Thursday, September 23, 2010

An inspiring Thursday ...

What a wonderful day I had today!

I dropped the kids off at school/kindy and headed straight over to Prints Charming in Annandale for an embroidery workshop, hosted by co-founders Kirsten and Cath. Our group of grateful women learned how to embroider a range of stitches on a selection of Prints Charming designs which were printed on unbleached linen from Russia (with love). The threads we used were made of beautiful colours - pinks, yellows, reds and more. Needless to say, I had a BALL and promise to write a proper blog entry on this experience soon. I highly recommend anyone interested in craft or embriodery to get in quick, so you can make some thoughtful Christmas presents!

Also, I had a lovely second half of the day - which involved getting lost in order to finally find a lovely graphic designer and print maker, who I interviewed on behalf of Extra Curricular. I was not only delighted to meet this talented designer, and talk about her inspirations and process of taking an idea and converting this into handmade designs, I was really excited to be able to contribute to this wonderful New Zealand publication. Thank you to Ellie of Extra Curricular - for happily accepting my offer (plea) of help, and for selecting such a great interviewee. I look forward to seeing the final interview included in issue 4, due out in mid November. I bought my issue 3 from Lark, a divine online and actual shop in Daylesford, Victoria. Lark sells some truly gorgeous, whimsical things and I am tempted, sorely, repeatedly. I highly recommend a visit.

Then, at school pick-up, I was chatting with my friend Lisa who mentioned that she had an advent calendar pattern from Permin of Copenhagen which she had been meaning to start, and suggested that we may make it together, with an aim to finish in time for next Christmas! Gorgeous! I can't wait to see the pattern and get started (and hopefully finished) within the next 12 months and spend more time with Lisa.

Last but not least, I am about to pack for a mini break to Melbourne with my Mum (belated birthday present for me, thank you Mum!) to see the European Masters exhibition at the NGV. Again, I promise a proper blog about this visit, soon.

There you have it - lots of inspirational reasons for my fabulous Thursday!

Have a great sleep, off to bed for happy dreams.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Christmas Visit

Early morning, mid September ...

I enjoyed my date with Anna K.  last night - she herself has not entered the story yet; I am just reading about the stout Prince and his surprise that his wife - whom he no longer loves and is the mother of his five (alive) and two (dead) children - is upset that he had an affair with a recent governess. She refuses to live under the same roof as him and the whole household is in disarray ... members of the house staff have already resigned and he is a little worried about the inconvenience of his 'harmless' indiscretion.

In the meantime, I thought I would share my latest cross-stitch project with you. It is so  traditional, I love it! The design is from The Prairie Schooler, is dated 1994 and features seven different Christmas tree decorations. The one that I am starting with is a father Christmas who is holding a lantern, shoulder bag, is framed by holly and is (of course) decked in his Christmas colours:

So far, I have stitched part of his coat and his head, and am about to include his eyes and mouth, to be followed by the rest of his olive overcoat.

Every year, The Prairie Schooler releases a new Santa pattern and they have just released their 27th in the series! I have the pattern cards of a few previous ones, but think I may need to buy them all, at only a few US dollars a pop! I hope my sons will appreciate all these hand-stitched treasures one day!

I'll post a copy of the final designed cross-stitch once I've finished it. I am thinking completing the decoration with some of the vintage floral linen cut offs I bought from Patchwork Plus Miranda last week. For example, this beautiful olive floral design:

Anyway, I'd better get the boys organised for school and kindy!


In bed with Anna ...

Mid September, 2010
"All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." - Leo Tolstoy's opening line to his 1875-1878 novel, Anna Karenina.

As you can see, I have taken Alexander McCall Smith's advice about opening lines - and their importance - seriously! It looks like Anna Karenina may well be an intriguing read! I certainly have HIGH expectations.

And yes, we've finally done it! Our book club has chosen Anna Karenina as its next book - and we have given each other six weeks or so (I think it is 46 days from today, actually) to read her 963 pages. That’s roughly 160 pages per week. Or 23 pages per day. Almost a page an hour! Yikes!

