Monday, May 30, 2011

eco nino + a giveaway

In preparation for baby's arrival I've been searching out organic, mama-made and ethically produced products. Indeed, the baby world is swamped with the opposite - polyester, candy pink and badly drawn teddy bears. I've only bought necessary items so far, including a new change mat to fit on the top of a chest of drawers. But finding a change mat cover that fit my above criteria was proving to be a challenge. So, as I do quite regularly these days, I gave up on bricks-and-mortar shops and ventured onto the net where I happily stumbled across eco nino. The company was created by mum-of-two-boys Kylie and she continues to grow her business - in fabulous leaps and bounds.

She has been incredibly generous and has offered me 9, yes, 9 eco nino change mat covers to give away. The beauty of the product also lies in its practicality - it fits any change mat because it is designed like a fitted sheet. If you would like to go in the drawer to win one (and if you don't have a baby, I promise you, it will make a fabulous gift) just leave a comment below and I'll drawer the winner next Tuesday 7th June.

For more about eco nino, read on for an interview with Kylie.

Edit: For those of you who inquired about stockists - visit the eco nino facebook page

Jodi: What inspired you to start Eco Nino?

Kylie: The label really grew from a personal need, as I was not in favour of covering my change mat in terry toweling nappies or any of the covers that were available at that time. I started to make my own change mat covers, which were very rough as I cannot sew to save myself, and people started asking for them. It just grew from there.

Jodi: Have you done anything like this before?

Kylie: I am always creating something and have quite a love of textiles in particular. Previously I was a teacher and never thought I would be starting my own business, but chose to join the number of Mums that want to successfully run a business from home. I love the fact that I can (with a lot of help from Grandparents I might add) work my hours around the boys. I have the best of both worlds.

Jodi: Why organic?

Kylie: Really the choice was made for me as my two boys suffer from eczema and I always attempt to choose low allergenic or organic materials for them as they react to everything! As a family we really try to make decisions around the home that are positive for the environment and after researching the processes of organic cotton farming versus traditional cotton farming, it reinforced my choice. I love that the fabric is made specifically for the eco nino label.

Jodi: Can you please explain the design and creation process?

Kylie: The covers are designed by myself and manufactured overseas under strict certification. As I mentioned before, the fabric is specially designed and spun for the label, which gives it some individuality. The process from beginning to end has been quite a steep learning curve, as I have never had to oversee or manage production like this before. I would really love to have the covers manufactured here in Australia and am hoping to achieve this in the near future.

Jodi: What do your customers love about Eco Nino change mat covers?

Kylie: I think my customers enjoy the simplicity of the design, having an affordable option that becomes a part of the nursery design and is functional at the same time. The colour range really will suit any nursery d├ęcor and the design is pretty timeless. Apparently, they also launder well and dry quickly (funny what becomes important when you are a Mum).

Jodi: Your plans for the future of the business?

Kylie: Every week, I am asked what else will I be adding to the line. I am quite overwhelmed with the support I have received from customers and the eagerness to see what is coming next – it is just great. The label is still so new and my time has been devoted to making sure the covers are high quality and distributed well (the age old adage of doing one thing and doing it well).


Sunday, May 29, 2011

sunday (without the sun)

Today the rain was persistent and much like the clouds, my mood didn't lift. I've got a looming editorial deadline which means the next few weeks will be spent at the computer, tapping away. Aside from this I had one of those days where I wished I could re-do the entire house. No amount of cleaning or rearranging left me satisfied. Blah!

My nesting eye has stepped up a notch this week too; dusty skirting boards are on my to-do list. I realise it sounds so utterly pathetic but the primal need to clean is getting more intense as this pregnancy goes on. Daniel is a little scared about what I might be like the week before baby is due to arrive. To tell you the truth, so am I.

Today I really felt like diving into Che's imaginary solar system or perhaps the pastels hues of lisianthus. Tomorrow I hope I wake a little lighter. I'm off to drink tea and read my new book. A remedy if ever I knew one.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

afternoon

Spontaneity is not my forte. It seems it's not Che's either. It only took him a few leaf runs and a bit of encouragement though and he was into the afternoon stroll. His three-year-old mood swings are daily occurrences at the moment and no doubt it must be challenging, knowing that within a few weeks, he'll be a big bro. He's excited though, asking when the baby is going to arrive, wondering why it can't be right now. "I don't like waiting," he says. But wait we must.

Thank you for all your lovely comments on Daniel's film. And I must say that credit for the superbly knit vest goes to my mum, who Che calls "Mama." He calls me "Muma" and yes, it can be a little confusing but he likes it that way. My knitting skills are completely amateur but I feel lucky to have a Mum who can, when time allows, pass on her knowledge of the needles.

