Entries in writing (6)


a new year.

The general consensus is that 2014 was a hard year. So let's put it to bed and move on.

I do like this holiday; there's something a bit nice about the idea of starting fresh. And of course we can do that every day or week or month, but it's nice to have the prospect of such a large chunk of time devoted to getting a bit better. I like to choose resolutions that focus on growth (as opposed to those that focus on whittling down; you all know what I'm talking about). Though I rarely do resolutions myself, to be honest.

I started this year with a freshly organized stash.

And DONE. So much better. #cleanallthethings

(Trust me, it needed it!)

Y'all SERIOUSLY. #honestcraftroom #notdealingwithittonight #insteaddrinkingwhiskey #gahhhh

I started this year with the cutest babies on the planet. They even play together nicely sometimes.

Oh man, these two.

I started this year with this great guy by my side. Every step we take, we take together.

Extremely thankful this guy is home.

I started this year off with a finished group quilt top, ready to be quilted by yours truly. It's a stunning top and Tash did so much work to make it happen.

SydMQG quilt top done!! 😍😍😍

And another long term WIP just about finished. So far 48/64 blocks are done; the last sixteen are just waiting to get started.

25/64 done. Phew. Think I'll have to send this one out! #sailorstars

A good start to 2015.

My husband and I usually drive the babies to sleep. We talk in the car, and listen to music, and it's actually time for us to reconnect as partners, not just be parents. Sometimes we drive to a nearby hill we call the Sunset Spot. Tonight, on the first day of the new year, it did not disappoint.

What a gorgeous end to the first day of 2015. #sunsetspot

My friend Amy chooses a word every year, and I think that's a good idea.

I don't know if I have a word. More like a set of ideas. Scaling back my involvements (no blog hops, swaps, bees, or running anything) was a hard but important decision. Piper starts preschool and the parental involvement is really high at her school; I want to be present for that.

I want to write every day. I did this for 2.5 years and it was amazing. (I write probably 27 days a month, so this isn't a stretch for me. Sometimes it's ten words, sometimes it's ten thousand.)

I want to connect more. I'm anxious, introverted, and naturally a homebody, so eye contact and learning names is terrifying. (I tend to put on this bright, false face and just talk the whole time.) So working on that would be a step in the right direction.

I want to sew almost exclusively from my stash.

I want to keep thinking critically and increase my knowledge.

I want to read more books (and mostly books by female authors). I want to seek out points of view of people that aren't already represented in my life, to gain better understanding and insight. I want to act with intelligence but more than that, compassion.

I want to do no harm, but take no crap.

There's a lot more, but that's just what's at the top of the pile right now.

Happy New Year, everyone. x

I am exceedingly pleased with how well this cute @patchworkthreads tee coordinated with my ModCloth cardi. Eeek!



sunday night plan #6

Oh man. I've been feeling the urge lately. The moving urge. I come by it honestly: my mother, every few months, would systematically rearrange the furniture to make it feel fresh and new. I did the same in my bedroom and then in my first few apartments. I like moving house because it's a great opportunity to shed the unnecessary things and move forward with a fresher, simpler outlook. Or so the theory goes!

Anyway, I've been struggling with where my sewing desk is because it's in the part of the living room furthest from the windows. My fabric shelving was blocking any light I could get. So we swapped them around! Of course this happened at 10pm so we'll see how the new configuration goes tomorrow. At any rate, we're going to spring for an Expedit bookcase (this one, on its side) so even when Piper gets mobile, she can't pull it down on her head. Winning!

This week I am keeping the planning simple.

Sewing projects:

x Happy Camper quilt top
x Mom's quilt top
x Downtown dots quilt top
x Lolly Fields quilt back


x Plan the HST quilt
x Sunniest Day quilt


x Any. I'm doing terribly at NaNo this year! It's shameful. (But I'm back to writing every day!)

