Monday, December 10, 2007

Sometimes Turning 12 is easy......

Well - we are the other side of the birthday party and it was smiles all round. They all came, they all ate, they all had fun and they all pronounced the party as "so cool" and "really awesome".

I did my best Uber-mummy effort and am completely exhausted by it - but it was worth it to see the beaming face!
It's been raining cats and dogs in Sydney over the past week so I decided to set up inside - wise decision it was an absolute stinker of a day - must have been high 30s - so I was loving the new air-conditioning let me tell you. Turned out to be a wise decision as at about 4pm it actually hailed. My friend Erica (who was having a party at the same time )reported on it here - amazing!

This was how the room looked. We bought jumbo sized playing cards and stuck them all around the walls. Bought colourful posies of flowers from the $2 shop - they are pretty $2 shoppish in real life but massed altogether they looked very Wonderlandish - and they photograph like a million bucks!!!

The rose garlands were a score - picked them up at a shop called "dusk" which sells girly candles etc. They were only $5 a pop - the original price tag was $39 each.Love a bargain! Will save them for Valentine's Day - maybe wrap my naked self in them like the birth of Venus and see if the husband notices???

Anyway - back to the party.
Here's another shot down the table - do you love the pink and green plates? Found them in Target - $3.99 each - thought they were very funky!!! Did I mention that I was Uber-Mummy? I decided in a fit of mental instability to make Neenish Tarts. From scratch. They turned out beautifully but took about 4 hours to make. I will never begrudge paying for them in a cake shop ever again. They looked (and tasted) spectacular though - here's a shot of them mixed with the chocolate dipped strawberries we did (and for those of you who don't live in Australia - yes they are huge, lush and we get them all year round - we are a fruit lucky country!)

When the girls arrived I got them to decorate the cupcakes (I hadn't got them done due to the marathon Neenish Tart making) - it's a great thing to do at a party. Here's some cupcake love.

It was also a great excuse to buy a cupcake tree!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Turning 12 is hard sometimes

Em is turning 12 soon. She wants to have an Alice in Wonderland party. No problems here kiddo. We've come up with some great ideas for decorations and games. I've told her she can use real china cups, white linen, the silver tea service - and have a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. She wants to be Alice and after a small spat with Claire at 7.30am one morning we resolved that Claire will not be an alternative (read smaller/cuter) Alice but the White Rabbit (bribed with the promised use of an impressive pocket watch on a chain that I just happen to have).

So what's the problem? Well turning 12. Her great enthusiasm has been dampened somewhat by the response of a couple of friends. She made the mistake of seeking approval of the plan rather than just extending the invitation to come and join the fun. These little girls are turning into young women - this is her last chance to have this sort of party. Next year she'll be in high school and turning 13 and she and her friends will be old enough to think it's naff rather than fun. Some are already teetering on the brink - involved with boyfriends and flirting with eating disorders. She's worried that everyone will think she's a baby and/or that they won't come.
We had a long conversation about deciding whether to follow the crowd or lead it and whether pursuing friendships with people who think they are better than you or too cool to come and help celebrate your birthday are worth the effort.
In the end mummy logic prevailed over the quivering bottom lip and the boo boo face and she's now back into highly enthusiastic mode. Gulp! No pressure there - I'll just be eternally damned if the party's a flop.

So the invitations are printed and ready to hand out. We'll put up a marquee in the garden (a friends gazebo), lay trestle tables with white linen and put out the silver tea service (probably filled with peach flavoured ice tea) and the china tea cups. We'll serve ribbon sandwiches, jam tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, cookies iced with the word "eat me" and little iced cupcakes. We'll decant the fizzy drinks into coloured glass bottles with labels that say "drink me". I've promised a red velvet heart shaped birthday cake with red fondant icing and iced flowers. And if anyone wants to get too snooty then I shall say "Off With Their Heads".

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hiro Nakamura wins the Australian election

Is it just me - or am I the only one who has realised the resemblance our new fearless leader has to Hiro Nakamura from Heroes?

