Monday, December 31, 2007

Full-blown rose

0712 blown red rose, Cowra
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
And so the year has bloomed and is ending. Thank you to everyone who's read this blog, commented, and led that ticker to list 99 countries from which visitors have come (wonder when it will crack the magic 100!).

To burgle a line from Philip Larkin's poem, "The Trees":

Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Happy New Year. I wonder what it will hold, this fresh start?

(This photo was taken at the wonderful Cowra Rose Garden. It was such a windy day I was surprised how many photos were in focus. Bed after bed of colour and blooms. Just beautiful. Thanks be for how a digital camera and memory card allows you to be profligate with your photos.)

If you want a holiday film recommendation for tomorrow's public holiday, Enchanted was great fun as a meringue movie - kids would enjoy it, and adults would chuckle too.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sort-your-house books

If you are spending some time doing house sorting/tidying/chucking, and would like some inspiration, here are a couple of books on the topic: two I've read, one I plan to read.
  • Sorted by Lisanne Oliver
  • It's All too Much by Peter Walsh
  • The Not-So-Big Life: making room for what really matters by Sarah Susanka


Poem for the Day: Two
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

With this being the end of the year, and summer holidays, it always feels like a time to regroup, reconsider, to keep some things and let others go, revive some things and throw others out, refine, rechoose, review.

Although it likely happens everywhere, I was talking with an American friend, who's spent half her life in each hemisphere. She thought perhaps it's more so here, as there is that sense of a breath taken with the summer season as well as Christmas, so it's more of a break in time than the shortstop of Christmas and a return to the busyness of life in winter. I know that the charity/op-shops are busy collecting the fruit of people's sorting and tidying efforts in January.

I found this book in Canberra, and it's introducing me to new friends and reminding me of old. I'm working one poem into an article I'm writing at the moment, as it seems to sum this time, the project, the idea behind it.

On googling, I find that Sheenagh Pugh is less than thrilled with the (considerable) response her poem has received. You can read her thoughts on her website here.

But then, that's the catch, whether you write a poem or play or article or story or novel or blog entry, whether you make a quilt or a softie or a bracelet or a doll, and then let your work be published. You can't hold onto your own version as the only one, and you have to expect that others may find ways and meanings you never thought of and didn't anticipate.

I've seen some versions of my quilt designs that take the ideas to entirely new places in colours and fabrics. Not always colours or fabrics I'd have chosen, but isn't that part of the choice, in publishing? To let others travel the ideas along new paths? I think so. It's a grace and gift that they liked what you did enough to be inspired to play with the idea for themselves, in their place, for their purposes, in their lives.

So it's a shame that Sheenagh Pugh isn't so happy with how her poem has been used (although it would get up my nose too if someone PC'd my prose, changing 'man' to 'human being' for example, damaging the work's scansion and put my name to it...).

In Cynthia Voigt's series - well, not exactly a series, but a group that belongs together - of teenlit books beginning with Homecoming, then Dicey's Song, there's one called Come a Stranger.

One of my favourite scenes from that is where the main character, a girl, engineers a meeting between a man she admires and respects, and the boy who was named after an uncle who died in Vietnam, an uncle who was a childhood friend of the man's. She does so as a gift - but finds that the gift she wrapped, so to speak, is not the gift he unwraps. What matters most about the meeting for that man is not the young boy who never knew the uncle whose name he bears, but meeting the boy's grandmother, his friend's mother, and their common ground in speaking of the son who was his friend. Their common ground, their common loss. We can wrap a present, or publish something, but we cannot control its subsequent journey. The world is too big, people are too varied.

On the link above, Pugh gives permission for her poem to be reproduced on personal blogs, so here it is. However she feels about it now, I'm glad she wrote it, glad it's in the world, and in this anthology, and that we can read it and find a meaning in it for ourselves and our lives.

Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes, things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave a stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sydney Opera House

0712 Sydney Opera House
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Sometimes it's fun to spend a day being a tourist in your own city. And what could be more pleasant, on a sunny summer Saturday, than wandering down Circular Quay, around to the Opera House, up through the Botanical Gardens (very nice vegetable and fetta pizza at the cafe for lunch) and then taking a quick squizz at the August Sander exhibition?

August Sander set out to make a photographic 'atlas' of the German people, photographing all sorts of types - farmers and women, workmen and children, families and the old - over several decades in the first half of the twentieth century. Much of his work is housed in the Getty, in Los Angeles - this exhibition is on at the AGNSW till 3 February.

