Sunday, August 31, 2008

Snowflake



"The Snowflake was born on a cold, winter's day far up in the sky, many miles above the earth.


Her birth took place in the heart of a grey cloud that swept over the land driven by icy winds.


It all came about from one moment to the next. At first there was only the swollen cloud moving over the tops of the mountains. Then it began to snow. And where but a second before there had been nothing, now there was Snowflake and all her brothers and sisters falling from the sky.


Falling, falling, falling! As gently as lying in a cradle rocked by the wind, drifting downward like a feather, blown this way and that, Snowflake found herself floating in a world she had never known before.


Snowflake could not think when it was she had been born, or how. It had seemed almost like waking up from a deep sleep. An instant before she had been nowhere; now she was here, turning, gliding, sailing, falling, down, down, down.



She thought to herself: "Here I am. But where did I come from? And what was I then? Where have I been? Whither am I going? Who made me and all my brothers and sisters all about me? And why?"



There was no answer to these questions. For the wind in the sky blows without sound, the sky itself is still; the very earth below is hushed when the snow begins to fall.



Looking about her, Snowflake could see hundreds upon hundreds of other flakes tumbling down as far as the eye could reach. And they were silent too."


I bought this little old book by Paul Gallico at a book fair last month, and read it this weekend. Published in 1952, it is a sweet allegory of life. From her birth in the clouds, her journey to earth as a snowflake, her early life on the snowfields to her later life as a waterdrop, her journey down the valleys to a river, marriage to Raindrop, childrearing, widowhood and her last days before she is gathered up to the clouds little Snowflake ponders on the big questions of what life is about, but always looks to her Creator.
I loved this...
"One day, not long after they had left the lake and were floating with the river through a green valley whose slopes were tiered with vines on which hung great clusters of white and purple grapes, Raindrop said:
"Snowflake, dear, whose are all those many little voices I seem to hear all about us, and to whom you speak from time to time?"
Snowflake smiled shyly and said gently: "I was wondering when you would notice. Those are our children, dear Raindrop."
Raindrop was greatly pleased, but could only say: "Well ..." and then once more, "Well, well! How many of them are there?"
Snowflake counted them again to make certain and then said with pride: "Four."
(Okay, so it's not a perfect allegory LOL if only childbirth was so simple as to not be noticed by a husband!)
I love that between each short section of the story is a little blue sketch of a snowflake, or a Swiss scene, or a raindrop. Definitely worth every cent of that $2 I paid!
A lovely way to end the winter here. Spring begins tomorrow.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Spring is Coming!

Natives on a thrifted picnic tablecloth


Grevillea and erisotemon


Pink daisies on the verandah



And lavender growing on long stems to fragrance the house.

When I walk into school I often see an elderly Chinese lady who shuffles down the street to pick up her grandchildren from school. She walks with some difficulty, and I feel sorry for her, sometimes having sore knees and feet myself. Today I smiled to see that she had a yellow daisy in her hair, tucked behind her ear. Yes, spring is coming.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thoughts of Spring


Spring is almost here, and now and then we have a warmer day to let us know. Actually I am quite happy with our cool winter days generally, and have much more energy now than I will in summer.
So, keeping that in mind, these are my plans for the next few weeks before the school holidays:
1. Keep the house tidy - at the moment the house is very tidy, which is unusual for me!
2. With the house being so tidy ... get more actual cleaning done
3. Sort out the girls' room a bit better (the messiest part of the house at present)
4. Finish Laura's quilt (just the binding to hand-sew now!)
5. Start planning and creating for Christmas - just getting a start
6. Prepare for our weekend away - a festival of Irish music - in a few weeks
7. Keep up with my reading: John Piper's Desiring God for bible study; Jane Eyre for an online book group, and various other books piled by my bedside and elsewhere!
8. Scrapbooking - have bought some new albums so now it is really time to stop procastinating over September-Dec 2006 and just do it! And then there's the rest of 2007 ... and now 2008 ... but finish 2006 first!
9. Baking - I have lots of plans to try different recipes ... but I need to stop buying so much food from the shops so that we actually need me to bake!
10. Cards - I am hoping to make many more cards and actually send them to friends when they need a cheer-up, rather than just make a pile and store them in a box!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Carte Postale

I'm loving my latest Stampin' Up set, Carte Postale.
I used it to make this 50th birthday card for my sister-in-law ...
and a birthday card for my father-in-law, who loves to say "Bonjour" instead of "hello".

