Hearts for Christchurch

Not just allies, not just friends, New Zealand is family to Australia. Our brothers and sisters whos’ lives were ripped apart by unspeakable evil during a weekly time of such peace and belonging were friends, classmates, family and neighbours. My grandmother attended church almost every Sunday for her entire life and did nothing but good in this world. She helped everyone and anyone. Babysitting, ironing, delivering a hot meal, mending clothes, sourcing support and resources from her position as an Anglican lay sister for anyone in need regardless of their faith or creed.

It was people like her who would have been in that building and that broke me.

In the helplessness and grief, I wasn’t sure how to help. Then this Hearts for Christchurch drive popped up on Facebook on the Love Knitting page.

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In Sydney, we have yarn bombing everywhere. Sunflowers, empowering messages, hearts, and trees covered in cosy, colourful sweaters. It is a sweet comfort to see these things around the neighbourhood. Someone made every stitch with love and they made it for strangers.

I have made five hearts to send across the Tasman. One for each of the pillars of Islam. Hate is loud, love is quiet and constant. I hope these hearts – quilted, knitted, crocheted hearts made with love – are a small comfort to anyone who sees them.

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If you would like to send a heart, for this particular collection, you have until the 5th May 2019.

Word on the textile artist street is that this was started by a quilter’s guild in Christchurch who opened it up when knitters, crocheters and sewists contacted them wanting to help, but I cannot find any further information or reference. I will keep looking.

To donate money to assist with immediate and ongoing costs to the families of those taken too soon, there are several official channels you can use. Our communities are very good at rallying together to cover the costs when something terrible happens so many of these campaigns are fully funded and will close soon, but every little bit helps.

Our People, Our City Fund – The Christchuch Foundation

https://christchurchfoundation.org.nz/giving/our-people-our-city-fund/donate

The New Zealand Islamic Information Centre (NZIIC) [Closes 29 March]

https://www.launchgood.com/project/support_for_the_families__victims_of_the_new_zealand_mosque_shootings?fbclid=IwAR1hZNulpJtqe85oAnwJ4KwJxQJCSQ6j7os-6PkrCh8eNp7DjbWKi2ru2_0#!/

The New Zealand Red Cross (link for those outside NZ)

https://givealittle.co.nz/org/redcross

New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups [No closing date yet]

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/christchurch-shooting-victims-fund

Kia kaha Aotearoa. We are one, but we are many.

Liz x

 

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Home Made crochet Steiner/Waldorf Gnomes and Nins

Since overhauling our toy disaster collection a year ago, I’ve opted for quality, open ended toys that stimulate imaginative play. Our play room is full of wooden food, musical instruments, baby dolls and clothes and a gorgeous doll house full of little wire dolls and hand me down furniture from at least three generations. The little girl who plays in there is much calmer and occupied for much longer in her imaginary worlds.

The next addition I have been hunting for were some sweet felt or wooden Steiner/Waldorf gnomes and small world toys. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near a brick and mortar store that stocks anything Montessori, Steiner, felted, etc. I have a whole list of bookmarked online toy retailers but being in Australia, the shipping would cost more than my cart! The closest store with a beautiful range of fairy houses, felted faires and food, and wooden nins (I love these little nins by Grapat) and gnomes is the beautiful Goldfish Toys in Berry, NSW …a three hour drive away. I didn’t want to wait until our next countryside escape to pick up some $8 gnomes I had my eye on so I took to Pinterest and Youtube in a quest to make my own.

These little guys are the results and I couldn’t be happier. It took about 30 – 45 minutes to make each one and I already had the yarn and 3mm crochet hook. They are super cute, are very similar to Grapat Nins and definitely cost less to make than petrol for 6 hours driving then $8 each if I was to buy them in Berry.

I followed HappyBerry Crochet’s “Wizard Gnome” tutorial only I used a 3mm hook, 8ply arcrylic yarn and I chose to stuff my little gnomes with poly fill while Laura keeps hers open like a finger puppet.