Exhibition link:

Scatterday Mosaic Letter Y

Scatterday Letter Y
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Third one for today and I'll be caught up on Scatterdays.

For the category Green, the colour is on the cover of You've Got Mail. Yellow is the colour of the dog in that film, and the colour of the cardboard, which is also part of Schooldays.

It's brief, but there you are.

This is today's, so I'm now up to date. Next week it's letter V and the categories are Car parts, Office items and In the kitchen.

Now to catch up on the last couple of weeks - if you haven't read this blog in a little while, or have wondered where the daily entries are, read down to find out....

Scatterday Mosaic Letter S

Scatterday Mosaic Letter S
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

A tad late, but here's another Scatterday (last week's one).

For Christmas, a sparkly Snowman, a Sparkly village of little houses and a Sign.

For Beverages, Sparkling mineral water.

For Medical, the Sparkling wine, also known in some of my circles as Fizzy Medicine.....

As to the DVDs, Sleepless in Seattle features Christmas and a Sneezy fiance due to his medical condition, Shadowlands has plenty of medical, also features Christmas and a brother rather fond of his beverages, while The Shawshank Redemption doesn't feature Christmas, that I remember, has a little medical due to violence, but at the beginning, it's overconsumption of a beverage in a car that causes some of the subsequent trouble.

Next Scatterday is letter Y with the categories Green, Schooldays and Animals.

Scatterday Mosaic Letter D (part 2)

...better late than.....

Devotion to Scatterday for Letter D led me to Dubbo, in central western NSW. Thus we have: for Touchy-feely, Double Delight roses (from the beautiful Cowra Rose Garden) and The Dish (radio telescope near Parkes), which is all about stuff in the air around. Or something. Besides, it was a special stop to get the photo, and it's a D, so it's here.
For Sewing, the Dubbo quilt shop, a Diamonds quilt in the Dubbo Museum and, also from there, the Dubbo Clairvoyant Fruiterer's embroidery. Is this the first clairvoyant fruiterer to feature in Scatterday?

For Vehicles, Dubbo's World Champion cyclist and three views of a Dray from Dubbo.

Done and dusted. Next Scatterday is letter S and the categories are Medical, Beverages and Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Right now the fruit shops are full of summer fruit - apricots and nectarines, peaches of many varieties, mangos reaching their ridiculously low summer prices, rockmelons and pineapples that are sweetly enticing, and more. But you still need to check the strawberries with your nose to see if their smell hints at their taste (I don't like boardy white tasteless strawberries).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Propiniquity? (and the best gingerbread recipe)

0712 No kidding?
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Yup, a sign of the season.

Been away for a couple of days, have a bunch of photos to share (Cowra has a wonderful rose garden, and what happened with the birds' nest, for starters, not forgetting Scatterdays) but today's task is gingerbread (biscuits/ cookies/ stars/ people, not the cakey sort). Catch up soon!



150g butter
3 level tablespoons golden syrup
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour and 1 cup self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 level teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1/2 level teaspoon ground cloves
pinch finely ground cardamom (optional)
1 egg and 1 egg yolk (save the left-over egg white for Royal Icing)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Put butter, golden syrup and sugar into a saucepan, beat to dissolve, then cool to lukewarm. Sift plain flour, SR flour, soda and spices intoa mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla and warm syrup mixture. Mix thoroughly.

Take about 1/3 of the mixture at a time and knead lightly using a little flour (not too much flour) then roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut out with Christmas cutters - hearts, stars, angels, sheep).Place on greased baking trays lined with baking paper and bake in a moderate oven (180 to 190 degrees Celsius) for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as they burn quickly after this time, and if overcooked the flavour will be spoilt. Remove from trays and cool.

Store in an airtight container. Serve them perfectly plain or decorate with Royal Icing. These biscuits keep for weeks and weeks in an airtight container. They're delicious with coffee or icecream and especially popular with young children. The recipe makes about 30 gingerbread people or 50 to 60 small hearts or stars.

And they'll make your kitchen smell like Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Corrugated iron angel

In front of the Anglican church in Mudgee was this delightful corrugated iron angel. Love this sort of inventive folk sculpture.

There was also a sign advertising their Christmas photo opportunity - not Santa, but Nativity photos. In a rural area like this, it wouldn't be too hard to conjure a cow or two, and some sheep - I wonder what they had planned. It sounded like such a good idea.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Dish, Parkes

0712 The Dish, Parkes
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Although I'd seen the film, The Dish, and knew of the radio telescope's role in the lunar landings, this was the first time I'd seen it for real, looming among the paddocks beside the highway outside Parkes, NSW. It's still an international astronomical facility.

