Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Getting our Art On at McClelland Gallery

When I first moved to Melbourne I got a job at the Cafe at the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park in Langwarrin. As a uni major in Art history and anthropology it was both a beautiful and inspiring place to work. 
Funnily enough Bug and I visit the Gallery now far more than I ever went before my mini mite came along. taking Bug gives me a completely different appreciation for the sculpture park. She loves the colours and reflective services of many of the sculptures, that I previously may have barely considered. 

She can interact with a lot of them too, walking around them, touching the surfaces and feeling the different textures.  This week the abstract Red Yellow and Black, 2002, Peter D Cole, (above), and the flock of silver sheep (below) (Sheep Miracle, 2005, Yvonne Kendall) were particular favourites of hers.

Whereas I have a soft spot for the white stone balls (which I didn't get the details for, oh dear! shocking for an arts graduate!!). When the girls are older I imagine them having a ball (haha) playing throughout this brilliantly, but simply, interactive sculpture. I think you could get some amazing black and white photos taken too. 

(Reflective Simulations, 2012, Gregor Kreger)

I love how she reminds me that Art can be engaging, playful, fun as well as inspiring, thought provoking and beautiful (not always in the classical sense of attractive).  I love seeing her little imagination develop the the way she approaches, reacts, and interacts with various sculptures. I love that she will run excitedly towards works that capture her attention. Even in the inside galleries she is often quite engaged by the works.  

And if your mini isn't that enamoured by the swirly stone labyrinth or apocalyptic street corner (complete with functioning traffic lights) emerging from native bush, and can't be distracted by the icy figurative sculptures photographed inside (Martin Hills Watershed exhibition is currently on, breathtaking!), you can always just turn your visit into a leaf collecting, stone clambering, stick doodling nature walk, or you can take a break by the lake and hangout with the ducks! 

Facts and Figures

About 50mins drive from Melbourne central.

Open Tuesday till Sunday

Free entry unless there's a specific event or exhibit on (donations appreciated, and bug loves dropping coins into the box).
Information about exhibitions (the three exhibition spaces inside the gallery change regularly), and events (including guided tours, art chats and children's activities), can be found on the Gallery's website.

The Cafe opens for brunch and lunch. They do lovely food, but if I'm really honest I wouldn't bother taking my dad here (he's more of a pie, or fish and chips kinda guy), however it's a great place to meet up with girlfriends for coffee or lunch. The menus small and seasonal and includes kiddie offerings ($9), main meals ($12-$21) and there's coffee, a variety of teas, sweet treats, soft drinks, beer and wine on offer too.  High chairs are available.
You can, of course, bypass the cafe all together and bring your own picnic.

Dogs welcome if on lead. You must clean up after them and take their rubbish with you.

Not all artwork can be touched or clambered upon. Please keep an eye on your minis, and respect the signs. 

I've taken my pram here several times (Bug walks mostly now) and most of the track is accessible but an off road pram is defiantly better.

Loads of parking available

Friday, 21 March 2014

This week

This week we:

Made - this lemon meringue pie to say thanks to my MIL for her help with Bug. (Easy, but read the comments, I accidentally put the full amount of sugar into the lemon filling, and it was still quite sour so use less lemon),
Banana Bread to keep in the freezer (I turned mine into muffins, didn't bother with the topping, eliminated the sugar and used 1/3 C maple syrup, and extra banana instead... just cause). 
A Super easy mobile

Visited - the Springvale Markets, where we brought dragon fruit, super fresh salmon and pork belly.   Having never cooked pork belly I used this recipe, amazing! 

And the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park (more detailed post to follow).

Learnt-  how lucky I am to have the health system we do in Australia when it comes to new life
How brave my daughter is, she barely flinched with her 18 month injections. She's so amazing (and she gives the best squeezy cuddles! Mwah!)

Am waiting expectantly for both my mum (8 days!) and second daughter to arrive

Have a great weekend


Monday, 17 March 2014

Cruisey Crafting: easy cloud mobile

I wish I was one of those crazy super talented crafty people (see here, and sigh with jealousy). I want to be. I have 100s of ideas I want to try, projects I plan to accomplish, but I'm usually too ambitious, and I tend to be a bit impatient and gung-ho when it comes to completing something.  At the moment, creating in snatches of time between the demands of family means well it kinda doesn't happen all that much. And yet I still doodle my ideas and dreams into sketch books and think one day... Well this little mobile is something I successfully whipped up in about 10mins, it cost next to nothing, and best of all it looks pretty good.

