Friday, November 30, 2007
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
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
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.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
(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
Saturday, November 24, 2007
At the local polling booth, I collected how to vote cards from everyone there (it's a thankless job and I'm not giving any hints) and (environmentally) returned them all after voting.
You can number just once above the line on the Senate tablecloth, I mean voting paper, or number 1-79 below. Yup, I did 1-79, which gives you some interesting dilemmas about which of the minor parties you find least objectionable. Not a paper that a boothworker/counter or scrutineer will love, but there you are. I don't like my preferences being dictated by others.
It will be interesting to see the result tonight - interesting precisely because it's not a sure thing either way.
The quirky elf-bonnet is, in rhyming slang, a titfer.
The purple blossom of the jacaranda is on a tree.
Cinnamon toothpaste (cinnamon appearing to be to Canadians, who gave me this, as Vegemite is to Australians)(although nobody's made Vegemite toothpaste. Yet.) is a hot thing, as are tree decorations as Christmas Eve is a month away, and today's election, which inescapable.
As to the DVDs, Antonio Banderas is certainly hot in Take the Lead, there are trenchcoats aplenty in Thirteen Days and while Tootsie is great fun, it's also a tad purple here and there.
Next week: the letter M brings you Textures, Weapon and Hobby.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Astute observers will note that the Bernina's not plugged in...we've had a bunch of thunderstorms this week, so I've been taking precautions to ensure it doesn't get damaged.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
It's fun. On the hatstand, it's a severe contrast to the classic Akubra, work and play perched side by side.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I found them at Bed Bath and Table, a homewares chain in Australia (with no website, the girl in the shop said with a sigh), and they're sold under the (house) brand name of Morgan & Finch.
Did I tell you about the 4' high silver tinsel tree to which I succumbed in the post-Christmas sales last year? No? Well...
Think I'm going to cull the Christmas decorations this year, pare things back to the ones we love the most. Some you never want to leave behind, while others... they're just not belonging here any more. But they'll work well for someone else.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
For a squizz at her stylish work, there's a slideshow here. Signature Prints, who own the design library of her work, have a bio of her here, and there's a book, available in Australia, UK and the US. The Signature Prints website also has images of the wallpaper and fabric designs available.
(Prices are Not Cheap: but there's inspiration in just looking at these designs. Some float my boat utterly, while others are too sixties for me. But you should take a look and see what catches your imagination).
The letter H is for H and also for H20, which it signifies on the pole where it was nailed. Water is something humans need...which is how I justified the water tanks in the third row.
Humans also do handwork, like the tapestry/needlepoint sampler, which has history (a human thing) being started by one woman in my family and finished by another.
The photo (b&w in real life, a poster on a wall in the human home here) is a detail from "The Walk to Paradise Garden" by W. Eugene Smith - you've probably seen the whole photo before, it's a twentieth century classic. It's here to represent that very human emotion, hope (see, why should Scatterday things have to be concrete objects? No reason at all, afaik). Anyway, it's a photo of humans...
Some humans (well, this one at least) have a hankering for home decorating books of specific kinds, such as Jane Brocket (Yarnstorm)'s book, and David and Amy Butler's one. While these may be my weakness, I'm vastly outnumbered by the humans with a passion for hardware (including hammers).
A house for dolls is a toy (not confined to children, and besides, who said that the kids should have all the toys??). The inventive pepperpot hammer is part of another toy my dad made. Toys are about entertainment, and DVDs are entertainment (maybe I'll be working in DVDs each Scatterday like Pennie does babushkas!).
The miniature (1/16th) scale hoover / vacuum cleaner is a vintage toy, while the heart cushion (Ikea) is soft.
Right, so that's H. Next week is Letter T and the categories are Clothing, Purple and Hot Things.
Friday, November 16, 2007
...and you don't just get back a ham and salad sandwich, you also get a novel. At no extra charge. Bargain!
(They're lovely - can't you tell?)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
They sell these at Ikea, and they're just fun. Velcro on the hands, so they can be open or closed.
