Taproot - Love Pillow

 
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That photo above first appeared in my Instagram feed many, many moons ago.  In fact, I think it may even have been about a year ago.  It was a time when I was gearing up for a work trip interstate and my kids were feeling anxious over me going away without them.  I left them in the trusted and very capable hands of their beloved Granny, however this was to be the start of a continuing journey with separation anxiety.

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Months later, I found out that the theme for Issue 26 of Taproot magazine was HEAL and I thought a tutorial for the Love Pillows we made in the lead up to that trip, would make a perfect contribution.  Lucky for me, they thought so too, however they very nearly knew nothing about it because as the deadline approached I found myself busy with Nature Play SA and Wild Ones mag and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to piece it all together in time.  Taproot accept what's known in the mag world as 'on-spec' contributions.  This is short for 'on-speculation' and what it means is that instead of pitching an idea and then setting to work on the article once it has been approved and all word counts, deadlines and fees have been discussed, you put the work in first and then submit your absolute very best version 'cold', with no guarantee of publication.  I use to go hard with both approaches when I was first setting out on this writing adventure of mine, but these days I tend to prefer to pitch and have it be secured before I put the work in.

However, Taproot is different!  Taproot is worth doing the work and going in cold, with no guarantee.  It's a publication that grows stronger with every issue and I have been a subscriber since the very first one.  I absolutely adore it and this is the second time my words have been included in their pages and it makes me feel very honoured and proud to have their title in my portfolio.  

So going back to the looming deadline, I knew I wasn't breaking any contracts or letting down Editors by not submitting.  But I also knew that I really wanted to contribute this piece, not only because if I didn't I would be disappointing myself, but mostly because there is so much I can offer around the topic of Healing.  I actually had to choose between several different ideas for contribution, but a tutorial around these Love Pillows was definitely the standout.  My only wish back then, was that I had taken photos the first time around but as it turned out, it is the detailed step-by-step images I took when repeating the making for this article that have been included and compliment the tutorial instructions so beautifully.  So instead I feel ever so grateful for the few late nights I had but mostly to the Tradie who rescheduled on me that day way back last November.  I was saved from having to deal with maintenance issues and constant interruptions and was instead, able to use the time for craft and photo-taking.  Without that unexpected turn of events, it's unlikely this piece would have come together in time.  Serendipity for the win!

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Childhood anxiety is becoming more and more widespread and there are many theories being documented for the reasons as to why.  I have some of my own beliefs but have also recently learned* that anxiety is particularly prevalent in children between the ages of 8 - 10yrs.  This is known to be a classic developmental stage where children feel excited, thrilled and intrigued by the newness of the young adult world they are stepping into, however it can very quickly become confusing, frightening and overwhelming.  They then step back again into the childhood world that is so familiar to them, and one which offers comfort and reassurance but can also be frustrating and boring.  All those feelings, all those emotions running rampant within the heart and mind of someone who is no longer a child, but not yet an adult.  It's no wonder our little darlings get anxious, yes?  

Within our family, there is certainly an ebb and flow to our personal struggles with the anxiety beast and when it rears up inside my oldest, those feelings become incredibly consuming.  For her, it's a compounding double whammy effect whereby her grief around the death of her dad gets mixed up with the fear of losing me, and then this is all muddled up with the extra sensitivities that come with her now being ten, the ripe developmental age for anxiety to be acute.  Truth be told, sometimes it becomes a complete mess and the two of us simply ride the wave as gently and graciously as possible, which usually means lots of tears and cuddles.  

Our Love Pillows proved very effective for that weekend and have been slept with every night since.  They are not a cure-all, but they absolutely do offer something.  They offer comfort, support and understanding, but mostly they offer the little bit of extra Love just when it is needed most.

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You'll find my tutorial spanning pages 54 to 57 in this current issue of Taproot and it's accompanied by loads of pretty pictures with detailed instructions, and a list of the materials you'll need, plus tools and notions.  There's also a backstory on why and how the original Love Pillows came to be but it's such fun giving a little behind the scenes insight here on the blog and through Instagram, don't you think?