(It wasn't easy to get a good photo - not so much because of the haze, but because of the relentless flies. It's tricky to focus a camera and stay still when they're crawling on your hands and face - you wave them away and they come right back.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

End of the school year

0712 school sign
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
21 December marks the end of the school year in NSW - it's a fresh year, everyone moves up a grade/year and the gloss and aroma of fresh stationery at the end of January. This would have to be one of the best, if not the best, school signs around marking the occasion. Happy holidays indeed!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nest - final mosaic

Nest mosaic 2
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
And so what happened with the nest? One day, a basking nestling in the sun. A couple of mornings later, a dead nestling on the ground, already food for ants. At least two nestlings remained, but a couple more days later, the nest was empty and abandoned.

It was good to have caught this brief time - they grew so quickly from pink and helpless to the survivors gone, flown away into their own brief lives. I first took photos on 11 December and photographed the empty nest on 20 December, less than two weeks later.

I thought about whether to post the dead nestling picture, and then thought, well, it's part of what really happened. One day, a nestling basking in the sun in such a delightful way, and then the attrition which is also part of the cycle. If it had still been alive, I'd have tried to put it back in the nest, but it must have fallen at night and not survived till morning (it's been an unusually cool December).

That section of vines will get pruned carefully, leaving the nest in place. Maybe it will be used again next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bandstand and palm

0712 bandstand, Forbes
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
In addition to a charming park with an iron-lace bandstand, Forbes has a lovely quilt shop. Karen's Cotton On Cottage, 52 Sherriff St, Forbes NSW 2871 is one I'd gladly revisit. Excellent range of fabrics and samples, such a helpful lady behind the counter, it was a pleasure to find. It can't be easy running a quilt shop in a small country town, but the palpable energy and enthusiasm were infectious.

(No, this is not a paid ad - just the commentary of an impressed first-time customer!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mudgee streetscape

0712 Mudgee streetscape
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Of all the Central West country towns visited on this trip, Mudgee was the most charming and seemed among the most prosperous.

It is bewildering to find that the local council is considering building a suck-em-in shopping mall in the town. As a tourist, I'm utterly uninterested in shopping malls and their predictable contents. But streets like those of Mudgee, with wonderful old buildings and a lovely variety of shops and businesses, not to mention cobbled laneways with cafes - why would you destroy that for a cookie-cutter predictable mall? In an area where they are clearly interested in tourism?

These wedding-cake Victorian buildings are in one of the main streets.

Monday, December 17, 2007


0712 dray
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The majestic size and fascinating craft of construction of this dray in the foyer of the Dubbo Museum meant it got photographed more than once. It stood pretty much 6 feet high, to the flat top, and was long too. Must have needed quite a team to haul it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Double Delight roses, Cowra

There's a spectacular rose garden at Cowra outside the visitors' centre, yards and yards and beds of blooms. I'm not normally such a fan of bicolour/edge-coloured roses like this Double Delight, but it was rather beautiful....

Saturday, December 15, 2007


At this very moment, the nine year old was about to claim victory - he had red, and I had black, and he had me trapped and beaten, whatever I did next. And was he pleased? Oh YES!!!!!

We had a family gathering today to celebrate Christmas, and it was a lovely day.

J.K. Rowling rare book on view at Amazon

JK Rowling wrote and illustrated (by hand, herself) a limited edition of seven copies of a book of Harry Potter-related fairy tales - all but one as presents for family/friends. The last one was auctioned at Sothebys, with the proceeds going to charity.

Amazon paid four million dollars (nearly two million pounds sterling) for it and is showing off this beautiful object (for such it is, with silver and moonstones and vellum and more) so the mug punters like you and I can see it too (maybe a lot more than if it had been bought by a private collector without commercial interests). is where you can see The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Her charity is one addressing the needs of vulnerable children in Europe.

Back in a few days - didn't get in enough of that basking...

Scatterday Mosaic Letter D (part 1)

Presented for your Scatterday Delectation this Day (a tad Delayed, and one of a Double-header, the second part of which will arrive later this week, for reasons which will then become clear)...

Letter D, categories Touchy-Feely, Sewing, Vehicles.

D is for Discoveries, like this bird's nest I've been watching this week, although the Touchy-Feely is observed through the camera rather than actual touching - look at those feathers....

D is for Digital camera, an essential Sewing tool for me now.

