Collected / Created / Uncategorized

Introverts, craft and creativity

June 21, 2017

EtsyxArtSeries-15

Hello little blog, it has only been half a year since I last talked to you. How did that happen?

It’s been a busy year so far, the harder we try to slow down the faster life seems to go don’t you think? Thankfully just at the point that I was about to reach burn-out the lovely folk at Etsy Australia invited me to attend a creative retreat they put together with Art Series Hotels in Melbourne. The tagline was eat, craft, sleep, repeat! How could I say no to that, it fulfilled all my leisure aspirations plus it was in my favourite Australian city.

Eat, Sleep, Craft, Repeat!

Eat, Sleep, Craft, Repeat!

The Etsy team kept us in the dark about the specific details, but kept requesting little bits of information that had me intrigued. They asked what I’m listening to on repeat (D.D Dumbo amaze!) how I take my coffee (long macchiato) and various questions that piqued my interest. The week leading up to the retreat turned out to be professionally challenging, and I was thankful for an opportunity to leave ‘real life’ at home for 48 hours. Having travelled a lot with children on planes, there is something magical that happens with air travel when you are a parent travelling with no kids. It’s a phenomenon that turns the plane trip into the ultimate relaxation opportunity – time to read magazines (check), an opportunity to watch a full movie with no interruptions (check), people bringing you food rather than the other way round (check, check, check). I arrived in Melbourne refreshed and ready for the weekend.

sunrise, melbourne

Sunrise over Prahran, view from my window at The Cullen

Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group organised for me to stay at The Cullen, one of their hotels in Prahran. I’d heard about the Art Series Hotels for years, but have never had the opportunity to stay there. The concept is right up my alley, a hotel dedicated to an artist. In this case it was Adam Cullen, one of Australia’s best known contemporary artists who famously won the Archibald Prize for his portrait of David Wenham. His work is featured throughout the hotel and each of the rooms have a stack of art books and interesting information. I love the neighbourhood of Prahran too, lots of awesome restaurants and the Prahran Market which is a foodie’s dream.

All the pretty things! So spoilt.

All the pretty things!

I entered my room to find the bed laden with presents that the team had thoughtfully chosen for me by clever Etsy makers (a gorgeous scarf by Squeak Design, the stunning book Flowersmith by Jennifer Tran, a sleeping mask by Orchard Rose, and beautiful calligraphy with our mantra, eat, craft, sleep, repeat!). Included was an itinerary and information about the workshops we would undertaking and a request to be upstairs at The Cullen Rooftop for afternoon tea at 2.30pm.

As I waited for the lift to take me upstairs my stomach started doing flip flops. Despite many people thinking that I’m an extrovert when they meet me, I’m definitely 100% an introvert and situations where I meet new people always make me nervous. I’m pretty good at hiding it, particularly after many years of having to put myself out there for work, but I would be perfectly happy to curl up in my bedroom with a book rather than face the task of meeting new people. Crazy, I know.

cake, cooking, food,

Divine afternoon tea at The Cullen Rooftop, yum!

Thankfully I pushed through, because I was rewarded with the most wonderful 24 hours of connection with a group of fabulous and creative souls. First on the agenda (after an ah-maz-ing afternoon tea) and brilliantly chosen to start our retreat was session of Meditation & Mindfulness with Manoj Dias from A-Space.

Manoj Dias from A-Space leading a workshop on Meditation and Mindfulness

Manoj Dias from A-Space leading a workshop on Meditation and Mindfulness (photo by James Douglas)

Mindfulness is the big buzzword at the moment, and I have to be honest and say that I’ve never really appreciated what meditation and mindfulness could offer me. But, as I sat there and listened to Manoj speak about what mindfulness is I had a bit of an epiphany. He talked about curiosity and kindness – two things I believe in wholeheartedly – but reframed them so that those two concepts were opened up to be both outward and inward focusing.

