Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Sort-of Attempt at Non-Convolution, Stitchy Ticket and Cheer-Up Winners...

In an attempt at an uncharacteristic non-convoluted giveaway drawing, let’s get cracking and straight down to business.

Take one enthusiastic small person, two tickets to the Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show, an appropriate looking bag and all those entries up top.

Ask enthusiastic small person to pick out one ticket and stand vaguely still, so that Mummy can focus and photograph (nice try) and in so doing inform CLAIRE from MATCHING PEGS that she is Ticket Winner Number One (absolutely and entirely literally).

Request enthusiastic small person, who is beginning to demand her rights, draw a second Stitches & Craft Show winner...

Everyone stand on your head, or take my word for it that CAT from LADY BUG CAT is Ticket Winner Number Two.

Congratulations happy tickety winners! I’ll have ’em in the post as soon as I have your details.

Now for those of you who were feeling disappointed, geographically challenged and entered for the Cheer Up prize, think Julie Andrews, hold your heads high, SING to the sky...

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad

I put together a few of my own favourite things for the Cheer-Up prize (no posted whiskered kittens though), along a Stitches & Craft green theme, which shall be duly brown paper ‘packaged’ and tied up with string:

1. Fabric and felt (hand dyed, 100% woollen deliciousness) and embroidery floss...

2. Vintage, (including some originals inherited from Eunice) and newer buttons from the button bowl...

3. A Myrtle & Eunice tea towel, that looks sort of more green when it’s not a gloomy, wintry old day – not that drying dishes is anyone’s version of a favourite anything (sorry).

Let’s go kid...

MEGAN from SOMEWHERE ALONG A WINDING PATH, cheer yourself up! Channel your inner Julie Andrews, locate a green hill, prance about – then email me your details.

The kid ended up on strike, but I reckon the giveaway draw when the dinosaur got involved, or when the chook packed the suitcase, was more convoluted by a kitten’s whisker...

PS. The Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show is on at the Caulfield Racecourse, from May 5 to 9. Download your guide here...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This One Is All About You (Except For The Bit About The Birthday Senility)

I can’t tell you how disturbing it is to have an attack of senility on your birthday. I knew I’d stashed ’em somewhere safe, but after searching in all the usual places (including the back of the freezer), I’d resorted to glaring at the dog to see if I could persuade a confession out of her. Turns out they hadn’t gone the way of many a chewed sock and were in front of my nose the entire time. This is possibly more disturbing than the senility issue, because if my sight is on the out, then I’ll need to be nailing that knitting-without-looking bizzo, with yet greater quicksticks urgency.

Anyhoo, I found ’em. I have two single tickets up for grabs to the imminent Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show. If you’re local, or not local, but confident residual volcano ash isn’t going to be putting the kaibosh on a speedy trip downunder, then get yourself to the Caulfield Racecourse between the 5th and the 9th of May. I’m champing-at-the-bit excited and particularly looking forward to supporting those fabulous bloggy exhibitor Incubator types.

So. Leave a comment before this Thursday the 29th and I promise to spare us all the usual pain of one of those convoluted giveaway draws I am prone to, by pulling names efficiently out of a hat. But because it feels mean, mean, mean, for the Melbourne locals or confident volcano flyers to get in on all the action, I’ll draw a third name for the non-locals, for a surprise ‘cheer-up’ package involving all manner of, oh, cheering and, admittedly, as yet undetermined, things. It’s a speedy turnaround giveaway – you have until 2pm this Thursday the 29th, Melbourne time!

PS. If I lose ’em again, just so we all know, they’re still on the inspire wire...

PPS. There will be all manner of Stitches & Craft Show activity and know-how to be found and inspiration to be had. You can download your show guide here.

Spoilt to Bits

Some time ago, my Mum huffed and she puffed for an indecent while and there was much cheering from the sidelines for the same day delivery as my grandfather’s birthday but I have always been a Contrary Mary and I dug in my heels for an extra five hours and eight minutes. I have apologised.

Despite the usual birthday issues (yawn) and because the Mr is ever better at dealing with them, (Stay in bed! Drink your tea! Stop whining! I have cake to bake!), I had a mighty fine day. Not only that, I discovered great advantage in being easily ‘sussed’. I have been spoilt to bits with spot-on presents of yarn and scarves and a bag and those knitty bracelets above and a long coveted butterfly-upcycled-from-a-tea-saucer...

...and a necklace made from a tape measure that just makes me beam...

...and a good dose of kid art...

...including a shark...

...which multi-tasks as a (skinny legged) penguin...