D is for Draughts (or Checkers, in US terminology, but a) I'm not American and b) it doesn't start with D), which proved itself a Vehicle of both Humiliation and Elation today. I got thoroughly done by a nine year old and then a seven year old - this is the moment before the nine year old's Victory Move (I was black and whatever I did, I was a goner!).

D is also for Dairy Milk Duo, a second entry under Touchy-Feely, the mouthfeel of chocolate (melting as it does) being legendary.

Next week the categories are Medical, Beverages and Christmas and the Letter is S.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nestling grows

0712 nestling
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
You have to look closely - find that beak near the middle of the photo and there you have it - they've grown so much in only a few days.

Basking looks like fun. Might try it myself. Back before Christmas.....

(with Scatterday/D, but it will be late. Happens.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Agapanthus (rain)

0712 agapanthus in bloom 5
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Yup, I keep walking past this bed of agapanthus and finding new reasons to photograph them...

There are two other shots in my photostream at Flickr - couldn't decide which I liked best.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Word of the Year

According to this article, Merriam-Webster (US) has decided that the word of the year is:


(and yes, that's with zeros instead of letter o). The article says: Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster Inc. said "w00t" — typically spelled with two zeros — reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text-messaging. It's like saying "yay," the dictionary said. "It could be after a triumph or for no reason at all," Merriam-Webster said.

Hello? Caity has been using this word like, FORevah, as the kids would say. Word of 2007?? (Caity's just ahead of her time? She's a techno-trailblazer!)

OK, another take, this time from OUP. Their word of 2007 is:


And the thing about this is that while the word itself is new to me, the concept is a friend of the idea explored in Barbara Kingsolver's book that I've been reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

To quote the OUP site: "Locavore” was coined two years ago by a group of four women in San Francisco who proposed that local residents should try to eat only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius. Other regional movements have emerged since then, though some groups refer to themselves as “localvores” rather than “locavores.” However it’s spelled, it’s a word to watch.

Just so you're really informed, here are their runners-up (I've faded back the definitions so you can see what you can guess before reading - just highlight them with your mouse to see the definitions):

aging in place: the process of growing older while living in one’s own residence, instead of having to move to a new home or community
bacn: email notifications, such as news alerts and social networking updates, that are considered more desirable than unwanted “spam” (coined at PodCamp Pittsburgh in Aug. 2007 and popularized in the blogging community)
cloudware: online applications, such as webmail, powered by massive data storage facilities, also called “cloud servers”
colony collapse disorder: a still-unexplained phenomenon resulting in the widespread disappearance of honeybees from beehives, first observed in late 2006
cougar: an older woman who romantically pursues younger men
MRAP vehicle: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, designed to protect troops from improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
mumblecore: an independent film movement featuring low-budget production, non-professional actors, and largely improvised dialogue
previvor: a person who has not been diagnosed with a form of cancer but has survived a genetic predisposition for cancer
social graph: the network of one’s friends and connections on social websites such as Facebook and Myspace
tase (or taze): to stun with a Taser (popularized by a Sep. 2007 incident in which a University of Florida student was filmed being stunned by a Taser at a public forum)
upcycling: the transformation of waste materials into something more useful or valuable


0712 bird's nest 06
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
In a brief moment when both parent birds were away, my camera crept through the vines (flash turned off) and this is what it caught. I know very little about baby birds, but these ones look pretty freshly hatched, to me.

If you recognise from the parent birds what sort these might be, please let me know in the comments. For now, mostly, I'm watching, and trying to catch what I can without intruding (yay for zoom, when its focus catches what you want it to catch).

Birds haven't nested in this spot before, to my knowledge. The vines won't get their pruning till the birds are grown and gone.

A pink beak

0712 bird's nest 04
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
See, in the centre of the picture? A pink beak, questing. As hard to catch as a dipping diving whale (look, there was one just there...!).

Another watchful eye

0712 bird's nest 05
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
They seem to take turns being there - while they swoop in front, they generally access it from behind, pushing through the vines. It was that rustling, and their swooping to and fro that caught my eye. And as you can see, papa bird is watchful too.

A watchful eye

0712 bird's nest 03
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Mostly, it isn't unattended: there's a still and watchful eye amid the vines - this one's the mama bird, I think.

That's not part of the vines

0712 bird's nest 01
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Tucked in among them is a nest. But mostly you don't see it like this.

What's there?

