hello?? *crickets*

by Zoë on April 13, 2010

so, ahem.

its been a while.

the last time i posted i had just turned 30. i have just turned 31.

in so many ways my life will never be the same, the year has been HUGE, my world is entirely altered suffice to say the kids and I are O.K.

New house, new directions, new choices, new consequences, new identity (sort of) and new goals. Not so much sewing, but I’m about to start again, kids clothes, patchwork (abstract) and some stuff for me, finally!

So, here is to new beginnings, curiosity and aesthetics.

More later



my life ate my life.

by The Other Zoë on May 10, 2009

I don’t seem to have much left anymore! I have too much!

TAFE is excellent, but I hate it too. I’m learning lots, I have some vaguely irritating tutors, but y skills are developing nicely. Unfortunately, since starting the course I have missed a few weeks due to surgery, complications requiring further surgery and then a hasty holiday followed by a sick baby who neede care at home.

I am almost 3 weeks behind. And by the time I get home from TAFE in the afternoons, cook dinner, get lunch stuff ready for the following day, its almost 8pm and I’m mentally toasted, which is not so good for the homework side of things, which is mountaining. Nor is it good for the housework side of things, also mountaining.

While off with a sick baby to care for I have tried to catch up on some of the written stuff, in between caring and cleaning. So really I have not had much chance to start and finish. And I’m so desperate to sew! Sew Desperate!!!!!
I have a list of things in my head, and also in my homework, that I need to work on, and I just can’t. It is driving me crazy. I’ve had to drop doing my once-monthly market stall for mousepocket cause I cannot commit to it now.

I have been considering putting tech on hold, but i’m almost halfway through the year (and certificate!) so it feels stupid, but I’m spread so thinly.

One great Other Thing has been a friend of mine announcing her wedding date (a measly 6 months and 3 days away!) and, like me 7 years ago, she has her ideal dress in mind and trouble finding it in stores. So we have a project! We have to source fabric (I love a textile challenge!) design the dress, have the pattern  and toille made (we could probably nut it out if we didn’t have children and we did have an extra year to keep fiddling with the fit), and then we may make it between us, or get a local lady to do it. Bridesmaids are sorted, and we also have to find fabric for flower girls (pastel pink silk with white polka dots).

This was all sparked because while away on my family holiday, I was given a few short hours in a  rather amazing fabric store, with a whole floor dedicated to buttons and millinery supplies.

*ernest nod*

uhuh. So, being the friend that I am, and knowing full well my Lady T had not even decided solidly to have a wedding this year, I sniffed around the vintage and antique millinery section. (this stuff can be hard to find, you take what you trip over!)
I discovered some seriously fab 1940’s silk velvet daisies, and some ecru millinery netting in mint condition, just thinking that they looked like Lady T (cheerful, out going, and with a certain something!)

I sent a text. “Have just found your little wedding veil supplies.” got a panicky response “Don’t go overboard! it might not happen!” sent back “If you don’t use them, I’ll make soemthing dinky for my own sweet curls.” never got a response.

I wondered if maybe I had jumped the gun, made her worry. They were not expensive, and I really would have used them myself.

On arriving home, a jittery Lady T came to catch up, and to tell me that I the 13 days since my text message she had booked a ceremony venue, paid for it, and was hot on the trail of reception venues, bands, cars and flowers.

Crikey! I love a good wedding, I love a good deadline! I’ve done a couple of cakes for people, lots of flowers, and tonnes of beading. Even invitation design. But not really a frock. I’m super excited to be a part of this one, especially during a time when I am already honing my design and pattern making capabilities. And its great working with brides who aren’t fussy, who have a broad vision and don’t mind a little creative pushing!

Oh yeah, and I turned 30! I love it, its really nice being here!trad jazz mother and daughter

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how to hit the ground running.

by Zoë on February 2, 2009

I really don’t like the term “holding back” when it comes to kids and kindy. I think its quite negative, and a bit blameful. We said we thought W could do with another year of running about before having to sit still and colour inside the lines. And 3 days in we are pretty glad we did, cause it has worked nicely for her.

Day 1 of kindy she was up ridiculously early, dressed and pretty much sitting on the front porch waiting to go by 7am.

