Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Change of plans

On today's agenda was a visit to the Andreas Gursky exhibition at the NGV. We have seen his work at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and it's amazing. Some of the scenes so ordinary (supermarket aisles, forests) which, simply through the scope of the frame, become something else altogether. We arrived only to find "Closed Today" outside the gallery - bother!

So a trip to the gallery turned into visiting some of the landmarks those of us in Melbourne will recall with fondness from our own childhoods.
Then to a favourite place that children of my children's generation will associate as a Melbourne childhood destination ...

It's the unexpected

that often thrills the most.

The flowers that your husband brings home that are completely his idea. The picture your daughter leaves hidden beneath your pillow. A kind message from a friend left on your answering machine at just the right moment.

Today we received an unexpected package from my dear friend in Christelle in Paris, a gorgeous gift she bought while in Syria recently. She thought perhaps I could turn this luscious fabric into something special and I hope I can - I have an idea, but it will take me a little while to figure out.

I wish I could post a link to Christelle's work for you to share. She has a normal job but her talent lies in photography and she has travelled the world taking the most amazing shots. I have the worst memory but she has been almost everywhere .... except Australia! Because I'm so amazed at how widely she travels I'm going to ask her to send me a list of everywhere she's visited because I know you too will be in awe. Thank you my dear friend. Gross bijoux.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Picked our first lot of basil and with it made one of my all time favourites, delicious pesto. A number of years ago, when staying with friends in Tuscany, I actually had four serves of pesto pasta that Paola made, and that was after antipasti and before the meat courses. It was really that good.

I also made a favourite summertime dessert today, spiced cherries. It's not a recipe as such as it's my own concoction. When there are no children consuming them then I make what is effectively a mulled wine (red wine, sugar, a splash of liquer, cinnamon stick, orange zest and juice), poach the cherries (pitted and fresh) in it briefly, really just enough to warm through then remove them with a slotted spoon. I then reduce the wine/sauce and then strain and pour over the cherries. With the girls eating these it's the same but minus the booze and with a splash of water and more orange juice. Consume room temperature to warm on top of vanilla icecream.

It's not hot today, but it's so nice having Geoff home, eating together as a family, which is something with have opportunity to do nowhere near enough, and eating outside always makes it seem like a holiday.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Over for another year

I can't believe it's over for another year. The girls rallied for Christmas of course, but are still under the weather. Why is it that summertime colds are particularly nasty?

Higlights included our now traditional Christmas Eve meal starting with prawn toasts. We had these first in Bergen around 2000 at a gorgeous fish restaurant and since then we've replicated them almost every Christmas Eve. The gorgeous ones unwrapping their gifts here and at nan and pa's - Ella's highlight being a Pa made table especially for her Sylvanian families. A Boxing morning walk with one of the girls new girls. Boxing day drinks in the sun at the local pub. The family altogether.

Geoff has another week off work, which is an unusual treat for us at this time of year. We will be working in the garden, going out for icecream, lots of family dinners, a bike ride with our new ride-along, dinner with friends on NYE, Leila's 2nd birthday in 5 days. I'm looking forward to not having to be anywhere at any particular time - not something that happens often.
I hope you've all had a lovely few days and can look forward to more. Thank you for sharing, thank you for reading and bringing a little extra fun into my days.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

10 Pin Pleasure

I'm quite fond of supposedly daggy pursuits. I like a good game of Boggle and I adore Pictionary, although so rarely get the chance to play these games. My husband is not a games man, in fact he is the opposite of a games man - he thinks they're naff.

I arranged to go bowling today with friends as an advent calendar treat. I haven't bowled for years, but there's an alley near us so I booked it. I was never very good (I'm still not), but I am very enthusiastic. The kids all loved it, using one of those ramps to assist. I loved the fact that the lights were off for most of the time (it was only 3pm) and that Jackson Five were playing on the video screen. They were also cool shoes - not the decidedly worn ones I remember from years gone by. I had a great time. I heard Geoff mocking the idea of a Saturday night spent bowling - but I LOVE the idea of it - his daggy is my cool!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gone so fast

Tomorrow Ella's kindergarten days draw to a close. Two years of being nourished in a small, cosy, secure environment where everyone knows and likes everyone else, will come to an end. She's gone from being just over 3 to just over 5, maturing, growing in stature, learning to find her own way, moving ever more towards independence.

