Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Australia Day Cruise

Yesterday was Australia Day, the 221st anniversary of white settlement in Australia. It was also my Aunty Margaret's 60th Birthday. She had long dreamed of one Australia Day going on a harbour cruise, to enjoy the changing scene over beautiful Sydney Harbour from daylight to sunset to twilight and then the sights of the city lights in the night sky. So for her 60th Birthday she decided the time had come, and invited family to join them. (This is the card I made her)

But unfortunately the dream of the sunset just didn't happen. After an overcast day it began to drizzle around 5.00pm and it is still drizzling now (the following morning!). So instead of the beautiful photos I wanted to post (the Harbour Bridge with the sunset in the background, the Opera House in the blue twilight ....) I have these:

as we approached the wharf, we went in the white catamaran

scene from the foredeck (with flash)

the harbour bridge as we headed towards the fireworks (great photography - huh?)

We arrived at the fireworks just as they were beginning ... other cruise boats were in front of us, we weren't so close as we could be ... but we just had to laugh, because the mist had closed in and we couldn't see a thing. Just a few lazer lights down low. We couldn't even see the lights of the city buidings. The drizzle got worse, coming in sideways. Those of us who had umbrellas held them in front, not above, and we laughed hilariously, Aunty Margaret laughing most of all, because it was not the fireworks cruise we had dreamed of. We heard the fireworks, and later smelt them, but the only visual sign was the mist turning pink twice!

All night my long pants were constantly being soaked from the bottom cuff upwards ... with my flat sequined sandals I was standing in puddles ... but I'm still so glad I went. It was nice to have a special celebration for Aunty Margaret, it was a new experience for me, the dinner was delicious, and overall lots of fun.
At the end of the cruise they handed out the helium balloons which had decorated the inside of the boat, and I ended up carrying home (on the train!) a big bunch of balloons, like a balloon seller (much to my mother's embarrassment, I think) I put them in the girls' room when I got home to surprise them. But in the morning they were on the floor, looking like I felt. I'm sure I have a cold coming on now from all that time in the rain. It's the last day of the holidays, school starts tomorrow, but I feel too tired to do a thing with the girls.

But I'm glad I went.
And with my inadequate night-time camera skills I made fireworks of my own:

Saturday, January 24, 2009


We have had such hot weather here, until tonight. I am so thankful for our air-conditioning.

Yesterday we had three girls over (sisters, and also my piano students) to play and watch a video - originally I promised them a "Mary Poppins" afternoon as they had never seen Mary Poppins (!) but coincidentally it was on TV the other night, so they saw it then. Instead we played games, watched a short show, did some craft (introducing them to stamping, which they loved) and iced and ate cupcakes. The visitors also wanted to jump on the trampoline, so out they went in the 36degC heat to jump! Overall we had lots of fun and it was nice to give them a treat, they work hard at home even during the holidays. (Putting my piano teacher-hat on I was glad to hear they were doing 1 hour of piano practice a day in the holidays though!)

Today we visited in-laws and spent the rest of the hot day indoors with the air-conditioning, until a southerly came through in the late afternoon - phew!

With cooler weather in sight I made some delicious peanut cookies - yum! Peanut butter, rolled oats, lemon, cinnamon .... these are truly yummy. Such a shame the girls refuse to eat them ... not!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Origami Flowers

For Emily's birthday party we all worked together to make these pretty flowers.

The instructions are here at Folding Trees and I love these samples too. One day I'd love to make more and join them together to make a kusudama ball.

They were not at all hard, but you do need to allow time for the glue to dry. We used bobby pins to hold the petals in place as the glue dried. The flowers are especially pretty made with double-sided paper. Some scrapbook papers were a little too thick to work with easily, however.

They looked so pretty scattered down the table amongst the desserts for Emily's birthday.

Edited to add: for more papercraft ideas please look here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Child-free Weekend

My parents have kindly taken our girls for 3 nights! Their cousins (girls 7 & 9) are there too, so I guess there's LOTS of giggling and girl-stuff going on.

Steve and I decided to go out for the day yesterday, and went to Glebe, an inner-city area where there are markets and antique and second-hand shops.

We went to the markets, but didn't find anything really exciting there, it was mostly clothes and average jewellery. Steve found a second-hand chess book, but there weren't many secondhand dealers at all, which was disappointing. However we ate delicious gozlemes while sitting on a grassed area listening to a jazz guitarist, which was nice.

Then we went to a second-hand music shop, where I was happy to find some recorder music which I will use for my recorder class this year. Recorder is not such a popular instrument, it seems, these days, so it's difficult to find good music, mostly I have to really on my own arrangements or books printed in the 70s and 80s. I was thrilled to find a book I have been searching for for the last few years, I couldn't even find it on the internet! Also we found some flute music which hopefully Laura can play one day.

Then we went to the one little shop which I really wanted to go to - we had based our whole "expedition" around it - and it was closed! Such a disappointment. And in the window were 2 jugs on special I definitely would have bought. Sigh. That is the trouble with January - so many small businesses are closed -mostly antique dealers and coffee shops. Oh well, I guess they are entitled to a break too! It's a shame that it coincides with our break!