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This latest issue was released last month but because of the international mail delay, I have only just received my copy and it's a ripper!  So many inspiring recipes, tutorials and stories inside and if you are in the U.S, well you're the lucky ducks!  It's widely distributed all around the States in what sound like pretty fabulous stores, but otherwise, if you're across big wide spans of ocean like us here in Australia, you can certainly grab yourself a copy through the Taproot online store, but for those more local to me, Tassie based Spiral Garden have it in stock too!

Enjoy friends!  And if you do grab yourself a copy, please drop me a line as I'd love to hear what you think xo

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* through our family naturopath who has deep roots in anthroposophical medicine and is not only a wealth of knowledge but also mixes us magical herbal tonics for all our various needs.

 

Love Cloth

 
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I'm calling it a Love Cloth because that's what it is.  One day, just a few moons ago, a secret email arrived in my inbox.  I do not know the sender but I will be meeting her at the end of next week.  We are the mutual friends of two people who are so very dear to me and those two people, although long-time partners, are getting married.  Very soon, the three of us are jumping on a plane for 3 weeks on the Sunny Coast, where we will be joining with our friends to celebrate their Love in ceremony and dancing.  I . Can't . Wait !!!

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With this email came a request, or more an invitation to contribute, but at the risk of spoiling the surprise for my beloved friends (who do from time to time check-in on this here blog), I will keep vague on the details.  There was never a doubt as to whether I would contribute, it was more a question over how?

I began with some words, and then a poem formed but it felt too sterile to just email that back and be done with it.  No, I was compelled to create something more and so, with no plan what-so-ever, I began.  That was it, I simply began.

I pulled out my box of scraps, searched through my stash and before too long, I had gathered a collection of natural fibres and textiles, bits and pieces I had longed to work with but hadn't yet done so.

So from a collection of thrifted doilies, silky merino tubing left over from this class, some undyed hemp purchased long ago for this project, a pure silk scrap left over from who-knows-what, naturally hand-dyed pieces sent to me by another dear friend from way across the oceans, and a mixture of natural threads purchased a while back from here.  Bit by bit, something began to take form.  It was a creative process of the truest expression, where nothing was copied and nothing was planned, I simply just kept adding and layering and best of all, playing!

Once I was satisfied with the layering and stitching, I decided (almost on a whim) that I would bundle it all up with some Eucalyptus and chuck it in the dye pot.  It was more out of curiosity than anything else.  And a desire to blend the layers. 

Time was running short!  I was late in getting my contribution off into the post otherwise, I would have loved nothing more than to stitch the words of my poem into the cloth.  As it was, I carefully marked them in with my art pen... and then, damn it, I made a mistake when doing so!  It was done and could not be undone, so I decided to embrace the joy of imperfection.  No one other than me would pick it, though let's have some fun and see if you can...

Threads are woven, cloth is formed
Patches are stitched, and layers borned
Together they grow, their love beyond
With dreams to cultivate and a future fond

You'll need to click on the image below to supersize and pick my mistake ;)

A special thank you to my two friends, India and Karen.  Both magically creative souls who each unknowingly provided so much inspiration for this project. 

Dreams & Vision

 

Never EVER give up on your dreams!  I'm sure someone's put that on a bumper-sticker, haven't they?  But really, if there is something you want to create, be it a life style, a home, a job, or even that little thing of beauty you've been longing for.  Well, if you want it badly enough and you hold it close to your heart for long enough, and if each and every single day you do some small thing towards it, then one day you'll blink and look around yourself and realise, holy crap!  I've done it!!  And when you have that moment, let me tell you, it's really really cool! 