Next year will see her start school and our weeks will be spent with more hours apart than together. I feel torn at the loss of what we have now, a little fearful of losing a part of her, but also excited at all she will see, learn and be interested in and by. 2009 will see new routines for our family and I'm excited at the idea of it. Leila and I will get to know each other more, finally having one on one time, something we haven't had to now. Ella and I have a different relationship than Leila and I, most probably because of the 3 years we had with Ella alone. There will be so many new experiences ahead.
Today we shared, as Leila calls them "jimmy bread men" with the boys, and fairy wands with the girls. When we were sitting decorating them yesterday Ella said to me "Do you know the best thing about making these mum?" I thought the answer would be "eating them" but no, I should have know my eldest better, "giving them to my friends mum, that's the best part" and it really was.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vain, versatile or both?

This started off being about me trying to get a decent self portrait of my latest haircut. I'm a short hair girl - or have been for 10 years - and this is long for me. Finally I feel it looks nice, rather than just hair, so felt I should take a picture.

The more pictures I took the more I found myself thinking, but I look so good in the mirror, why are all the photos coming out so crap? So I took more photos and they kept coming out crap. Double chin, wrinkles too obvious, jowly cheeks, baggy eyes - in some the camera completely altered my face shape! Why did the camera keep deceiving me so cruelly?

That then got me to thinking about AMNT. The latest series was on last night - it's a guilty pleasure of mine. It's so superficial, so nasty at times, yet I watch it without fail. They were given a challenge to portray real conviction, passion in causes through a photograph. You could tell that some of them were really trying, but when the final photos were shown, there was hardly any emotion showing in any of their faces.

That then led me to a thought I've often had - acting - how hard can it be, really? So, as I was unable to portray beauty in my self portraits, I thought I'd aim for real emotion. Have you ever seen the little bit in Vanity Fair where they have an actor and three photos beneath which they have captions like "You have just accepted your Oscar for best actor" and then there is said actor pulling that face. Well that led me to this..
Who's feeling witty enough to amuse me with captions for each?
PS yes, I am a mother of two with many more pressing things to be doing than this!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


looks at least $10.00 with the addition of some handsewn sequins and seed pearls. Don't you think? The idea is to continue up over the shoulders and around the back - but Ella simply couldn't wait to wear it. Very relaxing beading - I did it at the hairdressers yesterday while I was coloured and cut. You'll be seeing more sparkles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Square by Square

I have never made a quilt. I have thought many times about it but worried about the seeming enormity of it. It amazes me the way some seem to literally whip them up, with every seam matching.

My thinking of quilts is a little like my business planning approach - I worry a lot about details. I thought I would need all the pieces cut out, everything ready to go, quiet time to keep everything just so. In reality, that's not my world. I don't have time to get them all cut out in advance and I never get alone sewing time. So, months back, I started going through clothes that the girls had both grown out of. I separated those that were op shop, those I simply couldn't give up (the memory box ones) and those I wanted to remember, but could bear to take the scissors to.

So, I started cutting 10 x 10cm squares. Shortly after I'd done this I realised my first error - quilters work in inches! Aaaargh. Anyway today Leila was unwell and slept most of the afternoon and Ella was in a quiet play mood, I also had LOTS of jobs I should be doing but couldn't face, so it seemed the perfect time to start making the quilts. Two quilts. I am making one for each girl. It's addictive, it's like knitting, you just want it to get bigger, it's hard to stop. I didn't get much done, but I'm going through the clothes again tomorrow for more scissor action. My seams aren't perfect, some of the fabrics are stretch knits and they aren't quite the perfect size, but it doesn't matter. There is a story in every piece in these quilts, and I love that.

Etsy Magic

I've had my etsy shop open for over a year now and it's been such a pleasure.

I am a planner. I have had business ideas for many years, most of them modest, but all of them extremely planned out. I worry myself with details. I really started sewing again, as many of us have, when my first daughter was born, over 5 years ago now. Back then I had a few ideas I thought were saleable, the dolls were just one of them. I worried so much about having every single detail planned out - from my labelling and packaging to my medium and long term goals. Don't get me wrong, I think they're important things to consider when really beginning a small business, but the likes of what I was considering, well, it was so small as to not really warrant all that angst. Then along came etsy. I can't even remember how I found her - but I did and thought, that's a way I can start small and I did.
I sold my first doll within an hour of listing her. I thought I'd done something wrong when I checked back and it was gone, I never considered it would actually sell. I have improved since my first sale, or feel I have, and the feedback has fed my enthusiasm tremendously.
My customers have all been generous with their feedback, but one in particular has been more than a customer. Sandy has been a great supporter of my product. She has purchased a lot from me, she has recommended me to friends and to other blogs. She has also, in a way that I guess could sound strange to some who haven't experienced it, become a friend to me across the miles. I don't measure friendship in terms of gifts at all, but I do measure that someone means something to me and I to them, when they send me things because they've thought of me, without anything in it for themselves.
Last week I posted about my icing problems. That night Sandy emailed me with a photo of something she had in her kitchen that was the very thing I was thinking of. She herself hadn't used it and felt unlikely that she would, so today, it arrived with me. A small gesture can feel so big sometimes. It's not just the icing kit, the fact that it's something we were looking for, it's the fact that she thought of me and that she acted on her thought. Thank you Sandy - again xx
While I'm giving her a plug - she is not only a lovely individual, but a talented one too. One of her many talents is on display in her own etsy shop - I particularly love the flash cards and think they're a great gift for younger children.

