Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Great Loz and Dinny Challenge

Who would have thunk it? That an innocent scrap of mustardy-yellow, furry trim-stuff could instil lie-awake-at-night blind terror? Scared out of my wits from the start but a sucker for this sort of thing, I signed my name on the dotted line for Gemma’s birthday Loz and Dinny Challenge.

I’ve decided to be pretty chuffed with myself. There was great relief with a sort of spur of the moment notion, a dash to the trusty Amitié and the same evening, I made a tote-thingy. No pattern, made-up-as-I-went, fully lined and of course I ran out of fabric. So don’t go looking for any pocket whatsit, although there is a gusset (awful-est word in the English language) and those bits of side trim are hiding a couple of seams for the extra fabric bits. I thought I was too clever by half, twirling that trim into flowers, until I saw a way lovelier take on the floral over here.

I know who I reckon should win (cos there’s even a prize, see). Super Pops is one lady up for a challenge. While I prance about with my sissy bag, she’s off saving the world with her bit of mustard trim, working for good and not evil, (discounting the fact that lately she’s been consistently causing me to fall off my chair laughing).

PS. Big HAPPY BIRTHDAYS to that sweet lady who so knows how to make the bloggy world sweat.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Stash (Surviving Ikea)

In 1995 I had a scarred-for-life Ikea experience. It involved the store in Wembley, London, an eighty pound budget for extremely basic new-to-the-country, new home essentials, a bleak, blizzardy, mid-winter Saturday, a (this time I’m just not exaggerating) mile long checkout queue and multiple forms of sardine-style public transport. Consequently, subsequent forays to the haven of all things Swedishly flat-packed have adhered to strict criteria:

1. Not in London. See above.
2. Not on the weekend. Too many people are not at work.
3. No anklebiters. Or at a stretch, one child of an age where snacks and restraining straps still work. Maximum.
4. Mental preparation for the inevitability of the ‘Temporarily Out of Stock’ sign posted on the warehouse shelf, when the only item that you actually went for just isn’t there. And possibly never was.
5. No $1 hotdogs. Or take a close-up look first.

The Mr, two year old and I ventured midweek into the nearest superstore in search of an item which we have long agreed we could no longer ‘live’ without. Alas, alack, the item was unavailable. The day was saved by the accumulation of further revelationary, must-have, (and really must start sewing), contributions to the fabric stash. Heavy weight, cut-it-yourself, prints of goodness.

And somewhat unpredictably, a moose.

More Sunday Stash to covet over here. And head on over to Kate’s speedy-like, because she’s really nice anyway and also hosting a stashy giveaway...

Note to self: Contemplate potential detrimental effect of large amount of time spent by kids’ with cardboard boxes/paper bags on heads.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Creative Space

This week it’s all about the eyebags. I’m squarely placing the blame on Gemma. Nothing to do with my own self sticking up my hand to be part of her irresistible Loz and Dinny Challenge (have a go at winning her birthday giveaway by doing something crafty with that there trimming above – she makes you sweat, this lady).

Nothing to do with the spontaneous whim to make something for which I have no pattern...

...and then enjoying things too much to go to bed until the wee small hours. Nooooo.

Last night two lovely ladies questioned my possible adrenaline junkie tendencies. Funny how you sit up a bit more when someone who doesn’t see you every day objectively points something out like that. I hereby pledge to be calmly in bed by Cinderella hour tonight.

A Small Confession: After intense (sort of) negotiation with Mrs Smith over who got to do the lampshade, I should report that I have guiltily reneged. Lampshade way too scary.

Pop on over to see some chipper Creatives Spaces via the wide awake Kirsty (she’s probably already run ten kilometres today).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flying the Nest

Approximately eighteen moons ago, the Mr resigned from his job at a large production company and declared himself self employed AND working from home. Given I am also a self employed AND working from home person, you may correctly imagine the teething problems intrinsic in such an arrangement. We are most of the way, to most of the time working through the territorial issues. The shed and back garden, is, well, the domain of the Mr and if I’m tidying my studio, I just squint past the corner that he inhabits.

There are benefits that go with both Mum and Dad at home twenty four seven: we share the childcare, we all eat dinner together at a kid-conducive nana hour. The downside is neither of us ever get away from our work and it’s tough finding new stuff to gossip about: there is little office politicking that doesn’t hit close to home. We could both do with getting out more.

