Thursday, May 31, 2007

The first quilt I ever made

An internet mailing list I belong to has been talking about the first quilt you made.

Way back in 1980, after some smaller ventures into patchwork, I pieced this by machine and quilted it by hand (on a quilt frame made by my dad), as a gift for my sister.

I LOVE that so many more fabrics are available now!
This quilt did everything it was meant to do - it said "I love you" and still keeps my sister and her family warm (it's a sofa/TV quilt now, still in use - they have quilts I've made more recently, too).
So, Caity, I've taken up your challenge. Any more for any more? Let me know in the comments if I can go and see your first quilt.
(Am I embarrassed? No - just realising how much I've learned and how long ago that seems, and how I still like simple designs and how it's the most handquilting I've done on anything but one other quilt...).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Street light

0705 street light
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I looked at this the other evening, and thought how little I know about it. I've no idea what the wires all do, why they're attached at different levels, or curled, or with a second wire. On the one hand, they're a tad untidy - but only because I'm ignorant. I look at it and assume that everything is in its right place, even if this pattern in the world is obscure to me. The street light is shining. The houses have electricity. The phones were working. It's an immensely ordinary part of the world, but it's beautiful - the light, the deep blue, the silhouetted black. And it's real, a part of the everyday world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


0705 sky
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
(So all she has time to do is photograph the sky at day's end?)

[Seems so].

(She must be busy).

[She is] .

(Maybe she'll have something different tomorrow?)

[Maybe. But this sky's kinda neat. Look at those clouds].

(You're not wrong. It was a good evening for clouds).

Monday, May 28, 2007


0705 evening sky
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
A smudging of clouds, that day's end blue, light fading. And the powerlines, because that's how the world really looks - and I kinda liked the effect of the sky sieved through them, the contrast of their machine-made precision against a changing sky.

I'm sure this had nothing whatever to do with the fact that the quilt fabrics I pulled out this evening were blues...

Favourites May 2007

Favourites May 2007
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
These are favourites from other photographers on Flickr, just in case this blog has been a bit word-heavy the last couple of days. My camera's been quiet, but this lot - well, omnia's cacti negatives are brilliant, but all of the photos speak to me. If you click on the image and go to the mosaic in my photostream you'll be able to track back to the original photographs and photographers.

It was interesting how they paired up - only the bottom two are from the same photographer, but there's a commonality in each row.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Current reading

0705 Current reading
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
A thriller, a memoir and an extrapolation. The current bedside table pile.

Today's wish: I wish the Skype headset microphone would be consistently consistent. But at least it works a bit.

5 blogs that make me think

I've been tagged for this meme (it's Meme Week here at patterning the world!) so here goes:

  1. Omnia, whose photographs are astounding - she has the most wonderful eye and catches simplicity with grace and imagination (this is a photostream, not a blog. I'm breaking the rules already.)
  2. Posie Gets Cozy and Yarnstorm - one in the US, one in the UK, both finding gracenotes in everyday life, creativity and inspiration (two in one, I'm cheating again. Phooey).
  3. Prairie Home Companion podcast - the subtle, witty, knife-accurate but warm observations of humanity in Garrison Keillor's stories are sharp and real and delightful (it's a podcast, not a blog - can't I follow any rules?)
  4. Smart Bitches Trashy Books - quite apart from the entries (no knife untwisted snarkery!) the comments create a place where, despite or perhaps because of the genre and the blog's readers, discussions can range into fascinating sociological analysis. Then again, maybe I just love a weekly snicker at the covers they find. (Hey, this one's a blog!)
  5. Caityquilter - over years I have remained amazed at the breadth and imagination of what Caity catches in her wide-cast net - craft, textiles, books, computery (another blog!)
  6. Library Bytes - how to change the world, one library at a time. Her Library 2.0 program is simple and brilliant. (Three blogs in a row - I'm on a roll! Sad that I can't count to five, but there you go.)

Tagging. Geez Louise, it's so much easier to say, hey, if this floats your boat, then pick it up and run with it. Nail your colours to the mast. (and bing a note in the comments so I can go and read your list).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The other quilt meme

And then there's the Bad Quilt Meme created by Tanya. Same rules: bold for done it, italic for ambition (ha, with this one?) and blank for nope, not yet.

