Friday, April 30, 2010

The Vagabond King, and Perpetual Motion.

Just a quick update on the 'quilty thing', because at the moment I'm working on this painting (below) in order to finish it in time to drop it off at a local exhibition/competition on Sunday morning!  It was called "I do not believe perpetual motion is impossible" for no good reason other than the fact that I'd scribbled this sentence on a scrap torn out of an old diary, had it pinned up on my corkboard for ages, and on a whim decided to stick it onto this large collagey thing.  LOVE the colours that I got with this piece, the photo doesn't quite do it justice, they really glow.  But otherwise, not that interesting really.  So I'm doing things with it...have to wait and see!

Now, where am I with the 'quilty thing' aka "Travelling Robe for a Vagabond King"?  Well, I had to change the name slightly to enter it into an art award because the entry form stipulated that the title had to be 25 characters or less!  So, for that competition at least, it's now called "Travel Robe for a Ragged King"...exactly 24 characters, but we all know what its real name is!  I finally finished the large circle and trimmed it off.  Here it is spread out on the family room mat.

Then I ummed and ahhhed about what to put it on.  I was going to put it on a dark blue heavy cotton, and then make the other side (or front of the robe) the same fabric (which if you're using it as a mat, would be the side you put on the ground, therefore needed to be tough and not too fancy).  But decided the colour didn't quite work.

So I decided to experiment and change it.  A bit of.....hmmm, reverse dyeing?  So twisted it from the centre point and dumped it into some household bleach.  I really like how it turned out, but still not working for me as the back to the circles.  Oh well, I'll use it for something else!

So had a rethink and decided red might be the way to go!  Yep, I think that's better.

So I'm sewing this down, and just started some quilting stitch on the inner gold circle.  Lots to do!

Late note:  It's a funny thing, but as soon as I neatly hemmed the big circle...I didn't like it as much, it had lost its magic.  Oh here we go again, the 'beauty of the ragged edge...'!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Wheel turns and I am another year older.

As a small child, one of the reasons why I wasn't so fond of Anzac Day is that my birthday, following immediately after, sometimes felt a bit like an afterthought.  As both my parents played in Highland Pipe Bands (it's how they met, but that's a story for another day), both children of war veterens, and my dad a member of the Army reserve and Army Band, Anzac Day was usually busy, with marches and parades and playing at various venues, and I always felt that my birthday got overshadowed.  But the upside is that, whenever Anzac Day falls on a Sunday, I get a public holiday on Monday all to myself!

So I took my family off to the local park for an afternoon tea party picnic, including a camp stove, kettle and the best china, iced cup cakes and jam tarts, and of course, all dressed up.  It was about time I found another occasion to wear the top hat.  Unfortunately the one thing we forgot to check was whether the camera was charged, so only got one photo!  Ah well, it's not about taking pretty pictures, it's about enjoying the moment, which we did.
Mum and dad dressing up for the occasion too.  I think we should do this more often, sometimes we Aussies are just too casual!

I wonder what this year will bring?  I think middle-age is an attitude, and as such I've just decided not to have that kind of attitude.  Mostly I still feel somewhere between 17 and 21.  I had my "Lucy Jordan" moment a few years ago.  Woke up in the middle of the night (well, about 2:15am I think) with the sudden, profound realisation that I was 37.  This seemed so terribly important that I actually woke Beloved up and said "Do you realise I'm the same age as Lucy Jordan?!"  There was a sort of 'hurrumph', a pause, and then somewhere from beneath the quilt came the muffled reply.  "So you'll never drive through Paris with the warm wind in your hair.  Could be worse!"  And I guess he's right.  I'll probably be waking him up in 20 years time to ask him "will you still need me..?!"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And the band played 'Waltzing Matilda'...95 years on.

Two young men who went off to fight 'the war to end all wars'  My paternal (left) and maternal (right) grandfathers.

