Monday, April 30, 2007

Quinces & plums

0704 quinces and plums
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Autumn fruit. The quinces were a more yellow yellow than the greener yellow of earlier in their season (as seen here).

I liked the contrast of the two fruits side by side, the light-reflecting yellow of the quinces and the light-absorbing black of the plums.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


With a basic chipboard album (from Maya Road) and a selection of scrapbooking papers, I made this album for a friend. Her brother passed away recently, and I thought she'd like somewhere to put some photos of him.

There are step by step photos in a set here if you'd like a sorta kinda tutorial.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Surely not....


It's another SMH link, so after a couple of weeks it will either work or it won't.... Aha, they took the link down, maybe after they read the one below. If you want to read the original story, try the version here.

PS: a more likely version of events

greener (5)

One reason why junk calories are cheaper than healthy ones, why highly processed foods can cost less than fruit and vegetables - NY Times article You Are What You Grow here (wonder if it's the same reason here in Oz? Hmmmmm).

Be interesting to know the environmental impact of highly processed vs fruit and veg.

After the brilliant TV series, Jamie's School Dinners, about food in UK schools, it's unnerving to read that subsidised food programs in the US are promoting junk food ahead of healthy food. Which means on two counts that the opportunity to effect change is within the power of government.

From memory, you have to register (it's free) to read NY Times material online.

PS. The school canteen with which I'm best acquainted has completely revamped its offerings, in line with the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy. The profits from the canteen go towards the school's operations, via the Parents & Citizens Association, which runs the canteen. Over a year after the revamping, it is doing well - the managers have done remarkable work, and the new menu has been embraced by the student clientele. So dumping unhealthier foods for healthier (often, but not always, less processed ones) has paid off in more than one way.

Vintage wares mosaic

0704 Vintage wares mosaic
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

I'm not sure why I find this sort of stuff so engaging, but I do. The history? The wonder at times past, ways gone, ways of seeing that are different to what we do now? The stories it could tell and in its own way, does?

I picked up something from this market to furnish the (as yet unprogressed) studio, and I'm convinced from some thoughtful market research at op shops and junk shops that if I can't obtain most of what I'll need in terms of storage/tables etc from such sources, I'm not trying. It's greener, too. And I'll enjoy the quirkiness of it, this goes with that Because I Said So.

In one shop I visited today, I recently saw something I'd never seen before (of course, that can often happen, but this was particularly different) - a low trolley, a thick metal tube formed into a round-cornered rectangle. And the label said, "Piano Samson". I'd never heard this phrase, but isn't it logical? Piano moving is a specialist art, pianos are heavy beasts, and who better to name a specialist piano-moving trolley after than the biblical strong man, Samson?

Vintage things left behind today that I'd loved to have bought: a double Adirondack chair (sofa?) painted white, the paint now wearing a bit ($95); a green painted round table, kinda Arts and Crafts, solid and a handy size (36in diameter, 24in high) ($20); several terrific mid-twentieth century curved triple-fronted wardrobes, with a lick of paint and some shelves they'd be great studio storage (all under $100); two vintage dollhouses, needing cleaning up and a little work (under $30 each); several sturdy, steady four-seater wooden tables (between $50 and $100), some tin canisters with porcelain handles and lovely labels for tea and sago and suchlike ($48)...

I saved a fortune (but I do regret that round green table, it just wouldn't fit in the car - next car's got to be a station wagon!).

If you click on the mosaic, you'll be taken to a larger version so you can see details more clearly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Stitchery on red

0704 stitchery on red
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Out there in the land of craft blogs, the ripple-crochet bug is endemic. I've escaped it (no, I'm not going to look for my crochet hooks or spare wool) but perhaps this is a little cousin. It'll do me (too many other things to make and play with).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

His Dark Materials trilogy

One of the few advantages of having been knocked over by a nasty fluey cold is the chance to catch up on reading. Having had "Philip Pullman" and his "His Dark Materials" graze my consciousness several times recently, I've finally read the trilogy.

The first book in the series (Northern Lights in the UK, The Golden Compass in the US) has been filmed (don't hold your breath, it's not due out till December) but I wanted to explore the world in words first, let my mind imagine rather than just accepting the vision of the film-makers.

Not an 'easy' read - it's shelved among the teenage literature, but those wanting a quick read won't find this suits, it's too meaty and thoughtful. Pullman's interested in exploring ideas and isn't afraid to grapple with large ones. Great imagination in the side-shifts, a world like and yet unlike ours and well-drawn characters.

Good reading.