  • Made a quilt with no knowledge, no skills, and no understanding that either are needed
  • Created an abomination and (at the time) was proud of it
  • Created a quilt that was so hideous it made people or animals go blind
  • Had relatives throw a quilt you made outside in the muddy yard for the dogs to chew (if so, I don't know, thanks be)
  • Used severely mismatched fabric weights when piecing, for example, heavyweight denim and lightweight cotton
  • Didn't pre-wash fabrics and later had them bleed all over the finished quilt
  • Used badly mismatched needle and bobbin thread
  • Puckered seams
  • Misaligned pieces
  • Ugly colors
  • Polyester fabrics that pilled
  • Thick, scratchy polyester double knit fabrics
  • Batting that bearded up through the fabric
  • Free-motion quilting whose stitch size changed radically from stitch to stitch
  • Huge bird's nests of bobbin thread that clogged the throat plate of the machine and broke the needle
  • Cluelessly attempted to stitch with a broken needle for several moments, thus perforating the quilt
  • Made stitches big enough to put your big toe through
  • Quilting lines that were about 6" apart and allowed - nay, begged! - the stuffing to migrate and bunch up
  • Finished quilts that weren't "square" and/or were badly blocked
  • Quilt tops that wouldn't lay flat, that had a "volcano" in the middle or perceptible ripple
  • Backing that bunched up while quilting, leaving a portion of the batting uncovered. ("Surprise!")
  • Hand-tied a quilt with heavy crochet or regular yarn, which required a really huge-eyed needle which left giant holes in the quilt
  • Erroneously equated a quilt with a blanket, and "finished" the edge of the quilt with a blanket stitch using scratchy acrylic yarn. (See previous item)
  • Had to use pliers to force the needle through the quilt, yet didn't understand that this might be a sign that something was fundamentally wrong
  • Backed with a 100 thread count bed sheet. (Extra points for polyester)
  • Quilted with fishing line
  • Bled/sneezed/spilled coffee on a large section of quilt while making it
  • Had people compare your quilt to one they saw at Wal-Mart
  • Finished a quilt and only then realized that you hated it
  • Gave a quilt to someone and had them be speechless - and not in a good way (it's unlikely to ever fade, since it's kept in a cupboard and rarely sees the light of day - and when it DOES, it's put out patchwork side down. It's not an 'orrible quilt either...)
  • Trimmed loose threads on a gift quilt at the last minute and cut a hole through the top. (Thanks to SusanInStitches for this addition.)
  • Sewed one or more fingers to the quilt, then had to carry the sewing machine and quilt around the house while looking for a screwdriver to remove the needle.
  • Created appliques with satin-stitched edges, which after a shamefully brief time became frayed-edge appliques that flapped their way free of the quilt.
  • Referred to your sewing machine's 'lint storage area' or 'felt pad' (I only referred to it as a lint storage area to see if Caity really would go into orbit...she just gave me The Look instead)

I should add that one of my favourite vintage quilts from eBay is so remarkably abominable that it gives confidence to even beginner quilters. I bought it for the design idea - and am perfectly happy to own it. And that I dislike intensely that the Quilt Police kybosh some people's quilting in utterly unreasonable ways. A friend of mine makes quilts in completely different ways to me, we diverge on pretty much everything about how we quilt - batting thickness, choice of fabrics, methods of attaching applique, you name it. But you know what? We're both having fun and making quilts that make us happy, and that's all that matters in the end.


0705 Product Red by Converse
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
My small contribution to Red leather Converse boots (gymboots, we called 'em in my yoof). Comfortable, fun (red is such a good shoe colour) and meant for me. The shop had one pair left, and it was in my size. I'd forgotten the comfortable clasp of the gymboot around your ankle..

7 Random Things about me meme

Kirsty tagged me for this one and after some thought...I'm not sure if my answers will be any better than if they'd been done with no thought... (Apparently I'm mysterious).

1. Apropos of Rupert Brooke: he was the favourite poet of my teenage years. I can still (and have been known to startle children with this remarkable talent) recite The Soldier (If I should die, think only this of me, that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England...). I can also recite Yeats' When You Are Old (both learned electively) and, because of school, I must go down to the sea again.. (Sea Fever by John Masefield). It's an odd, slightly melancholy collection, now I think of it.