It's Anzac Day today, quite possibly the most important day in Australia's calender.  Even Australia Day, on January 26th, does not quite match it for solemnity and pride.  It's a day of mixed feelings for me.  Essentially, I am a pacifist, even as a young child, it simply didn't make sense to me, all this marching and uniforms and what seemed to be a celebration of one of humankind's greatest failings, war, especially as the ANZAC landing it commemorated was an unmitigated strategic disaster.  Despite the fact that both my grandfathers fought in WWI it seemed to have little relevance for me.

I suppose I have Peter Weir to thank for changing my attitude.  His film "Gallipoli" released in 1981 gave me more of an insight into why we should remember those men.  Perhaps the commemoration of a military defeat is no bad thing, it focusses more on the men themselves, on individual acts of courage and heroism.  I won't go into the flaws and historical inaccuracies of the film now, but it sent an impressionable young 15 year old into the library to find out more, to find what the truth might be, and why my paternal grandfather was there in the first place.

It's often phrased as the 'birth of the nation' or the 'baptism of fire' for Australia.  I don't know about that, but it was the first time Australian troops had fought AS Australian soldiers, after the creation of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) under the distinctive rising sun badge.  In previous wars, such as the Boer War, Australians had fought as part of the British military.  On April 25th 1915, Australian and New Zealand (hence the ANZAC) army corps landed at the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, in an attempt to smash through the Ottoman Empire, a German ally. It was a disaster from start to finish.  Firstly, the troops were landed in the wrong place and instead of a having to charge up a gentle slope and over-run the Turkish positions, they faced almost sheer cliffs.  Secondly, despite this supposedly being a top secret mission, the Turkish troops were well prepared for them.  There was also of course, that typical western superiority complex, for they had been told that the Turks would simply turn and run.  They found out how foolish that idea was.  Many never even made if off the landing boats.  Despite the failure of the initial landing, they dug in and continued to slog it out for months, wave after wave of young men dying in stupid and ultimately pointless attacks.  The Turks suffered horrific losses, but never gave an inch, and by the end of the campaign, in December of 1915, a grudging respect had grown between the two sides.  Ironically, the withdrawal from Gallipoli was an remarkable strategic success, with few casualties.  Many of those young men went straight to the horrific battlefields in France and Belgium.  My other grandfather, too young to enlist in time for Gallipoli, fought there.  These young men were told they were fighting the 'war to end all wars'.  If only.

Although attendance dropped off during the 60s and 70s, probably a lot to do with Vietnam, and anti-war protests of the time, Anzac Day has gained enormous popularity in recent years, with many making a kind of pilgrimage to Anzac Cove in Turkey for the ceremony there every April 25th.  I wonder about this.  It worries me somewhat that when young people are asked why they think it's important to remember Anzac Day, they answer "to remember those who died so we could be free" but often have no idea what Anzac Day actually commemorates.  I wish it were true, but I don't believe it.  Am I too cynical?  I believe absolutely that generations of young men have fought and died believing they were defending their homeland, their loved ones.  But it seems to me most wars are fought for less noble reasons, and good young people are lied to, and die instead for those lies.  What exactly was WWI all about?  The evil Hun Empire trying to enslave the world?  Or two empires clashing over power, greed, politics and resources?  What was it my grandfathers fought for, and in my maternal grandfather's case, almost died for?  A 'war to end all wars'?  That might have been a war worth fighting.

To me, Anzac Day should be a day to remember the bravery and courage of men (and women too now) who have put their lives on the line, believing that they are defending us from evil.  A day to mourn those who lost their lives, and their innocence.  But most importantly, it should be a day to reflect on why we ask these young people to go to war in the first place.  Surely, we have made a binding contract with them?  If we ask them to lay down their lives, if we ask them to kill for us...then it is our responsibility, our sacred duty, to ensure that they are NEVER called upon to do that unless it truly is the only, the last resort, unless we are in immanent danger of annihilation.  Not for oil, or money, or cheap resources, or political point scoring.  Not for gaining votes in an election.  Not to keep a powerful ally on side.