Mum and my niece came for the drop off walk around the corner, which only takes 2 minutes, and we still were not supposed to arrive till 10:30, but we went early. She bolted into the classroom and I had to haul her out and head off to the office to get a hat (the first one shrank in the wash). We hung her bag on her very own hook (“Rox-en-burgh?! Did they even read the enrollment form?”) and she entered her classroom to chorus of cheering from the teachers, she was the first girl to arrive. (her year has 19 boys and 6 girls.) She pretty much buggered off and if I had loitered she might even have told me to go away. Her classroom is beautiful, built like an old church with arched doorway and vaulted ceilings which let in so much natural light and air. The kindy kids have their own loo and a really great buddy program which involves loads of assistance from the senior kids to help them feel included and settled and welcome.

Without a tear or a whimper from any of us, I rushed off for Tech orientation and Garth and the boys went to kindy morning tea where he signed up for canteen roster (good man!). We picked her up at 2pm, it was like she had been going to school for 10 years!

Today was day three, and although I was almost half an hour late picking her up, and worried that being so would make her worried and not want to go tomorrow, she was glad because it meant she had the teacher cornered for one-on-one chit chat till I arrived. As I was loading her into the car out the front of the school, the 5/6 kids wandered back to their classroom, and there was much calling and cheering for W “see ya! byeeee, have a good arvo willow! see ya tomorrow!”.

So I felt really happy about our choice of tiny inner-city school that is just round the corner. I feel comfortable with the start she has had, I feel confident in the little community we have moved into. So yeah! Here’s to the beginning of 13 or so years of education!



by Zoë on January 26, 2009

It is 12:30am, after a very lengthy, physically demanding day. I am still awake battling a headache and my newly acquired nightly reflux. I wonder if everybody’s body begins to feel tired as they turn 30?
I am suddenly overwhelmed by stupid niggling aches and pains, sore jaw, neck, back, ankle, reflux, crappy eyesight, progressive internal disease which will require surgery soon. My weeks are already filling with appointments for chiropractors, osteopaths, dentists, ultrasound, endo surgeons, homeopaths. I’ve also got stupid piles of tax, business and TAFE paperwork to get through. *vomit*

BUT, I have managed to do some sewing int he last few weeks, for myself! I know! Such a break from my normal sewing-for-the-rest-of-the-world!

I have never sewn stretch fabric before and I decided a simple boat necked t-shirt would be a nice start, in some cheerful cheap stretcb from spotlight.

p1010057 It was pretty quick work, all said and done in 4 hours spread over 2 evenings and with fairly pleasing results! It is a little broad and next time I will play with the length a bit, but here it is (teamed with my super bargain $20 stretch wrangler jeans in gorgeous deep blue which is holding it’s strength in the wash!)

I have since gotten some rather schmick stretch from tessuti in 2 colourways with grand plans of a couple more short sleeved and some long sleeved versions for winter. I’ve also scored some very cute retro cotton stretch during various oppy runs in the last fortnight, so there may be more experimentation and refining.

We have been busy round the house this wekend. Tomorrow is Australia Day and although we are possibly the least patriotic people we know, we thought we’d have a late lunch/BBQ thing to celebrate a day off work and also the partial solar eclipse.

Well, it might also have something to do with the fact that we begin school and craziness this week also, I have the fear and am racing around trying to sort stuff before I also return to school.


so far! (so good…)

by Zoë on January 22, 2009

One week today, my eldest child and only daughter begins primary school. It is a strange time, full of eager anticipation (all of us), excitement (be-will-derbeast), relief (me, until holidays) and fear (also me, see below).

from the beginning

from the very beginning she let us know when she needed stuff

You see, the be-will-derbeast is a headstrong creature, fast moving and fairly fearless. She sings, recites, dances and draws. She sits. On everything. Every 30 seconds. Like DishPig, she has particular ideas about particular things and outside of those thoughts she (and he) probably won’t hear you speak. I’m frightened how the school system will cope with her. I’m worried about how she will cope with the system. I don’t want her to lose her, although she will always be what and who she is, but it would be nice for her energy to be harnessed somehow. (maybe clean fuel for our electricity grid?)

