Saturday, April 25, 2009

A New Start

After about 6 days of not feeling great, but feeling grateful to my wonderful husband who kept us all going, yesterday I started to feel more normal, the weather began to clear, and the days of cat-minding are coming to an end.

Now don't get me wrong. Millie is a very cute cat, and I love to have her snuggle onto my lap, and to admire her delicate features - but I just don't think our house is very cat-friendly. It is too easy for a cat to escape out the front or back door (don't ask me how I know that, just think of me imagining the phone call to my sister that her daughters' cat is lost! Then imagine my relief a few minutes later when we found her).

I haven't been able to iron, or get much cleaning done, as Millie wants to be in on the act. The girls have kept their bedroom door closed so that Millie doesn't get permanently lost among their mess. Each day I've gone in about 5pm and cleared a path to their beds. We're looking forward to doing a big clean-up and makeover of their room soon, but this was not the week. On top of that the girls were going a bit stir-crazy being inside all the time (like the cat) and we've had some ... ummm ... moments.

On Tuesday night I was privileged to hear Annemarie Ezzo speak on the topic of quiet times, and their importance. I'm looking forward to a more normal routine starting up again in the next few days, with some more tidying of the house, some quiet times, and some exercise.

So with all these feelings in mind yesterday afternoon it was perfect to see this beautiful rainbow right over our house yesterday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cozy Days

We have been having such a cozy time here. The weather has been grey and rainy, and the temperature good for snuggling. Steve is home from work so we are all feeling relaxed. I’ve had a mild tummy bug, enough to sit down for most of the day rather than stand, but not enough to make me feel miserable.

Yesterday I did some sewing, first some mending (pockets with holes, elastic to replace, darning some jeans – it’s amazing what you can do when you actually get out the sewing machine), then with that out of the way I felt inspired to return to a project I started last year – a “tapestry” from the Tilda Sew Pretty Homestyle book (although it’s really a wall quilt, I’d say).

I’m not making it exactly her way, but very much inspired by her. Instead of appliquéing the shapes I’m embroidering them with a quick running stitch. Not so fancy, but quicker and more homey-looking.

Yesterday I got nearly all the blank rectangles stitched, just one more to do when I decide on the design, and then I’ll be ready to think about borders and binding. It would be lovely to have a little stripe as the binding, if I can find something.

My purpose in making this quilt was to use up a lot of pale fabrics, some new and some from my very early patchwork days in the early 90s, I still love them but I find it hard to use them with some modern fabrics. And besides, I have much too much fabric to use up, and I’m determined to use it! So far I haven’t bought anything for this quilt, but I’ll have to buy wadding, at least, and perhaps the backing. I thought of hanging this quilt on the wall, but it might become a lap quilt …

A couple of years ago I bought two rug-hooking kits for the girls, and put them away until the girls were ready for them. Today the time seemed right, so I taught them to hook and they began.

I expected they would do a little, and put it aside for the next 3 years (their usual habit), but instead they are loving it, Laura has already done about 1/3 of the little pattern! I think they are addicted. They didn’t want to stop during dinner or at bedtime!

The plan then is to make them into cushions.

So we sat cozily, stitching, hooking and dozing, listening to soothing music - and the one thing needed to make the picture complete – a cat slept on a lap!

This week we are minding my nieces’ cat Millie while they holiday. She is a Burmese and has settled right into our family. We have never had a pet so this is a new experience for us (Steve grew up with cats and dogs, but I only had fish – not so interactive).

The girls are loving her and we are all enjoying her taking turns on our laps. (Laura wore her dressing gown over her clothes all day so that Millie would like to sit on her lap!) Steve makes the most mischief with her and we all keep out of her way when she goes a bit psycho now and then. We will miss her when she’s gone.

So … sewing, reading, music, hooking, dozing and cat-napping while the rain comes and goes outside … some good days for us ahead.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mountain Beauty

I so enjoyed our taste of cool autumn weather the last few days. Even here in Sydney when we arrived home it seems more like autumn and less like summer.

Mt Solitary (aka The Sleeping Giant)

I always love going to the Blue Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking, the houses lovely and I think most of all I love the trees. Because of the cool climate a lot of Northern Hemisphere plants thrive here, and the autumn colours are so much more brilliant than in Sydney.

A banksia

We enjoyed a mix of bush and exotic trees in gardens.

A stunning Japanese Maple in the garden of the house we rented.

Govett's Leap

We did lots of walking and there was lots of fun to be had everywhere we went - so many children doing amusing things...

Emily and Laura find other uses of a concrete picnic shelter (c1930)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mountain Hideaway

We've just been in the Blue Mountains for a few days with my family (9 adults & 7 kids in one house!) and stayed in an amazing house (with beds to spare!)

This was the dining room, with a 12-seater dining table and a smaller 4-seater. It was lovely to eat breakfast among the trees and sunshine.

