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The little mouse that (almost) killed me

So, I thought I'd make a little 'Mouse in a Tin' for each of the kids coming to Cappers' slumber party last Saturday night. How hard could that be, right?

Tired of always leaving things to the very last minute, in late August party preparations were well underway. Which is to say that I pinned a few things to my new 'Slumber party' board and fell in love with the Wee Mouse Tin picture. I had to have it. Matter of fact, I had to have ten its.

Spurred on by my new 'early planner' approach to life and parties, I duly bought ten Altoid tins for $4 from a gal on etsy (typically, you couldn't get the tins in Australia and postage cost me more than the tins), received the tins within the week and... waited.

So, Wednesday before the party came around quick-smart and I thought 'wow, what happened there?'. Fuelled by bat-outta-hell panic, I whizzed online and purchased the Wee Mouse Tin pdf pattern from Larissa at mmmcrafts; felt revved up and raring to go when she emailed it to me Thursday morning; had a massive comedown when I saw her opening paragraph: this pattern is written for folks who have some basic sewing and embroidery experience and who are familiar with common sewing terms; drank a quick glass of chardonnay at 11:25 am and set the pattern aside to 'read later'.

'Later' turned out to be Friday night at about 8pm.

Now, despite my propensity to ignore things that overwhelm me and my other propensity to do things that I am completely unqualified for, I'm not entirely daft. I knew I was in trouble. For a start, it was now 8.30pm on a Friday night and I didn't have half the stuff listed in the 'to make this pattern you need' section and for another start, I didn't have half the crafting skills required either.

But this is where being oblivious to your limitations comes in real handy.

At 9.30pm I finally figured out how to thread the sewing machine. (My friend Jen usually does those sorts of tricky sewing things for me.)

By 10.30pm I worked out that you can't cut the thread too close to the machine or it will keep coming unthreaded and you will have to keep threading it and threading it and threading it which is great because you are now an expert at threading a sewing machine but so bloody annoying that your inner scream is starting to make your outer shake.

By 11.30pm I had cut out all the little mouse fabric and felty bits and roped LOML into cutting out the mattresses.

At 12.00am I had a little cry because there was no way I had the skills to sew the tiny little legs and arms even if I did have the freezer paper that the pattern required and you can only get in the USA.

At 12:15am I had another little cry because I remembered that I didn't actually know how to embroider.

At 12:30am I convinced LOML that he should not enable my madness and should in fact go directly to bed and not look back.

At 12:35am My eyes glazed over as I watched a YouTube video ("part 1 of 4") to learn how to do a french knot to make the mouse eyes. Watching that lady work her embroidery needle (which I did not have) through her embroidery hoop (which I did not have), made me realise that I may have set my expectations a little high with this one.

At 12:55am I finally cracked the french knot thanks to my new mate Mary Corbet and set to it making the little mousey faces, each with its own wonky, terrified french-knot-induced expression.

At 1:30am I decided to abandon the idea of making the little teddy bear that goes with the mice, namely because on Larissa's pattern it says "this pattern uses freezer paper to aid in sewing tiny pieces. Be sure to use a medium temperature to iron the freezer paper to the wool felt" and I realised that not only did I not have freezer paper, but I didn't have any wool felt either. Besides, at this point I didn't trust myself with an iron, warm or otherwise.

By 2 am I had most of the mouse bodies made, each with plain felt feet and arms sewn in. In the end, I just cut out the arms and legs and whacked them in there, no additional sewing attempted.

At 2.05am I had three little cries because I realised that I now had to hand-sew stuff.

By 2:55am My new mice all looked like old mice, instantly tattered by my butcher-like hand-sewing skills.

By 3 am I had the mice all made and set about gluing the mattresses into the tins, feeling buoyant and somewhat light-headed. There were two bits to each - a felt bottom and a cotton ticking top. I forgot to glue the felt bit in first so abandoned that idea completely. I thought about waking LOML to apologise for making him unnecessarily cut out 10 felt mattresses.

By 3.35am I realised that I still had to make blankets and pillows for the little buggers.

By 3:45am I had developed a persistent eye twitch that no amount of chocolate was taking away.

At 4:10 am, I had a little micro-sleep in a pile of mouse sleeping bags, my head resting on a pint-sized pillow.

At 4:15 am I crawled into bed, knowing I would be up at dawn to finish the mouse bedding and start on the meringue mice for the party dessert.

At 4:16 am, as sleep clamped down on my foggy brain with the clang of a prison door closing, I realised that quite apart from the fact that I am a stubbon little mule, sometimes in life we just have to lower our expectations. What we want to do and what we can actually physically accomplish, might not be exactly the same thing. We need to be realistic and not set the bar too high for ourselves.

Near enough is often good enough. In fact, it's probably always good enough. Just not this time.

