Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Still here!

Hi – I haven't forgotten how to blog or anything — just been up to my eyes in work and the looming Christmas season.
My weekend market was just fantastic. I sold almost everything and made a very handy pile of Christmas cash. Perfect! Plus it was great fun, and we learnt a lot that will come in handy should we decide to hold another towards the end of autumn, in time for Mothers' Day and selling lots of wintry goodies.
The biggest lesson was that you need to have stuff with a big range of prices. My most expensive items were my tea-cosies and my aprons, all of which I sold for $35 each, and they all went. The 15 or so zippered pouches I made and sold for $15 were also snapped up — much to my surprise.
A heap of baby bibs I made after seeing Barbara's beauties were also big sellers, at $10 each. I made mine with Kokka gauzes rather than Liberty prints and people really liked them, so thank you so much, Barbara, for that great idea!
In sum, I reckon I got back more than the cost of materials, but not much per hour, really. But the fun was the thing!
Jane also did really well and sold a mass of stuffed toys and sock monkeys and almost all her beautiful bags.
But she sold only one baby quilt. We reckoned people did not expect to be buying big-ticket items like quilts, although there was plenty of interest in them, and lots of admiring inspections. Perhaps a market of quilts alone would be a better idea? And again, it's so much more of a winter thing — in summer, in Perth, people don't want to think about wrapping up, however beautiful the wrapping may be.
:: We are putting together two papers this week, then next week is a holiday after which I will be in the hot seat while Sir takes his family down south.
I'm almost ready for Christmas — though the forecasts look awful: 38C and cloudy - yuck.
Lots of love to you all and a really merry Christmas and I'd better wish you all a happy New Year just in case I don't get my act together before then!
Looking forward to 2011 (it can only be better than this year has been) ...

PS: I'm having to check the comments before they get published now as I've been consistently spammed by visitors from Mumbai and Gujarat!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Making merry today!

Before ...

... and after! It looks truly amazing.
We opened this arvo for a couple of hours, just so we could see how everything looked and work out our positions and prices and labels etc etc. The sale starts properly tomorrow.A TA for dinner tonight, and then I'm watching the telly until I fall asleep (about 8.30, I reckon)!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Making Merry!

Our big craft sale, the one we've been going on about for weeks, the one we've worked hard for all year (in between work, kids, families, home, other arty jobs and fun stuff) is on this weekend!
There'll be:
• Quilts, bags, soft toys, baby lovelies and other wonderful stuff by my best friend Jane. Jane has a fantastic eye for colour and her contemporary-style quilts are knock-outs. She loves to collect old and vintage kimono and obi silks and other fabrics, and these feature in her highly sought-after quilts.
Only the best-quality fabrics in linen and linen blends, many of which she imports, add an artistic quirkiness to Jane's designs and she mixes them up with Free Spirit and Kaffe — she's brilliant.
• There'll be cushions (to die for), greeting cards and gift tags by my best friend, Isme. Young as she is (14!), Isme has a confident eye for colour and pattern, and her cushions can feature up to a dozen fabulous fabrics — from Liberty to Echino and beyond — that all sing together superbly.
My friends, many of whom are accomplished sewists themselves, cannot believe the quality of her work — her cushions are plump, generous, top-stitched and fitted with invisible zippers, so you can use both sides.
• Seattle-born artist and now North Perth resident Nick (Lily's lovely boyfriend) has painstakingly designed (starting with miniatures), made and painted a series of amazing masks/headpieces for kids. Made from upcycled cartons and boards that are cut, folded, moulded and painted by hand, these are total originals and are purely for dress-up fun — though they'd look brilliant on a kid's wall. Because each is made so lovingly, there are a strictly limited number available, so don't miss out!• I'll have bags and a range of my aprons and tea-cosies, many of them featuring the now-famous Our Lady of the Immaculate Kitchen fabric panels I bought in New Mexico (didn't I have foresight?). There are aprons in a range of colours and sizes — even a couple of virgin-free numbers for men — and my tea-cosies are all free-motion quilted, padded, lined and tassled.
I've also made some papier mache birds to hang from your Christmas tree, or to give as one-of-a-kind gifts. I modelled each by hand so they are all different, then I dried them and then sanded, painted, sanded, painted, sanded and painted them in bright colours. Then I decorated each of them with a very fine brush and white waterproof ink.
• And there'll be much more. Jewellery, zines, other crafty lovelies and some surprises from Lily and her friends are all in order!
We're open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, at the courtyard garden behind 361 Fitzgerald Street, North Perth.
* Please note there is no access from the front gate on Fitzgerald; instead, walk past the real estate agency next door and around the corner into Raglan Road, and you'll see the courtyard entrance next to the agency carpark, off the short laneway. We'll have signs. so you won't miss it.