For gorgeous newish blog goodness, visit Claire - muma/photographer/stylist at one claire day

Monday, May 23, 2011

"c'mon" he says


While I rested, they walked. "Exploring," they call it. Che in his very new Mama-knitted vest. Daniel with his new fancy lens and Glidecam. Beautiful autumn bokeh.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

bump: autumn dreaming

As hard as I tried I just couldn't find a leaf as big as the belly. This week baby grew beyond expectations. When I was growing Che my belly was chubby and squishy. This belly right now is the exact opposite: a hard, round, heavy ball with rather persistent whole-body stretches from the little one inside. I regularly feel a foot pressing onto me and I tickle it back. 32 weeks now.

I woke with a sore throat this morning so tomorrow will include a sleep in, vegie soup, nettle tea, lemon water and lots of rest. We as a family are feeling so grateful for our health and wellbeing this weekend. Daniel's mum was driving Che around this morning when all-of-a-sudden the breaks failed on her car. Thankfully, oh so thankfully, she was going slow and no-one was hurt. Tonight I held him a little tighter and said a few extra 'i love yous' while lying next to him as he fell to sleep.

I just cannot articulate how precious my children are to me. All you mothers understand, I know you do. x

Monday, May 16, 2011

Watercolours - book launch and giveaway

I first met Adrienne about 7 years ago when she was 36weeks pregnant with her twin boys. She came into the bookstore I was working in, looking for a novel that required little concentration. We started chatting and over the next few years, caught up quite regularly. We're both writers and it was a pleasure to meet someone with the same love of words. She told me, way back when her twins were still in the belly, that she was working on a novel. Fast-forward to Sunday just gone and in that same bookstore where we met, she launched Watercolours - her novel that she so often refers to as her "10 year baby."

The narrative is superb, the characters so well-developed, and her descriptions of a small Australian town are absolutely wonderful. I'm so inspired by her talent and ultimately her desperate need to finish the story of the boy she dreamed up so long ago. Her husband, actor Rob Carlton (who recently played Kerry Packer in the ABC mini-series Paper Giants), introduced Adrienne on Sunday, and spoke of her passion for the written word and her unwavering dedication to the project. Lack of time, motherhood and editorial criticism didn't stop her mid-sentence. She just kept going till the tale was told, with many a late night spent tapping away. And now, lucky for us, we can delve into the story of artist-genius Novi and the small town of Morus where he spends his childhood.

The lovely people at Harpercollins 4th Estate have given me two copies to give away and Adrienne has promised that she'll sign them before I send them to the winners. Please leave a comment below and I'll draw a winner next Tuesday 24th May. Read on for a fascinating interview with the writer herself.


Jodi: Do you remember where you were when Watercolours first came to mind?
Adrienne: On the Island of Lipari, in Sicily! I was on a backpacking holiday after uni and having the most wonderfully luscious time, climbing volcanoes and eating bags of fresh figs. The character of Novi came to me first, a boy with a gift for art and an obsession with drawing the people around him. I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if a particularly sensitive and observant child drew pictures of his community and its history, how the results might come across as spooky or even threatening to the adults around him with something to hide.

Jodi: You refer to it as your "10 year baby." What kept you motivated in that decade?
Adrienne: Friends and family were very supportive, and I’m very grateful for their encouragement. Ultimately though, I loved the story - especially the Australian silk-growing history I uncovered during my research and I just had an unwavering urge to share it! I became quite fond of the characters, too; I liked hanging out in the town I created, so this kept enticing me back to my desk.

Jodi: You admit that writing can be a lonely business but you managed to create characters with so much depth. Did they ever feel completely real to you?
Adrienne: On some level they took on a life of their own, and inhabiting them gave some unexpected depth to my life during the period I was writing the book. For example, sometimes I’d be reading the paper and come across an article that would normally be of no interest to me, but I knew it would have an impact on one of my characters and so it made me sit up and take notice. The Business Section took on a whole new level of significance, as did the local rag! But the character of Novi, the story’s eleven-year-old protagonist, was the character I related to most deeply because his story is of one of becoming an artist. When I started writing the novel I had no idea what I was doing, but writing - like art and music and all creative processes - are really quite similar, involving struggles with inspiration and self-doubt, self-discipline, loneliness and exhilaration. It’s quite a rollercoaster! Novi’s journey felt similar to my own and this gives an authentic emotional anchor to the book.

Jodi: How did the map of Morus help you in the writing process?
Adrienne: My wonderful artist friend, Rachel Couper, sketched a big map of my fictional town on butcher’s paper, with the river and the sea, the highway and streets and all the character’s houses set in place. This allowed me to keep the physical landscape in my head, to picture my characters in action, moving around town and the different routes they took. She also helped me draw a storyline map, a visual representation that captured all the strands and elements, how they intersected and where the climaxes were – this was incredibly helpful because I felt at times that I was drowning in text, in piles and piles of pages. Having something visual up on the wall allowed me to quickly navigate where I was up to in the story and to fix the setting in my mind.

