Saturday, February 18, 2012

NY resolutions ...

It's almost been a year! That is terrrrrrible. I only have myself to blame (obviously) but I have decided to tip my toe back into blog-land. Mostly for selfish reasons, but also to stay in touch with my lovelies.

Shorter posts, and more of them. Starting with ...  New Year's Resolutions!

(1) Blog more
(2) Write more - two books, in fact, and lots of articles!
(3) Eat healthier
(4) Work more efficiently
(5) Practise patience with the kids
(6) Research more recipes to introduce more variety
(7) Don't buy any books, unless it's for book club (this will be REALLY hard)
(8) Craft more homely goodies for my label Sew Eeks
(9) Inspire others
(10) Send birthday cards - on time!

That's 10 to get me started, will list the next series soon!

What are YOUR NY resolutions?


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meant to be

Last Thursday I spent most of the day without the kids, which I welcomed, gladly. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, with El travelling a lot, school hols and lots of work. Sometimes a Mum just needs to be a person for a while and enjoy some time to herself, uninterrupted. Bliss!

I started the day with a much needed colour and cut (though one peek-a-boo reddish/purplish highlight turned into very visible and numerous PEEK-A-BOO highlights!!). Never mind, change is good. Later, when I picked up Sammy, he asked if he could have some red spray paint in his hair too ... Not quite the response I was looking for ...

My hairdressing appointment was followed by a late breakfast and coffee at one of Cronulla's finest cafes – which, remarkably, does not seem to have changed its menu in the whole seven years I have lived down here. Accompanying me was none other than Agatha Raisin. I am back to reading a few more of MC Beaton’s books. I think this one was the sixth or seventh in a series of 20. Fun escapism. Also a great excuse to combine my love for bookshops and the local library, which is happy to order books. I worked out that 20 books in my personal collection would cost me over 400 dollars!

Next up was a catch up with Jane (via Berkelouw, of course) and some much needed ‘me time’ at Miranda to shop in the sales. I’ve been feeling that my wardrobe is a tad too safe, so was out to find some more quirky bits and pieces. I was pretty successful! Although I have been disappointed with the quality of clothes from Witchery in the past, I found some interesting bargains and hope they will last more than a few machine washes. I also got some pants for ne and PJs for Zack from Country Road (did I mention safe? It’s a hard habit to break sometimes!). These pants did have some ‘tude though, I think …

After a few hours of shopping and nearing the end of my child-free day, I thought I’d have a croissant and hot chocolate at Lindt, which resulted in my desire to post this blog ... Whilst I was reading all about Agatha's latest adventure in the English countryside, rudely stumbling in to people's lives in a rather addictive manner, I savoured sitting quietly. People watching. Reading. Thinking about Easter. I happily sat and gulped my hot choc down - which incidentally was not that hot, hence the gulping - plus I did not realise how thirsty I was and that chocolate sauce is so velvety … Anyway, I then felt obliged to apologise to the elderly lady sitting next to me for my hasty drinking. She was lovely and did not mind at all. In fact, she got up to ask what was keeping them with her drink.

Anyway, it turns out that she was happy to have a little chat. As my friends know, I am always up for finding Shire grannies who like to knit and stitch! Alas, she said that she did neither, but she does create. Acrylic paintings (I imagine her work to be of landscapes, with a penchant for realism). I told her that I always had this dream, before I had kids, that I could be found in my artist studio in overalls, painting with my oils, whilst the baby slept on a bean bag. I seriously thought that I would be full of energy and have plenty of time to paint, create, and glow in motherhood. As I explained to Jan - I asked her name when she hugged and kissed me good bye - this turned out to be rather far from the truth. She laughed and said that there are many different ways of being creative.

Soul feeding, I call it.

For her, volunteering gives her great joy. She was even a newly appointed Board member of a Gymea community organisation (which gave me the excuse to tell her about some of my shopping bargains earlier, as she was not sure what to wear to meetings). She also spoke about how she likes to use vision boards, a tool for encouraging people to think about pictures and words that make them happy, cut them out and paste them on a board - a bit like a collage, I assume. Sounded a bit naff for me, but I liked the idea of it.

Anyway - then she mentioned Cameron, Julia Cameron.