2. Apparently I'm mysterious. First time for everything! (But you can tell so much about me from the blog! Colour! Pattern! Obsession with well-lit fruit and veg shops!)

3. I have enough books to startle removalists. Most people apparently have one bookcase, with three 3' long shelves. There are nine 6' tall bookcases in this house. Not much space in any of them. I've been a reader all my life (read to as a baby, learned to read young). Currently in play: March, The Tenderness of Wolves, Marlena di Blasi's latest Italian memoir and the two most recent issue of Romantic Homes.

4. I'm working on some patterns to self-publish: still weighing up the book of patterns vs. individual patterns. Shops apparently like the individual ones because they lend themselves more readily to kitting. I like the idea of a book. I've had a bunch of patterns published in magazines, but I'd like to self-publish too.

5. I still haven't filled my little iPod shuffle, and have had it how long? Maybe because I'm only putting songs I really like on it, not every album I own (it can only hold 120 songs anyway). Recent additions include Vienna/Billy Joel, You know my name/Chris Cornell, There is a redeemer/Keith Green, BSUR/James Taylor, The book of love/Magnetic Fields (I wanted Peter Gabriel, but it's not on iTunes), Close as a whisper/Lee Kernaghan, One of us/Joan Osborne, Affirmation/Savage Garden, Forever young/Youth Group. No idea what sort of sense you can make of that eclectic lot, apart from the fact that I'm a cherrypicker.

6. My mobile phone (cell phone) is more likely to have a flat battery than not. Just don't use it much, or remember to keep it charged...

7. The blog that makes me laugh the most right now is this one. And the discussions in the comments can be fascinating and insightful. True. Doesn't matter whether or not you read that genre. Love the way the internet lets niches like this have a meeting place.

8. At a Thai restaurant, I'm most likely to order Mussaman beef and Sweet and sour pork, Thai style (this isn't a vicious pink dish).

9. I write a column for an Australian monthly craft magazine, transforming op-shop finds...and have enough possible projects for oh, another year or two already...

10. Quilt commissions are something I find very challenging - my design/construction process is not especially amenable to the direction of others. Patterns/pattern commissions are fine, but not so easy is someone saying, these fabrics, this pattern, arranged this way, big enough to be a bedspread...something inside shrivels under such constraints.

11. I don't always keep within the specified parameters (eg. writing only 7 random things).

There you go, Kirsty!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

0705 Country diary
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I remember when this first came out, loved it then for its gentle, observant watercolours. On doing some googling, I find it's thirty years since its first publication, and 101 since Edith Holden recorded 1906. It's a blog of its time. I came across this in an op shop and couldn't leave it there, although I have my original copy and a copy of the subsequent biography.

I wonder, a century from now, which blogs will have survived as records of what our eyes see in the world around us.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quilt meme

This one's via Nola/Inch by Inch Textiles and Caity. What you've done in bold, what you want to do in italic, the rest plain.
  • nine patch still love 'em
  • log cabin natch.
  • curved piecing by hand (not me - there's always an easier way!)
  • curved piecing by machine
  • hand applique [ needle turned ]
  • hand applique tacked edges
  • hand applique with fusible / blanket stitch
  • reverse applique [ hand or machine ]
  • Afro-American improvisational style quilt Gee's Bend quilts are among my everlasting inspirations.
  • Tivaevae
  • machine applique
  • trapunto
  • whole cloth
  • english paper piecing by hand not fun..not.Machine is good.
  • american piecing by hand
  • american piecing by machine
  • strip or string piecing specially with thrifted fabrics such as op-shop shirts
  • kaleidoscope or mandala [ not stack and whack]
  • stencilled quilt
  • hand quilting under duress, mostly.
  • machine quilting
  • McTavishing
  • quilted commercially with a longarm machine (that's what brilliant machine quilters like Kim Bradley and Suzy Atkins and Nicole Bridges are for)
  • 3D folded flowers
  • made a quilt on commission found it challenging.
  • sold a quilt other than a commission piece
  • taught quilting at any level
  • stack and whack
  • stack and slash
  • Anjii's Angles
  • embellished with embroidery, beads, etc
  • celtic applique / bias work
  • Amish style quilt
  • Cathedral Windows
  • stained glass quilt [ any method ]
  • had an original design published um - several...
  • written a quilt book (I've had patterns in several)
  • scrap quilt quilts! lots! love scrap quilts!
  • baltimore applique
  • sampler quilt
  • japanese design
  • foundation piecing
  • crazy patchwork
  • silk fabrics
  • cotton fabrics
  • woollen fabrics
  • colourwash
  • row by row
  • 1930s or feedsack fabric
  • 1880s reproduction fabric
  • tea cosy
  • item for an animal (under duress...)
  • hand dyed fabric [ yours or someone else's] both
  • round robin
  • quilt-as-you-go
  • non-traditional quilt
  • traditional quilt
  • miniature
  • full sized bed quilt
  • sashiko
  • seminole
  • quillow
  • bag
  • patchwork or quilted clothing
  • pillow
  • christmas themed, [ quilt, wallhanging, stocking, etc ]
  • medallion quilt a favourite form
  • raffle quilt [ all or part ] the bushfire brigade got a new kitchen sink and cupboards!
  • I-spy
  • baby quilt
  • landscape quilt
  • participated in a group challenge several, including a great annual one
  • exhibited a quilt overseas the US and France...
  • made a prize winning quilt