Anzac Day has also become a day of reconciliation.  In 1934, Kemal Ataturk, who had been the Turkish commander at Gallipoli in 1915 and later became Turkey's first president, paid tribute to the allies who had died at Gallipoli.  In 1985, the Turkish Government officially renamed the place where those troops landed 70 years before, Anzac Cove.  Old 'Diggers' met with old Turkish soldiers and remembered and shared stories of their experiences.  In Canberra, at the Australian War Memorial, the Ataturk Memorial Garden was opened, featuring a memorial to Ataturk and the Turkish soldiers who fell fighting for their homeland.  But more than this, as Australia is a land of immigrants, many who were once enemies have come here, found a home and become friends.  They too, share in Anzac Day, and remember.

I was going to leave you with Ataturk's 1934 speech, which appears on both the memorial in Canberra, and at Ari Burnu at Gallipoli...and I will, but this post requires a short epilogue.  Just before I started writing it earlier today, I heard voices by the front gate.  It was an elderly Italian couple, who wanted to know if they could pick the olives on our two trees to preserve.  As I know I'm not going to get around to it, I told them to go ahead.  So my girls and I spent a couple lovely hours this morning, learning how to pick olives the easy way, about making gnocci and pasta sauce, about grandchildren and growing garlic and eggplants, and how to fertilize citrus trees.  And it occurred to me...70 years ago, Australians and Italians were bitter enemies, fighting each other during WWII.  And yet I cannot now imagine Australia without the Italian influence of the last 60 or so years.  I shudder to think what we'd be eating (and I won't even mention the coffee we'd be drinking!) if they had not come to this country.  Enemies become friends, and we learn that essentially, we are all the same and have so much more in common than what we do not.  It seemed highly appropriate then, to spend my Anzac Day morning offering an olive branch, literally, to people whose nation was once an enemy, but who came to this country and having enriched it in so many ways, belong here now.  They have indeed, put roots down "in the soil of a friendly country."

Memorial at Ari Burnu

Friday, April 23, 2010

Poems, books and being a closet scribbler.

Terri Windling has been showcasing some beautiful works of poetry at her blog this week. Poetry is something I've loved, and written (slightly embarrassed whisper) ever since I was a child. Digging out the poem I posted yesterday (had a sudden rush of blood to the head and felt inexplicably brave) meant I had to rifle through a couple of notebooks of scribbles to find it, and of course, found lots of other scribbles while I was at it. And it occurred to me, is it odd that as an artist, I actually have more notebooks full of scribbles than I have of sketches? Poems, ideas for stories, plays, short-story drafts...even songs. Scraps and fragments that seem to drop from the sky, and thus are (mostly at least) never finished or resolved. Perhaps I just have a flighty muse who can't commit to a relationship, so I rarely ever get the end of the story. Or occasionally there's an end, but nothing to explain how it got there. Or maybe it's just that I can never decide whether they're finished or not, so carry on, year after year, tinkering and rearranging, and being too afraid to show anyone because, well, they're probably pretty ordinary at best, but also once they're 'out there' so to speak, they're not mine to fiddle around with anymore. But what's the point in having them sit gathering dust for years, eventually to become an inconvenience that my children and grandchildren will have to deal with once I've shuffled off this mortal coil? I even started a short story once along those very lines. So I thought I might try, every now and then, to be brave and post a poem, or a bit of scribble. Probably won't stop me tinkering with them, but I guess some feedback might result in more productive tinkering.

