Tag Archives: weekend

The art of slow

4 Jul

The Drama Queen taking it slow

I read a blog post by Melbourne Mumma on Saturday morning.  It was about how she much prefers to lead a slow paced life despite how we’re expected to be on call and in touch every minute of every day.  And it was about how she’s torn between the desire to live simply and her innate need to strive and achieve.  I related to her summary of the Mummy / Career dilemma so well.

Having kids has completely changed the professional outlook I had.  I fall neatly into the ”career woman who earnt good money working long hours and taking work home then had kids and don’t ever want to return to my old career, but now at a crossroads” cliche.

I’ve also had a similar dilemma, how am I going to meet the two desires in my life – the desire to love and nurture my family and my desire to continually grow, achieve and improve for myself, particularly when I have no desire to return to the life or career I had before I had children?  Drawn Outdoors is my solution.  It will provide me with the ability to set the agenda and direction for my business, and give myself the opportunity to really satisfy my soul.

But the idea of living slower got me thinking.  How would I go without a mobile phone or computer for a day? I set myself a challenge, yes it was only a day, maybe I’ll try a whole weekend next time.  By the end of Sunday I’d kept strong, I hadn’t logged onto Facebook, checked my e-mail or looked at how many people had read my blog.  I didn’t surf the net for random, yet extremely useful pieces of trivia and I hadn’t sent a single text message.

I wasn’t any worse off.  I hadn’t lost anything, but had gained time to spend with the people who are important in my life.  True, we spent that time unpacking more of our mountain of stuff (which raised another question, how much stuff do we need?), but we spent it together unencumbered by the pressure technology places on our lives.

I know I’m old school in a lot of what I do and how I do it.  I cherish the hand made and home cooked, and I’m a dedicated hand drawer. There is a freedom in the link between hand and mind that I can’t recreate on a computer.  But having said that, I know I need to tech up with Drawn Outdoors to create efficiencies, to work smarter and to create more time to take it slow (oh the irony!).

At the end of Sunday I took some time out to chat with the Drama Queen about how life was when I was her age.  She was mystified with the concept that TV wasn’t always colour and that back then there was no ABC Kids.  The concept that there were no DVDs stumped her – “how did you watch movies?”  And the fact that there was no Thomas the Tank Engine, Wiggles, Woody and Buzz or Ariel was just horrifying.  When I told her that we did have Play School and Mickey Mouse she sighed and said “Oh thank goodness for that Mummy”.  It made me realise that what we consider hectic, for her will possibly be slow.

So from now I’m going to make sure we take the time to stop, look and breathe.  Slow down.  Slow food – from the source, made from scratch.  Smell the roses.  Enjoy nature.  Get our hands dirty.  Appreciate our environment.  Be Drawn Outdoors.




27 Jun

It’s time to celebrate a couple of little milestones for my baby blog.  This is the 21st post, and who doesn’t celebrate a 21st?  It will also mark 1000 views, unless of course no one reads it, but I really hope you do. Helloooooo are you all out there???

To help celebrate I’ve given the blog a bit of a makeover, and I’m going to share with you one of my family’s favourite ways of celebrating.  I’m sorry, this post has nothing at all about gardening, landscape architecture or design, it’s just a bit of fun!

It’s ABBA time!

The Drama Queen and some classic Euro pop outfits!

It’s not a party in my family until someone dusts off the old ABBA CD and Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen get a run on the dance floor.  Actually, we don’t really need a dance floor, any space will do.  Give my Mum and her sisters a glass of wine, a bit of clear floor space and some good Swedish pop and they will dance up a storm, then the girl cousins join in, some of the boys (others are a little reluctant) and now the grandkids are all part of the ritual.  A celebration is rated by the amount of fun that’s had on the dance floor, and the number of ABBA songs we have sung and danced to.

My family well and truly subscribe to this mantra:

I should clarify here how important ABBA has been in my musical development.  ABBA Arrival was my first album, and my sister and I used to dance and mime to ABBA to entertain our relatives.  My Great Aunt had an ABBA album for just this purpose.  There were arguments and fights over who was allowed to sing to which songs between us, for some reason “When I kissed the teacher” tended to get the biggest contest.  My sister’s Hen’s night was to see Bjorn Again, I think I’ve seen them about 5 times now, and Mr Perfect can’t stand it!  Yes I know that’s not obsessive, I’m not a groupie, I just consider ABBA pretty important in my musical life.

