found myself, more often than not, reading aloud and alone just for the sense of completion. Anyway, I'm really enjoying rediscovering all these wonderful books, some of which are copies from my own childhood (how did they survive? My parents must have been strict...). As for Harry Potter, I'm so glad I waited: it'll be a lot more fun to read it for the first time with little ones. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are some of the books we've been enjoying of late:

The Barefoot Book of Giants, Ghosts & Goblins
Charlotte's Web
The Magic Faraway Tree
The Elephant & the Flower
Tales from Celtic Lands
The Wizard of Oz
The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories
James and The Giant Peach
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Twits

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds
as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be
dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your
right foot with
your left.

Oh, the places you'll go! by Dr. Seuss 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I love cooking, partly because I find it relaxing. Cooking with children? Not so much. Still, in an attempt to broaden their tastes (approximately 8 out of 10 meals are met with disdain), and because everyone should be able to cook, I've been making a concerted effort to encourage my kids to help with dinner. They've always participated in baking, but I generally do the "serious" cooking myself, perhaps because by 4pm, I quite want to escape to the therapeutic realm of the kitchen and listen to the radio in (relative) peace. Anyway, for the last couple of months, I've set aside one of our days at home for some culinary initiation, the idea being that they help prepare the main meal and a dessert. It's been tricky thinking of recipes that they can really participate in, and also might actually eat, but things which involve lots of chopping seem to work well. Using the pestle and mortar is also met with much enthusiasm. As to whether it's encouraged my kids to be a little more adventurous in their tastes, the jury's out, but I have discovered that they like rice pudding or, as it's known, "that special porridge".

This carrot cake, which the little ones also helped bake for Grandad's birthday, is possibly the best I've ever made. The recipe is from the gorgeous book, The Edible Balcony by Indira Naidoo. Of course, they only liked the icing!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

For a mother of three, I am at 32, on the younger side, but lately I've been feeling pretty damn old. Maybe it's the almost back-to-back viruses we've all been suffering this winter, or the lack of sleep due to our new addition, or perhaps that innocent little comment my daughter made the other day at breakfast... Anyway, it seems to me that motherhood is aging me at some kind of accelerated pace. After I had my daughter, shocked at the state of my eyes, I invested in eye cream for the first time. I was 27, and when I look back at those pictures, I look about fifteen! Suffice to say, I haven't bought any since.  Of course, my body is never going to be like it was before I had children, and I don't really care about that. I am far more comfortable with it now than I ever was before I acquired all these stretch marks and extra bits (back fat, I never even knew you existed!), but I don't think I've really worked out what to dress this new shape in. I've never been much of a shopper, but I always knew what suited me and what didn't, and now, on the very rare occasion that I do attempt to shop for clothes, I have no idea what to buy. It's not only my body that is different (even my shoe size has changed), but my whole life. I don't work and I don't go out drinking anymore, and that was pretty much all my life was before children. I've never been high maintenance, but there were a few things that I always did: wear mascara, paint my toe nails, and wash my hair every single day. Let's just say standards have slipped a lot! Today, I went to the hairdresser - it's been at least two years - and, despite the cold that's hanging about, and the exhaustion at the end of a long week at home with a sick child that won't eat, I feel so much lighter and younger. I guess I do need to find the time to care a little more, and to work out who this new person is.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I can hardly believe how quickly the time has passed, but my baby boy turned three months old today. We celebrated his "quarter birthday" with a Pear Harvest Cake from Jude Blereau's Coming Home to Eat -Wholefood for the Family.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guilt and motherhood seem to go hand in hand, and lately, I've been suffering from some major bouts of it. Guilt about not doing anything very well; guilt about how often I say "in a minute", "not now", "maybe later" all day, every day; guilt about subjecting my kids to wet weather and trips on the bus because I don't drive; guilt about whether my middle child eats enough; guilt about not giving enough cuddles; guilt about not being able to sit down and really devote some time to helping my daughter learn to write, because she so desperately wants too; guilt about the crazy mess that is our house; guilt about not buying that much desired bike with peddles because the weekends zoom past so fast; guilt about not spending more of the day smiling adoringly at the baby; guilt about forgetting tummy-time more days than I remember; guilt that the third might well me be "the one that breaks the horse's back", as someone so charmingly commented. Yep, a whole lot of guilt going on here! Still, the kids all seem happier and more settled than they did a month ago, so I guess I must be doing something right... and it's the school holidays and we have parties and a puppet show to look forward to, and maybe a trip to the museum, if I can just summon the energy. Oh, and we've been growing mushrooms, which is very cool, even though the kids still won't eat them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My washing's been on the line for four days and it's not getting any drier. Outside, it's all rather grey, but inside, there's plenty of colour to brighten our days, which is just as well.
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