Regarding books, I just had to share this remarkable article about Velma Bolyard's handmade books, in the latest Hand/Eye magazine. This is the opening paragraph:
I often get asked about what my books represent to me personally. I see each book I complete as an event or a story. I use a poem, or a sentence, or an image, and from one of those elements, I spin a tale or a page and the book grows from that point. The blank pages in the books I create aren't just "nothing." They might contain your dreams, thoughts, fears, or your words, or whatever you wish to put down. The pages are sturdy and moveable; the haptic quality of reading pages bound in a book—blank or otherwise—informs the brain, and connects the senses to one's intelligence. These pages might even contain a miracle. A fire. A tempest. A teapot. A home.
A Tempest indeed. Books have always been magical to me, and years ago, almost 20 in fact, I saw Peter Greenaway's film "Prospero's Books" and was blown away by it. Greenaway's films tend to elicit either love or hate from their viewers, I am definitely in the 'love' category. I loved everything about the film, it inspired me in many ways (more about that in another post perhaps), but it was the books that enchanted me, these marvelous, magical, whimsical, fantastical books. I've had it in my head to try and make books like these ever since. But alas, I'm yet to get around to it. Part of what stops me is that I come up with ideas for books...but then get stuck on the content part. A vague idea and a nifty title aren't going to stretch to 20, or 30, or 100 pages of writing, art, fold outs, pop-ups and so on. So they remain vague ideas, floating tantalisingly just out of reach. But perhaps, after reading the article about Velma's books, I've let myself get bogged down over the nitty gritty details of what's actually IN the books unnecessarily. Perhaps I can make them, and let the 'reader' dictate what's in it, each person bringing their own personal experience to create a book that speaks only to them? Hmmmm...much to think on. In the meantime, I'm going to be a bit brave again.

If I could hold your soul up to the light
   what might I see?
I think sometimes you would bow your head and whisper
   "a ragged, shapeless thing."
Threadbare patches where the moral fibres wore thin.
The pocket with the hole you kept your memories in.
Matching buttons a distant dream of who you might have been
   replaced with ones that would do in a pinch
   but never kept the warmth in.


If I could hold your soul up to the light
   I know what I would see.
A coat of many colours, shining
   cobweb fine and thin.
The holes you cut in the unforgiving cloth 
   to let the starlight in.

And the middle page from the little book I DID make.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A small poem in praise of slowness...

I am a dawdler in a world of lets-get-there-yesterday people.  I've always been a dawdler.  As a child my mum used to ask me, regularly, what on earth took me so long to walk home from school.  I could turn a 20 minute walk into an hour and 20 minute meander.  Off in my own world, day-dreaming and only half aware of my surroundings, I trusted my feet to take me home (eventually), while my mind was busy with other things.  I never do anything in a hurry, I take forever to weigh up the pros and cons, and then when I actually start, it still takes me forever.  I'm a slow peg stuck in a fast hole...or maybe that should be stuck fast in a hole?  I've never had a speeding ticket, and I've been driving for over 20 years.  I can't see the point in speeding.  What's the point in being 5 minutes early if you arrive a nervous wreck and your blood pressure is that of a whippet on speed?  I like to enjoy the scenery.  I like to look up at the clouds through the windscreen.  Well, not so much that I don't notice the truck in front has just put its brake lights on, but enough to actually feel like I'm on a journey.

Slowness is a lost art I think.  We seem to have forgotten how to be slow, to walk instead of run..or dawdle instead of walk.  To stop and smell the roses, as they say.  Fast-track, fast food, fast lane, drive-thru, instant download, instant credit, why wait get it now...where are we all rushing to anyway?  Is it that important, can it really not wait?  We all know what's at the end of this great journey, so why be in such a hurry to get there?  Enjoy the ride!

So here is a small poem on being a slow peg in a fast hole...if you like it, I'll admit it's mine, and if you don't, I'll tell you I just happened upon it while web-surfing.  ;-)

I am swimming against the current
      in this headlong rush to death.
I have no taste for haste
                      for speed.

I would rather wallow in my slowness
      turning lazy circles in the shallows
      marking the passing of the hours
      the sun riding high and low
      the shadows gliding short and long.

And I will arrive at my destination long after you
      are white bone pounded into dust
      on the unforgiving shore of pointless craving.

Quilty thingo pics as promised!

So this is where I am now...getting there, but still so much to do!