The lovely thing, though, is that our book club also enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery earlier in the year. We supplemented this quirky award-winning French drama with the movie based on the book, which was showing as part of the French film festival here in Sydney. I have to say, I never expect much from movies based on books. It’s too disheartening. Especially if I have read - and really enjoyed - the book. For example, I did not really like
The Kite Runner film, but loved the book. This French film, aptly named The Hedgehog, took me by surprise, though. It was actually a great interpretation - and extension - of the novel. I really, really enjoyed it. The producers took a good story, and turned it into a great film. They added a few extra dimensions to the story that enhanced it, rather than devalued it.

Anyway, I remember EXACTLY the look on the concierge's (aka the hedgehog) face, when her new Japanese tenant completed the above Anna Karenina quote back at her - after she mumbled the opening line at him under her breath ... and the look of horror and surprise on her face, when she realises that she has been caught out for being so well-read! Imagine, a 'lowly' concierge having a fetish for great books and stories, and cheekily dropping their lines in to her every-day speech. Non-one had ever taken much notice of her before, or realised whom she was quoting. She quite enjoyed entertaining herself at the oblivious cost of her previously unsuspecting, rich, less well educated tenants!

Now, I myself can look forward to an education. Reading (and hopefully enjoying) the original epic. Don't expect me to quote its lines at you any time soon, though! Well, maybe just occasionally!

So, while Elliott is in Seoul on business and my two little men are snoring, I will be taking Anna to bed with me. I only hope that I can get through this epic in time for our next book club get-together!

Has anyone else enjoyed or quoted Anna K. recently?!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

First Sunday, September 2010

Happy Father’s Day, darling! And you too, Papa. In fact, happy Father’s Day to all my friends and family members (who are fathers!). I've included the picture of our home that Zack created for El especially, which I thought was really clever! He even tried to include our house number, bless his cotton socks . . .

While Elliott is having one of his first ever sleep-ins (he’s usually the early bird at the weekend), I thought I would ask Google to find me some responses to the key words, “Father’s Day”. The very first link that popped up was the trusty (most of the time) Wikipedia, which started its definition with the following words of wisdom:

“Father's Day is a widely known celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society ….”

Most of the rest of the Wikipedia blurb was not that interesting, though it does mention that the day only became an official holiday after decades of squabbling in 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed it into law. Thanks Mr Pres.

It also says that we actually share our Australian Father’s Day with New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, but that the majority of countries seem to celebrate on the third Sunday in June ... let alone the other 25 days on the annual calendar when other countries honour their Dads! That actually means that somewhere in the world, every 14 days, a Father’s Day is being celebrated. Wow!

Last year, the Daily Telegraph in the UK featured 20 famous fathers on 19 June (not that this is on their Father’s Day), picking the best and worst. No surprise then, that Homer Simpson is included on the list. I don’t mind the Simpsons, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan. Helen Brown, the author of the article, summarises how I feel about the show and Homer quite well – often silly, not laugh-out-loud enough and just a tad repetitive: “Lazy, gluttonous and stupid, the cartoon character created by Matt Groening in the late Eighties is described by Dan Castellaneta (who voices him) as “a dog trapped in a man’s body”. But this all American everyman’s every misdeed is redeemed by his chest-bursting, tail-wagging love for his family. D’oh! D’awwwww . . . Although he sometimes forgets his youngest daughter, Maggie, exists, her first word was still “Daddy”.” Hmmm.

Anyway – it is 8am and I need to re-heat the tea I brewed for El earlier, and go and look for the weekend papers again. Unluckily for me, they get chucked at the end of our very long, very windy, driveway and were nowhere to be found over an hour ago. Brrrrr. Maybe the papers are usually delivered by a Dad, who decided to be spoiled with tea in bed before venturing out to deliver the Sunday papers. Forgivable!

So, to my Elliott: Thank you for sharing the parenting journey with me. You do it very well and you are my rock. I hope our boys will one day resemble your approach to the task of fathering - including listening, encouraging, challenging, and knowing when to say “No!”.

I love you very, very much.