With all this working-where-we-live bizzo, things have been getting a little crowded. Not least because there are eight large bits of sculpture inhabiting our back garden. Eight ‘totems’ fashioned from marine pilings (the ‘leg’ bits that hold up a pier), provide a home for numerous bronze cast critters. After much pfaffery and delay, they are finally ready to fly the nest, to their new home in Canberra.

I’m feeling a bit indignant that they’re leaving home. I have invested a whole lot of eardrum into their making – listening to four months of power tools, preparing the totem poles alone. And the uber drill drove me around the bend. I couldn’t make a phone call while it took two days to produce each hole for the talking tubes (you can whisper stuff from pole to pole). No, I do not know how our neighbours put up with it. We were in constant consultation, but they were just thrilled that we had helped get their twenty-something out the door, early in the mornings, finding employment.

I admit, I'll miss them all. Fare thee well, beady-eyed, Tawny Frogmouth:

Mr Goanna, with your lovely textures:

King of the River, Murray Cod...

...peering up from below the surface of the water:

Swim safe, little froggy, with your water ripple necklace:

Look before you leap:

Keep warm at night, Possum:

Don’t forget the mouthwash, Dung Beetle:

Keep a good eye on everybody, Currawong:

The Mr isn’t sentimental at all. He’s already started work on a two metre head of one of Australia’s ex-prime ministers. No power tools involved in this one. Thank goodness for small mercies. I have half an eye on this artwork for temporary trellis potential. We have tomatoes to grow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

High Drama and How It All Came Out In The Wash

Did you know it is possible to be whooping with delight, thanking ye Gods and ye crafting fairies while doing simultaneous mortification? After the whole scorched-by-iron Quilt Project dramatics last Thursday and the sweet, shoulder-patting sympathy, Googling and top tips left by exceptionally lovely readers of this blog (thank you most excellent and exceptionally lovely readers of this blog), you’re not going to believe what got those stains OUT. I’m too embarrassed to say.

Instead, I’m just going to turn this into a Live and Learn Moment. I hereby raise my right hand and proclaim that One shalt try to be less reactive and hysterical even when there is the smell of burning fabric. One shalt also attempt to refrain from crafting whilst sleep-deprived and One shalt acquire a nice, predictable-type iron and religiously study its instruction manual from cover to cover, no matter how bleedingly obvious things may seem.

In the meantime, my Quilt Project square is finished. Thank you, Glinda, Good Witch of the South, for any role you may have played in that.

It’s been quite some whirlwind ride.

If you haven’t seen what everyone else has been up to, then just go and take a peek at all the redwork loveliness here.

PS. Cold water.
PPS. Yep, that’s what I said.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Holding On to My Hat...

Because today is one heck of a Spring day. That sun is shining Australian bright.

Also, flutterbies in the air...

...flowers in the hair...

...and bellies filled with afternoon treats...

...marks this Spring Festival day.

Which also means that it’s school holidays again.

(And that’s really why I’m holding on to my hat).

PS. The girls over at A Spoonful of Sugar REALLY know how to do this cupcake stuff – and not like my version which involves a chewy felt flower (niiice) and a stingy half jelly bean (desperate attempt to minimise fallout from soaring sugar intake), with the finishing touches thrown together at traffic lights.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Creative Space (Yikes!)

At times I wonder precisely when it will be that I morph into a wise soul and instinctively know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Or in this case, know when to walk away, know when to run.

A couple of days ago, I was on the edge of my seat (in a running after kids, doing stuff way) with excitement, because all was clear for an evening crafty session with my Quilt Project square. The words of the wiser-than-wise owl Christie echo in my ears as I type: “no craft is safe when you are tired!”. After a few nights of a few hours sleep, I discovered that the involvement of fusible webbing is no exception.

One would have thought that watching the iron slowly scorch the canvas would cause me to have a PULL OUT, PULL OUT, YOU’VE HIT AN ARTERY! moment. Alas! Alack! Non. I’m sure whole seconds passed as I watched in fixated horror and fascination.

After a minor meltdown (it’s not only where the marks of my air erasable pen were – there’s a general sort of old-man-undies, beige tinge going on), I then attempted redemption with the teensiest of fairy buttonhole stitches around the edges of my satin house. It took hours. I loved it. I should have been sleeping.

