Belated updates

It's been a long time - I know.
Since I last wrote I have opened a store and that was nearly a month ago.

Gabriel turned 3, he now tells everyone who looks at him "Me Gabriel, three years old" *holding up three fingers* and if he has his birthday present scooter with him he will stop scooting, hold it up and say "My cool scooter!"... basically everything you need to know about him I guess?

In a week or so my little Samurai will be 1. ONE. I swear I was just blogging about leaving the hospital after having him. Time goes by faster and faster.

So a lot of things have happened.

At the moment I have no interest in writing about any of it though. 
I haven't sat down and done anything arty for ages so in that sense there isn't that much to tell.

Kyle was able to put together this awesome video of our shop for those of you who live away and won't be able to see it.
For those living close by who haven't come to see us yet. Shame on you

Come visit us - I'll talk to you in person. It'll be great.

A blog meet up

The shop opens soon and before we open our doors to the public we will be holding a blogger get together so that people can meet our designers, have some tasty snacks, listen to some wonderful live music and do a touch of craft!

It's all just an excuse to hang out with friends and meet up with some amazing people who I have been online stalking for a while (that's nowhere near as creepy as it sounds)

McKenzie will be there, sharing her music talents with us live (check her out on soundcloud) and some of our designers will be there to lay out their wisdom and impress you with their foxy craftiness.

The list is filling up fast, but we would love to know if you can make it. It's not just bloggers that are invited, but if you are super keen on the old crafts (we're thinking more 'knitting' than 'sorcery') then I highly recommend that you come along and check out the shop.

It's free! You just need to bring your good selves along to our shop in Parramatta.

Let me know so we can have all our fun goodies together for you.

Put up signs for markets. Seriously.

Does anyone have a Samsung phone? I have a Galaxy 3.

I got it because earlier this year in a moment of brilliance I managed to drop my iphone (which was epic and had great battery life and no problems) into the bath and I didn't want to pay an extra $20 a month for the iPhone 5.
My Galaxy dies every day. Some nights, after being plugged in all night I'll look at it and see that it's only on 17% or something tragic like that.

I mention all of this to make excuses for the SINGLE dark and uninspired photo that I have of my market stall on Saturday. I only had 50% battery to last the whole day. It didn't last.

It was a quiet market. I learned plenty about the importance of visible signage, for example, but it was great to meet so many other amazingly talented people.

Right next door to me was Chanelle who has some of the most crazy detailed drawings ever. I am in love with these elephant fellows. Like... the detail is just mind boggling.

The Mouse and Me
And this awesome artist Jennie, who illustrates some nifty foxes and some animals in Star Trek cosplay and Dr Who outfits who I think are super awesome. Officially you might call them "children's" or "nursery" prints, but I kind of just want them for myself.

Everyone had stalls that were about a thousand times more awesome than mine, and I got a lot of ideas and was totally inspired so after feeling sick and like a mental case for all the rest of the weekend I have woken up today (it's Monday) with a brain full of ideas and a whole lot of brainstorming to do as we count down to The Elm Tree's official opening on the 28th of September.

First though, I have to clean the house. Ugh.

Father's change nappies too. True Story.

One time when I was younger, a man who was unstable came into the church where I was sitting and started to swear at me and verbally attack me. Near by a man (who I knew) just sat and watched smiling uncomfortably.

I was holding my baby brother and the man was kind of big so I just sat there and occasionally defended my rights (not really in a very productive way 'I can look at who I want to look at' for example, wasn't a helpful thing to say) until someone who heard the rukus went and found my dad who took the man aside and told him in a firm voice that "that b!tch" was his daughter and could he please leave the building (where he told him some other things...)

And I was glad that my father was there, and glad that I could see him defend me. No one else was and it was wonderfully reassuring to know that he would always be on my side. I still remember how it felt to know that someone cared about me enough to confront someone to defend me  (My dad is awesome)

I promise this is relevant.

Today is Kyle's birthday.

He's at home editing his most recent film project which means that we have been able to spend the day together and so off we went to get haircuts and eat lunch and play at play grounds (I even took photos)

And we had to change the baby's nappy. It happens.