I could see her searching her mind for the book title, and I was really hoping that she would remember, as I love a book recommendation! Luckily she did: The Artist's Way. I too remembered hearing of this book once before – when Jo mentioned it at book club a few years ago. So, Jan said that I should really think about getting it. That is was a great inspiration for people who like to create, especially if you enjoyed writing (I think I mentioned to her that I was thinking of writing a book inspired by my maternal grandfather).

So I just wanted to say, thank you Jan, for our lovely chat and your recommendation. I did go looking for it at A&R and Unleashed, but both did not stock it. I will find a copy though, and think of you when I read it! I was quite touched when she said at the end of our chat that it was meant to be, that we were probably meant to meet. I will take from this comment that I should seek more opportunities to take the bull by the horns when it comes to creating ‘stuff’ that makes me happy.

Which in fact takes me to the next thing I will be blogging about:  my tendency to neither complete or finish a multitude of things I feel passionate about. Like daily blogging, for example! At least I seem to me achieving a monthly update!

Happy Easter Monday. I hope the weather improves enough for a jog and visit with the men to Cronulla Easter Fair.

So long for now.


Note to self: Must think more about present and past tense when blogging/writing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Edging towards Easter

Edging towards Easter

As we are edging closer to Easter, I can happily report that I have knitted half an Easter egg, cross-stitched a tenth of a Danish Easter pattern and more significantly, will be published twice this month!! How exciting is that?!

First up was today's two-page spread in good reading magazine. Jane and I attended An Evening with Armistead Maupin, and luckily Rowena the Editor was open to my idea of sending her a story about the night in question. Not only did Jane and I enjoy a wine and some nibbles at the Opera House before the event, I was excited to meet one of my favourite authors and be given the opportunity to write about it! Over 1,000 people attended and we all enjoyed devouring every word he read (from his latest book) and said. What a great author! It turns out that he writes very slowly and carefully, which came as a surprise to me. I wish him all the best in the next Tales of City instalment, which he promises will let us know whatever happened to Mary-Anne ex hubby, Brian ...

Secondly, the lovely Ellie of Extra Curricular asked me to interview another artist for Issue - Belinda Kennedy, a Melbourne based ceramic artist. The article is being printed as I type and I can’t wait to see it! The lovely Susie Stubbs of flower press who I interviewed for Issue 4 will also feature again, showing a tea towel design.

Belinda is a very talented 30 year-old who not only creates ceramic installations, functional ware and unique individual pieces, she is a qualified sustainable gardener, loves to dance and is a confident poet. She was very inspiring to talk to and I enjoyed writing the article – thank you Ellie!

Last but not least is the Country Style “South” writing comp (copy of page above) which is due at the end of this month (eek, that is only a few days now!) ... I am VERY tempted to participate but am not sure I will make the deadline ... the germ of my idea is still small, and does not seem to have enough arms and legs to make a run for the finish line! I'll let you know how I go.

On another note and in the meantime, I am being (helpfully) tortured by a local Chinese acupuncturist in his attempt to improve the blood flow in my liver so it can better process the hormones that upset my body every month! Imagine someone taking red hot pokers and sticking them in your boobs repeatedly for almost a week every month - aka cyclical mastalgia - versus being stabbed by sharp needles and being 'bled' for over an hour a week to massively reduce the sore boob issue. A tough decision, but the needles and cupping are better than the sore boobs at this stage! It made a huge difference last month, though I must admit I do dread every torture session ...

Anyway, that is all for now!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine, be mine

Happy Valentine's Day!

Rather than reminisce about this momentous occasion (for some), I thought I would share with you some of the persistent thoughts that enjoy swimming around my head ...

OK, here goes.

I want to write and enter my first ever writing comp! The deadline is at the end of March, and it needs to include the motif South (Country Style, Jan issue, for those of you who are interested in following suit). I know that I LOVE writing. The challenge is coming up with a great idea which can be brought to life - using South - in no more than 1,500 words. I'll keep you posted ... I don't have the confidence to share my ideas online, yet!