There is plenty of free street parking in Raglan.
If you are a Perth reader, please come along and say hello — I'm looking forward to seeing everybody. I've got short grey hair and purple glasses and I'll be wearing one of my aprons.
(If I've sent you repeat emails, or facebook event invitations, please forgive me. Lily told me yesterday that I'd done it all wrong so she did it again for me, so some of you may be already sick of hearing from me - sorry!)

Monday, 22 November 2010


This was in the big shrub near the garage door on November 13 ...... and this is what's happening in there today.There are two surprisingly big chicks in a small nest that's just above my head height and perilously close to the garage door and our linen line, so the mother bird is frequently disturbed, which is a shame.
Mum is a beautiful spotted turtle dove (Streptopelia chinensis), which, as its Latin name hints, is not native to these parts, though they are really common.
(Added later) Oh, and this is its call — always reminds me of warm, early summer gardens.
Back to the sewing machine!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sunday scrapbook

Something besides trees for Dawn's Sunday Scrapbook!
This is a peek at Will's painting, from his course work. His first self-portrait (above), from week two of his painting class, worked quickly and entirely in paint, without sketching. Really good.
These are really attractive abstracts from later in the semester ...The one below is a view of the farm ...
And here he has played with it in Photoshop — it's now my desktop image.:: I just clipped Yoshi's claws and we went for a long walk together. It rained the entire time and we didn't get wet, but it was ever so slightly refreshing.
Back to the sewing machine ...

Saturday, 20 November 2010


I'm putting together a couple of pages in our newspaper's upcoming Christmas feature, and thought I'd do a step-by-step craft idea. So I'm trying my own instructions for making a simple and colourful quilted Christmas stocking made from scraps.After weeks at the sewing machine, it's great to sit hand-sewing these mindless quilting running stitches. And they are just the ticket for watching Luther on Friday nights - anyone else hooked?
:: We're off to the theatre tonight. David has to review a new play and I'm planning to tag along.
He is so excited about his blog. Every morning while I'm drinking my tea in bed, he calls out to me where his visitors have come from. "Wow! Someone from Vancouver came last night! Italy ... Japan ... Moscow ... they're coming from all over!"
So much fun in Schloss Zed.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


My best friend Dace's gorgeous daughter asked me to make her a bag for her 21st birthday (tomorrow). A sort of red sort of a messenger bag sort of thing.
I was dead chuffed, and, of course, left everything until the last 48 hours before getting started. Just like last time.
Lily told me there was no point in making a messenger bag that wouldn't take a laptop, so after a bit of research and a lot of google images, I worked one out.I needed quite a bit of thinking and swearing time when it came to the gusset, and again with fitting and lining the flap ... but the closure idea came from pictures of an Amy Butler bag. There is a huge zip pocket on the outside back of the bag, pockets across the front, and an even bigger one right across the inside back, as well as custom-fitted pockets for iPhone, pens, camera and anything else.The wonderful hand-printed outer fabric, which I got from Materialise (click over there on the right -->) is a sturdy twill that I reinforced with very stiff iron-on interfacing. I had trouble trying to centre the pattern because it isn't exactly symmetrical. But once I'd realised that, I was okay.
I also had trouble banging in the press studs, and working out how the strap adjuster worked, given that this cryptic drawing was the only guidance the manufacturer, Birch, sees fit to provide (it's bloody useless). Fortunately, I was able to take everything over to Nick, who easily and efficiently fixed it all for me.
Dace had thrown me a curve ball by saying this bag had to be h-u-g-e, and by holding out her hands to show something vaguely the size of half a fridge. But my research in cyber-webby land all pointed to a bag that would fit a 14" (36 cm) laptop, so that's what I made.
Only dang is that I'll miss the party tomorrow night, or most of it, because I'll be at work. But I'll rock up on my way home for a piece of birthday cake and a hug.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday scrapbook

