Friday, 30 January 2009

Shall we dance?

OK, so it took longer than I anticipated, but the skirt is finally finished and my sewing machine and overlocker are weeping with relief. Maybe I'll add a few little ribbons or buttons tonight while we watch some Foyle's War episodes on DVD.

I really love making patchwork skirts. Isn't nature wonderful though? I forget each time just how much effort goes into making one, so I attack it with fresh verve before the memories start seeping into the back of the brain. So I am cured for another six months.

At least I have cleared a tiny corner in my work room and can fill it with new fabric (drool) with a clear conscience. Yummy!

Footnote: I will be putting this skirt up for sale in my Etsy shop, but as it's a size 5, with the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) commencing 10 February, I will be selling it from that date as a size 12 for the vertically challenged.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Last of the Holidays

Another Australia Day has come and gone, which means children are back at school after the long summer break, and I am back at my machine.

The Brisbane branch of the family came to visit us on Monday to help us celebrate Australia Day in traditional style - Aussie hamburgers with home-made chips.

Can't you hear the arteries clogging up and begging for mercy? But it's only one day a year, so I figured that was acceptable.

This was followed by a Lamington cake, which I have to admit tasted 100% better than it looked! I blame it on the heat of the day. Smothered with ice cream and cream, it was the perfect ending to the meal.

Our little punk rocker couldn't bear to look at her older siblings tucking into their hamburgers and cake.

So now it's time to get back on the saddle and start sewing in earnest.
I had a lot of scraps left over from dresses made for my Etsy shop and had been feeling guilty as they lay accusingly in front of me.

It was time to make another patchwork skirt, very full and very twirly. Yesterday I went berserk with the Olfa cutter.

Now all I have to do today is get cracking and finish it, so I will have at least one new item for my shop. Perhaps I'm being a little ambitious.

Maybe I'll have a cup of coffee first...

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Shadow Show Sunday # 9

No - it can't be Sunday already. Next thing you know there will be hot cross buns and Easter eggs in the supermarkets. Oh, that's right - they're there already.

If you haven't experienced Shadow Shot Sunday, why don't you hop over to Hey Harriet right now to see what it's all about. I guarantee you will be hooked.

Anyway, here is my contribution for this week, taken at the rural property where Tony and I spent a glorious couple of days last week with the owners, who are good friends.

I hope you enjoy looking at what the other brilliant photographers have created on Hey Harriet's blog.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Rural Bliss

HAVE YOU EVER WISHED that you could run away to the country for a couple of days to refresh the spirit? Well, that's exactly what we did last week when good friends invited us to stay at their country retreat.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? We could see the farmhouse on the tip of the hill ahead and were really keen to arrive.

At last we were there. After the usual happy greetings, it was off to the Henhouse Hilton to feed the chooks.

Now, I don't know about you, but my memory of a henhouse was a lean-to shed constructed of galvanised iron with a bit of wire around it to keep the chooks in and the cats out. Well, these chooks have certainly landed on their feet. The owners say that they lay the most expensive eggs in the world!

Take a look at their laying nests - a little different to what their poor unfortunate battery hen sisters have to put up with. The floor has a drainage system so that all the hosed-down water washes away to help keep the grass outside green.

All this was designed and constructed by the owners' son who is a landscape gardener. He has very cleverly restored an old dairy shed into something quite stunning.

Speaking of stunning, meet Reuben, the lord of all he surveys. He admits to having a favourite girlfriend and has been observed presenting her with a blueberry on one occasion. Now this could either be true love, or maybe he has simply appointed her as his chief food taster. Either way, he's something to behold.

Here are my favourites, the Spangled Hamburgs. Aren't they gorgeous? And see how the little black hens in the background look on them with envy.

There was time for a quick inspection of the garden before heading back to the homestead.

It was an extremely hot day, so what better way to cool off than sit on the back porch with a cool drink, observing the very contented cattle.

Breakfast the next day was on the back porch, where we were able to catch the cool morning breezes.

One good thing about old friends is that you can simply relax, sit around and talk all day, and that's exactly what we did. We left behind the world's dramas and concentrated on family news, movies and plays recently seen, books read, and all those really important things in life.

Meanwhile, the city cats, Oscar and Charlie, weren't overly impressed with their breakfast fare!

Good heavens - was it time for lunch already?

This time we sat on the front veranda, cracked open a bottle (or it may have been more) of cold white wine, and got stuck into the beautiful Lamb and Noodle Thai Salad. The attached recipe is pretty similar, but our lamb had been marinated overnight and it was cooked to perfection.

We took a well-earned siesta (country living can be pretty hard work, you know) until late afternoon, when we hopped into the car to take in some local scenery...

... and to watch the spectacular sunset from a mountain lookout.

Then it was back to the farmhouse for our evening meal and to feed some very anxious city cats. We sat out in the cool of the front veranda, with the garden fountain providing a delightful background.

Oscar, feeling very contented, found his favourite cushion and settled down for the evening, dreaming about whatever it is that cats dream of.

And so we are now back in the city, refreshed by all the beautiful memories of our couple of days in the country. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday # 8

THIS IS THE SAD TALE of a Christmas musical box which has entertained two generations of children. When wound up, it would rotate, playing Silent Night. Santa and his little wooden soldier friend would greet the children as they swung around into view and it was always a delight to see the children's faces light up whenever the musical box was wound up.

