Creative busy parents


Hello. How’s your week been? I’ve been a little hamster on a race wheel since getting back from our tour. Run, hamster, run! Most days, I’ve written 6,000 + words for work. One day, I handed my work in at 5pm then made Tinkerbell costumers and a cake for my daughter’s happy cakey day. I made my children call me Super Mum, and vetoed all complaints immediately.

Let’s talk about this busy, busy thing, shall we? Hands up if you are busy. Yes… I see lots of raised hands. Here we are, all scampering around to make party costumes, and cakes, and fulfil our work commitments, and make sure our children are completely happy and satisfied at all times… That last one is an impossible goal. Let’s just aim for – alive and mostly well.

I’ve always thrived on busy, I have to admit. I used to love my busy, sometimes stressful job at the art gallery for that reason. Someone likened working as an art gallery attendant to a duck on water. And we were, busy peddling away to run the place, while appearing calm and glidey to anyone who was watching.

I like tight deadlines, because they get me cracking. I like organising the million of things to do in my head, like an invisible calendar. I like the satisfaction when it all comes together. And as you saw from my book tour post – I am a crazy lady. I feel like I can take on a million things, and stretch like a rubber band to take on just a little bit more.

We’ve had periods in our busy life, which have been more busy than others. Like that time when my husband worked 6-7 days a week. I was writing entire educational books in five weeks.  We had a newborn and a preschooler. AND we tried to renovate. Actually, we did renovate. My husband pulled up all the carpets, tiled, and painted the whole interior. Yes, it was a crazy time. And looking back, we can’t believe we pulled it off.

Generally, we’ve both worked a fair bit since becoming parents. We throw the parenting baton between us. I send off my documents, just as he’s heading out the door to a care shift.

Somehow, we’ve found a way to do a lot, and not feel too hectic while we do it.

But, there are consequences. And sometimes the rubber band can stretch too tightly. It breaks. Or pops off your finger, and pokes someone in the eye. Gosh that hurts.

Like that time, last year, when we thought that on top of all the other things we do, we could start a brand new music project extraordinaire called The Quincys, where we’d release a new song every month, plus an illustrated (sometimes animated) story, an animated video clip, an activity and a learning resource EVERY MONTH! I figured I would just reduce time spent on my blog, and reallocate it.

Of course, we were way too optimistic. And a few months in, I started to feel the pressure. My kids started to complain about the Quincys, because it was taking time away from them. And we realised we needed to pull back. We decided to just release the song, and the video each month. And now, we’ve put the project on ice until my book events have quietened down again, and we can dedicate serious time to producing an album.

Doing creative activities is so fun. And so fulfilling. And when you make it something which the kids can be involved in, it’s extra fun. But sometimes it’s too much, and the result is a deficit of creativity.

At the end of that particular crazy period, I found I couldn’t do anything. I sat down to write, and nothing came. I tried drawing, but just got frustrated. Even I had reached my limit.

I took time out. It was summer, and family were here. So I chilled out beside lakes. I READ NOVELS! Lots of them. I thought about Facebook occasionally, but didn’t bother checking it. I sucked up time with my small ones like it was oxygen.

So where are we at now? The repercussions of this recent busy time aren’t so intense. I feel a little less creative. And a little less motivated. But I am just going to bed a bit earlier, keeping on top of my exercise, and eating well. I am trying not to be too hectic – though that rush to get kids and husband out the door on time for preschool gets me every week. I know my creative mojo will bounce back soon.

In general, I am a big believer in finding your balance between busy, parenting life and creativity. I think the right amount of creativity can help us parent better, and be more fulfilled as a person.

Recently, I did a podcast for a local community radio show, Parenting, Birth and Beyond, which is a national community radio series about parenting. I talked about fostering creativity in motherhood. You can listen here.

How do you balance creativity in parenthood? Do you have any hot tips?

Make a book Monday :: Simple felt book

simple felt book

I made a simple felt book for a little friend recently. She’s only two, so it’s easy for her to move pieces around in imaginary play. A good book for toddlers and preschoolers ~ maybe one to keep in the handbag or nappy bag?

simple felt book

felt book 2
felt book 4

felt book 5

You need:

Three A4 pieces of light coloured felt {preferably wool, though I could only find acrylic at our local store}
Felt in various colours or patterns
50 cm embroidery thread
embroidery needle
sharp scissors

1. Cut three long pieces of light coloured felt. These strips are about 15cm high x 25 cm wide.

2. Cut various shapes in other coloured wool ~ I did little nude people, and cut hats and clothes, zigzag grass, trees and a variety of different coloured shapes. I also cut out a letter for the little person’s name.

