The value of crafting – hooray crochet!

As kids, my sisters and I always thought we were the lamest girls because we spent our holidays learning to do all kinds of crafts. Well, where we grew up malls did not exist and our winters were so long and excruciatingly cold, we didn’t really want to get out anyway.

Today I am incredibly grateful for those housebound holidays because I can spoil a friend or my family with something I made with my own two hands. It just says so much more than a store bought gift, because in this handmade gift lies my time, my feelings and my effort.

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Some crafts did not come that easily, and as it sometimes goes with mom and daughter, patience run out. But I did not give up, I took my crochet pin and a few balls of yarn, walked over to my Nan and did not leave until I got it right. Left handed or not!

Of course when boys entered the picture, the crochet kit was buried and was not resurrected until the other day. Finally I have time and head space for crafts again!

Don’t for a second think its like riding a bike, oh no! I had to learn the few basics again and made Mishka a beautiful thick blanket.

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A month ago when I featured the beautiful socks and ponchos from Little Yarn Shop I rediscovered this burning desire to create more than a simple stitch blanket. I contacted them and they offer beginners classes. Chane fro the Frogging Fox is an amazing teacher! I learnt to crochet fluffy hats and face rounds, so I am totally hooked again!

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There is so much more I want to do! If my mom did not ignite this crafty fire, I would never have thought I had the ability to make something so complicated myself. That is why I am exposing Mishka to crafts too. Even if she doesn’t enjoy every single activity, she will learn something about patience and ability, and perhaps one day be able to crochet a blanket for her own daughter.

It is also a connection point, an activity you can enjoy while spending time with others. This gift of crafting gets passed on from generation to generation, but it is also a way women can get together and share stories while sharing tricks of the trade.

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Mishka will spend some time with Granny Ronnie during our winter break, when it seems to rain forever in this part of the country. She still has plenty of time to learn before boys occupy too much of her thoughts and time.

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My advice to anyone who wants to start any craft, start simple, find the simplest pattern and a whole lot of youtube videos, set aside time, pour a glass of wine and just start!

There’s a teacher in every town, just ask and you will find. If you are in the Hermanus area @thefroggingfox will teach you a few tricks!

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I hope my crochet over-share inspired you to take up that craft you’ve always wanted to master! Not only does it keep you out of trouble, but actually has been proven to be imperative to your mental health:

People who exercised their artistic muscle were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can mean memory problems and reduced mental function, than those who didn’t partake in artistic activities. People who did a lot of crafts like woodworking and quilting were 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people who did not, and computer users were 53% less likely to develop it compared to adults who didn’t use the computer. Social adults were 55% less likely to have memory problems later on than their antisocial peers. BY ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN  – Times APRIL 8, 2015

Food for thought!

 

The Amazing Thornewood Treasures

The little world you imagine, with wood creatures, hollow trees and pretty little flowers, all of that comes to life with The Amazing Thornewood Treasures!

IMG_5906 They handcraft and paint every little piece, with so much detail and care.

Wooden toys are long-lasting and with such beautiful pieces you just want to treasure it for generations to come. Mishka loves the bunny family in particular, and come Easter they get special treatment.

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The treehouses are perfect for her Sylvanian families.

Thornewood Treasures also make the most wonderful rockers that double up as little play tables when you turn it upside down.

Pop over to their Instagram page to see exactly what I mean @thornewoodtreasures

Being a mother

Every mom has a unique experience, from the day you find out you are expecting a child to the day you die. Sometimes we forget that as women, our whole make-up, from our endocrine system to our physical appearance, all of it is part of the intricate honour of being able to bear and mother a child.

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The incredible and overwhelming emotional connection that starts, for some from the first sight of that positive line on the pregnancy test, for others somewhere in the second trimester, yet others when you hold your baby for the first time. It doesn’t really matter when, but that connection is undeniably the most important one of your life. And this happens with every child you bear. Not all women make good moms, but most women at some stage of their lives think of having a child, or consider what it may be like. Well, all I can say is quite simple and cliche, it changes you forever.