Well, I'm running scant on five hours' sleep--NOT the baby's fault, but a bout of insomnia! I'm yawning like crazy so I'm going to seize the moment and head to bed. Night all!


written words

As a writer, the most important thing I do to become cleverer is to read. And, lest you think I'm one of those people, the "literary fiction" types with their americanos and clove cigarettes, let me confess to you right this second: I've never made it through a single Jonathan Safran Foer book. SHOCKER I know. (I also don't own any plaid flannel, so I can't be a real hipster. DARN.)

These are the cleanest hipsters ever.

Taste aside, I am a reader. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the backseat of my parents' car, kicking my feet, exclaiming how I couldn't wait to learn to read! (My mother obliged & taught me how. Thanks, Mom!) When I did learn, once I exhausted my school library's supply of Berenstien Bears books, I moved on to Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl. Then on to Lou Kassam and Mary Downing Hahn and (best!) NANCY DREW. I spent the summer after 6th grade reading Nancy Drew in Kings Hill, ID, and, uh, making up a fake boyfriend. (I never forgot the afternoons we didn't spend playing basketball in your driveway, Tall Jeffrey!)

There was a brief stint in late childhood where I read a lot of Sweet Valley High and Babysitter Club books. My saving grace were LM Montgomery books. Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, The Blue Castle, all amazing. In my teens I read Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and discovered William Gibson. Eventually I discovered Sandra Cisneros, Louise Erdrich, and Barbara Kingsolver.

When I turned 25 and realized something was missing. YA was missing. As a too-cool-for-school teen, I was busy reading Anaïs Nin and David Sedaris. I didn't have time for frippy romantic teenage novels. I barely visited the library, instead opting for the dusty shelves of the local seconhand bookstore.By wading through heavy literary fiction, reading about murders and incest and difficult adult relationships, I missed out on all the heart-thumping, the sweaty palms, the intense romance and agony of being a teenager in fiction.

Of course, YA isn't really about romance all the time, or agony. There are some great books out there that sit firmly within the "adult" banner, books that deal with homosexuality, sexuality in general, have bad words, or have difficult themes (death, supernatural abilities, sparkling inappropriately, etc). There are some that are light-hearted but still approachable. The book that got me into YA was Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

I'd never read anything by John Green or David Levithan but a friend recommended WG, WG so I bought it at the Sydney Writers' Festival. And when I finished reading its amazingness, I promptly scoured my favorite bookstore, Kinokuniya, for all the David Levithan and John Green books I could find. I bought them all. I began browsing in YA, ignoring my pretentious adult tastes. I felt a pang of guilt each time I passed the literary fiction section without a backward glance, but honestly, I was loving every sweaty-palm difficult-choices being-a-teen-sucks coming-of-age moment.

And the writing. The glorious, amazing writing. These weren't hastily penned for a daft audience; these books were crafted, written for intelligent and savvy young adults. The authors spent just as much time creating worlds and characters as any "proper" novelist. Maybe more. John Green takes at least three years to write a book. And Maureen Johnson's dedication to writing has clearly sent her insane. (For proof, see her Twitter feed. Watch out, she'll try and put you in a jar.)

My point is, my home is YA. It's what I read. It feels right. I might be a married mother but dang, when I read Looking for Alaska I was crying like a teenager. I felt like a teenager. (I was poorly suited to being a child, by the way, and love being all grown up, so this is not some sort of nostalgia doohicky.) YA is not a guilty pleasure; it became the first place I turn for new books. And it's fabulous. Here's why.

YA is a reader's genre. See, it's not just "young adult fiction". It's YA science fiction, YA horror, YA fantasy, YA dramatic/comedic fiction, YA poetry, YA you name it it's there. And as a reader, a real reader, the kind of person who reads ANYTHING and EVERYTHING she can get her mitts on, I respect that. I love that one minute I'm reading about butt-kicking angels and the next I can pick up a book on terrifying fairies and I'm back to reality with a story about a girl who is finding her family.

