Slowly re-entering an altered reality


I feel a bit like Alice. I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. I’ve met wonderful characters who have helped, sometimes hindered and oft times made my journey fun or just a little less stressful. Everything in my life is the same and different.  And I am now slowly waking up to reality. But an adjusted reality. A reality that includes a little person who has no respect for sleeping hours or schedules. Like the little white rabbit, I’m always late (which those of you who know me ‘off blog’ understand is enough to give me a conniption!).

The cause of this adjusted reality, she’s perfectly gorgeous. I’m in love.


Nicola and Munchkin by Hayley Hay Photography


Before Munchkin arrived, I was certain that my life would get easier. After 12 days in the early stages of labour I was exhausted and ready for the next part. And after hearing from others who’d been able to do projects in the weeks following the birth of their children, I was certain that the 2/3rds completed projects and blogs I had would get completed and after a week or two my blog would continue. After all, newborns only eat and sleep right?! I’d get all of my projects done and the blog would continue much as it had been *insert unladylike snort here*.


Nicola and Munchkin by Hayley Hay Photography


I should have taken heed to what my pregnant friends who already have children were doing. They were all planning ‘maternity leave’ from their projects and blogs.

Unsurprisingly I was in for quite a bit of a shock. I’ve gone from having many hours alone, to struggling to find enough time to have a shower, let alone finish a tutorial and write a blog. And of an evening I usually resemble a zombie and anything I’ve written makes about as much sense as if it were written by the aforementioned brain-dead one.

So it’s over two months since Munchkins birth and I’m only just making my way back to the blog. The tutorials and templates are on their way. But it’s going a bit slower than I thought.

Thank you to all of you who wrote to ask for the little shoes templates and tutorial. I love that you’re all looking forward to making them! But I have to beg for a little patience. They’ll be done just as soon as I can. Hopefully next week; but don’t hold me to that. The Munchkin may have other plans she’s not informed me about.


All photos of Munchkin and I in this post are by the very talented Hayley Hay from Hayley Hay Photography.

Meet Munchkin

Sophie Ivy

Meet Munchkin.

Sophie Ivy was born on the 16th of September at 1:25pm. We had a slightly traumatic start, I ended up having to have an emergency cesarean. But all is going fabulously well now.

The blog and tutorials etc will be sporadic for the next while, whilst we spend some time getting to know each-other (and how to cope with sleep deprivation).

Sophie Ivy



The last 10 days in instagram pictures

Are we there yet?

I’m not on bed rest (thank goodness!) but I have been ordered by my doctor not to do anything more energetic than a walk. Maybe she knows me too well… she specifically told me I’m not allowed to clean the house or start emptying cupboards. So I’m all ironed up and feel like I should be bouncing off the walls. But at 37 weeks pregnant, I’m fighting a persistent head/ chest cold and playing the waiting game… I’m continually tired and carrying what feels like an energetic and very uncomfortable bundle of elbows and knees.

Munchkin is running out of room and I’m running out of patience with being pregnant. But we have managed to get some stuff done!

Munchkin's nursery (temporary)

We set up Munchkin’s temporary nursery. The rest of her furniture will arrive in a couple of months. But for now, we have everything she needs to start life. All of her clothes are washed and ready and she finally has her own space in the house which feels nice.

Munchkins bassinet in our room

The reason we’re not overly worried about her nursery is that she’ll be sleeping in with us for the first few months. We’ve her Leander cradle all ready and waiting for her arrival.

Munchkin shoes, cut out

On the days my brain works, and when I’ve not been trying to get all the paperwork etc together for Munchkin’s citizenship and passport or finding her a paediatrician, I’ve been playing with felt; making little shoes for Munchkin and for some friends who have recently had babies. I think I’m finally happy with the design. I love them in coral and grey! I now just have to work out the different sizings.

Munchkin shoes in progress

I can’t decide if I like the bows on the front or on the side. So I’m making Munchkin a pair of both!

Bassinet munchkin

We had a small get together with some of our friends on Sunday on the deck of my favourite gluten-free café in Cully. It wasn’t a baby shower in the traditional sense, but we really wanted to see our friends before we temporarily slip even further off the social scene after Munchkin arrives.