...and then there is this:

‘This’ is a perfect condition, 1949 edition of the Complete Home Reference Book of Sewing and Needlework by Mary Brooks Picken and Elizabeth L Mathieson. It was gifted, along with countless other treats, by a friend who so knows how to make a birthday girl feel special. You haven’t seen the last of this book by any measure – I’ll be dragging us all kicking and screaming through the patterns for crafting armrest doilies, rag rugs, Rose of Sharon quilts, the art of Swedish darning, tatting, 29 essential and other embroidery stitches, argyle socks and formal afternoon dresses.

It’s looking like a busy 39th year...

It’s not all about me. I have a ‘something’ for a few of you. Except I can’t find ’em. I’ll check back once I’ve searched in the likeliest places (inside the dog kennel, between the sofa cushions, at the bottom of the sock drawer, at the back of the get the gist).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Thing I Have Come to Know

One of the reasons I started this blog was because Eunice, my paternal grandmother was no longer with us and I had forgotten to ask her twenty million things. I was too absorbed in travelling the world, being young and discovering the amazing, to realise that a whole heap of history was about to pass me by. I guess I wanted to record snatches of the everyday ordinary as well as the significant, before they were buried under all the things that will happen tomorrow and the next day.

It’s my grandfather’s birthday today. I never knew him, so it’s strange that I always shed a tear or two on this day. I do because even though he died due to a dodgy heart forty three years ago, I know that today still prompts my maternal grandmother and my Mum to remember with shining eyes.

Recently, I came to hear the story of the marriage of my grandparents. Granny worked in the shoe department of Myer and my grandfather was one of two window dressers. Phil had his eye on Granny, but Granny had her eye on Gil. At almost seventeen, Granny was fending off boys left, right and centre and was fatigued with letting them down gently when she grew tired of them after two weeks.

It was at a ball, held at the Malvern Town Hall, when Granny first danced with Phil. Dressed in her debutant gown, with a boy she was “ready to get rid of” on one arm and another she was “ready to start with” on the other, she was barely in the door with her velvet evening coat off, before Phil claimed the first dance. Not long after that first dance, tired of dealing with dumped boyfriend devastation, Granny laid her cards on the table: “I won’t go steady with anyone until I’m at least eighteen.”

A few years later, in 1941, my grandfather was called up for National Service. After an initial three months training in the Australian Army he arrived home on four days leave before being posted who knew where, for who knew how long. It was a spontaneous decision to marry, involving begged permission from parents, a sprint to the bank before a 3pm close for money for an engagement ring, the lucky availability of a church, a frantic search for a borrowed wedding dress and a celebratory tea of vanilla slices supplied by country relatives who happened to be visiting. 24 hours later, my gorgeous Granny was a blushing bride. Part way because, her cousin, Dorothy, had stepped on her veil, pulled it off and revealed hair still slick with olive oil, which she hadn’t had time to wash.

That was Thursday. On Saturday my grandfather left to fight a war. He came home four years later. But he did come home and he and Granny had four children together and loved each other to the moon and back and were each other’s world and universe and stars and light before he died at 46. It’s a story that I hold close. Happy birthday Grandpa.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Creative Space

The thing that gets me, is how I am so easily ‘sussed’. It’s become apparent since my kids started kinder and school and through the many and random chats with other parents at drop off and pick up. Many of these dialogues are fleeting – based purely on mutual recognition and a Hi there!. So why, WHY is it, that if, when chatting with another Mum, (whom I may barely know) and my two year old happens to throw a tantrum, or my eight year old expresses an impassioned opinion, or my six year old decides to climb the tree equivalent to a three storey height when I asked him to stop at two... why, OH WHY, is there, oh, so often, the wry smile and the good natured commentary from the other Mum...

She (he) takes after you then!

No matter that my behaviour has only been at its best, my manners impeccable, that I complimented the new hair-do or safely stuck to uncontroversial commentary over the weather. HOW DO THEY KNOW???

Of course it’s all true. The more, er, impassioned, er, determined, (ok, contrary, defiant), elements of my childrens’ personalities no doubt started with each of the initial gestational nine months hanging out with me, bonding and eavesdropping on my every move. Everything has come back to bite.

Not only am I already attempting high risk (for me) craft and tackling a crotch (I’m making a thing with legs: trousers!), but the bigger risk is that the effort involved could so easily be for nought. No matter that the fabric has been approved, the pattern adored and sourced from a promisingly titled Sewing Patterns Kids Love. Nup. If anything so much as feels sliiiightly wrong or the teensiest skewiff or is deemed NQR for any or many varied reasons, that’s it. All over, red rover, thank you for coming.

And then I’ll be holding a giveaway for size six trousers with extra length, because I breed my eight year olds small.


PS. Kate, I could not hold back on the Dortje trousers any longer, because I have the same book as you and you kept throwing up samples of funkiness all over the place.

