Author Archives: Corinna

On Our Bookshelves in December

December Book Review


Books, specifically the reading of them, play a pretty major part in our family’s daily rhythm. In the past I’ve written a few ‘bookish’ sort of posts but nothing consistent. So as part of my way to welcome in the new year, I’ve decided to give you a monthly (hopefully) round up of some of the books we have explored. I find book reviews like this immensely interesting (ok, think what you like. I’m a book tragic.) and tend to spend an inordinate amount of time browsing your reviews, then, dare I admit it, I often find myself increasing my bookshelf capacity to keep up with all the ‘must read’ titles I discover. So as part of my 2015 plans, I’m throwing this idea on it’s head and going to share my two bobs on the book review front.

Since today is the last day of December and for the past month almost all my read-aloud-to-the-children reading has been completely out of our Christmas basket, it seems a good idea to share a couple new titles which have become favourites.


:: Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen:

A passing glance as I walked past a bookstore while visiting family (trying hard to be restrained) caused this title to jump into my hands. And I’m so delighted it did. I highly recommend it. The story of a young girl and her family, living on the Nullarbor, relying on the weekly ‘Tea and Sugar Train’ to deliver provisions to their remote location. This book tells the story of young Kathleen waiting for the one extra special train of the year, the Christmas train. It’s arrival not only meant that her family would once again have tea, sugar and other provisions but she would also receive a gift. Her delight in the gifted book was tangible as was the joy evident in the exquisite illustrations. Forgetting to buy sugar and having to wait another week till the train came again was forgotten in the shear joy of a family celebrating Christmas.

As a side note, this train was still supplying those communities right up to 1996 – I had no idea until I read this story. Connecting the true story of such a remote community with a celebration which all (or most) children can relate to, Christmas, made this historical recount all the more poignant. It is probably the best Australian Christmas story I have ever seen (in my view) and the illustrations are beautifully realistic.


:: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, Illustrated by P.J.Lynch

This title is on many a ‘best of’ list of Christmas stories and now that we have a copy in our Christmas basket, I’m going to add it to our favourite list as well. The story of raw love and devotion is displayed both through the words of the well-loved storyteller, O.Henry, as well as the original illustrations by P.J.Lynch. It provides such a simple way to reflect and discuss the important things in life – love and generosity.


:: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, Illustrated by P.J.Lynch

Another delightful Christmas story set in Victorian times with the realistic illustrations transporting us back to that earlier period. The author says the she wrote this story to ‘Illuminate … the message of Christmas – hope.’ She certainly achieved this. The three main characters begin with an air of hopelessness but by the end of the story their lives are all greatly enriched by their relationship with each other.


:: Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble

This became the absolute favourite of my youngest boy. The illustrations seemed to draw him into the story and although the family life portrayed in the story is nothing like our modern, Australian lifestyle, he seemed to relate to them intimately. I think the underlying story of a family working together and the love they demonstrated goes beyond all boundaries and differences becoming a connecting link to the story being told. The sadness and hardship which was threaded through the story culminated in a better-than-expected solution and a delightful prospect for the future.

2014 Reflections…

The end of the year is drawing close. Christmas, with all it’s glitz, lights, parties and shopping seems to be surrounding me – although I feel rather insulated from it all this year, enjoying the simplicity of crafts and stories with my young family this advent season. It is such a delightful way to spend these hot, summer days – sipping iced tea and reading some of our new Christmas books (oh my, there are some beautiful books in our basket this year); drawing, painting and crafting engrossing everyone as gifts are created and quickly squirrelled away before they are seen. Memories are being made in our household on these quiet, homely days and I’m appreciating each and every one of them.

With this background of family and creative mess, I’ve been reflecting the year just past. I realise I’ve not kept up some of my plans with which I began January (consistency here in this space being one of those) but I also realise that this past year has been full of far greater richness than I had written in those well intentioned new year plans. I have delighted in a year of living in a new location, away from the normal, ‘expected’ activities and I’ve been able to chose, very intentionally, just how my children and I will spend our time – lots of time at home with adventures on the days we can go as a full family. The hours spent at home have been filled with heartfelt discussions with my ever growing children; all of us learning (or re-learning) many skills including how to knit, crochet; much sewing; even more conversations; hours spent simply sitting and watching these delightful beings (whom I’m privileged to call my children) play and interact with each other and at times their friends; I’ve stopped and enjoyed so many little moments and it’s these little moments which fill the greatest space in my reflective heart.