3. Lay long pieces of light coloured felt on top of each other. Using embroidery thread and needle, stitch a simple long stitch vertically down the middle to bind the pieces together. I did reverse long stitch, by reversing back on my first stitch.

4. Lay felt shapes inside book, and ta-da!

Happy book making!


{PS this Monday book series is a little sporadic, as you may have realised – please forgive my crazy month, and accept my Monday book posts whenever I can get to them!}

Make a book Monday :: Simple Paper + Twig Book

Hello, Monday. I know it’s not cool, but I love Mondays. I am a productive person, and Mondays mean getting on with things.

Like making books!

We have a million picture books about the place. But for whatever reason it’s not enough. So we make more. My eldest is discovering the magic of writing, and making up her own stories. She comes up with her own ideas for books, and some of them are very cool.

I thought I would share a different book with you each Monday.

This is very simple book to make.

Simple paper and twig book

What you need

3-4 plain A4 pages
1 thickish magazine page or A4 coloured cardboard {this is a Frankie illustration}
1 twig about 20 cm long
1 long rubber band
hole punch

paper and twig book 1

What to do

1. Take A4 pages and the magazine page, and fold in half to make a book. You may need to cut the inner paper to the size of your cover.

2. Hole punch on the folded edge.
paper and twig book 2

3. Push one end of rubber band through one hole from the back.

paper and twig book 3

4. Stick one end of twig into the rubber loop at front of book.

5. Holding twig in place with hand, stretch the band, and push the other end of band through the other hole from back, and poke other end of stick through. The stick should be held in place at the front of the book by the rubber band.

paper and twig book 4


paper and twig book 5

Happy book making!

Momo + Art Magic :: Remnant, Lismore Regional Art Gallery

Several months ago, I took the girls along to an art briefing with local {Japanese} artist Hiromi Tango for her art exhibition, Art Magic :: Remnant held at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery in September.

Art Magic is a community, collective exhibition designed by Hiromi Tango. Hiromi {who goes by the name of Momo for this project} explained what art magic is, and how to be part of the project.

Hiromi Tango Momo

Art Magic is this:

Take remnants of fabric, bells, balls, thread, wool – anything. 
Be inspired by nature, and make a rainbow forest out of your remnants.
Make with friends, or community groups. Imbibe your art with a piece of yourself; whisper your deepest fears, share your sadness, your hope, and wrap it into the art magic. Maybe you write a note, and wrap it in bubble wrap, and wrap it in fabric. Maybe you tell a friend something important, while you weave your art magic.

There are no real rules.

hiromi tango art magic

There is a pop-up shop set up for the exhibition in Star Court Arcade, Lismore every Thursday 10-4. You can go in, collect remnants, and learn about being involved in the project. You work on your project at home, or in a community group, then bring it back late August to the pop-up shop.

I took a homeschool group there a couple of months ago. We had fun making art magic with Aunty Figgy.

art magic

aunt figgy

making art magic

making art magic 2

Your art magic, and other art magic from around the community will be exhibited at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery 12 September – 24 October.

hiromi tango natsky

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Nest.1, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

Nest.2_HiromiTango, Art Magic, Photographed by Natsky, 2015 (Small)

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Nest.2, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Community, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Community, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

I love the idea of bringing people together. I love the idea of recreating a forest out of scraps. Fall in love with Momo.

Dyeing silk with eucalyptus

dyeing silk with eucalyptus

love the eucalyptus-dyed silk. I have been seeing it around the local markets for a year or so. I have bought garments for Christmas presents for oversees relatives. Recently, my friend Nell turned up at the farmer’s market wearing a silk dress that had been imprinted with eucalyptus. We all asked her how she had done it. Quite simple, really.

I thought I would try it.

How to dye with eucalyptus leaves

1. Use silk or wool. If using another natural fibre like cotton, pre-soak overnight in soy milk, but don’t rinse it out. Just wring it.

2. Lay eucalyptus leaves in the silk. The little heart-shaped silver dollar eucalyptus leaves you buy from the florist create a beautiful burnt orange. Experiment, but the other eucalyptus leaf in my garden made a black imprint. Wrap the silk with leaves around a block of wood or rolling pin, and tie with string.

3. Steam in a basket. I steamed for about two hours.

4. Remove from steamer with tongs, cut string, and shake off leaves. Hang dry in shade {though sun seemed to be fine too.}

5. This little top has the leaf imprint. But it also started as white. I made a dye out of eucalyptus by boiling the silver dollar leaf in a glass jar for about an hour. I then added half a teaspoon of iron sulphate, and mixed. I dipped the silk into the mix briefly (about 30 seconds) then hung the garment on the line.

My husband asked me what the floppy thing was that I was wearing. But I really like it!

Have you ever dyed with eucalyptus?