Back to the iron to do more fusibly webby stuff and voila! A great whopping strip of wayward fusible gunk stuck to an entire house worth of perfect stitchery. Refer back to that top pic to get the gunk gist.

With the words of The Gambler ringing in my head (as it so often does), I went to bed.

The following evening, I had a small child on my lap and then crawling on to my head, so Take Two on the house involves neither buttonhole, nor fairy. It’s more a blanket sort of stitch designed by horses.

I’m not ready to ’fess up all to Kirsty yet. I have theories for scorched concealment. While I thought sparkly glittery bits around the offending areas may help...

...I’m thinking I may need something more. I figure my best bet may just be to keep my square moving. Or present it the way kids show you stuff, by thrusting it 3cm in front of your eyeballs. I can see there remain some issues to nut out.

PS. Does any kind and knowledgeable soul out there, have a top tip for the removal of singed, obviously-no-longer-air-erasable-fabric-marker-pen on canvas (nice try, Tania)? Preferably one that doesn’t involve the words ‘start’ and ‘again’?

PPS. Find a whole lot of lovely (with a lot less angst) creative spaces via Kirsty’s...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So after weeks of running on adrenaline, I woke up this morning, realised there were another four sleeps standing between me and a weekend newspaper and just. felt. spent. No more oomph.

Curly Pops to the rescue. And the postie. My postie has a French accent (we like those) and generally impeccable timing.* A while ago, I sent Ms Pops a tablecloth I found with her name on it. In return she donned a little super hero get-up and saved my today. With the arrival of her surprise package, she hit the magic rewind button and kicked me out the RIGHT side of the bed. Not only that, she predicted that I would be wearing precisely the colour of the detail in my new brooch, which you won’t be able to see in this photo, because I am wearing precisely the colour of the detail in my new brooch. Thank you, Cam. My family thank you too.

* Except for the once when I was just back from the gym and an alarming shade of tomato. I know he wanted to ask me in his French accent if I was ok,** (everyone does) but didn’t really want to take things further if I wasn’t.

** I was ok, if you discount the fact that I’m still miffed at being born with that irritating Turn Red And Look Undignified exercising gene.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Weekend That Was

It was one of those weekends that requires a running order. We all had a great time but it was low on the relax and high on the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. I’m already counting sleeps to the next one because then it will be school holidays and that means two weeks of elective all-day pyjamas. Which may or may not be the dress code for essential supermarket shopping. Depends what we elect.

Some weekend snippets, all random-like:

A sort-of-weirdy-with-button-bits-on-the-end, thrown together bag-let which occurred in the fifteen minutes between Party Pick Up Two and Party Drop Off Three. Birthday money just isn’t birthday enough without a proper presentation ceremony.

Kid Number Two spent the better half of Saturday morning wearing a box. Getting ready for swimming took ages because he couldn't get his pyjamas off over his head.

Great angst at 6.30am on a Sunday morning as Fumble Fingers prepares Gymnast Kid for competition and tries for her first-ever attempt at the parallel hair braid. Belatedly realises that nervous anklebiter doesn’t require transfer of hair stress. Second attempt at parallel hair braid is converted mid-air to a pony tail within spitting distance of the middle. Fumble Fingers then attempts photographic evidence of gymnastic hair feat but is thwarted by a silver pole.

Fortunately it seems it’s not entirely about the hair.

It’s possible that four hours of knitting could be construed as a restful bit of a weekend, but it doesn’t count when you’re edge-of-seat, peering-through-fingers at the Gym kid hoping that the feet make like glue to the beam and there’s nothing braid-like about those parallel bars. Still, I finished (um, another) of these.

Rushing between the house and the car, I captured photographic evidence that it really is spring.

Even though Saturday’s sky was just straight out summer.

Finally, a test run on behalf of Birthday Kid Number Two. Apparently for the skirt to get the tick of gift approval, you had to be able to ‘do stuff’. As it turns out, I’m cleverer at reading kid minds than hair styling – I added extra width to another Lazy Days Skirt pattern. It was surmised that it would be possible to do a cartwheel in the air. As in a trampolining cartwheel. There wasn’t enough time to calculate flight trajectories, so that one remains an unproven theory.

For next weekend.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Baby Step...