Jodi: What was the most enjoyable part of the writing journey for you?
Adrienne: With each draft, the feeling that the manuscript was getting better. Editing notes can be confronting, but once you get over the demoralizing fact that more work needs to be done and start incorporating the suggestions that feel right, very quickly you see how much your manuscript is improving, and that is so exciting - it gives you a whole new burst of energy.

Jodi: What was the most challenging?
Adrienne: Juggling motherhood with writing. The two can seem at odds with each other and I often felt wrenched in two directions. My husband’s career had taken off and he was busy and away from home a lot - it felt like there was no time or energy for my own creative work. It’s not an easy phase of life, but parenthood does make you efficient with your time and it forces you to sort out the things that are most important. I had to carve out time for writing, and when I did I was much more content. When the twins started school I suddenly found balance again and I couldn’t believe how much progress I could make in a week.

Jodi: In one sentence, describe what Watercolours is about.
Adrienne: A small town mystery steeped in a vivid Australian landscape, where love and good intentions triumph.

Jodi: Any plans for another novel?
Adrienne: My next novel is set in Avoca Beach, about a lonely young mother who becomes obsessed with a sailor watching her from a coal bulker moored just outside her cliff-top house. It’s a story of youth, aging and the discomfort of transition.

Jodi: For all those writers who dream of completing a novel - what is your advice?
Adrienne: Start now, because it will take you longer than you think. And don’t worry about getting it out perfectly in the beginning, there’s plenty of time for editing, and some of the best stuff comes out in raw form. Just harness your energy to your ideas and let them fly!

Friday, May 13, 2011

when che met val

Literally hours after I peed on the stick to confirm that there was indeed a tiny little baby inside me, I phoned the local hospital to request Val as my midwife. Val has been catching babies for longer than Daniel or I have been alive - there is so much reassurance in her 34 years of midwifery. She's a passionate midwife too - passionate about guiding women through labour and birth, whether in a hospital or at home. In 2008 she was awarded NSW Midwife of the Year and since then her name has been passed around the circles of pregnant women here on the Central Coast - hence the need to phone as early as possible in pregnancy to request her support. She told me that some women phone her the morning after the possible conception - just in case.

She sees her role as a witness in labour, watching and listening, only speaking when she needs to. Every visit she tells me that my baby will just be born - it will just happen, because that's what my body was made to do. I am nature and nature always works things out.

Val currently works from a low-risk birthing centre and is working towards developing a homebirth option in the very near future. If I were to choose to have a homebirth I would need to employ a private midwife which would cost me above and beyond $5000 with no rebate from medicare. The birthing centre I have chosen is the closest thing to birthing at home - if (when) all goes well I will be home in bed within four hours and Val will visit me for post-natal care for a week after the baby's arrival. I have all the support and encouragement of a fabulous midwife and thanks to the Australian health system, it doesn't cost me a cent. Not one.

Considering Val will be coming into our home for baby's first week Daniel and I felt it was important that Che meet her. So on Wednesday we took the long drive to the hospital, talking along the way about the fact that Ommi or Mama will be looking after him when it's time for the baby to be born. He was so curious and inquisitive, asked lots of questions (mostly 'why?') and got to choose whether the baby's heartbeat sounded like galloping horses or a train on a track. Val put the doppler on his chest after she had listened to baby and with the humour that she brings to everything, wondered if he thought there was a baby inside him too. I have no doubt that she'll make me laugh in my labour and laughter is really the best thing for dilating, relaxing and surrendering into the journey.

We took Che to look at the beautiful birthing suites with their big baths and comfy cushions and then left for home. He was exhausted, so much to think about, and for these past few days he has been saying that Val is the baby's teacher and Muma's midwife.

Baby is already head down, bum up, spine against belly. In a perfect birthing position.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

bump: silhouette

After our appointment with the midwife yesterday we rugged up and visited the ocean at sunset. It was freezing and I was surprised that my jacket fit around my belly. This sudden cold snap is icy and fresh, there's snow falling not far from here and I can feel it in the air. At the moment, my favourite thing to do is hop into bed early at night, in my new Pjs, with a chamomile tea and a good book. Soon after Daniel comes in and we watch baby wriggle and dance in rhythm; a beautiful affirmation of strength, health, happiness. Life. Yes, I'm growing new life inside me. 31 weeks now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

stripes


I've always had a soft spot for stripes. Classic, stylish, nautical, wide, thin, haphazard, multi-coloured...they always make me smile. I started the baby's blanket in the first few weeks of this pregnancy, thinking I was having a baby girl. And as the belly grew and my instinct made me think 'boy', the colours on the blanket changed. I only used scraps from other projects and balls of yarn found in op-shops and I'm rather happy with the end result. It's rather unisex, don't you think? I didn't follow a pattern; I just cast on, knit till I thought it was wide enough and changed colours when I got bored. It's big enough for the moses basket and the pram and will do when baby is a toddler and is in need of a blanket when reading on the couch.