(Apparently the same editor was responsible for changing the first Harry Potter book's title and the first book in this series. I'm boggled. I've met plenty of intelligent Americans - it's hard to believe the US market couldn't have coped with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Northern Lights, instead of saddling them with a sorcerer's stone and golden compass).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

greener (4)

Fabulous, practical article from the fabulous, practical Jackie French, on how to grow your own fruit and veges, for the time-poor and space-poor, pointing out the carbon-cost of out of season imported fresh produce.

If you're interested, read it sooner rather than later, as the Herald can restrict content after a couple of weeks, and want you to pay. Right now, it's free.


0704 Anzac Day
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

A quick assemblage of Australiana - an Akubra hat, deee-licious Anzac biscuits and well, you either noticed the fabric background or you didn't.

Anzac Day, for those not in the Antipodes, marks the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers (ANZAC=Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915, to fight a vain, expensive front which cost thousands of lives on both sides, Allies and Turks.

And yet the way in which it was fought defined and defines Australia - it's a sacred day on the Australian calendar, a public holiday when many begin the day at dawn services - the Anzacs landed at dawn - and/or attend the marches which travel the streets of the land, from the largest cities to the smallest rural towns. In any Australian town, you'll find a war memorial dating from WW1.

Watching the huge Anzac Day march through Sydney, you notice again the faces getting older - no WW1 veterans, WW2 veterans in their 80s and 90s - and yet the subtle, appropriate infiltration of younger generations.

A daughter here, no longer in the first blush of youth, wearing medals not won by her, but part of her heritage, marching with those who knew the one for whom she marches.

A son, or maybe nephew, wearing medals and marching with much older men.

A child, wearing medals with that sense of pride and occasion children can summon, hand in hand with a grandfather on a day neither will forget.

A younger person marching with a large framed photograph, the face of the one who isn't there to march as is their due.

As the soldiers pass away, it is right that their places be taken by those whose lives exist and exist in freedom because of the soldiers' work and commitment. And thus the Anzac Day march through Sydney will march on always, down through the generations, and we will not forget.

After the march, the ABC televises the dawn service from Gallipoli and among all the words, those of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk always ring most truly, catch the heart.

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives.. you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.. You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now living in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

If you don't know about Gallipoli, one of the best introductions is this remarkable documentary: which I blogged about last year here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tree trunk

0704 old tree
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

A tree of many years. Maybe a Moreton Bay fig? There's a kind of massive, elephantine strength about its form.

There are several places around Sydney where you can find these trees in public parks - they seem so solid, strong, wise.

Many of those in Hyde Park in the city centre are being cut down as being too old and dangerous. You miss their presence, but see unexpected vistas; and it will be another generation that sees the park as we used to, by the time the next ones grow. Some tree planting can only be an act of faith and a gift to the future.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cake decorating

0704 RES cake decorating cabinet
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Another view from the Royal Easter Show, the cake decorating cabinet. It was surrounded all the time with a crowd moving slowly around, enjoying each work and the imaginations and craft skills on display. Kitsch? Who cares? It was fun!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Red shoes

0704 red shoes
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
She was standing in front in the Ikea checkout queue - I had my camera out for something else - ?a repetition of glasses or icecube containers or something - and then the screen framed this, and I thought, aha!

I'd already noticed the wonderful cherry-red. Was the skirt some sort of silk? And it was a stylish sort of get-up for Ikea, where most people dress down and in anticipation of the advertised more-than-a-kilometre distance if you take their pathway through the store (it's a full store, four times of the size of the one Sydney used to have).

There was just something about the cherry red, the skirt and shoes matching so matchily, her stance, the juxtaposition of this elegance and the functional, industrial-chic plain/not-plain concrete floor and the angle of the camera.

Ergo, snap. I like it. Do you?

(will this be one of those blog entries that ventures a question, only to find it had better be described as rhetorical, given the subsequent silence....?!)

Saturday, April 21, 2007


0704 Tibouchina
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The old botanical name is Lasiandra. Either way, their intense purple colour is an eye-drawing splash in suburban gardens right now. This is a taller one, possibly the 'Alstonville' variety.

I did play with the colours slightly - the light had made the purple in the photo paler than it really seems, so I brought it closer to the 'look at ME' purple you really see.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wisteria wall

0704 wisteria wall stencilling
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

A few years ago, after painting the inside of the house, I stencilled some of the walls. Lyn Le Grice's book, The Stencilled House, was one inspiration, Early American Stencils by Janet Waring another. As opposed to wallpaper, you can paint out your stencilling mistakes, but I also like the different effects you can produce.

I cut some stencils myself, and bought a couple of commercial ones.