I've been doing more stamping ... if I can ever get the lighting right I will post some more soon ... but now am off to school for afternoon pick-up ...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Little A watches Maisy


On Mondays I have been having my little friend Little A over to play. Little A is 2 and a creature of habit. Each Monday morning she checks out the little children's table, then walks to the living area to look for "the toys that were there last Monday" (she doesn't say that but I can tell that is what she is thinking) So I am gradually bringing out different toys to have a mix of same and new toys, so as not to rock the boat.
Last Monday she jumped on the (enclosed) trampoline, about half an hour later we went for a walk to see a nearby aviary and much later she watched a few minutes of Maisy. (I love that she is just as interested in the video cover as in the TV LOL, I had to take a photo!) Today before her Mummy had even left she was heading out to the trampoline, when she finished jumping she wanted to watch Maisy and go for a walk immediately . She had remembered every exciting activity.
Actually her Mummy wasn't going to bring her today, but Little A somehow knew it was Monday and was putting her shoes on to come!
Oh if only the days of having my own 2-year-olds had been full of such excitement ... or maybe they were ... I can't really remember. When E was 2 I had a new-born, and when L was 2 I had a preschooler. It's not really the same as having a little friend over to play. And then I get to hand her back to Mummy until next Monday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Girls Annual 1917








While looking for something to share for this week's Vintage Thingie Thursday I came across this book in my collection of my Nanna's books.


What I love most is that it is inscribed in the front by my great-great-grandmother to my Nanna, and dated December 1917. My nanna would have been 11, and I guess this may have been a Christmas present.




But as well as the personal interest as I looked through the book I was interested in the plates and the stories, and also to see the variety of chapters.



"I WONDER WHO HE IS, AND THERE IS NO ADDRESS"


Some of the plates are in colour, and others black and white. There is a mix of stories, fiction and non-fiction.
The obligatory nursing story


NURSE WAS GOING


This is from a chapter entitled Romantic Episodes in the Old Testament (!)

HOLDING HER PITCHER FOR HIM TO DRINK


Another very interesting feature of this book is that there are articles about the war, which had been going for 3 years by now, making the book quite current and relevant to girls at the time.

This illustration is from a chapter on French Girls at War Work - what a French author has to say of the patriotism of the French jeunes filles.

HITHERTO UNACCUSTOMED TASKS AT HOME


An unfortunate-looking man playing tennis

HE WAS UNUSUALLY GOOD AT THE NET
and an adventure story of a young girl whose face does not match the description in the story:

"a face which was a flower of sweetness, a star in its expression of radiant steadfastness", but then, she is in "A Desperate Situation" as the top of the page informs me. I love the old books which summarise each page with a heading.

A lovely domestic scene

"ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DRESSES I HAVE EVER SEEN"

The chapter "Canada for Girls" is also very interesting - it seems to be information for British girls who may want to emigrate to "the Dominions" (and therefore seems a bit pointless being in the Australian Empire Annual, since Australia was also "the Dominions" and the girls were already ... well ... here).

GATHERING THE APPLE HARVEST IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

"There is a general impression abroad, I believe, that the British
Dominions over the Seas are eager and waiting to accept any kind of women or
girls whatever, so much are they in want of our sex. This idea is quite
erroneous. It is true that women and girls of the type the Dominions
require are welcomed with open arms, and we in Canada are as desirous of
encouraging the right sort of women to emigrate as any such land can be.
But she must be the right sort - not any Clara, Mary or Martha who is unfit for domestic work and service at home, and would be still more unfit for it
abroad!"


The article goes on to say that they do not want girls to take over farm work from men, but to help on farms and other places by "cooking, making bread, sewing, washing and doing dairy-work - with all the more certanty of a very good situation or post if they can add to these accomplishments the arts of pickling and preserving jams, fruits etc." (such a girls is then described as "thus clever"!)

(Aside: the list of desirable accomplishments seems to have changed from almost exactly 100 years before when Mr Darcy and Miss Bingley discussed the topic)

And so above we see the "clever" girl collecting her box of apples to make preserves. Girls are also warned not to plan to marry too soon after arriving in Canada! Also, "she who wishes to spend her evenings at picture-palaces or amid crowds of people is not the girls Canada and other Dominions are calling for"!


