Monday, November 30, 2009

be back soon

My computer is sick - pretty much dead - so I'll be out of action for a while as I wait for it to be repaired.
Fingers crossed I'll be back soon...

Friday, November 27, 2009

and the winner is...

... Sophie! her name has just been pulled out of the box that my new iron came in.

Congratulations on winning the buyster lighting giveaway. An $80 lighting voucher will be on its way to you soon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

my creative space - kiss*

"Enjoy the process, expect some disaster, shout out loud at the wins, embrace the happy accidents, see the curve balls. Learn."

... because I have a creative disaster to share with you.

A couple of weeks back Gina @ Clutterpunk posted about the Warm Women project, making scarfs for Karen women on the Thai/Myanmar border as they head into winter. I thought it sounded like a great idea.

But how to make the scarf? I cannot knit. My grandmother gave up trying to teach me to knit when my younger brother "got it". Apparently I am a lost cause to knitting hence my great pride in now being able to say I can crochet. However my crochet skills are perhaps not up to producing a scarf on a deadline. I'm enjoying taking my time with the crochet - it is a way for me to relax.

Sewing a scarf seemed like the obvious solution. Perhaps it was even as early as this that the project started to go awry, for it struck me that I had no idea what the scarf would be worn with. Surely these women would want to be warm and co-ordinated! So my typing fingers quickly trotted off to google and some pretty simplistic research was undertaken.

I learnt that Karen women typically combine the Hse with a longyi. Good good, I thought to myself, a scarf will work well with that.

I learnt the symbolic significance of colours used in Karen clothing. Red signifies bravery, blue represents faithfulness, and white symbolises purity. Great - I can work with this.

I learnt that images of serpents representing evil are often worn on clothing in order to damn Satan. Oooo yeah. This is good information I thought to myself bobbing my head up and down as I read. I am going to make one cool Karen scarf!

So the time has probably come to share with you the scarf to date:

And this is when I should have stopped. It is a warm and tasteful scarf with a simple zig-zag motif common to Karen culture. The colours in the embroidered motif are blue, red and white.

But no... I had to take it just a bit further.

Having undertaken my initial research I was taken with the idea of the blue, red and white. But I was horrified at the idea of how these same colours are so synonymous with the United States and in turn the west. So it had occurred to me that if I mixed the colours then I'd be making hues that were blends of the key elements: bravery, faithfulness and purity.

Out came the mixing spoons...

... a wax crayon and a screen ...

... and this is the result... the reverse side of the scarf:

(too long to get it all in one shot & yes one end is yet to be sewn closed)

The maroon colour I bought on a whim because it reminded me of the colour of female monk's robes.

This scarf is a disaster. So busy. So ridiculous. Possibly an insulting appropriation and abrogation of another culture's traditions. I wouldn't wear it, unless of course I was really really really cold... so that now raises some questions: Can I/should I send this scarf on to Warm Women? Or should I send them a scarf that I do wear? (There isn't really time to make another)

It is perhaps possible that there is one positive. I think my zig zags must be a good representation of serpents because Raja can't stop attacking the scarf:

... or is it that because he is so horrified by this fashion disaster that he wants to rip it to pieces with his claws?

I've learnt ... to take my own advice.

*keep it simple stupid

To see some creative success head on over to Kirsty's to check out the action.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

an overlocker

I have a new toy. I purchased it some weeks back but for a long time there I just stood and stared at it in the box. Then I braved watching the DVD that came with it and since that didn't send me over the edge I took the machine out of the box. It sat patiently on the table for over a week waiting for me to muster the courage to use it, and then I did and it was all fine. Better than fine. Exciting and good even.

The machine came already threaded but in my thrill of sewing up and down scrap pieces of fabric I neglected to notice one of the spools was running low and eventually it ran out. Now I could almost have hyperventilated at the idea of re-threading an overlocker. When I started this blog earlier in the year I was still finding it a challenge to thread my ol' sewing machine.

The incident was declared a family emergency. One and all downed tools and toys to sit with me as I re-watched the DVD trying to figure out how to re-thread the thing... and it was easy! Not the catastrophe that I had believed it to be at all.

Still playing with it really. Hope to show you something that I've made with it other than a veggie bag real soon.

summer veggie garden (stage 2)

I posted yesterday about stage 1 of my summer veggie garden and hinted that I might give you a glimpse of the progress being made in the area I affectionately refer to as stage 2.

In the before shot there are a few frangipani and a lot of couch grass. Months ago, in the middle of winter, I dug out all the couch and the frangipani. Then periodically after we'd had rain I'd go out and rip up more of the couch roots that were sprouting. Once I was satisfied with my efforts to remove it my partner and I covered the area with cardboard (second hand moving boxes that we used when we moved house).