0712 bird's nest 02
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
In the centre of this photo is the wisp of a white feather, surrounded by vines.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Into the Wild

0712 Into the Wild
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Jon Krakauer wrote a brilliant piece of journalism in his work about Christopher McCandless, who went 'into the wild' in Alaska and did not return alive. He explored the ambiguities and meanings and difficulties of this young man's story with great writing. Sean Penn and his cast and crew have made a companion piece of equal quality in this film. Bravo.

And bravo to the McCandless family, who have let the story now twice be publicly told in ways that do not always flatter them, but that place truthtelling and honesty first.

If you haven't read the book, then do. If you haven't seen the film, then do. Each illuminates this story in different ways.

Roger Ebert's review is here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Agapanthus again

0712 agapanthus in bloom 2
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This time it's closer to blooming, the flowerhead opening out, the buds unfurling. They're such a wonderful part of summer (even if the version of summer we've been having has been cool and rainy - don't mind the cool, but gee whiz, you have to dry the washing sometime, and every day pretty much been rain and a thunderstorm. The dams are filling, though. But the washing still needs to be dried...).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas ornament: doll

0712 Christmas ornament: doll
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This is a decoration I made based on a pattern in a Kindred Spirits book. The head is based on a large button. It was a simple little design to make, although she turned out looking a trifle peeved. Faces are always the challenge, on cloth dolls: such little choices can create such different impressions.

The pile of presents under the tree is growing as Christmas gallops closer. The tree sits in a front window and is lit at night as a greeting to the street and passers-by, together with the fairy lights along the verandah.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Local Hero

0712 Local Hero
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I'm not sure when this came out on DVD - I haven't seen it before. It's been on my acquisitions list forever - one of those films which you know you'd like to have on DVD and you aren't necessarily actively hunting, it's just there in the back of your mind as a oneday findit. Watched it again last night, and it's still such a gem. Quietly witty, wonderfully acted, quirky and fun. If it's a while since you've seen it, then do yourself a favour and rent or buy it (J&B HiFi in Sydney had it for under $7).

Local Hero, Hamish Macbeth and SeaChange - what is it about little seaside towns that inspires such wonderful quirky comedies? And they're not fluff either, for all the fun they have.

Scatterday Mosaic Letter K

Scatterday Mosaic Letter K
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

K isn't the easiest letter, so it's been on my mind this week, between other things, and then when I assembled the photos I'd collected...

From the top, left to right: Letter K, followed by a photo of Kinokinuya bookshop in Sydney, a very Dangerous Thing. K&Co scrapbooking paper, from which I'm planning to make some Christmas presents (always a Dangerous Thing, planning Christmas presents when December's nearly half over...) and it includes Blue patterned papers. The K DVDs: King Arthur, with Dangerous Things like Love and Fighting and Slightly Mangled Myths; Kate and Leopold, largely similar except it's a romantic comedy, and A Knight's Tale, which is also largely similar AND a romantic comedy.

Next row: In the Neighbourhood, at an op shop, I present for your delectation Kilts, Knickknacks, Kitsch (no, I resisted temptation and left the clock in the shop) and a CD to assist you in Kicking up your heels (which can be Dangerous...). How good's that clock, though? Should you be watching the clock while meditating on Mary? It would seem somewhat discourteous...could it be Dangerous?

Next row: Blue Knitted blanket and Blue Kitchen utensils, interspersed with more items from the Neighbourhood op shop: Knitting patterns and Kit (aka clothes - and they're Blue too).

Next row: Dangerous Kitchen knives, Blue Kitchen enamelware, and In the Neighbourhood of a quilt shop you can find Koi fish (I also thought of the Japanese alphabets, isn't one at least a K word like Katagana?) and also Kit quilts.

Next row: In the Neighbourhood at the fruit and veg shop you can find Kumera, Kipfler potatoes and Kiwi fruit. And as hinted yesterday, King Island Cream elegantly covers all three, with its Blue lid, Dangerous nutritional label and being found In the Neighbourhood.

O-Kay. Roll on next week - although I won't promise anything so comprehensive...The letter is D and the categories - Sewing, Vehicles, Touchy Feely.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas ornament: kookaburra

Shows how much attention I'm paying (or how distracted I am) that I've posted the same Christmas decoration pic (with the crown) twice... So here's one of the Australiana decorations on the tree, a felt kookaburra.

Christmas decorations: crown and more

0712 Christmas decorations 01
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
There are three crowns on the tree, scattered through the branches. These are maybe resin? Solid little decorations, slightly exotic as crowns, and a nice allusion to the Nativity.

You can also see two more of the wild modern baubles. Very happy with them!