It was bugging me last night that Kevin Rudd looked like someone I knew but I couldn't think who. Then it came to me this morning - Hiro Nakamura!

So Banzai Kevin. Now could you wind back some of the nastier elements that have crept into Australian life since John Howard got to set the agenda. You know - things like locking up people in detention for very long or indefinite periods in the name of "national security". Thank goodness that the US will soon be rid of the dreadful George W.Bush.
Looking forward to a kinder, gentler world. Be gone peddlars of the politics of fear. I've had a gutful.
Just an update - I read this article by Hugh Mackay in the Sydney Morning Herald after the election. It really hit the nail on the head for all the things I'd been feeling (and I'm not even a "doctor's wife". It will be interesting to see whether this pans out to a long term trend.

Monday, November 12, 2007

They Came, They Saw, They Gave

Well I am happy to report that the Watoto Hope Charity Dinner went off without a hitch! The rain ,which we've had all week, stopped and it was a lovely cool spring evening on the Harbour.

We kicked off with Drumbeats performing on the balcony. Anyone who wasn't sure where the venue was only had to follow the drumming! Everyone then moved inside and was able to join in the performance with the drum or tambourine placed on their chair.

It finished with a conga line round the room and out the door (which is how they cleverly collect all the instruments). Lots of fun and a great icebreaker. They generously performed for half their normal fee - so if you are looking for a great icebreaker /team building exercise for an event - give them a call.

The venue looked terrific - no photos yet but I'll update this post when I get a hold of some pictures. We also had the Australian Girls Choir perform - they walked in singing "I Still Call Australia Home" (their signature song) and followed up with "Starlight Express", "Keeping the Dream Alive" and finished with "O Yeah - Can You Hear Me Calling" . They were really marvellous and everyone enjoyed their performance so much. They even did an encore.

Matthew Smeal is a Sydney based photojournalist and he took us through some of his very powerful images that he took while on trips to Uganda. I have copies of his photos but don't want to post it without his permission - so I'll ask if it's ok to put one or two of them up here.

There were so many people who donated their time and skills.

My friend Allison asked her friends Lee and Graeme and to do the A/V which they did - free of charge. The normal fee would be around $3500 for an event like ours. Friends like Ken (see below on saxaphone) and Dave came and provided fantastic music for the evening - free of charge.

Elisa Colla - a very gorgeous and very talented young lady from our church sang with the band - her first real "gig" - but certainly not her last. If she doesn't end up very famous I'll be very suprised!

Even the session muso who turned up to play keyboard free of charge refused to take the $50 travelling money.

In a world that is often dark and cold - isn't it nice to know there are so many people willing to do wonderful things just for the asking? It's been a real lesson to the four of us to always ask. Sure the answer might be no - but so often it's "yes" and an enthusiastic "yes" too.

Mark Bradshaw from Watoto's Australian Head Office was there as were Unia and Michael from the Watoto Children's Choir.

Unia travels with the choir and Michael is an 11 year old who is in the choir. Isn't he gorgeous?

It was wonderful that they were with us - not only to be part of the evening but also to answer people's very valid questions about how much of the funding reaches the kids versus admin costs etc.

It was good to stand at the back of the room and just take in the fact that it was all really happening. Everyone was switched on and attentive to the information - which was great to see. It's always tricky to present a pretty graphic story of desperate need on the one hand and on the other hand not make people feel so uncomfortable that they look for the nearest exit. After all people have come to hear about the charity but also to have a fun night out with friends. Without tooting our horns too much - I think we nailed it - people were engaged in the information but obviously also had a great night. We were supposed to finish at 11pm - there were still people sitting at their tables chatting etc. at midnight!

So - what was the punchline? From a room of 165 people we raised $104,000! I was hoping for a house which is $38,000 - so $104,000 was just gobsmacking. I am rarely a) lost for words and b) near tears - but believe me - I was both. Unbelievable. And the great thing was that it wasn't a few people giving a lot but everyone giving something which I think is a wonderful thing as it means everyone was engaged in the message and everyone made a response.