These shots were taken in the park at the bottom of our garden one afternoon, while I was taking Yoshi for a ramble.
Jacaranda season will be over soon, so I'm making the most of it!
Posting for Dawn at Rattling On.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sunday Scrapbook

It starts in the second half of October, when you think you can just detect a slight mauve haze about the bare branches of the jacarandas — I can see four from my kitchen window.
These shots were taken from the door to our back deck in three-day intervals, starting with the one above on October 25.And then, all of a sudden, it's obvious the flowers are truly on their way.For Perth people, this loveliness is a symbol of approaching summer, but sadly, the stronger association for younger people is with the start of the TEE exams (brutal end-of school exams that determine university places ... or not).
The jacarandas are at their full purple magnificence right now. Posted for Dawn's Sunday Scrapbook.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Book club

We met in Shelley's beautiful walled garden, on a warm morning with just a gentle breeze.Shelley served a perfect brunch, and the table was set with crisp white linen and bowls and bowls of flowers. We really do have the most wonderful book club.:: I fear the old Chapter III has become a little dull of late. Neglected, even. But what with working the occasional full week (another one coming up next week), and trying to amass crafty creations for Our Big Christmas Sale (more on that very soon), I have hardly had time to do anything, let alone blog about it. However, I'm aware of my shortcomings and normal service will be resumed as soon as things settle down.
:: My grandson's Big Seven party wet off brilliantly last night, and the candles really added to the cake's volcanic landscape!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thursday, 28 October 2010


I've got a heap of stuff to do, and lots of projects on the go, and things waiting to be sewn together or finished, or sorted, but today I've wandered round the big warehouse chemist lie a stunned mullet (worked late last night) and stared at the nail varnish while I waited for my script to be filled.
I only ever buy Revlon, and I love the pale caramels, but as I've five or six of those at home, I chose an orange, then reckoned it was too ker-pow bright, so I swapped that for a pearly purple, then put that back and chose a coral.
I came home, painted one of my nails, reckoned the coral shade is a bit on the ker-pow bright side, made coffee, and now I'm about to start teaching myself to crochet amigurumi critters, thanks to YouTube.

:: Having said earlier in the week that we were unlikely to get any rain between now and next autumn, we've had a lovely rainy day, then lots of rain last night, and a bit today. Yay!
:: I was still a theatre widow when I got home at 10.30 last night — David was at a first night. If you haven't had a gander at David's blog, do go over and have a look. He is such a naturally gifted writer, and his reviews and other arty posts are short, clever and very sweet reading. He ought to have been writing for years.
There's a link up there on the right -----> just click on the picture (it's his favourite pic of himself, one I took of him when we were strolling down Park Avenue, New York, on our way back to our hotel after a Broadway show, on a romantically rainy spring night ... sigh).

Monday, 25 October 2010

All over the shop

I'm in my room drawing all afternoon - love, love, love it.
This morning was a disaster.
I called in at the office first thing to organise something I'd forgotten on Friday.
Found I'd left my mobile at home.
From work I went to see Wayne about some artwork he wants me to do.
I found my mobile right at the bottom of my bag, but also found I'd left my notebook with sketches at work.
From there I went on to see my mate Jane, to talk about the Big Chrissy Stall Fest we are working towards.
From her house we drove to Calico and Ivy so I could pick up some more felt squares and fabric.
Found I'd left my glasses at Jane's.
Got home (finally), got indoors, unloaded all my stuff, went to put on the kettle and found I'd left my glasses, phone and notebook in the car.
I think I may be a hazard; I don't think I'll leave the house for the rest of the day.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday scrapbook

