Thursday, February 28, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes...

Children learning to talk = some pretty funny/random conversations :)  Here are some from Maggie over the past few months.  It's so funny to hear what they've picked up and their (sometimes a little warped) understandings of things!! :)

Maggie:  Daddy I play with the boys!
James:  Oh, are you too fast for the girls?
Maggie:  Mmm...
James:  Were the girls princesses?
Maggie:  No, daddy!  They not princesses! - They wearing jeans!!!

Abby:  Thankyou so much, Maggie!
Maggie: (patting my arm) Great manners, Mummy!!

Ana brought me Maggie's red baseball cap with Elmo on it, and I put it on for her.
Maggie:  Oh, Mummy look!  Ana's a man!  Ana's a man!!

(this next one was during the 'toilet training' phase - hence my urgency with the 'answer me!!' lol)
Maggie (in the back seat of the car): Mummy! my botton!
Abby:  What's wrong with your bottom?
Abby:  Maggie?!  Do you need to go to the toilet?!  We can stop at a toilet if you need one??
Abby:  Is your bottom sore?!  Maggie, are you okay?  Answer me!  Do we need to stop at a toilet?
Maggie:  It's okay.
Abby:  Are you sure?
Maggie:  Yes.  My botton okay....  My botton is very happy, Mummy! :)

Maggie:  Mummy, look!  My knees!
Abby:  Oh, yes, what about them?
Maggie:  My knees so happy! :) 
Abby:  That's great, Maggie!
Maggie:  Yeah, they mucking around... (walks off)

Maggie: (as James ran into the shops and the girls and I waited in the car):  Daddy!  Don't go!!!  Oh Mummy, I wanted to speak with him!!

Maggie (singing along to 'Dancing in the moonlight'):  Danc-ing in the mirror!!

This morning I had told Maggie to leave a tube of Paw Paw Ointment that was on James' bedside.  I told her she wasn't to touch it.  I thought she and Ana were playing in her room just now, but when I went to check on them, only Ana was there! - I turned around to see where Maggie was, and I found her in our room, covered in a now half-empty tube of Paw Paw Ointment.  Once she was cleaned up, I sat her out in the lounge room and we talked about what she had done.  
Abby:  Maggie, you did the wrong thing by going back in and playing with that ointment.
Maggie: Mummy, you gave me no choice!  (shaking her head) You gave me no choice, Mummy.

Abby:  Guess what, Maggie?!  It's Mummy's birthday tomorow!
Maggie: (waving her hands in front of her) No, no, no, no, no.  No, Mummy - it's Aunty Bethy's birthday tomorow.
Abby: *pause*... um... no.  It's my birthday.
Maggie:  Then it's Hallie's birthday.  It's not your birthday

Mummy:  The baby in my tummy is a boy, like Daddy!
Maggie:  No, Daddy’s not a boy.  He’s a big man king!
James:  Yes, but I started out as a little boy.  And the little brother in Mummy’s tummy is a little tiny boy, but when he grows up like Daddy, he’ll be a big man king too!  And you’re a little girl, -
Maggie: No I’m a big girl.
James:  Well, sort of.  You’re a big girl, and when you grow up, you’ll be a queen just like Mummy!
Maggie: (gasp!) – and I’ll get to wear earrings!!

Maggie:  Mummy I love you SO MUCH!!!
Abby:  Maggie I love YOU so much!! And Ana I love YOU so much!!!
Maggie:  You love Maggie Girl and Ana Banana?
Abby:  Yes, my two beautiful girls :)
Maggie:  Mummy we not beautiful.
Abby:  Of course you are.
Maggie:  But we wearing pyjamas.
Abby:  You're still beautiful.
Maggie:  But they pants, Mummy.
Abby:  You're still beautiful.
Maggie:  MUMMY! We NOT beautiful!  We wearing PANTS!!!!
Abby:  Honey it doesn't matter what you're wearing!
Maggie:  We wearing pants.
(5 minutes later, Maggie still muttering)
Maggie:  We wearing pyjamas... we are not beautiful... they pants!

Me: (serenading to the girls while they were eating their breakfast)
Maggie:  Mummy! Please stop singing - we're trying to eat!

