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?

My New House

Here it is - before

And after in the Dulux Clotted Cream and Portland Stone.
What colour do you think I should paint the front door? Woodland Grey (the colour of the roof and guttering), Portland Stone (the colour of the windows and woodwork) or Clotted Cream (the colour of the plaster stucco) - or something else for a little "pop" of colour?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Invisible Children

One of the blogs I follow is Judy Coates Perez of Painted Threads. Judy happens to live opposite Harpo Studios (that's where Oprah works folks). Read her post about the approach of Invisible Children to Oprah here. I hope Oprah picks up the story - it will really raise awareness about the issues in Northern Uganda.

Fingers crossed people!

Friday, May 01, 2009

More Steampunk stuff

Back again - you know me I don't post for ages and then - whammo.
I just checked out a link that Cynthia sent me ages ago (February). Sorry Cynthia - I am a bit slow off the mark! It's a NZ Automata maker - great little clip - thanks Cynthia! Have a look here.
Also Dawn Schiller is a wonderful polymer clay artist - she made this little guy a while ago - so clever! Dawn has a blog and also sells on etsy and ebay. This is just marvellous isn't it? So detailed and so tiny!

Nicoletta Ceccoli

I was doing a little blog surfing yesterday - I landed here and while I don't even know what language this blog is written in - she had the most gorgeous pictures and the name of the artist. Nicoletta Ceccoli. They are very lovely aren't they? Her website is anfd you can order prints from her. Mother's Day is coming up - anyone?? Hello - hint! hint!
Take a look at her galleries - they would also make fabulous dolls.
Going back to the original website in the foreign language - she also had these two amazing images - anyone who knows my love of mermaids would know how much I love these two photos. Eyecandy is eyecandy in any language!