When was the last time you attempted something quite beyond you?


The beat of my drum

Two brilliant bloggers have raised me up this week. That's me at the top of the mountain, waving hello and beating my drum.

Al's post over at the Fibro about making time to write really struck a chord with me. Not the bit about feeling like I should be mothering 24/7 and not doing stuff for myself. I don't feel like that at all. I reckon I give my kids plenty and the rest is up to them while I get on with other stuff.

No, the bit that did it for me was the "if you have stories to write, then write them."

My whole life there have been stories bubbling inside me, like a fragrant hot pot (or a cauldron, depending on what you think of me!). I've never 'had a book' in me, but making pictures with words is what my head does every day. If you're with me and we're chatting, I'll be weaving language in a way that probably sounds a bit odd, but the need to create something special with words means I just don't quite talk like most people. There is poetry in every moment and my mouth wants to loll it around and suck it away.

Then I read Kootoyoo's post for justb about marching to the beat of your own drum, and I confessed that I often forget to stop and listen to my own drum's rhythm. Finding the quiet we need to hear our drum can be so difficult. It's pretty much impossible when life is good and you're happy and you're madly dancing to everyone else's beat.

But take a moment, every day. To be still and calm and simply listen. It's easy to block out the noise around you because beautiful music is playing within in you. Can you hear the marching band?

I marched with my band in February this year and I've been marching ever since. Now that I'm 'a writer' and I get to 'write for a living' (I still can't remove the inverted commas, sorry, not yet), I feel like I'm finally getting paid to be me. I feel purposeful and delighted and whole and I've silenced a yearning that has always been inside me, so quiet that I could barely hear it. 

That yearning was the beat of my drum. It's the best rhythm I've ever danced to and it's been inside me all along. 

I'm so glad I paused to listen. I'm so glad that I'm writing my story.

Can you hear your drum?


Mousey slumber party invitations


Cappers is having a slumber party this weekend with a 'mouse' theme {You can see the mousey slumber party here!!}. Thank goodness I sent out a 'save the date' the week before we went away because I only just got around to doing her invitations today.

Which I kinda liked in the end because it's sweet to say 'please wear your pjs to my slumber party this Saturday'. 'This Saturday' seems quaint and nice. Like we live in an unhurried world where no one has anything planned further ahead than six days away.

She was allowed to invite seven friends for her seven years. Fortunately, only two of the chosen friends were actually deemed 'slumber party material' by their parents. Most seem to be poor sleepers like my lot, or scared at night away from their parents. I found that refreshing and not just because I am not facing eight seven year olds for the night this Saturday...

I've wanted to do a downloadable invitation with tutorial for ages. Matter of fact, I plan to go back to all of the parties I've made and create free printables for all of them. The world needs more free printables.

So, my efforts start today. You can download a pdf of this invitation by clicking on the image below.

Download free pdf printable

And the instructions to put it together by clicking on this image.

Download instructions to create slumber party invites

More printables for a 'mouse slumber party' (I thought I would start out with as obscure a party theme as possible!!) coming after the party.

Enjoy the printables and enjoy your week.

Do you like my mice?


52 Weeks of Grateful: Effort

Recently my 'to do' list has been three pages long and my asterixed items (those that need to be done NOW) are a whole one of those page. Overwhelming, to say the least.

And yet.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older (old, so very old), but I wasn't shaky with it. I didn't panic or moan or become paralysed by the sheer weight of everything I needed to do. Instead, I just quietly got on with it and kept getting on with it, around the clock, until the list was done. We'll not done, never done, but in a more manageable place.

So, this week I'm grateful for...

296. Effort - it's hard to keep putting everything you've got into just getting through the daily expectations, but when I make the effort, I usually reap the rewards. Jobs are all done and I feel good now.

297. Meals - we had two birthdays this week (LOML and Cappers... but I'll tell you about Cappers closer to her slumber party) and so we shared two special family meals out. LOML's was at a little sushi place and Cappers chose an after-school BBQ in a favourite waterside park. Both were the best.

298. Imps - there is no doubt about it, my youngest is an imp. Yep, she's got the divil in her, alright. But she is so entertaining, so frustratingly good fun that it's impossible not to be grateful for her impish ways.

Is there a little imp in your life too?

Over on Village Voices I'm also grateful for little moments this week. Come on over and link up your gratefuls. You might also like to read this post I wrote about having 'good mornings'.


Time flies, I do not

Yesterday was Monday and tomorrow is Friday. Gotta upgrade my pilot's license to astronaut status.

My husbie was rather embarrassed to be the focus of my blog all week like that. But what's a girl to do? Here's a pretty boat instead. These charming fabric boats are rented at the small basin in the Jardin Des Tuileries in Paris.

This one belonged to this sweet chap.

