Monday, 3 December 2012


:: The annual craft fair at Fremantle Arts Centre (above) was on yesterday.
  It looked wonderful, and there were lots of colourful stalls, but OMG, some of the prices! And so much jewellery. I went prepared to buy lovely things for Christmas presents, but just enjoyed a browse in the shade of the lovely old trees with my best friends Dace and Jools.
:: I am reading escapist literature: the first of Joy Dettman's Woody Creek novels. Thoroughly engrossing and well written, set in a Victorian (as in Australia) timber town in the 1930s. Well-drawn, believable characters; lots of dark deeds. Do not be put off by the naff titles (Pearl in the Cage, Thorn on the Rose and so on), or the equally naff cover art.
There are three or four books in the series, so that's a fair whack of my summer reading sorted. Books one and three are on the Kindle and book two is a print copy I found at home and used all winter to prop up a coil heater which had lost a foot.
:: I am going to teach myself to make coiled baskets like these:
They were on display inside the arts centre, made by Aboriginal women who had been taught the craft by an African master basket maker – absolutely stunning.
:: I didn't do any Christmas cake making yesterday because I was having too good a time and the day just went.    

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3

:: We have assembled all the ingredients, even the St Agnes, and there will be Christmas cake mixin'n'bakin' in the morrow.
"Mixing" with the Adorables.
:: We went shopping at the Re Store this morning, and I wore my op-shop dress and felt like a real nonna. Which I am, of course. But I looked the part in my black frock. Especially as I approach my fabulous new almost-spherical shape -- attributable entirely to menopause and a desk job. Luckily, I had dealt with the moustache earlier in the morning.
:: Three weeks from today, Lily gets home. 
:: I have not one but two (2) brand-new pairs of thongs. I wore my new best, going-out ones ($7) to the shops this morning (which helped the nonna thing I had going no end), and now I'm home and I'm in my new everyday thongs ($3.50). Life is special.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Reasons to be cheerful ... continued

1. I am not at all stressed about Christmas this year. I am under orders from David not to be. It's working ... so far. Previous years have seen me making cards, making decorations making gifts, making wrapping paper, cooking feasts and wondering why no-one else in the house was getting into it while I wallied about like a banshee. Mind you, I fancy making a few wee birdy-type decorations for this year's tree on the weekend, and I'll make the cake because that is fun.
2. The blokes are back from down south, having completed firebreaks and mowing down all he winter grass. As I write this, Will is watching an ancient game of footy on the telly with the sound off and David is at a meeting.
3. I am about to try to invent something nourishing and tasty for dinner with two chicken breasts and a mango.
I shall leave you with a pic of St George's Terrace, the main thoroughfare in this mining town of ours, which, like the foolish virgin I am, I imagined would be a quicker route home. Wrong. It looked nice in the low sunshine, though.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Reasons to be cheerful

 1. Mum's home after a month in New Zealand – a trek and a half for her at 83, considering she's terrified of flying and very shaky on her pins. She had tricky stopovers in Melbourne going both ways, that were almost as long as the flying time. But it was lovely for her and my brother to see each other and, we hope, the first of many.
2. The blokes in my household are away down south doing the firebreaks and mowing the bush block in readiness for the fire season. And while I'd rather they were here, I am enjoying the lack of cricket commentary and bass rhythms.
3. A bit of sewing, above. I made this:
from this pile of Liberty offcuts from my best friend, Shelley:
and a bit I had lying around.

Monday, 18 June 2012


Last weekend it was Adelaide, this weekend it was New York. Kinda!
David was invited to a long weekend at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, to write about it for his paper, and review a couple of the shows that will be heading to Perth.
He had a hotel room for two and two tickets to the shows of his choice, so I scrabbled together a few frequent flyer points, packed the heels and the leopard-skin coat and off we went.
Well! It was fun from the moment we landed. What a great city! What a fantastic festival! We crammed in eight shows from Friday's opening gala concert to a late Sunday night event.
We had Saturday brekkie at the Adelaide central markets and dropped in at the South Australian Art Gallery, and on Sunday we hired a car and with a new journo friend from Sydney,  headed for the beautiful hills, with another brekkie at Hahndorf (above) and lightning stops at a couple of wineries.
The rolling hills are stunningly beautiful, and it's only about 30 minutes from the CBD. So you can work in the city and live in the bush and have the absolute best of both worlds. Sigh. We loved every moment of it.
For more info about the cabaret festival, you can read David's excellent round-up here.
Last Monday, it was off the plane after a very dodgy flight in nasty weather and home in time to do a couple of hours' work, then straight back into the week.
Then, on Friday night, David and I went to a truly wonderful show, How to Succeed in Business, at the Regal Theatre in Subi, the big annual show put on by the music theatre students from the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).
We are huge fans of WAAPA shows –  as you know, I am loathe to go to live theatre in Perth, or anywhere, but I will always go to a WAAPA musical. This is a very rare chance to see a big-production Broadway musical brought to life on the stage with all the trimmings: stunning performances, faultless singing, song-n-dance routines, an orchestra in the pit, fabulous costumes, scenery changes ... it's superb. You can settle back in your seat with your choc bomb and be thoroughly entertained.
The New York state of mind continued early the next morning at the Art Gallery of WA with my best friend Shelley and her family. We had bagels and coffee at the Art Gallery of WA and a talk by the director of MoMa and our very own AGWA director, Stefano Carboni. It was to launch the gallery's big new exhibition from MoMa, From Picasso to Warhol, which we then explored before the doors opened. 
Here's a pic Shelley took of Wayne and me planning how we could make our own version of one of the wonderful Alexander Calder kinetic sculptures!

