The Winter of Contentment.

We really challenged ourselves in April. I mean, more than usual. Every day in April we were working on the Minimalist Game, putting together the dolls’ house and working around the (worthy) challenges of avoiding the supermarket. It was a great, eye opening month, but I was glad when it was over.

I feel like I spent most of May catching our readers up on April and now we’re here and it’s June and in many ways, I’ve run out of words. So here, instead, are some pictures of fun BNNish stuff I’ve been doing lately.

The Fearse Family DIY Cress Men

Making Cress Men on Easter Sunday. Little Fearse asked to see the “Cress man and cress lady” every morning and gave them a kiss hello until their hair was ready to eat.

The Fearse Family DIY Scrap Material Rag Doll

Making a Jemima style rag-doll from a very sketchy pattern in the 1980 edition of Play School’s Useful Book. Little Fearse helped choose all the materials and even sacrificed her favourite (but very worn) PJ pants for Jemima’s striped leggings. An old pair of jeans was used to make feet and the rest were scraps found at the bottom of my material bench. One of her arms has already fallen off twice and she was given a much nicer Jemima for her birthday anyway, but it was a really fun holiday activity to do together.

The Fearse Family DIY Old Jeans and Place Mat Tool Belt

Making a tool belt for a friend’s third birthday using a place mat, old jeans (the waist band of the jeans was used as the belt part – vintage buttons were added to make it adjustable and they even kind of matched the place mat) and tools collected from the op shop and market. I looked at lots of tutorials for these but ended up making my own by combining different ideas. Worth exploring!

The Fearse Family DIY Vintage Curtain Material Zoo Skirt

I used some vintage curtain material to make my first ever Little Fearse skirt, using a combination of this tutorial and this tutorial. I made this one for a special trip to the zoo. It’s very zooey

The Fearse Family DIY Vintage Fabric Scrap Dolls' Bedding

Little Fearse has been asking me for awhile to make blankets for Maggie in the dolls’ house. Yeah, true, this did take me al of about three minutes to sew, but I love the material Little Fearse chose from my new stash of vintage fabric scraps. I look forward to whipping up some more blankets for the rest of the dolls’ house inhabitants.

The Fearse Family DIY Vintage Scrap Patchwork SKirt

Using the same lot of vintage scraps and a similar concept to the zoo skirt I patch worked some of my favourite scraps together and (lacking elastic) I used an op shopped skirt (with bonus shorts inside!) and attached my patchwork to the skirts original waist. I am absolutely thrilled with how this turned out.

You know, Winter isn’t my favourite time of year, but I’m really determined not to let it get me down this year. I hope that with the satisfaction I gain from these mini projects (plus lots of reading, which I’ve been indulging in more and more lately) I will while away the gloomy days and bring on Spring a little faster.

Mama xo

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Toddler musings on the difference between ‘house’ and ‘home’.

On the way home from family day care yesterday Little Fearse started a conversation with her BP about our house and whether it was also our home. Later, on the way to Granny and Papa’s for dinner this happened:

Lil Fearse: Bye bye Daddy’s house.

Mama: Bye bye home.

LF: Daddy’s house, LF and Daddy and Mummy home.

M: That’s right, it’s our home.

LF: Go Papa’s house.

M: Yes, Papa’s house and Granny’s house. It’s also their home.

LF: NO! Papa house. Granny house. NOT home!

M: Well, yes, it’s their house and their home, too.

LF: NO NO NO NO NO! Daddy’s house Papa and Granny home.

M: Is our house Papa and Granny’s home, too?

LF: Yes. Mummy and Daddy and LF and Papa and Granny home.

I think it is a most remarkable thing that our two year old wants to distinguish between a house (structure) and a home (heart). For our last year or so we have been working on making this house a place to put our hearts. We are getting there. When our family came for LF’s birthday on Saturday many commented that they were starting to see the difference. There is less stuff and more room for that cosy, homey feeling. It is so restful and calming. It makes me happy.

Mama xo

Today was a happy little day.

We visited a new baby who had smiles and cuddles and a school fete full of cheerful souls and found a pirate tent for Little Fearse for $1. Little Fearse swung on swings and slid down slides and cuddled cousins. We saw itty bitty baby animals and classrooms full of clothes and Little Fearse drank from her first Primary School water fountain. We dressed up in silly masks and costumes and squealed in a photo booth. Today was a warm and happy little day.

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Family traditions

BP and I started a family tradition a few years ago. I’m not sure we knew we were starting one when we began, but it has become something we look forward to each year as December approaches. For each day of December until Christmas day we watch a Christmas television special from one of our favourite TV shows or, if we have time, a Christmas movie.

It sounds a little cheesy and from the outset it might seem really repetitive watching a different group of people celebrate Christmas every day for 25 days. The thing is, Christmas movies and Christmas specials almost always have some up-lifting message or cheery ending. It tends to make me feel quite good about Christmas, instead of cynical, like I used to be.