Many of us believe that we are curious, that we approach life wanting to learn but often our curiosity is explored within fairly rigid parameters – we are open to learning but only about things that interest us or people that we think are like minded. In any social situation we gravitate towards ‘our tribe’ or the people that we feel we will have something in common with. He challenged us to try things that we would normally decide are not our kind of thing, and to talk to people we didn’t (immediately) have anything in common with, to be truly curious about all things. I’m not doing justice to Manoj’s words here, but his message sparked a little fire within me and also made me think how brilliant meditation would be for my 6 year old daughter who can tie herself in knots with anxiety. (Note to self, check out meditation apps for children, or better yet attend more meditation workshops!).

craft, etsy, maker, textile

Contemporary Embroidery Workshop with Madi Astolfi

I left Manoj’s workshop feeling both grounded by his words and with my heart and mind wide open for new experiences. From here we broken into two groups to start a craft workshop. The group I was in headed to one of the gorgeous penthouse apartments to take an embroidery workshop with Madi Astolfi from Unpicking. Madi makes the most stunning contemporary embroidery creations – I adore her succulents – check out her instagram if you are after some inspiration.  Her workshop was so much fun, we were taught the basic embroidery stitches and had the opportunity to make our own piece of embroidery. I was surprised at how much I loved this workshop – embroidery has always been something I’ve assumed would be too hard and not really my thing. But in fact it was really meditative and relaxing. And there was lots of laughter and questions from my fellow crafters that made the time flash by. We were all inspired to finish the pieces we started, and though I suspect it might take me a few weeks to finish mine, I have decided it’s the perfect winter craft activity.  You can attend a workshop with Madi in Melbourne next month, check out the link here!

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The gorgeous Katherine Sabbath in the Fat Yarn Knitting Workshop (photo by James Douglas)

While I was doing embroidery, the other group were hand knitting an amazing blanket with Lynda Sharp from The Fat Yarn Store. This workshop also looked incredible, the blankets that everyone made had me wanting to start extreme knitting too. Lynda is doing another workshop as part of #etsyxartseries and you’ll finish a blanket by the end of the workshop – how cool is that!

Dinner details at The Olsen Hotel with recipes by Julia Ostro and hosted by Honor Eastly (photo by James Douglas)

Dinner details at The Olsen Hotel with recipes by Julia Ostro and hosted by Honor Eastly (photo by James Douglas)

After the workshops we had a bit of rest time before gathering in the lobby to walk to dinner to a surprise location. As we walked down Chapel Street we were all guessing where we would end up, until we spotted The Olsen Hotel up the street. We marched in past a beautiful John Olsen mural and went up to the incredible penthouse for the yummiest dinner. The menu was created by Julia Busuttil Nishimura and was based on recipes from her forthcoming book. Oh my goodness, soooo yummy and definitely soul food. The evening was hosted by the rather fabulous Honor Eastly from Starving Artist who led us through a series of conversational questions that had us turning to our dinner partners and listening intently, laughing raucously and generally having a grand old time. All my introvert leanings were cast aside. I collapsed into bed that night feeling grateful to have experienced so much; full tummy and full heart.

Breakfast in Bed, how spoilt was I?

Breakfast in Bed, how spoilt was I?

The next morning we were told to expect a knock on the door from 8am, and awaiting us was the bright and cheerful Etsy and Art Series team with breakfast in bed. Talk about spoilt! I think it has been years and years since I’ve been treated to breakfast in bed and this was the yummiest way to start the day. Of course all the food was served on handmade plates which really added so much to the experience.

etsy workshop details 5-1

Heading upstairs to the rooftop again I was keen to get started with another workshop. I was very lucky to attend a Calligraphy workshop with Chloe Flemming from Month of June Design. I love Chloe’s beautiful calligraphy, and having done a few online tutorials and workshops many many years ago it was fun to be picking up a calligraphy pen again. I found this workshop to be very meditative, the repetitive nature of practising the calligraphy strokes was hypnotic and really calming. The workshop sped by under Chloe’s excellent tuition and I could have kept going for hours. I would definitely recommend checking out the workshop that Chloe is giving on Saturday – it’s great for beginners and you’ll really get into the swing of it.

Gorgeous details from Cat Rabbit's workshop

Gorgeous details from Cat Rabbit’s workshop

While I was doing calligraphy the other group were making the cutest little handmade creatures with Cat Rabbit. I sat next to Cat at dinner and we had a great time chatting, I know her workshop would have been super enjoyable and I loved seeing everyone’s finished creatures.