Monday, 4 June 2012


Peonies from my best friend Shelley – thanks so much! They were such a treat.
It seems odd, when I have every Monday off, for the rest of the working world to have it off as well! I feel like I should have tomorrow off as well to compensate.
I'm chipping away at the book I'm working on, and enjoying sitting at my desk with the back door open to the garden. It's a balmy 22 degrees with a little wind and just bloody perfect.
We had a quiet weekend, mainly because I've been warding off a head cold, which has been coming and going since last Tuesday. 
Saw a lovely Michelle Williams movie (Take This Waltz) on Saturday morning with my best friend Karen. While we both enjoyed it, we did sit for a few minutes afterwards and grumble about some of the odd things in it, like the really bizarre conversation Margot (Williams) has over coffee with the bloke she fancies, in which he tells her what he wants to do to her, at which point any self-respecting woman would either slap him or go "eew..." and walk quickly away. There was a sort of wacky collage of weirdly incongruous sex scenes, to boot. And we'd have trimmed it by a good 20 minutes with some judicious editing. But other than those gripes, it was fab!
David and I are off for a long weekend in Adelaide from Friday morning, he as guest of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and me as tag-along. We love exploring a good city together, and we are really looking forward to it. I think we're going to seven or eight shows, and a gala dinner. Yay! Packing the wicked boots and the leopard-skin coat ...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Lovely stuff

There are three kaffir lime trees in our garden, and I was mystified when one of them started producing oranges. It seems the limes are grafted on to root stock, and one of our trees has two trunks – one with the distinctive kaffir lime leaves and the other, the root stock, laden with oranges.
Curious to know what sort of oranges they are – with their squat shape and roughly-dimpled peel – I summoned help from Mr Google and discovered, to my utter delight, that they are seville oranges. The actual thing. Perfect fruit for marmalade.
So yesterday, the first day of winter (we also made celebration porridge), I went gathering, and boiling and bottling, and now I have nine jars of fabulous – if I do say so myself – bitter orange marmalade.
Midway through the process, after the whole fruit had been boiled alive for two hours, filling the house with the most fantastic sharply-orange scent, the recipe blithely said: " ... then add the juice of two lemons ...". WTF? It was after 6pm by now, so David and I nicked the front lamp off Will's bike as a torch and traipsed off into the park behind our house where I happen to know there is a magnificent lemon tree with branches hanging over someone's back fence. The marmalade was saved.
Next time, I'll get a funnel to help get the scalding hot lovely-stuff into the jars without getting it everywhere. Lots of stickiness in my kitchen this morning! But YUM. Seriously. A whole planet of difference from the factory stuff.

Friday, 25 May 2012


We've had some deliciously cold nights, so I've been sleeping like a log. And I'm addicted to peppermint tea, which is all that Will drinks. He and I make a big pot every evening, and we drink the lot between us. And that also helps me sleep, I think, rather than caffeine-loaded regular tea.
I'm starting the day slowly here at Schloss Zed. First load is in the machine. Then a little computer catch-up (that's my desk, above, in this morning's mild winter sunlight), another coffee, and a bit of work on the book – editing, not writing. But my best friend Shelley was reminding me this week that I really ought to get Julia out of the kitchen where her guest is still making coffee and where I abandoned her so long ago ... and I'm wondering if she may need to be transplanted from the backwoods of Tuscany to rural Australia. I do have lovely plans for her, that she'll definitely enjoy ...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


When I got home from work today, a box from Japan was sitting on the table.
These are birthday presents from Lily – how well does she know her mum?
I can't believe the rabbit linen. 
And the dragonflies. My mind is already whirring with ideas of things to make. How brilliant.
There was also a stunningly-wrapped roll of exquisite handprinted papers, so perfect, and a pair of these ...
Winter Birkies! Already on my feet - and so warm and comfy.
Thanks, Lily! I love everything. And I love you t-h-i-s much (hands out wide, like we used to!).
:: I'm having great trouble getting the pics exactly as I want them with this new Mr Blogger, which is a bit of a pain. Anyone else finding it difficult? And scrolling to the bottom of the post is impossible, as well. Aaaargh.