There are a few subtle changes happening in this space and maybe you've noticed them already?  Or maybe not?  It might be well over a month since I last managed to publish a blog post (eeep sorry about that!), but rest assured there has been much happening behind the scenes.  There's a whole lot of new things going on and I'm not really sure yet how it will all translate into this little space here, or where exactly it's leading me, but I do know that I've buckled in for a wild and crazy ride and it certainly feels exciting and fun, and very very purposeful!  So for now, the obvious changes are the new site banner up above - it's got wings!!!  It's a photo I took a while back and although I had no idea I would be using it in this way back then, it feels perfect to be doing so now.  Also, I'm using my name in the title to replace The Conscious Caterpillar, and my profile photo has had a long overdue update, which you would have heard about already if we are connected through Instagram.  All that, plus a few other little tweaks here and there, is part of this new thing, this new thing that doesn't yet have a name.  And it's all a part of me holding a vision and creating my dreams.

So let me share with you a story about some other visions and dreams of mine and the exploding joy I'm feeling right now over seeing them come to fruition.  Before I get to that though, and in relation to the Why Do We Run series, I've been slowly gathering some thoughts around shame and guilt and their connection to fear (and grief) but as you can imagine, it's not a post I can just throw together so bare with me while I gather my words.

This collection of photos stem from the beginning of the year!  That'd be around January - how is it that we are nearly half way through already?!!  That's just ridiculous!!!  So these photos each paint the picture with how, bit-by-bit, I'm seeing the fruition of some dreams, plus all the way at the bottom, is a really cool story about a sink!

Plum Picking
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When we first viewed this house of ours, straight away we knew it was the home we had spent so long searching for.  Having a cellar was not on the prerequisite list but I secretly desired one all the same and when I trod those steps leading down from our hallway, down under the ground into a large, well built space lined on either side with handmade timber shelving from who knows how many years ago - no doubt 137 years ago when the house and cellar were first built! - I knew with all my heart I would work towards filling those shelves with jars of preserves.  Preferably made from my own homegrown produce.

It's been a little over four years since then and this Summer/Autumn is the first cycle of seasons where I can officially say I have harvested my own homegrown fruit (with help from the kids, of course) and turned it into a chutney.  What's more, there are jars of this spicy plum chutney filling a shelf in the cellar!  They were cling-stone plums, golden plums actually but with that incredibly unusual Spring we had leading into Summer, they became something else entirely.  SO much larger and deeper in their colour (and flavour) than I have ever seen them.  It was because of that, that I got busy with making something from them instead of leaving it all for the birds and possums.  To be honest, I don't think much of golden plums (the tree was here long before us) and so have never before made the effort but this season, well it really was something different.  And the tree was so heavy with fruit that there was still plenty for the native foragers.

As I mentioned, they are/were cling-stones, so I didn't bother to try and slice each in half to remove the stone (imagine what an annoying nightmare that would've been!).  Instead I roasted them up and smashed it all through a colander.  Then I used the mushy mix in a big pot with celery, sultanas, some onion and maybe a few other things that I've forgotten about but most definitely there was a spice bag filled with lots and lots of Indian flavours.  I used those books below as a bit of a guide, but mostly I just made things up as I went along.  Towards the end, I added some Pomona's Pectin as plum based products are notorious for not setting.  Then the whole lot got divvied out into the jars and put into a water-bath.  I've gifted a few away since then and we three are now onto our forth jar so I think we can declare it a success.

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Plum Chutney

Next came some tomatoes.  On Instagram, I've been talking about how my homegrown tommies were super slow to get going and now, I'm carefully watching the forecast, ready to take action in case we have our first frost before they fully ripen.  So far so good and each night I've been covering them over but most of the fruit looks like it could use another few weeks before harvest so I might even pull the whole plants up (roots 'n' all) and hang them in the shed.  This is the advice that has been shared with me over on Instagram and apparently it works very well!

Anyway, way back in January (or maybe it was February?) an opportunity came up for me to grab a couple of boxes of seconds organic tomatoes.  At the time, I was feeling a little doubtful that my homegrowns were even going to flower let alone have those flowers become fruit, so with those two boxes sitting in my kitchen I set forth with some passata making.  I followed Matt and Lentil's instructions in their book, Grown and Gathered as it's simple with no fuss.  Things need to be simple and no fuss for me... no peeling of the tomatoes, no de-pipping the plums... see the pattern?  If I over-complicate anything, well then it's just not going to happen at all, so I've learned to seek out options and alternatives that roll the same way I roll. 