I wasn’t allowed to go all ‘Nicola’ on it. Frustratingly, all I was allowed to do was to book the space and to send out email/ Facebook invites. So it was a decidedly un-Nicola-like event, not a hot air balloon to be seen, but it was delightful nonetheless (DM soothed my ruffled feathers by reminding me that I have many, many future Munchkin birthdays and unbirthday parties to organise). And I have to admit, it was quite a novel experience not to have to worry about anything more than just turning up.

Present from our crafty friends, dalek, Dr Who, baby blanket

Munchkin received some seriously splendid gifts from our lovely and very generous friends. She already has a toy collection and wardrobe I’m envious of!

Some of our crafty friends had got together to create a gorgeous present for Munchkin. They each knit or crochet some panels and made them up into a beautiful baby blanket. They’d been sneaky enough to get DM to send them the colours I wanted for the nursery and in amongst the pretty patterns, they included a couple of sneaky geeky panels. One of a Dalek and the other of a storm trooper. It’s perfect and suits DM’s and my style exactly. I’m really looking forward to seeing Munchkin wrapped up in it.

Crochet aviator helmet for nephew

I spent yesterday with my feet above my heart trying to get my swollen feet back to a size that would fit inside my slip on shoes and worked out this little pattern for a crochet aviators hat/ helmet for the little nephew we’re expecting in a few weeks. I then made another one for DM’s cousin who just had a little baby boy. I’m waiting for Munchkin to arrive so that I can custom make her one that fits perfectly.


All photos from next to nicx instagram account

First attempt at quilting and pikelets




I’m now 34 weeks pregnant and I’m feeling it! I look like I’ve eaten ALL THE CAKES and I’m now getting tired a lot earlier than usual. My social calendar has taken another hit as I find I’m needing more and more down time. But the Doctors say this is all normal and that Munchkin is perfectly healthy. So I’m slowly but surely working through the remains of my to-do list before Munchkin arrives.




This week I’m making her a cot quilt and trying to get the design for her birth announcements done. As I’ve never quilted before, I enlisted the aid of the lovely Lynne who is quite possibly the most prolific and fabulous quilter I’ve ever encountered. Under her expert tutelage I’m making fairly good progress and currently have only had to unpick about half a dozen triangles. I’ll keep you updated as to it’s progress and shall blog the finished product.


Pikelet Gluten Free


I’m also discovering that I get fairly strange cravings. After a horrendous night wherein Munchkin ensured I slept less than I thought was humanly possible, I found I was craving carbs and sugar. In particular I found myself feeling rather partial to one of my childhood favourites, pikelets, and so quickly whipped up a batch. They’re delicious! I used the recipe from the Common Sense Cookery book and substituted gluten-free flour for the normal flour. Voilà! Deliciousness on a plate! They’re perfect covered in jam and cream or slathered in salty butter. I’ve had to promise DM that I’ll make him some soon as I ate the remainder of them this morning for breakfast. For those of you who want to try them, I’ve put the recipe at the bottom of this post.




It was around about this point in time that my trusty old Brother sewing machine started spitting out small parts at me. Literally.

A little investigation revealed that these are in fact the pieces that turn the lights and power to my machine on and off. I can’t complain. The machine was my mothers before it was mine. And I know for a fact she inherited it from someone else. So it’s definitely seen it’s fair share of work and has travelled halfway around the world without grumbling, until now. The machine still works, I just have to power it on and off at the wall. And on the plus side it looks like I’ll be getting a new machine for my birthday! Any recommendations?


Gluten Free Pikelet Recipe
  • 150 grams of gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons of gluten-free baking powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon bi carb of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sour milk or fresh milk plus 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter



Sift flour, salt and soda

Place egg, milk, sugar and butter in centre of flour

Beat until smooth and a thick pouring consistency

Place a dessertspoonful into a teflon coated pan – cook until they brown, turn over and cook other side.

Serve with jam and cream.


Crochet Cherry Pattern


Crochet Cherry


One of my all time favourite wardrobe items is a silk and cashmere cardigan by Alana Hill that I’ve owned for about 7 years (bought when Alana Hill still made luxurious garments and not the disappointing polyester items you find now). I’ve worn it until it’s almost falling apart. My favourite part of it? It’s covered in crochet cherries!