I could look around and wonder just what happened to the year as I haven’t recorded it in words or photographs nearly as much as I intended to. But because I have made the conscious effort to be present and appreciate the little moments, I have a wealth of memories and pictures embedded within my heart which I’ll carry with me forever. I may have neglected writing here (sorry, I do apologise) and neglected other writing and photography projects which I know I could have pursued (and will one day) but I really believe I’ve made the right choices for me this year. I look at my children and know that I have invested in their lives at a time when that was needed most.

I know the decisions I’ve made this past year will dictate my future and I’m content with that. I’ve lived intentionally, sometimes I may have been right and sometimes wrong but always with intention, and it feels good right now as I reflect on the year just past.

I’m not one to sit and ponder on the past too much, preferring to dream and plan for the joyous future in my minds eye. So this last week of 2014 I intend to do just that. I’ll reflect on what went well this year and dream of how I can be a better ‘me’ next year. Oh, what an exciting prospect.

Please will you join me this week and reflect on the past with a grateful heart and dream of the future with a joyful imagination but above all appreciate the present moment with the utmost respect, because that is all we ever have in our lives – the present moment.

The Gratitude Journals

Around here I’m Grateful for:

IMG_8276 IMG_8275 IMG_8269


* Happy children chatter: All are huddled in a corner surrounded by legos. Such a common sight around here and it’s almost assured to be accompanied by happy sounds.

* Flowers from the garden: The term ‘garden’ may be misleading – it’s really an assorted collection of pots which grow the most amazing collection of herbs, greens, tomatoes, strawberries……. YUM! And I’ve recently discovered flowers – herb flowers are really beautiful.

* Music in the mornings: Listening to the sounds of music as I am working in the studio in the early hours of the morning always succeeds to fill the entire day with a calm, happy atmosphere – even more so if the music is created by my own munchkins.

* Twisting yarn: Whether it’s in the form of crochet or on the knitting needles – these past few days have found me reaching for the yarn quite often.

* Studio time: Early mornings are the best – quiet, productive, contemplative, cool, birds singing, sunlight streaming through the door, yes a very good time indeed. Maybe it’s writing, maybe listening, maybe studying, maybe sewing, maybe preparing for day ahead but regardless it is usually accompanied by a cup of tea and I’m finding it to be the perfect start to every day.

* Reading: Of course! Heidi is our current family read aloud and even my three year old begs for it every lunch time – oh the imaginative play that proceeds from reading a classic like this (and further questioning and learning of course, now the children are planning a trip to Switzerland especially as we finished the William Tell story last week as well).

* Life: Yes, I enjoy living this life of mine and just finished an embroidery yesterday which proclaims, “Life is Beautiful”. And I really think it is. That might just become my mantra for the next little while. Life is Beautiful. Yes.

I hope you are finding the beauty in the little moments as well.


Hi there. I’m still here and terribly sorry about the radio silence in this place. While this little slice of my life has been rather silent of late, I can guarantee it’s not been silent in the real-life, in-situe version of my life. Family, Fun, Sewing, Noise, Sewing, Travel, Sewing, Writing, Sewing, Learning, Sewing ……. yep, it’s been rather full and to be honest, rather ‘normal’. It’s just that I’ve been so busy actually living and sharing the fun with my family that I sort of forgot to come and share with you here. Sorry.


So this morning I just thought I would pop in quickly and say ‘G’day’.


I’d love to give you a great round up of my recent crafty endeavours but the photos aren’t quite ready (yes I’m behind on getting them from camera to computer. They are sitting there waiting…. waiting…. waiting…. like so many other things). So that will be coming. Promise.

Then I thought I could give you an overview, a ‘Best Of’ sort of post about our family life over this past month or so. But really….. it’s all rather…. shall we say…..normal. General living and learning together. Hmmm inspiration hard to come by on this front.