Unfortunately the kitchen and pantry were located downstairs from the dining room, which made for lots of stair-climbing.

The house was filled with vintage and reproduction furniture and lighting, lovely brass fittings and ornate plaster mouldings.

This was our bedroom:

As you can see, the accommodation was pretty luxurious, courtesy of my parents. We all helped with the food and the little cousins all had a great time together.

I enjoyed doing lots of walking in the cool mountain air. I had hoped I might have lost some weight, but I guess I ate too many holiday goodies for that ... and those yummy bacon and egg breakfasts ...

More photos to come of the beautiful mountain scenery ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend has seemed long. Good Friday seems like Sunday (because of going to church), Saturday feels like ... um Saturday I guess, after the initial shock of having Saturday after "Sunday", then comes Sunday (again!) and then a public holiday Monday. It seems to go on forever, but now it's over.

And Easter seems like an anti-climax. Actually it should be more meaningful than Christmas, since the whole basis of my faith is that Christ died and rose again, but it always seems to be a last-minute thought on my part, not such a festival as Christmas and with the family at home not much time for bible reading and thought, although I did sit and read the bible on Sunday night in the twilight, which was good (until the mosquitoes got me).

Friday I posted about already, we had our nice afternoon tea. Saturday I went out briefly to the shops (which were crazy full) to buy a few things, then we tidied and cooked for my parents and brother to come for lunch on Sunday. (Baked Moroccan Chicken, Meatballs, Chocolate Pudding and Easter Eggs - yum!). Monday we shopped again for some clothes the girls needed, and spent the day at home, getting ready for a few days at the mountains.

In amongst tidying, cooking, and living, I've done lots of scrapbooking, actually finishing my 2006 album at long last (finished the 2007 album a while back), and we've played quite a few games of teeball in the front yard, tucked in between trees and bushes. We played with Grandma and Grandad on Easter Day, lots of fun.

Have a good week!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Afternoon Tea on Good Friday

This afternoon we had afternoon tea together, minus the Brady Bunch on DVD (our usual accompaniment to weekend afternoon teas), with good china, a teapot and fresh lemon cake.

I used the old tablecloth that I have just mended, and some old Meakin china that belonged to my Nanna. Although orange is not my favourite colour this pattern has just grown on me, and I love it.

The teapot is only about 10 years old, but coordinates well with the china.

I won't be posting the recipe for this lemon cake, as it didn't turn out that well! I used my usual quick butter cake recipe, adding lemon rind and juice, and pouring hot lemon syrup over it when it came out of the oven. But it was a bit of a disaster coming out of the silicon mould (maybe too soon?) and although delicious in flavour it was a bit bland in texture, like a very average sponge cake. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow. But we still enjoyed it.

Emily has started a Thursday TeaTime carnival, so why don't you join in here?

Autumn Afternoon

This morning we went to church, for Good Friday, remembering Christ's death, and this afternoon we relaxed at home. After a busy few months we are pretty tired out. (Well, I am, anyway!)

It was a lovely mild afternoon and the girls were playing in the front yard, so I finally tackled some things in my sewing/mending pile. First I hemmed Steve's good trousers, then darned an old tablecloth, trying to make new holes look like part of the cutwork design.

Next I finished this teatowel (pattern here) which I started at Christmas time, it only had a couple of stitches left, so I'm not sure why I didn't finish it earlier! My other mending will need the sewing machine, so I'll do that another time. Some of my mending has been sitting in that pile way too long!

It was so pleasant sitting there, with a perfect temperature, some sunshine (but not too much) and the sounds of happy children playing, while I sat in comfort and sewed a fine seam. I felt as if I had travelled back in time. Well, the happy sounds didn't really last, and to put a bit of reality back into this idyllic (but productive !?) scene let's look at what I saw when the girls had both stomped inside, after whining prolifically ...

... just part of the 21st C mess that had spread itself over the yard and verandah in that short time!

With a sigh I went inside to deal with the grumpiness in there. But I baked a cake and we had afternoon tea together happily (but you have to wait for the next post for that!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Turning Japanese with Hero Arts

I've had my eye on the oh-so-cute Japanese doll stamps from Hero Arts ever since they came out - and yesterday I bought them! Three gorgeous little girls who are going to find their way onto so many of my cards.

I am considering myself "on holidays" at the moment (just one more piano lesson to teach tomorrow) and my first moments of freedom yesterday were spent at the stamp shop - first locating the dolls, and then finding Japanese-y looking flowers and a butterfly to go with them.

And since then? Well, I've made 5 cards with them so far, in amongst some Stampin' Up! cards, and these are my first three. I'm loving mixing colours I might not normally mix, together with origami papers and flowers and gemstones ... lots of fun.

I don't think you've seen the end of these little girls.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Finding a new rhythm

Since daylight savings ended on Saturday night we have been settling into a new rhythm - dinner in the dark, less time after school for outdoor opportunities .... now that the girls are older it's not such a big deal as when they were little and we had to adjust their sleeping. In fact everything suddenly becomes easier at bedtime because after daylight savings the girls always snuggle down and go straight to sleep, whereas in summer they can be awake for hours.