Anyways, I’ve ironed the blue and white check tunic (peter pan collar, double blue ribbon in the centre), her sky blue polo shirts, and even pressed the box pleats into the navy blue culottes (size 4, so tiny!). We have possibly too many white socks, comfy black leather mary janes, a paint smock, backpack (bigget than A4 folder, thanks!), fruit bag sewn and lunch box tested for open-ability. I am soaking the once-white dunlop volleys in a bucket with chemicals, but I’m not liking our chances on them looking new again.

We even have super-smart hair elastics with satin navy blue bows stitched on, perfect for little red-haired plaits!

Not only is Be-will-derbeast off and schooling, but Blondie is commencing 3 days a week pre-school (he starts primary school next year!!!) and I’m hoping Deefer gets into the same place around June, when he will be 2. 2? bloody hell!

I am supposed to be commencing a TAFE course in 2 weeks, so that is 3-4 days of study, plus my homework, plus kindy homework, plus making 3 rounds of lunches most days, plus shipping kids off to various places for school/care (luckily most are on the way to tafe, which also happens to be down the end of our street, think global, live local!), I’m going to ave to shift from being a super-procrastinator 3000, to being a little bit organised. This will be a challenge (nikki and xanthe, stop laughing!)And I haven’t even included the washing, market, groceries and probably P&C involvement in that. (although I’m gunna push for DishPig to do canteen roster, I think that would be fab!)

It is making my head spin.

Any lunch box ideas people?


what does it mean? what is it for?

by Zoë on January 19, 2009

I’ve been linked to by one of my preferred bloggers, bluemilk . And once again I find myself thinking and not being able to answer my own questions. So, please do it for me and then ask some other people as well?

I am often bemused and bewildered by feminism and motherhood , and while i am very keenly experienced in one and not well read on either, I suppose I form my own opinions from experience and common sense. A fundamental point seems to be that there will always be a basic conflict between mothers and fathers. Our brains are wired differently, that’s just how it is, and we notice different things and have different priorities. I saw a telly show recently which did some cortisol level readings in children’s brains and it showed the chemical was present in frightening amounts in the brains of children while being looked after by their fathers. Even the child of the eco-hippy-dad (who was just about the most at peace male I’ve seen and obviously very involved and caring) registered dangerously high levels of cortisol in the brain. I remember years and years ago a New Scientist article statistics which showed that children who were cared for their paternal grandparents had several years shaved off their life expectancy. (some of us are aware that if our children were primarily cared for by their paternal grandparents, they would have no life expectancy.)
Cortisol is not good for kids. It isn’t good for grown ups either, and I suppose I’m not attempting to make a value judgement here, as my husband looks after our kids often, and increasingly so, but it really does make sense in a way. Dads do stuff differently. They just don’t have the same level of instinctive/intuitive care that mothers give. Even I have “eyes in the back of my head”. There are certain silences and moments when I am outside, or involved, and I just know to yell/run to stop/save someone from something silly. DishPig just doesn’t have it. He doesn’t even register about half of the dangerousness/silliness going on. No blame placed, its just what it is.
The few dads I have come across who do the early-babyhood care while mums go back to work, look dreadfully tired and, well, haggered. It took me a while to realise that every time I breastfeed my baby, I get to sit down for up to an hour, and I get a nice flush of endorphins to zone me out and give me some happy rest. (well, once the initial pain of breastfeeding subsided anyways!) Dads don’t get any of these hormones! Of course they look/are more tired!

Some other thoughts I have often thought….

Why does feminism mean not having babies and staying in paid employment?

Why does feminism seem to mean returning to work 10 mins after giving birth?
Why does it seem that the “choice” of synthetic liquid baby food is healthier than breastfeeding so you can return to work quicker?
Why does it mean that women who return to work to earn money are more feminist than those who don’t?

Can you stay at home full time and be a feminist? How do you articulate this?
Why does feminism seem to be so tied up with sex?
Why does having lots of sex=feminist?
What makes being a female pron star or a sex worker seem to be more feministic to some than staying at home with kids?
Can you be the primary care giver in the household and be a feminist? How?
Can you indulge in the “gentle arts” (sewing, knitting, crochet, etc) and have feminist street cred? Can you be smitten/preoccupied with the history of such domestic arts and still have street cred?
Is it possible for a feminist mother to recommend The Wiggles when that fucking dinosaur is such a twit? On those grounds is it then possible that the females portrayed in Hi5 are actually more realistic than the females in The Wiggles?