The sign on the door said "baby changing room" and we walked in behind two women talking very loudly about something which they obviously didn't mind us hearing about (or they wouldn't have continued talking so loudly surely) and we changed the baby.
As they came out of the toilets one of the women started to say (just as loudly) that she was sure men weren't allowed in there as 'hearing women piss' is just wrong and couldn't he have stayed outside, and I'm going to check because I think it's completely wrong and sick and at that point I turned around and said:

... And then I said a few other things... which might have included "if you have a problem with men hearing you go to the toilet then go to the ladies room, it says baby changing room on the door -  I don't see your baby!" And the woman I was talking to backed away.

We walked out later and saw a council worker who told us that the women had spoken to him about it all and he had told him the same thing that I had. Go to the ladies bathroom if you want there to only be ladies around you.

Kyle had been ignoring the women's conversation entirely so he was surprised that I had snapped at them, and I know that if he had heard what they had been saying he would have said something himself - but just so you know Ky. I've got your back. I'm on your side. Even though I get a bit shaky and emotional when I have to do things like that and even though I stay all riled up about it for the whole rest of the day (and post blogs about it).

I'll confront people (even though it's pretty beyond my comfort zone) to defend you - and your right to use a room designated for people caring for babies and children.

You can use the baby changing room... you know... TO CHANGE THE BABY. 

Happy Birthday.

Apologies for the awkwardly compiled photos. The boys didn't all fit in the photo because Ronin was way below table level. In other news good on you Boost and Salsa for giving free things to customers on their birthday. Don't rate the burrito but at least no money was wasted in figuring out that they aren't that good.

 Gabe blowing bubbles (he thinks it's so cool... it's so gross) while Kyle gets his hair cut. I spoke to the hairdresser in Mandarin and she didn't understand me (devastating) but it was only because she didn't expect it from me (phew!) after that she understood everything I said. Crisis averted.

 Blurry :( 

Nerd Power

I figure this is as good a venue as any to track the progress of Kyle's film making.

This is a 6 minute assignment that he did for school. The first film that he wrote and directed himself.

HR in this office must not do anything because there is some serious bullying and invasion of personal spaces and properties going on here...

While we were setting up our market, Ky was shooting his next assignment... here's a preview...

Yep - the samurai got in on the action too...

A handmade market

Our mega glam garage sale was an effective experiment, though perhaps not the roaring success that we might have wished it to be. (You know - when heaps of people come and give us all their money)
The weather was fantastic, and although there were a significant number of hiccups in the morning as we got things set up (including a man who wanted to buy McKenzie's guitar - NOT FOR SALE!) it all looked wonderful (if I do say so myself)

Thanks to Analiese and her photography talents I can give you a tour of our little market and it's wares.

This is my work:

Prints. Note to self: iron tablecloths. (Even when they are just unfinished quilt tops)

Framed prints. Notebooks. Reina's rice filled heat packs. Zana's bags, and Reina's cushions.

Zana's monogram key chains and dresses (below)

McKenzie's prints are beautiful. Her music was lovely too, and after buying her CD I have listened to it on loop all day today... Do yourself a favour and check her out.

Katie's booties and muesli. Tool box/magazine holders and Candle centrepieces (below) by Reina (and Ryan)

Jess's cupcakes and brownies (the brownies were especially yum!)

We will be opening our shop on September the 28th and you will be able to find all these things and much more from other amazing local talents.

If you want to catch up with me in the mean time I will be at the Makers Market at UNSW next Saturday (September 7) so feel free to come and visit me (and a whole troop of other awesome etsy sellers) when you are done voting!

A Glammed up Garage Sale

The Elm Tree has been approved and we will be moving into our Pop Up space on September 20... so after furnishing it and prettifying all the wonderful stock people are bringing in to sell we will be opening for business before the end of September!

Pretty awesome news!!

With all the time that we have leading up to getting our space we have been furiously making things and being creative and all of that good stuff. (Never mind the bank stuff and stressful side of the whole thing) The Elm Tree as a brand is coming together pretty well and to celebrate and launch the things that we will be selling in the store ourselves we have gathered together a few friends and will be hosting a mega glam garage sale in North Parramatta on Saturday August 31.

