The mix of delicious dishes, pastel landscapes, thrifted linens, a smiling baby, shafts of sunlight across vintage furniture, I can't exactly put my finger on what I love most about Tania Rhea's Ivy Nest blog, but I do know its one of my newest favourites. Tania and her husband and three kids have made a tree change to the Monaro region of NSW, a land of long horizons, mountain ranges and pebbled streams.
Their simple house, designed and made by them sits surrounded by a new orchard of fruit trees with a view to the distance of often dry and parched fields and hills.
Tania cooks the most fantastic food, makes her own bread, washing powder and granola, she knits and sews and makes her own nappies. She buys her meat in bulk and picks her bouquets from local trees. Her family take long drives into the wilderness around them and picnic by pristine streams. Its a life we'd all love if we could slow down long enough to appreciate it. I know I would. Until then I'll be reading Ivy Nest dreaming over Tania's food posts (delicious), jealous of her country auction finds and wishing I had the space to plant 14 heritage apple trees at a time!
Thank you Tania for sharing these glimpses with us and for being part of the Show & Tell series, the last interview for 2011. Thanks also to all my participants this year, its been a lot of fun and an honour to share your stories.
1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
My blog is mainly about my day to day. What I am creating, cooking up or doing with the kids. I love the idea of a simpler type of lifestyle and finding creative solutions and outlets in the day-to-day. I enjoy capturing these moments on my camera. There is a lot of beauty in our everyday that easily goes unnoticed.
2. Why blog? How did you start?
I really enjoy blogging. I'd been reading and very influenced by blogs for the past couple of years. Blogs were such an eye opener for me. Eventually I began toying with the idea of starting a blog and I eventually took the plunge and began.
For me blogging is about sharing ideas, support and communicating with like minded people. There are not many people in my day to day that are into crafting or understand why I would bother making something that I could buy. Though I have to say that baking is making a big resurgence in our area!
3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
Mainly self taught. Though I come from a long line of dressmakers - from my mother through to my great, great grandmother. My mother sewed all my life and made most of my clothes when I was little. She worked at Mr K in the 70's. Unfortunately I had absolutely no interest in learning to sew until I had my own children. I did a term of sewing in high school and managed to not make a single thing!
About three years ago I inherited my Mum's old sewing machine. I started off with cushions, then a dress for my daughter and I was soon hooked. Mum gave me a few tips along the way, and whatever I'm not sure of I seem to muddle through okay.
Knitting is another new love, which my mother in law gave me a little help with, and I have been learning ever since with the help of You Tube. Progress is slow, but I'm getting there.
4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
It was always the kitchen table until a recent room re-shuffle. So now I have a corner of a room with a table for my sewing machine and gear. It's so nice not to have to pack up at the end of the day and knowing that I can just do a little sewing without all the rigmarole of setting up. No kids tripping over leads either!
5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
My daughter Violet was very nearly an Ivy. I loved the name but hubby didn't share the enthusiasm. So the blog got "Ivy" and I added the "nest" part to represent our home and family life.
6. Favourite media to work in?
Probably fabric. I love repurposing old items. Op shops are a wonderful source of fabrics - old cotton or linen tablecloths, lovely wools and vintage sheeting. Wool for knitting is a close second.
7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I'd love to have a go at crochet one day. Perhaps an Etsy shop one day in the future (if I find the time!)
8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Both! I love to be neat and organized, but let's face it, with three kids this is not really practical. Particularly when I am in the middle of something. I get scared to put anything unfinished away as I fear it will never get completed. So my desk can get pretty messy.
9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you
My mum made a lovely little dress for Violet with a Peter pan collar. One to put away for the grandkids I think.
10. Favourite food/recipe?
I have a very sweet tooth and cannot go past a good caramel slice. Or a well made fruit and custard flan. As for savouries I'm going to go with old favourites lasagne and lamb roast (yorkshire pudding included).
11. Favourite colour?
I've always loved blue. When I was a little girl and all my friends had pink rooms, I insisted on blue. Green would be a close second. But my favourite colour to wear is red.
12. Star sign?
Leo. I've been told I'm a typical Leo.
13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I've never travelled overseas so definitely Australia. Favourite place in the world would probably be Broulee (south coast NSW) where I spent a good part of my teenage years. Lots of summer memories there.
14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Try and make a little time for creating everyday. It's a little like feeding your soul. Don't wait until everything else is done because it never will be. Little windows of time can usually be found here and there, even if it's only 15 minutes.
15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
There are so many wonderful crafters in the blogging world. I find Soulemama very inspiring. There are too many to mention on the local blogging front, but I have many favourites that I read daily.
16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done?
Aside from my kids of course, it would be building our home from our own ideas and design. It was quite amazing to see our ideas materialize and all the different elements of new and old come together. Of course the most stressful thing I have done yet also.
17. Three words to describe yourself?
This is a hard one. I'll have to ask hubby. He says persistent, creative and earthy.
18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Drinking coffee is up there as well as going for picnics with the family. I have always been a bookworm so there are always books and magazines strewn around, much to my hubbies dismay. You might also find me pottering around in the garden when I have the chance. And I haven't yet passed an op shop without having the urge to go in.