I've been asked by the lovely Ellie at Extra Curricular to contribute another interview - this time with Belinda Kennedy who is a ceramic artist based in Melbourne - and I am really looking forward to having a chat with her and writing something up for the next issue! This will be my second contribution, which makes me very happy and proud! The first was my interview of Susie Stubbs of flowerpress - a process I really enjoyed! Not only was Susie a really nice person, she is a really talented graphic designer! Let me know if you want me to email you a copy of that interview (a little test to see if you are reading this blog post!).

The other desire I have is to write a book - I remember telling you about the cheeky Danish rabbits tottering up and down the hills, and the idea for a childrens' book; but this latest idea is a little different. A bit more serious. Potentially heart wrenching, without being too heart breaking. I hope. I have recently read quite a few books partly, or entirely, influenced by people's experience of war - Amandine, The Kite Runner, City of Thieves (David Benioff), The Botticelli Secret, my list goes on, and on, and on. It got me thinking about the war diary my mother's father kept when he was a Prisoner of War (POW) during WWII. He wrote a daily entry for his wife - my grandmother - every day, from May 1942 until May 1943. In Dutch, it's fully vetted by the Nazis, so it's not overly revealing. However, it certainly gives a realistic  sense of what he and his fellow inmates endured, how he coped, what preoccupied him ... and so I asked my mother for permission to copy and read the diary … and use it as a source for my first novel. Luckily she said yes, and so I have begun. Slowly. I have scanned and printed hundreds of small, very thin, pages and look forward to reading the whole lot! I have read a few snippets already and it is definitely going to be a great inspiration. I’ve found out the names of the Stalags (camps) he was imprisoned in - Nuremberg, Bavaria and Stanislaw, Poland. I know which barrack he slept in, what he ate, what his overriding thoughts were, day in, day out. Part of me wants to rush ahead and read every page thirstily, the other part wants to take my time, and let it slowly wash over me, trying to imagine what it must have been like to be completely dominated, fearful, brave, hopeful ...

The other thing pre-occupying me is my proofreading course, which I started over five years ago. "Remote learning". Easy peasy. Not. Should I ask for another year's extension? Which reminds me, that the next issue of Dumbo feather is due to be proof-read in the middle of Feb, which is about now. I should send the new Editor another email and find out what his deadlines are!

So. Last, but not least, blogging (and lack thereof) has also been keeping me awake too. I am so slack! I love it so much, yet I resist the urge to blog with futile activities - like doing the washing up, cleaning, reading, work, faffing about. As I near 40 (I'll write another blog post about this milestone), I really should be spending more time doing all those things that make me happy. Blogging is certainly one of them, hence this post! I hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks to the Ashbrook Estate red from the Margaret River for accompanying me back into blog land. A nice sip every now and then certainly doesn't hurt anyone!

To those of you who read this, thank you. To the inventor of the blogosphere, thank you.

Adieu, good night, sweet dreams, Happy V Day, and until soon!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Large Lego on the Loose

Continuing the spirit of all things Danish, Elliott, Jane, the kids and I all enjoyed a visit to Sydney Aquarium this morning to visit the underwater beasties as well as larger than life LEGO ® models – “Australia’s largest collection of super-sized LEGO creations”. They will be on display until the end of May and I highly recommend that you go and see them, as they really enhance the whole Sydney Aquarium experience. I was quite awed, actually!

Kids under four are admitted for free (great for Sam and Lucy) and Zack and Max (fee payers) each received “your World Exclusive LEGO minifigure”, though these were not well advertised and I had to ask, nicely. Twice.

When I did some website homework last night before today’s adventure, I read about how the LEGO artworks have been painstakingly designed and assembled by the LEGO Master Model Builders (wish I had thought of that as a profession when I was growing up, how fab is that!) from the US.

At Sydney Aquarium, I read that we could check out "huge scale myths and legends of the sea" – including Moby Dick, Neptune, a pirate, mermaid, killer whale tail and more. Today, the first model we found (we walked straight past Neptune without even noticing him, so it was good to spot him on the way out as well!) was near the wriggly turtles, and was a pirate at a ship's wheel. He had a cute face and was brilliantly built, as you can see here.

LEGO Pirate at sea
Then, as we walked through the shark display I looked up to notice a massive great white shark, built to scale, in LEGO! It was amazing! Hanging from the ceiling, no less. They showed a video of it being made, with the Master Builder talking about how many pieces were used, its weight, etc.