(Maggie pushing buttons on my 'locked' phone)
Abby:  What are you doing there, Maggie?
Maggie:  Just texting.
Abby:  Oh!  Who are you texting??
Maggie:  Aunty Tammy.
Abby:  Oh... how is she?
Maggie:  She's good.

James (pointing to my very 'outie' belly button when Maggie was snuggling my belly/her brother):  Maggie, what's that??
Maggie:  That's Baby Brother's finger!! :)

Maggie and Ana run out of Maggie's room together - Maggie over-acting scared, Ana obviously thrilled and giggly...
Maggie:  Mummy!!! There's a monster in my room!! The monster tried to get Ana and Maggie!!!
Ana:  (giggle)
Abby:  What did you do?!
Maggie:  We ran away!!!  But when Daddy comes home, he will get it, Mummy!  He will save us!!
Ana:  Daddy! :)
Abby:  Yes dear, Daddy always saves us.
Maggie:  'Cause he's the man!!! :)  

Me: sitting at the breakfast table with my head down, exhausted after no sleep (thanks, SJ), enjoying closing my eyes and not being on my feet for a few minutes...
Maggie:  Mummy, what's wrong?!
Me: (startled out of my doze) Oh!  Nothing, honey.  I'm just a bit tired.  Cause the baby needs to wake up at night and eat some food, and I just -
Maggie:  No, Mummy.  I will say "Mummy, what's wrong?!" and you will say "Nothing, Maggie!", okay?
Me:..... um.. okay...
Maggie:  Mummy, what's wrong?!
Me:  Nothing, Maggie!
Maggie:  That's great! :) (smiles sweetly at me, then goes back to eating her breakfast).

Maggie (very seriously, holding my face in her hands):  Mummy, I love your eyebrows.
Me: Oh... thankyou.
Maggie:  They look very cute on you.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The New Normal?

The internet is a-buzz at the moment with the story of a women, Sarah Darling,  who accidentally dropped her engagement ring into a homeless man's coin cup as she was emptying the coins from her wallet into the man (Billy Ray Harris)'s cup.  She didn't notice it missing for a few days as she had a skin rash and wasn't wearing it.  When she finally realized, she was distraught!  She went back to the man, and according to about 1,000 online articles (including this one):

When Ms Darling returned to the Plaza and found Mr Harris (and these are his own words)

"She squatted down like you did right there, and says 'Do you remember me?' and I  was like "I don't know.  I see a lot of faces".  She says "I might have gave you something very valuable".  I said "was it a ring?" and she says "yeah", and I said "Well, I have it".   

Billy Ray Harris

He could tell it was worth a lot of money, and he'd kept the ring for the rightful owner because it simply wasn't his. "My grandfather was a reverend.  he raised me from the time I was six months old, and thank the good Lord, it's a blessing, but I do still have some character" he said. 

Ms Darling was so grateful she gave him all the money in her wallet.  Her fiance was so grateful, that he's set up a fund in Mr Harris's name to say thank you, and people have now donated over $150,000 to the fund and it's still going strong.  So he's been generously thanked, and the large number of donations and the large amount has now spawned a whole new slew of followup articles.

Ms Darling's engagement ring

It really is a lovely and heart warming story, and I've enjoyed following it.  I especially love that the man is able to take pride in the fact that he still has his good character and knows that it's valuable enough to protect. 

A part of me though, has been just a little bit surprised by the whole thing - it's a shame to me that this is such a news worthy article!  That someone having integrity and doing the right thing - even when a lot of money is involved - would be so unusual that it's made news the world over!   Would most people really have pawned the ring and made some money at this obviously kind-hearted woman's expense? 

Is that what we all have come to expect and accept?  Is honesty really seen as such an anomaly in our society today? 

I hope not!  :) 

Either way - I'm pleased, like everyone else, that Mr Harris has set us all such a great example, and I'm also grateful for Ms Darling's example of charity at the front of the story, and then of gratitude on the back end of the story.  Everyone involved - including those donating to the 'thank you' fund - seem to have caught a spirit of doing good and of doing what's right. 

I'm just hopeful that that's what's normal and what we've come to expect and accept of each other and everyone around it :)

Your thoughts?...

xo Tammy

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Long and Crazy Day for Beth..

