Saturday, 30 January 2010

You've got mail

There I was thinking it was going to be the usual Friday, with all those drab chores - you know, washing, ironing, cleaning, etc. However, I was wrong.  There waiting in the post office box was a package from England.

I love following Flossie Teacakes' blog - Florence writes beautifully and it is always a joy to read her stories of family, friends and sewing.  She recently had an article published in the UK magazine Sew Hip, giving instructions on making a lovely make-up case.  In a give-away competition on her blog, she offered a copy of this issue, along with some fabric.  I had bought Sew Hip while we were in England late last year, and was most impressed with it, but I hadn't been able to locate a copy here in Australia - so I entered.  As luck would have it, out of 76 entries, my name was drawn as the winner!  

The very securely taped envelope was opened to reveal a pink tissue wrapped parcel and this sweet little card with a lovely message on the back.

The magazine arrived in pristine condition and I have been slowly devouring it whenever I sit down for a coffee break.  

Of course, the first pages I turned to were Florence's instructions which were clear, concise and well laid out over four pages.  I am now keen to make one for myself, as I usually have my makeup skulking in mysterious dark places in my handbag, refusing to be found.  To have it all (well, lipstick and perfume) in the one easy-to-find makeup case will take away the frustration of never being able to find them when I need them.  There may also be room for my mobile - I am famous for missing calls because it's running away from me in the depths of my bag.

But wait ... there's more, as the Ginsu Knife adds go.

I was so delighted to also receive these three oh-so-sweet fabrics by Tanya Whelan.  They co-ordinate beautifully with my latest purchase of fabrics from the Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler collections and I will be incorporating them into some new dresses next week.  And don't you just love the gorgeous ribbons they came tied in?  They have been carefully set aside for future projects.

So Fridays can indeed come full of lovely surprises.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

An Awfully Big Adventure

Our eldest grandchild will be seven next month.  He's an absolute joy, with baby teeth falling out and new ones coming in at an alarming rate.  At Christmas time we asked if he would like to come and spend a sleep over with us during the school holidays and his immediate response was, "It's a date!" 

So on Friday we drove to pick him up early in the morning and he waved a fond farewell to his mother and three younger sisters.  I doubt Scott of the Antarctic had more gear to survive the night than our boy brought with him.  Stuffed into his backpack were the usual necessities of life such as DVDs of his favourite movies which he was keen to share with us, a blue ball to throw around with us in the park over our back fence, electronic games, a complete set (and I do mean complete) of every Star Wars figurine ever manufactured, and yet somehow he managed to squash his pyjamas, clothes for the next day, and his toothbrush into a spare pocket in the side of the bag.

We had a special surprise treat in store, so we headed for a parking spot near the river and waited for the City Cat to arrive.  Oh, that's our Brisbane ferry service.

While we waited, we had time to admire the new school shoes which Fudge Jnr insists on wearing everywhere.

The trip to the city was only the beginning of our Big Adventure.

What city worth its salt doesn't have a Big Wheel?  Our grandson was awe-struck when he sighted it as we disembarked at Southbank and was gobsmacked when he realised we were heading towards it.

The people turned into ants before his eyes.

Time to take a brief look at the map.

There's nothing quite like the sheer joy on a six-year-old's face.  I can remember at the same age my poor mother instructing me to grin rather than smile when placed in front of a camera, but it was only partly successful.  When you're happy at that age, it all hangs out.

Time to head back to the City Cat and home.

That evening we watched Wall-e and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  It was a case of déjà vu, as we had a running commentary on what was happening twenty seconds before each scene.  It's one of the wonders of the world how a boy can store so many film facts into his memory banks and still have space for other stuff.

We bade Fudge Jnr  a fond goodnight as he lay contentedly in the spare bedroom with his faithful cuddly toy dog to keep him company.  We decided to immediately follow suit (minus the fluffy dog) and within five minutes there was a little figure at the door.  Apparently there were mysterious monsters invading our spare room and even though he was a Monster Warrior, he needed the company of grandparents, just for a few minutes.  He slept soundly with us until the morning.

The experience of having one on one time with a grandchild is wondrous and we will repeat the experience with our other six grandchildren over time.

The most precious moment was when he asked to sit between us on the lounge, "Because I love you both".  Priceless.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Holiday Shadows

Children in Australia go back to school in the next few days after their long Christmas break, so as far as I am concerned, until then it's still holiday time.  I must confess that when I took my camera along yesterday on a special outing, it was overcast and as a result there were no shadows to be found. 

However, I had taken this image earlier in the month while on holidays and with Shadow Shot Sunday upon us again so soon, it's my offering for this week.

There were odd things going on in Sydney during our recent visit, not the least of which was this:

Our daughter took us to the Art Gallery of New South Wales to view a particular exhibition we were all keen to see.  Approaching the Gallery we thought it was undergoing major alterations, but on venturing up the stairs and taking a peek inside , this is what we discovered:

A similar temporary structure on the opposite side of the Gallery entrance was just as fascinating ...

The story behind these incredible rooms can be found here.  It was a wonderful experience - if a little strange - to see equestrian statues I had known all my life in a new light.  You may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, but obviously old horses don't seem to mind at all!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Work in Progress

This goes with this ...

... and then gets put together.

Want to see the final result?  Take a look here.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

National Capital Shadows

During our stay in Sydney immediately after Christmas, we took an overnight trip to Canberra to visit the National Art Gallery's exhibition, Masterpieces from Paris: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and beyond.  Having arrived full of anticipation at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris some months back, we discovered to our dismay that a major part of their collection was on its way to Australia!!!  The museum was about to undergo major renovations and Australia somehow managed to be first cab off the rank to snaffle these masterpieces.  It was well worth the wait and if you get the chance, go.  I believe it will soon travel to the US - not 100% sure though.