What is feminism about now? Is it simply about having “choice” (a confusing notion to me, as I feel that many choices we are “given” as mothers under the guise of “freedom”/”independence” are more often compromising to the health and well being of our offspring)? Is it about maintaining the hard fought right to make a choice, rather than just choosing?

Is having such a plethora of choice helpful to us anyway and do we feel more free for it?

Does the fact that many women/mothers now work just as hard as their male partners to earn money actually mean that we have earned equality of the sexes? Or does it mean that we are simply of more use to the consumerist society so many of us claim to be bucking against?

Are you still are full-card-holding feminist if you don’t split living costs equally with your man/woman/elephant?

And finally, When a 4 year old boy you have never met starts telling you about how he and his dad play violent virtual games which involve men killing men and that girls can’t be in the army, and you interject and say that girls/women can be in the army and shoot to kill as well, have you gone too far?



Straight lines. Square!
The grey and the white and the black.
Tone on tone on tone, texture.

Ah bliss!

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Thanks and gratitude. Circles, squares, images incorporating what it is to be. nothing. blank. creative. essence. flow. clean. phobia.

The depth and breadth of blank walls, my canvas, my space.

CONTROL. fluffy comments only now, the others ostracized and removed and rebutted.CONTROL.
only I can know me, and although I bare my soul and my faults, but that does not mean you may call me on them. I own them. I own your response to them.

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perhaps for emphar-sis.

Minimalism only, no intrusion of the full spectrum. Just order. Neat. Nothing my inspiration.


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whaddaya mean i’m awol?

by Zoë on January 12, 2009

I’m so here. I’ve always been here. Or at least I think I’ve always meant to here.

The mainest thing is that I am no longer there. On 1st October 2008, we packed belongings into trucks, swore a great deal at each other and sobbed with closest dearest friends as we drove away from the smog hole-under-flight-path of Marrickville, Sydney. (I even had the great joy of driving the pantek! It is a rare sight to see a woman driving a pantek, let alone a woman breastfeeding a baby in the cabin! I had several offers of marriage from Greek truckies along Botany Road…)

I’m certain I have left behind some cracking opportunities and a great school for the kids, not to mention my delicious orange kitchen and developing rose garden (and the glorious bedroom I had just painted….). I have also left behind a glorious collection of ladies, whom I now refer to as my Marrickvillians. Leah, Nikki, Ellen, Angela, Sarah and Ally. You are all so desperately missed. Your laughter, your stories, your children, your houses, your love, your support and even your husbands. Lucky for me it is a phone call or a 2hr drive to be with you again. I am superglad I have not moved interstate. And it is doublelucky I have relocated to such a nice town with nice beaches, so nice for visiting!

It is taking a while to established in Novacastria, and while involvement in the local Artisan’s market is helping me scrounge together some likely suspects, I had forgotten the probability of it taking years to establish a local network, just like it did after having my first baby. And I’m not so good with online communities, they feel too unreal and imaginary when you are looking for someone to go for a play or coffee with.

on the hill

on the hill

But the lighter debt load and lifestyle shift have made it worthwhile, we have a great rental, with great agent and lovely tolerant landlord, we have found a super affordable solid Californian bungalow down the road with a huge block of north-facing yard, and we have befriended a very sensible, capable architect who shares my love of the modernist aesthetic and interest in practical eco dwelling. We will be dragging Kieran The Punk Landscape Designer/Gardener to come and use us as portfolio material. It is in the same suburb we are renting in, so even when we finish work and move, we will still be a 5 minute walk from the little local school Willow starts at in 2 weeks.

down the hill and round the corner

down the hill and round the corner

We beach as often as possible, and while owning a sandy car is highly irritating, the smell of salt and the sea breeze being only 3 minutes drive away is worth the cleaning.

I have a fab studio space in the rental house. Very full of natural light, although I would recommend the installation of insulation and perhaps NOT putting a ceiling fan in at 6′ elevation (I keep wacking it with bolts of fabric.) I’m sewing as much as possible, and even doing some things for me. I’ve recently had great success with a boat necked tshirt pattern, and will post pics as soon as DishPig does whatever he needs to do with the camera.

So yeah, merry thingo and happy whatsy, and we’ll see what business the NY brings us, school, TAFE, preschool, renovations, markets, shops, galleries and possible surgery for me.

