Friday, January 31, 2014

Banner Blast birthday card & Errand Day

One of my projects yesterday, a birthday card
for a friend turning 40 today.
Loving the cheery bunting that was so easy with the 
Banner Blast stamps and banner punch.

Today a day of errands:
replacing (and now restoring) an ipod, buying art supplies,
finding a bread tin and a container for the pantry.
The kind of shopping that you don't want to do in the holidays,
and which is enjoyable at first,
until you find yourself laden with heavy bags of all shapes and sizes.

But I ran into two friends, one I hadn't seen for over 10 years,
and my shopping was successful,
so it was worth it.
Now I'm recovering with a cup of tea
before getting stuck into some projects at home.

Hope you're having a good day!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's quiet around here ...

Both girls back to school today.

Emily came home happy yesterday ...
Laura went happily today,
and no doubt they will both have plenty
to tell me when they get home.

Meanwhile, I'm very much enjoying the quiet and solitude,
although feeling a bit ache-y after going back to ballet yesterday!

(Please excuse all the gimmicks on the first photo, 
trying to hide their school uniform  ...
but I love they way they are looking at each other ...
it's so typical of them!)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back to School - Pt 1

A quick backward glance, and she was rushing off to the bus ...
leaving Laura and I to rush around to 
chiropractor, ballet and buy groceries.

It has all begun.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

GF Focaccia

Gluten-free focaccia for lunch.  Yum.
(And no complaints of "do we have to have toast again??")

I tried this recipe and pronounce it a great success.
Crusty edges and good texture inside.
We girls all enjoyed it warm with butter (well, dairy-free margarine)
and I've sliced the rest and it into the freezer for another day.

As it turned out, I had in stock all the flours used in the recipe:
rice, brown rice, millet and buckwheat,
so didn't do any grinding in the thermomix this time,
just mixing - much easier than by hand, and with better results, I'm sure.
In future I'd like to make it from scratch using the wholegrains.

Will definitely make this again, it would be great with soup in winter.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Australia Day Weekend - Gerberas & Lamingtons

I almost forgot yesterday was Australia Day.
Steve was away at a chamber music weekend
and we girls went to church and then had lunch with my family.

Steve was home last night, to find me with a headache.
When I sent him back out for a few groceries (poor guy)
he came back with gerberas to cheer me up.
Which worked.

Today I was feeling much better and we made
gluten-free lamingtons.  Yum.
A walk, a boardgame, dinner outside 
and playing some recorder trios
were all good things to enjoy together,
so it felt like an Australia Day long weekend, after all.

Steve is back to work tomorrow,
Emily to school on Wednesday
and Laura on Thursday.
Ready, set, go.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday goodness

Can you see the bubble above our house?
I think it was the bubbles that saved our day.

After some good (and bad) times with their friends yesterday,
it was time for my girls 
to remember that they have each other.
Playing bubbles got them talking and loving again.

Silly nutkins.

While they were bubbling and chatting away, 
I was thrilled to discover two hydrangea blooms.
It has not been a good year for  hydrangeas and us.
But perhaps we will have a late summer show after all.

Besides offering helpful 'friends advice',
Emily also helped Laura adjust her Ikea pillowcases
to the regular pillowslip size;
and while the sewing machine was out 
I whipped up a tablecloth for the verandah.
(Since I had a clear dining table)

Inspired by my rare sewing activity,
I did some rare gardening activity near the back door,
where native violets were taking over,
and can now step outdoors with a full washing basket 
without fear of slipping on wet leaves.
I even researched and booked a holiday for April.

So today was a pretty good Saturday, I reckon,
just being at home, relaxing, 
and doing small but satisfying jobs.

Next up, a hamburger & chips TV dinner 
with a girly movie,
not too late, because I'm determined
to get to church band practice on time for once.

What have you been doing on your Saturday?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Petite Petals Therapy

A not-so-easy day.

A goodbye; too much driving;
too many girls;
too much emotion all round;
too much armchair-shopping.

But thankfully some quick craft at the end of it all.

How do you unwind at the end of a stressful day?