Watered the cardboard.

Covered the cardboard with blood and bone.

Covered with sheep manure and straw.

Then we did the same again one more time.

Today I started on the planting. First in the rosemary hedge. The idea being that it will form a parameter around the path side of the garden bed which (fingers crossed) will deter my children from riding their bikes over the veggies! I also planted some snap peas and snow peas along the fence line.
To plant I just pierce a hole through the cardboard fill with compost and make sure that the roots are heading down through the cardboard.

On tomorrow's agenda: plant the capsicum, the marigolds and the pumpkin and zucchini seeds. I'm also hoping to get to the nursery to buy a lemon tree.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

keeping cool - a tip bought to you by E.

Store your bib in the fridge!

softie for mirabel

I made a commitment, sometime ago now, that I would make a softie for the mirabel foundation. Now I also said that I wasn't going to post until I'd finished a project... but I couldn't help myself. Blogging is the perfect form of procrastination when unfinished projects are getting out of hand. Finally however I pleased to share with you a finished project.

The very generous Leonie from Raglan Guld gave away fabric to make softies with. So, since I'd joked that my third softie ever would be a hairy princess (albeit waxed in all the right places) here she is:
I used a pattern from Embroidered Treasures by Claire Garland that I borrowed from my local library. The hair, whilst taking longer to do than I had anticipated, was fun. I kept imagining a small child playing with her hair as I had done with my dolls. I considered whether or not I should give her a little trim before I sent her on her merry way - but decided against it - leaving that pleasure to her new BFF.

summer veggie garden (stage one)

Last week I was telling you how I'd been working like a trooper out in the garden. Harvesting the spinach in the raised vegetable garden in preparation for topping it up. The garden is a no-dig vegetable garden so over the past couple of months organic matter, sheep manure, straw and compost, has been breaking down and the level of the garden has been dropping.

There was a small problem... my tiny carrots still weren't ready for harvest. I suspect this had something to do with me planting them too close together and not thinning them out. That won't be a problem anymore as E. and I have been picking them when we're out in the sunshine and eating baby, like really really baby, carrots. They're surprisingly sweet!

In the meantime, while we wait for the remaining carrots to get on with the growing business I've built a make-shift retaining wall so that I could raise the remainder of the garden bed. In went another layer of sheep manure and in went another layer of straw and it was topped off with a rich layer of compost. (Sounds like I'm baking a cake!)

Similar to a blank canvas, there is something very exciting about a fresh garden bed. The dreams and hopes of what will grow there. Fantasising about the feasts that will be created using your very own freshly grown produce. (Let's not think about cabbage moths and other pests right now).
What veggie goodness has been planted? Radish, cauliflower, rhubarb, broccoli, beetroot, leeks, lettuce, spinach, silver beet and onion chives. I've tried to mix it all up a bit - this time thinking about how long things will take to mature. I'm also hoping that the odorous onion chives will act as a bit of a pest repellent. There is also the oregano I re-planted hoping that it will eventually spill over the retaining wall softening the outlook from the backdoor.

The powers that be have been smiling on my gardening efforts because the day after I had everything planted there was loads and loads of rain - and over the course of a few days too. Perfect! (Let's not think about the snails just now).

And here is the garden bed as it stands today with another layer of straw for mulch (the oregano surrounded by peat to try to boost it a bit after being replanted).

I've been working on other parts of the garden too... maybe I'll show you stage two tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

relentless pursuit

I broke the iron last night. I was moving the ironing board with the iron balancing and it went crashing to the floor. It wasn't on and no one was hurt but the Tefal iron that I had had for fifteen years was no longer.

So today out we went in search of a new iron. Clearly we don't get out much because it was an exciting trip for us all. I found an iron that will do - I really don't iron that much which probably explains why the last one had lasted as long as it had.

I usually discuss marketing techniques with my son before we venture to shops - explaining to him that the people who own the shops deliberately put things at his eye level to try to make him want it. I try to make it a bit of a game - he wins if he can out smart them and not want it. Sometimes it works and we have lots of fun. Sometimes he is a two year old and he just damn well wants it. It had not occurred to me that today I would need run through my pep talk for a quick trip into the Myer kitchenware department. But it would seem that I am incredibly naive...

Look - just at perfect child eye level a bright and colourful display of Dora and Spongepants toasted sandwich makers. The display is right next to the cashier point too... a place where children will be loitering as they wait for their unsuspecting parents to close a transaction.

At first I thought they must have been some great safety toaster so that children can toast their own sandwiches but no - they're just colourful and leave an impression of the character in the toasted bread.