It seems a bit pretentious of me to call it a brand launch - but I won't deny that I am ridiculously excited about the thought of spending time with some very awesome ladies and chatting and making things and listening to nice music and visiting with the people who come (you'll be there I'm sure) 

I will be selling my art and various other things that I have made (that also have my art on them) like notebooks and quilts (I'm still figuring out this whole quilting thing so we'll see if they make it on the day)
My sister Reina and her husband (who is a pretty talented wood worker) have been putting their minds together to bring to life all the sketches that she has in her sketch book with wooden ladders (the designer home-ware kind) and candle centrepieces and a whole heap of beach style home-wares.
Jess will be baking up a storm and catering for even the gluten intolerant among us (pre-orders will be available soon!)
Katie (my business partner in the store) has been testing out her craft skills on a range of baby gear - from onesies to booties.
McKenzie (who will also be working with us in the shop) is a talented artist who has turned her hand to sewing and is just as talented at that! McKenzie is also a wonderful musician (because she doesn't have enough talents!!) and has performed numerous times in Parramatta and I'm sure we can expect to hear her lovely music as well as seeing her other creations on the day.
A lot of my friends already have children who I've seen wearing Zana's unique skirts, but you'll also be able to pick up a one of a kind design from her on Saturday too!!

So spread the word and hit up the ATM before coming to visit us.
It's close by Parramatta Lake, so make a day of it why don't you and enjoy our little neighbourhood.

See you then!!

My family.

On the morning that we were to get our photos taken by Analiese (from *Dimples* by AnalieseJane) Ronin fell onto his face and bruised his cheek.
Can you tell?

Analiese's photos have basically confirmed two things that I pretty much already knew.
1. She is an awesome photographer with some leet photoshop bruise removing skills.
2. I have adorable children!

 See? So cute. (If only this were a perpetual reality because they were both little nut cases today...)

I actually really dislike having my photo taken partly because of the regular boring reasons (wah wah my eyes are crooked blah blah) and partly because I think that I look especially stupid in posey photos.

These photos weren't like that. With occasional guidance (lighting and composition ideas) Analiese just took photos of us being a family and when Ky decided that he wanted certain photos of him with his boys she was more than happy to oblige.

 (Fun fact: Ronin is eating grass in the photo on the left and is shoving a flower in his mouth in the photo on the right... Just keeping it real)

The turn over between getting the photos taken and getting the link to the online gallery of our work was fast, and I was SO happy with the photos that she chose to send us. Especially because she sent through the photos of us being real as well as the ones of us being atypically (comparatively) good looking.

I love this photo... (that green colour in the back? One of my favourite colours in the world)

And I love this photo even more... because this is basically the story of my life. Kyle laughing at something (probably something that he said himself) and me looking at him just like that.

It's REAL!
I suppose that's the take home message.

Photography is awesome because it captures real moments that are worthy of remembering - and I love those real, honest photos much more than posed photos. Analiese was great because she made the boys feel comfortable (Gabriel LOVED having his photos taken) and let us laugh and parent and joke and just be ourselves and still managed to make us look good!

Gabe's mismatched socks :) He was really worried he was going to fall off Ky's shoulder.

Sometimes it's a difficult thing to prioritise family photos when other things come up (like power bills and registering your car and all those other gross real life things) but you can't really put prices on memories like these. I have a lot of photos, a lot of them have great memories attached to them, but they don't look super nice like these ones. Why bother paying to get photos taken? BECAUSE THEY LOOK BETTER. You know... cos it's their job!

Good photographers have skills that you probably don't.
I know how to use photoshop to make art, I can even edit some photos but making beautiful photos isn't my job. Thanks to Analiese I even know how to shoot using the manual settings on a camera... but my photos don't look like these.
Also - I am usually the one taking photos and so there aren't a lot of photos of me and my boys together (selfies absolutely do not count) so these photos are amazing for me.

I have already ordered prints.

Ky and I have set a goal to get photos taken every year to track our families growth.

 It is worth it.

The Elm Tree - Handmade in Australia

Not long before the Samurai was born I decided that I really wanted to set up a business that sold handmade goodies and then taught you how to make things... it seems rather counter productive to teach people to make the things that you are also trying to sell them, but I am standing by my initial business plan.

I have awful timing. Brand new baby + brand new business = stress, and when it came to the 'something's gotta give' point it was naturally the business that gave.
I just couldn't do it on my own.