Now, who to tag? Brenda! Lynelle! Kirsty! Sarah & Kathy! And YOU, if you quilt - leave a note in the comments so I can enjoy your version.

As Nola remarked, it's amazing to see how much you've done, when you tick 'em off like this...


0705 dusk, one tree 02
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

The sun left quietly this evening. In the east, there was a band of blue at the horizon, soft pink above that, and then more blue. It tweaked my mind to a Rupert Brooke poem. I can still recite The Soldier after choosing to learn it in my teenage years, but this was another, prompted by the fading light and gently layered sky. The hills to the west were dark blue against a warm yellow, slowly leaching of colour, but the east was the one my camera could catch, or try to. Something about half light, and then, colour it is... (read it aloud...)

Day That I Have Loved

by Rupert Brooke

Tenderly, day that I have loved, I close your eyes,
And smooth your quiet brow, and fold your thin dead hands.
The grey veils of the half-light deepen; colour dies.
I bear you, a light burden, to the shrouded sands,
Where lies your waiting boat, by wreaths of the sea's making
Mist-garlanded, with all grey weeds of the water crowned.
There you'll be laid, past fear of sleep or hope of waking;
And over the unmoving sea, without a sound,

Faint hands will row you outward, out beyond our sight,
Us with stretched arms and empty eyes on the far-gleaming
And marble sand....
Beyond the shifting cold twilight,
Further than laughter goes, or tears, further than dreaming,
There'll be no port, no dawn-lit islands! But the drear
Waste darkening, and, at length, flame ultimate on the deep.
Oh, the last fire -- - and you, unkissed, unfriended there!
Oh, the lone way's red ending, and we not there to weep!

(We found you pale and quiet, and strangely crowned with flowers,
Lovely and secret as a child. You came with us,
Came happily, hand in hand with the young dancing hours,
High on the downs at dawn!) Void now and tenebrous,

The grey sands curve before me....
From the inland meadows,
Fragrant of June and clover, floats the dark, and fills
The hollow sea's dead face with little creeping shadows,
And the white silence brims the hollow of the hills.

Close in the nest is folded every weary wing,
Hushed all the joyful voices; and we, who held you dear,
Eastward we turn and homeward, alone, remembering...
Day that I loved, day that I loved, the Night is here!

(There are some other photos in my Flickr photostream - click on this one to go there and see the others).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


0705 roses 08
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
They're so full of promise, unfurling - deliciously, girlishly pink - and they look like they really will open to full bloom. I know this was from a week or two ago, but it deserved a blog entry of its own, not just to be part of the flower mosaic. And don't you love the way they're all the same, but they're all different? We can get so het up about things matching - in quilts, or in lots of other ways - and yet nature doesn't, and it works, and pleases the eye, and isn't a mistake.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Assorted guff

In answer to enquiries, this is the website with the posh soap info (it's wrapped in silk paper, they say - and a three-cake box is a coffret, not a box. And they are manufactured with the traditional cauldron method, which probably isn't the case with less posh soap, although I'm not entirely sure what it means). Roger&Gallet. If you're in Oz, you can find it at David Jones'.