Monday, 21 May 2012


 I started the day with a little chat to this fella, sunning on the succulents I'm growing in pots outside the back door.

Then it was off to La France for petits four avec mes amis ... sitting in my best friend's sunny garden, enjoying the sunshine, a big pot of tea and some book talk, blog talk, garden talk, telly talk and general catch-up chat.
Le Jardin - avec cardie (!
It's very comfortable to be back to my regular working week after a month full-time. I simply don't have time in my life for all that work!
:: I walked through a web a few minutes ago when i went to bring in the washing, and now something has bitten me on the shoulder ... uh-oh. It's a little bit spidery round here for days and days, we had an enormous golden orb weaver spider out on the front verandah, but I've just noticed she's gone. This is what they look like (click).

Monday, 23 April 2012

Showery joy

I spent about 40 minutes of a very precious morning on the weekend, scrubbing out the shower recess.
So much bloody grout. So many bloody corners. And glass, for goodness' sake – with frames and even more bloody grouting. Let alone a framed glass door that pivots in such a way that you can't get to bits of it – obviously designed by a man who has never ever in his life had to clean a bathroom. Just as the Dyson vacuum cleaner is designed by a bloke who must never, ever vacuum anything other than a small room with no furniture in it. And don't even get me started on the nooks and crannies in the average fridge ...
Anyway, as I scrubbed in the shower, wearing only a grimace and a pair of spectacles, I thought about the perfect shower.
And this is just about it.

Apart from the meeting of floor and wall, there are no corners, and lordy lordy! No effing stupid, stupid glass. Roomy, too. And see how the sunshine gets in? No mould!
If the curtain gets manky, you can just chuck it out.
Big wall tiles, so there's much less grout. And though the floor tiles are tiny, with lots of grout, it is not effing white.
And when I build this in my home I will have a hose on the outside wall, just around from the door, for even easier cleaning!
(Picture from Desire to Inspire ... I think.)

Saturday, 21 April 2012


We were very excited to learn the temperature was going to drop to 10 degrees C last night.
Time for Big Red's first outing!
 So much to celebrate with the start of cooler weather (fingers crossed ... mind you, it even rained this week). The Dockers beat St Kilda in Melbourne last night, and Colton got voted off American Idol. Yay and yay!

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Venomous harridans

Laurence's tone was dismissive. He reached for his briefcase. "Lately you've been in a bate these last few mornings. I hope you can make yourself a little more aggreable this evening. If this is what reading the newspaper does for you, I might have it delivered to the office."
— Jojo Moyes, The Last Letter from Your Lover.

I read that passage and then immediately recalled this video ...

Apologies if I've posted it before. Obviously my mind is fit only for small furry animals.
Speaking of which, I was just out walking the dog and got as far as the oval before I realised I still had on my slippers.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Hot and red

Big Red is taking shape, as you can see from this random display on the floor.
Yesterday, my best friends Laura and Shelley came over and we hunkered down in the sewing room to get cracking on the first stage of assembly: making the four-square blocks. Laura did the selection of what went where and with what, Shelley was on the iron, and I was on the Big Bernina. It was fabulous!
By the end of the day, I had all the four-square blocks stitched and ironed, and I'd made a start on sewing them into 16-square blocks.
Luckily, it's perfect weather for this sort of activity. I mean, what else can you do, really, when it's two weeks into "autumn" and the forecast is 38 (100F) and horrible for today, and 40 (104) and even more horrible tomorrow?
Blinds down, air-con on, quilt.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

I, bag

Made this one yesterday arvo for a friend of my mum's – it's shown off brilliantly here by my svelte house model.
Mum's friend wanted a version of the bags I made for Christmas (see a couple of posts ago) that could take an iPad. So I added a few centimetres to the width and length of the original pattern, and put in another pocket on the front, made the shoulder strap a little wider and more substantial, and hey presto. It also has a mobile phone pocket inside.:: The Perth festival concert we went to last night, Striggio and Tallis: Music in 40 Parts — I Fagiolini at the Perth Concert Hall — was utterly beautiful. It's a rare thing to be able to see and hear a stage full of 60 choristers and musicians singing a Mass written in the 16th century. One of the Striggio pieces, the Agnus Dei, actually had 60 parts. At several points, it was so divinely beautiful that David would grab my hand, or I his, and we'd sit there like stunned mullets as this amazing sound rang and reverbereated around and through us. Lucky us!