Enter Katie.
Katie has a lovely daughter the same age as the Samurai.
Her husband is studying full time. (like mine)
She speaks Mandarin after living in Taiwan (like me!)
Best of all, she is in the perfect position to be going into business with me.
BEST of all she is WILLING to go into business with me.

So we have been working our butts off this past month putting our application into the Parramatta Council to be part of the Pop Up Parramatta initiative that places creative enterprises like ours into vacant commercial properties.

We've been meeting with stockists, working out budgets, calling in favours with trades-people we know, re-purposing furniture we pick up from the side of the road, meeting with the bank, taking photos, sourcing materials... and having a lot of facebook chat conferences hahaha.

Half (or 2/3) of the space of the store will be dedicated to selling the work of local artists and designers in a marketplace style set up. All our products will be aimed at children, with a focus on sustainability.

The rest of the space will be used as a classroom where we will teach crafting and art classes for children and adults.
We just want to bring the focus back to the community, to makers and craftspeople and away from the commercialism of big stores.

That's the goal.

If you or anyone you know would like to be part of a shop like this, as a teacher or as a stockist (we sell on consignment - no commission, only rent) please contact us { } 

If my boys had a room like this...


 Light and organised and tidy and spacious.

I don't think they mind very much that their room is only about half the size of this room with a window that overlooks the carpark (and cemetery beyond) because, well, the Samurai is 8 months old so what does he care, and the Angel is far more interested in the boxes of toys that take up any floor space he might have had to play on. He happily (and regularly) takes over the living room if he needs space to play.

But if they had a room like this I can guarantee that the art on their walls would change very frequently, and would be photographed often. Frankly - this is the only honest reason why I wish the boys had a room like this... because I am tired of being disappointed by the photos I have been taking of my work... my complete lack of space (and professional stylist) are frustrating. As for the boys? as far as they're concerned, the whole house is their room so they don't care if they have a schmick and nicely styled place to sleep (thankfully)

Photos of my work will be coming soon, and stuck all over etsy and the new selling platform Nookroad (check it out) but it takes me a while to think up descriptions (I won't pretend that they're witty) and click through all the categories my work fits into and enter sizes and postage costs and all that other stuff. So I have cut some corners and posted all my current prints on the blog for you to have a look at. (Click on the 'print sale' tab along the top) When I get some more time I will be moving them onto etsy, but you'd be doing me a favour if you bought them from here so I don't have to put them up hahah... yeah.


The Elm Tree: the real life shop  is coming some time next month and everything has been super busy getting it sorted out. I have had zero time to do art or anything very creative so I have to apologise (again) to those with subscriptions. I am putting together something special to make up for my tardiness! Promise!!

If you are interested in being part of our store I will be posting more details soon.

Sick days

It seems like every winter I am bemoaning the same things. It is probably indicative of some kind of disastrous vitamin deficiency ( :( ) but every time the weather gets cold our house needs to be quarantined. We are the tag team family of phlegm (ew) as soon as one member of the family has wrestled their illness into submission and reached a state of wellness the next person leaps in to the sick ring. Last winter I remember having to cancel nearly every social commitment we had because we didn't want to infect our friends.

Everyone is slowly recovering and so the days here are punctuated by naps. Family naps.

I came out of my 'office' (I have my computer set up in the angel's room) and found this.

ps. Ky dressed them - and obviously dressed himself - and they're matching. Pretty cute. The room was really dark so these are the clearest photos I could get - and it took a lot of tries to get them. Blur city. 

Love your camera

I have always felt a bit limited by words, which might be one of the reasons why I love art so much. That's not to say that I don't love words too - I read a lot, but sometimes you can say a lot more with an image. You know...

1 picture > 1000 words.

However many words a picture may be worth, learning how to take nice photos has always been on my list of things to do.
Reading other peoples blogs and seeing how awesome their photos are has only served to remind me almost daily how badly I wish I knew how to do more than just take an 'auto' photo.

So on Monday morning Analiese sat down with me and schooled me on how to use a DSLR - it's my mums, but after this she'll be lucky if she gets it back... (don't worry mum, I know that you're very very lucky)

For anyone who is interested in learning more about using your camera then I would absolutely recommend going to one of Analiese's classes. I have spoken about her before on this blog, so if you have a good memory you will know that she is a relative of mine, but asides from this and her being generally awesome - I really enjoyed learning how to take a decent photo.