This year the end of daylight savings coincided nicely with the beginning of cooler weather, so suddenly it feels like Autumn.

On Sunday we stayed home from church, since we were all pretty tired, and with a long free day to fill in the girls dug out Steve's old train set and set it up in their bedroom (complete with giant dog).

Later on they played Cathedral, one of our favourite games.

I guess they remember other winters playing lots of games.
We have just two more days of school and then over 2 weeks of holidays, Steve will be home, so I guess there will be lots more board games played!

As for me I'm looking forward to snuggling in cool weather, reading and playing games, but am also hoping to start doing more exercise each week now that the heat and humidity have gone.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dad's 70th

We have a lot of big birthdays in our family this year ... 70, 30, 40, two 10s ... and yesterday was Dad's 70th. On Wednesday night I scanned about 50 photos and decorated them a bit in Gimp, and had them printed to make Dad a mini album, also I made the papercut, but I didn't make a card until yesterday morning.

With the retirement on 31st March of so many stamp sets from Stampin' Up!, I had decided to restrain myself and let them go unpurchased by me ... but as the time drew close I looked at a few sets and succumbed after all on the evening of the 31st (nothing like cutting it fine) and they arrived on the 3rd! So I used the Brocade Basics set to make this card for Dad. I love the colours and designs, the scrapbook paper is gorgeous too. Such a shame it is all retired ...

My other project for the party was to display some photos on the wall. I didn't want to use any adhesive on these precious photos so I blu-tacked some black ribbon to the wall and attached the photos with little bulldog clips. They looked really cute, I should have taken a photo. Anyway, I'm sure my dad wouldn't mind me posting this cute photo of him as a baby:

He was pretty cute, huh?

This was the earliest photo of him, at 7 months. I couldn't figure out why part of the dress was hand-drawn with pencil, until my mum pointed out a ghostly outline of my nanna holding him upright, which they then somewhat obscured in the photo. The hand-drawn sections must be covering up where Nanna's hands were. My, how times have changed photography!

We had a fun party for Dad, including a little concert, games, a quiz, and way too much food, some of the leftovers of which we were trying to eat through today. It's a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Night Out

On Friday night I and some friends attended a huge fundraising event for a friend's sister, who has cancer. It was a mix of sad and happy, but everyone had fun dressing up and thousands of dollars must have been raised through the tickets for 850 guests and auctions and raffles and so on. The photo above shows the silent auction viewing area with hundreds of "mystery balloons" for purchase, each naming a generous donated prize. Inside the ballroom were 85 tables, each decorated with a stunning tall vase of submerged tulips.

The dress for the evening was "cocktail with a touch of pink" and, having nothing suitable, I was forced (LOL) to go out and buy something. So I bought a mostly-black dress, and borrowed my mum's hot pink pashmena, bought some low heels, stockings and jewellery, and was set. I wanted to have my haircut, but ran out of time. (Oh, and I wanted to lose 5kg, but that just didn't happen ... somehow ...)

It's so long since I dressed up for anything. And since I ended up half-decent I thought it was time for another appearance on the blog ...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Papercutting for a party - a tutorial

My Dad turns 70 this weekend, and Mum asked me to make something saying "70" for the party, to sit on the buffet in the dining room. I took a few days to think of something the right size and materials, something not too expensive but still effective ...

Ladies and gentlemen ... I present to you ... the art of papercutting. (Sometimes known as scherenschnitte, but mine is not so finely cut ...)

2 12x12 sheets of Bazzill cardstock
white chalk pencil
kneadable eraser (or other)
1 craft knife with a fine blade
1 self-healing cutting mat
Also you need about 2 hours & good light.

1. Print out a large 7 and 0 using Word Art in Word, cut out.

2. Trace lightly onto the card. I used a chalk pencil as it writes lightly and is easy to rub out, but you could use a soft lead pencil if you had to.

3. Around the numbers draw some stylized leaf and grass shapes, add an insect or two. Make sure you create lots of "bridges" between the shapes so it can all hold together.

4. When you are happy with your design, start cutting in the centre, small shapes before large shapes. Turn the card as needed and cut towards yourself. Cut out sharp points carefully to avoid tears when punching out shapes.

5. Stop every now and then and look out at a distant object, to rest your eyes and neck. It is a wet day here.

6. When you are finished cutting, admire your finished work against the window.
Unfortunately the party is at night so I am going to mount this on another colour for strength so it can stand on an easel.

7. Place small squares of foam tape on the back of your papercut.

8. Adhere to another piece of card in a different colour (although white on white would be spectacular)

9. Admire again, this time with your work on an easel. Enjoy the light and shadows.

10. Have a few stretches and go for a walk.

11. Make sure you remember to take it to the party.