Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Countdown

I am totally unprepared/do not have my head around/ etc the fact that Christmas is only 18 days away - holy smokes - just gave myself a fright writing that! The tree is not up, have not made the Christmas Cake, or anything - nor have I bought a single present. This is not unusual for me - I am always ready for Christmas in early January - see testimonial here.

So I thought in the spirit of all things globe-trotting I would post some Christmas window displays from around the world.......

Printemps in Paris - a three wise men vibe going on via Rolye on Flickr

Macy's via itornot on Flickr

This little snippet about Bergdorf Goodman's windows - love those staircases - very steampunk!

and this handy youtube video with a bit of a walking around the Macy's display in NY.

The kids finish school this Thursday - might have to go on an expedition into Sydney to look at the windows in David Jones and the big Christmas tree in Martin Place (on a cool day! ) better hurry up though - I am running out of time - argh!!!!
My lovely friend Kylie just told me that Harrods has a Wizard of Oz theme this year.
They have lit up the store in green lights to look like the Emerald City.
The Knightsbridge store has apparently landed on the Wicked Witch of the East.
AND they were selling these limited edition ruby slippers in store. Unsuprisingly - they sold out!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Look what I found

I found the pics I'd saved them down to my computer - but don't know where I got them from - if they are yours please let me know so I can add a link (or if you happen to know please tell me also). All I know was that the woman had needlefelted them as party favours for her daughter's party.
While I was looking for the elusive needlefelted monsters - I came across this - how awesome - it is a converted toddler pusher. I love the inside lining made to look like the brains. You wouldn't want to have an ugly baby though, people might be cruel.

needle felting love

Found this incredible needlefelted "Venus" by Stephanie Metz who lives and works out of San Fransisco. She is a sculptor who works in needlefelted wool. Take a look at her site - she is an artist with a point of view which she communicates so well via her art. I particularly love the "Overbred Animals" series as a commentary on our relationship to the animals that we are bio-engineering for food production. Very thoughtful. Be sure to check out the entire portfolio - especially the figurative studies.
In other surfing - I also found this extremely cute (and highly more achievable) monster - firstly this one from Dawn Schiller of Oddfae (maker of those steampunk Chrono-Seidh that I am so completely in love with). There was another site with awesome one eyed monsters - but I've been looking for it all day - and it has disappeared.
But there are also these bags from Beth Connors from Felting In Fibre-Space.

Friday, November 06, 2009


I read many blogs - one of the artists whose work is consistently amazing is Teesha Moore. Her work has been featured in Somerset Studio and several other Stampington publications and she teaches at ArtFest in the US each year. Her work is original, quirky and colourful. She doesn't post on her blog very often but when she does - it's always a treat. Recently she posted several videos on Youtube showing how she makes her 16 page art journals - I learned so much from them and am hanging out for her to post the final part (which is the actual written journal part).
Her journals are made from a 22" x 30" Fabriano Artistico 140lb (300gsm) Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper. For those who actually occupy the same space in the universe that I do - I found it at the Art Supply shop at Hornsby!

Here are part 1 & 2 of the actual journal construction:

Here's how she paints the backgrounds:

Here's how she collages the pages:

And the pen work that she does over the top:

And finally here's a "white journal" that wasn't painted


Here are the two additional videos from Teesha

Aren't they great tutorials - so wonderful of her to post them on youtube for the rest of us. Be sure to check out her website and particularly her rubber stamps - the Zettiology range and my absolute favourite (as in I'd love to own every single one) The Tattered Circus.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kaffe Fassett interview

Everyone who reads my blog would know of my fondness for all things Kaffe. Here is an interview on Danish TV (but in English!) the link is here. It should open up in your Windows Media Player - that's what it did for me. Thanks to Jane for posting the link.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fabric Explorations

Here' a great little snippet from Quarry Books featuring Patti Culea and a mini project from her latest book

Isn't she adorable?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

STOP! Where are you going with this?