The whole thing so far.  Base layers finished on top half, now for more embroidery.

Detail of embroidery/stitching on second yellow circle.  I think this is crochet ribbon.  It caught my eye at the local craft shop anyway.

Close-up of second circle.

Second velvet circle finished.  Several more to do.

Velvet circles, finished and unfinished.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So what did you do in the holidays?!

Phew!  Well, there was quite a lot of this.......

Giggling over mugs of Milo at The Mulberry Lane Cafe...why is it that 'tidying the cubby' means throwing everything onto the verandah?!

Getting your shoes and socks wet and hanging them up to dry.

Two lots of these...with slightly different cuff colours so there's no fighting over whose is whose.

Small messy children being silly in their new fingerless gloves.

Ahhh, a quiet dandelion coffee...a few of these...definitely a requirement for school holidays.

And a whole day of this..........
Heading up to Lancelin for a day of Quadbiking.  "Are we there yet?!"  (apologies for dodgy attempt at a panorama).

Hmmm, we might get wet.........

1 hours and 20 minutes later, "YES, we are there yet"...glimpse of the sea.

Dunes at the Lancelin Off-road area.


Beloved showing off.  He's wishing he'd brought his bike up.

The little people.

Big Sis is a seasoned pro.

Straight up that hill.

Little one getting her gear sorted.

Beloved other half.


First time for the little one.  Concentrating hard.

But she picked it up very quickly...and daddy had to turn the throttle speed right down to stop her taking off across the dune!  Oh, dear, my daughters are going to take after their father.  Why couldn't I marry a man whose hobby was stamp collecting?  That's love for you!

I married a man who loves motorcycles.  Who is PASSIONATE about them.  Who can pull them apart and put them back together again.  Who has owned at least 15 in the time we've been together.  I know nothing about them.  To me, a motor vehicle is a thing that takes you from point A to point B, and the ones I like are generally slow and old Combi Camper vans.  Ahh well, we have other things in common! ;-)

Anyway, all back at school today.  I did manage some more on the quilty thing during all this, so will post progress pics soon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big thinks. And the Quilty thing...has a name.

This piece has actually always had a name, it's just that it wouldn't really be appropriate if I don't finish it the way I want to, and it doesn't become the wearable piece I'm envisioning.  I started it off thinking of it as a magical robe for a traveller.  A robe that can be taken off and placed on the ground to sit on, or wrapped around someone as they sleep, or hung up to make a windbreak, or a door for a tent.  I was thinking of Suibhne (or Sweeney), the mad King of Irish legend, who offended a priest and was cursed to spend the rest of his life living in the tree-tops among the birds, feathers in his hair, and never knowing the comfort of a warm bed, or a cup of mead, or a decent meal, or the company of his fellow humans again.  W.B. Yeats based his poem "The Madness of King Goll" on Suibhne.

But, my original idea of a feathered cloak of some kind seemed too difficult to create, whether using real feathers, or embroidered/appliqued ones.  And the colours I began to see, and the construction that began to form in my mind, didn't lend itself to Suibhne either.  So, as I've been thinking about travellers; nomads and gypsies, circuses and traveling theatres and such people, its name has turned out to be "Traveling Robe for a Vagabond King".  I hope I can finish it to live up to its name!

Top half added.  The base is a piece of linen/cotton, that began as a rather hideous lemon yellow, but has come out a rather gorgeous old gold after dyeing with ecalyptus leaves.  I must watch my horizontals though, I seem to be going up on the left a little.

And here's the bottom half again, almost done.  I'm going to encircle each purple velvet patch with red stitching, you can see the one on the far left has been done.

The second circle's embellishments.

There's that stitched purple patch in the top left, and others to be done.

Close-up.  I'll stitch the edges of each circle down when I've finished the embroidery, because I'm using it to just tuck the loose ends of the embellishments under at the moment.