The benefit of her 'Love your camera' course was in the absolute personal application of it. It wasn't just about learning how to use a tool for sake of being able to use a tool, but the whole conversation (it was one on one so it was informal and relaxed) applied to how I would be using a camera after I left the class. So while I haven't taken any other photography classes (ever) I still think that it is a great reminder even for people who have.

She went through all the auto and semi-auto settings on the camera and then we took a bunch of photos fully manual, which was around the time that my boys all came back from wandering around the park and so I was able to take some photos of them.

Analiese is predominantly a family photographer, but this class is about learning how to use and love your camera so that you can use it to tell the stories that you want to tell in the way that you want to tell it. There was no pretentious 'only shoot manual because everything else is cheating' or anything like that, but I am excited that I can apply the things that she taught me (and use the little cheat sheet of notes she gave me) to my point and shoot camera - which also has a manual setting.

I'm totally putting pressure on myself to produce good photos on this blog now, but with a shop opening in the works and life as hectic as ever, it is really nice to have some more skills in my arsenal and great as well to have been able to spend some time doing getting something from my bucket list ticked off.

Analiese has a class coming up later this month (on the 20th)  so check out her website and send her an email if you are interested in a spot there - or if you would like to have a class like me just one on one, email her for more info.

ps. Obviously Analiese took the photos of me taking photos - she sent them to me (because I'm vain and I asked for them) and they had a number for the file number. I totally renamed it 'eleanorisaphotographer' hahahaha. One class and already I'm all like 'woo check me out' Hi-larious. 


Kyle served a mission for our church in Washington DC. I served one in Taibei.

As you might imagine, living away from home with a strict set of rules, working hard to share something that is deeply personal (faith) with a lot of people (most of whom reject your message) can be quite challenging.

Recently Ky was asked to make a short documentary style film for his course - using a voice over and photo montage.
I don't think that either of us are overly preachy people (obviously asides from the time we spent actively being preachy as missionaries) we just live our lives and let other live theirs and our relationships with people are not contingent upon them agreeing with our lifestyle nor us with theirs.

So it was somewhat surprising to some people in his class when he produced a film recounting part of the personal journey that he went on as a missionary. It's not really about being Mormon so to speak, it's not even really about God... it's just about a journey.

I drew some of the images for him to fill in the holes where photos were absent. The girl who appears in reference to girlfriends never actually dated him (he actually went out with that girl's friend) - he just didn't have any other photos.

And as a final note - I hate that last photo. I totally wasn't ready for the camera to go off. Boo.

Oh this?

Some days I am so overwhelmed by everything, or just so out of sorts that I feel like I am faking everything I do.

On those days I wonder if it is really obvious - just how much I don't know about what I'm doing.

Some days it probably is, but other days less so. 
In any case, it helps to remind myself that everyone has their own issues that they're carrying around. 

Maybe not as obvious an animal perched on my head... but still. 

I drew this a few years ago. My brother just let me borrow his computer monitor and so I have been able to get back into a whole lot of my art that has been locked away for months since my screen got wrecked.  

Mum, Oma, and Grandma

When I was pregnant with the angel Ky and I helped his parents pack up some of the rooms of their house in preparation for getting it ready to sell. For me - quite pregnant - that meant that I was packing up Sue's craft room - which was extensive and totally awesome. One day I will have a craft room like that. With shelves of fabric, (maybe paper and paint for me) and all sorts of goodies in drawers around the place.

There was a whole basket full of fabric off cuts in various sizes and patterns that I looted like a fabric pirate. (The rest went into the bin, so really I was rescuing it)

I am a total quilting noob, despite my mum being super awesome at making quilts and my mother in law having a quilting business - but I thought I would give it a go.

I cut the fabric wrong, I didn't even iron some of it, I sewed it however I felt like, and my general lack of precision left me with a quilt top that wouldn't sit flat ... and it was seriously frustrating.

My mum saved me. We used my patchwork compilation as a fabric which we cut up and mixed with some yellow she had to make squares which we could get to sit flat. She very recently finished it up for me - quilting it on her machine.

So... it all started as fabric remnants from Grandma, got messed up by Mum, and saved by Oma.

More than 2 years later, here it is. A very Swedish looking (in colour) kids quilt.

Lessons learned (or revised)
 1. Be precise. 
 2. My mum is awesome.

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