23 April 2014

Perth Branch

My brother's family visited us this school holiday. It has been two years since we've seen his four boys, but it might have been two weeks. The kids slot back together in that uniquely cousiny way, taking it for granted that they'll get on, find common ground, have fun. I love that his boys seem to spend most waking hours kicking or throwing balls or trick jumping scooters, which encourages my girls to follow suit.  Hours and hours were spent shooting hoops, even Lily, atop her cousin Ben's shoulders, joined in and shot her first goal. Many many trips were also had up the ladder to the shed roof retrieving balls but that was most definitely half the fun. 
We spent a day at Sovereign Hill - tragically unable to get in a photo session as they were fully booked, dashing my hopes of a snap of my four girls and four nephews in 19th century miner's garb. We did get to dip candles, go bowling, and get names stamped on horseshoes and in 'Wanted' posters. It's the same old fun it ever was and the kids loved it.
Such an interesting and different energy, having four boys around. There are so many  similarities and so many differences. I just wish they lived closer.

21 April 2014

Chocolate Overload

The one constant in our Easters, wherever we have them, is the fact that the number of eggs hidden never quite matches the numbers found. This year we were three short, and I know the dogs didn't get them. Could it be sneaky possums? I can't imagine it's good for them so I hope not. 

19 April 2014

Good Friday

It's been an unusual couple of weeks on the work front and the uncertainty surrounding a particular project meant we couldn't plan any time away this Easter. So it was a treat that various stars aligned and we were able to nip down to the coast on Thursday night to spend Good Friday away. It was wet and very very muddy, though the sun came out intermittently. At dusk a kookaburra sat in a branch overhead and dive bombed the kitchen window, tapping with his enormous beak, telling us it was dinner time. Perhaps he is used to being fed. He woke us in the morning too, clearly expecting breakfast.  Ruby and Nina accepted Craig's bet to run to the top of the ridge and back without stopping. Despite Ruby 'feeling like she was going to die' they made it. He now has to take them to Haighs for their choice of chocolate...
We read a bit, played bananagrams, Nana and Pa visited and we all ate way too many hot cross buns.  

15 April 2014

Autumn Days

Autumn came upon us in a literal deluge.  I cannot remember when Melbourne was last so wet and drizzly for days on end with no let up.  It's entirely wrong to complain, of course, so be clear that I am not complaining, merely noting the damp conditions.

The damp kept us indoors perhaps more than we would want, and the staying indoors meant we had to find ways to keep entertained using methods other than baiting and taunting.  To be fair, the kids seemed reasonably content with baiting and taunting but I felt my brain might explode.

I loved this sunflower next to the house Lily drew and suggested maybe she do a stitching.

She drew another sunflower which I carefully traced onto hessian for her (she found drawing on hessian difficult).  Lily's kinder has been looking at seeds in some detail so Lily was particular about includng the seeds.

Then she started stitching.  I don't know about other four year olds, but Lily needs very hands on help with this sort of thing.  Pretty much a stitch by stitch reminder of which side to go in - otherwise we end up with big loops of yarn around the embroidery hoop.

We did a bit, took a break, did a bit more, took a break.  She brings it out now, most days, and does a few stitches.  When she is upset or excluded or being annoying to the other girls, I suggest we do a few stitches.  She's done all the petals now, and the seeds. I'll post some photos of her progress when I get around to it.  It's a nice way to spend these autumn days, as we watch the season turn.

Miniature replica bedroom

How cool is this? During one of the many wet days last week Ruby and Nina decided to make their room in miniature. (Ignore the untidy real room, I took some quick photos just to give a compare and contrast and didn't stop to 'style')
The miniature version is unfinished but, you know, whether it ever will be finished and when are amongst the many unknowable things in life. Certainly any suggestion by me that they finish it will guarantee they never lookat it again.

They spent hours together looking for appropriate boxes, hunting through my scraps for just the right carpet and fabrics for their quilts. It's such a delight when they work together. The absence of bickering is a balm to my soul.

Can you see the tiny Plank chair with its tiny copy of 'Wildwood'.

Charlotte and Rosemary are there, along with a selection of books, including 'Wonder' and 'Liar & Spy' and even an old Charlie & Lola.  

01 April 2014

Red Riding Hood, as told by Grace

My favourite part of Grace's re-telling of this tale? - Little Red's finger, pointing to her Grandma's house. And the wolf's response to being asked where he is going 'well not rilly enny were'.

In the Pink

After making this quilt in seven evenings, I thought I'd try to repeat the feat and discovered that my next attmept was even quicker. This one took only 5 evenings and an afternoon, though one of those evenings was pretty long. It's not that I'm trying to beat any records, it's just that I do find these quilts so terribly satisfying to make, and I strongly suspect it's because of the lack of precise cutting and measuring involved, two things I am not very good at and lack patience to become good at. Really I should just stick, in all my crafting endevours, to things that are meant to look scrappy and rough. I just can't seem to do neat and precise, which is why I've never made adult clothes, including anything for myself. With kid's clothes, an elastic waist band is entirely acceptable, at least until the child is six or seven, and an elastic band can hide many flaws. Anyway, that is all about to change as I attend a Thread Den class this weekend to make an A-Line skirt for myself. I'm a little bit daunted, actually, but also looking forward to it.

Anyway, back to the quilt.  I got this fabulous large piece of cream fabric from a garage sale for $1. It was calling out to be a quilt backing, even though it is much heavier than quilting cotton. Its weight gives the quilt a wonderful heaviness that I love. I don't know what you call this type of fabric, which has a pattern that is raised on one side. Is this flocking? I don't think so, that is more little velvety bits on wallpaper, yes? I want to call it brocade, but suspect I'm wrong about that.
(edit - My friend Mere, a fabulous textile designer, sewist and artist, tells me it is jacquard.) Anyway, I've rather a lot of pink fabrics in my stash, and thought I'd do a very girly, pinky, creamy quilt in the same scrap bag fashion as before. This time I was even more random (in the true sense of the word and not the way my children use it to mean strange or unexpected or weird or surprising) in the selection of fabrics, chain piecing each strip (first in twos, then chain piecing each pair, then each four and so on) until each row had 20 pieces of fabric. Surprisingly, even though I used this method, the colours tended to clump together so it almost looks like I was following a pattern.  Even so, this random method is at least as succesful, in my view, as my attempts to carefully place each square and get a perfect balance.  Though in the photo above the red square next to the largish darkish pink square appears to dominate, I think that is just the angle of the photo and perhaps the light, as in real life it doesn't stand out so much.

I quilted it in a free motion stipple and bound it in green flowers.  I love lots of things about this quilt - the backing, the bidning, and many of  fabrics.  I certainly loved making it.  But overall it is probably a bit too traditionally girly for my taste.  My girls like it, though Ruby commented that it was a 'bit pink'.  For Craig is was way too 'crafty'.  It won't be hanging around our house, anyway, so it doesn't matter greatly.  It will find a home, I hope, somewhere where it is loved.