Step one. Choose some paper and cut in half. 

Step 2: draw a cloud shape and cut through booth halves of the paper

Ideally run a strip of double-sided tape along the bottom of one cloud. Begin at the middle attaching different lengths of ribbon to your cloud.  If you can't remember where you put your double-sided tape (baby brain!), or don't have any just stick each ribbon individually. Try and keep your spaces as even as possible. 

When you've completed attaching ribbons to one cloud swirl on some glue and stick the second cloud on top. Hold down with a heavy book for a few minutes. Then leave to dry. 
Use a hole punch to put a hole in the mobile at the top and thread with a ribbon, or some embroidery thread, or bakers twine. 



Thursday, 13 March 2014

Berry picking, nibbling, and discovering

We went berry picking on Monday (Labour weekend). There's a wealth of places throughout Victoria to do this, and  The Bramble Farm is not far from home. I used to drive past everyday when I was working, we finally called in today. I think Bug was in heaven, (she is a berry fiend). She loved picking the berries herself, and had a great time playing peekaboo between the rows of fruit and running madly between Bwb and myself.

Taking your kids to places like berry farms or growing your own vegetable gardens (a project I've been putting off but MUST begin this spring), or both, is so important when you live in suburbia. It connects children with the earth and seasons, teaches them where their food comes from, and shows them the time and effort involved in producing food. Not only that, but eating fresh and seasonally means the food tastes better too. I grew up in an orange orchard, and I can't buy oranges from the supermarket because I know I will just be disappointed. They are picked too early, stored too long, and just don't taste as sweet and delicious as they should.  It's sad because people believe that's what an orange tastes like, when it shouldn't. Anyway.. 

With our scrummy haul in hand we traipsed back to the little stall to pay. (Passed the horses too which really made Bugs day)

The lady was lovely and super enthusiastic, and she let Bug taste some of the frozen berry's available, which are freshly frozen in season (the blackberries don't start until November) chemical free and so much better than the imported supermarket ones I have to admit to having in my freezer, but no more, we'll be popping back here regularly now.  You've got to support places like this so that they don't die off. 

Anyway with my 3-weeks-to-go belly (always a conversation starter) the lady pointed out that their Raspberry extract (raspberry juice boiled down with a touch of lemon juice and sugar added), has all these amazing health benefits, including helping your uterus shrink down after childbirth.  Its also supposed to be good for gastro, IBS and other stomach/ digestive issues, and has anticancer benefits. Further research suggested it may work similarly to raspberry leaf tea, shortening and easing labour.  Considering its so natural - and derived from things I eat anyway, it certainly cant hurt to try.  She also mentioned they've had customers who have used it successfully to treat infants reflux and colic.  Now I wouldn't be giving anything herbal, natural or otherwise to babies without consulting a doctor, midwife,  natropath or other health professional, but I am intrigued (I would much rather give my child raspberry juice than colic medicine with god-knows-what in it), and would love to know more.

If you've had success with Raspberry, or any other berry extracts (blackberries for coughs, heart and circulation, blueberries for Alzheimer's, kidney issues etc) I would love to hear your stories.

Facts and Figures

The Bramble Farm is located in Langwarrin, about 40mins from the city, which I can highly recommend. The farm is clean and well organized, the staff are friendly, and its very well priced. You can get a pre-frozen family pack 1kg each blueberries, blackberries and raspberries for $50.  PYO is done by the weight of the fruit you pick, and there is  a wide selection of jams, preserves and honeys available also.
The signage on Cranbourne Frankston Rd is good but look out for the sign at the gate, we missed it and had to drive back, and it is a dirt road so don't wash your car right before you go - like we did!

If your on the other side of the city or looking for other pick your own options, you can find a whole list of farms here.

Our breakfast this morning, cheats bircher muesli and fresh raspberries. Yum

Monday, 10 March 2014

Baby Hands, Simple Decorations and Keepsakes

Little handprints are the cutest things, but they can be super hard to capture. While I find it really hard to get Bug hold her hand flat in order to get a clear print, and yet my mirrors have beautifully clear little prints all over (sigh). I have found, though that she thinks getting her  hand traced is pretty cool. Yeah she still wiggles her fingers a bit, but you can edit the print (filling in gap's, straightening out wobbly bits) afterwards.