I know there's the whole stereotype about women being excessively emotional but I had never really put myself in that category. I always hated crying, especially with anyone else knowing about it. Apparently that changed when I got pregnant. Fair enough -  extra hormones.

It kept going after I had a baby - fair enough, still got hormones racing around.
...My baby is now 6 months old but I'm not so sure my emotional-ness has dampened at all.
Huh? How did that happen? Wasn't I meant to go back to normal?
Most days I'm fine and normal (don't ask my husband, he might say something contrary..) but other days I find that for some reason, I feel those stupid crazy emotions running around and everything is heightened.


Last week I had one of those kinds of days............
A few weeks ago in Relief Society I was handed the missionary roster. My first thought was to just pass it on but then I realised that I was just being lazy and uncharitable and I should definitely do my part to help the missionaries by feeding them. I found a date when I knew Robbie didn't have uni classes and I was free. After church I ran the date past Robbie to make sure it was ok and then wrote it in my calendar when I got home. Felt good about that.


Last Wednesday I realised that that Thursday was the day we had invited the missionaries. I reminded Robbie and then started thinking about what I could cook.
I don't know if other mothers find this or if I'm just not as naturally with-it or organised as everyone else (that is definitely a probable conclusion), but since having a baby I have found that I really need to plan my days if there are particular things I need or want to do. I have to plan around her feed and nap times and anything else. Dinnertime is the hardest time to plan around because Hallie is especially fussy come 4:30-5.00pm and onwards. So I really needed to plan what I would make for the missionaries to ensure there wasn't a lot to do last minute. I figured maybe I could see if the missionaries were willing to eat earlier at 5:30 because that would free me up to feed and get Hallie ready for bed afterwards. Easy.

After thinking of and then discarding lots of elaborate dinner ideas I decided to simply make a slow-cooked chicken curry with rice, vegies and breadrolls. I was more than happy with this idea because, a) I had most of the ingredients and wouldn't have to spend money buying extra things and b) it meant that all I had to do last minute was the vegies (they would be pre-cut earlier in the day - see? impressive organisation) and heat the rolls. Simple! I had my plan.
Feeling pretty good about that, I decided I would let Robbie pick whatever he wanted for dessert. Dessert can easily be made earlier in the day so no dramas there :) Robbie decided to go for brandy snap baskets with custard cream and fruit salad. Sure, done, I replied.
Now, I planned, I needed to buy some ingredients for the dessert so I could easily do that with Hallie on Thursday after her morning nap, and then make and prepare it all during and after her afternoon nap. The house I could tidy throughout the day whenever Hallie was happy playing on her own for a bit.
It would be cruisy :)

Feel good

Still feeling good at this point.
Wednesday night I realised two things.
1. Robbie's uni group for a big presentation called and said they wanted to meet at 4:30 the next day to work on it.
2. I had offered to babysit my 6 year old nephew on Thursday because my sister-in-law had uni and her previous plans had fallen through.
Hm. Ok. Well we called the missionaries that night to remind them of our address and invited them for dinner at 6:30. Robbie would have liked to stay with his group and help for as long as he could (not all of them were meeting, just a couple to work on some aspects and Robbie wanted to be one of the 'helpers' in the group, not one of the coasters) and 6:30 gave Robbie longer to work at Uni before having to come home.:
I would give Hallie her milk feed before 6:30 and could feed her her real food while I ate dinner. Simple.
I would be looking after my nephew from 9-2. Ok, I thought, I'll just dedicate those 5 hours to him and do everything around those times. Should be easy.

Babysitting :)
I woke up with Hallie at about 6. I figured I could vacuum and scrub the bathroom etc then so I wouldn't have to do it later, but decided against it knowing that after having my nephew here (he's quite a messy child) I would most likely just have to do it again.
I fed Hallie at 7 and then left her with Robbie so that I could run out to the shops as soon as they opened at 8am and get the things I needed for dinner.
I even ran to three different stores just to find a half-decent mango because I wanted one for my fruit salad (SO excited it's getting into mango season!!! :) :))
I rushed home as fast as I could because I had gotten a message from my sister-in-law saying they were running a bit early and would that be ok to come earlier? When I got home at 8:45 they were already there.