The month of May is all about Motherhood, it is also my Birthday month and that always reminds me of my mom’s experience as a mother to me. You see, its not just about being a mother, it is about being your mother’s child. So much of what shapes you as a person starts with your very first relationships and of course this starts with your family. We form our world views from what we experience in our family culture, and to me the culture in a two-parent home is often set by the mother. It was the case in my family.

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I can go on forever about what it means to me to be Mishka’s mom, but I can’t begin to think about my own motherhood without thinking about my mom and what motherhood meant to her. Yes, generational gaps sometimes cause us to misunderstand each other and our parenting methods, my mom certainly does not always approve of mine. But I learnt so much from my mother about sacrifice and about unconditional love. Raising five children is no easy task, and whenever I feel exhausted from a day driving around to get Mish to all her activities I remember my own mom taking an afternoon nap, after making sure all of us were properly fed, dressed in our sports attire and at our desks doing home work. I remember going into the off-limits grown up sitting room, where everything looked pristine and untouched, there on the couch, my mom with her eyes closed, at peace – I couldn’t get myself to wake her to let her know it’s almost time to get up and start taxiing us around. But never ever did she not wake up on time, it’s as if she had a built in alarm clock, it absolutely amazed me, to this day I am so grateful for every dress she fixed for me, every cake she baked for a school event, every beautiful word she said to make me feel better about disappointing life events.

Being a mother means you no longer think about yourself when you open or close your eyes, it means you never sit down without first thinking if your child has what she needs Being a mother means your heart breaks on a daily basis, and not the silly kind where a boy hurts you, no this heart break is for the little struggles your child faces everyday in the process of growing up, but you can only be there, you can’t change their experiences, because it is what they feel, not what you feel. Being a mom means constantly thinking about your child’s future and what you can do to make sure its a good one.

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I’ve also come to realise that all the things I wanted my mom to do differently, I now judge much less harshly, in fact, I now see how she must have felt or thought when she said and done the things that drove me so mad. Being a mother means you learn to see other’s point of views and be more empathetic, less judgmental. Being a mother means you have to say goodbye to all your preconceived ideas about what a good mother is supposed to be.

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All we can do as moms is our very best. We will be judged, by other mothers and worst of all by our children. But I take comfort in knowing that today all I have for my mother is respect, despite mistakes and fights and misunderstandings. Being a mother changed me.

Tips for raising an only child

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Life with an only child can get very interesting because all of our time and attention are focused on this one person. Mishka can come up with the funniest stories and interpret situations in ways that we never imagined. It got me thinking about what the impact of being an only child really is on her development now and in future.

So many couples have children later in life which makes it quite challenging and risky to have a big family. If I just go back to the time I was pregnant with our Mishka (I was 40 at the time) thinking how blessed I am to even be given a chance to fall pregnant. Worrying about a normal pregnancy, about a normal child to be honest. To go through all of that again in two years time just did not make sense to us, especially with chances of genetic disorders rapidly increasing from a age of 35.

Many other couples and even our families think we did Mishka an injustice to only have her, and that we were selfish in our decision. Perhaps it is true, but for us the other risks outweighed the risk of raising a “spoiled only child”. So we got creative and decided that we will make a concerted effort  to make Mishka’s life interesting, fun filled and integrated.

That’s why I want to share my experiences with other single-child parents and let you know that it is possible to raise a well rounded, socially integrated only child if you pay attention to a few little things from the beginning.

1. Plenty of activities

This is where Ian and I come in, we make sure we have plenty of play time together. I enjoy outdoor activities like getting on our bicycles and exploring our neighbourhood. We run down to the beach and catch and release rockpool fish. Ian spends time with Mishka indoors after work, they spend hours building lego towns and villages. Sometimes when he is busy in the garage Mishka’s curiosity get the better of her and she has to know what he’s up to, so much so that she now has her own basic toolbox!