PPS. In the interests of playing fair, (see! I am a good person), may I add, that reasons for potential Dortje trouser rejection are more likely to be based on pure comfort and not ‘look’ but the same ‘no discussion will be entered into’ terms and conditions will likely irritatingly apply.

PPPS. There’s bucketloads of stuff happening via and at Kirsty’s. No doubt you’ll be needing a vat of tea and a shipping container of dipping biscuits to see you through the phenomenon that is today’s My Creative Space.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Swap ’Til You Drop

Even though it seems that every time I sign up for a bloggy swap, I sign up for a whole lot of angst (performance anxiety), late night eyebags (procrastination) and squeezing everything but the last seven minutes out of a deadline (Pah! Oodles of time to spare!), I love ’em.

Friday was a be-everywhere-at-once day and I could really have done with a tardis. Then the postie arrived bearing swappy gifts. Instead of using the scheduled minutes to shower swimming pool hair before zipping off to visit Granny, I opened those packages, oohed and aahed and oohed again, then convinced self that the glorious smelling flowering herbs I’d gathered, would distract Granny and her room-mate June, from the chlorine fumes as well as the hospital whiff.

I’m chuffed to bits over my pincushion from Kitty. A Fowlers preserving jar with the lid doing the cushiony bit, courtesy of some French linen alphabet tape (mmm...) and filled with accoutrements (double mmm...).

Kitty, you are a gem – my hearty thanks to you – and my best wishes for the speedy onset of a smooth labour, safe and wondrous delivery and the consequent spontaneous renewed ability to see your feet. Kate, you did a sterling job orchestrating the whole gig – you are one (uber-organised) starlet.

Postie package number two completed the recent tea towel swap shenanigans and my never to be renovated kitchen is undeserving of such linen glory. After twenty-seven kazillion ‘reno’ horror stories, I’ve sighed and subscribed to the 50s ‘retro’ inconveniences, the sticking drawers, the non-shut cupboards, the drafty mini wind tunnels, the etceteras. I have mighty fine tea towelry, dammit.

This, from Sooz, the swapmaster herself...

and from Di...



...and Ellen.

Thanks to these five ladies, if I squint and tilt my head 37 degrees and do that photo framing thing with my hands, my kitchen is designery and DEAD POSH.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Whinge, a Refashion, Scary Hair and Conclusive Proof

I’ve been at sixes and sevens over the last few days but today I stopped beating about the bush and Embraced the Grump. Which means I’ve had to pay a visit out to the shed to make profuse and grovelling apologies. Now that the penny has dropped and the Mr knows it’s the annual case of the birthday blues, he’s more terrified than ever and ready to head for the hills. Who can blame the poor soul? I’m ready to head for the hills. For a pending, innocuous, sort of birthday (nothing with a zero on the end), you’d think I could get a grip, get over the Woe Is Me (is that what it is exactly?) and get planning celebratory stuff. Humpfh. I’d rather skirt around the issue.

Starlet Refashion Queen, Gina, long ago flung a thrifted find in my direction, no doubt with her usual airy ‘See what you can do with this’. A warm and woolly skirt, in excellent nick, but prior to refashioning, weirdly, waywardly, hemmed on the skew, at mid calf level with a startling sort of flair-thing. The rule that short people should never wear weirdly, waywardly, hemmed on the skew, mid-calf length, startling flared-things, dictated the lopping off of great bits, from here and there. A streamlined, a-line version emerged and there’s no point denying it, I appear to be crafting myself a skirty winter uniform.

I thought I’d give the mystery that is appliqué, a whirl. With scraplets of Liberty loveliness, some paper-backed fusible webbing, an open-toed foot (nothing to do with dancing shoes or birthday parties but certainly a handy thing to have around for machine appliqué-ing), I threw on a few dots. Then I freewheeled the embroidered bit, with a vague plan in mind and kept going until Tess of the D’Urbervilles ended in inevitable tragedy, I shed emphatic tears and bleary-eyed, ouchily stuck a needle up the side of my thumbnail.

It’s now a comfy, particularly warm skirt (27 degrees celsius at time of modelling), and more interesting than how it started. Which isn’t a bad conclusion to come to, given the current state of Doom and Gloom.

As an altogether unrelated, non-doom-and-gloom aside, there is a voluminous fur-do/hair-do look happening chez Myrtle and Eunice...

1. The resident Hair Bear, loving autumn-back-to-the-beach:

2. Scary Hair Kid (also showing evidence of inheritance of unfortunate, red-after-exercise gene. My heartiest apologies, darling):

3. Scarier Hair Kid:

And, finally, conclusive evidence the swap ‘tattoo’ made it into a pincushion:

I beat the post office, close of business deadline, with a generous seven minutes to spare.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Creative Space


Like a last minute bolt from above, the idea hit. I’ve been waiting forty hours less than a month (calculated from time of post office closing on deadline day). I have been lurking about my pincushion swappee’s blog, rifling through her drawers, peering under the bed, searching for the ‘something’ that would make a swapped pincushion hers.