Rainbow Cupcakes

My nephew was very excited for the day. He absolutely loves Hallie and I had also told him to bring his togs if he wanted to have a swim as we have a pool in our complex that so far I hadn't even looked at properly. We had a good day together. We went for a swim, made some cupcakes and played Uno and Monolpoly. I had secretly hoped that maybe he would like to watch a movie at some point and that would also give me some free time to make dessert. Sadly, he's one of the few 6 year olds I know who doesn't really care for that. He only watched some of the movie Madagascar 2 while he was forced to wait for me while I fed Hallie :P

After his mum came to pick him up at 2:30 I thought, 'Alright. It's time to get in the zone!' I had everything I needed to do written out on a piece with time frames - like I said, I was quite obsessive about getting everything done.
I made the mix for the brandy snaps and started to bake them. Brandy snaps are super easy but it's kind of a long process. On the tray I was using I could only fit two in the oven at once. You need to bake them for 5 mins, let them rest for 1 min, and then put them on your mould to set for at least another minute. If you let them rest for more than 1 minute they will harden and then you can't mould them. If they're in the oven for too little or too long they don't really work too well either I've found.

brandy snap baskets with strawberry mousse

It wouldn't have been hard except that for some reason Hallie was especially fussy that day. Unless I was holding her, she was screaming her cute, little red-faced head off. So I started trying to do one batch of brandy snaps at a time between playing with her. I didn't need many with only four people eating dinner (even though I'd made a double batch. I can't help myself when it comes to desserts, I always end up making an excessive amount for leftovers :)), but because I was distracted I kept burning them or letting them rest for too long and they would harden.
Grrr, I was way over the time I had budgeted for this!
I decided to strap Hallie onto me using the Baby Bjorn and I do the vacuuming and mopping instead (very good decision to wait until my nephew had gone. I have no idea how some crumbs managed to spread so far!) hoping that maybe then she'd be settled enough and I could put her down again to cook.
Alas, while she was happy during the cleaning of the floors, she was definitely not happy about being put down afterwards.
I tried everything - putting her in the bumbo seat on the bench and chatting to her while I was working, laying her the bouncer on the kitchen floor and bouncing her while I chatted and worked. I couldn't put her in the bjorn again because I was using the oven.
By this point I was getting a little stressed.
My carefully planned afternoon was unravelling.
I had no idea why Hallie was so fussy -  I had checked everything and I was feeling absolutely wretched for not giving her more attention and cuddle time.
It was a stinking hot day and with the slow-cooker and oven on all day it was extra hot and I was gross and sweaty and disgusting.
I still had brandy snaps to make, custard cream to whip and make, fruit salad to chop up, vegies to prepare, the bathroom to clean, Hallie to bath, and myself to shower and make look human; and I only had about an hour and a half to do it all in before I had to then feed Hallie again just before they came.

Around this time I got a message from Robbie saying, "Beth the missionaries messaged, can they come at 6? If not no worries."
I was in the middle of feeding Hallie when I got that and I replied with "Um, I'm crazy busy and I won't have time. Plus I'll be breastfeeding Hallie at 6 so if it's ok either way then 6:30 is best."
I finished feeding Hallie and went back to the kitchen to try and not burn any more brandy snaps while I left her to cry helplessly. I was feeling so terrible about leaving her when she was so upset. I had finally just successfully made four of them (woohoo!!) and I was just whipping the cream when Robbie called. He told me that the missionaries wouldn't be able to come to dinner anymore because they had a late appointment and they'd just have to pick it up.
EXCUSE me? What does he mean "Not coming to dinner"?! Don't they know that that's totally rude?!?! And why say "It's ok either way" if it's actually not!?
Robbie didn't understand my reaction. He said that things like that come up when you're a missionary and the main thing is that we provide them with a meal whether they eat it at our house or pick it up.
He also thought I shouldn't be shooting the messenger.

"dont shoot the messenger" earrings... Apparently I need to wear these before I speak....
"don't shoot the messenger" earrings

I felt frustrated and angry and hurt. I realise now that I completely overreacted but at the time, I felt totally justified in my feelings! I just wanted to cry. I was half crying on the phone while I tried to explain to Robbie that I would have done things completely differently if I had known they wouldn't be staying. For example: brandy snap baskets for dessert. They are the kind of thing you assemble right before you serve and then eat them straight away. They were not the kind of thing you carried home! I also tried to explain that basically I had been stressing all day and slaving away for nothing.
I said 'fine', tried not to take it out on Robbie anymore on the phone, hung up and started sobbing.
Sobbed like something much more than dinner plans had fallen through. 