Just more evidence of how insane consumerism has become in our culture and how relentless marketers are pursuing our children.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

eye spy ... joy

There are many things that instill joy within me. Even today I was fortunate enough to experience joy multiple times: seeing my little girl waddling around the back garden and the expressions of dismay and delight on her face as I teased her with the garden hose; witnessing my son's glee when he heard his favourite song come on and then observing him dancing away as if he'd won a million dollars; my partner's confession that he had a secret 'emergency' packet of milk arrowroot biscuits in our wardrobe after I'd had a 'down' moment; sitting back with aching muscles admiring my achievements in the garden... and I'm blessed to say that there were many more.

But what makes me jump up and down running around the house doing a victory dance making sounds of the crowd going wild? What makes me smile so hard that the muscles in my face start to ache?

Learning curve - image from here

Reaching the top of the learning curve. Conquering something that I didn't formerly know how to do. Figuring it out - whatever "it" may be. That brings me joy.

Thanks so much to the delightful Aussie Waffler Tara for this weeks theme. To check out what brings other people joy head on over to Cindy's.

my place and yours - my collection

This is my first time playing along with Pip's meme "my place and yours" and when I first read the lovely Queen Kate's theme I thought to myself that I wasn't the collector type - but then as I was unloading the shopping from the boot of my car I noticed a collection that I lug around with me on numerous trips - near and far and that I have had for so long I can't even remember it starting.

It's my camp blanket - or as Master E calls it, "the picture blanket":

This blanket is covered with my collection of cloth badges.

The badges start in every corner and are working their way into the centre of the blanket. Some are oddly placed - usually because they've got the dual purpose of patching up a hole in this very well used blanket. There are no real rules for my collection and as a collection they tell part of 'my story' in a very unique way. Some are gifts, some I just liked, some are labels that I have unpicked from my favourite clothes. There are still many more sitting in a box waiting to be sewn on.

Some are from when I was a 'brownie' as a young girl (I wasn't a very good one - I was more interested in chasing the scouts than cooking!)

Some I earned, and one I nicked off my father's favourite footy jersey.

Some come from places that I haven't been to yet, or from places that no longer exist.

This one possibly the oldest - it comes from a family holiday in 1975.

This one from Turkey Creek I was surprised to find.

This one is from a family holiday - after visiting this place I had nightmares for AGES!!!

This one is a bit politically incorrect, celebrating the white invasion. I have ancestors that travelled to Australia as convicts on the First Fleet.

Check out more collections here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

lighting giveaway

buyster lighting are generously offering a $80 gift voucher to one of my readers so that they can choose a lighting product to suit their needs. To enter, visit buyster lighting and then leave a comment on this post advising one of your favourite lights. I'm guessing ceiling fan lights are going to be popular with peeps in the east! You can get an extra entry by following this blog, and/or if you post about the giveaway on your site. Just leave an extra comment for each additional entry you are eligible for.

Entries close 9am (my time) on Friday 27 November and the winner will be drawn randomly.

NOTE: To enter this giveaway you need to have an Australian delivery address as buyster only ship within Australia.

my creative space - prints and pants

I've been waiting for these to arrive...

(please excuse the smudgy mirror but I do share this space with two grotty children)

... and finally yesterday they arrived. I'm particularly thrilled with them as they're a creative collaboration between this fantastic woman, Leonie @ Raglan Guld and myself. I printed the patterned fabric pieces and she did an amazing job sewing the pants... and I mean amazing - this is one high quality garment (complete with sachet of colour seal to ensure the longevity of the pants).

It is a real buzz for me to have a pair of fisherman pants with my first patterned print. Want a closer look?

Ta-dah! Designed 100% by moi!

Something wonderful happened to me earlier this week. A friend of mine was visiting at my place as we'd arranged a 'play date' (urky phrase) for our sons who are the same age. She isn't that aware of my creative pursuits and I was showing her some bits and bobs from my creative space - unaware that the pattern on the fabric shown above was designed by moi she expressed her strong distaste for it. I tell you - it was one of the best things to happen to me - it didn't hurt. Not at all. Not in the least. In fact it was rather amusing to me. It was great because I have been shy about sharing my designs, cowering to my the inner voice (that at times is prone to shouting) - what if nobody likes it? Now I know the answer... it doesn't matter because I love it. I loved the process of designing. The thrill of transferring it to acetate and then to the screen's emulsion. I loved the ups and downs of printing it - the learning curve on calico and then the big exhilarating event onto a linen/cotton blend. The rush I got when I had finished it and the realisation that it had worked... and now - to see and wear these amazing pants. I can't wait to wear them out the front door and strut down the street wearing them... and yes - I will be strutting - but not today ... it is raining.

So instead this evening when the kiddies are sleeping soundly (o please let them be sleeping soundly!) I will be printing, printing, printing!

For more creative spaces head on over to Kirsty's.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

lookout popeye here I come!

