Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Tuesday teacup is half full & the studio is safe!

My current favourite morning coffee cup. I recently bought a coffee machine and coffee grinder so am treating myself to a delicious morning flat white. This particular cup is delightfully round and somehow has a real 'mother' feeling, round, smooth yet.... I have typed and erased about three or four descriptions here. It is kind of reassuringly round and maybe earthy.

Good things and bad.

The good news is my studio is safe! the plans have been approved and now I can continue to work on it with confidence.

Cute little double doors...

lead onto the patio where the sun streams in through in the morning...

Most of it is windows or glass doors with a skylight in the roof, which means it is light and airy even though it is quite small- cozy rather.
I've bought cupboards to go in it, the idea being I will store all my bits in one place, a shelf for printmaking stuff, another for jewelery making, soldering etc & beads, one for painting and for my clay, molds & modeling tools. The best bit will be being able to start on something and leave it until I can get back to it with out having to pack it up!

This side faces out onto a small paved area, my private studio garden- well it will be, I can already see it. It has a raised limestone garden bed where I think I will plant some vegies and I'll put in a passion fruit vine to block out the view into the neighbour's house. It gets quite a bit of morning sun, a lovely little spot to soak up the sun. Well it will be lovely- eventually!

Well that was the good news. The bad news.... Chicky Babe sent 664 sms messages to her friends... in 1 month. I pay for the kids phones as a part of their pocket money. I pay $20 a month on a plan for $50 worth of calls. We can call each other for nothing because we are all on the same bill so that works well. She now owes me $130. I also had to be the 'parent' and take her phone off her for 2 weeks. I hate having to be the "bad cop" but that's parenting I suppose. (an old fart at the party and now a disciplinarian mother! All in one week! My kids are generally so good I haven't had to do this before really. Not bad considering they are 15 and 16and a half.)

Actually, whenever I have to growl at my kids I find it difficult to do so without laughing. I know it was bad that she abused the phone privilege, considering we have had this discussion when she has gone over the limit on a few occasions before. Usually only by 10 or 20 dollars but 664 sms's that's so outrageous it's funny. Why don't they call each other and actually talk, rather than have a text conversation sending 10 texts in under 10 minutes! Yes, I am definitely an 'old fart'.

The other bad thing was my car overheated and cost $400 to repair the broken radiator pump! I'm trying to save for my Melbourne trip! The fortunate thing is, I have a lovely mechanic who was able to fix it today and will let me wait until pay day to pay it off. I enjoyed the walk home from school this afternoon and I can still keep my dinner date with a dear friend who lives on the other side of the city. This lady has been my friend since we were in year 10 - 1981! 27 years!! I just did the math... gosh, I am fortunate to have this friendship that has stood the test of time. That is another good thing.

Yes my cup is half full.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Being the oldest person at the party.

I cleaned my room! How satisfying to complete that task. I bought three cheep pantry cupboards to store all my fabric in which means it is no longer in bags on the floor or in my wardrobe , so now my clothes fit nicely where they belong. I also did a bit of a wardrobe cull and will drop it off to the good sammy's.

I went to a party last night. I almost didn't go. I wasn't sure that I'd know anyone beside the birthday girl. I know her partner a bit. She is 5 years younger than I and he is a good deal younger than her! I knew that in all likelihood that the people there would all be in their 20's! I'm in my 40's. I started to feel worried about being the oldest one there. I changed 4 times and even put on makeup, which I rarely wear nowadays, age rewind foundation! I was feeling fat, frumpy, forty and fragile! But I pushed myself to go.

When I got there I was in fact the oldest one there and the group turned out to be extremely clicky. There were not that many people there. I felt quite awkward for some time. I missed not smoking at that point as those times I felt ill at ease were times I used to smoke most. I didn't feel like the nicotine just the cigarette!

Finally I got an opportunity to start chatting to the birthday girl's brother and sister's partners. Bonding in our mutual lack of connection with anyone else at the party. As we chatted I mentioned my children. The fellow looked at me and asked "how old are you?"
"Um, 42 nearly 43."
"Really in a good way or bad?" He was surprised he thought I was younger - thank god! He was 35 and the brother's girlfriend was 22.
"I think I might be the oldest one here."
He looked around "... yep!"