So, when I found out that ABBA World was closing at The Powerhouse Museum, I knew it was time to pull my finger out and get myself there!

Unfortunately Mr Perfect was a little under the weather this weekend, so he missed out (though I think a little part of him was breathing a little sigh of relief), but The Drama Queen, The Daredevil, my Mum and I headed out on Sunday afternoon and emersed ourselves in all that is good about Scandinavian Pop.  We drowned ourselves in ABBA, and we had a ball.

The Drama Queen and I make a guest appearance in the Arrival helicopter

After a rocky start, the Drama Queen was styling it up on stage with the Scandinavian divas, the Daredevil was mesmerised, and Mum and I took turns on stage if the Drama Queen would let us!  There were tears when Mamma Mia came on because apparently the Drama Queen is actually the Dancing Queen and she wouldn’t dance to anything else!

I didn’t get to read all the pieces of endless trivia, we spent more time singing and dancing.  My Drama Queen rendition was only 55% pitch perfect – I already knew singing wasn’t a strength, only a dancefloor obsession! But I did better than the Drama Queen’s 27% for The winner takes it all!

The Drama Dancing Queen on stage

The Daredevil working the Karaoke booth

All four of us on the Waterloo cover

I’m sorry to say that the exhibition is now closed, we caught the last day, but it is travelling to Prague, so if you can afford a European trip, you can check it out there.  I’m just disappointed I didn’t get to go along with Mum and her sisters, that would have been hilarious.

Just one more classic piece of ABBA to leave you with.

Who can forget the cat outfits??

Happy 21st!


And then it rained.

13 Jun

I think I may have a weather curse. After writing about how nice the sun had been despite the cold, I think the clouds rolled in straight after I hit the publish button.  It started to rain not long after, and it hasn’t really stopped since.  So all those fantastic “get out into it” ideas I had for this long weekend went straight out the window.  I guess if you had a raincoat, gumboots and maybe a small dinghy you could have enjoyed some outdoor time, but if you were like us, you were well and truly entrenched inside, bunkered down for the weekend.

We had great plans for this weekend.  We headed up to the Central Coast on Saturday for my cousin’s engagement party.  A family gathering is never a small or quiet event for us, and the opportunity for a long weekend together proved to be too much to pass up.  A gorgeous sunny weekend would have meant walks, beaches (without the swimming), beer gardens and barbecues.  But a rainy weekend meant 9 kids, and 19 adults locked inside with no chance of escape – cosy, loud and very communal!

So this got me thinking, how can you maximise the potential of your outdoor space during the bad weather and still enjoy actually being outdoors when the weather’s fine, and not build yourself in?

First of all you need to accept that really bad weather does not equal the best time to be outside, and maybe a good game of scrabble or trivial pursuit might be a better option. But, having said that a few things come to mind to minimise the inclement and cold.  Some will work for gardens of any size, some will need a heap of space, and some are just a dream waiting to come true when you finally win Powerball.  But hey, a girl can dream can’t she???

The key component would be shelter – to be completely weather proof this would need to be constructed, and therefore would need some space.  Here are some cute little ideas I found whilst procrastinating researching online.

How good would this be?? from http://www.from-london-with-love.com

This one even looks like it's winter. From http://www.centrodionysia.org

This one has to be one of my favorites photo: http://www.lightlocations.com

So, realistically, if you have an average sized garden you may have space for a covered deck, small awning, or nothing at all.  It’s good to try and locate things like barbecues and outdoor furniture under cover, it keeps them safe from the elements, and you’ll have them for so much longer.  You may just have to be happy with what you’ve got and enjoy a good game of Jenga indoors.

If you do want to build yourself some all weather space bear in mind that you will want to try and maximise solar access so they don’t become dark, dank and miserable, and try and consider how the structure will be used in all seasons.  If it’s shading from sun in summer, will it let enough light through in winter to keep  the space warm and attractive?  There are ways and means of designing to maximise solar access, you just need to think about it a bit before jumping in.