That brings me to a post I’ve had open on a browser tab for the best part of the past month. A bookish related post full of photos and reviews of some of our favourite books we have delved into recently. But… well… that still sits there. Incomplete. Waiting for another day. I have no idea why I’ve got stuck on that one but the words just aren’t there to share. So when the words flow, I’ll bring it to you.

So… today…. I’m here. Just saying, ‘G’day’. Letting you know you aren’t forgotten. And getting back into the flow of meeting with you in this place with an expectation that I’ll call back to visit again very soon. Because to be honest, I’ve missed our little conversations here. I do so enjoy sharing my life with you in the hope that I can inspire you in some small way to live your life with intention, enjoying your family to the fullest, being grateful for the life you live and finding BEAUTY in the small, everyday moments of your days.


Talk soon.


The Voice of Women in the Redlands – Strength and Inspiration

Last week I found myself a bit excited. Or maybe it was nervous? Maybe a touch of relief thrown in there as well. I’d think about Saturday and the butterflies would start dancing inside – a beautiful, graceful dance, not all skitterish with nerves, but butterflies dancing in harmony. That may sound a bit ‘airy-fairy’ but it describes my feeling well.

Now the interesting thing is that my anticipation of the upcoming event on Saturday and the butterflies and genuine feelings of pride which accompanied those graceful creatures had nothing to do with me. It was all in honour of a delightful friend of mine to whom Saturday would mark a major milestone in her life.

Louise Gibbon Book Launch06 Louise Gibbon Book Launch10

About 15 months ago my friend, Louise, started on an epic journey and began writing a book. This book is a collection of stories about 12 ladies who are impacting the lives of other women in the Redlands. She was inspired by some ladies whom she knew well – the librarian of her children’s school and another former colleague of hers – and felt that their stories needed to be honoured. They were the ‘unsung heroes’ of our community and impacting the lives of those around them. So she set to work, with a massive amount of time and effort and interviewed 12 ladies and recorded their stories. And I’m extremely humbled to admit that my story makes up one of those chapters.

I think there’s a common feeling among most of the ladies involved, ‘Why my story? I’m just doing my job. Doing what I’m passionate about. Quietly living my life without any great hullaballoo.’ Well, that’s how I feel anyway. And I think that’s the beauty of this book – it illustrates the impact you can have by simply living your life well and being the best person you can be. That’s all it takes. Waking up each morning determined to be a better person than you were yesterday and enjoying your life in the process.

Louise Gibbon Book Launch31 Louise Gibbon Book Launch18

The process of documenting these stories has been long and, I suspect, much more time consuming and all consuming that Louise ever anticipated. It’s been quite a privilege to have been involved in the little way I have and able to support Louise in tiny little ways. And I’m so proud to have joined her at her book launch last Saturday and observe as she spoke with quiet confidence to the several hundred people who attended. I feel that Louise’s story deserves to be honoured and remembered just as much as those 12 ladies who make up the pages of her book.

To illustrate the her generous spirit, Louise is donating all the profits from the book launch raffle etc. and half of all the author royalties to Hummingbirds Early Intervention Centre. One of the ladies whom Louise connected with through the writing of the book and recorded the story of this amazing lady, Bec, who has a massive vision which is gradually becoming reality and making a big impact in the lives of children who need extra care. A truly inspirational story.

So check out Louise’s website and know that purchasing a copy of The Voice of Women in the Redlands, Strength and Inspiration will be impacting the lives of so many families who truly need it.

Louise Gibbon Book Launch09 Louise Gibbon Book Launch07


Postcards from North West QLD – Part 5

West QLD 30 West QLD 31 West QLD 32 West QLD 33 West QLD 34 West QLD 35 West QLD 36 West QLD 37 West QLD 39 West QLD 40 West QLD 41

It’s our final visit to outback Queensland today. I hope you have enjoyed travelling along with me. Today, I’m marvelling in the beauty found when you look hard enough in this rugged country. Who would have thought such delicate flowers existed, or the brilliance of a sunrise can show off intricacies of a spider’s web, or indeed, that a little lizard would be so willing as a photographic subject.