We finished off our creative retreat with one more meditation with Manoj Dias, a little bit more delicious food and lots of lovely conversation. I jumped onto the plane already feeling nostalgic for my 24 hours of heaven, but content and recharged.

I want to say a huge thank you to the team from Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group and all the brilliant makers and creatives who I shared a weekend with. You guys were just what I needed to reset my creativity for the second half of the year. I love the concept that Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group have put together – you can book into your own creative retreat for a bit of super charged ‘me’ time. Details are here.

I was a guest of Etsy and Art Series Hotel Group in Melbourne but all opinions, thoughts, words etc are mine.

 

 

Collected / Foraged

With Flowers in her Hand

January 26, 2017

Week 3 - garden rose coco hand 3-1

So January, you’re almost over already! Feels like we’ve only just begun… I’m writing this while watching the Australian Open. One of my favourite ways to spend a Summer evening is with a cider in one hand, scrolling my Instagram feed with the other and the tennis playing in the background.  The ultimate in relaxation, pretending I don’t have a mountain of Festival contracts to write and process. But let’s not talk about that!

Three weeks into the start of 2017 and I’ve already recalibrated one of my projects for the year. I’ve realised a weekly gardening update is wildly ambitious and totally unrealistic. Hmmm probably should have thought that one through a bit better! There’s just not enough photographic material to sustain a weekly project, instead I’m going to focus on a monthly round up of our garden transformation. Much easier to show the progress we are making and it will be great to look back on each month to see what we achieved without it feeling like a chore to update weekly.

The girls and I had an impromptu photo shoot with some of the roses that are flowering from the 15 or so we planted over the last few weeks. My gorgeous eldest daughter is all about the serious pose at the moment, while the youngest adopts the fake cheesy grin that most 3 year olds do. We had so much fun taking these photos that I think I’ll start a new occasional series called With Flowers In Her Hand. Here are a few of the images we took:

Week 3 - garden rose Essie 2-1

Week 3 - garden roses Coco hand-1

Week 3 - garden rose Essie-1

I love the chubby hand of my three year old, I’m finding it hard to come to terms with her starting 4 year old kindy in a week. I’m not ready, she’s still my baby as well as my little companion. I love our days together,  we visit all the coffee shops in Perth on my days off, I’m not sure either of us is ready to give that up yet! I will miss her funny comments and loving nature. While I know she will be fine once she adapts to her new routine, I’m not a huge fan of schooling this early. Three and a half just seems too young to hand her over to the school system. Sigh.

This month has been focused on keeping life slow, a struggle given how busy work is for me. But important for our family as we settle into our new house and the girls start a new school in a week. I’ve been reading a bit about the cult of busyness lately and the idea really resonates with me. Time to stop glorifying being busy and instead celebrate quiet moments.

Week 3 - garden rose KD Hand-1

And on that note I’m going to switch off and read some of my book.

x Katherine

 

 

Created / Foraged

A new year

January 10, 2017

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2017. It’s hard to believe we’ve come full circle on another year. Last year finished at a hectic pace for me. Work was crazy and we threw moving house into the mix. I approached Christmas like a marathon runner, focused on making the distance but not seeing much around me. I just had to keep running… but we made it out the other side. Most of the boxes are unpacked and our house is definitely feeling like a home. In fact I find myself wandering about the house sighing happily, sitting in different spots and revelling in the beautiful light and details.

This house is our dream house – we love the suburb, the size of the house is bigger than our old house but not too big, there is space for the girls to have a play room and for us to have a study, close to the city but in a very quiet area. But best of all are the beautiful 1940s details like lead light windows and art deco features and the natural light that streams into the house.

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I have big plans for this year. The ideas are still circulating in my head, gathering momentum as I shape them. But one idea I’ve been planning for a while is to start blogging again. Getting our house ready for sale, looking for a new house and planning the move took up most of my spare time for the second half of 2016 and I let this poor blog fall to the side. A new year brings new plans and a renewed focus and I’m looking forward to picking up here again.