This wall (in a very small room, 'nuff said) used a Jocasta Innes stencil pack - it included the cut stencils, but the layout using these elements was up to you. So I just started in one bottom corner and stencilled the branches of a wisteria up the wall, then added the flowers and leaves.

By the time I did this one I'd learned how little paint you should have on the brush (almost dry), I'd discovered adhesive spray (so the stencils stuck and bleed was minimal), I'd experimented enough to know about layering colours (for depth) and I was prepared to have fun covering a 3' x 8' wall with wisteria.

And I did. And several years later, it's still a pleasing corner of this home. I've also used stencilling on paper and fabric - it's a great craft technique.

In colonial America, stencilling was a cheaper option than wallpaper, executed by travelling artisans such as Moses Eaton. You can see a bunch of his designs here. While I'm happy with the freeform of the wisteria for a full (small) wall, I used some of this style in other rooms- love their simplicity.

Haven't painted over any of it.... (well, just to fix goofs!). While I can be inspired by Moses Eaton, I am an admirer, but not an imitator, of the early American wall murals of Rufus Porter. All part of my wider affection for the simple grace of early American colonial interiors.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


0704 proteas
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Working on creative things today, but have no photos of them, so instead, would you look at these beautiful proteas? Elegant, sculptural things, but softer than bird of paradise or heliconia, and wonderful greygreen leaves. Photographed at a market a couple of weeks ago - I meant to blog them sooner, but now they can have their moment in the sun. Lovely.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


0704 RES winning cakes
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
At the Royal Easter Show, only the winning cakes are on display, in this cabinet (higher up means better cake - top shelf are the first prize winners). You kinda sorta don't envy the judges.

I knew someone this year who was entering a couple of baking categories, and the amount of research and testing she did...

Sadly, she didn't win a prize, but she refined her (now new standard) chocolate cake recipe through her various test runs, and enjoyed the process. Which is what it's all about.

There's something domestic and beautiful about these rows of cakes, something vaguely and charmingly fifties-tea-party about the categories and baking on display.

(It's always better to visit this in the first week of the show than the second, when the effects of time can start to appear on items such as these, with limited life span.... 'nuff said!).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


0704 white cane baskets Ikea
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The to-do list is building up like these baskets, or so it feels. One quilt off to the quilter, more deadlines to meet for work, for quilts, for other commitments....lots to get done. Which is, of course, precisely when a fluey head cold gets ahold of you, to wooze your brain and occupy you with sneezing and nose blowing and feeling generally weary.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Autumn ivy

0704 ivy in autumn/fall
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Boston ivy, I think. But it covered an old stone wall, shading from summer green to autumn rose, and still holding some drops from the earlier rain.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Saturday soccer hockneyized
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
They won 4-2 against a team that certainly challenged them, and he played well. A fine, cheerful, restful way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in autumn.

(The 'hockneyized' effect of this is done with the Hockneyizer at fd's Flickr toys).

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Birthday cake

0704 birthday cake
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It's pretty cool when you've just arrived at double figures, and your older sister has the imagination and creativity to make you a Lord of the Rings birthday cake - Mount Doom, a battlefield with the fallen - it's a masterpiece!

Looked great with the sparklers lit, too.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thanks, Caity!

The ever-inspirational Caity has just been very nice. Thanks, Caity! I was pleased with it, too. (And this answers a question Candy asked the other week - hi Candy!)

Robin Hood

Having noted its production dates in the fifties, I can assure you that it was on repeats of repeats on black and white TV in the late 1960s that I watched Richard Greene's Robin Hood.

Besotted wasn't the word. I had read Roger Lancelyn Green's version of the Robin Hood story (published by Puffin, the omnipresent books of my childhood). Here, on black and white TV, it all came to life. I can't remember noticing it being stagey, although looking at the stills on this page, I'm sure it was.

Errol Flynn's version I've of course seen (I'm sure they speeded up the swordfight!).

Robin McKinley wrote a good version in her book Outlaws of Sherwood (but then Robin McKinley's reliably good).

There were a couple of films in ?the 1990s, Kevin Costner battling Alan Rickman, who much as I love his work in Truly Madly Deeply, certainly chewed the scenery as the Sheriff; and another, rather overwhelmed by the Costner juggernaut one, which wasn't at all bad.

And now it's been revisited, with Jonas Stapleton as Robin in a new TV series.

According to some who've observed the costumes and style of it, this presents 'Robin Hoodie'. One of the episodes is called, Who Shot the Sheriff? so it sounds as though the writers had fun (it's not a comedy, though, in case that misleads you).

It looks, in this pic, as though he's still working out his archery technique, but the reviews are good and it starts on ABCTV on Sunday night.

