Friday, 16 January 2015

Everything old is new again

I guess it's true that every cloud has a silver lining.  Our cloud came in the form of not being permitted to hang any of our pictures on the walls of the unit where we spent the last three years.  The silver lining is that there are no such restrictions in our new home.  All our paintings and pictures as a result were sulking in a storage cage in the basement of the building.  I'll spare you the dramas of reducing the huge pile of possessions which were sharing the space with the paintings, suffice to say we somehow successfully reduced it to what would fit into our actual unit.  With no storage cage in our new home, life is so much simpler.  Another silver lining.

We are waiting for a professional picture hanger to take care of the larger pictures, but in the meantime we figured we could look after some of the smaller works on our own.  The walls are solid brick with no gyprock to hammer picture hooks into, so we bought some of those adhesive ones which guarantee they will hold certain weights.  We'll see.

First picture up was one of our daughter Maz Dixon's works, naturally.  So far it hasn't fallen down and it's been up an hour already (that should get her heart racing).

These two works have always hung in our bedroom and it's like Christmas all over to see them back where they belong.  Mary Cassatt has long been an artist I admire and her picture, Child in a Straw Hat, is my favourite.  These two have also been up for an hour without falling down, but I'm not silly enough to have either one hanging over my head when I'm in bed.

Even having a calendar up on the wall is exciting, and looking at Margaret Olley works every day is not hard on the eyes.

Now for a confession.  We have quite a few paintings and pictures.  They have to go somewhere while we decide which ones are going up where and which ones will have to sadly part company with us.

And where else would you store them but in the guest bathroom?

It's the perfect conversation starter and as long as our guests don't take a shower, we'll be fine.

The Christmas break was a good time step back from sewing, but pretty soon I was ready for the new year.  The grandchildren needed beach bags for their holiday away with their parents so after consultation with their mother, this design was chosen, as it also has lots of pockets inside to carry those seaside treasures such as shells, dead crabs or whatever it is that children fancy today.  

Our quilting group met this week for the first time since the Christmas break and what a show and tell one of members had.  A relative had survived World War I only to be murdered in the Middle East in 1920 while on active duty.  Her cousin in England was a direct descendant and had ordered two poppies to be placed at The Tower, one for himself and the other for my quilting friend.  It arrived with some of the soil still attached and it was such a thrill to see one of these famous poppies close up.   

Some time back I had purchased a pattern by Amelie and Henri.  I am a great admirer of the designer Kerri and this pretty dress was waiting for some spare time to be made up.  It is so 1920s with its drop waistline, lace and pleats, not to mention the big bow. 

I came across the perfect black and white fabrics last week and decided it would be my first Hot Fudge item for 2015.  Australian buyers can also find it here.

So as you can see, everything old is new again.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas Down Under

In my life I have spent two Christmases in the Northern Hemisphere and loved them both. To shop in the freezing cold adds a certain air of excitement to the experience it has to be admitted.  Having said that, I was raised to expect the season to be hot and in my heart that's what really makes it Christmas.

We attended the children's vigil Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve, so we were able to sleep in a little before the family gathering with the gift unwrapping frenzy followed by lunch.

Of course there was Christmas Bush - what respectable household wouldn't have a vase of it on full display?

On such a beautiful day, al fresco was the only way to dine.

Model planes were discussed in detail - they transcend all generations, male generations that is.

After lashings of turkey, ham, vegetables and salads liberally washed down with Moet and wines of the red and white variety, there was the traditional pudding which our daughter made using my mother's recipe.

Or pavlova and fresh berries for those who preferred a lighter end to the meal.  All the more pudding for the rest of us!

Tony admits to having five helpings.

Miss E had been lusting after this style of hat for some time, so when she finally had one of her own, it stayed firmly on her head until she was water bombed by her brothers.

And why wouldn't they be smiling.  Our daughter and son-in-law are off to Rome for three months in the second half of 2015, one to paint and the other to write.

 Our other son-in-law, the father of our grandchildren, enjoys the challenge of me not catching him on camera.  He has it down to a fine art, ducking behind something at the last second, but I am a patient woman.

There was time for a few quick games of Angry Birds before the boys decided enough was enough.

Time for a quick change of garb and to bring out the big guns.

No one was safe - not big sister ...

... nor Aunty Maz.  Grandparents were considered untouchables, as it's not much fun water bombing slow moving objects.

The local water dragon sensibly camouflaged himself until it was all over. 

We really missed our Queensland family and one of these Christmases we will celebrate together, with all seven grandchildren and their parents.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Since we returned to Sydney a little over three years ago, we have started a tradition of visiting the city at this time of the year to soak up the Christmas atmosphere and to do some shopping.  Little did we know that two days after our visit Sydney would be thrown into turmoil with the hostage situation and the terrible consequences.

All Sydneysiders are feeling pretty crushed and the events are still raw in our minds.  I'm finding it difficult to come to grips with the fact that three innocent little children are today without their mother or that a young coffee shop manager just doing his job has lost his life.  God bless you both.

Despite these tragic circumstances, our city is rising above it all and life is slowly returning to normal. Therefore I have decided to show what it was like here last Saturday, before we grabbed the world's attention for all the wrong reasons.

Our first port of call was the Queen Victoria Building, with its stunning Christmas tree soaring through three levels and ending under the magnificent glass dome.

The upper level has the most wonderful toy shop which I suspect is designed more for doting grandparents than children.

A little further along we came across these gorgeous glass baubles waiting to be personalised.

Imagine my delight when we emerged from the Queen Victoria Building to discover that the streets were festooned with patchwork banners.

After a refreshing coffee and wholemeal scone, we did a little more window shopping.


Part of the ritual is to visit the David Jones' Food Hall ...

... if for no other reason, just to see what ridiculous price they have put on their cherries each year.

Still, they make everything look so wonderfully tempting, we quickly get over the cherries.

We had already purchased our panettone, but were sorely tempted to buy one of these, even if we threw away the contents and kept the box.  However, sanity prevailed.

The Christmas display windows had children of all ages enchanted.

This lovely young lass and her colleagues bopped along to the music and sold reindeer antlers in aid of children's cancer research.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and most importantly, hug your loved ones.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A moving experience

I know, it's been a long time between drinks, but moving house during the busiest time of the year was... challenging; particularly without a broadband connection for twelve days.  However, we came through the whole experience relatively unscathed and here we are in our sunny new apartment taking deep breaths.

My new sewing room is roomier than my previous one, with lots of light coming in through three widows.  So after unpacking the essentials (sewing machine, serger, fabrics, etc) I hit the ground running in an effort to keep up with the custom orders which kept flowing through my Etsy and Madeit stores.

We decided to have a mini break on Sunday morning and took ourselves off to the local village Christmas fair.

We arrived early so that we could hear the local high school Pipes and Drums Band.  Ah, what is it about men in kilts?  I blame my Scottish heritage.

What a glorious morning it was, but we knew from previous years that the odds were that a storm would break some time later in the day.

So many tempting goodies ...

We certainly made the right decision to leave early, as that afternoon we were hit by a severely damaging hail, rain and wind storm which caused havoc throughout the city.  I just hope those poor stallholders managed to pack up safely before it struck.

Then it was back to filling in the orders.

There were lots of Christmas dresses and skirts to make.

 And so many garlands that I had to close production in order to catch up.

There were several orders for cool summer dresses as the weather warmed up.

This dress is on its way today and now that I am almost on top of the backlog of orders with only a couple of dresses, knit tops and garlands to complete, I can finally see my way to attacking the Christmas cakes, mince pies, shortbread, etc.  Help!