Thankyou everyone who came. Thank you to everyone who gave their time and effort to make the evening so successful. Thankyou to those who said yes to bringing a table of friends. Thankyou everyone who gave.

Now we can build two houses - which will totally change the life of two mothers and 16 children. Plus the additional funds can be used towards another building.

Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It Never Rains it Pours

It never rains ... it pours - wow - three posts in one day. I go for ages not posting and them - whammo - I can't stop.

This time it's a few pictures of my Tome. The tome was designed by Patti Culea and I have a group that meets once a month at Idyll Pleasures. We get a new pattern each month and do some work on the page for that month. It's suprising how much we get done in three hours actually. It's been fun and a good discipline for me to actually work my way through the patterns. Here is my cover - the three girlfriends.

The fabrics are actually from the Girlfriends range by Sis Boom for Freespirit Fabrics. They are offcuts from the quilt I made earlier this year.
This is the back page (front and back) It has tyvek leaves and some free motion embroidery on it.

Page 2 is photo transfers and windows- the pics are of my kids.
The rear of this page is a pocket with an angel (she needs finishing).

Page 3 is fabric collage. I am still working on this page - need to collect some more flowers. I traced the face from the pattern and coloured it with prismacolour pencils. Cool. I am looking forward to completing the whole tome - I think it will look awesome when it's finished.

Maggie Grey's Cat

I mentioned Maggie Grey's post recently. She had a terribly funny post about having her cats temperature taken at the vet. I told her it reminded me of my favourite picture in a book published in the early 1980s called "100 and 1 uses for a Dead Cat". Here is that page.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Not Such a Blog Addict

Apparently I am not the blog addict I thought I was - there are many others who far surpass my meager efforts! Erica - thanks for not pruning me from your list - I shall try to be worthy of such an honour. I have been following your growing home renovation with equally growing bemusement. For God's sake woman - quit while you're ahead!

Judi W (who subscribes to 105 blogs) was the lovely person who told me about bloglines - so if I do become a certified blog addict it will be all her fault (lol). Actually Judi has started
another blog for people to comment on cloth doll patterns - ones they've actually made etc. and what was good/bad/indifferent about them and I've just realised I haven't added it to bloglines yet - so there's another one!

I have been an excellent mother this afternoon and whipped up a skirt for Miss Claire with a matching headband.

She refuses to get off the Sims 2 long enough to model the skirt for my blog (ungrateful little snit) but is wearing the headband.

So I will take a picture of the skirt all by itself.
I found the pattern here at Grand Revival Designs. The headband was a quick whip up with a couple of yo-yos made with the Clover Yo-yo makers. They are a groovy little contraption which makes whipping up yo-yos a doddle. I got the idea from Heather Bailey - and they are her fabrics featured in the headband and skirt. Heather actually has a rather lovely looking headband on her site - but I am too lazy and made up my own.

Blog Addict

How many blogs do you keep track of? I had a whole bunch saved into favourites - then someone told me about where you can keep a list of blog feeds and it tells you when they are updated. So far I am up to 66 blogs - is that too much? I hate waiting for my favourites to post something new and groovy - so I figure with 66 feeds then there's something to read every morning (and it's far more interesting than the newspaper these days).

There is so much eye candy out there - it's like a personalised magazine. Speaking of magazines - I hear Victoria magazine is back in print - however whenever I go to their website it tells me it's not there. Very frustrating! I hope it will be available in Australia - actually I think someone mentioned they got a copy at the Crewel Gobelin in Killara - must call them and ask!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Recommending books

Maggie Grey is a wonderful British textile artist who has a terrific blog about her comings and going and "arting" (which is the general term used by my daughter Claire for doing creative things). Maggie has wonderful "netiquette" she replies to everyone's posts in her blog and checks out all the people who post to see more about them. How well-mannered can you be? She checked out my blogger profile and has even recommended a book for me to read which I will lock in here so later when I am trying frantically to remember what it was I'll be able to find it. Note to self - the answer is Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials.

