Tuesday 31 May 2011

Good morning Winter

Frost on top of the car

I hope my garden survives the winter - and my current lack of attention!

Good morning Ballarat! Well, the sun is shining, the skies are clear but it is cold and crisp. This morning we woke to a blanket of frost over the garden and cars. What a sight - pretty but freezing. Thank goodness we have an awesome heater. 

Today is the beginning of my first winter in Ballarat. Everyone has warned me about how cold it gets here (at least five degrees cooler than Melbourne I'm told). So when my pals in Melbourne are freezing at 7 degrees - just think of me here at 2 degrees! 

Thankfully for me - I make scarves and blankets for a living - which seems absolutely perfect for this kind of climate. The best part of winter for me is deciding which colour Cast offs scarf to wear for the day!

My husband Sam and I have been working really hard the last few weeks trying to get the shop renovation complete. A succession of very late nights are starting to take its toll - but now that the walls have all had an undercoat - I can really start to see it all coming together. I don't think I will quite believe it - when it is all done.

My little corner shop 'The Crafty Squirrel' now has its own websiteblog and facebook page for you to check out. Also too in the coming weeks I will be releasing a whole new range of craft and sewing based products under the Crafty Squirrel label. You can get a sneak peek at a couple of these new products this Saturday when The Crafty Squirrel and I have a stall at the fabulous Daylesford Makers Market! Love to see you there.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Shinto Shrines

Various photos I took on my travels.......
A page from my Pilgrimage book...

When I was in Japan, I spent a lot of time travelling around the countryside visiting Shinto Shrines. It was something that I had not thought of doing prior to visiting (I was more interested in shopping if I am absolutely honest!) however from the moment I caught a glimpse of my first Shrine and stepped through the gates into the grounds I was struck by sacred space.

The delightful Jiz┼Ź statues with their little red hats and bibs greeted me along meandering paths leading me to enormous old trees and small forests planted hundreds of years ago. The great feeling of tranquility within these grounds was so nourishing that even as I write, I remember the feeling.

Shinto shrines are the dwellings of the kami, the Shinto "gods". Kami are gods or spirits that represent objects or concepts like trees, rivers, the sun, rocks, food, and fertility.

This resonates with me as in the Maori tradition - Mana is the term used to describe the presence of spirits in nature and its phenomena. Mountains, forests, rain, wind, lightning and sometimes animals were thought to be charged with spiritual power, a power whose worldly manifestations were worshiped.

There are a lot of rituals involved when visiting temples and shrines in Japan. Mainly I remember cleansing my hands and mouth, lighting incense sticks and directing the smoke towards me, taking my shoes off when going inside, offering a donation, and taking a few moments to really be there. 

and another.....
Somewhere along my travels I purchased a pilgrimage book. Once you have one of these books, anytime you visit a famous temple or shrine, you will find a small office that will stamp your book and write some calligraphy on a page. The stamps are almost always red, and feature a design unique to the temple. I have collected 11 stamps in my book. I am looking forward to the day when I can visit Japan again and collect some more.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Tucked in on Mothers Day

Home made Devonshire tea - Yum-o!

I had one wish for Mothers Day. I asked my two children – Kitty 6½ and Milo 2½ to come in to bed this morning and give me a big kiss and a cuddle. To snuggle in with me all toasty and warm and half asleep. This is one of my favourite times of the day. Most days I only get one of them in with me – these days it is usually Milo but as they grow it seems to happen less and less. It seems there are more interesting things to do than to hop into bed with Mum for a snuggle.

My other wish was for my husband Sam to make me a cup of coffee in bed and for me to be able to actually stay in bed to drink it. Both of these wishes were granted and so I felt truly happy. I was also blessed as both Kitty and Milo presented me with very special gifts as did my lovely husband.

I knew Kitty was up to something when she asked me if it would be ok to take the $5 she had received from GG (Great Grandma Mavis) for Easter to school to spend. Spend on what I asked? Then I remembered about the Mothers Day stall they were having at school and realised what she was up to. Of course she had more than a little trouble keeping her purchase a secret. “Mummy – you don’t have a money box do you?” and “Mummy – your second favourite colour is pink isn’t it?” (It isn’t but what Mother would say no!). So this morning I was presented with a very sweet pink ceramic love heart shaped money box. She was so chuffed to give it to me and I declared that it would be just the perfect size to collect $2 coins in. Thank you Kitty.

Milo – thanks to his time spent at childcare – had with the help of his carers painted a little terracotta pot and planted it up with something that I am assuming if it likes its current spot on the kitchen window sill, will eventually flower. So very cute. Thank you Milo.

And well – from my most appreciative husband – I, as usual have been totally spoilt. The gift was a gorgeous book called ‘Tucked in’ by Meredith Gaston. Enjoyed most thoroughly as I sat up in bed with my freshly brewed cup of coffee. Then croissants for breakfast – a family outing and ride on a gorgeous old steam train thanks to the Heritage Festival that is on this weekend in Ballarat. Home for homemade Devonshire tea with scones made from the Country Women’s Association cookbook and now as I sit writing this – the most delicious smells of a homemade feast using a pumpkin grown in our garden are wafting out to me.

I truly feel loved and appreciated today. I must remember this and eek out memories of it over the year ahead! It has been a busy week – full of small ‘Mother’ milestones. For Milo – it was showing me that he was able to ‘jump’ with both feet off the ground like a ‘big boy’ and for Kitty it is her first wobbly tooth (well actually 2! The bottom front 2!) – so I suppose if we are lucky the tooth fairy may just pay us a visit or two this week.

To my own Mother, Step Mother, Mother in laws, Grandmothers and all those women over the years that have been and still are like Mothers to me. I thank you for your love and support. Happy Mothers Day!