But two things made our whole trip worthwhile - visiting Ruby Star Traders (and finding them on sale!) and walking around a beautiful bay in the sunshine on the way home. Everything you see in these photos was from there (except the bowl and paper flowers in the first photo) - gorgeous papers, handpainted ornaments (Christmas but not too Christmassy to display all year) all $1-$3. I had so much fun picking out what to buy!

Then last night we went out for dinner (another post coming about that!)
Today we are enjoying a quiet non-interrupted day at home, a little tidying, a little reading, a little rearranging, and a little eating of nice things. Speaking of which, it's time to put the kettle on ...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's all happening at the zoo

How cool is a zebra?

Or a giraffe?

Kangaroos and wallabies are slightly more commonplace around here

But a peacock strutting along the footpath just doesn't happen every day in normal life!

One of my favourite songs:

Someone told me, it's all happening at the zoo.
I do believe it, I do believe it's true.
It's a light and tumble journey from the East Side to the park;
Just a fine and fancy ramble to the zoo.
But you can take the crosstown bus if it's raining or it's cold,
And the animals will love it if you do ... if you do now.

Something tells me it's all happening at the zoo.
I do believe it, do believe it's true.

The monkeys stand for honesty, giraffes are insincere
And the elephants are kindly but they're dumb
Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages
And the zookeeper is very fond of rum
Zebras are reactionaries, antelopes are missionaries
Pigeons plot in secrecy, and hamsters turn on frequently
What a gas--you've come and see, At the zoo
(Paul Simon)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Birthday Week

On Wednesday Emily turned 11. We celebrated with a trip to the zoo, taking Emily's best friend along too.

Then yesterday another Emily turned 10, and my girls went to her sleepover party, returning tired and somewhat grumpy this morning. Tomorrow we have most of my family coming over to finish celebrating our Emily's birthday, so this afternoon I'm busy baking and tidying.

So I'm not really feeling so calm and relaxed at the moment, even though it is the middle of school holidays. But on Wednesday at the zoo we came out of the heat and into a dark, air-conditioned room, and life's troubles were suspended for a few minutes as we gazed in wonder at penguins and seals swimming by.

So cool.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bits and Pieces

This is a strange but good time of year. We are mostly at home, except for some shopping here and there, church and a swim yesterday, but otherwise just at home. Reading, watching TV, playing, organising, gardening. We feel insular, and even more introvert than usual. We want to keep the world out for as long as we can. But in 2 days Steve will go back to work and we will settle into a normal school holiday routine, where daddy goes to work and mummy and the girls do stuff.

In the meantime, I've been trying to declutter and lighten up. The photo above shows my latest change to my craft table - I vacated a drawer and put in these mini drawers next to each other to hold various embellishments and tools. So far it's working really well.

Emily and I hung out in Borders for a couple of hours on Saturday (a Mummy-Daughter outing) and we bought this book of stencils which we girls have all been using.

This was my first go with it:

Some of the fonts are pretty fun. Nothing we haven't got as a font on the computer, but sometimes you just need to do it by hand! Also as well as the fonts are some cute little graphics. Laura has been adding elephants to everything.

Last week I did a lot of scrapbooking, about 17 pages in 2 days. This is one of my favourites:

I'm pleased how it turned out. At first the photos looked so blah with lots of grey curtain and then the honey-coloured stage and walls, but once I found the floral paper suddenly the colours of the costumes bounced out - one of the things I love about scrapbooking.

And lastly, this is the adorable drawing Emily did for us for Christmas. She secretly worked on it for a few days and it's pretty darn cute. We love it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

Happy New Year! TodayI woke early and went for a walk in the misty morning light. This spiderweb looked so beautiful covered in droplets that I went back for the camera to capture the moment.

Soon the air began to heat up and today has been hot - 33degC and now at 9pm it is still hot, but a southerly will come through tonight and we will have cooler weather tomorrow.

We didn't celebrate much last night, instead we let the girls stay up and watch an old Danny Kaye movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was fun, then we saw the 9.00 fireworks over Sydney Harbour on TV. From then until about 12.30pm there were sporadic bangs from local fireworks (some just in the next block) and finally there was quiet.

Today we packed away all the Christmas decorations and tree. Although it is traditional to keep the tree until 6th January by New Year's I am hanging out for some space and to put the furniture back to rights. Also Emily has her birthday on the 7th January so I need to get out of Christmas mode and into Birthday mode!

As we were packing up the tree I thought I would photograph the sweet felt ornaments the girls made us this year for Christmas.

I taught Laura blanket stitch and this was her first ornament she ever sewed. Her stitching is lovely and even for a 9yo beginner, I think!

Emily secretly made this very cute snowman on her own. It is stitched around the edge and all the other pieces are glued on. I knew she was up to something but I didn't know it would be this cute and clever!
I'm so happy that the girls are now sewing their own felt ornaments! For Christmas the girls were given kits to sew yo-yos and now they have started sewing them. Emily is making two each morning before the rest of us are up and about, and is planning to use them to decorate a cushion. It's lovely to see them enjoying sewing already.