A life milestone- being the oldest person at a party! After that he kept calling me mum! But it was said in such a lighthearted warm way that I could not take offense. When will I be the wisest at the party also and not be concerned with what others think about how I look on the outside because it didn't concern me about them. I was looking for warmth and friendliness, not visual attractiveness.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Last lazy holiday projects.

I finished my black dress.
However the fabric has sequins sewn into the embroidered sections and they scratch my arms when I move. Not a dress for all day wear, which is a shame because I thought I would wear it for work.

I've been watching Dr Who DVD's with the kids. Don't ask me how many we have watched! But it has been lovely spending a couple of days this holiday slothing around chatting with them. While I've been watching the T.V I've kept my hands busy with my crocheted flowers.

I had intended to use them on a floral panel on a handbag, but as I'm working I thought that I might use them on some purple felt as cushion covers.

I'm playing with different ways of constructing flower forms. I started to repeat a design with 6 petals thinking that I could join them and make a rug. (I'd need a lot more David Tennant episodes for that!) Unfortunately my crochet is so 'free form' they don't seem to tesselate.

The photo below was taken with the flash on, I don't like the way it washes everything out. I am playing with the settings on the camera and have discovered how to stop the flash and change some of the settings for different conditions. Another medium to explore in my spare time!

Finally having all the unfinished flowers everywhere was too much for me so I made a headband with some of them last night.

It's hard to take photos of things on your head on your own! Maybe I should have used the flash here because you cant see the edging- that took me the length of a movie to work, frog and rework, frog and rework until it was acceptable. (The problem that comes from not using a pattern)

As I worked this I wondered what it would be like to make some of the sections in silver wire- I've knitted bracelets before, thoughts of earrings started to play in my head using sections of the flower forms....

and chokers or bracelets...

but I really MUST tidy my room today. It was the one holiday project that I should have done but all the wants and whimsy got in the way. Housework will always be there tomorrow sometimes the creative urge is not.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Teacup Tueasday - holiday projects

This is my afternoon tea and today's teacup. Pretty isn't it? The cake is my creation a plain vanilla cake with crasins (dried cranberries) added the icing is a butter icing with rosewater flavour.

Cranberry vanilla cake with rosewater icing.

125 g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla bean paste
3 eggs
3 cups SR flour
1/2 cup milk
About 2/3 cup crasins

Cream the butter and sugar beat in the eggs one at a time. sift the flour and add to the creamed butter an sugar alterating with the milk, folding in with a large metal spoon. Mix in cranberries. Spoon into prepared cake ring tin and bake for about 40 mins in a moderate oven. (aprox 180'C)

about 75g butter
about 1cup pure icing sugar
about 1 tspn of rose water

cream butter and icing sugar together add the rose water. if the icing is too thick add a tspn of milk at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
( I just had a thought that coconut milk in the icing and a sprinkling of coconut on the top would also be good. Being allergic to food colourings, I might try the juice of the preserved wild hibiscus flower that we put in champagne to give the icing a pink colour.)

I've been out of blogging action as we had used up all of our downloads and I was terrified of being charged outrageous ammounts for the excess.

This was supposed to be my holiday project!!! This is as it looked prior to the cleaning lady came. It did get tidied a bit but it is still not too good.

Some people from the council came yesterday and I think my studio is safe!! So once the letter arrives I will be able to continue with that and somewhat declutter the living areas of the house- although this is what I do and enjoy and house is where you live and do the things you love and enjoy so perhaps my whole house should be my studio! New thought I will ponder that a little more........

This is the house after the cleaning lady had been......Ahhhh, lovely!

I've actually had two of them in the last tree weeks. The first lady came and then she said she couldn't do it but she had a friend who could. I didn't mind I just wanted some help. It turned out that the 'friend' was her son's girlfriend who has come over from Thailand to be with her boyfriend who has been transfered back to Australia. Her English is not good enough for her to work as a personal assistant here yet so she is cleaning. Lucky for her I am a "Random Talker" (see previous post for definition) I can help her with her conversational English.

Over the holidays I have caught up with friends, done some baking

The ingredients...

mix them all together...

press them into the tin and bake...

Yum, Cammy's Father's Favourites!

I've crocheted some flowers that will end up on a floral fabric panel on a bag and done some sewing. I've made a skirt for a friend, like the one Chicky Babe modeled for me but purple not green and Ive made a wrap dress for me....