The ones I have to try are Vetyver (a woody piney scent) and Jean Marie Farina (farina, isn't that flour in, um, Italian?) which is a citrus blend. As this blog isn't scratch'n'sniff, you'll just have to imagine. They're like quality essential oil scents, though - not diluted to pallid prettiness, but with take-it-or-leave-it authenticity.

(I don't even want to think about when some geek works out how to make scents and smells emerge from a computer - can you imagine browsing and being bombarded with synthesised scent by this site and that, and needing to download a scent blocker, and all and all? And omigod, imagine what would happen with the people who already inflict plinky music files and those trailing cursor things, butterflies or whatever - don't give them scent capabilities!!!!!. But I remember once thinking 10gigabytes was excessive for a hard drive, and now I could buy, at a reasonable but not tiny cost, a terabyte-sized external drive, so I have larned me not to ass-ume computer things won't come, or might be ridiculous. That's just my limitations coming into play. I was reminiscing today with a colleague who also had an Amstrad 512, with the two disk drives that needed different disks @$7 each, one 256k and one 512k. In 1987, an Amstrad PCW8512 (with 3.5 MHz, 512 KiB RAM, 180 kB 3" A: drive, 720 kB 3" B: drive, dot-matrix printer, green screen, thanks Wikipedia) was HOT STUFF, my friends. Or, at the very least, a reasonably-priced computer option, for word-processing. And better than the Amstrad PCW8256, I'll have you know - that only had one disk drive. A hard drive in either? Ha ha, you're funny!)

Just did the maths there. I've owned a computer, of one kind or another, for twenty years. Gad.

Back to luscious things. If you liked the Joel Dewberry fabrics picture from the posh soap post, here's a link to the full ranges on the Westminster site. Swoon....


0705 beautiful in magazines
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
The big, beautiful, generous single-ruffled blossoms on the left are just wonderful on that intense blue background. Look at the curve of flower to buds. Aaaah. [English] Country Living has always had wonderful photography, but this photo is just outstanding. White cherry blossom, so graceful.

What I love most on the right, apart of course from the many-drawered cabinet, is the chair's upholstery. Just love the combination of white Louis the Somethingth chair, and the fabric. It's a jute-ish linen-ish vintage fabric that came from Europe, old burlap sacks with the typography of their original use. That's my sort of vintage - imaginative, inspiring, quirky, creative, fun. I'd burgle one of those chairs in a second....

Refs: Country Living (UK) April 2007, Country Home (UK) May 2007.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Posh soap

0705 posh soap
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I don' t know where you might be on the soap scale - toddling among supermarket aisles, where you'll mostly find this household, or swanning among cosmetic specialities?

There's always the gift soap, which either hits the spot or - - um - -doesn't. And the artisan soaps of places like Lush, with their extraordinary piles of unguents and ointments and bath bombs and nopenotsoap - is it just me, or does your nose know faster than approaching a coffee trader or bread bakery that you're approaching Lush?

A friend tells me this soap is lovely stuff, and has bestowed some on this house to try. Not a formal gift, but a sharing of something good, like a recipe or an album or a TV program discovery, or a new blog worth reading.

Or, if you're a quilter, new fabric to sigh over - I'll pay the gift forward by giving you this link - if you like Amy Butler fabric, you'll be sighing over these fer shore an' sartin:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ways of seeing

0705 book cover
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Picked this book up at an op shop, for the title and the cover design (it's a Readers' Digest compilation). Nice synergy between the book cover and the background (another Amy Butler scrapbook paper - I still have some of the similar quilting fabric).

Living as an art. Hmmm. Today's effort would be doing volunteer work, I guess (editorial work on guild newsletter).

Had an interesting conversation with some creative friends this week. They were looking through one of yesterday's quilt journals, and I remarked on how a tiled floor had inspired a quilt. That, to them, was a different way of seeing, that a quilt could be found in a tiled floor. What, they said, you saw the floor and saw a quilt? Um, yes, I said - it was a great design for a quilt. They gave me The Look, their quilts come from quilts. I do ithis,all the time, as I suspect other quilters do too - this book cover has all sorts of potential, from the typography to the leaves as a whole, individual leaves with their parallel lines, the colours.... I'm equally sure these friends find patterns in the world in ways I don't and don't even think of and would find by turns bewildering, astounding and amusing and fascinating.