Heat is so important in winter – if it’s not warm you don’t want to be there, and at night time there is only so far beanies and gloves can stretch.  Night time get togethers are so much more fun when you’re crowded around a heater or a fire.  Who wouldn’t love their own fire pit in their garden.  But if, like me, you don’t have the space for a small wood burning bbq, let a lone a fire pit, then a heater will have to do.  There are plenty on the market, so I won’t go into recommendations, but just look for one that’s portable and make sure you have the space to store it undercover in Summer when you really don’t need it.

Here’s an idea from AK47 that looks like it combines both fire and a more compact heater in one, how good would this be?  I just need to work out how to get one.

What a great idea if you'd love a fire but don't have the space!

If you can create them, a shelter and heat work really well when you can create a little “nook” for them.  The smaller the space, the more cozy it feels, and the more attractive in winter, though you won’t be having gatherings for 20+ people!

Another consideration to add to my garden design to do list!


Rug up and get out there.

10 Jun
OK, so it’s winter and it’s really cold, but that’s no excuse not to rug yourself up and get out there. That’s what gloves and beanies were made for.  Besides, while it may be cold and windy, that sun is still spectacular and warms you to your soul.  Make the most of the cooler weather and try and do some of the things that get harder when it gets hotter.  Note for  those of you reading from the northern hemisphere, yes, we know it doesn’t get that  cold here in Sydney, but we think it does, we’re like Goldilocks, as long as it’s not too cold or not too hot it’s juuuuust right, and that’s the way we like it

We’re at the point at our new place where it’s warmer to head outdoors during the day than stay inside, so here are my top 5 things to do on a cold but sunny winter’s day.  This long weekend have a think about giving some a try…

1 Plant some vegetables. It’s probably not something you would normally associate with winter, but there are some great winter vegetable crops you can plant and enjoy in your hearty comfort food concoctions.

The Drama Queen’s snow pea crop is starting to power, though her broccoli is a little out of season, so they aren’t doing so well.  Other vegetables you might want to try if you’re looking at some Sydney vegetable gardening, are carrots, parsnips and beetroot for root crops, broad beans, snow peas, Spinach and cabbage for the above ground types.  If you’re looking for something a little more herbal, try parsley, oregano or chives.

Pop's spinach crop

Just try and make sure you keep their feet warm with a bit of organic mulch (try sugar cane mulch it’s a great re-use of a by-product) and that you give them plenty to drink, Sydney winters are normally dry.

2 Go for a walk.  Winter is a great time to check out your local neighbourhood or try something a bit more adventurous.  There are a few spectacular walks in Sydney, one of my favourites is the Spit to Manly, a little bit of bush, and it can end with a wine or two and a nice meal.  The bonus of bush walking in winter is you don’t need to worry too much about snake spotting, they’re generally fast asleep.

Another of my favourite winter walking habits is playing tourist in your own city, and Sydney is a fantastic place to play tourist, The Rocks, Circular Quay, Opera House, Botanic Gardens and Art Gallery, you can’t beat that for a walking circuit!  and if you’ve still got puff left, you can always walk across the bridge to Kirribilli and Luna Park.

Me and the Drama Queen on one of our tourist adventures in the botanic gardens - and yes, this was in winter!

3 Do some garden renovation – lets face it some of the hard stuff in the garden is hot work, and in summer it’s just not fun.  Really, in winter it’s not much fun either, but if you can’t afford to get someone to do it for you, winter is the best time to do the tough jobs like re-mulching, pruning and building, then you’re all ready to enjoy what spring then summer have in store.

4 Share a wine in a sunny beer garden – So you’ve planted, walked, and put in the hard slog, me thinks it’s time for a reward.  I love spending time with friends and family out in the sun, and partaking in a drop or two of good Aussie wine.  Need I say more?  Just head on down to your local, find a nice spot in the sun and have fun.