If you want a bunch of Christmas decorating ideas, Country Living has a new book out called Merry and Bright with lots of photos for inspiration. It's on Amazon and findable other places too, no doubt. Gorgeous cover.

Christmas sign #1

0712 Christmas sign #1
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Lots of good ideas on this, maybe some that could be added to the Advent list from a week or two ago.

Christmas sign #2

0712 Christmas sign #2
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This one's commercial, but clever... For those who don't know Lush their website is Handmade body and bath products from natural ingredients.

Scatterday Letter K (an early attempt)

This week's Scatterday categories are Blue Things, Dangerous Things and things In My Neighbourhood that start with the letter K. Is is cheating to find this all encapsulated in one photo????

The evidence, presented for your consideration: King Island Cream, with its Blue lid, a nutrition panel that will in one glance confirm its status as Dangerous, and ubiquity In My Neighbourhood....

Barack and the sock

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of Yarn Harlot has a lovely habit of taking photos of people with her 'travelling sock'. But she was one-upped quite comprehensively by another knitter who went to meeting attended by Barack Obama. Read about it here. Nutty and fabulous.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Japanese quilt fabrics

0712 Japanese quilt fabrics
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Isn't this a clever display? It was in a quilt shop in Mittagong, NSW. Rustic basket, a small (rice?) bowl and then fat quarters forming the spokes of a wheel. Di Mill's blog has had a bunch of display ideas for quilt shops recently, following her visit to Houston.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quilt binding and thimble

0712 quilt in progress
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This one's nearly finished, as you can see - just the rest of the binding and the label to go. The yellow/grey circle print, from Robyn Pandolph's Empress Woo collection, is the backing, and works well with the front. I don't necessarily aim to have the back and front of a quilt match, but I do like them to be friends, so to speak. Although sometimes it's fun if they're unlikely friends... It's headed for Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine for an issue in the first half of 2008. I haven't settled on a name yet.

This afternoon, I was visited bountifully by the thrifting fairies - I'll post a picture in the next day or two. Maggie Alderson in the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) had a wonderful article about thrifting and home decorating recently, (which I mentioned in this blog post and her principles included:
A) Channel what you need - you will probably find it
B) Think outside the box
C) Transform things
D) Never stop looking
E) Buy it when you see it

and in order:
A) I might have done this...I certainly gave the idea some thought. I knew what I wanted, and the dimensions dictated by the space into which it will go
B) I did, but burgling from a seed of an idea gleaned from somewhere I don't remember - ?blog ?magazine?
C) I will
D) I won't....
E) I did. This afternoon.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas decorations: homespun heart

0712 Christmas decorations 03
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Most years I've designed one decoration and mass-produced some for presents. This is from a couple of years ago - woollen fabrics and a slightly wonky elongated prim heart. I was very happy with how this one turned out - wish now that I had a few more of them. But I'm sure the others I made then are still in happy homes now.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas decorations: modern bauble

0712 Christmas decorations 02
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This is one of the modern baubles, and one of my favourites - I like that progression from turquoise to sharp lime, mediated through stripes of deep pink. These went onto the tree first, to stagger them through, then fill in with singleton decorations. A lot of modern decorations don't appeal, but these had a siren call (that was resisted until the post-Christmas sales, however).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Etsy finds

Although I'm not doing an entirely handmade Christmas (nuffink wrong with a book or five, they're still creative works...) I thought I'd post a few Etsy shop links here. It can be tricky, amongst the enormous choice, to find things you like.

Decor8, which is a fabulous blog for design/decor/homeware/craft ideas, pointed me in the direction of Raydel Photography (I particularly like The Bird in Hand image) and Irene Suchoki (love the blossom twig still lifes, and the black and white work) - dreamlike vintaged still life photography that suggests more than you can see in the frame.

Holly at Decor8 also did two fabulous roundups of 2008 calendars from various craft artworkers. Part One here, Part Two here. Letterpress, screenprinting, all sorts of ideas.

Pie Bird Press has letterpress cards in saturated colours with designs reminiscent of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, such as this Chard one and these Plums.

Nicquiltz has various artworks, but this linocut of Pretty Beach particularly caught my eye. I also like this Rose Thorns linocut by Winged Lion.

When you see the cost of some scrapbooking/collage/altered art embellishments, the array on Etsy is both vast and good value. Piddix sells lots of different collage sheets, including these vintage snowflake photos (taken by a lonely Northeastern farmer in 1900) and vintage Japanese wood blocks.