I first read John Berger's book, Ways of Seeing, when I was at uni, and it still comes back to me (and is still on my bookshelves) as a revelation and inspiration. We live in a visually busy world, and yet I wonder how many kids are being shown how to see it, challenged to see in in different ways so they can understand it more fully. Given time to slow down enough to see and absorb, taught to see depth, not just surface.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quilt journals

0705 quilt journals
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
I began doing a scrapbook page for every quilt (think I've covered, oh, 4?) and apart from my working notebooks and photos scattered through the hard drive of more than one computer, there isn't much of a record....

So it's long past time, and this is a start. Many of the pictures are basic washing-line drop shots that I've taken as a quick record, not elaborately styled or lit shots. They're not in exact chronological order, either. But I decided that was all OK, better something than nothing, and I can always get back to the scrapbook pages one day....

One book is from the last twelve months and on to the future, the other is for the years before that. Both are more than half full now. Still have more notes to do (some are pretty scant). But this is a start - thumbing through, it's good to be reminded of what worked, what didn't, what I'd like to play with again, all the myriad reasons a quilt began...

(Amy Butler scrapbook papers in the background.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spaghetti architecture

0705 spaghetti architecture
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Sometimes design is about having the right angle for clarity. This angle, I like for the confusion and energy of it all. But it's probably not the architect's starting point....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A doll

0704 doll
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

She was at the Royal Easter Show in April, and there was something so very charming about her serene, old-fashioned face and lovingly-made crochet clothes. They don't fool the eye at all, they look like doll clothes somehow, in their proportion (and possibly draughtiness too). But whoever made this, it looks like she (from memory it was a she) had fun with the delicate colours in her choice of yarn to match the delicate colours in the doll's face, the details of the clothes (the hat! the bag!). It's not a craft area I can see myself pursuing right now or even sometime in the future (never say never...) but part of the fun of the Royal Easter Show is to see the range of crafts that people are making, the creativity and imagination and such constructive use of time on display.

This is so sweet!

The two that made me chuckle the most were a Pope Benedict doll, very precisely dressed, and a Victorian fireman in full regalia (including the brass helmet) clasping the Victorian maiden (scandalously clad in her nightie) he had presumably just rescued. He looked bewildered and worried, while she had her eyes closed in serene indifference (unless, tragically, he hadn't been in time - but they were both very clean, for a fire rescue, so maybe the circumstances were indeed scandalous, and best left unexplored).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Autumn leaves

0705 autumn leaves
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
It's autumn (or fall, if that's your lingo) and the textures and colours and curves and curlicues of the leaves are a pleasure to the eye. It's always curious to see how much punishment the eucalyptus leaves can seem to take - they're not deciduous, so I guess they're on the tree for longer, with the toughness required to resist the seasons. But there's something beautiful, as well, about the ones that have clearly led a hard, resilient life, among those leaves that have only to last a season before falling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


0705 revelation?!
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
HEL-lo, newspaper. Glad you caught up. (Their version is that People Want To Crochet Again).

We always thought it was fun, and good and fine and joyful and sometimes frustrating and sometimes challenging...and a whole lot more adjectives more interesting than whether or not anyone ELSE thinks its interesting. Do we do it because the world thinks it's cool? Nope.

Love the fact that it's cool, and worthy of the front page, but they've done a Betty-from-the-Fifties photo, not some Modern Girls doing cool knitting or crochet or whatever.

Personally, I Just Can't Quilt without wearing my peeptoe shoes. With heels.

Monday, May 14, 2007


0705 roses 02
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Of all the shots in yesterday's mosaic, this is my current favourite. I like the assortment of buds, slowly unfurling, and the imperfection of the flowers, as though they'd been waiting just a bit too long for a buyer, and were starting to lose their looks just a tad. I hope they had a scent. Roses aren't just about their looks, it's their presence.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day flowers

0705 Mother's Day flowers mosaic

Happy Mother's Day, Mum! I got you some flowers!

(actually she'll be getting the garden centre voucher she'd prefer - she Doesn't Like White Chrysanthemums, thank you, and likes Grow Your Own).

