25 March 2012

Owls and other cliches

Grace requested a craft party to celebrate her fifth birthday.
Owl icecream cake. Malteasers and mint leaves are winners
It was more challenging that I had thought. On the one hand, the crafting had to be easy enough for four and five year olds to manage and on the other hand I didn't just want to recreate the sort of cutting/pasting/collaging they do all the time at kinder.

We 'made' crayons...

...in cool moulds that reference a few crafting cliches themselves - teacups, teapots, cupcakes, clocks....

We decorated little calico bags which I had sewn up, made clothes for paper people and created rock creatures.

Some kids like to go all out with the decoration,

Some prefer a more minimalist approach.

As it was a 'crafty party' I included as many crafty cliches as I could. Pennant bunting!  Made out of cut up old Golden Books!

Toadstools! (I'd love to know how you get the chocolate to stay shiny)

and more owls!

A couple of things made this party run very smoothly:

  • We did the craft and had some food and that was it. No attempt to fit in a million party games. I fought off a last minute urge to make a pass-the-parcel and I'm glad I did, though the year that we don't play it at any of the kid's parties will be kind of bittersweet. 
  • We didn't serve any hot food. I always find the juggle of getting things heated in time, but not burned, and then onto the table at the right moment pretty challenging. More than once the party pies are nicely warm just as everyone's leaving. I did make a zucchini slice and served it at room temperature. 
  • We bought juice packs, which are not very environmentally friendly, but which did save lots of spilt drinks and fusses with cups and running out of cups and trying to pour a million drinks at once. We didn't use anything else disposable, and all the food was home made, so I reckon that off-set the juice packs somewhat.
  • Icecream cake. I've written before about the advantages of icecream cake . It took about 10 minutes of speedy work to make the owl cake above out of a perfectly ordinary 2litre container of Cadbury vanilla icecream.  
  • Just friends.  I love having my sisters and mum, my in-laws and my nieces and nephews over for parties, but that adds up to 16 extra people to a party, and when you invite ten friends, and their little brothers and sisters come, and their parents stay for the party, before you know it, there are sixty people in the house and you're trying to find enough coffee cups and glasses for everyone.  Once they actually have their own friends (rather than just the kids of your friends) I've decided that we'll stick to friends only and celebrate with family in other ways.  Although funny things can happen when you don't know your children's friends.  Grace mentioned that one of the little boys at her party had changed his hair colour.  I though this was unlikely but assumed he'd probably had  a haircut.  His mother stayed for the party and we really hit it off, so when she left, I arranged to catch up with her on the next kinder day.  And at that point we realised that our kids attended the kinder on different days and thus their paths had never crossed.  I had put the invite in the wrong child's pigeon hole (same name) and his mother had just assumed that Grace must be one of his friends, albeit one he had never mentioned before...

15 March 2012


When you are five you get all the pillows in the house and cover them with a doona to make a mountain and somersault off the couch onto them.

When you are five you tell your mother that sometimes you spin around on the chair in the study, even though daddy told you not to. But sometimes you forget. And sometimes you just do it when he is not looking.

When you are five you still get into bed every night with your parents.

When you are five you are pretty damn proud of every letter you learn.

When you are five, every box can be a car or a queen, or a tv or a boat.

When you are five, your big sisters might find you quite annoying, but your little sister reckons you are absolutely the bees knees.

When you are five you wake up your daddy to tell him that you don't like someone's hair at kinder and you think you should maybe tell the teacher. But you are okay with not telling if he thinks that is the way to go.

When you are five you reassure your mama that your five year old cheeks will be just as good to kiss as your four year old cheeks were.

When you are five you don't always cry even when you feel like crying.

When you are five you make friends even when you don't know their names.

When you are five you are so ace, Grace. Happy Birthday.

11 March 2012

Doin' the things a triangle can

Anyone a 'They Might Be Giants' fan? I know it is not an accurate quote but anyway, I finally finished my triangle quilt.

It is spread over the couch purely for photographic purposes. I've had too many bedspreads and blankets draped over crappy couches in student houses to want to re-invent that aesthetic now.

As predicted, the kids got a kick out of finding their names quilted in.

The flock of geese got a little look-in, and you can see my average quilting skills in all those puckers.....

With the exception of the cotton thread, I didn't buy a single thing to make this quilt. Even the binding was a remnant from curtains I sewed last year. I'm very happy with this one.

10 March 2012


09 March 2012

Recent work by Grace

Girl fairy, boy fairy. She still loves rainbows

Racing car. Not likely to make it onto the Formula One track anytime soon, but I'd buy one.