The only thing I can possibly say in my defense (perhaps a very thin defense) is that I must have been more hormonal than usual that day because obviously sobbing was a bit over the top (just a tad? :P).
I had to stop sobbing after a minute though (darn it - I just wanted to wallow) because Hallie was definitely in need of saving from herself and her own cries with some love from me.

Then I just walked around for a while feeling despondent. I knew I was wasting time but I felt just a little bit like sooking some more.
What was the point of continuing making the brandy snaps? I know that technically I could have given them all the different components in various containers and they could have made them themselves, but I was a little too bitter at that point to bother.

bitter and twisted

Instead I decided I'd whip up a cake mix and give them that. Ha! Take that! A cake mix instead of beautiful, made-from-scratch brandy snaps with premium mango in the fruit salad. That'd learn them.
I took a little bit of sadistic satisfaction in my cake-mix rebellion.
I also decided that I wouldn't bother scrubbing the bathroom just in case they happened to need to use it when they dropped by; instead they'd have to do with mediocre cleanliness. And I wasn't going to shower before hand (what was the point of being presentable anyway?).
Having made these decisions I was actually feeling a lot better. Hmm, who wants dinner guests anyway. I can just relax feet were very sore...
I whipped up some cake mix, put it in the oven, cleaned off the bench and sat down to play with Hallie to play and watch some pointless television.
All in all, I was actually feeling quite relaxed. I had plenty of time to chill. And chill I did - again with a satisfying, almost rebellious, feeling.

Also, in harmony with Murphy's law, Hallie was relaxed and happy for the rest of the afternoon and even had a nap.
By the time 6:30 came I had iced the cake and put it on a plate for the missionaries (I had cut it into pieces and though I gave them a generous amount I also kept some for us. Once again - Ha! Take that), had the vegies made and were keeping warm in a container, had dinner rolls in bags for them and have their rice and curry in a large container, all on the bench ready for them to grab and run.
By this point I was feeling more generous. They arrived at the same time as Robbie. I immediately started giving them their food (they were in a hurry weren't they?) but they seemed inclined to chat so we all had a nice little catch up for 20-30 mins (totally enough time to scoff down some dinner and brandy snaps...I'm just saying) but like I said, I was feeling a lot more generous and sorry for my earlier emotional display by this point so I didn't mind. After all, you can't really be bitter at missionaries for finding investigators can you.
After they left, Robbie and I enjoyed our dinner and I finished feeding Hallie and put her to bed.
I watched more pointless TV and Robbie, bless him, gave me a foot massage :) :)

So there you go. That was my day. Do you understand the injustice of it all? Do you understand the stress? Do you understand the anguish? No?   Probably because it was all in my head. Me and my emotions running wild.
So I'm wondering: Am I the only loony in the world or are there other women who experience stereotypical-crazy-emotional-lady days?
I'm sure sometimes it's not in our heads though - surely some things are genuinely upsetting and sob worthy. Like when my bottom just doesn't look good in my jeans :(

I've been doing this since I was a child and I always advise people to do the same. Every time I get stressed out, I remind myself that in a day, it'll be over and pretty soon, I won't even remember that stress. It helps.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Some Of My Thoughts On Racism

I hope this is not too heavy for a Monday morning, but here goes...

I was driving with a friend some years ago when I absently commented about a lady walking up ahead, noting by her gait, "I think she is Asian,"  which indeed we saw, as we passed, that she was.

"That's racist,"  said my friend, which left me quite gobsmacked - partly from the accusation, and partly from her seeming implication that correctly identifying a physical characteristic as peculiar to Asian people in any way discredited that race. Was she inferring that being identified as Asian was somehow an insult?  'How insulting is that?' I wondered. Would it have been considered offensive if I had guessed that the woman up ahead was a ballet dancer, or a body builder, or an Australian?  Hmmn...