Petite Petals stamps & all supplies by Stampin' Up!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

That time of year

My mind this evening fluctuates between 
feeling relaxed and overwhelmed.


I guess it will all settle down in a couple of weeks
when normal routine is back in swing.

(Then why does January
a month of doing 
feel so normal???)

With a few decisions and phonecalls
I could pull myself out of almost everything for the year,
leaving just home and family to take care of.

But would I ever have the courage?
And would I get bored?
(And some income wouldn't go astray)

Maybe one year ...?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rainy Day Craft - Spiral Flower Die

It's gloomy outside
but inside Emily and I are 
crafting happily and listening
to beautiful guitar music.

Today I had a box of Stampin' Up! goodies arrive,
including the Spiral Flower Die,
with which I made these roses.

Good to do some real hands-on girly craft
with my big girl,
while the Little One is at the movies.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kaisercraft Swap Card Photo Display - Goodbye Gift

Once upon a time
there were four women
who met while demonstrators with a direct sales craft company.
Although some of them later moved on to other things
(even to the competition)
the four women stayed firm friends,
and met together on a Monday night
every month for over 10 years,
to work on their individual scrapbooking
and stamping projects,
and share the ups and downs of life.

The initials of their names were R, A, L & F
and so they started to call their group RALF.
As in "I'm going to RALF tonight".

But one sad day A. announced that she had
to move across the country.
A. has been through some very hard times
but has stayed a faithful friend to us.
Now she and her family are going to have a fresh start
in another city.

So R, L & F planned a little goodbye gift for A.

F. found a frame at the local craft shop
and a beautiful Kaisercraft 12x12 paper ready to fit behind.
She quickly painted some black paint on the frame,
aiming for a distressed look;
and found photos of her friends,
although despite those years of crafting together,
few photos have been taken.
(so thankyou, facebook, and picmonkey cropping tool)

R. & F. got together to work on putting it together and making it beautiful.
(L. was interstate at the time).
They had so much fun using the coordinating products
plus adding some trinkets from their stashes.
They didn't want any more friends to leave,
but thought they might make something similar for themselves,
... just because!

Soon they had created a beautiful piece of art.

Last night, at the last RALF, they presented the finished frame to A.
She was touched.

We shared some more craft, 
more laughs, 
more tears,
and said  our sad goodbyes.

We wish A. every happiness for her future
and look forward to hearing about her new life.

(Meanwhile we will continue as RLF 
and if your name starts with 'A'
please feel free to apply).

* * *

I've always steered clear of off-the-page projects
because they always looked so time-consuming.
But this was so fun and easy,
thanks to the paper being designed to fit
with this frame.  I used two sheets of the Pickled Pear 12x12 paper
and the Take Note Sticker Sheet, (products by Kaisercraft)
and Sticky Strip and Glue Dots (both Stampin' Up!).
If you've ever wondered about trying something like this,
I say, just jump right in!  

* * *
(I am not affiliated at all with Kaisercraft, btw)

Monday, January 20, 2014


It's just about this time
that the holidays take a little turn for the worse..
Firstly, there's the inescapable knowledge that just 
one week remains before school begins.

It's time for me to start preparations 
for the year ahead, for family, music teaching and church.
My mind is a To Do List that keeps getting longer.
Emails are already coming in,
and a letter came from school today 
outlining the first day procedures.
Time is running out,
when it seemed endless, back in December.

One daughter is a little on the cranky side of normal
because this is the week that she's
planned lots of social outings,
and everything needs to be just right beforehand.
However that doesn't mean that other things
normally required of her can be neglected.
Little things become hard again.

The other daughter is experiencing the devastation 
of a haircut gone wrong;
has a big tidy-up to do in her room
before her friends come over on the weekend;
and told me today that she is feeling
that the holidays haven't really begun yet,
as if she's still waiting for something great to happen.

So our pleasant, calm path 
has become a little rocky today,
and looks to stay that way for a while.