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday paper

0604 Saturday paper
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
A sign of the weekend is the bulk and promise of the Saturday (Sydney Morning) Herald on the driveway - information, inspiration, brainfood, amusement, a window on the world, the promise of time to spend curling up in a sunny corner.

Took this photo about a year ago, but I've not yet blogged it - I've always liked it for the angles and the slant of morning light and for all it conjures. It's not art, it's life. Been reading the Saturday Herald for as long as I can remember.

For today, the to-do list is long long long with workwork and quilting work and volunteer work. Need to attend to that lot first. Ah well. The paper is patient.

It's been stolen from the driveway a few times, but the weirdest one was when the paper, opened, clearly having been read and then folded up fairly neatly, reappeared sometime on Sunday. What the?!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The mighty fallen...

0705 Laura Ashley?
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Laura Ashley was an icon of my design education - bought the fabrics, wore the clothes, read the books, loved the concept..... my first introduction to the painted wonders of Charleston was through one of her fabrics.

...but this scrapbooking embellishment set is blicky, icky and winceable. I'm sure Laura would be horrified.

The outfit beggars belief - I myself personally am never seen without a feather boa thingy when I wear denim (if you believe that, I can sell you a bridge, as the Sydney saying goes). And Strawberry Shortcake's second cousin, Lavender Somethingorother, with out of scale teapot and cups...

Aren't there a zillion designs in the Laura Ashley textile design archives that would make beautiful scrapbook papers? Who on earth thought this was a better idea? Interesting to have read recent company history here. Laura herself died in 1985, and the company has been through some difficult times since then. There's a detailed article here.


more cupcakery

Do I need some of these?

or these?

or these?

or these?

Probably not. But aren't they yummy?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cupcakes (pink alert)

0705 cupcakes
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

A tray of fundraising cupcakes, some mine, some not. I used Nigella's cupcake recipe and the Magnolia Bakery buttercream icing (Recipes below).

I made a double quantity of what was listed as Nigella's cupcake recipe here.

(note: I used Australian cup measures)

Ingredients (single quantity):

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add milk a tablespoon at a time and in between add a bit of flour. Add the eggs - still gradually putting in flour. When you've put all the flour in, add the vanilla extract. Bake for 15-20 mins until cooked and golden on top.

That's the recipe - here are my notes.

  • I doubled the recipe and used a muffin tin. Lined it with double cases, inner paper, outer silver foil.
  • It was interesting to do things in a different order to the usual for sponge cakes, where the flour is more likely to be last added. Note that you spin out the flour to last through adding all the milk and eggs - I ran out after the milk, but didn't have trouble with curdling (I was using an electric mixer).
  • I only heated the oven to 180degC (350degC) and 16 minutes was plenty - at a higher temperature I'd be checking after about 10-12. I baked one trayful at 180degC/20min and they were more 'high baked'/brown than I liked - not burned, but it felt like a little long. If I was using a little cupcake tin I'd cook them a shorter time too.
  • While I used good quality vanilla extract, it could be nice to tweak the cupcake flavour with a little lemon rind, finely grated, (or maybe lime or orange), or perhaps a tiny bit of salt (or use salted butter).
  • While I used Australian cup/spoon measures and metric, I don't think it would be that hard to shift into imperial or US measures. 125g approx equals 4oz, self-raising flour has raising agents already mixed in (see info here) and a large egg is neither small nor extra-large (average weight is 59g, and I'm sure you can google up a translator for that if you need to).
  • The batter was good to eat - you may have competition for the beaters and bowl...

Buttercream Icing/Frosting

I wanted to ice them with the fanciful icing you see in pretty cupcake pictures, and my perusal of American country living magazines came in handy - I recognised the name, Magnolia Bakery. This is my adaptation of the recipe found here. The quantities I give are half theirs, and quite honestly this amount lavishly dealt with a double batch of Nigella's cupcakes with icing to spare. Standard buttercreams can be a bit sugar-crunchy, a bit granular on the tongue. This was smooth and luscious and could be piped.

  • 125g (1 stick for the North Americans) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 to 4 cups icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Given that there's still some leftover buttercream icing, I wonder if I need to make just one more batch of cupcakes????!

I was going to take more photos of the cupcakes, but they were out the door and sold before I could (is that another argument for making more?).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Looking up

0705 looking up
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Sydney in autumn - a tough, tough place to be. Not.