My own personal definition of racism is this: to think that any one person or people is better than another, only by virtue of their race or culture.  I don't believe that.  I believe that every individual born possesses great intrinsic worth, just as much as another, regardless of race or colour.

I do believe that there are many differences between races and cultures however, (just as there are often distinct characteristics within families).   Obvious differences include skin colour, hair type and colour, body shape and type, facial characteristics, language, often talents and abilities, and even ways of thinking about and interpreting the world.


It seems to me, (and obviously I'm speaking very generally here), that the Germans I have known tended to be  focused and creative, have good body strength, are thrifty, orderly, and often somewhat detached in manner.  Italians, Greeks and Mexicans seems much more passionate and involved.  Indian people are frequently intelligent, naturally joyful, and voluble.  The Australian aboriginals I have known have been very shy, but full of laughter and fun when among their own people.  The Papua New Guinean people we lived among for four years often had a lot of difficulty in understanding Western values like the importance of time, or order.  (Likewise, put me in the PNG jungle and I know that I would be looking more than a little dim-witted..)  I also found the PNG people to be proud, cheerful, exceedingly generous and loyal, short in stature and amazingly well-muscled.   All the Dutch people I have met seem to be good-looking.  I find the Kalahari Bushmen quite beautiful, men and women.  African-Americans seem to have unusually good voices and rhythm, and innate great musculature.   The Chinese people I have known tended to be intelligent, dedicated, somewhat inscrutable, and hard-working.  I think Australians are generally independent, resourceful, open and frank, sometimes to the point of tactlessness, casual, hospitable and friendly.  You get the idea.  Of course these generalizations are in no way comprehensive, and in no way apply, or are even close to applying to every individual.  Even so, specific patterns of DNA added to unique and shared physical, spiritual, cultural, social and historical experiences within races and cultures inevitably produce noticeable characteristics that are, if not defining, at least clearly identifiable.  

(Cultural and racial characteristics are also liable to change, especially as we are influenced by other cultures through immigration and education.)

I love these differences!  I'm so glad that we are not all the same!  I find these differences interesting and engaging and that they inform and enlarge and enrich my understanding of humanity and life.  I am happy to note them because I consider them to be very positive.


It frustrates me when people try to pretend that we are all exactly the same, when clearly we are not - when we are enjoined to be 'colour-blind', for instance.  What, I ask, is so very terrible about the differences in our skin colour, for instance, that we are supposed to not even acknowledge them?  If we embrace and enjoy our diversity, how can it be an insult to note, or even highlight it?

How can it be wrong to call a spade a spade?  

To answer my own question: perhaps it's wrong only if you have something against spades.  And that's what I see as racism.  If to call someone a spade is seen as complimentary, there would be few to complain of the appellation.  The difficulty exists not in the appellation but in the negative connotation that is sometimes assumed: the name of which, it seems to me, is racism.  

One of the worst consequences of refusing to acknowledge the differences among us, (or in applying a racist attitude to them), is that we can fail to appreciate the beauty, richness and magnificence of those differences.   I think that's sad.  It surely takes nothing away from the English when we describe the French as being notable for their cuisine, and nothing away from the French to note that the English are noted horticulturalists.   Differences are at their most useful and exciting when they are complementary.  Isn't this true of most relationships?

To conclude: Unquestionably, our similarities are greater than our differences.  I believe that both can and ought to be acknowledged, accepted, appreciated and celebrated! 

What do you think?


Friday, February 22, 2013

Child's Beanbag Pattern

I was dashing through Lincraft a couple of months before Christmas last year when some fabric caught my eye that I thought would make great beanbags for our four oldest grandchildren.  When I couldn't find a pattern to follow I drew one up that, (surprisingly, but one of those really nice surprises! :) worked really well.  I wanted to make the old-style tear-drop bean-bag shape that mimics a chair when you sit on it - and not the plain square or round cushions.  (You can see how to make a square bean-bag cushion here.)  On Christmas day each child received their beanbag and they spent the rest of the afternoon jumping around on them - they loved them!.  I already have orders for two more for next Christmas :)

I'ts not hard to sew a beanbag - pretty basic sewing really, so even if you don't have much experience I think you will be ok with this:


  • You'll need about 3 meters of some medium to heavier-weight fabric for each outer cover.                                 - (Six panels x 40cm x 91cm, plus a 51cm square piece for the bottom circle.  I originally bought two and a half metres (of 120 or 135cm wide), for each beanbag, and had to go back for more fabric.  Three metres of fabric should be just right.) 
  • You'll also need 3 metres of a strong lining fabric for each inner beanbag.  (I used an inexpensive poly-cotton.)
  • Sewing cotton to match your outer cover, (since you will be top-stitching and it will be obvious)
  • A medium to heavy-weight zip (continuous zip is easy)
  • Polystyrene beanbag pellets.  (I used about 115 litres for each bag)
  • Some tissue paper or similar, to draw up your pattern.  (I used cheap $1 tissue paper I had at home.  It doesn't matter what paper you use.)


  • Draw up your pattern, using the guide below (Diagram 1).  You can call this Pattern Piece 1.  (I drew this up free-hand.  You should be able to copy it successfully by following the diagram I think.  The pattern already incorporates a 1.5cm hem allowance.  If you click on the image it will enlarge.)

Diagram 1

  • Next, draw up a pattern for your bottom circle piece, by folding a piece of tissue paper in half, and marking 25.5cm from a middle point, in an arc to form a half circle.  Open the tissue out, mark the centre line of the half-circle, then add a 1.5cm seam allowance just along the centre seam (the outside of the half-circle already has a 1.5cm seam allowance).  Cut out and call this Pattern Piece 2.
  • Cut 6 beanbag panels from outer fabric, of Pattern Piece 1.  (That you can see above, in Diagram 1.)
  • Also cut 6 beanbag panels from lining fabric, of Pattern Piece 1.  (I ironed, then layered and pinned the six panels to cut them all out together - as you can see above, to save time.)
  • Cut 1 Pattern Piece 2 of the outer fabric, on the fold, then separate, to give you two identical pieces.
  • Cut 1 Pattern Piece 2 of inner lining fabric, on the fold, then separate the pieces.

  • Sew all of the side panels together at the long sides, then top-stitch each seam as you go for added strength, catching in the hem underneath.  When all of your side panels are assembled, the tip of the beanbag should look something like this:  (If your seam lines don't all meet perfectly in the middle, you can hand-sew a few stitches to bring the seams together to a neat point, and strengthen the junction.)

  • Join the two side pieces of outer fabric Pattern Piece 2 with your zip.  You can see how to sew in the zip here.)
  • Ease-stitch 1cm in from the outside of the circle made by your two joined pieces of Pattern Piece 2, then pin and stitch this bottom circle to the joined top side panels.  Topstitch this seam and clip the curve as needed.  You now have your outer bag all finished :)

(This is the bottom of your beanbag.  It's actually worked well that I used a match-in fabric for the this piece because you can see it better!)

  • Basically, follow these same directions to sew up the inner lining pieces too.  The only difference will be that you will not sew in a zip.  Instead, sew the two halves together but leave a 25cm opening (through which to fill with beans).
  • Put the lining bag inside your outer bag before you fill the bag with beans.  (I found this out by not doing so, and having an unnecessarily hilarious time trying to get the fat, filled little beanbag through the too-small zip opening of the outer bag.  Possible but difficult.  I possibly ought to have made the bottom circle piece a little larger, but in every other way it worked well so I thought...  nope :)
  • Fill the inner bag with beans.   (I won't try to direct how you accomplish this.  With lots of laughter, a second pair of hands to help, frequent looks of astonishment that indicate your bemusement that such little beans can be so very lively, and, one hopes, a good vacuum to finish, is my guess.  If you do manage to fill your bags with none of these, please don't feel you need to tell me about it..  Actually, no - I'd be fascinated to hear how you did it  :)

  • When the inner bag is filled, fold the open seams over onto themselves at least twice before pinning, then hand-sew the seam closed.  You will notice that I have used an easy-to-see thread to do this, and I actually have a reason for this other than that I was too lazy to get a matching thread: every now and again you may decide that it's time to add some more beans, because your beanbag has become a bit flat.  The bright cotton makes it easy to unpick the thread :)

Voila!!  Not too hard, no?