Postcards from North West QLD – Part 4

West QLD 4 West QLD 5 West QLD 6 West QLD 7 West QLD 8 West QLD 19 West QLD 20 West QLD 21 West QLD 22 West QLD 23 West QLD 25 West QLD 26 West QLD 27

Today I’m bringing you the next instalment of our camping trip throughout Queensland. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of bringing you these photos. Sharing our trip with you makes it seem all the more richer and being ‘forced’ to go back through our photos and reminisce has been pure delight – and not something I’m prone to do often.

I understand that someone else’s holiday snaps are never as interesting as your own. I look at these images and see a lot more than the photos, I see the memories attached to the images. And, quite obviously, you don’t  have those same memories. So I’ve been trying hard not to bore you to tears with too many photos or a running commentary but still share our experience in a meaningful way. (I could go on and on about each shot and where it was, why we were there, what we remember, what the camera settings are and even what we were wearing  – if you were interested, No? Thought so.) I do hope you are enjoying the process as much as I am.

Capturing Cuteness – and new overalls

Overalls 9 Overalls 7Overalls 6 Overalls 5Overalls 3Overalls 2Overalls 4Time spent with needle and thread in the studio is always time well spent, in my opinion. It’s an opportunity for me to revive, think, plan, listen to a podcast (or three…) and generally just enjoy doing what I love. That is, if the studio time is snuck in after the little ones are already asleep, of course.

In daylight hours, it’s a different story. As soon as I step foot into this room I can almost guarantee I will be joined by one or more little people – how many join me depends entirely on the time of day and what other activities might be in progress at that moment. These little ones become intent on working on their own creative projects and usually require my help in the process. Therefore, in these moments the studio becomes rather noisier and somewhat less inclined to quiet, reflective thinking or productive sewing.

But regardless of the time of day, or the noise level, or the amount of people crowded around, it is always a creative space. And a space I try to carve out time for more and more often – both in daylight hours and after bedtime has come and gone (often my bedtime as well).

It was in the fun, noisy, creative atmosphere with five of us in this little room that the first of these overalls were made – or at least the fabrics were chosen and design planned (some sewing may have happened in the productive ‘after hours’). And it was a few hours later, in the quietness of evening that the second of these overalls were begun. Could you guess?

Fun, bright and happy fabrics on black corduroy chosen by these fun, bright and happy children. Chambray pinstripes trimmed with a more subdued print chosen by me. Of course. That makes perfect sense.  But both suit this littlest man just perfectly with his big personality, cheeky smile, adorable cuteness and fun loving nature.



Postcards from North West QLD – Part 3


West QLD 43 West QLD 42 West QLD 17 West QLD 16 West QLD 14 West QLD 13 West QLD 12 West QLD 11 West QLD 3 West QLD 2There does seem to be a common theme running through our holiday snaps: Red dirt, sunsets & long, flat, open roads. And I must say, that’s pretty accurate – North West QLD at it’s best. I never thought I’d call this part of the world ‘beautiful’ but travelling here and exploring it as we did, I’ve come to appreciate the unique, rugged beauty which is on display.

I’m Grateful for: The little things.

The past couple weeks have been as ‘normal’ as life gets for us. And, oh, how lovely that is – sometimes – for just a short time – just to catch up in between the excitement which makes up the rest of life – of course.

It has been a week to enjoy the little things around here:

*Last weekend we celebrated our Nicholas turning 11. Really… they do continue to grow these children of mine. And I feel so privileged to have a front row seat as this maturing is happening. It’s really quite an honour to be a part of the life of this eldest boy of ours.

*The littlest one ‘practicing’ the piano after the big ones have finished. Then he proceeds to do his own ‘school work’ of course. It must be such a delight being the youngest of four, having those big kids around to copy and learn from.

*The children all found cozy beside the bookshelf. All happily intent on reading the very same book.

*The sunshine streaming in the windows.

*The therapeutic rhythm of knitting needles working some wool into a wearable garment. It’s really a meditation of the hands and I’m enjoying it immensely right now.

*Filling the hours with books both old favourites and new.

Yes, the little things are definitely the right things to be enjoying around here right now.

Family Family (1)

Family  5Family  7

Family  4 Family  3 Family  1