Anytime I've been overseas, particularly returning from a northern hemisphere winter to a southern hemisphere summer, one of the first things you notice as you come back to Sydney, is that the sky is bigger, further away, bluer. In a London winter, the clouds hung so low it seemed as though you could see the orange glow of the streetlights reflected in them. And then you fly into Sydney and a bowl of sunlight with the sky impossibly blue and high, feeling like someone just switched the lights on.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


0705 white cockatoos
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Not one of my photos, but a guest appearance by L, who took this with my camera and did such a great job it deserves to be enjoyed by a wider audience. It's not everyone in the family to whom I'd hand over the big camera (some are a bit young...) but L? No worries.

Monday, May 07, 2007


0705 eucalypt
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
A very large, old eucalypt in the picnic area of a national park. A fine fine place to be having a family picnic on a sunny day in late autumn.

(There are people at the base of the tree, to give you an idea of scale.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007


So there you are one Saturday, and without leaving Sydney you are in Paris. Are you?

So how clever was this Parisian streetscape at the Sydney Doll House and Miniatures Fair today?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mature ladies....

There was something both hilarious and charming about this posse of mature ladies, destined most likely, correct me if I'm wrong, to be nursemaids, cooks and grannies in Victorian-themed dollhouses.... What a lot of wisdom among the grey hair.

The natural array of bosoms had me chuckling, however - they look like they're assembling for one of those nude fundraising calendars!

Friday, May 04, 2007


0705 MP3
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

This is the podcast beastie, a modest half-gig with better-than-bud headphones (that won't hurt my ears or fall out). Nuffink posh. BUT it is a new adventure. Till now, I haven't really engaged with podcasts. Listened to some stuff directly online, but not the whole podcast thing. (Oh, and this does FM radio too).

Before subscribing, I needed a bit of software, a podcasting client - I downloaded Juice, formerly known as i-Podder, I gather. O-kaaaay.

Now to find podcasts to subscribe to and to download.

Weeks Ringle wrote a piece for whip up that has good links in both post and comments - some of my choices were prompted by that article.

A Prairie Home Companion. Aaaaaah. Treasure.
BBC Radio 4 weekly choice. Brainfood.
This American Life. Because Weeks said so.
To the best of our knowledge. More brainfood.
Mark Kermode's film reviews. BBC, a UK angle on film.
American RadioWorks. Long radio docos, often an hour each. Seriously engaging brainfood that I'll cherrypick.
The splendid table. Food.
Thank God it's Friday. Humour from 702 radio in Sydney.
Alex Anderson's weekly podcast. Quilting.

I also intend to prance through the archives at CraftSanity.

It's a start. So far so good (have to watch that bandwidth). But there's a bunch of good stuff out there. If you have any favourite podcasts, please provide info and links in the comments! I'd be pleased to learn about more.

The podcast beastie's now loaded with tracks of good listening and, on its first outing, worked a treat.

The little red transistor radio (AM only of course - who'd heard of FM?) I was given one Christmas near the end of primary school seems a long long way from all this. And yet they're about the same thing, control of your personal soundscape.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fluted jug

0705 fluted jug
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
This is a vintage find from the weekend - isn't that fluting quietly beautiful? And the twisted handle? And its proportions. Being a little chipped, it wasn't expensive, but who cares?

It's by "Davison & Son Ltd, England" but I haven't been able to find any images of or references to a pattern by them that looks like this - if you know more, do please pass on your knowledge in the comments.

I only took that photo a few minutes ago, and already the gently golden early morning light has shifted on from that window - glad I caught it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Manicure set

0704 vintage wares 4
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Doesn't this speak of a different age? Now you see those fake-nail shops, with white-masked workers hunched over their clients' hands and a multitude of designs that can be airbrushed or painted or applied to nails. This beautifully-presented set wouldn't give you the tools for modern styles, but for a vintage glamour. There's something of an occasion or ritual about it, removing each tool for use, replacing it after, the case lined in velvet and silk. Women's tools, functional, beautiful.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Custard apples

0704 custard apples
Originally uploaded by rooruu.
Pop quiz: which is uglier, the charming custard apple or the quirky quince? They're both among the lumpybumpies...

Tough call.