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For some time now, my good friend Nikki has been pregnant complaining of feeling snotty and nauseous. I recall that during her last pregnancy she also complained of these things. So last week, during a mid morning walk to a nearby suburb for coffee, sunshine, exercise and playgroup, we were discussing our various ailments. Me and Mine have been in the clutches of what has become affectionately known as “Catholic Flu”, as we all fell ill the week the orange back packs rocked into town. A hideous ailment involving fevers, sneezes, snooziness and then blocked sinuses, sore eyes and dreadful coughing. Amen.
Nikki’s mob have had similar, and while my daughter vomited during her round, it was down to her “delicate and precious digestive response to a basic respitory tract infection” rather than some dire Inner Westrian gastric bug. So the idea that Nikki was feeling spewy didn’t match with the illness that my kids had.
We discussed such pleasantries over decaf and real while Josh gagged on marshmallows cheerfully shoved too far un-chewed and Darby eyed up the waitresses from the comfort of his pram.

That night, I needed a question answering and knew Nikki might have the answer and I phoned.
Z: “Hi I have a question” (insert question).
N: “yep” (insert answer here) “and I’m pregnant”.
insert hysterics from me and nervous chuckle from Nikki
Z: “see! You are just the same kind of sick as you were with Josh! Tell me all the info and I’ll use my trusty calculater to work out how far in you are.”
Insert more hysterics from me and nervous noises from Nikki.
Z: “16 weeks Nik. Yer almost halfway through, bonus!”
There was more laughter, and more still after I hung up and told DishPig. Laughter at how the universe can throw such an amusing curved ball, laughter in relief that this kind of surprise happens to other people, not just us. Nikki had been fine with 2 kids but obviously it just wasn’t going to be that way!

Lucky Nikki, 4 months in, within 4 days of knowing she was pregnant she also knew the gender of the baby and somehow managed to secure a spot at our local birth centre for a VBAC.


not in my patch of sunshine, sweetheart.

by Zoë on August 3, 2008

What a crazy week and weekend!
I’ve started my new pattern-making course, and it is great! Although I am supposed to be making up 7 toiles this evening, which won’t be happening, due to slippy disc in my back.
Today we dragged a car load of junk to the local markets to shift to some other hoarders. Books and fabric and some odds and ends. Luckily we were put next to a cake stall in a dappled sunny position, and lots of locals dropped in for a hello and chat, so it was a beautiful, relaxed late winter’s day.
Except for one amusing moment.

Leah and I were enjoying a coffee, and people watching as we are want to do. A young sharp lass with horn rimmed glasses and a funky frock burrowed through my wares and announced she’d be back after yum cha. As she wandered off, we commented on how nice she looked, how cheerful she came across, how fortunate some people were to be able to wear horn rimmed glasses and actually look cool.
We continued enjoying the sun, idle conversation, the funny clothes walking by.
The girl returned to buy 5m of red fabric and some embossed pin whale. Be in no doubt here, readers, she was in possession of a supreme bargain. “Cool! Enjoy your fabric!” I said cheerfully. “Thanks.” She said. “No worries!” I jovially threw back, as I often do. I sat down and resumed my conversation with Leah. Suddenly, Glasses Girl was behind my right shoulder. “Hey, you shouldn’t say that. The human brain is totally incapable of processing a positive negative. When you say it, the positive is wiped totally by the word worries and so the listener is filled with the fear of worry. You should try ‘my pleasure’ or ‘have a beautiful day’.”  I paused, unsure how to rebuff the lecture. “Hmmmm. I might try that at some point.” I replied, carefully non-committal. She arched a brow. “Try? No! Don’t try, just do!” Flipping her hair she humphed her way off into the afternoon.

Exercising my right to treppenwitz, here is my never to be delivered response to Glasses Girl.

“No, actually, No Worries is exactly what I meant to say. It is a pleasant and cheerful way of saying “You are welcome” or “hey, its ok!” in Australia. I’m a pleasant and cheerful Australian, and this is what I choose to say. I chose not to say the things you have forcefully recommended I say, as they don’t match my personal lexicon. It is not in my nature to speak that way. Perhaps, as part of your daily life, and indeed, in the general method in which you share your opinions with others, you could recall another great Australian saying, which I find particularly appropriate to share with you at this particular moment.  Bugger Off.”