29 July 2013


Life seems to be geting busier. I suppose it is the inevitable consequence of having four children and those children getting older. Now we have netball and soccer and tap dancing on weekends. There is often a birthday party, or two to attend. Sometimes dinner with the in-laws. Maybe a footy match to go to. The school musical is coming up for three nights in August, and then there will be the fete and quite a lot of very big things going on at work. All of which is ticking down to our big and exciting adventure in November. With less than four months to go, the list of things to be done (passports, visas, renting out the house, fixing the ceiling fan etc) feels more overwhelming than it is. Every so often I am seized by a small spasm of panic: 'oh god, I have to draft those interrogatories by Wednesday!'

It really did smell like violets.

Miniature patchwork quilt

Mousie Brown sleeps warm in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower

So this weekend I sewed.  Some bags for the kinder and something bits and pieces for the fete.  Nina joined me to make a (miniature) quilt.  Ruby baked a cake and made perfume.  Lily and Grace painted their nails and made a mess.  Craig covered books in mylar. As an antidote to panic, I recommend pottering about.

28 July 2013

111 Hugs for you Daddy

Craig has been spending quite a bit of time interstate for work and Grace is missing her hugs.  She rang him and told him that she wanted '100 more than 100' hugs, but her patience only extended to drawing 111 boxes.  Since his return she has been keeping a close tally.

26 July 2013

Make Your Own

Get yourself a 'make your own' kit if you are into making teeny tiny things.

25 July 2013

Bibs and Bloomers

So easy, so sweet. For the fete of course, no more babies for me.

23 July 2013

Lantern Houses

I made a village of these felt houses as Christmas decorations and thought they might go down well at the forthcoming school fete. I like this thick felt, lovely to work with and no need to try to stiffen the fabric to get the sides to stand.

Aren't they pretty?

19 July 2013

Ball Pentel

I love that she tried it three times.  I love that she makes the mundane worthy of notice.  I really love her mind.

18 July 2013

In the Bleak Mid Winter

The title of this post is a joke, of course.  It is mid-winter, but it has been anything but bleak.  Today was Melbourne's warmest July day on record.  It was disturbingly balmy this morning and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are living right at the frontier of climate change.  Even the garden looks like Spring around here, with jonquils and violets blooming.  Although our inherited English cottage garden has mostly gone now as Craig gradually replaces it with more indigenous plantings, I do love the bulbs that have self planted and come up in suprising and new locations each year, the violets that grow like weeds and our few remaining roses.  We moved to this house at the height of the drought and it amazed me how tough those old roses and the camellias were, thriving with barely a drop to drink.
After the warm start to the day, a huge storm blew in.  By 3.30pm the sky was black, and rain was lashing the windows of my 12th floor office.  And then the clouds lifted and the sun came out and there was the most perfect, full arched rainbow right over the city, descending into the Rialto and coming out, slightly distorted, the other side. I've never seen anything like it, and didn't even try to get a photo of it.

14 July 2013

The Art Exhibition

For the past two years the girls have been planning to have an 'Art Exhibition'.  Inspired by the wonderful Kim, each holidays they have done a bit more work and carefully set it aside in their 'exhibition portfolio'.  I wasn't sure that the exhibition itself would ever eventuate and wasn't all that fussed, to be honest, and then, in a flurry of activity, it suddenly did.

Additional works were produced. 'Windy' by Ruby,

'Pencils' by Nina

Nina again,

Fairy Garden I and II by Grace, amongst many others.

The house was transformed into a gallery,

Nothing like taking the furniture and paintings out to show you how filthy your walls are....

It was a mixed media show;

'Glamping' by Ruby

Not sure what this says about Grace's idea of marriage....

There were some tiny things, old and new, from Nina

Some old favourites given a new look;

And, most importantly, there were friends, family and neighbours, who came along, purchased works
(37 sold) and raised $268 for a very worthy cause.

I had next to nothing to do with the whole thing.  It was organised entirely by Kim and the girls, even down to the baking of the brownies and lemon slice.  My contribution was pretty much limited to birthing the children and distributing flyers.  It was such a great thing to do, and also really valuable for the girls to see how much hard work goes into something like this.  Producing the actual art is the fun part.  The cutting, mounting, gluing, blu-tacking (onto walls), labelling and all the rest of the less interesting stuff is just as necessary.  I can't thank Kim enough  - for inspiring the girls, putting them onto Artists for Kid's Culture which is a cause close to their hearts, and putting in the hours of work to get it all together.  And to top it off, she brought all her family along to buy stuff.