I wish I could tell you more,

but I shouldn't even be showing this much, even out of focus. I couldn't resist though. I want this special person to know that I am hopelessly late but this item is finished and simply awaiting a few special items to complete the package.

You know who you are!

Day 10

We lasted pretty well to only be putting up the tree on Day 10 of the Christmas month. In all honestly this year it was me who suggested it, rather than being nagged to do it. It was our advent activity for Day 11, but I always think it's nicer to put up the tree at night. When I was growing up our big family celebration was on Christmas Eve, northern hemisphere style. We only put up the tree on that night - so it was a HUGE deal. I don't remember it bothering me that we had to wait so long for it, I remember it as a real sense of occasion.

Ella loved the decorating, examining each decoration individually and remembering where it came from, if it was recent enough for her to know. There were the decorations she made at kinder last year, which she was so surprised to see and so thrilled with. Leila - she wasn't into it so much. She did enjoy taking the decorations off and tasting each one, perhaps hoping one was a candy cane in disguise, but otherwise was a little non plussed.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Children are a great motivator. If they show the slightest interest in something you're making for them, it spurs you on to finish when you otherwise would put that button hole off for, oh, another month or so.

Ella's tooth is getting wobblier by the day so if action wasn't taken, the tooth could have arrived with nowhere to go. She saw me sewing and had no idea what it was, so in the time I took to make it we were both kept entertained with her guesses as to what it was (cat, dog, horse!!)

This idea was totally borrowed from HopSkipJump and it was super easy and for some reason so very satisfying. I didn't get a shot of the reverse but I made a very small draw string bag and stitched it on for the tooth to live in until the fairy collects it. My shape, looking at it now, isn't very toothlike - but Peggy is very cuddly and I think rather sweet. Just got to wait it out now.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

WARNING! Small child and alcohol ....

I would say that there were dips taken from the glass, but only with fingers, not little lips. She knew how cheeky she was actually holding the glass, hence the raucous laughter.

Friday night was a lovely evening and for once I figured ask not why, but why not. So when Geoff got home a little earlier than normal I cracked open a bottle of bubbly and the four of us frollicked in the front garden. The girls stayed up a little later but we had such a lovely, uncomplicated time and they went to bed so happy.
Life gets in the way of having those why not moments. I worry too much, plan too carefully and don't allow much room for spontaneity. I wasn't always like this, but being a parent, feeling stretched in more ways than ever before, well I feel that there just isn't the energy for too much unpredictability. You know what though, when I feel most happy, are those times when we're together, the four of us and when we can just be.
Geoff and I have agreed that on weekends there will be more of what we want to do and less of what we have to do. We'll compromise with getting a couple of hours of have to's done (enough so I don't feel I'm starting the week behind), but after that we'll focus on and enjoy what is most important to us - each other.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Swapping cards

Did anyone else join Amber's Christmas card swap? We joined last year and had such a lovely time that we signed up again this year. I confess to being a little late sending this year, but we've already received our first three cards from lovely prompt posters!

We did these in a hurry, but I think it's a really sweet idea (picture one side, message the other with a pipe cleaner hanger so they can go on the tree) they're often borne of necessity aren't they, good ideas? If I wasn't already starting to feel so crafty-spent I'd suggest to the girls that we make a whole bunch for our tree - but not sure I've got it in me. Not today at least.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Two by Two

Our icing of cookies is never very, well, controlled. I can manipulate a traditional cake icing bag, but the girls have a lot of trouble with it. I guess the management of squeezing and holding the nozzle at the same time can be a little like patting your head whilst rubbing your tum.

I know you can buy pre-prepared icing in squeezy tubes, but I don't like to partly because of the cost but mainly, icing is such a simple thing, you surely don't need to buy it and also have additional additives added to the mix? I recently saw something, I think in Martha Stewart or definitely something US based (of course I can't find it anywhere now), where you could buy soft plastic sauce type bottles that the icing nozzles fit onto. They then concertiner down (the profile was like a pleated skirt) so you could squeeze every last drop out of it. Those, I think, would be quite easy for a child to manage.

Has anyone seen/bought anything like this within Australia or know of someone who ships here without customs issues?