The quilt behind is Spring Belle, with a quilt design by Lorien Quilting (quilted by Kim Bradley) and fabric from ranges by Denyse Schmidt, Heather Bailey and the incomparable Amy Butler.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I'm playing for a way to reuse the (felted) sleeves, too (the magazine with my final work will be out early next year).
Aren't they nice subtle heathery colours?
Celebrating a Summer Christmas
Ali Edwards’ blog shared the idea of an Advent box full of seasonal experiences, an idea shared with her by Shannon. You have a bunch of these in a box, each one on a slip of paper, and draw out one to try each day leading up to Christmas.
I loved the idea, and read Shannon’s list, and thought, but it’s HOT here at Christmas time. It’s summer, and summer holidays, and snow angels just aren’t possible….
…but lots of other things are.
So herewith my collection of Summer Christmas Advent possibilities. Feel free to add any more ideas in the comments. They kinda blur into January/summer holiday things too. But that’s OK.
This list is copyright, so please don’t burgle it…but if you want to borrow it to make up a box or two for yourself or presents, that’s fine. Do let people know where you found it - thank you.
- Make home made lemonade
- Take a moonlit walk (with mozzie repellent on) after the heat of the day
- Buy, and wear, personal fairy lights (Ikea sells ones with batteries) – and give at least one set to a child (the Ikea ones aren’t expensive, and what child doesn’t want to wear fairy lights?) (Extra note: If your local Ikea doesn't have these, look around for LED ones with about twenty lights and a battery pack rather than a power cord. In Australia, Big W, which is a cousin of Wal-Mart, has some this year). A couple of Ikea links: these are the fairy lights I've bought in the past, and these are other battery-operated ones that could work too. The links are to the Australian site, but you can use the info to check with Ikea in your country. (I've had some people asking about personal fairy lights, so I hope this extra info helps you).
- Buy or make at least one present for an adult, and one for a child, for a wishing/giving tree (for the needy)
- Have dinner outdoors by candlelight (don’t forget the citronella candles or mozzie coils)
- Make decorations from what you can find in the garden
- Make a Christmas (cash) donation to your local bushfire brigade
- Light a Christmas-scented candle
- Go for a bushwalk
- Go ice-skating at an indoor rink
- Take a picnic dinner (sandwiches are fine) to somewhere you’ve never been before
- Eat a mango – a messy, luscious summer treat
- Take a drive to enjoy the Christmas lights
- Read a classic Christmas picture book: three of my favourites (at least one out of print, sorry) are The Polar Express; The Mole Family’s Christmas (Russell Hoban) and The Nativity (illustrated by Julie Vivas)
- Play a CD of traditional Christmas carols by a classic choir (eg. Kings College)
- Go boating – a row boat, paddle boat, sailboat, canoe, kayak, ferry – there are lots of possibilities
- Write down one thing you’re grateful for on each of the days of December leading up to Christmas – maybe a kinda reverse Advent calendar
- Organise a family photo ahead of time (anyone got a November birthday?) and send copies with your Christmas card, and copies to each member of the family
- Check the expiry date on your sunscreen, and replace it if necessary – make sure every member of the family has a hat and sunglasses (The Cancer Council sells good ones)
- Work out which Carols by Candlelight you’ll attend
- See if there’s a local group you can join to sing Christmas carols to the elderly
- Ask a charity how they could use your help at Christmas or in January
- Cool off with home made lemonade
- Pitch a tent in the backyard for the kids to camp out one night
- See if there’s a midnight service you can attend on Christmas Eve – there’s something especially magic about them
- Hang a hammock in your garden – and enjoy it
- Use kids’ drawings to make Christmas decorations – trace them onto plain homespun with a fabric pen. Don’t forget to name and date them (my favourite decoration is a drawing of me at my sewing machine that was done by a niece aged seven). These can be good presents for family members too.
- Plan to share one experience over summer with each of the most important people in your life (friends and family), whether it’s coffee or dinner or a weekend breakfast or sharing an experience together. Tell them why they're special, what you particularly appreciate about them
- Try a summer fruit you’ve never tried before
- Plant some summer colour in a corner of the garden you see every day – a few ‘potted colour’ pots or punnets. And some parsley.