Have I said I love paisley before???? It's tricky taking pictures of yourself! Although I quite like the angle of it. Chicky Babe is at work and Bantam Boy is at the library studying on the holidays! I'm so proud of him!!! Proud of them both actually!!! They have grown up well - and I did it myself! (well... with some help from my friends and family)

I have another dress almost finished, another wrap dress but this time in black. I'll be off now to get back to it!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Teacup Tuesday - on Wednesday!

It's Teacup Tuesday on wednesday because Bantam Boy hogged the computer until it was too late to start, particularly as it was a school night and it would have been wednesday anyway.

I love this tea cup. It was my grandmothers. She gave it to me on my birthday just before she passed away. It is a lovely connection to her, best used when drinking tea and eating 'burnt butter biscuits'. Something she always had on hand being so easy to make and delicious, although I grant you the name doesn't sound too promising. It refers to burning or rather browning the butter before mixing in the other ingredients. Shortbread was her other specialty, OH and 'fathers favourites'- a yummy slice made with dates and apricots. And her sponge cakes were divine. I have never managed to make them although I have her handwritten instructions. She passed away 13 years ago this last week. Actually it wasn't until I sat down to write this that I thought of that, I didn't consciously choose the teacup for that reason. It was the first one my hand went to.... Funny that.

I remember because it was my Mum's birthday and she was having a big party for her 50th and Cammy (my grandmother) had made her famous sponge cakes and frozen them ready for mum's party because she was going into hospital to finally have her heart surgery she had been waiting for. She didn't make it through the operation. So mum didn't have her party and the cakes were sitting in the freezer and we had them at Cammy's wake! A bit strange to cater your own wake but entirely fitting as Cammy catered for all our special occasions with her sponges or fruit cakes for christenings and weddings.
Here are a couple of Cammy's recipes.

Cammy's Burnt Butter Biscuits
1/4 lb butter, brown and when cool add a good 1/2 cup sugar, mix in 1 beaten egg and 1 cup SR flour. (all of this is done in the saucepan you have used to brown the butter!)
Roll tspn fulls into balls, press half an almond on each and cook in a moderate oven for 10-15 mins. Leave room for them to spread
For a Change: Add 1/2 cup of dessicated coconut to the mixture and leave off the almond. (I actually like to add the coconut and put a whole almond on!!! Cammy didn't write it here but I recall her pressing them lightly with a fork especially if they didn't have the almond on them.)

Cammy's Father's Favourites
1/4 lb butter (melted)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup SR flour
1 cup chopped dates
Place all thesein a bowl and mix. Then add 1 beaten egg. Put in an oblong tin (she would press it gently into the tin using her knuckles- giving the surface a unique ripple.) Bake in a moderate oven for20-30 mins (the longer it is left the dryer it becomes it is more chewy if cooked for only 20 minutes, play with it until you find what you prefer, as Cammy got older she preferred it dryer, I like it chewy!)
For Variation: add dried apricots and walnuts (I prefer pecans myself)

It is almost the end of school term. I think I might have to dust of my baking trays and get back into making these things. I used to bake a lot in my old house. I think it may be the working full time thing or perhaps I've just got out of the habit. It is nearly time to host a high tea, maybe a holiday high tea, mmm, sounds good.

Ohh! I'd nearly forgotten her spinach cakes made using the stalks of the silver beat in a batter seasoned batter and fried like savory pikelets. She pickled her own olives too, I must try that too.... Maybe one day in my spare time I'll make one of those blogger books that you can have published using her recipes and photos of her and of the food. Not to publish for the world just for us as a family.

What a lot of thoughts from just one little tea cup!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Ideas and inspiration.

I saw these on the universally popular SouleMama blog. ( not the flowers above rather some embroidery hoops used to display some embroidery pieces.) Take a look....

SouleMama: for the show

I have been collecting embroidery hoops for some months now in order to display some of the lovely fabrics I've found but now I think I might combine the lovely fabrics with some of my own embellishments both embroidered and crocheted. I have also been thinking about making bags that feature floral patterns embellished with embroidered felt or crocheted flowers to add texture and depth. They are currently drifting about in my head waiting for the right moment to become a drawing and/or reality.