13 July 2013

Little Ripper

How gorgeous is this quilt? Of course it is not one of mine. Kim - artist, carer, friend - paper pieced, hand stitched, hand quilted this little beauty. It started years ago, at least five, maybe ten?

Look at the gorgeous fabrics. There is so much to look at in this quilt, so much to appreciate.

For years after the quilt top was finished, it lay dormant, waiting for the right time to become a quilt. She brought the quilt top over with some fabrics to audition for the border, the backing and the binding. It is amusing for me to be providing 'advice' to anyone when it comes to quilts. But I know myself that another set of eyes is so helpful. It never ceases to amaze me how a quilt can completely change depending on those selections, particularly the binding. That narrow little strip has such a vital role to play.

This binding is perfect I reckon, bringing together the colours and the small patterns and really 'binding' it.

I still can't imagine paper piecing a quilt, hand sewing the whole thing, then hand quilting it. But I'd like to think maybe one day I'll do it. It's a little ripper don't you think?

12 July 2013

Things to Do When You Are Bored in The School Holidays (Pt 5)





Make weird furry monster cousins for your monster friends. These were made with Kim. Both Ruby and Nina have done quite a bit of sewing these holidays, mostly clothes for their toys. I used to try to steer them into projects that I thought were suitable for their skill level - pillow cases, bags and so forth. But of course it is much more fun and interesting for them to attempt the things they actually want to make, even if they are not always totally successful. And because they are in control of these projects, I don't have to be 'patient' with them, I don't have to help them, or really do anything at all except show some interest in the finished object. Ruby, in particular, has really increased her confidence in sewing. Like quite a few eldest children I know she can be quick to feel she is 'no good' at something if she doesn't get it right immediately. I don't believe anyone is good at sewing immediately, (or piano, or cooking or a million other skills). You have to either methodically learn or, as I prefer, plunge in and stuff up and try and press on.

see other things to do when you are bored in the school holidays here, here, here and here

The Filest

I wish she had finished this before getting distracted.  I'd love to know more about a filest.

09 July 2013

Little Sheoak

We went for a walk this weekend, to the top of the ridgeline.

This was the view:

If I were a spiritual person, I would have something profound to say about this place. We made a campfire to toast marshmellows. Craig was enticed away by the surf and the girls and I spent the next few hours alone up on the ridge, watching the weather roll in, wondering if the spots of rain would become something more.  Craig took the car so we would have been stranded which added a slight air of excitement to our adventure.

Lily entertained herself by taking photos on my phone. It is about the only time a photo of me gets taken so I quite like it, though it also involves deleting a billion snaps of legs, floors and blurry toys.

I love the colours of the bush. We were hoping to spot a koala, which we know are in the area.

But contented ourselves with this fellow who was entirely unphased by us.

Check out the size of this fungus (toadstool? mushroom? I'm never clear on the distinction)

And right next to it, this tiny delicacy:

The girls played an elaborate game for nearly two hours: they were Clara, Jenna, Susie and Lucy, ages 13, 10, 6 and 4, taken in 'off the streets' by a wicked 'manager' who made them spend all day burning sticks which he would then use in some unspecified way in his charcoal business.  They were forced to sleep together with only one blanket between them and were woken at 4am to start work.  'Lucy' (Lily) contracted a fever and was given some dispensations from work.

The main point of the game seemed to be an excuse to burn sticks in the fire, but the plot became quite elaborate, with visits from 'matron', the slightly kinder wife of the manager, his sweet daughter, Michelle, and periodic inspections from the mayor, to whom they were forced to lie about the conditions of their employment. Transgressions were punishable by removal of supper and more hours of work ("15 without a break"). The manager didn't know their names but called them all 'rats', though when they performed well for the mayor, who was happy to let this sweatshop continue, he rewarded them by cutting 5 hours off their working day.  (Have Craig and I been modelling a good work/life balance?  Hmm)

The game was rather Dickensian, even a bit sinister, but as always I was intrigued by the way children play.  It really is a skill that completely disappears at some point (I'm not sure when.  I remember playing these sorts of games as a kid but cannot remember when I stopped).  The way that games evolve organically, the way that children can slip in and out of various characters without explanation or question, how compromises are reached, how plot suggestions are made, accepted or rejected are all quite mysterious to me now.  Of course this does not always, or necessarily, happen seamlessly but on this day it did.  I wandered around, collecting bits of wood, taking a few snaps, absorbing the view.