Great White Shark LEGO
And on the wall below, was a vast mural made of 331,776 pieces of LEGO. You know how the top of a LEGO piece it has a little ® trademarks on it? Well, the mural’s façade was made of the tops of lots and lots of LEGO pieces in every colour imaginable and the more you stood back, the more you could see the large scene they all made together. This first one showed LEGO pirates on boats, fighting, on vast seas. So, so clever.

Mermaid above the Dugong aquarium

LEGO man with penguin, located next to the penguins

Moby Dick, a huge gleaming white beast

Mural behind the sperm whale Moby Dick, showing Captain Ahab about to seek revenge for the loss of his leg, bitten off by Moby Dick in a previous encounter**

Scuba diving LEGO

Apparently, there are more LEGO statues and animals to be seen at Sydney Wildlife World, but after temporarily losing Sam for a few minutes today, I think I will give those a miss!

PS:  **  Wikipedia search results on Captain Ahab and Moby Dick: 
Ahab hurls his last harpoon while yelling his now-famous revenge line:
... to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.
The harpoon becomes lodged in Moby Dick's flesh and Ahab, caught around the neck by a loop in his own harpoon's rope and unable to free himself, is dragged into the cold oblivion of the sea with the injured whale. The mechanics of Ahab's death are richly symbolic. He is literally killed by his own harpoon, and symbolically killed by his own obsession with revenge. The whale eventually destroys the whaleboats and crew, and sinks the Pequod.

Some story! On that note, I'm off to bed with Water for Elephants by Sara Groen, which I am really enjoying!

Long live LEGO!

Hop along!

Large Overall Rabbit, Girl, depicted on Maileg website

'Hop along!' is something I will always associate with Mor Far - Antonia's maternal grandfather, may he rest in peace - who used to say this to us regularly on our visits to Virum and Rorvig in Denmark, where I have been lucky enough to visit on many occasions throughout my life! In fact, I now use it with my boys all the time! Thought it also made an apt title for this little blog post, which will be about Danish rabbits, amongst other things. I'm also including lots of pics, as I love reading other people's blogs which contain lots of photos! I hope you like them too!
"These rabbits live in a wonderful lair behind a tiny hill-top. There are sisters and brothers, nephews, cousins and a whole family. Every morning they wake up the sun, before it rises, and in the evening they eat star-sprinkles with warm milk using a silver spoon."
Wow, how good does that sound? Potentially a great inspiration for anyone – maybe even me, one day – who wants to write a story inspired by this paragraph. I found the paragraph on eBay item descriptions earlier today, as well as on Maileg’s own website, describing its 100% cotton rabbit toys, which I happen to love! Tiny hill-top in Danish is "lillebitte bakketop". Ha ha, what a great language!

The rabbit at the top of this post is called Overall Girl. She is probably one of the cousins, keeping in mind that the whole collection is called "Brothers and Sisters".

Yes, more about Danish design … what can I say? And it’s not just rabbits, either, but little people, Christmas Pixies, mice which live in match boxes and more – heaven!

Back to that first para:  Can you imagine? The rabbits would have to have their own names, unique personalities and most importantly, a way of living together to capture kids’ (and our) imaginations. I may well write about these little treasures, so keep your eyes peeled. And yes, that first liner will have to be all important, according to Alexander McCall Smith, remember?!

Now, a little more about Maileg, “a Danish lifestyle design company”. Established in 1999 by Dorthe and Erik Mailil, the collection has a unique – and extremely well made - authentic look and touch created by Dorthe, a trained graphic designer. She is known for emphasising seasons into her work, especially Christmas and Easter, both traditions I like to observe with unique decorations around the house. The name Maileg does not seem to mean anything, unless it is a combination of the first three letters of their surname - Mai - and the Danish word for game - leg. Who knows?

Christmas Pixies, depicted on Maileg website
love all the Christmas Pixies, shown here, which you can actually buy in Sydney at sole distributors Nordic Fusion, located in Mosman and Manly. I asked Mum to go to the Mosman shop for me the other day, when she mentioned that she was going to Mosman anyway, with hopeful instructions to reap some Christmas sale treasures for me, especially those lovely Christmas Pixies! Thanks Mum! I can't wait to meet them all, which I know will include some of the above little poppets.