This house will be unavailable for contact at that time....

ABC program information here.

On an utter detour, I still remember chuckling when a (rather portly, business-suited) former childhood idol, Richard Greene, was the guest on a Morecombe and Wise show (I'm still showing my age, aren't I?) and managed to cheerfully put up with Eric Morecombe popping onto the set at frequent intervals with a manic grin, parping out the 'tum-tiddly-um-tum-tum' trumpet call that started the theme music (Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen/Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men/Feared by the bad, loved by the good/Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood). Gosh. Some things just adhere in dark forgotten corners of your brain. Although I didn't know until this research that Paul Eddington (The Good Life, Yes Minister etc) played Will Scarlet in some episode of the Richard Greene series. (Ye gods. There's an image I don't want to dwell on!)

Picture sources: Richard Greene here, Jonas Stapleton here.

PS Candy points out in the comments that there's also a mooted film project with Russell Crowe as a good-guy Sheriff of Nottingham (presumably, not chewing the scenery) - that sounds worth seeing too. More information here. Thanks, Candy!


0704 Royal Easter Show trophy
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

At the Royal Easter Show, trophies are just a part of what is an enormous agricultural show/extravaganza that's been a part of Sydney for well over a century.

More pix later (I took over 200....) - the admirable and the quirky.

The Royal's website is It's on till next Wednesday.

A couple of food notes.

We were hugely amused at lunchtime when an Asian family started unpacking their picnic - we were looking forward to being amazed at their cuisine, Asian food can be so good for picnics. Out came a loaf of wholemeal bread and...tins of baked beans. Baked bean sandwiches. O-kay. So much for assumptions! (It's ages since I had a baked bean sandwiches - not the easiest thing to eat, but filling).

If you're going to the show, foodwise the best value is in the Fresh Food pavilion - you could assemble a yummy lunch from there, fresh bread and cheese and salads and other good things - at a price far more reasonable than the (inflated, as usual) expensive offerings from the food stalls outside (fried this, deep fried that and, of course, Dagwood Dogs, deep fried battered hot dogs, a show tradition...). A meat pie was $4, some burgers $8 and upwards. I got a cranberry and vegetable salad and a bottle of water for $4.50. Bargain. And not just financially.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


0704 reflection
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
What's Ikea's gift to the world? Multiplication, dozens of items and dozens of each, design that's usually functional or thought-about (with occasional flashes of what-the?).

This pulled my camera out almost instantly. It's magic, amid the repetition (and I'm not knocking repetition, you can tell from other photos I've taken that I like it, let alone being a quilter).

Just look. Identical glass jars with identical silvery tops, lined up on shelves - and with the slight shifts in the fall of light on each, they're casting reflections as individual as snowflakes on the wall. Wonderful swirly circles, no two the same.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


0704 smaller modern quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
A smaller quilt with modern fabrics including Belle by Amy Butler and Freshcut by Heather Bailey. I'm finishing a larger one with these fabrics - this 'pup' arose because I goofed and then turned 'lemons' into 'lemonade'. It was a useful and happy goof.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

Skulduggery Pleasant

0704 Skulduggery Pleasant book
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

You heard it here first, maybe - but this is a corker, an excellent read with snappy, witty dialogue. Share it with your nearest upper primary/lower secondary kids, or savour it yourself. Skulduggery Pleasant is a detective, and a skeleton, and along with Stephanie (age 12) sets out to solve her uncle's murder and, of course, save the world, which, of course, involves a powerful magical object and villains who have to be faced with courage.

Irish writer Derek Landy has done a fabulous job of conjuring a fresh fantasy world (lurking behind modern Dublin), inhabiting it with an inventive and original collection of characters and sharing the fun of it. Two more books are apparently under contract, with others possible after that.

One hesitates to say "the next Harry Potter" but I hope this finds the audience it deserves, and who deserve it. The story is driven far more by dialogue than Rowling's books, where the narrative voice is such a pleasure - here, it's the smartmouth exchanges that power the story.

There is a Skulduggery Pleasant website at and an interview with Derek Landy here, an article in The Times here and a review from The Guardian here.

Blow that. Just go buy a copy and read it. If you don't like it (or if you do) then give it to your nearest school or local library, where it will surely find friends. It's fun.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What's in season?

0704 "Fruit Ute"
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
From a weekend market, a great 'snapshot' of what's in season right now.

(All that's missing, on Easter Sunday, is Easter eggs....)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Red Cross pins/badges

0704 Red Cross pins/badges
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
From a secondhand/ junk market stall, a vintage collection of badges. Despite rainy weather, it was still fun to peruse the stalls and see what was on offer.