The cleaning lady couldn't make it yesterday and has promised to come today. I am armed with a new duster and mop head and had the children help me ( under sufferance ) to clear away the bulk of the clutter. After which Bantam Boy stated that we didn't need a cleaning lady any more. No sweeping mopping or dusting had been done but he thought it looked fine. Chicky Babe thought it wouldn't be so bad if I put the junk mail and my material scraps in the bin. She was a little sheepish when I pointed out the easter egg and ice cream wrappers and empty coke bottles that were fished out from under the couch and left by the computer were not actually mine. Bantam Boy said quite firmly I hope you're not expecting me to do this every week! In a tone that implied that I would have trouble getting him to do so, and that he thought I was a little balmy cleaning up for the cleaning lady. (Bad news cherubs- The place needs to be tidied up so the cleaning lady can clean!!!) She should be here soon! It's 1.40 I expect her at 2.

Oh! only five minutes left ....

Friday, 4 April 2008

Ask and you shall receive.

I now have two old aprons. Never worn and one still with the tag! So dear skeleton woman they are yours. They are post 1965 because the price on the pink one is $4.30 and it was from Boans.
I will bring them when I come to visit.

This is the skirt I've been working on over the last three days. I've used the fabric from the wonderful garage sale of the vintage pattern fame ( i wish I knew how to make the link back to previous posts as I have seen others do!). It feels so nice to wear and cost me so little really as I bought boxes full of fabric and I didn't spend that much. I figure this cost about 5c all up!! This photo is a little washed out and not well focused.

It has the corduroy cut away to reveal the fabric that has been stitched on behind the front panel the raw edges give it a bit of texture and the reverse appliqué gives it some depth. These are better and give a better indication of the colours.

Here's Chicky Babe being my model (I have not miraculously lost a huge amount of weight!) This photo was taken without the flash, which tends to wash out the colour but it has picked up the yellow from the walls.

I wished I could find a lovely cleaning lady who would work on a saturday so that I could be at home while she was here and get to know her before I leave her on her own. I had the most delightful cleaning lady at my old house who became quite a friend also, I looked forward to her visits and we would always share a cuppa and a chat, she loved my place even though it was often messy and cluttered. She loved to watch the renovation progress and the new projects I was working on and most importantly I never felt judged for having a less than perfect house. I would often clean along with her feeling far more inspired to do so while she was there- A burdened shared is a burden halved. Unfortunately she moved and could no longer help.

I have discovered, well not exactly discovered but come to accept, I am not the best of housewives. I am a good mother, but this little red hen has had enough. I am sick of nagging, bribing, threatening and pleading with the kids to help I'm working full time now and feel the pressure of all the things that need to be done both work related and house work related. I resent the time and energy this takes from my creative self.

I opened the local newspaper and as I flicked through I looked longingly as I often do at the list of cleaners.... there in the middle of the page was an add for a lady who worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. ...SATURDAY!!! So I rang and she is coming tomorrow afternoon at 2pm. Thank goodness.

Now there will be the mad dash to make sure things are not so bad that she is frightened off! That would never do. I hope to have her come weekly for a while so I can get back on top of things and then I might just have her come fortnightly.

And I went to the council and the lovely young man who helped me with my plans today said that it should be fine but it is not a 'studio' it is a 'patio enclosure' because that will be far less complicated and easier to have the plans passed. A studio will require a concrete slab floor and at the moment it is just paving from the patio. I don't care what it is called I just want a space for me to keep my stuff and work. I am itching to work with silver again to make some jewelery.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Teacup Tuesday

I love this cup. Thrifty Tim found it in his travels and bought it home for me. I think it is perfect with it's delicate yet strong pattern and the beautiful striking colours. I think tea tastes best in a beautiful fine china cup. And as I tend to use all but my most precious teacups regularly on a daily basis they tend to get chipped or broken and it becomes a lovely chance to find another favorite teacup!

My builder friend has nearly finished drawing up plans for my studio and I had a chance to speak to my other nice neighbor to ask if he had any objections to the building- he hasn't. We discovered we both had been on the receiving end of the not so nice neighbors agenda. I have been praying and visualizing the fellow receiving an excellent offer for his house and a quick smooth settlement. Fingers crossed that all goes well.

I've almost completed another skirt, I finished the embroidered front panel last night and rather than do the dishes I've sewn it up and am doing the hand sewing now, so I must get back to it as I'd love to wear it tomorrow.