To seal the bottom, finish the final round as the video instructs and instead of tying off, CH 1 and in back loops only, SC in next stitch, SC2TOG in the next. Repeat SC, SC2TOG until end. Your stitch count will reduce to 12. Stuff your gnome at this point then SC2TOG x 6. Tie off and sew the hole closed. I poke the needle back through the hole and pull to flatten out the bottom before hiding the tail end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this idea helps another mama looking to make her own set of little gnome friends. I have this vision of an entire toy box of toys I’ve made my children. What are some other handmade toy ideas? Amish puzzle balls, stacking bowls, rattles and loveys spring to mind. Now to actually make them!

Happy Sunday,

Liz xx

♡ Mom On The Go Planner ♡

Our April was completely taken over with the chaos of moving house. In all the packing and stress and chaos, I lost the one thing keeping all the loose ends straight in my head – my precious rose gold Kmart/Kikki K planner!

It was missing for weeks. Seriously I couldn’t find it anywhere. All our appointments and reminders and Lottie’s school stuff was spread over post it notes, phone calendar apps and my frazzled brain.

So a few weeks ago I took the plunge and bought myself an early birthday present – a Mom On The Go planner from In The Leafy Tree Tops.

I am not an LDS mum so the Mormon Mom Planner wasn’t the right fit for me but I was so impressed by the gorgeous and thoughtful layout of their non-denominational Mom On The Go planner! I have now binge watched what seems like every MOTG planner review and unboxing on YouTube I knew it would be exactly what I needed and I was right! I love this planner.

The Home + Family section at the back with pages for your spouse and children is especially useful. I have teacher contacts and shoes sizes with me all the time. The monthly planning sections at the front and back of each month section has plenty of space to manage home, work, kids, medication, crochet WIPs, business & blog goals and anything else I need to track. And now that I’ve used a vertical three part day weekly spread, I don’t think I can ever go back!

I can’t thank Melinda from In The Leafy Treetops enough for designing such a functional and beautiful planner. Oh and as for shipping to far flung Sydney, Australia from Salt Lake City, USA? It only took two weeks. Trust me, that is great timing for something like this to be delivered from overseas. Check out the gorgeous range at https://intheleafytreetops.com/

[Not sponsored, just a fan]

Questacon, ACT – science museum with kids

Questacon is a must visit destination for any family visiting Canberra. Questacon is the national science and technology centre and is packed full of wild, interactive, hands on exhibits divided into galleries that focus on a different area of science such as physics, colour and light, and the planet Earth.

It is a massive hit with kids and many Australians will remember visiting Questacon during school camps to the nation’s capital. We couldn’t wait to bring our own volcano obsessed little girl to Questacon and have visited a few times over the past 5 years. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when planning a Questacon day with your family.

Our Favourite Galleries

Q Lab has a huge periodic table, a mesmerizing video display showing natural phenomenons (rain falling into a puddle, a bee taking off etc) in ultra fine detail played forward and in reverse. I sat in front of this thing for a good 10 minutes while Lottie and hubby explored the main attraction of this gallery – the microscopes and light boards. There were tons of slides and specimens for kids to handle and get a closer look at.

Most kids spend ages in The Shed playing around with hands on activities. This metal grill is a strong fan blowing upwards. The aim of the game is to tear one of the hundreds of empty coffee cups laying around into a shape that will fly up to the roof and gracefully spin like a helicopter back to the ground. Lottie’s coffee cup got stuck in the rafters!

I think this awesome weighted pendulum is in the Fundamental gallery but we were having so much fun bounding through the galleries by this point I lost track!

The 236kg plate has bits of paper sitting on top of it. Inky pens hang from the roof and create the most amazing spirographic patterns when the volunteer gives the heavy plate a slight push. Volunteers hand the completed art works out to the crowd and excited little ones get their own unique souvenir.

The bug race game from the Colour gallery was Lottie’s favourite. Two players run on the spot to race their ants up the tree. Of all the amazing light and colour based experiments in this galley, the ant game was by far the most popular.