I know I have a few followers on this blog - not a lot - just a few. Some of you may have landed here because of an interest in dolls, or home design or quilting or felting. One follower is my best friend from high school (hi Gail!) and I know she is not interested in anything remotely crafty or domestic. Case in point - when I got married I had a kitchen tea. Everyone was asked to bring their favourite receipe. She brought a list of favourite restaurants because she makes reservations for dinner. So she's here to keep track of me (and now you've got your licence back (ahem) you will have to drive up the M2 and visit me).
But amongst the thoughts on paint colours and crafty love - you will perhaps have noticed a slight bent towards social justice issues. It may seem incongrous to be talking about pretty things one minute and horrific injustices the next but that's the nature of the world we live in.
I follow a number of blogs - some present a world where life is a continuous Martha Stewart Living event, untouched and unruffled by the crueler considerations of life. But even Martha had a time when life went pear-shaped and she spent time in the clink for corporate indiscretions!
I much prefer blogs that are more balanced and more real. One of the best blogs that walks these two worlds is Tara Bradford's Paris Parfait. In between pictures of vitrines at Galleries Lafayette and Parisian brocantes, Tara packs a punch with intelligent and incisive commentary on US, Middle Eastern and European politics. She calls people, political parties and whole countries out on their less than savoury policies and practices. She refuses to stand idly by and not speak up.
Which brings me to this -
About a year ago the issue of People Trafficking blipped on my radar. People trafficking is modern day slavery. Children, yes, CHILDREN are bought and sold as cheap labour and sex slaves and it happens EVERYWHERE.

Roughly 2 to 4 million people are trafficked in and across borders each year.
Human trafficking is now a leading source of profits for organized crime, together with drugs and weapons, generating an estimated 9.5 billion dollars per year.
The overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women and children.
The average victim is forced to have sex up to 20 times a day.
The CIA calculates that profits from one trafficked woman alone averages around $250,000 USD per year.
Traffickers acquire their victims in a number of ways. Sometimes they are kidnapped outright in one country and taken forcibly to another. Traffickers also entice victims to migrate voluntarily with false promises of well-paying jobs in foreign countries as au pairs, models, dancers, domestic workers, etc. When they arrive at their destination many are placed in physically confining conditions, their travel documents and passports are taken away and both they and their families are threatened if they do not cooperate. Women and girls are forced to work as prostitutes in heavily guarded brothels and strip clubs.
An estimated 1.8 million children are exploited by the commercial human trafficking industry. Children are abducted from rural areas and trafficked into a range of exploitive practices, which include bonded labor, sexual exploitation, marriage, illicit adoptions, and begging.
Young girls, some as young as 12 years old, are forced to work in brothels, massage parlors, prostitution rings, strip clubs, or used to produce pornographic materials.
Children are recruited and trafficked to earn money by begging or selling goods.
Child beggars are sometimes maimed by their captors to generate sympathy and generosity from potential buyers.
Victims are forced to live in confining and unsanitary conditions and are subject to many abuses such as malnutrition, sleep deprivation, emotional abuse, and beatings, lack of healthcare and forced abortions. Many contract STD's and hepatitis A & B and HIV/AIDs.
Children are deprived of basic education and any sort of parental upbringing, and are completely dependent on their captors for food and shelter.
Perhaps it doesn't come as a total shock to some that it happens in Africa and Asia but did you know it also happens in Europe?

And also the US?

So what can be done?
1) get educated - visit the A21 Campaign, the Greyman , Not for Sale or IOM to start to understand the insidious nature of human trafficking and how, when, where and why it happens
2) get political - write to your local, state and federal representatives to put political pressure and resources into policing and prosecuting as well as resourcing for rescue and rehabilitation
3) put your money where your mouth is - provide funding for the groups mentioned above and also buy free trade products that pay a fair days pay to workers and don't use child labour
4) think about prevention - many of the children are sold or lured in by the promise of a better life. Child sponsorship through Compassion or World Vision helps provide children out of the trap of poverty and vulnerability that makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
5) Pray - pushing back the darkness of this world is a spiritual as well as physical activity. One does not replace the other but done in conjunction -it achieves much.

Just don't bury your head in the sand. It has to STOP *

*STOP - Stop Trafficking Of People

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tents for the Homeless Pt 2

I am happy to say that my husband's little initiative to raise some money to buy tents and sleeping bags for the homeless in Sydney's Woolloomooloo area has really taken off. He's raised over $1000 USD through Chip In as well as gathering a boot load of tents and sleeping bags from friends who have donated "in kind". The money is still coming in as others find out about it - but he spent the $1000 last weekend buying 16 sets of tents and -5 degree sleeping bags. It has been really cold in Sydney this week due to a air pressure system coming up from the Antartic - so those extra warm sleeping bags are going to come in handy. This is what he was originally confronted with.
You can see more pics and read about it some more here.

and this clip on YouTube shows the type of tents we bought - little two man jobs that can go up and be taken down quickly. The police turn a bit of a blind eye to the tents so long as they are down by early morning when the rest of the city turns up for work. So next time you see a homeless person - why not wordlessly buy them something to eat or a cup of coffee.
In the meantime, I'd seen this book on someone else's blog - turns out my friend Dale had just finished reading it and has lent it to me. It's a great easy read and a powerful story. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And the winner is ......