Some of our favourites are:

  • the 30 Rock Christmas special where Jack and Liz try to find the coolest presents for each other they can manage without spending any money,
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,
  • the first Simpsons Christmas,
  • Roseanne’s Christmas special ‘Santa Claus’,
  • Home Alone 1 & 2,
  • Scrooged, mostly for Bill Murray
  • Of course, It’s a Wonderful Life.

So what did we watch today? Well, since we relaxed our Little Fearse no-TV rule we thought we’d better kick it off with something we could share…

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Help me out here – do you have any great, unique traditions that your family has created? Also, any suggestions for Christmas TV specials or films that we should add to our list this year?

Merry December,

Mama xox

My Dad by Mama Fearse

My Dad is a remarkable man, both professionally and personally. I have a huge amount of respect for him as a metallurgist and scientist and also as a Dad and a general human being.

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My Dad is not perfect (I think he and I share the same disregard for perfection or a quest for it) – we disagree on lots of important things and I’m pretty sure I got my stubborn ‘streak’ from him. I don’t want to paint a portrait of a man without faults. My Dad is faulty and ALSO the best Dad I can imagine.

My Dad is a man who embraces life, takes the good with the bad and never complains about a thing. He has the highest of moral values and a work ethic that is exhausting just to think about. He has high expectations of all around him, and is the sort of man that people strive to impress.

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My Dad is a quiet man with firm opinions on a huge array of topics. Sometimes he sees things that are grey as black, or white. He’ll always listen to your opinion, though, as long as you don’t swear while you’re sharing it.

My Dad is courageous. He has a sense of adventure that I wish I had inherited. He has travelled overland from India to England on a motorbike (before The Beatles made India accessible to the West). He and Mum travelled through the Middle East in a mini-van before most Australian’s had even worked out the Middle East existed. My Dad had friends and colleagues visiting throughout our childhood from countries all over the world.

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My Dad had a big black bush beard in the early 1960s, well before they were acceptable. He had people pulling their children away from him in the streets. He was accused of being dirty, or uncouth, or having something to hide. He rode out the rude comments until the 70s when everyone had a beard.

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My Dad is a brilliant Papa to his three grandchildren. He is patient and energetic and will do anything for them. He sings songs and comes up with nonsense rhymes. He makes up silly voices for their dolls and teddies. He climbs into tree houses or carries them far into the paddocks to see the cows. He creates science experiments and builds tree houses and train sets.

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My Dad can quote Shakespeare and will tear up listening to Beethoven. He sings songs about green and purple old coots. He is writing a book. He has invented dozens of DIY solutions to dozens of problems around his farm. He has also invented scientific technologies that have changed the world.

My Dad taught himself how to use a computer and the Internet when he retired. To help out Mum he taught himself to cook on Wednesday nights, which by no coincidence was the night I would stay at Mum and Dad’s every week before I had Little Fearse. He didn’t phone it in, either. He learned to cook elaborate seafood dishes (often to please me – we share a love of seafood, my Dad and I).  He would research these dishes for days before cooking them, hunt for strange ingredients and spend hours preparing before he started cooking.

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My Dad would give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it, even if you didn’t really need it. Sometimes even when you didn’t really want it. When I was a kid and he came home late from work, I’d sit by him while he ate dinner and beg his potatoes. He always gave them to me, even though he was surely starving after a long day at work. Now he passes all the best bits off his plate to Little Fearse. He’ll always go without to ensure everyone else is well fed.

I have so many awesome memories of my Dad growing up. Sometimes he’d take me for late night walks in the garden. We’d star gaze and enjoy the perfumes riding on the wind. There was always a little magic in the air on those warm spring evenings, just Dad and I wandering in the dark.

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As a young child he taught me to swim in our freezing in-ground swimming pool. In my early teenage years we’d go swimming together in the mornings before school. Sometimes we’d both emerge blue with the cold, but it was like a challenge to me. I wanted my Dad to be proud of me and I knew that I had to show him that I was hardy, I could handle a bit of cold water on a cold morning.

One morning in the frosty dawn, when I was 16 and my brothers had all left home, Dad and I buried a sheep that had passed away in the night. It was an oddly bonding experience.

When he drove me to school he’d throw maths problems at me, challenging me to improve my mental arithmetic. I didn’t have any other friends who spent so much time with their Dads before they even reached the school gates for the day.

I am grateful every day for My Dad. He encourages all his children in their pursuits and shows a genuine interest in our lives. I hope that when he reads this blog none of this is news to him, because I try to show him every day how much I love and respect him and how glad I am that he’s my Dad.

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The ‘No Impact’ Man (trailer)

This guy made a documentary of his journey to attempt to reduce his impact on Earth to zero – or at least his trash to nothing. Wow. I would love to get a hold of this documentary. It’s a whole new perspective on what we’re doing – so much more committed. I’m impressed and a little intimidated.
Mama xo