The one thing our new house doesn’t have is a garden (well two things if you include the kitchen, but more on that project another time). For a flower lover like me this is something I need to change immediately. We have the potential for a big garden but there is so much work to be done to turn it into a green space that we will use. We are up for the challenge, and I’m looking forward to journalling the progress here. My aim is to do a weekly update on the blog about our garden transformation. But in the spirit of a new year I’m cutting myself some slack, there will be some weeks where nothing happens, where work is too hectic for me to get outside or when we are away. And so while I have every intent to make this a 52 week project, the world won’t end if I miss a few weeks here and there.

Having said that, let’s start with week one! Any transformation needs a before shot and I’ve taken a few to record just how big our challenge is. Our house is on a corner block and we have a big front garden and a big back garden. Both have been neglected for some time. There is a random assortment of native trees, shrubs and dead grass. The front verge has three massive gum trees that are home to a beautiful array of bird life – Kookaburras, Red Tailed Black Cockatoos, Western Rosellas and more. The verges where we live are huge and there are lots of public parks and big trees, it makes it feel like you are living in a semi rural area, but in fact we’re about 5km from the city. Our back yard has a Jacaranda tree, home to a family of Willie Wagtails. When we moved in they were nesting and would dive bomb us if we got too close to their nest. It took us a few days to realise why they were so unhappy with us. The eggs had hatched and three little beaks were pointing up from the nest. It was such an amazing thing to see, and something special to show the girls. The babies have left the nest now and are flying around the backyard testing their wings.

To be honest there is not much worth saving in the garden apart from the mature trees. The rest we will clear during summer ready to plant in Autumn. Perth has awful soil, lots of sand that is water repellent. We need to do a LOT of work getting the soil prepared, fixing the bore and putting in reticulation. I’m finding it hard to be patient and work through this prep phase…I’m ready to plant ALL the pretty things!

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week-1-52-backyard-willy-wagtail-nest-1 week-1-52-backyard-jacaranda-1

Thankfully we have a big collection of pot plants that we brought with us and they are making the back garden feel a little more like home.

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I’m finding it odd having a garden without any flowers or familiar plants at the moment. Both my parents are avid gardeners and it is something I’ve come to love as I’ve got older. Now one of my favourite pastimes is visiting nurseries and thinking about all the beautiful things we can plant. This dreaming phase is good for the soul though, and making me slow down at a time of year that is ridiculously busy at work.

x Katherine

Collected / Foraged / Photographed

Week 26 – 2016: a photo essay from Exmouth

July 6, 2016

week 26-52 Exmouth from the air-1

It’s hard to believe we are past the halfway point of the year isn’t it? We’ve got a very busy second half of the year ahead and I’m taking a bit of time over the next week to think about what I want to achieve in the next 6 months as I know the time is going to fly by.

I’m really happy I’ve managed half a year of my weekly photography project. There have been a few times where I’ve almost faltered but thankfully I’ve pulled through. It seems fitting that the halfway point for this project is a series of photos I took while we were away in Exmouth.  read more

Collected / Photographed

week 17 – 25 2016

June 27, 2016

Oh hi little blog! I haven’t forgotten you, I promise.

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo of late, I think it has to do with winter and feeling tired. I’ve also done a bit of travel lately and a lot of reading for work which both cut into time in the evening spent at the laptop. But I’m easing back in to the blogosphere by catching up with my weekly photography project. Here is a round up of the last couple of months in photos:

week 17 - hydrangea-1 week 18 - web-1 week 19 - leaves 4-1 week 20-52 Coco flowers-1 week 21 - Coco balloons-1

week 22-52 Sydney flowers-1 week 23 Coco mask-1

week 24-52 pink flowers 3-1

week 25 - 52 delphiniums-1

A quick round up of subject matter going from the top: week 17 spotty hydrangea, week 18 a dew decorated cobweb, week 19 autumn colour from my mum’s garden, week 20 a chubby fist full of flowers, week 21 a super cute three year old on her birthday, week 22 floral gorgeousness from The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney, week 23 playing with dress-ups, week 24 a field of pretty weeds at my mum’s and week 25 the most beautiful purple delphiniums.

x Katherine