The beauty of tracing is you can cut the prints out from basic white card and use them as a template to make as many sets as you want. You also don't have to worry about where on the original paper your child puts her hand because your cutting the prints out anyway, so even if some overlap or are upside down it doesn't matter, just choose the best ones to cut out at the end.

I traced the template onto pretty paper giving me an instant grandma pressie, (I hope to mount on white card, along with Bebe's hands (when she arrives), date and frame).  Another set will also make a great addition to Bugs photo album. There's loads of simple potential projects. A hand wreath, or bunting would be cute. And at Christmas time you could make simple, but effective gift tags.

But my main project became Bugs gift for Bebe. While on the Dolls in Dolls website I found a blank wobble toy (it has a little bell inside, Bug loves shaking it about), and decided it would make a great project. My problem tends to be settling on a particular theme or idea. I get overloaded with potential concepts and find it hard to settle on one. But eventually I decided on black and white and red themed based upon the theory that those are the colours babies see best. After using two coats of black acrylic I used a thick layer of gloss varnish to stick two of Bugs hand prints on. 

Due to the pear shape of the doll the hand wrinkled a bit. Decoupage instructions suggest a damp sponge can smooth out bubbles and wrinkles but I think little nicks in the paper to accommodate the folds would have been a better plan. Over the next few days I applied several more layers of varnish, and I'm actually quite happy with finished result. 

A word of warning though, now almost every time we colour I'm expected to trace around her hands, and once, her feet. Are you sure you don't want me to draw a cat I ask, no she replies, hand! OK Bugelicious you win... 

The Facts and Figures

Costs: Depends on the project. For Bebe's gift, I used black acrylic and varnish I already had, same with the spotty wrapping paper, so it cost me $9.95 for the blank wobble doll. It might cost $15-$20 if you needed all the supplies. 

Gift tags and paper bunting would be super cheap if you already have a craft stash of paper and ribbons. 

I was thinking preschoolers would enjoy tracing the hands of each family member, and choosing paper to represent each person. Then after mum or any other adult helper has cut out the prints they can be sorted into size order or other patterns. They can be mounted and dated as a alternative snapshot of 'my family'. 

Let me know if you come up with any other fun handy projects. 


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Showcasing Local - Pure Poppet

In my quest to be super organised (so unlike me, but a girls gotta start somewhere right?), I've brought a few gifts for my neices with birthdays in April as I dont know how good my time management skills will be in those first few postpartum weeks. 
While walking into Big W and stocking up on cheap, super popular plastic toys that are sure to please, is easier, it kinda depresses me to do so. I'd rather find gifts that are a little unique, a little quirky, and made with, well, a little more love ( rather than massed produced in China).

Fortunately there are amazing options available if you do a little digging, and sometimes a lot of online searching (which I'm a little torn on as a buying online supports a lot of amazing eco products and handmade crafters, but potentially causes a loss of physical stores, and thus their staff... But all that is quite a different debate).  Which gives me the perfect opertunity to share Pure Poppet play makeup with you.

Now I'm firmly against enougageing young kids to grow up too quickly, so I love that these products are marketed to boys and girls alike, and encourage creative, imaginate, dress up play, rather than 'being like mummy'.

Not only that, but they are made in Australia and free from chemical nasties. The packageing is super cute too (an added bonus for those who love good product design).

Sweet P (turning 4) loves dressing up as a princess, highland dancing, Dora the explorer and her 'really, really fast' scooter. I got her a Natural Face Paint Pack as the last birthday party we all went to, she got her face painted and lasted 5 mins before yelling at her mum to wash it off. I think it was the drying, tightening feeling traditional face paint has that she disliked, but Pure Poppet uses coloured mineral powders and the crayons are made from coconut oil and beeswax, so will avoid this.  Best of all, most products wash off gently with warm water and a cloth.

Hopefully I can do an follow up post when Sweet P gets her gifts,  in the meantime I found this review (via Pure Poppets blog) by a fellow Mummy blogger.

The Facts and Figures:

Available at Pure Poppet, and there's a list of  other stockists on their website.

Costs from $4.95 for singles packs of mineral powders, crayons, lip balms etc, or a pack of 5 stencils, to $54.95 for play packs with 8 yummy items for hours of play. (Postage extra and determined at check out)

Pure Poppet suggests most of their products are suitable for mini's 4+.

Photos  are from Pure Poppets, please don't use without permission. Thanks muchly!