I need to look out for the good,
and encourage it when I can.
Just as I did when I searched our almost-barren garden
to find a few pretty blooms and foliage.
They are there, when I look hard enough.
Sometimes, I need to work
to make good things happen -
even when all I really want to do 
is to go in my craft room and shut out the world.

At this point, I know my attitude is going to 
make or break the remainder of the holidays.
So, time to shoulder my pack and continue on,
hoping that the path becomes easier ahead.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thoughts on a clear surface

For a brief moment one day last week,
our dining table was tidy.

Such a rare occurence that the camera 
had to come out to record it.

I guess I should appreciate that piles
on the table often means good things are going on,
and going on here, rather than who-knows-where,
but right now I could do with 
the serenity of a clear surface a lot more often,
and not just when we are expecting a visitor.

To me, a clear surface offers possibilities.
Possible art.
Possible sewing.
Possible cups of tea with a neighbour.
Possible writing of plans, big or small.
Possible dinner guests.
Possible bible reading.
Possible learning & notetaking.
Possible candlelit dinners.
Possible clear thinking.

One of my aims for the year is to keep
the dining table and kitchen bench
as uncluttered as possible.
(I really like this idea )
even if two teenage girls have other ideas.

And then I'll see where the possibilities 
take me.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tea on the beach

After a morning of craftroom tidying (me)
and carwashing (Steve)
we all headed to Balmoral for the late afternoon.
A stiff onshore wind was blowing where we first set up camp,
(think: sand in our tea)
but we soon moved and found a good spot 
for sitting and swimming alike.

We munched on a dinner of cold pizzas,
and sucked on jubes in the car on the way home
as the sun went down.

Good to be doing something that really
feels like summer holidays.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Colouring Days

As often seems to happen in January,
I am captivated by the art of colouring.
Perhaps because there is time at last to slow down
and enjoy the process,
the feel of pencil on the tooth of the paper.

In the last week I've coloured stamped images 
(the very cute Gorjuss girls);
created the 'happy' art using stencils
(the girls coloured their names);
and even dug into a colouring book.

My tools of choice at the moment
are Prismacolor pencils on any surface;
and Stampin' Write markers
on heavy watercolour paper.

It always takes me a while to remember good techniques,
 and what does and doesn't work,
these were all experiments. 
And just when I remember everything ...
it's time to stop.

Just one full week left of school holidays -
I'm hoping to keep my pencils close by
for that time, at least.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Q Station history

I thought I'd share one more set of photos

from the Q Station at Manly,

this time focusing on the history of the 

quarantine station, 

mostly using photos I took on our first visit in 2012.

The quarantine station was in operation

from 1835 until the 1970s,

although only 3 ships were quarantined after 1950.

Its purpose was to keep disease out of Sydney.

When passengers from ships carrying disease

arrived at the station,

they were made to shower in carbolic acid!

Peepholes were cut into the shower walls

so that supervisors could check that 

people showered properly!

During the Spanish Influenza epidemic

people were gassed in an attempt to save

them from contracting the flu.

Luggage was sent through a state-of-the-art 

cleaning process involving much steam and heat

before being carried up the steep hill

by funicular railway.

One can only imagine what state the luggage

and clothing were in afterwards,

not to mention the poor men working

in the steam room.

Those unfortunate enough to be ill

stayed in the hospital,

perhaps never to leave alive.

If they were well enough to sit up, 

they might have appreciated

the amazing view over the harbour to South Head.

Throughout the quarantine station

there was clear differentiation between passenger classes,

even in the hospital

where first class passengers were

cleaned and fed using china rather than enamel.

Those who didn't contract a disease 

were free to enjoy the facilities

appropriate to their class.

This lounge was originally the first class dining room,

which can be seen in the photo below.

First-class passengers had many privileges

compared to the other passengers.

Immigrants from Asia were completely isolated

to another part of the station.

Of course the precautions taken with illness;

attitudes towards class and race;

and travelling standards 

varied over the years

but these were some of the things I remembered

from our tour two years ago.

Both visits we stayed in the 

3rd class accommodation,

which was unfortunately burnt down

in the last few decades,

but fortunately rebuilt to provide

comfortable accommodation today.