I really need to do some painting, there are art competitions I want to enter, and yet I'm so focussed on this sewing piece that I can't seem to get into the painting mood.  Sometimes I think I need to settle down and focus on one thing, because my mind is always full of so much stuff that pulls me this way and that, I feel like I don't know if I'm coming or going.  I've often thought, I wish I could say 'I'm a watercolour artist' or 'I'm a pastel artist'...then I would be focussed on one thing (not to mention the advantages of not having boxes and boxes and BOXES full of all manner of 'arty/crafty stuff' that take up much too much space) and could actually become really good at it.  My mum teases me gently and tells me I have a 'grasshopper' brain, but I'm interested in so many things I can't help it.  And not just art either: literature, theatre, music, history, archaeology, myths and legends, science, psychology, religion, spirituality, ecology...and so much more.  I know I'm not peculiar in this, but goodness, sometimes it's TIRING!  Dirk Gently, Douglas Adams' wonderful 'holistic detective' put it so perfectly.  He believed in the 'fundamental interconnectedness of all things'.  And so do I.  So every documentary I watch, or book I read, or film, or newspaper article, or poem, or...whatever, becomes part of the bigger picture, and links into other things I've seen/heard/read to create new ideas, new possibilities in my mind.  Scientific discoveries link into things I've read about music, archaeological finds make me see that we can change how we behave today.  It's all a giant web, nothing exists in isolation.  If you do this thing, something else will be affected in ways we cannot predict.  If we do that small thing, it might cause enormous change elsewhere.

That's where creativity and imagination are so important.  We can never predict all outcomes, we can never be sure what the consequences will be, but if we can IMAGINE, we can see some of the paths ahead.  If you can imagine it, perhaps you can build it, without imagination, nothing can be created.  Without imagination and creativity, humans would still be living in caves.  Everything around us that is human-made, did not exist once.  It was an impossible thing dreamed up by some mad person who perhaps spent all their time day-dreaming and being told off for it.  And this is where artists (all artists, not just visual artists) live.  In that dreaming space, where anything is possible.  I've often contemplated the similarity between artist and magician, or shaman, or seer.  I wonder if those who painted the magnificent caves of Lascaux were told to 'get a proper job,' or whether they were the shamans who saw into the future for their people, and then DREW if for them so they could see it too? As an artist, it annoys me no end that many people see art as a frivolous luxury.  A couple of years ago, the federal Government here introduced some education reform, and identified priority areas to be tackled first.  The arts, any arts, were not included.  It would come later, along with all the other 'less important' stuff.  There was an outcry among the artistic community, as you would expect.  But reading comments in public debate forums appalled me.  So many people seemed to have the idea that art was just 'painting pretty pictures', music is just a pleasant hobby, dancing is silly, that it's all just pointless frivolity, and had no place in a serious curriculum.  And yet, almost everything around us is created by art.  You cannot build a skyscraper unless someone draws it first.  Or a car.  Or a chair.  What about films, advertising, TV, magazines, fashion, industrial design, town planning, maps?  None can exist without art.  Someone has the crazy idea, and then someone has to draw it to communicate that idea to others.  Nothing can be created without this.  Without art, writing would not exist, because writing began as pictures.  And what of literature and its role in human creation?  Many of the fanciful notions of H.G Wells and Jules Verne have become realities.  But if they had not imagined them, would humans have created those realities?  Can you imagine a world without music?  One of the most ancient human-made artifacts, over 35 000 years old in fact, is a delicate carved ivory flute.  The ability to imagine it, create it, then play it, is the same ability that created civilisation.  The arts foster imagination and creativity, seeing something that doesn't exist and seeing the way to make it exist.  So much research tells us that having arts in school curriculums will improve children's ability to do well in ALL subjects.  Artists are like explorers, they go ahead into the unknown and bring back knowledge to be shared with the rest of humanity.  They cut the path into the future, and bring back the pictures to show us what it looks like.  Hardly frivolous is it?