Honourable Mention

Mini Q is a dedicated space for 0 – 6 year olds where little ones can explore each station safely without getting bowled over by hyperactive 12 year olds on Year 6 camp like in the other galleries. Babies get their own space while 2 – 6 year olds roam around the sensory stations where they can climb, touch, dress up and explore.

We didn’t visit Mini Q this time round as the next available time slot wasn’t until 4pm (entry is staggered during school holidays, book your slot at the ticket desk) and our 5 year old was fine exploring amongst the big kids. However, Mini Q was a God send 2 years ago when Lottie was 3 and too tiny and timid to take part in the bigger galleries.

Mini Q features the COOLEST water play station I have ever seen so take a change of clothes so the little ones can splash til their hearts content. There is also a Quiet Space for calming down little ones.

Parking

If you are visiting Canberra as a family, it’s highly likely that you are driving or have hired a car. Canberra is a beautiful and sprawling city. Public transport is good however no where near as frequent or easy to navigate for visitors as other cities (until the new light rail opens that is).

Questacon is located on King Edward Terrace, on the banks of Lake Burley-Griffin alongside the National Library and several other galleries and museums. Questacon and the National Library of Australia share large parking lots. You can expect to pay for parking everywhere in Canberra (even the shopping centres do not offer free parking). The parking around NLA and Questacon will be $2.50 per hour or $12 for the day (9am – 5pm). You’ll need a good 3 hours for little ones to explore the Questacon galleries and even longer if your littles intend on playing in the Mini Q zone – a dedicated play and learning space for under 6s.

Hours & Tickets

Questacon is open 9am – 5pm everyday except Christmas Day

Adult $23
Concession & Children $17.50
Children under 4 years Free
Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) $70

They offer excellent membership packages if you are a local or a frequent visitor to Canberra. A family membership (2 ad + 3ch) is $160 with discounted continuing membership and variations for single parent families available. Learn more about Q Club Membership and reciprocal arrangements across Australia here.

Facilities

Pram friendly galleries and pram parking is available at the front desk. Plenty of baby changing areas and bathrooms are scattered throughout the building.

As you can expect from a major attraction, the prices at the Mega Bites cafe are on the pricey side however the menu has plenty of healthy options and there is tons of outdoor seating in the courtyard. The gift shop has so many cool science books, experiment kits and board games. We picked up a junior coding game on our last visit. The best bit about Q Shop though is it is tucked into the corner of the ground floor and can easily be by passed on the way out without tired little ones noticing.

We love Questacon and will make sure to visit every time we are passing through Canberra.

Reusable coffee pods

I haven’t thrown out a coffee pod since July 2017 thanks to my stainless steel reusable Seal Pod from Crema Joe.

I love our Nespresso machine dearly. It was a wedding gift and a massive boost to being more frugal in our daily lives, but the wastefulness of cheap supermarket pods bothered me and I couldn’t always get to a Nespresso boutique or florist to recycle the branded pods – it was time for an alternative.

While Saturday brunch at one of our amazing local, independent cafes is always amazing, it’s a special treat and no longer a weekly routine for us. Brunch money stays in the bank while I whip up lattes and avocado toast in our own kitchen.

Liz xx

p.s. Expressi pod users can register to be notified by PodCafe.com.au when their Expressi size reusable capsules are available! Here’s the link

Thrift shop haul

I’ve started small on our ‘war on waste’ journey. Carrying a keep cup, using stainless steel refillable coffee pods, refusing plastic and unnecessary packaging, cold wash cycles and making use of the soft plastic recycling. The next thing I want to tackle is clothing.

I am starting with myself and plan to go as long as possible without buying any brand new clothes. If I need something I will head to Vinnies, Goodwill or The Smith Family and buy second hand.

This is today’s Goodwill haul at their end of year sale.

  • Black puffer vest, Witchery
  • White and black stripe turtle neck top, Seed Heritage
  • Black tie top, Witchery
  • Black wool knit sweater, Country Road
  • Black zip up jacket, Witchery

Total = $14.50

About 50% of my wardrobe has been thrifted over the years but this is probably my best haul yet as far as value for money goes.