- Buy butcher’s paper (from the butcher, some will readily sell it by weight) and paint it to make your Christmas wrapping paper
- Find a performance of Handel’s Messiah to attend (or plan to join a group and sing in it next year)
- Use a child’s drawing for your Christmas cards, and write your own greeting piece for inside.
- Spend a long summer evening listening to the cicadas sing
- Plan to spend at least one day of your summer holidays helping a good cause in some way, whether it’s bush regeneration or visiting a nursing home or stuffing envelopes.
- Make Christmas shortbread or gingerbread and use fun cutters (stars, moons, fans, whatever!)
- Read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol aloud
- Plan to watch (or record) Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve (that boy soprano beginning with Once in Royal David’s City is one of my favourite Christmas moments ever – still and always)
- Tell the kids about your childhood Christmases – do you still have photos? What was your best present ever? This could be the basis of a fun mini-album
- Rather than an Advent calendar based on chocolate (not the best idea in summer anyway) make an Advent calendar ahead of time with your kids – and with their dates secret, so the others don’t know what’s behind them till the day comes. Maybe a line from a carol, or a Bible verse, or a photo of someone from the family, or something good that’s happened during the year.
- Organise a street Christmas party
- Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
- Organise a Christmas angels scheme at your workplace for the week before Christmas
- Visit somewhere you’ve never been to in your city – the weekend papers or what’s-on websites are a source of ideas. Maybe an exhibition, or museum, or walk, or activity.
- Make a wreath for your door from stuff you already have – whether in your craft room or the garden or whatever
- Find a way to share something you’re good at – a skill, a craft, there are many possibilities – with someone who will enjoy it
- Go to an outdoor cinema
- Make Christmas treats with the kids – whether it’s biscuits/cookies, or an ice-cream Christmas pudding or tiny puddings from fruit cake – for sharing.
- Sing Christmas music in the car – whether it’s Bing or choral or Handel, sing and enjoy. Make sure you sing some Australian Christmas carols too.
- Make a Christmas quilt to hang on the wall or use as a table cloth or table runner. Make the back of plain cream homespun, and get every family member to sign it each year
Well, that's fifty - not a bad start. Which summer Christmas things have I missed? What else would you add to a summer Christmas Advent/summer holiday box?
28 November: Ali Edwards mentioned this post in her blog - thank you!
And I've realised that I mentioned home made lemonade twice. I'll post the best lemonade recipe ever... (check back in a little while).
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Dunno what else I have today. The sun shone, the washing dried, breakfast on the verandah was very pleasant, work was busybusy, afternoon tea with a pal was lovely and there you have it. Same as some days, different to others, things to ignore and things to enjoy, things to forget and things to remember.
Oh, I know one thing I was going to pass on: Ali Edwards' blog has some great Christmas ideas involving text. Worth a look. http://aliedwards.typepad.com/_a_/
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Remembering not only those who died, but those who serve now. Australia's been fortunate to lose so few in Afghanistan and Iraq, but each wounding, each death is news, and important. And those sad coffins arrive in daylight, escorted with public honour and in the public eye. And then they go home to the families who will miss them always. There can't be many families who do not have, in living memory, at least one who went and did not return - a grandfather or father, uncle or brother, nephew or son; and in more recent times, daughter, mother, aunt, sister.
Lest we forget.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
So I've been reading and um-ing and ah-ing and scratching my head for ideas...but this week I've succumbed to Michelle and Dy's Scatterday idea.
This week is the letter O and the categories Breakfast, Shiny Things and Little Things.
So, for your delectation:
- A quote from the Ode, in a mosaic at the RSL club near the eternal flame remembering servicemen and women (who set a shiny/shining example)
- Oatbran is part of this breakfast in an O-shaped bowl
- Oprah at Home magazine, not one I've read before but it will be lovely over a leisurely weekend breakfast
- Oxo stock cubes, which are small things
- an Organ donation sticker I spotted on a shop window, which may involve small and very important things (like corneas - have you signed the 'take the lot' bit on your driver's licence, and let your nearest and dearest know your wishes?)