(If you do use this pattern, I would love to hear how it went for you and would love it if you left some feedback please :)

PS - Click here if you would like to see how I used the fabric scraps to make a child's bag.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Big Sister: The Grand, High Witch!

One of the many childhood stories that have made it into our family memory vault of fame, is the one where my lovely big sister (Tammy) took me into her room and successfully convinced me she was The Grand, High Witch - from Roald Dahl's The Witches.  What can I say?  She was THAT convincing!  And she had that poem ("Down vith children...!"), down, by heart.

I recently walked in on a scene between Maggie and Ana which evoked the memory of that childhood moment.. 

I just started writing it out, and realised I already wrote it on my family blog back when it happened, so here's a copy+paste from that :)

The Tiger is Coming to GET YOU!!!

This made me laugh so much the other day - I walked into the living area after feeding Stanley-James and Ana was holding her doll Jenny, hiding in the corner of the room behind the couch and the floor cushion.

Why was she hiding you ask?

Across the room, Maggie was standing on a chair, and with great authority and enthusiasm she was admonishing Ana and Jenny to stay there at any cost, because 'The tiger is coming to GET YOU!!!!'


Maggie's speech went on for quite some time...

...and Ana obediently sat in the corner, cuddling her doll.


I'm getting a little bit of 'Grand High Witch' de javu, Tammy.... :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ode to New York

If you know me well, you know that I'd probably rather be a married-stay-at-home-mum than a 31-year-old-single-working-girl.  BUT, since I'm the latter - at least for the moment - one of the perks is that I've been free to travel and explore some fun places.  And I've been reminiscing lately about New York City.

I had always felt like a New York City girl at heart.  For as long as I can remember, I'd known that if I could just get there, I'd absolutely love it.  And in 2010, I spent three wonderful weeks there with two of my favourite people (Brecken & Justin) while they were living in Manhattan for Justin's Masters degree at Columbia University.

Well.  New York City did not disappoint!  It was everything I'd always imagined and so much more:

Business, Hustle & Bustle
Rivers & Bridges
Crazy numbers of people. Everywhere.
A thousand and one cultures all mixed together.  
Sights, sounds, tastes, smells
Little Italy
China Town
Central Park.  A thousand neighbourhood parks.
The Upper West side, Washington Heights, the Bronx, Harlem, Brooklyn... etc. etc. etc.
Times Square!!! 
Musicals, Musicals, Musicals
Culture, Culture, Culture
Jazz!! Classical Music. Any kind of music!
History - both of the city, and the world history collections you find there
The setting of practically every movie ever made
Neighbourhoods and the generations of families who have made them their own
Landmarks and famous food places.

I loved it, and love it still, and I really can't wait to get back there someday.  In the meantime however, I thought I'd leave you with a couple of photos of my favourite memories:

Times Square! LOVE the energy there! :)
Cafe Lalo - The cafe from You've got Mail (Don't they know you're supposed to have a last name?!)  DELICIOUS food!

Central Park. It's like 100 parks in one, and it's HUGE.  LOVE it!

The absolute best Gelato in the world. And I'm not exaggerating. It's THAT good.   

Van Gough at the MET.  Could have spent DAYS there.

Gorgeous square right in the middle of the busy intersection.  You may have seen it in 'Music and Lyrics', 'You've Got Mail ' (I hope your mango's ripe!) and 1,000 other movies.

Central Park, Again. I loved it that much!

On the ferry, heading over to Ellis Island

Two fabulous ladies. Just chilling.

A walk home from the local deli in the rain.  Brecken thought this might finally put a dent in my love of NYC.  She was wrong. Still loved it! If you could see my face, I'd be grinning...

Dinner and a show at one of the city's favourite jazz clubs.  It was open mic night, but they were ALL pros.  Watched them jam for hours, and could have gone hours more.

Cheese, Olives, Salamis, you name it.  These neighbourhood delis are incredible!

The Manhattan Temple. On our way to church.

Broadway and Time Square.  Simply nothing else to say.  Those shows were... beyond incredible!

The Hersey Factory, Times Square

The Brooklyn Bridge.  LOVE it, and love the history.  Can't believe people built it without all our modern helps!

More Gelato... in Little Italy this time.

Looking over the river to New Jersey, from River Side Park.

LOVE this city!!