We've had a lot of beautiful lush spinach growing in our raised vegetable garden. The garden bed, which we built in July of this year, has settled over the months and was overdue for a top-up before planting the spring veges. So, all the spinach was harvested...

Half of our spinach crop filled one storage container.

For the past fortnight we've been eating lots and lots of dishes that use lots and lots of spinach. My personal favourite is spanakopita but the spinach torte is pretty good too!

Good thing I built up my muscles like popeye because over the past couple of days I've been working out in the garden planting all the spring veges - mother nature gave me a helping hand today with some significant down pours of rain. The veges have had a good watering in... but you'll have to wait for photos.

giveaway win - nightie

I recently had my first giveaway win! Yay for me! I won this wonderful nightie made by the incredibly talented Cathy (narrawallee) at the Craft Mama's Group Blog.

I have developed this awful habit of turning things inside out to check out how they've been constructed and finished and I just have to share with you that this garment is first class. I have learnt so much about sewing just from looking at it!!!

It is a tad too big for Ms. M just now but I am guessing it won't be long until she'll be wearing it - especially at the rapid rate that she is growing :)

Thanks so much Cathy for making such a special nightie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

pay it forward

I've just been reading somewhere along a winding path. Megan is joining in with the pay it forward fun and I've decided to join in too.

So here's what happens:

I will make a handmade gift for the first 3 interested people who comment on this post.
  • I have 365 days to do it in…
  • What it will be and when it will arrive is a total surprise!

The catch is that you must participate as well:

  • you must have a blog
  • and before you leave your comment here, write up a pay it forward post on your blog to keep the fun going. Just cut and paste this one if you like, which I did!

Looking forward to seeing who wants to pay it forward with me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

eye spy ... an adventure

Long long ago last millennium I took a wee adventure with my partner and a mate of ours to Papua New Guinea. We walked the Kokoda Track unguided (see pic of me crossing over water on a 'bridge' aka log above) and when we got to the end we headed to a place called Oro Bay.

We waited for almost a week for a dinghy to be heading to a place called Ako village.

Here is the dinghy that we spent the best part of a day travelling in to our destination. Two dinghies actually left that day but the other one was attacked by raskols - it turned out that we had been 'protected' due to the friendship that we had made in Oro Bay with the, unknown to us, raskol leader. En route we stopped in at many villages - I unintentionally completely freaked out a small child who had never seen a white person before. Poor child was terrified.

This is Ako Village. The place where my grandfather had been posted during World War 2 as a spotter for New Guinea Air Warning Wireless Company. The village people aren't used to visitors and they didn't know that we were coming. Since World War 2 they had only been visited by foreigners on one other occasion - in the 1970s an American couple's yacht had broken down nearby. They were very gracious hosts and one of the village elders remembered my grandfather fondly.

We hung out in the village for about a week - chewing betel nut, swimming (in what I later learnt were croc infested waters) and exploring the surrounds on outrigger canoes.
Paddling through this canopy of mangroves was one of the most enchanting experiences of my entire life. The natural beauty and eerie serenity are not done justice by the photo.

The village people were exceptionally kind to us - and particularly to me. They even killed a giant sea turtle to cook a banquet in my honor. I'm a vegetarian and couldn't bring myself to eat sea turtle but no offence was made. I have found myself in this situation a number of times - I pretend to eat the meat while really hiding it under my vegetable greens. Ensuring that my plate is close to my partner's, who is not vegetarian, he takes the meat from my plate.

On our final day in the village an interesting revelation was made to us by the villagers. It turned out that the entire village believed me to be the reincarnation of one of their own - a young girl named Nimyarna (not sure how it would be spelt so this is my phonetic representation) who had not been christened and as such had not been buried in the church graveyard. Instead she had been buried at the location of my grandfather's old hut high on the hill at the back of the village. This put me in an extremely intense position, as the villagers believed I was angry at them for not burying me at the cemetery with the remainder of the family - what was I to say? I'm undecided about issues such as reincarnation - I suppose my beliefs could best be described as 'anything is possible'. I responded to the revelation by telling "my family" that I could not remember being Nimyarna and that I had not visited the village out of anger. I shared that as a child I had had a poster on my wall at home that looked remarkably similar to Ako (freakishly similar to the third picture in this post) and that whenever I had gazed at the poster I had felt comforted and happy.

On my departure from the village I was ceremoniously given this medallion:
The shells form the pattern that is the family seal. A huge honour to be presented with something so special. I was also given this piece of patterned fabric made from bark:

A special thank you to Louise for this week's theme - and more importantly for inspiring me to scan a few of the photos (from pre-digital photo days) and record a small element of what was a huge adventure.

To spy more adventures head on over to Cindy's.