Deb! Random Number generator came up with #2 - so Deb wins the prize.
Congratulations Deb - I hope you make lots of them!
Now I am off to check the new Sewn website which launched today!!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Crude, Rude and Vulgar

But this just made me pee my pants laughing!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Little Oops

Thanks to all those who have commented on the Sewn post for a chance to win - I've just made a small update because as I read the comment I realised I'd left off a very important word - PATTERN! You are entering to win a pattern - not the pincushions and needle cover itself.

Sorry about that folks!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sewn - free giveaway

Sarah Fielke has a great blog called The Last Piece. She previously co-owned Material Obsession at Hunters Hill here in Sydney but quit that at the end of last year. She is now the creative director of Sewn - a new website venture which is launching next Monday (June 8). There is a big virtual Launch Party with lots of different blogs joining in and offering giveaways. You can check out the different blogs and their respective giveaways here.
I've decided to join in the fun and lead all those quilters and other sewing chicks into the wonderful world of cloth dolls. You can join in too - just post a comment below before June 8 to go into the draw to win (drum roll please......)
Patti Culea's Little Star Pincushion and Needle cover pattern! To enter just leave a comment below by June 8th and I will draw a winner. Too easy!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Barbara Willis's new book

Barbara Willis is one of the premier cloth doll makers and also a very lovely person. I've not had the pleasure of doing a class with her but I have met her and chatted to her at length at different shows over the years and many of my friends have done classes with her and loved the whole experience. Barbara is in Australia at the moment on a teaching tour - I would so have loved to have joined in the fun. My problem would be deciding which class to do.... There's this one called The Collector This one called Lillith

This one called Box of Memories

And - oh my giddy aunt - this one which is a mermaid journal

I have seen many of Barbara's dolls in real life and, let me tell you, as gorgeous as this eye-candy is - you have to see it in the flesh to get how rich and lush and layered and fantastabulous it all is. Barbara came to cloth dolls from the porcelain doll world and all of that experience informs her dolls from the daintiness of their poses to the use of silk and taffetta in dressing them along with exquisite accessories.

I will be ordering her new book from Amazon. I think I will need to laminate every page though so I can wipe off the drool easily.

Scarves for Bushfire Victims

I belong to many online groups (mostly through Yahoo). Jan Macfayden belongs to one such group. Jan was on Channel 9 last week because she is co-ordinating a large distribution of quilts to Victorian Bushfire victims. Many, many people have donated quilts, fabric, blocks, backing fabric and so on to the cause, a quilt being a nice warm cuddle for people who have lost everything or who are so traumatised by what they have seen and heard. So when Jan mentioned that a scarf or beanie would be appreciated as it's getting pretty cold down there, the backlash from some quarters was - well - suprising in a rather disappointing way. The worst comment was this, "'People in Kinglake can afford to buy a hat and a scarf, I believe more than half of the bushfire appeal money has been given out. Also I believe that everyone who has lost their home has been assigned a case manager to work with them to help them. They would surely be able to organise some funds or vouchers to enable them to buy items needed. Unfortunately there are people who don't want anything that isn't handed to them on a silver platter or free."
Well Jan has posted a response on her blog which basically outlines the reality of the situation - but is it really that difficult to imagine that people who have been through such a dreadful experience might be suffering from stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, a sense of hopelessness and despair, depression and so on and are struggling with all sorts of stuff?
The theoretical assignation of a case worker does not mean that you have an one-on-one, 24/7 personal assistant to help get your life back together. Anyone who has ever had to contend with our woefully inadequate and underfunded social security system on behalf of themselves or another person will know how slow moving and time consuming it can be.
Even typing this makes me cranky. I just hope the silly woman who wrote this never has to experience the total loss and devestation that those in Kinglake and other areas have.
I for one was excited to know that all that wool I bought in a end of winter, "gosh aren't they fabulous and wow so cheap!" frenzy will find a home around the neck of someone who needs a little bit of a cheering up present.
So here are some I prepared earlier - for such a time as this.......

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's a Cold Old Day in Sydney today

It is a rainy, cold day in Sydney today - can't help sitting here thinking how miserable it must be for those who live on the street. The good news is that we are at $690 (USD) so in AUD that's quite a bit more! I've bought some tents and need to price some sleeping bags - keep your fingers crossed that we can get some at a good price!
It's funny watching the donation process - originally we hoped that maybe 100 or so people might "chip in" $10 or so - however it's less people but so generous - hard to predict what people will do. It's funny in a way though - because if everyone did a little bit - it would all add up to make such a big difference.
Just remember do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are, whenever you are able.
Looking forward to hitting the $1000 mark!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tents for the Homeless

My husband is very interested in issues with homeless people. He was in town recently for a meeting and was after a cup of coffee - he wandered into Hope Street which is a drop in centre for Homeless Men. (He's kind but not terribly observant!). Homelessness is on the rise with the G.E.C. and many people are sleeping rough in the Domain in Sydney - with Winter fast approaching it's a rather cold prospect.