I bring this up because when people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a writer. Invariably they wonder, "What do you write?" and I have to make a decision. I write coming-of-age stories for people who aren't teenagers but remember being teenagers. I write about teenagers but not necessarily for them. Plus there's a lot of magic/random/supernatural-esque stuff (don't worry, NOBODY SPARKLES) in my stories, so a large chunk of my work falls under magical realism. Magical-realism-not-quite-YA doesn't really roll off the tongue, though. So I tell people I write novels, fiction, and most people leave it at that. I always want to say I write YA, but then I don't. I'm scared people will read my manuscripts and take me to pieces for corrupting the nation's youth or something. Eek! So I don't say anything.

What people should ask me, when they find out I'm a writer, is "who's your favorite author?" because that tells you more about a writer than any genre ever could. For the record, I can't think of a favorite author. Probably LM Montgomery, since she's been with me the longest. But I'm reading a shedload of Maureen Johnson right now. And I could quite cheerfully reread, at any time, John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began series. Oh, and I do enjoy Neil Gaiman. Maybe he's my favorite. Maybe they're all my favorite. Who cares? I'm a writer. I read a lot. And I love a lot of authors. The inspire me to put my fingers on the keys and write.

And really, that's what makes it awesome.


sunday night plan #3

This week was busy in strange bursts, so I managed to squeeze in bits of sewing here and there. I have to admit, I thought babies napped a lot more than this...but Piper likes to condense her sleeps into the evenings, leaving the day with just a few grizzly short naps. Yikes. But I can't complain too much. She's so gorgeous and bright, always looking around and taking everything in.

I didn't get very much done this weekend, owing to aforementioned Miss Grizzles, but we did manage to finally buy a pram this week! I am looking forward to walking in fine weather. We took the inaugural walk to our favorite café and it felt amazing to stretch my legs. I forsee many hours out and about in our future!

A quick look at this past week before I get down to the nitty-gritty plans!

An explosion took place, and my goodness, the amount of Napisan it took to get that out! Of course I think all of this is hilarious. For someone so tiny, she can make a LOT of mess!


That picture is definitely going in the "21st Birthday Party Slideshow" file!

We caught up with Ellen and Joel. Ellen and I were pregnant together! They have a brand new baby girl, Olive (she's not even a week old!) who is eight weeks younger than Piper. Ellen is my age-ish and it is so nice having a friend close in age who is also a new mum. Where we live, the mums we encounter are mostly post-career women, in their mid- to late-thirties. This is Ellen, Joel, and Olive (in the sling).

Ellen & Joel & new baby Olive!

Mr Poppleton's school friend Aaron and his wife Floss were up this weekend from Melbourne, so we took Piper to meet them. She especially liked Aaron and didn't complain once while he held her! But then he's always been charming to the ladies.

Aaron & Floss

And of course, we distracted Elle. She is always sneaking off to have a hold of Piper, and always gets in trouble at work! Shame shame.

Coffee Elle

So we have been very social, and as a result I had a very cranky, overtired baby on Saturday afternoon and most of today. But she is happily sleeping now, so I can plan my week!

Sewing projects:

x sew J3's quilt top (still, I know I know, I'm SO slack)
x sew J5's quilt top (which I cut and pinned last week)
x design, work up, and cut out 2 cot quilts
x finish Happy Camper quilt top
x finish wrap shirt
x finish hand sewing last three curved hexagon blocks

Writing projects:

x diagram story
x write something every evening (even if it only 100 words)
x structure story toward a finish line

I have a few other things to do this week, in the "life projects" pile. We're considering a new dining table & chairs, so I'd like to sell my existing set. I also have four chairs I bought and reupholstered, and I just need to give them another coat of paint (or five!) to make them worth selling. I'm also converting all our media from physical to electronic, with a view of having a less-plastic lifestyle in the near future. So that's an ongoing set of projects to keep me busy. For now, I'm going to watch an episode of Gossip Girl and finish sewing this curved hexagon block. Maybe if I am really clever, I can get two blocks sewn before the end of the show! A worthy goal.