I hope you have enjoyed this little trip back to 1917 as much as I have!

A Thrifty Quilt


At long last I have finished my quilt. Well, actually it is not entirely my quilt. A few years ago in an op shop I found 6 pieced quilt blocks. Just sitting there. $1 each.


I had just been planning a red and yellow theme for our study (mostly timber and neutrals but a few red and yellow accents, to go with the curtains, and there it was - a pile of red and yellow and calico quilt blocks.



So I took them home, and last winter bought some extra yellow, floral and striped fabric for the sashes and joined them together. I couldn't find an exact match for the deep red but wanted to use a brighter red anyway, and I loved this fabric with the roses. The joining was a feat in itself, it turned out that each block was a slightly different size - eek!



I started quilting, and then in fits and bursts have worked on it ... the rest of the time it has sat on a chair in our living room.


I love the way whoever pieced these blocks matched the pattern so carefully when she cut the pieces.


The matching and the precise hand-piecing is way beyond me, generally I'm a straight lines kind of girl when it comes to patchwork. I am so not a perfectionist when it comes to quilting. (as you can see if you look closely!)


It was fun to quilt each block in a different way, I hand-quilted them all except later I added machine stippling around the Dresden plate block.

And last night, I finished it! I sat and watched Pride & Prejudice (well, listened while I stitched, really) and sewed on the binding, and now it is done!


Now I just have to tidy the study - again! And re-upholster the council-cleanup armchair find to coordinate with my decorating scheme. Always another project to do :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trip around the world ...



Did I tell you about our recent trip to the Netherlands?




No?



Well maybe because we didn't actually go quite so far ... today we had a picnic at a nearby park which has international gardens. We had lunch (bread rolls, chips and apples) and the girls played on some play equipment. After a game of frisbee we walked around the international gardens.




We had a great afternoon, but just look at the sky! We thought it would pour on us at any moment, but actually we had periods of sunshine as well.



This is the North American garden, and my favourite house. I could live here!


And don't you wish you owned this little corner of garden? I do.


This is the Australian house (of the early 1800s I'm guessing - our house is a little more civilized than this one LOL)

and the Mediterranean Garden:

and the view from the steps, with those amazing black clouds.

We had an afternoon tea at the park of lemon coconut slice and (packet) lamingtons and tea from a thermos, and made it home to rescue the washing from the 10 light raindrops which fell around 5pm. I guess those black clouds were just passing by.

Fabric Crayon Fun


Every Friday, (in theory) we have Friday Fun. Since the girls don't have homework on Fridays it is a chance to do something different together, maybe an outing, maybe a special craft. By Fridays we are all pretty tired though and sometimes the Fun part doesn't really happen :-(

Yesterday we tried a new art supply: Pentel Fabric Fun Dye Sticks (crayons) $5.99 at Riot Art & Craft. I heard they were good, and they were. No mucking about with transfers, and they work well with 100% cotton, which is all we have, really. Just colour straight onto the fabric, then heat set with an iron. The girls are looking forward to decorating some t-shirts, but yesterday we started small, just trying the effect on some calico. We liked them so much that we made them into stuffed toys and a bag.

Laura made a rainbow



which we backed with this colourful corduroy





Emily made a very cute fairy



The girls did most of the cutting, pinning and sewing themselves!



I was inspired by 70s illustrations to make this bird, which I turned into a bag.







Before sewing it into the bag I added chain stitch around the bird and some running stitch on the wing and plants.





It's not a super-strong bag, so I'll have to choose the perfect purpose for it ... maybe to hold the scarf I am knitting, or maybe my current magazines ... hmmm




But it sure is making me happy when I see it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Embroidered Placemats


These extremely cute placemats were a find one year on holidays by the beach, actually the same opshop where we found these. As I recall they were $1 each!

The parasols are just perfectly perfect vintage and I love that each placemat has a different colour scheme, which roughly seem to fit into the seasons.

We have spring

Summer





Autumn




Winter



and a funny green and orange combination where I am guessing the stitcher used her leftover threads? Not being an orange person I have to say this is my least favourite of the lot. But surfing on lots of vintage and creative blogs has given me an appreciation for orange I never expected to have.

I must remember to use these placemats more and not leave them in the drawer. I love them.