I am a bit hopeless when it comes to good netiquette - but I did finally manage to post a comment on Sashi's blog after all the wonderful comments she has left on mine - it was the least I could do! I vaguely recall I owe a response to Linda Misa too. Isn't it funny to think that I'm in Sydney, Linda's in Tasmania, Sashi is in England - we've never met and maybe never will in person - but know quite a bit about each other through the various online groups we belong too. Weird really. I know Linda has young kids like me and can't wait for school holidays to end (especially summer - ooh Linda - how will we survive?). I am a firm believer that I would be a really fantastic wife and mother if it weren't for my husband and kids.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

Hmm - spookily true. I love these silly quizzes!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Watoto Hope

One of the non crafty things I've been doing this year is helping to organise a fund-raising dinner for Watoto. Watoto (which means "Children" in Swahili) was started in Uganda as a response to the terrible impact of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2010 it's projected that there will be 60 million orphans due to the HIV/AIDS crisis. That is an unimaginable number.

I love the Watoto model - rather than having a large institution - they build a village which consists of houses, a medical centre, schools and community centre which doubles as a church. The houses are headed up by mothers who have been either abandoned or widowed by HIV/AIDs. They have their own children plus others - there are eight kids to each mum in a house. These mothers become the mothers for these orphans for life and the kids lives are completely turned around. It's brilliant.

Apart from the HIV/AIDS problem (as if that wasn't enough) - in Uganda there is an ongoing civil war between a man called Joseph Koney and the Ugandan Government. Koney has "recruited" his army by raiding villages and kidnapping children aged between 8 and 12. Girls are forced to become sex slaves and servants of the older men and boys are forced to become child soldiers. They are made to kill friends and/or siblings or be killed.

The movie "Blood Diamond" (which was set in Sierra Leone) gives a fairly accurate portrait of how this process works. It really is diabolical in the truest sense of the world. If the children escape (they are executed immediately if caught) they generally can't go home - the boys because they have invariably been made to kill people from their village and the girls because they usually end up pregnant with a "bush baby" as the result of being raped.

So - the good news is that Watoto has gone to the north to Gulu (which - ironically enough means "Heaven") and is setting up a Watoto village up there which will take in the boys and girls and provide long term rehabilitation for them. I personally can't think of a more worthy cause in all the world. It costs $38,000 AUD to build a home (that includes all the supporting infrastructure like water and power). We are hoping to raise enough funds to build at least one home - maybe more. So - say a prayer that the people who are coming to the dinner will be open hearted and generous.

If you want to get involved you can check out the Watoto website or another great organisation called Invisible Children. But please - don't think "how terrible" and move on. Get mad - and get involved. If you raise enough money to build a home - you can even travel to Uganda to help build it - how totally cool would that be?
PS - I should mention these photos belong to Watoto - one of my jobs is to do a looped slide presentation that will run during dinner!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ladies Night Out

Here's some more doings - this time it's beading. I love this pattern by Sheila Cleary called (unsuprisingly) Ladies Night Out.I made these three up in one afternoon - it makes up really quickly. It uses size 3 & 4 Swavorski crystals (the olive green one I used 4s and 5s I think) as well as little charlottes. I bought them from Meredith and her very gorgeous mum Jan from Silhouette Designs - they were our friendly neighbours during the February Stitches and Craft Show in Sydney. They are awesome beaders - their stand was busy from days opening to closing and their workshops are hugely popular. If you get the chance do a class with them. The size three crystals and the charlottes are hard to find - but they have them so give them a shout if you are looking for them. Mum bought some gorgeous cabachons from Jan as she and her husband go fossicking and then shape and polish them. She's mounted them on ultrasuede and is doing peyote stitch around them. They look terrific will take a picture one day when she's working on them at the shop.

Back in the swing

So - got the camera for my birthday - just in time because the other one stopped working - good on you boys!