5  Go skiing.  Oh how I miss our skiing holidays.  Since the Drama Queen was born we haven’t managed to make our way down to the snow.  Despite our pre children promises, it appears we have turned into those parents who stop doing some of the things they love when munchkins come on the scene.  Every June long weekend, when the Australian ski season starts I get a little pang of longing, and then every October long weekend, a little pang of regret that we’ve missed another one. So if you’re heading down to the slopes this weekend for the season opening, I am soooo jealous!  I can’t think of much better for a sunny chilly winter’s day than shooping down the slopes to stop for a hot chocolate and a chat.  Really, I think I spent more time with the hot chocolate than I did with the snow…

ahhhh... sun, snow and skis, can think of nothing better in winter

I’ll definitely be doing number 4, how about you? Stay warm and have fun!


Are you speaking my language?

3 Jun

The Daredevil is starting to talk.  I’m not certain what he’s saying, but I’m sure he thinks it’s really important.  He has a very determined tone, and there’s definitely a message he’s trying to get across, and when we work it out he’s really happy. It might just be that he wants the drink just out of reach on the table, or that the Drama Queen has just eaten his piece of banana bread, but when we decipher the babble, you can see a clear sense of satisfaction fall over his little face.  I’m just hoping that he doesn’t talk as much as his big sister!

A garden is a little bit the same.  It doesn’t speak english, french or german, but it definitely has a language all its own.  A beautifully planned and designed garden will speak to you on a number of levels.  It will awaken and enlighten most of your senses, though I generally don’t recommend nibbling on random gardens, a good vege patch will get your taste buds jumping.

A garden can tell a story.  Sometimes it will tell the history of a place through layers of design and construction.  It can tell the story of a gardener, and reflect their personality.  It might just simply tell a story of the seasons.

The landscape architect’s job is to become the story teller.  Instead of words and paper, plants and pavers become the vocabulary, and the more skilful the designer, the better the story.

When you have taken the time to plan, design and build your garden it will start to talk to you, sometimes sending very subtle messages, trying to tell you that you need to add a bit of fertilizer, spread a bit of mulch.  Or it can be a bit more in your face – I normally get the “we really need some more water” message a bit too late.

Winter is normally a quieter time in the garden, but it’s a good time to take stock, clear out and plan ready for spring.  Take some time out this weekend, sit out in your garden and try and work out what it’s saying – I hope you hear the water message before it’s too late!


Baby steps or giant leaps?

18 May

Well, I would consider last weekend a success.  I didn’t get 5 ticks in the boxes, but I came  close.  3 ticks and some amendments and a happy family at the end of Sunday.  What did I do, what did I achieve and did I take any baby steps or giant leaps?

I have this theory that every job done is either a baby step or a giant leap closer to an end goal.  Generally, at the moment my goals are finishing unpacking and sorting out our new place, designing and building our garden and getting Drawn Outdoors off the ground and growing.  Well, they are the big ones on top of the day to day – getting everyone out of bed, fed, dressed, cleaned etc… So, when I say this weekend was generally a success, here’s why.

I took a trip to the Riverside Farmers Market, which was a lovely start to the weekend, and tick number 1.  The Karma Soap Company, one of my Bizness Babes friends was holding her first stall there, and we (the Drama Queen, the Daredevil, my Mum and I) dropped by to lend our support. While I was there, I took the opportunity to not only do some of my weekly shopping, but checked out the plant and flower stalls for a little bit of garden inspiration.  I would love to include some productive elements to the garden, and herbs are high on the list of must haves.  The end result was a whole lot of really fun baby steps and a DramaQueen with a gorgeously painted face and a purple helium balloon! (more about the balloon later)

The Karma Soap Company stall at Riverside Farmers Market

Herbs glorious herbs

The second tick on the list was my trip into the blogosphere – I found a couple of new blogs, but confirmed my suspicions that there aren’t a lot of people out there in cyberspace doing much with landscape – so, my question is, does this mean there’s a gap in the market or is it an avenue no one is interested in travelling down? Add another thing to the Drawn Outdoors to do list…

The third and most enjoyable tick was our Balmain baby cino.  I got to catch up with the lovely Katherine and have a very girly chat and she got to grill me about what I was doing with this Drawn Outdoors thing – the process helped me work through a couple of issues I’d been wrestling with.  You see, Katherine and I have the same schooling. We’ve known each other since we were 7, and switched and changed schools together right through to University where we both studied landscape architecture.  So, if there’s anyone that understands why I think the way I do it is her, and I value her feedback and input immeasurably.