A few years ago I decided another of my cardigans needed cherries and so created a few crochet cherry brooches. I sold a few of them on Etsy and then started to teach myself letterpress, and so the brooches were put to the side.

But today I decided that one of Munchkin’s onesie/ bodysuit needed a little decoration and pulled out one of my brooches. I’ve re-worked the pattern and I’ve decided to share it with you. They’re quick to do and look fabulous as brooches, sewn onto clothing, glued onto cards… the options are endless.

Never crochet before? No problem, go to the end of this post for a list of video tutorials and links you can use to teach yourself the stitches you need to make this project. All that’s required is a 2.5 mm crochet hook and some thread.


Crochet Cherry


Crochet Cherry Pattern

In the colour you have selected for the Cherry (I used DMC 351 Embroidery thread as I needed such a little bit of thread for this project, I love the colour and it’s beautifully soft) and using a 2.5mm crochet hook create a ‘Magic Ring’.

ch 3 and tr 17 into the Magic Ring. Pull the Magic ring tight and join to third ch using the Invisible Fasten Off Method.


Crochet Cherry
Crochet Cherry


Repeat to create two cherries.

In the colour you have selected for the Stems and Leaves (I used DMC 966 Embroidery thread) and using a 2.5 mm crochet hook;

ch 17. hdc in 2nd ch from hook, hdc in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, tr in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, hdc into next ch, sl st into next ch, hdc in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, tr in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, hdc into last ch, ch 2 and turn work to start work on reverse side of chain.

hdc in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, tr in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, hdc into next ch, sl st into next ch, hdc in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, tr in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, hdc into last ch, ch 1, join to 1st chain using the Invisible Fasten Off Method.

In the colour for the Stems and Leaves, join to cherry, ch 5, connect to sl st (the center of the leaves)  with a sl st and fasten off. Repeat with 2nd cherry. Use the remaining thread from the stems to stitch a center ‘vein’ through the chain in the middle of the leaves.


Crochet Cherry


Now you’re ready to sew it on to whatever garment you’d like. I used a single thread of the matching DMC Embroidery thread to stitch my cherries to this cute onesie/ bodysuit from The White Company


Crochet Cherry


New to crochet?

Here are a whole heap of tutorials and videos for you to use to create this project:

Magic Ring

hdc (half double crochet)

dc (double crochet)

sl st (slip stitch)

tr (treble or triple crochet)

Invisible Fasten Off Method


Crochet Cherry



Crochet Cherries Tutorial by Next to Nicx by Nicola Pravato is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Fabulous finds for Munchkin #2


Marèse and The White Company


I can’t help it. I’m sorry. I’ve just got to share the cute little things I’ve bought and made for Munchkin. I promise to continue to make items and to post threads that are not baby-centric but at the moment I’m 32 weeks pregnant, I’m struggling to touch my toes and my brain is baby-fied (or ‘baby-fried’ depending on the day). I can think about little more than getting all of the equipment, buying the right clothes for her pending arrival, bearing jabs to the ribs (she’s certainly getting strong!) and trying to keep cool in the Summer heat wave we’ve been experiencing here in Switzerland.

We’ve organised her cradle; she’ll be sleeping in a Leander cradle in our room for the first few months and then, in the new year, will move into the nursery into a Leander Bed that should do her until she’s about 7 years old. We’ve not ordered the bed yet, but as we won’t need it until January we’re not panicking about it. And I’ve made a fair dint in the clothing requirements, so at least she’ll have something to wear in the first few weeks and months!


Marèse and The White Company


The little outfit in the photo’s is her coming home outfit. The stunningly simple but luxuriously soft cotton onesie/ bodysuit is by The Little White Company. They had a fabulous sale on a few weeks ago and so we stocked up on some basics and some Summer clothing for Munchkins trip to Australia at Christmas. And the little cardigan and matching hat are made by Marèse. I picked them up on sale at a gorgeous little boutique in Thonon-les-Bains called Le Secret d’Alice. Made out of cotton, bamboo and silk they’re so soft! I was exceedingly tempted by the little cloud bodysuit they had but decided that even though my husband and I have issues with the ‘dress little girls in pink and boys in blue’ rules that seem to be the norm here, I couldn’t resist putting her in a coral outfit to bring her home.