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And now those jars are sitting on another shelf down in the cellar too, right alongside the chutney.  And maybe, just maybe, my very own homegrown tomatoes will join them next month too.

A few weeks ago I spent the day with my friend's Marieka and Ilona, both of whom are local to one of South Australia's wine regions, the Barossa Valley, about an hours drive north of Adelaide.

Together, they were teaching the first in a series of preserving workshops and I came home with a stash of pears and a couple of jars of the peeled fruit in a light sugar syrup (not to mention a very full heart because those two girls are such fun to hang out with).  But guess what, those two jars are now sitting down in the cellar on the next shelf along from the chutney and passata.  Happy days!

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Now with all preserving aside, I'm moving on to visions and, although filling my cellar shelves with jars of preserves has been a dream richly connected to vision, this is more about the power of creating a Vision Board!  And this story is all about that sink I mentioned.  I never thought I'd blog about a sink, but this is not just any old sink.  And honestly, I took a frightening number of photographs to go with this story and I actually uploaded about four of them before realising I'd crossed the line, HA!!!  Just because I'm obsessed with this sink doesn't necessarily mean you are, or that you want to see multiple images of it - and seriously, none of those photos were very different from each other so I culled three and have left you with just one.  I styled it just for you too.  Um yeah ok, I styled it for me as well as you because playing around with such things is just too much fun.  Anyway, here is the story and you'll have to read allll the way to the bottom before you get to see the sink.

...Many moons ago I took a little snapshot of this sink as it sat unused upon Alia's floor at Poet's Ode.  I had never seen a more perfect sink and to say I was rather fond of it is clearly an outrageous understatement (...obesessed!).  I printed that little picture out when I got home and stuck it upon my vision board.  All this time since I have gazed at that picture and dreamed about my future kitchen. 

Maybe you know, maybe you don't know, but Alia is moving on to other adventures and sadly, she will no longer inhabit that beautiful space that was Poet's Ode.  I paid her and her shop a visit in the days before she closed her doors and as she was selling, reducing and giving away so much, I threw the question out there...

I don't suppose your sink is for sale?

And here came her answer...

Yes

I tingled all over in response, but resisted as I didn't want to be spending extra money at that point in time and so, I offered my good wishes and we hugged our farewell.  I hopped into my car and I drove away.  For ten or fifteen minutes I drove with that sink clearly in my thoughts and goosebumps all over my body. 

And then I pulled over, took a deep breath and I sent an SMS...

Dearest Alia, I'm still thinking about your sink and I've decided to buy it!  Will you hold it for me until Wednesday?

The thing is, I don't need this sink... YET, but I will when I renovate my kitchen and even though that is still a little ways off, I'm not silly.  I know that no matter how hard my future self searches, I would forever compare all sinks to this one and no other will ever be good enough.  However weird this makes me, I had actually fallen head-over-heels for this particular sink and I didn't realise how attached to it I had become until I was driving away that day.  I know, I know, it's just a sink!  I promise you that I really am quite a sane and stable person, I just have a thing about this sink.  And a thing about the fact that the power of my vision - seeing that photo every day, several times a day, upon my vision board - paved the way for me to manifest that sink into my life!

When the Universe grants you your wish and you have gone and created your vision, well... you had best sit up and take notice!  Opportunities such as this are not an everyday day occurrence and nor was the ridiculously overwhelming sense I was getting that I was meant to bring that sink home. 

I fully plan to base my entire kitchen design around that sink.  It is antique, French Provincial from the 1700's.  That piece of worn timber at the front holds the history and the stories of a time and life I'll wonder about over all the years to come.  And what will I do with it until it's kitchen duty resumes?  Well I am thinking I might just use it as a planter in my studio because keeping it covered in the shed kinda makes me feel sad - what do you think?

So that is the story of my sink.  And that story will be added to the collection of individual stories that go with every piece of furniture within our home.

Never EVER give up on your dreams friends, and trust the power of your vision!

Lots of love xo