I'm fond of tags, and there are so many to choose from, like these shabby blue scrolls and these scalloped round ones. You can also find quirky vintage ephemera, such as vintage flash cards and more.

If you've got favourite Etsy shops, please leave their addresses/URLs in a comment.

I haven't put images here because I didn't want to burgle copyrighted ones, but the links will take you over to see the items.

Christmas decorations

0712 Christmas decorations 01
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I thought I'd give you some glimpses of the decorations. This is the big green tree. The big modern glass baubles are a more recent addition - about a dozen of them, every one different. There are three crowns, one for each wise man (and a find-them game for kids). The decorations are a mix of bought and made, and have been collected over the years.

And no, not everything from the box went onto the tree. Have to decide what is travelling on to a new home, and what might be kept for another year....

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Creating Christmas

0612 favourites mosaic
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Last year I made up this mosaic of favourite photographs from the year. Today, amid Christmas lists and letters and cards, I've been working out which pictures to include from 2007.

With the Flickrtoys Mosaic Maker, the easiest way to make one of these is to put your favourites into a new set in Flickr, then just put in the set's URL for the mosaic. Saves picking 24 separate photos...just organise them in the set in the order in which you want them to be in the mosaic.

I made this 4 columns x 6 rows, but be warned: if you get it printed at a standard commercial place, it may not exactly fit 4in x 6in printing (as I found last year) - you might find the edges shaved a tad.

Still, I put this into Christmas cards (pasted into the inside cover) as a window into 2006.

Now where did I put the soft little cone trees I made earlier this year?? They were inspired by this blog post... and see more pictures from Flickr here and here.

For a different sort of small cone tree, The Small Object has a pattern and pictures here and a fabric garland tutorial here.

How about making your own advent calendar? There's a pdf pattern here from SewMamaSew or check out Ali's boxes here and here.

SewMamaSew has a bunch of pictures and links for handmade gifts here, including a Wellness Bag.

Tomorrow we'll have to get out the big green tree and decorations - and switch on the fairy lights outside (cue annual puzzlement with that timer widget). It's only a modest display around the verandah, but it's a neighbourhood greeting all the same.

It's beginning....

For a Cath Kidston-inspired/red and sky blue and white Christmas decorating (just so fresh and clear, and a fun upside-down tree), check out the pictures on Happy Loves Rosie.

unexpected italics

Blogger has seen fit to italicise a whole bunch of posts. Apologies - can't see how to fix it. Hopefully normal transmission will happen soon - it can be rather annoying to read.

I've been backfilling, after a busy week, so there are a bunch of 'earlier' entries filling in the days that have been missing.

Scatterday Mosaic Letter M

Scatterday Mosaic Letter M
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This week's categories are Texture, Weapon and Hobby.

In the supermarket yesterday, the Metal trays for Christmas turkeys had a photographable texture (although would you put a heavy turkey in one of these? I'd be doubtful of their strength for anything bigger than a chook...).

I couldn't decide if the Moisturisers are about Texture, or Weapon (against ageing...) or both. ummmmmm......both!

Mockery is a Weapon, thus the books (Leunig, Borat, the New Yorker and more), and Merriment is also a Weapon (with a Christmas decoration saying Merry Christmas).

Miniatures are a Hobby (I bought the needlepoint cushion at a miniatures fair, the tiny work on it is eyestrainingly amazing.). Maybe this summer I'll more done on this house, although the journey is part of the fun and it will probably never be finished... a characteristic of most hobbies.

And the DVDs are back. Movies with Weapons! - Munich, Master and Commander, Memphis Belle. (Pennie's got her babushkas, I've got those useful DVDs....).

Next week's Scatterday categories: Blue Things, Dangerous Things and things In My Neighbourhood that start with the letter K.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Loot (books)

0712 book loot
Originally uploaded by
You know the way some bookshops and newsagents have tables of bargain books, at, say $5 each or 5 for $20? I hit paydirt on one of those this week. Sometimes you're lucky (there's usually a bunch of dross in there that you quite understand being at that price) and find books that otherwise would cost upwards of $20 each.

From the top...

I've read good things about John Dunning's 'book' mysteries, so pounced on this one. The Sterkarm Handshake I remember reading and enjoying some time ago from a library, so at this price, it can belong to this house's library. People keep saying how much they enjoy Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, so although this isn't the first in the series, it's a taste to see if they appeal to me. The House on Mulberry Street sounds like a gentle, easy read, a meringue book for a summer afternoon. Autumn Castle plays with ideas of faerie and again, at this price, I'll see how I like it. It's yonks since I read Sarah Paretsky, so again, I'll dabble. Not bad going for $25, wouldn't you say?