Lunch, as always at this particular Easter fair, was a hot baked potato with bacon, mushroom, sour cream, coleslaw, butter, fresh herbs and grated cheese. Excellent tucker on a damp and chilly day.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Casino Royale

0704 Casino Royale DVD
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Back in December, it was top stuff in the cinema.

This, my friends, is a corker. Wonderful escapist stuff - parkour chases, car chases, budgie smugglers, the lot! Head on down to your local cinema, buy yourself a choc-top and enjoy. Daniel Craig nails the role of Bond brilliantly.

And it's just as much fun now it's out on DVD in Oz, although you have to plan ahead for the choc-tops. Why face the Good Friday cinema crowds (apparently it's the biggest day of the year for the multiplexes) when there's quilting to be done at home and such good company?!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter bilby

0704 Easter bilby
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Some Australian manufacturers produce bilbies for Easter, instead of bunnies, as the bilby is endangered native fauna. But the best ones also support efforts to preserve the real, furry bilbies.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth / El Laberinto del Fauno

Absolutely worth seeing (even if I shut my eyes in a couple of places). Remarkable imagination. Glad to have seen it.
A fairy tale, but definitely not one for children. The world of wartime Spain and the world of Ofelia's quest are both dangerous worlds, as so many of the worlds of unsanitised fairy tales are.
You get accustomed to knowing, without even thinking about it, the story arcs used in Australian or American or Canadian or British films, and then you see something like this, which ranges into territory you can't predict. So you live in the film's time, moment by moment, caught in your seat by engagement, terror, wonder.
Image source is the English language website of the film, which has a bunch of freebies including the English translation of the screenplay as a .pdf.

Yellow quilt

0704 yellow quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Assorted y ellow shirts have become a yellow quilt, along with some Les Olivades fabric I fortuitously found as a child's pinafore in an op shop (after I virtuously passed on the Les O. sale, sorely tempted though I was)..

It's a sunny, cheerful one, quilted enough but not too much, so it stays soft. While uber-freemotion can be grand and wonderful, all those lines of stitching do stiffen up a quilt. This one, with the softness of recycled fabrics and the right amount of quilting, will be good as an everyday sofa quilt as the cooler days of autumn (hurrah! hurray!) come upon us.

It's amusing, reading northern hemisphere blogs welcoming spring, while here, exhausted from summer, we're glad to have autumn.

PS. In response to comments, this may have had something to do with the design of the quilt - and I didn't think of calling it Daffodil something, but maybe I should. A field of daffodils is a wonderful thing (it's bulb catalogue time here, planning for what may come). I'm coming to the opinion that yellow can be like red, in quilting - all reds go together, and yellows various seem pretty happy too. And greens work, and blues...maybe sometimes we assume rather than exploring. Yellow's a harder colour to wear as clothes, perhaps that influences quilters (actually, I do believe clothing colours influence quilters, when they shouldn't, unless wearable clothing's your thing).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Florence Broadhurst fabric

0704 Florence Broadhurst fabric
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The story of Florence Broadhurst, who invented and reinvented herself (leaving her rural Australian childhood far behind) is a remarkable one. You'll find a version in Gillian Armstrong's inventive docficfilm, Unfolding Florence.

In the latter part of her life, she was the designer of lush and amazing fabric and wallpaper designs. Her designs are now produced by Signature Prints, and are Not Cheap. Beautiful, desirable, amazing, stratospheric.

But occasionally you luck out, and find a weekend sale. Well, $40/m is still not cheap by any measure (even if some quilt fabrics run at $30/m or more here in Oz, eg. some Japanese ones and Amy Butler ones on heavier fabric) , but it's distinctly different to $140/m and on into the stratosphere. The fabric quality is heavy weight, high, the fabrics apparently 'baked' after being screened. Probably better for bags, certainly the orange and the blue.

But having learned a bit about her life, enjoyed the film and admired the fabrics, it's nice to own a little bit to play with.

More about Florence Broadhurst here and here and here.

Monday, April 02, 2007


0703 Martians?
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Are they coming, advancing from the dark, the aliens who watch us although we are unaware????

(nope, these aren't Spooky Alien Pods, they're starfruit)

(but you knew that, didn't you?)

[Why is it almost always Martians, not Venusians or Saturnians?]

Sunday, April 01, 2007


0703 pumpkins
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Just love the variety - shape, colourings. But for soup, my preference is butternut pumpkin (with a leetle bit of curry, a trick I learned from a friend, and garlic and good chicken stock, bayleaves, nutmeg, all building up subtle flavour). Hmmm. As the weather cools, pumpkin soup sounds GOOD. Maybe over Easter.