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2. Pretend Play Kitchen, Doctor and Cleaning Sets

It also happens sometimes that we are just too tied up with work or other projects, but then Mishka knows how to keep herself busy. Only because we showed her how to pretend play and kitted her out with a backyard mud kitchen and gave her a mini cleaning set (no slavery I promise!).

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3. Crafty activities

Get a crate together with a few craft activities. For girls it can be anything from tying strings of beads to making masks with cardboard and glitter. Have it stocked and handy, when boredom kicks in it’s a matter of finding a comfortable space and opening up that box to transpose them to a beautiful world of creativity and discovery.

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4. Treasure Hunt

This takes a bit of effort from your side but the excitement and anticipation that go with this activity – Priceless! Get creative and have themes for the hunts. Make sure she learns something from it. Include her friends, maybe let her make an invitation for her closest two friends and make a play-date out of it.

5. Give only children the opportunity to interact with other kids

This can easily be done by enrolling your child for after school activities from an early age, this is a crucial time for your child to learn to socialise.

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6. Teach your child social skills

This is very important as only children are very easily perceived as being selfish and reluctant to share. You can prevent this by making a point of teaching your child how to share with you and then with other kids or adults. Reward children when they’re being considerate and administer consequences when they aren’t.

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7. Make a point of encouraging independence

It is very easy for you to make your child too reliant on you, it is just natural to protect and shelter your child, but unfortunately with an only child there is a very real danger of over protection. This can be avoided by being conscious of your actions and letting your child have fun on her own, give her some chores and responsibilities to emphasize her ability to function on her own (within reason of course).

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8. Be careful with your expectations

Now this is easier said than done because after all this is your only chance to shine through your child, there is only one. Haha, jokes aside. Having unrealistic expectations of an only child is a very common pitfall we sometimes just can’t avoid. I am guilty myself, I sometimes expect Mishka to participate in every possible activity, just to make sure I haven’t missed one or two hidden talents. But this can be very harmful to your child’s identity as she may feel that she has to be the best at everything.

My biggest piece of advice is to start the socialisation at home. It will take effort sometimes but setting time aside to get involved in her life, to share fun activities and to teach her how to be part of a team can make the difference between a stereotypical only child and a well integrated and liked human being.

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Slow Relationships – quality time with your daughter

It’s easy when they are little girls and they just hang on every word you say. Growing up means they start having their own opinions and sadly their own time. In between school and activities, not to mention all the shouting and motivating that goes into getting them to do homework – you might find yourself thinking if you do enough to spend real time with your daughter.

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Soon she will be in high school and then boys enter the realm. Parties and hanging out with friends. Where will I fit into her life?

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I decided to find a way for us to connect and do something that we can always come back to when those teenager years hit and we barely talk. I wanted to start a little tradition for just the two of us, special and away from the hustle and bustle.

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Picnics are special because there goes planning into it and having to know each other to pack the right things. I thought that this way she will always know that I know her, because she will find all her favourites in our picnic basket. And we all know that this changes over time and the only way to know is to be observant and to care about her likes and dislikes. This is a very simple way to make her see that I still see her.

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You can pick a spot and keep it the same, or you can explore and decide together on where to go next. We are so blessed with many very special spots, with nature and beauty surrounding us. We keep a nature journal to jot down the names of the places we visit and stick the treasures we find in it.

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I know that when Mishka is out in nature she is in her element and I hope that when she grows up and feels sad or alone, that she can suggest we take time out and pack a basket. I hope that she will find comfort in our time together and feel free to share her hopes, dreams and fears with me.

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Time cannot be bought or replaced. This is the gift I hope to always give my daughter.

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Easter activities – bring Autumn into your home

Easter weekend is a special time for Christian families and in between going to services and honoring the beauty of this time, kids also have time to play and explore with you.