- Ornaments, easy to find at this time of year
- Oklahoma and Out of Africa, shiny things and also small things (all that data on such a small bit of metal)
- and an Opportunity of the season, Santa photos (lots of shiny things in his surroundings)
So, Michelle, Dy, Pennie, all the other 'Scatterdaisies', how did I do? I may not manage every week, but this is a start....
Friday, November 09, 2007
What I found touching - and this is different to Anzac Day - is how many of these bouquets were from home gardens. None of those 'laurel wreath' things on foam backs, only a couple of bought bunches.
Instead, you had dietes (flowering profusely at the moment) and even jacaranda (ditto), along with garden roses and sprays of assorted greenery. There was something very homely, and real, and heartfelt, and sad too, about these offerings. Some were wrapped in crumpled cellophane, some not, and the rain had been on them during the day, so some looked a bit weatherworn.
But they were beautiful and sad and good and a reminder of what should never be forgotten.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Mark, a young Anglican priest, is sent to minister to a village in the north of Canada, among the first peoples there. It's not a preachy book, not at all - the powerful and understated simplicity of its prose is one of its great strengths, and the way in which it explores the meeting of cultures and the establishment of connections between people across different ways of thinking. It could be soppy and sentimental, but it absolutely isn't. By the end, I'm always a bit choked in the throat, though.
Not sure if it's still in print, but there should be second-hand copies around; the paperback's easier to find than the hardback, I'd say.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
See, the kitchen taps didn't just need new washers, they needed replacing. I also utterly dislike Raymor Crown tap heads, such as the one at the top.
But if you want to replace taps, you get into murky murky spindle waters, because the new spindle (innards) has to match the setup of pipes and so forth. Hmmm. Effort no. 1 from the big hardware store, didn't fit. So off I went to the plumbing trade store.
And found myself transported to an experience I'd had years ago, in the country. Out there, out then, you went to the little town's butchery and no meat was on display. Nothing. No price list, either. You had a chat with the butcher (and it was only the first time you walked in that you didn't know his name and he didn't know yours) and let him know what you were after - a roast of beef, or lamb chops, or whatever, and then he went and got it from the coolroom. No 'five of those'. He got to pick. It worked well, after that first sense of being at his mercy, and darn it, that country-killed meat had a fine flavour!
So, at the plumbing trade store, forget the showroom. Bloke behind the counter asks what I'm after, and brings me one (one) example of a tap that will fit the setup in the kitchen. O-kay. I like it well enough, it's more what I had in mind than revisiting the Crown sort. But gee whiz, you end up wondering what the other choices mightabeen. We are so accustomed to choice...
Old taps icky. New taps good.
Monday, November 05, 2007
But I found this book today and just love the design inspiration. There are rooms that would send you screaming mad, and rooms to make you chuckle, and rooms to inspire. Lots of patterns (look at those lovely ones on the cover, they look Amy Butler-esque, for starters!).
Bargain price of $19.95, I found my copy at Wiseman's Books of Richmond NSW, and it's in their Christmas catalogue so I'm sure they can get more. It's a superb bookshop, if you're ever out that way, with staff who Know Their Stuff. No I don't have shares! - but a fine independent bookshop is a beautiful thing to browse in.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
A house can hold a lot of stuff. But op shops are good for giving as well as finding. If you have quilt fabric that is excess to requirements and are in Sydney, may I recommend the Crowle Foundation at Ryde? They support people with disabilities and sell it in their Fabric Nook as craft fabric, not rags (I am studiously avoiding visiting their Fabric Nook, taking them quilt fabric at times when I know the shop is closed!).
A garage sale can sell a bunch of stuff, but you never can tell what will go. Just assume that if you've decided to part with it, don't be ambitious about price - it's about clearing space, not making a fortune. Nobody cares what you paid for it, just how little they can pay for it. That's OK, you probably do the same as a customer...
A tool belt (Bunnings hardware, $5.95) makes an excellent change apron/fanny pack for a garage sale. Several pockets, and easy to wear. And useful as a tool belt, too. Wear your most comfortable, supportive shoes on garage sale day. You'll be on your feet a lot.