Monday, 27 February 2012

The reds

I was looking at my fabrics yesterday and came across a piece of something fabulous and red, and told myself to put it away for The Red Quilt.
Then, realising I had been hoarding red fabrics for – my best friend Laura tells me – about eight years, I thought I'd just better drop everything and start making it.
So I did.
It will be a very simple quilt, with four-inch squares, randomly spread. Some of the reds are very loose interpretations of the colour but are in there because I love them.
It has used a sheetload of my hoarded material, which is a very good thing.
It took me forever to cut it all out, remembering where and when I'd got hold of some of the fabrics. Lots are from the US, plenty of others are from friends who have contributed and must be wondering when this wretched quilt will ever appear.

:: The crocheted stones were made from this tutorial, partly to see if I was capable of crocheting anything other than granny squares, but mainly as a gift for Laura, who has always loved them since she saw Canadian artist Margaret Ooomen's amazing collection on her blog.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Swedish and cooool

I'm pottering today. It's sunny and breezy and I'm about to hang out my third load of washing. Bliss!
I'm finishing off a dress I'm making (for me) out of one of the famous Japanese books.
I'm planning a bigger version of the bags I posted about in my last post.
I'm trolling through real estate websites.
I'm contemplating getting back to Julia in Sienna, and maybe making her a younger woman.
And on top of it all, I'm listening to the Nick Haywood Quartet (Australian, fab and a very new find for me), and my ultra-absolute-favourite Esbjorn Svensson Trio (Swedish), who are playing live in the video above. Love love love it.
Svensson, the brilliant pianist, died in 2008 in a scuba diving accident, when he was only 44. Whenever I listen to the album ths track is from, Seven Days of Falling, I can't help but think of that and how sad it is that he's gone. And I wonder what the other two guys are doing now.
:: Oh, must tell you - I got an email a few weeks ago from an Australian living in New York who wants to feature one of my Our Lady of the Immaculate Tea Strainer tea cosies in a book she's writing! I said yes!

Sunday, 19 February 2012


... about sneaking back here after such a long absence, and so many other absences. But I find I really don't want to give up my blog, so I'll just have to get cracking and post. Even if life does seem routine and mundane.
I hate to post without a pic, so this is of some of the really cute shoulder bags I made in the weeks before Christmas, all as gifts (though a whole heap of them were... ahem ... unnecessary, as without my knowing, certain family members had ... ahem ... called for a secret Santa, so didn't actually need individual gifts).
The bag is a brilliant design by Jane, in Singapore, who blogs here. It really takes about an hour to put one bag together, go to whoa, and takes very little fabric. The best thing, though, is there is very little fiddling and yet the corners all end up perfectly, it's lined, and there are no raw edges anywhere. A miracle!
It was a lot of fun to make them all, and everyone who got one from me at Christmas seemed really delighted. I have an order to make a slightly bigger version for one of Mum's friends who wants it to carry her iPad in. Jane says she's happy for you to sell these bags once you've bought the pattern, so that's great.
Life has been a bit of a blur since my last post. Before Christmas work was intense and all-encompassing ... then there was Christmas itself with my parents here from Albany. This was closely followed by a wonderful visit from my cousin Susan and her husband, Paul, from Norwich; Will's birthday; my grand-daughter's second birthday; a couple of weeks' holiday down south; a book to edit; a visit from my brother and his new wife from New Zealand; another long weekend with them down south; and, finally, time to feel as though the year proper has started.
On top of all that, David has been in a flurry of theatre and show-going for the Festival of Perth, and the concurrent Fringe Festival – about 40 events in a month. He's reviewed about half for the West Australian (have a look at his account of Faustian Pact!) and the rest on his blog.
A lot of my friends have been his dates (I'm so grateful!), though I went with him last night to see Raoul, and we're off to see Peter Brook's A Magic Flute tonight, and the amazing-sounding Striggio and Tallis next week.

A big year ahead at Schloss Zed ... Will starts uni this week, Lily has signed up for a second year in Japan - which has spurred the teachers she works with to devise new programs and challenges for her to get stuck into, David has a few new projects to start once the Festival is over, and I'm just planning to keep on going. And, I hope, blogging. I've missed it. See you soon!