Anyway, this is all very lovely, but I've gotta get back to work!

What's your best time management tip for me?*

* Besides "learn to say no" because I'm thinking of getting that one tattooed on my forehead I've told myself it so many times. But I just don't listen.


This man

Aside from being a complete hottie (he has The Newman-Clooney Factor going on - men who get better looking with age), this man is one of the smartest and wittiest you'll ever meet. He is strong and confident and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

He has been my best friend with benefits for over sixteen years and we've never spoken an unkind word either to each other or about each other. There is just nothing unkind to say.

This man has shown me that you don't need friction to create fireworks. He is harmony, he is joy, he is waves rushing towards shore. He means I live in the golden hour, every hour.

Happy birthday to my love.

(That shirt is my favourite - do you like it?)


52 Weeks of Grateful: Daggy places

We've got this new 'family fun night' thing going on at home. It's a total blast. Last night I found myself at the Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, standing up in the water with the Badoo pretend-swimming merrily around me, in my togs. This is not something I would ordinarily feel comfortable with. When I'm in my bathers, I need full submersion. But the daggy old water park out there in Homebush is not a place to worry about boob-droop, cellulite or bikini waxes. It's a place to let it all hang out, so to speak. So much so, I went on the water slide 15 times with Max. Up and down those steps, butt hovering above the world, in my togs. Splashing out of the tunnel, legs akimbo, rising out of the water, togs akimbo.

I highly recommend it.

So, this week I'm grateful for...

293. Daggy places - places were nobody is looking, nobody is posing and nobody could give two hoots what you look like. You just get to have fun and that is all.

294. Freshly washed, little-girl hair - is there a lovelier fragrance in the world than this? There is a perfect sweetness and newly-minted clean smell to a little girl's hair.

295. My watering can - our hose does my head in. It kinks and coils and the end falls of and water gushes everywhere. A new one that does none of those things is one of the things I cannot buy. Thankfully most of the yard is covered by a drip irrigation system and the watering can does a terrific job of stepping in to keep the pot plants happy.

Where's your favourite 'daggy place'?

Over on Village Voices today, I'm baking. Come on over and have a piece of banana bread and link up your own grateful. You can post or you can use the #52weeksofgrateful tag in Instagram to join in.


The importance of rituals (and questions about blogging)

Just thought I'd let you all know that I've started writing a new series for Village Voices on the importance of making the most of family rituals. I am loving writing these posts and hope you love them too.

The posts are for a campaign for Australian Eggs, so you can bet an update on our chickens is coming up in one of these posts. I have been amazed at the number of emails I've received asking me about them. Especially after I put an update on Facebook a little while ago when Sparkle went missing (forever, as it turned out).

Incidentally, I'm well aware of the hypercritical nature of my doing 'sponsored' posts on Village Voices, when I've had words to say about doing them on my own blog. I am doing the Eggs posts and I've been doing the Lunchbox Loving series for Tip Top for a while now too.

I promise I will write a post about my hypocriticalness and all that next week. Just gotta get my head around that myself!

The other thing I wanted to ask you all was: what do you think of bloggers writing elsewhere and then writing a post about writing elsewhere? (Such as I have done here.) Are you grateful for the link so you get to read the post? Or do you think 'show off, I hate your guts now'?

Or, of course, you might think something in between?!
Please tell me.


Poor old Spring

Earlier in the week I wrote a post called 'Hello Summer'. It's not Summer yet.

Poor old Spring. We all profess to love it endlessly, but I suspect it's really the promise of the heat of Summer that gets us all excited. Yippee, we cheer, the weather is warming up.

That other 'shoulder' season, Autumn, has the leaves yellowing up and falling about and gussying the place up. Besides, no one is trying to hurry Autumn along to get to the freezing cold of Winter. Rather, we linger in the sunshine a little longer and admire those beautiful sunsets.

Spring has a big burst of flowers in its favour, but they don't last long and within a week or two we are taking them for granted and planting our Summer vegetables. One warmish day and we're in our togs slopping on the sunscreen and complaining endlessly that the water is freezing. See, rushing onto a Summer activity when a loll in the warmth of Spring would have served us so much better.

After a couple of days of sunshine, the weather turned cold again today and at least five people on the school run mentioned that it wasn't fair because "Summer is supposed to be on the way". I promptly went home, plucked a couple of sprigs of lavender off the bush and plonked them in a jar on my kitchen windowsill. Spring needs to be honoured.

Do you think Spring gets a bad run?



Walking to school, first day back after the holidays.

"I've got butterflies in my tummy," says Maxi worriedly.

"That's because you're a bit nervous," I answer reassuringly. "The first day back can feel a little tricky sometimes."

"Nah," he says firmly, scuffing the worn toe of his shoe further into the grass. "It's because I swallowed a butterfly."