We bought it when our children were quite young and, up to this Christmas, they and in turn their children have fought over the privilege of winding it up. OK, so Santa came off the worse for wear a year or two back when there was a slight altercation between a couple of toddlers over whose turn it was to wind it up, but what's a glued on arm among friends?
Last week when someone who shall remain nameless was putting it away for the year, he let it slip from his (oops - that's a giveaway!) hands and it fell helplessly to its demise.
I took this shot to break the news to the grandchildren, and when I looked at the image up on the computer screen, I was amazed to see the shadow of the tree against the power point, as if saying, "Oh No!!"
Hop over to Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday and take a look at some truly wonderful shadow shots.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday # 7

I CAN'T BELIEVE how quickly Sundays come around. It's only # 7 for me, but the highly talented Tracy of Hey Harriet who hosts Shadow Shot Sunday is up to # 34. I really look forward to checking out her blog every Sunday morning to see the wonderful collages she conjures up of the various images linked to her blog. Some of the participants take your breath away with their imagination and artistic talent.

There were a couple of shadow shots which I took over the Christmas break which in my mind were earth shattering, but in reality were pretty ordinary. So this week I have taken a trip back to this time last year when we were staying with some friends at their beach house on the Central Coast of New South Wales. They took us rock hopping at nearby Killcare Beach and we came across this amazing sight. I'm glad I wasn't around when it was formed!

The other image was taken in June last year at an exhibition I took part in. No, I wish I could lay claim to being the wonderful potter, but I was selling my children's clothing. All these beautiful pieces of pottery sold on the opening night.

I will be back in the saddle tomorrow, re-opening my Etsy shop after an absence of three weeks. My Bernina has been sulking away in my sewing room, but I gave it a pretty good working over today, so at least I will have a few new items to take the place of those sold before Christmas.

It's marvellous to have a break, but oh so good to be back doing what I love.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Ring in the New

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone and I hope you all had the most wonderful Christmas break. We celebrated Christmas in two States this year - first an early celebration on 20 December with our Brisbane family before flying to Sydney for Christmas with the Southern Branch (plus friends).
What a joy it was to welcome our newest little granddaughter to her first Christmas. At just under two months of age, she sailed through it like a trouper. She loved her bear, but I think she was a tad disappointed that no one thought to buy her some hair product.

We put up the tree and decorations the day before and dismantled them the day after. Crazy, I know, but we were determined that the grandchildren would open their gifts under the tree and have all the familiar decorations displayed throughout the house, even if it was a few days early.

The three older children had a grand time ripping into their gifts before we sat down for a traditional Christmas Turkey lunch. The only compromise was a substitute rich chocolate steamed pudding in place of the usual Christmas pudding, as I suspect children under 6 much prefer the sugar rush of chocolate. I'm sure their parents appreciated that!

The following day we dismantled the tree and packed away most of the decorations (OK, there are still some lurking in dark corners waiting to be discovered) and packed in readiness for your flight to Sydney the next day.

Who would have thought that an airport could be such a pleasant experience? Maybe it was the Christmas spirit, but for once we weren't frisked as terrorist suspects, then we were delighted to run into the lovely Helen of Ruby Red Studios. And as we were waiting in the departure lounge, we were entertained by a Christmas tree playing sax and a wrapped Christmas gift on trumpet.

On arriving at Sydney we were greeted by my brother who had organised a rental car for our time in Sydney as a Christmas gift - we were suitably stunned. And the rental car company upgraded it to a brand new model, which made us very nervous in case we had a prang!

We stayed with our daughter and her family, which meant we would be on hand on Christmas morning to see the children's excitement - always an event not to be missed. On Christmas Eve we attended the Children's Christmas Mass which was an amazing and beautiful experience. So many children ... so much excitement.

The familiar sound of ripping started early the next morning and continued for some goodly time.

By lunch time my brother had arrived, as well as our other daughter and her fiance, and the day continued as it had started - happy and relaxed. Naturally, a girl has to have a couple of wardrobe changes during the course of a day.

Over the next couple of weeks we caught up with old friends which was wonderful. Our daughter and son-in-law gave us tickets to The Complete Works of Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits at the Opera House. Who could have thought that three actors could keep a full house rocking in the aisles? However, we were really relieved that we weren't sitting in the front row or were late comers - be warned if you intend to catch the show - they pick on you!

One day we all met up at the Art Gallery and took in the Monet Exhibition, which practically had us levitating. Later as we wandered through the main part of the Art Gallery, our little three and a half year-old granddaughter ran ahead, causing her mother a little stress. She stopped suddenly in front of an exhibit of classical busts of two women's heads on pedestals looking towards the floor, which was covered with the shattered remains of a third bust. Our granddaughter was horrified and turned to her mother, dramatically thrusting her hand to her chest and saying, "It wasn't me, Mumma!" She was given an on-the-spot lesson by her artist aunt on installation art. I don't think she got it.

On our second-last day in Sydney, we drove to the Powerhouse Museum with our daughter and two children. Naturally, pre-museum snacks were the order of the day.

As we neared the museum, we encountered an amazing sight. On Christmas Day, the children received bubble blowers in their stockings and thought they had mastered the art of bubble blowing.

However, after being gobsmacked by a true professional ...

... it's back to the drawing board!

Our last night in Sydney was spent with my best friend and her husband. We have known each other since we were six or seven and have been best friends since our school days. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful Sydney stay.

So now we are back in Brisbane in the middle of a very hot and steamy week. The first thing I did was check my PO Box and there waiting for me was the most gorgeous paper doll from the very talented Sharlene of Sharlzndollz which I had won in her blog competition. It was almost like receiving two gifts, as the limbs and dress are reversible. I have called her Hollygolightly and she will become part of our Christmas decorations for many years to come. Thank you so much Sharlene.

So here we are ready for a whole new year - and don't we love it!