I’ve now just got to make some matching booties.


Marèse and The White Company


This week we’re going on an eye-wateringly expensive shopping trip for the looooong list of items that seem to be required for Munchkin (DM has already noted that this is probably the first of many, just wait until she demands a pony! ;) ). We were spurred to get our derrières in gear last week, when the doctor delivering Munchkin advised that it’s likely she may arrive early due to her size.

Whilst Munchkin is currently only tiny, the amount of equipment she needs feels like it could fill an aircraft hanger! We’ve decided to do all the basics and to worry about decorating the nursery later. Mainly because I’ve been unable to decide what to do, what I have decided on isn’t going to happen in this heat, and we’ve a little time up our sleeves as Munchkin wont be using the room regularly until January.


This is an unsponsored post

Knitting for Munchkin #3


Knitting for Munchkin #3


I’ve almost finished Munchkins heart cardigan! I’ve just to decide if I want to add a zipper or buttons to the front closure. I’m really quite happy with the results, what do you think? I’m tempted to go with a zip, if only because I found this gorgeous little teddy bear zipper tag made by Union Knopf that I’m itching to use.

I used a Phildar pattern from their catalogue No. 74 and adjusted the pattern a little as I didn’t like the peak being quite so high or the little floating hearts around the head once I’d knitted it. The hood was unravelled a couple of times more than I’d have liked. But that’s the benefit of working with tiny clothes; they go together so quickly!

The pattern book is all in French but all the patterns are written out in full and colour coordinated for sizes. So with a little knitting knowledge, a little French knowledge or/ and access to google translate, the patterns are not hard to follow at all.


Knitting for Munchkin #3


I also didn’t use the Phildar yarn as my yarn store didn’t stock it, instead I used a 100% merino wool that’s machine washable and so very soft, made by Lana Grossa (it’s their Bingo range).

Frustratingly, it seems that all of my favourite yarn stores in Lausanne have closed for a few weeks for Summer Vacation and I’m itching to start a new project. But due to the heat I’ve been unable to continue knitting large items. I’m very tempted to order the latest Phildar Catalog and some yarn online. There are just so many cute items! Just look at these gorgeous little mittens!


Phildar Mittens


Seriously cute

I’ve just backed this project on Kickstarter. It’s so very cute! I backed it for Munchkin. Seriously I did. Not for me. No. Not for me at all… I’m not dying to play with them and set up a series of them looking all gorgeous, cute and quirky in her nursery**.

The project is currently 92% funded and has 8 days to go.


**I’ve just discovered a side benefit of having kids! Being able to legitimately buy all the cool toys you really want.



Ramblings: Surviving the first 30 weeks & pregnancy hazing

As of today I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I can’t believe it’s flown by so fast and I’m not nearly as prepared as I’d hoped for! But I’ve been informed that quite a bit of the stuff I want to do can actually be done after Munchkin arrives, so I’m not panicking… much.

Last weekend we went to the clinic where we’ll be welcoming Munchkin into the world to do our maternity class. It was 2 hours, with only DM, myself, the midwife and a video.

Oh good gravy. The video.

On the one hand, it was a marvellously calm experience. The ladies in the film have now probably celebrated their offsprings graduations from university, it wasn’t the most modern film. But they gave birth without the hysterics that seem to be prevalent in movies. It certainly looked painful, but you didn’t see any of the wives screaming obscenities at their husbands etc.

On the other hand, I think both DM and I are permanently scarred. Somehow we seemed to have been able to remain oblivious to the mechanics of the actual event until we were sitting in front of a video with a full frontal view of the process. I think we both started to practice circular breathing. I know I certainly crossed my legs and started to wonder what the hell I’d gotten in to, as well as trying to devise exit strategies (there appear to be none, it’s much too late to hire a surrogate).

You’d think that, depending on which school of though you follow, God would have designed us a bit better/ we’d have evolved to allow for a little more wiggle room in the process!