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Ponchos by Heide from Little Yarn Shop

In South Africa Easter is during the beginning of our Autumn and our streets are covered in colourful displays of beautiful leaves. Grab a basket and something warm, find a safe spot to park your car and start gathering! Leaves make great garlands to adorn your home for Easter festivities.

It’s quite simple: collect leaves with petioles (the little stem at the end of a leaf) still attached. Back home, gather a few leaves into a posy and tie the petioles together with a piece of string, leaving a little bit of string available to tie to a long piece of string (the garland string). Make a few posies and then tie it to the string, evenly spaced. Wola! Ready to decorate your home with Autumn!

We may not go to the beach as often as in the summer months so we decided to bring the beach to us! A coastal terrarium is a great way to make use of the special treasures collected on those perfectly sunny beach days.

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You will need:

  • Beach sand
  • Small white pebbles
  • Coastal treasures e.g shells, driftwood, dried sea plants
  • A glass container
  • Succulents from your area

Line the container with beach sand followed by a layer of pebbles (be careful not to crack the glass container) and cover the pebbles with more beach sand until the container is half full.

Arrange the other elements on a flat surface as you plan to have it inside the container. Start placing one element at a time on the sand in the glass container. This is another very pretty addition to  your Easter table.

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Vintage outfits from @littlevictoryclothing

Our terrarium contains beautiful shells from Struisbaai beach, collected on a family weekend away. It’s a wonderful way to share memories and revisit special times.

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Spending time together during Easter is one of the best ways to commemorate the love of Jesus for his ‘family’. It doesn’t have to be spent indoors and cooped up all weekend, explore and collect and enjoy fun projects with your kids while you have a little bit extra time.

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We hope you have a blessed weekend!

SLOW FASHION – Lillie & Me

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Lillie & Me is a Cape Town based manufacturer of beautiful handmade genuine leather kiddies and mommy apparel.

You just have to browse through her Facebook page to fall in love with the teeny tine leather shoes and when you just think you’ve seen it all, she comes up with practical solutions to outings with your little one. I absolutely love the Diaper Clutch Bag – It’s got space for: a Full pack of wipes,  2 Diapers, Bum cream AND You can pop in your phone, keys and cash! This is perfect for a no nonsense mommy!

My days of worrying about diapers are long gone, but the genuine leather backpack with adjustable straps is my favourite at the moment. It is complete with a waterproof lining, perfect for your little girl or boy’s lunch box and extra clothing. The best part is that it is personalised with your child’s name on it.

So much care and love go into every design, including bibs and breastfeeding covers to mention a few of her products. To me this is exactly what I value about slow fashion, unique and not mass produced!

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Hop on over to Lillie & Me to see what I am on about.

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The M word

We became aware of the concept of mindfulness when our lives started moving too fast for us to make sense of it. One moment you are dating and living in a little apartment, the next you have a home larger than you ever imagined, a child in pre-school with activities every afternoon, keeping up with the Van der Merwe’s and just charging through life. It’s when someone else stands in your garden and admires the beautiful green haven, you realise, I don’t even notice it anymore, I don’t appreciate this enough. Then all the other questions follow, the ones bringing you to a stand-still and forcing you to ask what are we doing?

DSC_9299Fynbos crowns by The Flower Scene. Pretty dotty dress by The Curators 

 

It took us two years to plan our exodus, our liberation and freedom from all of this stuff, the racing about, towards more and more stuff.

In the process, I started reading up on mindfulness, because I heard it somewhere or stumbled upon it on social media, but it struck a chord. This is what it basically is:

 Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindful.org

 

That in itself is so much to grasp. It translates to not being too caught up in the noise, in the hustle, but to understand that you are here, in THIS moment, in mind and body.

Reach Out explains it as:

“Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way.