All up, so far a lot of little baby steps, very fun baby steps, but nothing I would call a giant leap.  Until I spent Sunday morning with a friend I met through the Drama Queen’s mother’s group.  Philippa is a marketing guru who, after many years in the corporate world is toying with the idea of heading out on her own.  She very generously gave me some of her time and expertise and helped me work through my branding for Drawn Outdoors – something I was having a bit of trouble getting my head around – finally one giant leap for the weekend. Needless to say I left with quite a few more things for my to do list, but a very renewed sense of purpose and direction.

In terms of my missed ticks for the weekend, the Drama Queen and the Daredevil were a little under the weather for most of the weekend, so heading out and doing anything too strenuous was pretty much off the agenda, instead I decided to make a baby step start to the garden – I did say baby step!  Both of my little people love being out in the garden, so we did a bit of seed planting.  Not sure that we used the most horticulturally sound techniques, but we  had a heap of fun, and that’s what it’s all about.

The Drama Queen hard at work being supervised by the Daredevil

Finished pots, and the Drama Queen hard at work

the Daredevil tried his hardest, but had more fun trying to destroy the Drama Queen's hard work

What happened to the balloon? Well, the Drama Queen learnt the hard way what happens when you let a helium balloon go outoors.  Many tears later, we had a house full of balloons, and had learnt that it was no use crying over balloons that had flown away when we could put that energy into finding more balloons to play with – maybe a good lesson for us all!

And yes, I did have my glass of wine!


So what are you up to this chilly weekend?

13 May

The forecast for Sydney is sunny but cold, again, as if we hadn’t frozen enough this week.  I’ll be drawn outdoors, rugged up and ready to soak in some bone thawing autumn sun to continue my search for inspiration and ideas for both my garden design and my slowly germinating business idea.  I’ll also be supporting some of my other Bizness Babes who are reaching some exciting milestones with their fledgling businesses.

There are so many things to do in Sydney to get your creative juices flowing.  Here are the top 5 on my to do list for this weekend, simple though they may be, I’m hoping to have 5 big ticks by the time I sit down with a nice glass of wine on Sunday evening.  Maybe I’ll see you somewhere…

1. Check out a farmers market – I’ll be heading over to the farmers market at Riverside Girls at Gladesville to stock up on gorgeous seasonal produce, and to support the Karma Soap Company.  Felicity will be selling her fantastic fresh goats milk soaps – the Drama Queen has a cupcake one and loves it!

2. Go for a bush walk – Our new place backs onto the Field of Mars Bushland Reserve, and I’ve been promising to take the Drama Queen for a bush walk since we moved in, so this might be the weekend.  Hopefully her cold clears up enough to make it happen.

3. Do some blog research – I’ve been trawling the blogosphere to try and find other good gardening or landscape blogs, but keep getting sidetracked, there are so many great ones out there. One that always has me giggling is Toldyah.  This is another Bizness Babe who has a huge idea, and I’m sure, knowing Tania there is nothing that will stop her.  Shhhh… can’t tell you too much more – but it’s very exciting!

4. Get out to the Million Paws Walk on Sunday – OK, I’m lacking one key ingredient for this one – the 4 pawed sidekick so this one might not get the tick, but what a great day for those of you with 4 legged friends to get out and enjoy the sunshine at Sydney Olympic Park.  Plus you can check out Best Dressed Pets.  They are a brand new business that are “Bringing back doggy style” – Go Deb!

5. Head out for a baby-cino – The Daredevil and the Drama Queen love their ‘cinos and banana bread, and one of our favourite end of weekend things to do is to head over to Balmain, check out the shops and have coffee and baby-cinos.  I love spending a bit of time book browsing, and Balmain has some fantastic independent bookshops – I think you might find me in the gardening section this week!

Got to love that baby-cino smile!

So, what are you doing this weekend??


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