Where are the best thrift shops in Sydney? I have a few local ones near me but they aren’t the best as far as selection goes. My local Vinnies children’s section is literally a box on the floor 🙄 and this particular Vinnies shop prices damaged second hand clothes almost double the price of similar items brand new at Kmart or Target so I am desperate for some tips!

Liz x

Lake Bumbunga, SA ~ The Pink Lake with kids

Lake Bumbunga in Lochiel, SA is a pink salt lake located 2 hours drive north of Adelaide or 40 mins west of Clare.

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It is surreal and beautiful and a brilliant place to visit. It’s also isolated, Google Maps will navigate you to a private dirt road hundreds of metres from the lake itself, and the sharp, salt encrusted ground under the water can rip up little feet in an instant.

How to get there?

Navigate to “Jitter Bean Oasis” which is a cafe/convenience style road side stop located in Lochiel, SA. Park outside and cross the road for best access to the lake.

What facilities are there?

The only “facilities” near the lake is a green shed public toilet on the corner of Robert St & the Princes Highway. I don’t recommend this for a toilet stop but it has a tap inside which we used for washing the salt off our hands. I can’t confirm if this was rain, bore or drinking water and there was no signs or anyone around to ask. Let me know if you visit Lake Bumbunga and find a fresh water tap close by!

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Here are some tips for making a visit to the “Pinkie Pond” as my 4 year old dubbed it so much smoother.

  • Wear rubber sandals if you enter the water – $1.50 thongs from Kmart with a strap did the trick for my little one and saved the pain from the sharp, salt encrusted sea bed. I put my thongs on as well after a few nasty scratches myself.
  • Wear sunscreen & hats 
  • Baby wipes – Trust me on this one. After stepping out of the pretty pink water you’ll begin to notice a layer of dried salt on absolutely everything. My black jeans looked like someone had thrown flour at me, little Lottie’s legs, hands and hair was caked in salt and nothing but the baby wipes we bought in Clare 40 minutes later after a crunchy and uncomfortable car ride would get it off.
  • Carry fresh water – common advice for visitors to the Clare Valley as many properties run on rain water and the safe tap water has a strong taste. You can buy cases of water in supermarkets and food stores in the towns around this area. A case of fresh drinking water in the car and a few bottles of safe tap water for washing will make the journey back from the lake a lot more comfortable especially if little ones managed to get salt in their eyes!

What did we learn?

We did some research on the differences between fresh and salt water creatures before our trip and used our visit to Lake Bumbunga to reinforce the differences between the water in the sea, inland lakes, swimming pools and taps. Honestly, this was mostly for fun and photos rather than study!

Travel bug

We’re slowly but surely acting on our plan to explore more of Australia.


Hubby & I have seen 7 out of 8 states/territories but we want to explore them all again as a family. We’ve taken Lottie to 4 so far.


This week we’ve been exploring Adelaide and South Australia. I can’t wait to write up all the details – free & frugal sightseeing, top tips for exploring the naturally pink Lake Bumbunga (baby wipes people – trust me 🙄), mixing wineries & whiny kids, and how my travel capsule wardrobe works for me.

Liz xx

100 Crochet Poppies Project

A few days ago I came across this article from the ABC. It was a call to action from the Australian War Memorial asking all knitters and crocheters to make poppies for an installation of 60 000 to commemorate the 60 000 brave Australian soldiers who lost their lives during WWI. They hope for the installation to be in place by Remembrance Day 2018.

Along with many others, I have jumped straight on the band wagon. The 5000 Poppies group on Facebook that I’ve joined gained over 6000 new members almost over night and the swelling of their ranks brings their goal of 60 000 poppies for the AWM project and a further 50 000 for the Victorian RSL so much closer.

For now, I am starting small. My personal goal is to crochet 100 poppies by the end of September 2017.

Here is poppy #1. May it be the first of many.

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Lest We Forget.