When a person is mindful, they:

  • Focus on the present moment
  • Try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future
  • Purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
  • Try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

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Feather & Lace Crowns @opgedollie

To me, this is core, non-judgemental. What does it mean? Try to imagine not judging a person, or an experience or a product.  As James Davis puts is:

Mindfulness is really the beginning, the first steps of soul consciousness. In order to see ourselves and others in a non-judgmental way, we must see ourselves (body, mind, emotion, world) from ABOVE. So mindfulness is taking control by going off-automatic-pilot, and it is the soul that does this.

Are you convinced yet? Me neither, it is still very abstract, an idea. How do we implement this? How do we live this? To clarify it for me I had to go back to an old time favourite source, which helped me all through my ‘wonder’ years (I wonder why this, I wonder how this) – How to for Dummies!

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According to dummies you should try and understand the three aspects of Mindfulness:

Mindfulness has three different aspects that operate together seamlessly to bring about a state of mindful awareness. Print out and pin up this list to remind yourself of what these are.

  • Intention – Your intention is what you hope to get from practising mindfulness. You may want stress reduction, greater emotional balance or to discover your true nature. The strength of your intention helps to motivate you to practise mindfulness on a daily basis and shapes the quality of your mindful awareness.
  • Attention – Mindfulness is about paying attention to your inner or outer experience. Your mindful attention is mainly developed through various different types of meditation – either formal, traditional or informal – when talking, cleaning or driving, for example.
  • Attitude – Mindfulness involves paying attention to certain attitudes, such as curiosity, acceptance and kindness.

Okay, so now I understand the concept, but how do I utilise this knowledge. Because when you are dealing with a real issue, can you go back and think about the three aspects and magically feel better?

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Mishka’s 1930’s dress by Romantiques

Dummies helped me again! With the RAIN formula:

R – Recognise the emotion you’re feeling. Name the emotion in your mind if you can.

A – Accept the experience you’re having. Yes, you probably don’t like the feeling, but the reality is the emotion is here at the moment.

I – Investigate. Become curious about your experience. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? What kind of thoughts are going through your mind?

N – Non-identificationSee the emotion as a passing event rather than who you actually are, just as different images are reflected in a mirror but are not the mirror. Different emotions arise and pass in you, but are not you, yourself. The most powerful step is non-identification. Have the attitude ‘anger is arising and will soon pass away’ or ‘sadness is coming up in me, and at some point will dissolve’.

Sometimes you just need to do one step, whereas at other times you may want to work through the whole formula. Practise using the formula whenever you can, so when things become challenging for you, you’ll find it easier to use.

 

We are still a long way from perfecting this practice, but we do it daily, at one moment or another, just reminding ourselves to recognise the beauty of our surroundings while rushing to be on time for a school activity, or accept that we have a challenge living through a drought but understand that our attitude will determine our outlook and possibility to find solutions for it.

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Gillian Coetzee

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A very special mention -Justine from The Curators picked out Mishka’s beautiful dress with pink ribbon,  the dotty dress and the skirt and shirt for our photoshoot

 

Rose and Vickory Co.

All our wooden goods are handcrafted and made with love. All items are hand painted, and colours may vary from images.

Please feel free to discuss all custom orders or ideas. We love to help your ideas come to life.

ROSE AND VICKORY CO. offers modern and unique handcrafted decor, educational wooden toys and an exquisite selection of apparel and accessories for babies and toddlers, as  moms and friends we were inspired by our little ones to pursue our dreams, and turn it into reality by developing our brand, and providing unique products to our clients.

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We specialize in creating customised decor, toys and more, and create timeless spaces, and endless fun for your little ones we are passionate about creating beautiful products and offer our services to create the things you wish existed.

Bear Bear & Me

One of my first suppliers was Bear Bear & Me. Comfortable and pretty shoes are irresistible! A beautiful vintage inspired footwear collection created by award-winning fashion designer Carmen Rochelle. Our footwear collections are classic, stylish and sometimes quirky and are inspired by shoes worn throughout the decades. Our brand aims to focus on hand-made artisanal footwear aesthetics with each […]