I was looking for pictures of rain for Dawn's Sunday Scrapbook — to cool us down as we come out of one of our driest ever winters and head towards a very long summer. We may not see much rain again until April or May next year, and there are already talks of even more serious water restrictions.
Anyway, as I was enjoying pics of puddles and wet streets, I came upon these pics I took as the Big March 22 Hailstorm swept in from the north.
I was initially alerted by a news bulletin on the car radio that said a severe storm in two fronts was heading south and would cross Perth, and everyone was warned to take cover within the next 15 to 20 minutes.
I just got home as the sky darkened ominously and a strong wind picked up, swirling the clouds in all directions.Will and I went out on to the back deck and then we heard what sounded like a plane engine roaring to the north.The sky (above) turned an eery green — this pic, which also shows the first big hailstones, has not been doctored by me in any way. I later learned a green sky is an indicator of a severe hailstorm; it must be something to do with light refracted through ice.
Within minutes all hell broke loose. We were not in the eye of the hailstorm, but the thunder and lightning were very, very close, and the power station on Bourke Street, just a couple of kilometres away, was struck by lightning with an almighty explosion.
The worst affected areas were in Shenton Park, near the office of the newspaper where I work, and in a line from there to the University of WA, which lost in seconds $1 million worth of historic stained glass in its almost 100-year-old main hall.
The hail damage at work was so bad that we needed an entire new roof. And so many houses near here were similarly damaged, that we've had to wait seven months, until last week, for ours at the Post.
The city's total damage bill is over $1 billion.
The hail was so ferocious it stripped leaves, small branches and bark from trees, covering streets in what looked like mulch and blocking stormwater drains so roads and driveways and houses flooded within minutes. All that on top of hail-pocked roofs that let in torrents from above.
One house near the office was so badly damaged that its owners cannot yet live there. Their neighbour's damage bill was $300,000.
Cars parked outside our office actually floated in floodwater about 60cm deep. People rushed outside to stop them banging into others.
Everyone who was at the office that day has a new car. Their old ones were so battered and dented by the hail that they were written off.
It's amazing no-one was killed.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunday scrapbook

Some seaside pics for Dawn's Sunday scrapbook.
(Will about to launch himself into the warm, deep blue, at Gull Rock, Albany.)
I'm not a beachy-swimmy-surfy type of Australian.(South-West coast, between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.)
Kids here start swimming lessons when they're old enough to walk — I bet very few of my mates here would even remember a time when they couldn't swim.(City Beach, our best and most beautiful metropolitan beach.)
I was born in England and learned to swim only when we knew we were going to emigrate, as one of my aunts had been to Australia for a holiday and assured me that, judging by the people she'd met, I'd never get any friends, and no one would even speak to me, if I couldn't swim.
This rang true with me, as I recalled being on holiday in Germany in 1967, and feeling very ashamed of myself when friends of the family I was staying with growled at my hosts in startled incredulity: "Sie kann nicht SCHWIMMEN?"
(Eagle Bay, down south.)
So, fearing absolute social ostracism, in the autumn and winter of 1969, I made weekly trips to St Augustine's Baths in Norwich and gradually taught myself to swim. I can still feel my nasal passages contract and my eyes stream at the very memory of that steamy, chlorine-infused fog at the baths.
And when I say I can swim, I really mean I can propel myself while floating.
Of course, Australia is beach crazy, but I made a lot of friends despite my lack of technique, so ya booh sucks to you, Aunty June.
On my first week at my new Australian high school, skinny and pale from the long English winter we'd just left,I got roped into the swimming carnival by a very cruel, heartless phys-ed teacher. Took a day off though. So ya booh sucks to you, too, phys ed Nazi.
Today, I love looking at the beach, and walking along it, and hearing it from my bed at night when we're down south. I don't mind not swimming while everyone else is heading for the horizon in an easy, relaxed crawl.I'll just sit on the sand and take the pics.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday in the hood

I'm so loving the Menora - Mt Lawley - North Perth area.
Yoshi and I go for great walks. At this time of the year, the houses and gardens are at their best, before the worst of summer kicks in and everything regresses into survival mode.
This is one of my favourite houses round here: Its combination of Oldee-Worldee English pastiche and American-style screened porch always makes me smile, and it reminds me a lot of some of the original Californian bungalows in the Bel Air - Westwood part of Los Angeles.
I'd walked past it many times before I noticed, high above the screened porch, this:I love it even more! I can only imagine the house must have some American connection for there to be a grizzly bear guarding its entrance!
It's a bit like the loyal, hard-working cattle dog honoured by the owner of this Subiaco house:Meanwhile, in the North Perth side of the hood, the gardens of many of the Greek and Italian migrants who've lived here for a generation and more and added a real Mediterranean flair to the streets, are coming into their productive best.
I'll get more pics of this amazing verge just a stone's throw from our house:These are broad beans, and there are all sorts of other fruit and vegies growing here as well, like olives, loquats, lemons ... every spare centimetre of soil is put to work. Just brilliant.
:: I'm off now to buy a bra before an afternoon at work. See ya!