A couple of days ago I hopped up on my Soapbox. All up it’s been quite some week. Tonight I have worked to a ridiculous hour (and if that wasn’t the milkman I just heard then I’m officially freaked out) but the weekend is now clear for ME (ok, and three birthday parties, a swimming lesson and a gymnastics competition where I will knit for four or so hours). I was just about to shut down my computer when I saw this. Just go and take a look. I have a beaming grin from ear to ear. It feels like a bit of a win. Happy weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You Know That Moment When You Just Stop. Listen. That Moment When You Realise That Everything is Way, Way Too Quiet?

I just had one of those moments.

But it was just the quiet of three slices of bread being buttered for lunch.

Hope you own lunch was somewhat lower on the cholesterol front...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I’m just going to have to get this down, because it’s hanging around, sitting on my shoulder and while all is Keep Calm and Carry On around here, there is the distant jingle of tiny warning bells. It may seem as though it is nothing. But I reckon it’s a potential Something.

A week or so ago, we were all sitting around while the Mr was reading the bedtime story and I was practising my knitting-without-looking. I glanced over at the seven year old and saw her place her flattened hands against either side of her thigh. Antennae tingling, I sidled over and asked her what she was up to. “I’m seeing what my legs look like if they are skinnier”. Radar crackling I say: “So... how come you want to do that?” “Because the girls at school were deciding who was too fat and who was skinny.”

Stop. Right. There.

Huh? She’s only seven.

I may well be up for the Naïve Parent of the Omniverse award. Did I really think that by avoiding commercial TV and limiting the non-commercial variety to an hour on Fridays, that I could protect my childrens’ innocence? Did I think that sending them to a Steiner school where branded clothes are banned and where other children from generally like-minded families attend, that my kids could just be ‘kids’ for a good bit longer? That they could get on with perfecting five cartwheels in a row, having a big imagination, learning and creating stuff – all the while nutting out the whole making-friends gig? Sheesh.

Naïve and furious, I am. Actually, I was already furious. Seething at the insidious side to our culture – something that in the main, we seem to accept, possibly because we’re pretty used to it. The billboards on the drive to school, the sexy little girl fashions, the Bratz dolls, the Spice Girls (mighty catchy tunes back then, but what does it say about our thinking? Girlpower: because five girls turned blokes on?), etc, etcetera. Those few examples are but a taste of an attitude that challenges any feminist ideal but also endangers the mental and physical health of the kids who grow up into it. Think self-esteem issues, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, self-harming, depression, worse.

In a tiny gesture of protest, earlier this year, I gifted my older-than-her-years, turning-ten niece, a subscription to Indigo magazine. A publication with a strictly no airbrushing policy, Indigo is the brainchild of two driven Mums. The aim of the magazine is to promote positive body image, self-esteem, confidence. It’s fun (confirmed by excellent niece review), topical, creative. It doesn’t sexualise girls, offer diet tips or suggest surefire methods for a twelve year old girl to snare a fifteen year old boy by doing something highly ill-advised but nonetheless found with step-by-step instruction in the sealed section of a different magazine (ok, NOW I’m ranting).

I realise I may be coming over as an unrealistic wowser getting things WAY out of proportion. But my kid with her thinner leg thing, the two subsequent skinny references and an escalating mirror obsession is sending me a message. When I replied to her that she didn’t have skinny legs and she didn’t have fat legs – that what she did have were good, strong, perfect-for-her legs, I reckon that made some sense, this time. But searching her eyes, I think I also saw my first small confrontation with peer pressure. And I’m big-time wary of what drives that sort of peer group mentality.

As luck would have it, the planets aligned and I happened to be listening to ABC local radio and bumped into a discussion on the sexualisation of girls last week. You can listen here (I’m not sure how long the link is available – and fast forward to the 36 minute mark to miss the intro).

There are also newly published books in the offing: ‘Getting Real – Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls’ by Melinda Tankard-Reist and ‘The Butterfly Effect’ by Dannielle Miller. Dannielle also has a website and a blog.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Headless Chook

This week is looking distinctly headless chicken. In between the work commitments, the school duty roster, the work commitments, the nutting out of knitting with wire to look like fire (don’t even ask), the occasional dinner preparation, the work commitments (did I mention those?), I’m running around like a mother hen without a head.