Happy last term in second grade, Maxi. Love your gorgeous ways.

Do you remember when I last freaked out about the state of Maxi's fingernails? Well, I wish I could do the same thing again, eeek! Just look at that boy-who-nobody-cares-for! The holidays do it to me every time...

What do you let slide in the holidays?


Hello Summer

As soon as daylight savings rolls around, Summer is suddenly afoot.

The lethargy and restlessness that plagued me towards the end of last week has lifted and the world is suddenly bright again. I'm looking forward to beachy afernoons and campfires at night. To getting my hands dirty in the garden all day and then diving into cold pool waters at twilight. To lying in the hammock while the squeak of the trampoline fills my ears. To plunging my feet into icy salt water.

Long drinks in the short of the day.

Cicada drones drifting on hot winds.

 Days where nothing stirs, not even us.

The smell of earth when longed-for rain finally arrives.

Hello Summer. Hello.

What do you like most about Summer?


52 Weeks of Grateful: Plans

Sometimes when you have a 'big thing' that you have spent a goodly amount of time planning for and looking forward to, it can be an almighty crash when the event is over.

Such has kind of happened here.

No crash to speak of, but a restlessness. I can't decide if I want to move on the 'next big thing' or if I'm completely over all the big things entirely. I feel drained and a little bit colourless. I have little things to look forward to, but no definite plans for a big thing. That plus the kids have all been throwing up all week. Doesn't help.

But, this week I'm grateful for...

290. Plans - ya gotta have a plan. Something to aim for, something to excite you when the chips are down, something looming.

291. Disinfectant - see 'kids have all been throwing up all week' above. Sigh.

292. Selfies - I love them. They sum up our awesome adventure like no other photos possibly could. Us, in standard position, all over the world.

What are you looking forward to right now?

Meanwhile, on Village Voices, I'm talking about my beautiful garden this week. Pop on over and link up your own Grateful post.


Gotta love a selfie!

Why bother a stranger when a selfie will do?

My, ahem, 'capsule' wardrobe kinda made it look like we were in 100 places all in the same day. Much better to think that than to have to admit that I wore that stripey black and white dress about 7 times without washing it once. Nice, huh? It didn't help that two other tops I brought in the capsule were also black and white stripes Seriously, what was I thinking?

 I would like to pose the question " why didn't I put make up on at least ONE DAY while we were away?". So little trouble for such a big result. Especially when you get the photos back and you look... ... ... plain... ... ... blemished. Actually, if you carefully follow the selfies, I swear you can see that ever-growing volcano on my chin actually erupt at one point.

Oh, I love that man of mine. Happy as two clams.

Do you rock a dual selfie?


One thousand heart-felt stories

I can't believe how stressful blogging actually is. I don't mean the 'what will I write about today?' stress. Or the 'why has no one read my post?' stress. Or even the 'that's clever, why can't I be that clever?' stress.

I don't even mean the 'I follow 99 blogs and can only actually visit 2 a day' stress.

Nope. The stress I'm talking about is real stress. Real life stuff that matters.

Have you noticed how much you love some of the bloggers you've gotten to know? How much you know about their lives and how much you care about them?  Have you thought about how many there are?

What happens when it's suddenly not all papercrafting and organised cupboards? What happens when something goes wrong in their life and they share all of it or parts of it with us? You love them, you want them to be happy and it's so stressful knowing that you are so far away and can actually do not much at all.

And then you multiply that by about 100 and you realise that you are in deep with more people than it's probably healthy to even know. Don't get me wrong, the feeling is probably not reciprocated, if they even know who you are. But the way their story tugs at your heart strings and the way you worry about them absolutely is.

We've all gone from intimately knowing maybe 5-10 people to intimately knowing hundreds. That's a lot of weddings, births, birthdays, parents' deaths, health scares, emotional hiccups, what-to-name-the-baby, he said-she said fights... wow, that's a lot of life to see people through. A whole lot of emotional turmoil right there. I do wonder if it's actually healthy to 'know' this many people. Do you think we're meant to?

How on earth do we keep up? And how do we reduce the stress of it all?

[Image by Sabine Pried Niece]


Meet Lottie

I wrote a post for justb for their "The Message Project" that I absolutely love. It's a cool project with lots of really lovely bloggers sharing their 'message to the world' in aid of the McGrath Foundation. My message was about capturing the joy of childhood.

As part of my post, I added a little video that the Badoo and I made on her birthday this year. It's the first video I've ever edited and I think I must have had one hell of a hangover 'cos the camerawork is shaaaaaaky stuff. But bear with me. It's cute.

Do you love it? LOML and I (the very healthy LOML and I) are thinking about making a little series of them. The world needs to hear what the Badoo has to say about relationships!