However the clinic is perfect and just what we wanted. It’s completely equipped as a hospital but doesn’t have a ‘hospital smell’. The midwives are amazing and they do things just the way we hoped for. They aim for the best (a natural birth, no complications, breastfeeding coaching etc) but are also prepared for the worst (with a fully equipped surgical theatre and an anaesthetist on call etc). We left feeling very secure in our decision; a little apprehensive about the actual process, but knowing we’re in very good hands.

On the same day, we went to have a 3D ultrasound of Munchkin and now know that she has chubby cheeks, a cute button nose and is perfectly formed. There are no extra fingers or toes and she doesn’t have a second head (thank God/ flying spaghetti monster for that!  I now know there is just no room). We also know that just like her parents, she’s stubborn. She was determined to hide behind her hands when we wanted to see her for photos/ video and then to do what felt like very energetic interpretive dance as soon as we left the scanning center. She did give us proof she can stick out her tongue already. Cute little brat. I can’t wait to meet her properly.

I also feel like I’ve survived what a good friend of mine describes as the ‘pregnancy hazing’.




It’s Murphy’s sodding law that right at the time you’re at your sickest, your most emotionally unstable (&^%$#ing hormones), and panicking because you’ve realised that your entire life is about to do ‘a snow-globe’; that the hazing commences and is at it’s worst. The snow-globe is when everything in your life bubble starts flying about with reckless abandon, you’ve no idea where any of it is headed or where it’s going to land, and like the Eifel tower/ Santa figure glued down to the base, all you can do is hold tight to your other half and reassure each-other that no matter where it all lands, you both can work it out and you’ll survive.

But holy crackers, the pregnancy hazing! Consisting of the worst case scenarios (eg. the 357 hour births without pain killers, the 28 month morning sickness etc). The questioning of some friends, a few family and complete strangers of every child/ pregnancy decision you’ve made or are in the process of making. What your doctor says will be wrong. The place you’re giving birth will be a poor choice (whether it’s in a private clinic, the local hospital or in a paddling pool in your lounge; at some point you will be repeatedly advised that you’re making the wrong decision). What you eat or don’t eat will be wrong. The level of exercise you do will either be too much or not enough. You’ll either be gaining too much weight or not enough. The choices you’ve made about baby equipment will be wrong. The clothes you’ve bought will be the wrong colour and you’ll have spent too much money on them or not enough. You’ll either be a hypochondriac who is only sick because you don’t have a real job therefore not enough to occupy your mind, or you’ll be pushing yourself too hard and doing too much. The worst part of it all is that you’re already doubting yourself and questioning whether you should even be allowed to procreate, let alone be responsible for the healthy upbringing of a small child. So all of these slings and arrows can seem twice as hard to cope with.

It’s enough to send an ill, emotional, hormonal, terrified woman past the point of no return. Your doctor will be telling you that you need to keep calm and relaxed to help your baby. But how on earth are you supposed to do that when everything you do or don’t do is wrong!?

Your husband, staring at the woman he loves, starts wondering where the secure, happy woman he married went (or at least where she left her sanity) and how on earth he gets her back. And this is where it all started to turn around for me.

A couple of ‘cards on the table’ chats with DM ensued. And I realised that pregnancy and raising kids is like having a religion/ philosophy. Most everyone believes what they’re doing is right and that those doing it differently are wrong. We all tend to gravitate towards those with the same beliefs or philosophies. Some people are much more rigid in their beliefs and have a lot more rules than others. It’s not that any of them are right or wrong (unless they’re abusive of course), it’s just we’re all different. Only, whilst openly questioning someone’s religion, belief or philosophy and categorically stating they have it wrong is something of a social faux pas, when it comes to childbirth or child rearing, it seems it’s open season. And as I have a wide social network with friends, family and acquaintances from a wide range of cultures, religious beliefs, philosophies and sexual preferences (it’s one of the things I adore about being an expat), this is going to result in a very wide range of opinions and beliefs.

I’ve now a semblance of my sanity restored (the hormones still seem to occasionally take it on holidays). And I now give the comments and discussions the same level of interest and attention as I give all opinions and beliefs. I love hearing them and discussing them (as long as they don’t turn into personal attacks or ‘attempted conversion’), as I enjoy continually expanding my knowledge, challenging my preconceived notions and learning, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to follow them or ‘convert’. DM and I discuss, research and make our decisions together. And we’ll happily live with the repercussions of those decisions, good or bad.