I’d really like to be a tattoo artist.

Cripes! The ‘something’ in front of my nose the entire time, a swift referral to Great Auntie Em’s ancient, inherited, Semco Embroidery Stitches booklet thing, a crash course on everything that isn’t backstitch, even though everything ends up sort of vaguely backstitch and my vibrant blue under-eye-bags are doing beautifully today, thank you for asking.

All I need do now, is make a pincushion.


PS. Dear Kate, I do solemnly promise to complete said pincushion before tomorrow’s Cinderella (post office version) hour.

PPS. Given I appear to be channelling Cath on the whole hearty bizzo, I fully intend to shamelessy plagiarise her pincushion modus operandi, in order to achieve said deadline.

PPPS. Want to see how far behind I really am? Take a peek around this week’s spaces a la creativity via Kirsty’s...

Monday, April 12, 2010


Apologies in advance for more excessive than usual coherence issues. I’m suffering from tangled brain, after a weekend-headache doozy. Not that things should prove much different from the usual witterings around here. A while back, a friend took me to one side and threatened to put one of my posts through an official readability test-thingy. To prove a point. I have little doubt that made-up wordage, dubious punctuation and excessive bracketing and hyphenation, dictates a sure-fire, resounding fail. Faffing on about tangled skirt embroidery is unlikely to help today’s case.

Aforementioned, completed, tangled embroidery – pretending to be wool – because at time of sewing I felt like knitting, except now after enjoying the stitching so much, I really like it and maybe, possibly, I have some sewing mojo back after all. (Nuffin’ wrong with that sentence).

It has also been brought to my attention, that the Mr doesn’t think there is anything wrong with see-through skirt (and so therefore failed to mention until questioned). The eldest saved my school-drop off dignity (and hers) with wide-eyed alarm. I can report that I am now wearing skirt, complete with lined, retrofitted decency.

In other sewing mojo news, the eldest has three gnome hats to take to class. ‘H’ for Hundred, ‘T’ for Thousands, ‘O’ for Ones. Gnome hat themed maths lessons. Obviously.

Before I forget, the Middle kid also perfected his ‘eye roll’ over the weekend. It took two entire weeks of school holiday practise.

Friday, April 9, 2010

School Holiday Survival Strategy #2

I am no night time shopper. Night time is my time. Not even the prospect of dragging three kids kicking and screaming (bickering), to hunter gather shopping supplies, can convince me otherwise. These holidays, it presents a real challenge – honestly, you should hear the collective sighs. So, I turned it into a kid challenge.

Limiting our first two challenges to the fruit and vegie shop, I wrote out the shopping list on 24 strips of paper. The eldest and middle kid each took turns choosing a slip...

Did their best to fathom their task...

Groaned if it involved cauliflower...

Chuffed to bits if it didn’t...

With minimal coaching from me and the small, snack-eating kid, there were big grins, NO WHINGES (except for the cauliflower bit) and NOT A SINGLE SIBLING BICKERING ARGUMENT.

I high fived myself.


On the Up Side
• A whole heap of incidental learning (the reading, the learning not to squeeze the living daylights out of an avocado, the understanding that tossing the melon into the shopping trolley from the three point line is a bad idea
• The sense of kid achievement, the feeling capable, the awareness of, interaction with and good behaviour around other shoppers
• The fact that we can go through 33 apples at a ridiculous rate because the kids chose ’em

On the Down Side
• Every so often an avocado suffers from an exuberant squeeze so that’s what you’ll be eating for lunch
• You need to be on guard for kid light bulb moments (i.e. melon = basketball, trolley = hoop)
• I avoided the usual small store I shop at for, oh, so many reasons – but mainly because I knew a larger shop would prove more of a hunter gathering challenge and if we were early enough, fewer fellow terrorised shoppers
• If you are going to include ‘8 of something nice’ in the challenge, consider introducing small print terms and conditions, or get praying you don’t end up with eight whole watermelons

One Small But Important Detail to Note
I knew I would inevitably be purchasing apples with an occasional bruise, or rock-hard nectarines. This was fine with me – I didn’t want to start playing art director and taking away all the fun. Now the kids know what to look for from experience – at least as far as apples and nectarines go. The kids were also given a very sound behaviour and etiquette briefing, I was proud of them and nothing/nobody was hurt in the process.

One Other Small But Possibly More Important Detail to Note
Just because everyone is beside themselves chuffed over fruit and vegie shopping, “Can we do it again tomorrow?”, doesn’t guarantee the visits to the fishmonger, delicatessen and then supermarket (in the same outing), is going to be any walk in the park.