He is mobilising his friends from his old school - St Leos at Wahroonga who are called, appropriately enough, SLOBS (St Leos Old Boys). I said I would help him with my contacts too - so here's the widget for my blog. We are collecting the funds ourselves and then will buy the tents and sleeping bags. If you'd like to chip in - please feel free - we've set a goal of $1000 by June 30. If you live in Sydney and have an unused sleeping bag or little 1 or 2 man tent - feel free to drop it off and we'll make sure it goes to someone who can really use it.

To donate - click on the link below.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh for the old days

I love old cartoons - and am always amused at how risque they were. Like this one.
Red Hot Riding Hood 1943

Swing Shift Cinderella

And these little nudies - would you see a cartoon like this today? All those bums sticking up in the water?
Waterbabies (1935)

I love the way there are a million things going on and the visual puns that so often go on..

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blue Mountains Weekend

Because it was Mother's Day last weekend - but Sunday was taken up with Mother's Day obligations (but nice ones!) - I decided I was allowed to take myself off to the Blue Mountains for Saturday. Claire decided to come with me on the strict understanding that she wasn't allowed to whine. Once.

So we headed off to Leura (this was a chicks day out go to the Blue Mountains - not a go to the Three Sisters look out and go bushwalking trip). We went to a place called The Nook which features work by local artists.
There were two artists who particularly caught my eye - one was Pam de Groot who does some of the most beautiful felt work I've ever seen - her colours and colour blending are gorgeous. There was a beautiful rainbow wrap and some handbags (one of which is on her blog). Claire also liked the journals covered in felt - I told her we could make one on the weekend. She's not going to let me forget either!The other artist was Lindy Longhurst who does beautiful naive style paintings with dream and fairytale motifs. I think I liked them so much because many of the girls in the pictures have long, dark hair.

We also discovered this amazing stationery store. This pic doesn't really do it justice. I thought I might have a hard time convincing Claire to spend time in there. Boy - was I wrong. Her eyes were like saucers. I had a quiet chuckle to myself - I am passionate about paper - can't explain it - just am - so it was amusing to see at least one of my kids has inherited my love for all things stationery. This love was also extended to an amazing antiquarian bookshop in Katoomba where she discovered a book of poetry by Tim Burton called "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy" and sat reading it quietly for the best part of half an hour. This was the favourite I think.

Staring Girl

I once knew a girl who would just stand there and stare.
At anyone or anything,she seemed not to care.
She'd stare at the ground, She'd stare at the sky. She'd stare at you for hours,and you'd never know why. But after winning the local staring contest, she finally gave her eyes a well-deserved rest.

She was disappointed that I wouldn't buy her the book ($35) but knowing I could probably do better on Amazon or Ebay - I said no. However as a consolation I let her read my Spike Milligan books - "A Dustbin Full of Milligan" and "Small Dreams of A Scorpion". Another win for genetic predispositions - it was a hit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother of the Year

Just saw this on The Lettered Cottage - I made my own version - send one to every poor, downtrodden mother you know.