So - here's a couple of needlefelted things I've been working on - this guy who I did in a colour called "cheesecake" - my kids reckon he's the same colour as the Simpsons.
Then there's this pig which lots of people think is cute but which freaks me out because I think the face is too human.
Then there's this brown bear which I really like - but he's hard to photograph because he's dark brown.

I am waiting on Birgitte's new book which is in print (if you can read Danish) and is currently at the printers (in English) and will be ready in about three weeks (woo hoo). I'll be ordering it in along with her other two books which I've been holding off on restocking because of the cost of ordering and sending from Denmark.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Turning 42

Well - it's my birthday tommorrow and I am struggling to find a positive about getting older. Recently I have realised I am gettting old lady fingers - they are getting stiff and sore and a suspicious arthritic looking bump has appeared on the most important digit on the most used hand. I have started taking glucosamine (with chondroitin) as well as fish oil tablets to try and support my joints - but can I tell you that fish oil repeats on me terribly? See - I am even starting to sound like an old lady - argh!!!!!!

I haven't posted for a long time because husband-man and the boy-wonder have commandeered the camera for important men's stuff (husband-man for "work", boy-wonder to film himself attempting "ollies" on his skateboard). Have dropped long and broad hints that a camera for me for my birthday would be a wonderful idea. I'd cross my fingers but I can't - because I have OLD LADY FINGERS!

I am off to Marilyn's house to help her get a website up and running - she used to have one but it lapsed - and someone grabbed her website address (don't you hate that?) So we'll have to come up with a new name - nothing crazy - just something that will help people find her (and her gorgeous patterns).


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Eclectic Quilt

I've made another quilt - getting rather prodigious in my old age! This one is a pattern created by Lynne Wilson from Highland Quiltworks called Seams Like Fun - it uses 16 Fat Quarters to make the inside of the quilt in quite an efficient way. I decided to do it out of the Girlfriends Range by Jennifer Paganelli for Sis Boom. I wasn't quite sure anyone else would like it because it's a pretty eclectic mix of fabrics all mushed in together - but everyone who's come into the shop as I've been sewing it has positively exclaimed over it - so I guess that's a good sign huh? Because it's not my pattern it won't be in the magazines as a project but it will be a kit available to buy.

Visit from Ruth Prest

Ruth Prest is a dollmaker from the US - she is in Australia on a short visit and stopped by the shop today with Ann Maullin to say hello. That's Ann on the left and Ruth on the right. Ruth was such a lovely lady - she obviously couldn't bring a lot of dolls but she brought a book with all her dolls in it and Ann brought one of Ruth's giraffes that she had given her some years ago.
Ruth also brought some of her beautiful beading work which was stunning.

A group of dollmakers assembled to meet Ruth and brought samples of their work. Ruth is writing an article for Soft Dolls and Animals magazine about her trip down under - so we might appear in there at some stage!
Here's Marilyn Halcomb holding a new doll she's created - I can't remember what the doll's name was - maybe Purple Passion? She's got her corset on - but she's put on a little weight and can't quite get it done up at the back. I love the high heel slippers - very Gloria Swanson. (I'm talking about the doll here - not Marilyn !)
The little elf type fellow is Marilyn's version of Gloria Winer's new doll pattern. He really was an appealing little fellow.
Here is a beautiful textile piece that Erica had done with all sorts of beading and couching and interesting things on it. I previously attributed it to Ruth - but Erica let me know it's her piece. Actually I feel better now because I was so busy admiring all the things Erica brought to show that I forgot to photograph them!
Back to Ruth - she also had a couple of fabric postcards - love the Crane picture.
The tiny little baby troll was a gift to Ruth by Ute Vasina - here's a close up of it - you have to see this thing in real life to realise how tiny it is. If you look at it versus the size of the postcard - you'll get something of an idea!
It was a lovely day and so nice to see Ann, Anne, Marilyn, Erica, Annette, Natascha and even my Mum turn up to say hello to Ruth.