Grace's donut shop.

Owl in a tree.

Playdough snail

And one we weren't so thrilled about. This is what happens when you stick a one dollar coin to the wallpaper with playdough and your parents don't notice for a weekend.

08 March 2012

Scenes at the Museum

Best ten bucks a body'll ever spend. I love the Melbourne Museum.

06 March 2012

Progress and Process

Warning - this is a longish post about quilting with no finished quilt at the end.

I've been germinating an idea for my next quilt for a while. I wanted to use triangles, I wanted it to be grey and orange and I wanted it to be lap-quilt size. Because I am not a precise quilter I worried about the triangles until I came across this tutorial for chain piecing which made them seem doable, as indeed they were.

The light in my sewing room makes for lovely photos, but not always great sewing. Still, 99% of my sewing is done at night so it makes little real difference. 

The way I quilt is pretty similar to the way I live my life. I have a general idea, a few things I'd like, but alter and change as I go along. I have a great deal of trouble visualising how something will look. I have a great deal of trouble even thinking of how I want it to look. Is that strange?

I originally planned a flock of geese design. Then I was interested in this quilt design and liked the randomness of the placement of triangles. But I didn't want to buy any fabric as I have such a large existing stash, which is constantly being added to by used and worn out shirts and suits (there is only so much demand for smocks).  This quilt has been made entirely from old suits, skirts, shirts, old doona covers, and scraps from other projects.  Even the batting has been pieced together from left-overs. 

I leapt in and started making the triangles. I like the flexibility of this approach, but there are downsides. For example, I had not decided whether I would have alternating rows of orange and grey, so I made nearly equal numbers of each colour. But when I started laying them out, I found that I much preferred a mostly grey quilt with a few splashes of orange. So I have a lot of excess orange blocks. Some time there will be another project using up those orange and white squares. 

It also meant that I discovered 38 grey triangles I'd forgotten about after I had already pieced the blocks together.  So perhaps a whole other quilt might be called for.....

This is where digital photography is a huge boon. I can't always see the spots that are 'wrong' - concentrations of colour, areas lacking. Photography gives a global view. I take lots of not very great photos from all angles and with the blocks in various combinations. With the block I had made, the random placement didn't really work, so I went with this design. These are photos taken after I'd figured out the basic structure and was playing with block order.

I thought I had identified the row order and marked them appropriately but that didn't stop me from stitching two rows together the wrong way. I loath unpicking.

It has been a slow process, this quilt, which is not the way I usually work. Finally I got to the quilting and then, part-way through, I ran out of thread. I'm only using a plain white cotton, surely I always keep a few large spools handy? Apparently not. This is not the first time it has happened to me either. God knows when I'll get to the shop to buy more, so I now have to patiently bide my time until the weekend at least.

I'm quilting the girls names into this - corny I know, but they'll get a kick out of it. And I did a partly patchwork back (had to use some of those left over squares) which I have never been a real fan of, but I like this. I can't show it yet as it is all carefully rolled up and I didn't take any pre-quilting photos. So, to be continued...

05 March 2012

Year One, and Two Years

How come I'm always taking the pictures?
It's been a year since I started this blog. I had thought I might review the year, but just now it seems more  important to record the way Lily, two years old, is talking, because it is changing so fast. And there is a certain symmetry as the very first post on this blog was a record of a conversation.

A few weeks ago Lily sat down with perennial favourite 'That's Not My Puppy' and 'read' it like this:

Not is me puppy
Not is me puppy
Not is me puppy
Not is me puppy
IS me puppy!

But already she is saying 'my' instead of 'me' and even using 'I' correctly. 

She substitutes 'L' for 'S' and 'Y' at the beginning of a word so we have:





In the car the big girls sang 'Bob the builder can you fix it?' and Lily piped up 'NO LOU CAN'T' followed by a maniacal giggle.

This morning she announced, apropos of nothing, "I love lanner cows".  After some time we figured it out - she loves Santa Claus.

So the blog. Yeah, one year. I've enjoyed it.  If you've stopped by here from time to time, thank you.  If you've commented, know that you undoubtedly made my day.  Eleanor once said that she felt part of her role as a mother was as a witness to, or perhaps an audience for,  her children's lives.  This seems very wise to me and seems to also explain part of why I blog - to bear witness to a little fragment of our life, especially the everyday creative, crafty and observing part of that life that otherwise may not get recorded. They are small things but, you know, as the blog title suggests, small matters.