As for the little pile of little striped clothes. Ohhhh, so I have purchased a few things, mainly from Nature Baby, Purebaby, Mini Rodini and my best friend's baby boutique (incredibly handy and perhaps a little bit dangerous). I unlocked the space bags with all of Che's newborn clothes and inhaled the new baby scent that managed to hide away with the 000 wondersuits and booties. I'm doing a bit of soaking and washing daily, then I fold those wee little pieces into piles and stack them in the drawers.

And wash by wash, fold by fold, week by week, this baby gets a little closer to being here - in my arms. I'm savouring these last weeks, trying not to count down, because it has been such an enjoyable journey and I want to treasure every last moment of it.

Note: this positivity may not be existent if I go so far overdue like I did with Che. If I come here complaining about due dates, heaviness and impatience, one of you might like to remind me about the words above!

And before I forget, the lovely, witty, fellow gestator Mama Mogantosh interviewed me a few days ago about being a muma and a blogger. You can read the interview here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

mother's day and a prayer

When Che came home from Montessori last week with a hand felted oatmeal soap, a little heart tag and a very big smile, I felt every bit the Muma of a 3.5 year old. There is something about a handmade gift from school that spells love. And family. All the kisses and cuddles in the world, tied with string, a reminder that I am his Muma and will be, forever. Yesterday when he wished me a happy mother's day I thanked him for making me a Muma. And for changing my world.

A beautiful friend of mine emailed me a prayer last week. One for all mothers, the world over. I am sure you all know someone who could benefit from hearing it, reading it or receiving it.

We pray

For new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility;

For expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;

For those who are tired, stressed or depressed;

For those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;

For those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty;

For those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;

For those who have children they do not want;

For those who raise children on their own;

For those who have lost a child;

For those who care for the children of others;

For those whose children have left home;

And for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.

Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender,

And that they may lead their children to know and do what is good,

Living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others.

Hear our prayer.


PS. The winner of the Keepsakes giveaway (thanks to the random number generator for choosing) is Kristi. Congratulations and Happy Mother's Day lovely lady. x

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

pumpkin soup for autumn/winter

I'm loving all the comments coming through on the keepsakes post. It's a beautiful insight into your family cooking heirlooms, everything from breakfast to dinner, sweet & savoury. I thought it only fair that I share with you my favourite family recipes - starting today with my Mum's pumpkin soup. I've already made it about six times this autumn. It's easy, quick, economical, freezes well and, most importantly, is delicious, nourishing and wholesome. We usually enjoy a big bowl with some fresh sourdough or, if we have any in the freezer, some spinach and cheese pastries. Yum!

Pumpkin Soup (to warm your belly and your heart on cold days)

750grams pumpkin, no skin (I use organic jap or kent)
3 tomatoes peeled & chopped
1 large brown onion, sliced
1 teaspoon of raw sugar
4.5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper
pinch of chilli powder
150mls cream

Peel the pumpkin and cut into chunks. Place in a deep pot with onion, tomatoes, sugar and salt & pepper. Cover with stock - don't use too much stock as the soup will end up too runny. Keep pot covered and cook until pumpkin is quite soft. Spoon into your blender and blend until smooth. If there is a lot of watery residue at the bottom of the pot I usually leave it out - creamy, thick soup is my preference. Finally add chilli & cream and stir. When and if you reheat make sure you don't boil it. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

there's going to be a baby

Story time: "There's Going to be a Baby" by John Burningham & Helen Oxenbury.

Che: "Mum, can I tell you a question?"
Me: Sure.
Che: "How did the baby get in your belly?"
Me: One day, Muma and Dada decided we would really like the baby to start growing in my belly. And it did."
Che: "Can I get in there?"
Me: "No, you've already been in there. When it was your turn to grow."
Che: "How will the baby come out."
Me: "Well, when the baby is ready I'll start getting a few pains in my belly and I might breathe really deep and perhaps make deep, roaring noises like a lion. And then it will be born."
Che: "Who will catch the baby?"
Me: "I'm not sure yet. Maybe Dad, he caught you. Or maybe Val, our midwife."
Che: "Will the baby have milky?"
Me: "Yes."
Che: "Can I have some too?"
Me: "No, you had milky for two whole years. When the baby is born it will be the baby's turn for milky."
Che: "Muma, I'm love the baby."
Me: "The baby loves you too."