Another visit at the top of our list was to the Australian War Memorial.  It would take at least two days to do this museum justice, but we were limited to a few hours.  It was here that I found my Shadow Shot Sunday images.   

This floating bronze sculpture outside the museum represents sailors being rescued from the sea and is an extremely powerful piece of art.

These paper poppies left at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier throw shadows which give them an extra dimension and add to the poignancy of the image.

We stayed overnight at the wonderful vintage Kurrajong Hotel built in the 1920s which in its past housed as permanent residents many members of Parliament.  It has been faithully restored and is quite charming.

I particularly loved the Art Deco touches.

One of our Prime Ministers, Ben Chifley (1945-1949) used the hotel as his residence in Canberra and died there in 1951 (I firmly trust it wasn't in our room!).  This restaurant is the hotel's tribute to him.

We lived in Canberra for a year in 1990, and we have not visited the place for many years.  It was good to return and see that it still is a very pretty city.

Please visit Hey Harriet's blog for your fill of Shadow Shot Sunday.  You are bound to become an addict.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Procrastination Season is Over

Why is it so hard to find the discipline to sit in front of my sewing machine after the Christmas break? I could blame the hot weather, but I have an overhead fan to keep me cool. Maybe it's simply that I forgot to plug in the batteries. Whatever it is, I have finally managed to make a couple of items for my Etsy shop.

Both fabrics are French and were bought while we were in Europe, so it was a pleasure sitting at my sewing machine, buzzing along and remembering the circumstances under which the fabrics were purchased.  Sigh.

Having broken the spell, I can declare Procrastination Season well and truly over and Sewing Season has begun!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Casting a shadow on the waters

Don't ask me - I just took the picture.  We were out strolling with friends when we came across these cute little boats.  It was obvious that they were closely tied. 

The bottom boat was a little water-logged, so maybe the ingenious owner tied the other boat on top to flip it over rather than empty it out with a bucket.  Well, it was New Year's Eve ...

Celebrate the New Year by visiting Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday - you won't be disappointed.  And may all your ships sail smoothly through the waters of 2010.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Travelling South

I don't know if I imagined it or not, but I think Christmas just rushed past before I had time to take it all in.  No, I didn't imagine it, because I have photos to prove it.  The cousins had the most wonderful time getting re-acquainted, as they live over 1,000 kilometres apart and get-togethers are rare.  Our joy was complete with our children, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and my brother all together for the first time in many a year, and in some cases for the first time.  The interstate members of the family flew and drove into town over several days prior to Christmas, with the local grandchildren meeting their latest cousin for the first time.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I received a surprise package in the mail.  I was delighted on opening it to discover it was from the talented Bel of EmBelISH.  She is branching into yummy edible cupcake decorations and asked me to test some out for Christmas.

Our ever-willing granddaughter from interstate was first on the scene and helped me ice the cakes, after which she popped the lovely decorations on top.  The Etsy shop, Enticing Icing, is now open for business.  Take a look - you'll love it.

The three older children snuck into the dining room to check out the Christmas gifts - they were so good not to open any, as it's really very difficult at that age to restrain from ripping into all that lovely paper.

Sanity finally prevailed at Chez Fudge and a unanimous decision was made to forego the usual hot Christmas turkey, opting instead for glazed ham, lashings of prawns, cold turkey and a variety of salads.  With nine adults and seven children, an oven blasting away for hours was the last thing needed on a typically hot, humid Queensland day.

Our "little" premature baby has come a long way in the last seven months, as his aunt discovered.  He's quite the little charmer with a happy smile for everyone.

Meanwhile, Party Girl was the most sensible, stripping down to the bare essentials.  A little local knowledge is always an advantage.
A perfect Christmas.

It was time to pack for our trip to Sydney, driving down in the company of our daughter and son-in-law.  The ensuing ten days flew past in a blur.  The first couple of days were spent with my brother and we had the most wonderful time reminiscing childhood memories.

Living near the beach as he does, it was a natural to take in an early morning breakfast at Coogee Beach.  Coffee has never tasted better - it must be the sea air.

Next on the itinerary was a trip to the other side of the harbour to stay with some dear friends in their charming cottage, where we were spoilt with warm hospitality and beautiful food.  The next day the four of us set out for the Central Coast, where we were invited to spend New Year's Eve with mutual friends.

Now, I can't give away the location of this magical spot, otherwise our friends would have people beating a path to their door, particularly as our hostess is the most superb cook. 

Since our last visit, the owners have installed an inclinator - so much more civilised than arriving at the top of the hill too breathless to utter a word for several minutes.

But who could complain when the view is to die for?

After a leisurely walk along the shoreline, it was time to help our hosts prepare for the evening.

Sand crabs caught that morning were presented as canapes, and then the men got down to the serious business of peeling the prawns.

Which drove the cat crazy.

As the evening progressed, the bay was brought to life with a fireworks display over the other side of the water.  It sent the local dogs and birds into panic and alarm ...

... and frightened the life out of Min the Cat ... apparently.

I can't imagine a more perfect spot for breakfast.  And what a breakfast to ring in the New Year.

First, there were fresh figs and plums,

followed by scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and tomatoes.  Sorry ...

If it's any consolation, we are now home and reality has kicked in, as we spent the day dismantling the Christmas tree, taking down the Christmas cards, and doing some mundaine supermarket shopping.

Ah, but we do have our memories.