Antonia actually sent me my first Maileg toy a few years ago, and I have been in love with her ever since. Isn’t she pretty? She has pale pink blush on her cheeks and is wearing a little elasticated red cotton skirt, to keep her modesty intact. She's been sitting alongside a range of other Danish treasures in our living room. I will post about my other Christmas decorations soon, as part of saluting them on their way back into storages boxes until Christmas 2011!

 Christmas Pixie sent to me from Antonia, about four years ago

Quality is key to all things Maileg. Each toy is designed in Denmark, made of 100% cotton (not sure if they are made in DK, will check - just did: My Pixie's bum reveals that she was made in China. Hmm.) and popular all over the world. I could not resist today when I was browsing a UK website, found after googling Maileg: They sell a whole collection of Maileg goodies, some of which were begging (me) to move to our wonderful shores ... Here, I'll introduce you to some who are hopefully on their way soon!

Magnetic climbing Christmas Pixies, bought from Bijou Lifestyle, UK.
They will be making a proud (and cheeky) appearance this Christmas!

Cute as a button, a little mouse, who lives in his own match box.
He may well be welcoming visitors throughout the year and was also found at Bijou Lifestyle!

This gorgeous clown, who I will have sitting on my desk to remind me to have more fun!
He is also joining his friends from Bijou Lifestyle, UK.

OK, hop along now. It's almost time for bed! Hop, hop!


Friday, December 31, 2010

Running into 2011

Happy New Year!

I have just spent two hours sorting through cross-stitch, embroidery, knitting and other craft paraphernalia - and have culled a little, filed a lot and am feeling confident that I am all set to start a lovely Easter project! Yippee! Or, to be more exact, finish an Easter project that I barely started about ten years ago. Better late than never ... Can you tell that I am in New Year Resolution mode?

Anyway - it's a pattern that I bought in the Eva Rosentand shop in Copenhagen about 15 years ago, when I was there with Eva and Antonia (I love you guys). The pattern is for a "loper" [in Dutch] – you know, the long table-cloth strip you hardly ever use to decorate the table for special occasions. The English word is "runner", which sounds more energetic than the Dutch loper, which means walker! 
The design isn’t the Eva Rosenstand one shown here, but it gives you a bit of an idea ... Mine is more simple and less old-fashioned. It has a little yellow chick, a bright red Easter egg, a tulip and three tall yellow daffodils. I think the design is by Clara Wæver; it is numbered CW 2-3778.  I was reading about her on the Eva Rosentand website, and she was a pretty inspirational woman. She had a “great talent” for embroidery, worked in an embroidery shop and taught women the various techniques.  Later, with her sister Augusta, Clara then opened her own shop when she was 40 - in 1890. This gives me GREAT hope, as I turn 40 this year! The sisters sold embroidery materials and produced patterns. They also taught young women how to embroider in the old Danish 'white embroideries' style, as well as training brides in decorative techniques for their "marriage portion".  Hmmm, makes you wonder how times have changed, and what makes up a marriage portion? Must be like a dowry?

Anyway - Clara apparently always looked for new designs and was known for buying original drawings by several Danish artists for inspiration. Almost 20 years later, in 1917, the sisters handed over their shop to N.C.Dyrlund, who continued their tradition. In 1930, when she was 75, Clara Wæver died. There is a lot more to the shop's history, with the Danish company Carl J. Permin A/S - Permin of Copenhagen - taking over the Eva Rosenstand / Clara Wæver shop in 2003, which ensured that the company remains in Danish hands.

Anyway – it seems that my modest little pattern must be at least 85 years old! I can't get the printer to scan my little pattern, sorry, and I can't find it online, so you will have to wait to see the final pic of my finished work! Let's hope I get to finish it this time!

Also some other exciting news:  some Mums and I are setting up a monthly Stitching session, so I can make sure to spend at least several hours on it every month!

In the meantime, I will post a pic of the actual pattern (which is the size of a postage stamp) as soon as I can scan it - where is a computer tech when I need one?!

Happy New Year again, let's make sure we are all feeding our souls!