Because this week could easily replicate itself into the next and the next and so on until forever, I’m just stopping for a tick to hold myself accountable. Blogs are good that way. An unexpected benefit – I find when I commit to Myrtle and Eunice, I generally see it through. That may have something to do with the avoidance of elderly lady disapproval from way up high. To date the exception has been the completion of the knitting with stainless steel silk. Probably doesn’t bode well for the knitting-with-wire-to-look-like-fire thing.

Those fabrics up there, are the recent Amitié purchasings. I’m not about to admit to addiction, preferring to describe this small obsession as a penchant for as long as denial can hold out. And I am wary buying for the sake of the stash – and for bypassing the refashioning option. So, Auntie Myrtle and Nana Eunice, these promise to become summer clothing somethings for wee ones. And that would be this year’s summer. Not next. I’ll be back with proof.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Very Late Breakfast (at Tiffany’s)

So we’re all set for a night of glamour, frivolity and festivity. So much so I have been pondering the notion of a mint julep – only that would be unseasonal, the wrong sort of era and my friend who has tried one said I should just maintain the romance because when she tasted the drink, it inspired an “ack, ack, pluuuut” sort of reaction and a swift attraction to french bubbles.

Another friend, the lovely Sonia, is having a ‘major’ birthday and celebrating in typical style. It’s all very Audrey Hepburn and elegant black dress, George Peppard and chivalry: the kind of dress code that sets the tone for a night that sparkle-arkles.

Consequently, I have been able to get away with daytime birthday crafting. I’m pottering on the sewing machine while the kids run riot somewhere in the background. Though today they are running riot in freshly laundered underwear, and I’m thinking that scores me halfway to a Good Mum Award.

Pip’s Meet Me At Mike’s book is the go-to for birthday presents lately and I went no further than the Cute-as-a-button Vintage Clutch by Kara Smith. While I could have embraced that ‘vintage’ bit and used a fabric reminiscent of Holly Golightly’s own era, or gone for an after-five look, I’m thinking this Ink and Spindle fabric gorgeousness suits the birthday girl to a tee. That’s not to say she wouldn’t do a marvellous interpretation of New-York-socialite-except-in-Melbourne, strolling elegantly about, peering into posh jewellery stores with coffee, croissant and clutch in (possibly gloved) hand.

Happy birthday lovely lady.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The State of Things

This morning there wasn’t a clean pair of undies/pants/knickers/jocks in this house for anyone. We all have to wear our bathers/togs/swimming costumes. Which is ok for the two year old and me, since this morning we have a date with a swimming pool. Though I’m not sure what happens once we’re out of the water.

Should anyone need me today, you’ll find in the laundry.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Creative Space

I had quite a revelation yesterday. I happened to be doing some Quilt Project action while in a waiting room. It’s amazing how much easier this embroidery lark is when there’s some bright daylight and it’s possible to SEE. I had given the more ambient approach to our home lighting versus practical needs some fleeting thought, but just couldn’t come at cold, white-blue, bright light. Not that I’m thinking the Mr’s temporary solution last night is doing much for the dignity. Or the hairdo...

For more creative spaces, follow the light and pop over to Kirsty’s (she’s one clever chook who knows her backstitch from her, um, not backstitch).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It’s Tuesday and I Can’t Wait To...

1. Become uber-human-super-mum-career-gal or get a grip and stop putting myself in situations where I need to be one.

2. Get up early enough to iron my entire shirt (not just the sleeves and collar) in case I forget to wear the vest over the top and turn up to the meeting half-wrinkled.

3. Remember to do the tedious weekly meal plan (along with the Ten Minute Tidy, the secret to uber-human-super-mum-career-gal success).

4. Get everyone so good at the Ten Minute Tidy that we can cut it down to nine minutes. I need more craft time.

5. Devise a calm, clear and concise gameplan for when the eldest starts asking the curlier questions. I have been warned by other mothers. There is playground discussion about really hard kissing with tongues.

6. Get to the bottom of the lyrics to MacArthur Park. It’s been bugging me since University days:

Someone left the cake out in the rain,
I don’t think that I can take it,
’Cause it took so long to make it,
And I’ll never have that recipe again, oh no.


7. Find and book a summer holiday. The months spent in anticipation are possibly even better than the reality. Especially when you factor in the surveillance requirements for the kid plotting the 240km swim to Tasmania.

For more Tuesday anticipation, head on over to Lou’s place...