There will always be one weirdo customer at a garage sale. Make sure your garage sale has at least two people 'staffing' it, to cope with the weirdo. No sir, I don't particularly want to discuss details of my life with you. Just buy or don't, but you're not buying biography (there were a couple of people who really seemed desperate to chat with somebody, anybody. When I'm at a garage sale, I'm there for the stuff, not for long chats). But for that one weirdo, there will be lots of pleasant people. Some will buy stuff, too. The earlybirds are a bit on the nose (gee I wish they weren't illiterate, and could read times/numbers), and the pushy ones, but most are pleasant and no trouble.
My local government area is very unreconstructed in the garbage tip dept - it's not much of a recycling centre, but a toss-it-on-the-pile tip (but a naughty bit of you gets huge joy at hurling a garbage bag of rubbish onto said pile...) (nothing recyclable in the garbage bag, I hasten to add - but we could see other recyclables that had been tossed).
Council garbage tip signs always make me chuckle, dead fridges or stoves on their side with garish/obvious spray painted directions. This one also used dead footballs and soccer balls as traffic cones.
The universe has a sense of humour. Just when I'm carefully culling, I drifted into a Vinnies, just for a moment, very conscious of the irony.... and came out with an absolutely perfect DVD bookcase. There's a spot on one side of the mantelpiece which, it had already occurred to me, would be just dandy for a DVD bookcase. I had indeed measured it up, and discussed the matter in general terms with one of the carpenter codgers. And there, in Vinnies, for less than the price of the timber, a bookcase of almost perfect height, width, depth, and with a design that's kissing cousins with the Ikea Leksvik bookcases in the same room (why did Ikea discontinue that gorgeous grey-green colour in Leksvik???). Photos to come.
The (Ikea Bertby) cupboard that the codgers put up the other weekend now has a light at the top, and the wash of light down through green glass and glass shelves makes it a beautiful glowing thing in the corner of the dining room. Photos to come (at night, my camera gets bamboozled by the light, so I'll try during the day when the contrast is less).
Small boys may lack irony, but not a sense of humour. Little nevvy pulls out a bright Hawaiian shirt from a pile, waves it at his dad, laughs and says, "It's a daggy Daddy shirt", before pulling it on and dancing about, chuckling. Brownie points for knowing about daggy Daddy shirts, kiddo, but it's going to be funny to tell your kids about this, one day when you're the daddy...!
The plumbing knows when you're busy with other stuff around the home, and will considerately conk at this time in assorted ways.
If you're having a garage sale on Saturday, it will rain on Saturday and be fine on Sunday. Because it can. Don't let it worry you - the universe has a sense of humour, remember?
Ikea (no, I don't have season tickets, why do you ask????) has in its Christmas range some rather nice plastic bags that are $2.95 and much classier alternative to ''Hong Kong shopping bags" for quilt transporting.
Maggie Alderson had an excellent article on pre-loved homewares in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend magazine. Can't find it online, apologies. She talks about the patina and power second-hand things have from "being touched and used by a lot of different hands", relating her furnishing practices to the San Francisco Compacters in how they cut consumption and give things a second life. These are her principles of being an "interior compacter":
- Get to know your local junk emporia
- Make friends with the proprietors
- Go further afield
- Channel what you need - you will probably find it
- Think outside the box
- Transform things
- Be patient and think of your home as a constantly changing organic being
- Never stop looking
- Buy it when you see it
- Upgrade when you find better
- Get ideas from books and home mags
She finishes with the lovely note that the art in her home is new, because it arrives in your life with the soul already in it. (More about the Compact here).
Close the sliding door before drilling into the wall to hang a shelf/cupboard. Don't ask. Also, set the cordless drill to charge two hours before you need it, if you haven't used it in a while. But don't forget to close that door....
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Here are some other names used in Australia for various types of cicadas: Green Grocer, Black Prince, Yellow Monday, Chocolate Soldier, Masked Devil, Blue Moon, Double Drummer, Floury Baker, Cherrynose, Whiskey Drinker, Redeye, Bladder Cicada, Hairy Cicada, Golden Emperor, Eastern Sandgrinder, Brown Bunyip.
(list from this site:
which also has cicada T shirts for sale, if your life has been incomplete without one).