Sigh...I will hop down off my high-horse now, or my soap-box, or whatever it is that I'm standing on.  Living in a country that idolises footballers, and thinks artists are a waste of time does occasionally get me a little hot under the collar!

A little later....I just read all through that and thought, Phew!  Maybe I should leave on a lighter note.  So.............did you know that before I was a mermaid, I was a faery princess?  Well, just once.  A long time ago.  But I've still got Prince Charming!  :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've always wanted a treehouse....

Well, it's not quite a treehouse, but it's still pretty wonderful.  My very clever beloved did promise the 'super bedroom makeover' would all be done before Christmas, but with one thing and another, it didn't quite happen.  So it's still 'in progress' but we are getting there.  And the Fairy Shoemaker's blog post about getting her bedroom sorted out reminded me that I haven't posted a progress report recently, so here you go!

Here is the new gable roof line, replacing the old one and giving us a bit more headroom.  That's the front of the garage on the left, so as you can see, the view out of the old window wasn't exactly inspiring!  Of course, the new roof is all done by now.

Bed platform going in, looking towards the bedroom door, oh, and there's a very old and still unfinished painting leaning up against the wall in the hallway!  The stepladder will go up against this wall just inside the door.

Main support beams of the platform, and our little window.  The foil looking stuff is insulation.

The very clever husband doing some measuring...or something!  I'm glad to see he's actually wearing his Blundstones here...I'm always on at him to wear and use safety equipment.  Thongs (aka 'Flip-flops') are not terribly good if you put your circular saw down on your foot before it's stopped running!

Joists are in place, he's just securing them here.  Isn't that window beautiful...he's so clever!  By the way, all that flooring you can see will come up, it's just thin sheets of MDF board to protect the floor.  Which is gorgeous jarrah floorboards.  Very difficult and expensive to come by these days, but standard flooring when this little house was built in 1960.  Hmmm, where did the Blundies go?

I'm the King of the Castle (bare feet again...sigh!)...ceiling boards going in, platform floor is all done.  Just out of the photo to the right is the gorgeous (and incredibly SOLID) stepladder.  And this is about where we are today, he's hoping to finish the ceiling this weekend, and get the Sparky to come and put lights, switches and power-points in.  And THEN...we can move in!   We thought we'd live in it for a few weeks to get a feel for it, before we decide to decorate.  It's so incredibly different to how it was before it might take some getting used to!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Onion Skins and campfires, toffee apples and a bush Easter

So I am back in the 'burbs after a lovely couple of days down in the south west to visit my in-laws for Easter.  It has once again strengthened my resolve to make the big move, and perhaps next year, acquire a little slice of country paradise for ourselves, a place where our girls can run and play and get dirty and forget for days on end that such things as TV exist.

But first of all, on Good Friday we made some special eggs for gifts.  I haven't tried this before, but even though the eggs were quite brown to start with, they came out rather beautifully, though little fingers needed a bit of help to wrap the eggs in the onion skins and cloth and tie them off.  We tried wrapping herbs around the eggs first, but perhaps we need a little more practice to perfect a clear leaf print.  But we were still impressed with our efforts, and as a bonus, created 10 little squares of tie-dyed cotton voile!
Eggs bubbling away in the pot

The final results!

I have also been working on my Quilty thingy.  The plummy patches have all been stitched to the bottom semi-circle, with yarn squiggles sewn over the top.
The 'big' picture...with feet again!

Close-up of the yarn squiggles.

But then I decided that the purple squiggles got a bit lost against the background, so I decided to outline them in red...I think this is stem stitch, but don't quote me on it!
Close-up of outlining.

I took it all down with me on the weekend, and have added more squiggles and spirals, so more pictures to come.

And we stopped for afternoon tea on the way down for a pot of tea by a friend's campfire, and made the best toffee apples in the world.  These beat marshmallows hands down!
You do need a bit of patience though, they take about 10 minutes...and a good sturdy NON-POISONOUS stick!

The finished result...roast apple with apple flavoured good is that?!
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