The Night Watch is a Russian vampire novel that was made into a film (which I haven't seen), but the book was highly recommended to me earlier this year. That reader had had to buy it in large format paperback from the US (hurrah for Amazon), but there I was with a book voucher and there it was on the shelf... It's quite dark, I believe, and there are at least two sequels, but I'll try this and see how it goes. I've read a few vampire books this year, inspired by Robin McKinley's brilliant Sunshine (probably my favourite book of the year), but nothing has come close to that one (although it's been an interesting excursion into genre fiction).

Earlier in the year I read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, knowing that The Golden Compass (which just premiered in the US - the link I've given here to the IMDB will give you links to reviews/release dates) was coming (this is the first book in the trilogy, published in England/Australia as Northern Lights, and the US as The Golden Compass). I wanted to read the books first. Again, they were from a library - but Angus and Robertson bookshops have the hardback of the trilogy, and the softback of the trilogy, at the excellent price of $29.95 (individually they're about $17 each in paperback and the compilations up to $60) and I wanted to read them again, so I snaffled up the opportunity. (No affiliations, but if you're in Australia, Angus and Robertson's online store has free delivery until mid-January, and apparently the trilogy in one cover is exclusive to them).

Both Sterkarm and Materials would be worth wafting in front of your teenagers, particularly if they like fantasy novels. Another fantasy series that lots of teenagers have been enjoying (well, the girls, for reasons that won't take you long to work out...) is by Stephanie Meyer - the vampire romances Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. The boys are impatient to read the second Skulduggery Pleasant book (due out around Easter 2008), if you want a boy recommendation (not that girls won't like it, they will too) - it's funny and clever and fun.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas presents

0712 Christmas presents
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
After some very productive late night shopping, the wrapping has begun, and the ticking off of names on the list. Still a long way to go, but this is a start...

I bought this wrapping paper at the end of last year in the sales, because I rather liked its colour scheme (I've made at least two blue and brown quilts this year...) and the designs/text on it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Welcome! (and a recipe for home made lemonade)

Hey, welcome if you've come from a link on Ali Edwards' blog, drawn by the mention of ideas for a summer Christmas. Lovely to read the comments from other hot Christmases - Guam, Johannesburg, Florida - and your ideas too.

I mentioned home made lemonade twice in that list - ah well, it's a family favourite.

So here's my grandmother's recipe. It's wonderful stuff. And I love that although she is someone I barely knew, since I was so young when she passed away, every time I read this recipe (6 lemons with good skins) and every time I make it, she's part of our days.

My Grandmother's Lemonade

6 lemons with good skins: use the rind of three & the juice of six
1 kg white sugar
25g citric acid (it comes in 50g tubs, so this is 1/2 tub)
3 pints water (boiling)

Grate the rind from three lemons using the fine holes on the grater. Squeeze the juice from all six lemons. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and citric acid in the boiling water. Stir in the lemon rind and juice. (You may choose to include one pip for authenticity.) Allow to cool before bottling.

Unlike many lemonade recipes, this makes a concentrate, like ordinary cordial, and should be diluted in the same proportions (usually 1 part cordial to 4 parts water). In hot weather, diluting it with 1/2 soda water and 1/2 plain water is very refreshing. It should be kept in the fridge and used within two to three weeks. My sister uses lemons from her tree in season, preparing the rind and juice and freezing these in correct amounts to use later in the year when her tree has no fruit and lemons are expensive.


0712 agapanthus 2
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
As the jacaranda's purples disappear amid their sprouting leaves, the agapanthus are about to burst forth. It must be summer...(well, it will officially be summer on 1 December).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Japanese quilt fabric

0712 Japanese quilt fabric
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Love these. Am much more likely to quilt with these than the rather unsubtle mod retro fabrics from yesterday. Look at that green! that blue!

(Actually, I just remembered that I have used some of these fabrics in a quilt. And there's a different quilt in the works with which the word 'subtle' will never be associated. Hmmm. Goldfish brain strikes again - look at that view, look at that view, as I do laps of the bowl.....)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Small world

0712 dollhouse interior
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The dining room of the 'modern' dollhouse. Still some work to do (cornice, skirting, that dresser looks a tad bare) but it's coming together. The wonderful needlepoint cushion was a miniatures fair buy (by someone with great patience). Elements of the room allude to a larger life: the Adirondack chair reminding of friends, the New York wall mural of a visit to that city, one of my absolute favourites.