Yum on a budget or Chicken Risotto

I am amused (on the odd occasion when I watch the news) by the relish with which the newsreaders talk about the Global Economic Crisis - or G.E.C. as I like to refer to it. In the true vein of "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!" the G.E.C. is touted as the greatest disaster EVER.
As a student of history I think, "hmm - seem to recall a thing called The Great Depression - which did actually occur in living memory - and was, by all reports, just a tad more severe than what we are currently experiencing."
If my single mother Nanna was able to survive it without the benefit of social security - I am sure we can all manage just fine!
That is of course if we don't all die of swine flu first which the aforementioned newsreaders seem a little disappointed has fizzled so quickly.
All of which brings me to this. In the interests of economical housewifery (and yummy goodness) I bring you my stock pot. 1 kg of chicken wings in water to cover (costs about $2 and is therefore cheaper than the off the shelf stock you can buy). The end bits off the celery that you normally chuck out, some pepper and salt and herbs. If I buy fresh herbs there's always too much so I throw them into a plastic bag and into the freezer and then throw them into the stock pot when I'm making this. I also throw in an onion. Great tip from the domestic goddess herself (aka Nigella Lawson) - leave the skin on the onion - it makes your stock go a lovely golden colour. When I heard her say that the light bulb went on and I thought "D'oh! as a bit of a crafty chicky babe - you know that onion skins can be used to dye things!". Before my stock was always a bit pallid - not anymore thanks to Ms. Lawson.
Once it's all boiled up and smelling gorgeous I strain everything out - chuck out the celery and onion (profligate waste I know!). I take out the chicken and pull off the meat and throw out the chicken bones& skin - it's suprising how much meat comes off those wings!!! I put my stock in the fridge so that the fat comes to the top and solidifies so that I can skim it off easily.
Now you can, of course, turn this all into chicken soup - very nourishing and restorative for family members dying of swine flu (or, if they are men, of a common cold which is always "the flu") but I love chicken risotto with a passion - so that's what I use mine for. Chop up another onion and some bacon and saute in a pan. Add a packet of arborio rice (that's the proper rice you use to make risotto in case you didn't know).
Add a cup or two of the stock and stir it in till it's absorbed - then add some more and so on till the rice is soft. The secret to a good creamy risotto is to keep stirring all the way through cooking it. Sound painful but it's kind of relaxing (particularly if you are holding a glass of wine in the other hand as you do it and if you want to slurp a bit of the aforementioned wine into the risotto - well - who am I to argue?). Oh - and you can throw the bits of chicken from the wings back into the mix too.
My children hate mushrooms as much as I love them (the mushrooms that is - not the children) so I fry some up separately and add them to my bowl at the end (usually hidden underneath the risotto so they don't think that there are mushrooms in theirs.
In summer, when asparagus is in season I blanch some and add it right at the end. In winter a hand full or two of frozen peas chucked in at the end will do the same job and adds a bit of greenery to the scene. Pepper and salt and some parmesan over the top and need I say more? Guess what's for dinner tonight?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Black and White Floor in the Hall

Now that the outside and the hall are done - I am going to need to start thinking about flooring. Our hall cops major traffic in and out of the house - so a hard floor is a must. I'm thinking tiles or floating timber floor.
In honour of Idyll Pleasures' shop floors (RIP) I am tempted to go black and white tiles in the front hall. I like it on some deep level - it's a little whimsical and fantasy style - reminding me of Alice in Wonderland.
Here is some eye candy I've collected around the web. I can't recall all the places where I got these images from - shout out if it was you! Ok so the yellow wall is a touch too yellow for me - but I like this because we've got a double height hall too. I like the white trim and bannisters with the darker rail.

While I am not a "blue" person I liked this picture because it shows the b&w tile against a timber floor. Again we have a similar configuration with the formal lounge opening off the hall. While I love b& w tile - the lounge room currently has wall to wall carpet - which will probably change to floating timber floor with a large area rug - so I was interested to see the tile to floor with rug look.

Now this picture (which I think may have come from Joni's blog) is wonderful - although I don't have a roman architrave door I do have decorative plaster cornices. I like the way the b&w can look sophisticated.

Now these two pics I do know where they are from! The lovely Brooke Giannetti posted these on her blog - they are of a client's home she recently did. The colour of the hall is very similar to the colour I just painted mine and I love the white trim on all the doors etc. (that's going to take me a little longer (ahem)). Again I like the way the tile can stand up against the timber (I am assuming it's tile - perhaps it's a painted floorcloth). This tiling pattern is a little more subdued than the even b&w alternate and again is sophisticated in a relaxed sort of way. I don't actually think it would be possible for Brooke to do anything I didn't like - she has fabulous style and sense!

Now this one I think is from Joni's site because she loves those carriage lamps (which reminds me I also need a new light in the hall - but that's another story). I like the small black tile in the white here too - and the black border around the space is something else to consider - it really looks like something - doesn't it? This one gives a bird's eye view of white with little black tiles (this image is from Daisy Pink Cupcake) - something else to consider but I think all that white would be lots to keep clean!Here are a few kitchens with b& w too - love the look of it and something to consider if I get serious about taking the slate out - I would have three rooms plus the hall in b&w then - not sure if that would get to be too much?

The second pic is from Daisy Pink Cupcake (she has similar tastes to me I think - I love everything she's posted on her blog).

This image was from a magazine article via another blog which has slipped my mind and I couldn't find despite some googling on a house redecorated with a circus theme - great bright colours. I loved the harlequin pattern on these vases - just an idea to subtly carry through the b&w to other parts of the house.

It's funny because as I've been writing this post I have seen half a dozen more posts with b&w floors come up - but I will stop here or go nuts! I think I've talked myself into it - what do you think?