PS I read a fantastic book and I am going to write a review of it, so keep your eyes peeled!


sunday night plan #2

Okay, okay, so technically this is a Monday morning update, but shhh. It'll be our little secret.

From last week's list I managed to finish a few key projects, but the one I am the most excited about is George's quilt. Honestly I'd been hemming and hawing (or perhaps hawing and NOT hemming) about stitching just three feet of hand-quilting, so tonight I finally just rolled my eyes at myself and finished it. YAY!

Another accomplishment? Finishing the quilt for my niece Sissy. I machine quilted it, but I hated it pretty much the entire time. Even with a walking foot I felt like the stitches were uneven and bodgy. I love hand-quilting so much. For J3's quilt top (67" square) I am probably going to spring for professional machine quilting. Tonight for Sissy's quilt I finally chose the binding and attached it, and except for four lines more of stitching it is DONE! I'll be able to post it on Friday to my tiny, excited niece! This is what it looked like all taped, but not yet basted or quilted.


Also I made her a matching Viewfinder bag! She specially requested one just like mine. I was only too happy to oblige!

sissy's bag

I'm feeling obviously super chuffed.

I'm sad to say I got very little writing done. I need a good nap day so I can sit down and diagram the story. I used to go through phases, where I'd write a lot, then I'd stop almost completely and sew a lot...I think I'm on a sewing upswing at the moment. But I need to get back to writing. Boo for me.

So for this week, my sewing projects are:

x finish J3's quilt top
x cut out J5's quilt blocks
x design & start two new cot quilts
x sew wrap shirt

And my writing goals:

x 500 words per day
x diagram the story on index cards

I'm going to spend a bit of time working out my new cot quilt designs, and it's really exciting because, well, I SOLD ONE THIS WEEK! I'm so proud that my efforts have been rewarded! It is always really great to make something new and beautiful but for a complete stranger to love it enough to pay hard-earned dollars for my creations is just the best feeling ever. Seriously, best best best. This is the quilt I sold, the Cotton Candy Kaleidoscope Quilt:

Please go visit my store for updates, and I will try and include new stuff every couple weeks.

Here's to a happy, busy week!



sunday night plan #1


Sundays are the planning evening in our house. We do all the ironing, I try in vain to finish up whatever lingering sewing projects I have, and we tidy the house for the week. I'm carrying that over to this space so I can keep myself accountable, or at least keep track of my myriad projects!

I found some time to work on my sister's quilt this weekend, and I realized after how I needed the sewing time. I feel more centered, more like myself, when I find the time to sew. Now I just need to carve out the time to write so I can be balanced on all three points: mother, writer, and crafter! The magical tripod of my sanity. I am armed this week to hunker down and do some serious work, though, Piper-permitting; I have index cards, new Sharpie Pens, and a burning desire to finish this story so I can turn it into a manuscript, then pitch it and try to get it published.

(Wow, okay, that is the first time I have written that, or even said it. Yes, this is the one I hope to publish. The last five completed novels were just practice. And that is A-OK.)

This week's upcoming sewing projects are:

x finish the "walk in the woods" quilt top
x baste Sissy's quilt
x decide on and cut piecework for j5's quilt
x finish the dang "happy camper" quilt top
x make a new sling for warmer weather
x finish georgie's quilt (two lines of quilting left, yeah!)

This week's upcoming writing projects are:

x diagram the novel
x 1500 words by friday

And hopefully my little mini-me will behave this week...she has grown to an astounding 5.27kg and finally we got past the awful Miss Grizzle week! She looks pretty sweet and innocent here!


My favorite time to sew. Too bad I miss her when she sleeps and I end up wanting to cuddle her...and then I wake her up. New momma fail!