I know there are a lot of mums and soon to be mums reading reading my blog. I’d love to hear how you survived the pregnancy hazing!

But, oh goodness, Munchkin has commenced interpretive dance routine number four for the day on my bladder… got to run.




Quite a busy couple of weeks…

 And not a whole lot to show for it!


I’m now 25 weeks pregnant. I look like I have half a watermelon and two half rockmelons (Cantaloupes for you non-Australians) attached to my front. My toes have disappeared from view (which reminds me, I really need to get a pedicure if I’m going to start wearing flip flops and sandals for Summer. I don’t want to be scaring you all with Hobbit feet just because I can’t see them! ;) ). It’s been an interesting few weeks, and whilst things have been really quiet around here blog wise (sorry!), my life has been insanely busy whilst annoyingly interspersed with days of absolute exhaustion where I’ve been unable to do little more than ensure the Nic shaped impression on the couch is still there. The addition of a little person into your life certainly shakes things up!

I was intending to try and keep the blog separate from my Munchkin ‘life’. But I now see that it’s impossible as my life currently consists of very little that is not baby-centric and just results in the blog stagnating. Please be patient with me, I’ll find the right balance soon.


Wool cross stitch blanket


Thankfully my health has improved and my fitness level is back to what it was before the 6 weeks of hellish morning sickness hit and I’ve started gaining weight after dropping 6 kgs. This was followed by full body hives that kick in whenever I get slightly over-warm.  Nothing like impersonating an angry, red, insanely itchy blister to give you ‘pregnancy glow’. Thankfully I’ve been able to get it under control with medication and now only have random itchy patches if I sit in the sun for too long.

I’m now in the ‘honeymoon’ stage of the pregnancy. My energy levels have increased and I’ve yet to hit whale sized proportions, so we’re getting as much done now as we can in preparation for Munchkins arrival. I’ve selected a colour scheme for the nursery, have commenced in depth research into origami lampshades, nursery furniture, car seats, bouncers and prams. The nursery is starting to form clearly in my mind and is slowly becoming a reality. I’ll share the details with you as it comes together.

It helps that for the most part, the sun has finally arrived in Switzerland, it gives you a real energy boost!


Summer is finally here


Then there is the mountain of boring stuff. Spring cleaning, window cleaning, doing a years worth of paperwork for the tax man… etc

We also invested in a car. We’ve had no need of one for the past 3 1/2 years. The public transport system in Lausanne is amazing. But Munchkins pending arrival changed all that. We set out with a list of cars we wanted to test drive and then, for one reason or another, discounted every single car on the list. Thankfully, just before we gave up and I threw an over-tired pregnant woman tantrum,  we discovered a car we both liked and that suits our needs perfectly. It’s boring enough to fill the mum car requirement, sporty enough that DM doesn’t feel like he’s driving a bus, safe enough for Munchkin and with a trunk big enough to pack the pram and a kitchen sink or two. We picked it up on Saturday. It came with a handmade Swiss chocolate car… these people really know how to please a pregnant woman!


Chocolate Audi


It now looks a bit like he’s been in a horrific car crash. The whole front end is missing.

I’ve also created 2 recipes that are not quite right and need a little tweaking. My cinnamon donuts filled with custard were so light and fluffy the custard leaked out the bottom. Light and fluffy is great. Leaking custard is not so great. So I’ll try the recipe again this week and post it asap. I’ve also some cute packaging tutorials that are also not quite there. And I’ve been knitting like mad. As Munchkin will be experiencing a Swiss Winter in her first few months, I’ve been making cute cardigans and Liberty print bound blankets.


Knitting pattern for Munchkin


I’m also collecting fabrics for Munchkins crib quilt, and finding yarns and patterns for a cross stitched fine wool blanket. In addition to designing and making gifts for the masses of others I know also giving birth this year. So I’ve a mountain of projects in progress but very little to actually show you right now. Hopefully this week will be a little more productive and I’ll get some of the projects finished!




All photos taken from my Instagram feed