Monday, March 31, 2008

Stevie Nicks dress strikes again...

OK, bit of a misleading title, but there is relevance, I promise. Remember this dress? Yes, the hilariously awful one. Well, I have been very miserly about using the rest of the buttons from the dress, as I just love them so. Although I'm pretty sure the dress was an early 80s number, the buttons have such a gorgeous psychedelic feel to them - more 60s or 70s I'd guess. Anyway, they are among my favourites in my button collection, so I've been hanging onto them.

Until now! How could I resist pairing them with this fabric?

So this little number has gone into the shop. For some weird reason I would love to know where these buttons end up. I imagine they have seen a lot - and hopefully they will see a lot more now!

Well, a lot more than sitting in one of my button jars anyway :)

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This is...the contents of my handbag

This week's this is... theme (as chosen by Sharon from Iris + Lily) is 'the contents of my handbag'.

So here it is - in all its uncensored glory. Starting from back left and moving in a backwards S shape (why? I dunno, just humor me...) - fabric scraps, keys, pamphlets from the Paddington Fair we went to yesterday, random receipts and business cards, sunglasses, doll's hat, wallet, pen, tampon (told you this was uncensored - sorry), Kate's Easter bag, current knitting project, money that's been flung into the bag in a hurry.

And this is the bag all this came from (made by me, of course!). It's very handy as it fits a LOT of stuff, so some days my handbag loot would be twice as much as this, and might include nappies, bibs, drink bottles, food etc. It also has a long strap so I can wear it and be 'hands free' - especially important when I'm out with the kids. But as Tom Robbins likes to say, "a big front always has a big back". And the 'big back' of this bag is that it often ends up holding LOTS of things I don't really need to be carrying around with me. Same with my nappy bag, which is a big-ass Crumpler that I love, and can fit everything in, bar the kitchen sink - problem being that it often does include everything as I just keep chucking stuff in without taking other stuff out first. All I can say is, thank goodness the theme this week was not 'This is...the contents of my nappy bag'.....EEEEKKKKKK!!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A little less conversation...

... a little more action". Aaahhh, the wisdom of Elvis. These words will be my motto this week.

I know that when you hear the words 'action' you might not automatically think 'knitting'. BUT....I feel a bit blogged out after doing the week of children's vintage illustrations. It was great fun, and I loved looking at everyone's books, but now I have the urge to get away from the computer for a bit. Posting every day is way more time consuming than I would have imagined, even when it is just little short posts. So I'm going to have a blogging rest for a week (well, until next Sunday anyway) and concentrate on actually MAKING stuff, which after all is mostly what this blog is about.

And I have finally done it! After ages of whining about wishing I knew how to knit, I finally bit the bullet and decided to learn. I convinced my sister to learn with me, so we both got our Aunty to show us. This in turn inspired my Aunty to start knitting again, and then my Mum (whom I have NEVER seen knit) decided to get in on the action too! So inspired were we, that we decided to start creating some clothing for the kids' favourite soft toy - Jemima. Who herself was knitted by my incredibly talented Mother-In-Law.

Isn't she gorgeous? A whole family creation. Doll by Matt's Mum, dress by my Mum, hat by my Aunty, and that piddly little scarf was! Bit embarrassing really, but hey, it was a start! And I am now onto a proper adult-sized scarf (the green thing above), and a scarflette (the black thing further above), which was inspired by the gorgeously tactile scarflette created by Vanessa from Knit too! I also need to say a huge thank-you to Corrie from Retro Mummy, who has been so encouraging of my foray into the world of knitting, and even managed to trouble-shoot my purling problem via email. Thanks so much!!!! Matt thinks it's hilarious watching myself, my sister, my mum and my aunty, sitting around our lounge room knitting, drinking tea and chatting like a bunch of old dears, but hey, that's what I find so appealing about knitting. You can't sit comfortably and chat while at a sewing machine. Not that I will be swapping my sewing addiction for knitting any time soon, but it's a very fun addition to my crafty repertoire.

Anyway, moving back onto more solid ground for me, I decided to experiment with some bib making for my sister. Well, not for my sister exactly, but for her baby which should be arriving sometime in the next few weeks. I decided to go with the Playschool Window theme, and do four different shapes. They were really fun to make!

I also organised a little 'sort of' baby shower for her. Just a lunch at our favourite restaurant really, with a small select group of friends and family, although I did do some little goodie boxes for the guests (with signature packaging of course :P)

And then a lovely little parcel arrived in the mail for the kids, just before Easter.

My lovely mother-in-law (the same one who knitted Jemima) made these gorgeous little easter bags for Lee and Kate to collect their eggs in. How cute are they???

The kids loved filling them up with eggs when we did the egg hunt on Sunday morning. Is there any better magic than searching the bushes for colourful treasure that tastes every bit as good as it looks?

I think not!!!! We did it at my parents' place, and everyone came over for a BBQ breakfast of bacon and eggs, and fresh orange juice (followed by mountains and mountains of chocolate).

It just doesn't get better than that. See you in a week!!!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This demon

This week, Drewzel has chosen the theme for the this is... meme. So this is my demon - my ability to see into the future. HAHAHAHA OK not really (did I have you worried then?). I guess what I really mean is that I am a worrier. And, as is the nature of worries, they are always about things that haven't actually happened yet (and usually never do). I can take something as simple as someone being late, and automatically jump to the worst-case scenario, and start worrying as if the terrible thing I have imagined is actually going to happen!! It's really awful. To be fair to myself, I am getting better at not doing this. In fact it is my mission to conquer this demon, because can you picture the scenarios I will imagine when my kids become teenagers and I am waiting up for them on the weekend?....eeekkkk!!!!

image taken from circulating's photostream on Flickr

Day Seven: Vintage Children's Illustrations

I've saved the best 'till last.

Once again, not one of my own books from my childhood, but one much more precious. This one was my Dad's.

It was his all time favourite book as a child, and the only one that is still around.

Written on the inside cover is:

"Happy Birthday Colin, with love from Nana & Pop. April 19 / 1957"

And next to this is my dad's name, with his address '38 Webb Street, Altona'. I wonder if there is still a house at this address? Any Melbournites from the west of Melbourne reading this???

Anyway, the book is called Stories of 1001 nights, and is a hard cover with thick brown pages, and illustrations that look as though they were painted in watercolour and pen right onto the page. The book is published by Mulder & Zoon, N.V. Amsterdam, and does not state the illustrator. However, the illustrator himself/herself has signed their name on almost every illustration anyway. It is Truus Vinger. I have no idea what nationality this name is. Any ideas anyone?

So this is my most precious children's book, not because it contains my favourite illustrations, but because it was my dad's.

Thanks so much Pip for such a wonderful meme. I have enjoyed both discovering new and gorgeous books and illustrators, and also my own trip down memory lane. Posting every day has been quite hard, but I've really enjoyed the experience.

Happy Easter everyone

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day Six: Vintage Children's Illustrations

OK, so this was not actually one of my books from my childhood - but it was my brother's. And my son LOVES this one.

I'm sure there is no-one who doesn't know this book - The Little Engine That Could. Retold (??? not sure what this means - is there a different original version out there?) by Watty Piper, and illustrated by George & Doris Hauman. This copy was a tenth printing, in 1978.

I never really got into the pictures in this book - but after photographing them, I started finding details in the illustrations that really appealed to me. Like the little girl's dress on the cover (I know, again with the clothes!), and the monkey on the train in the second photo. And the tree with the weird pineapple things in it that looks like a pretend tree stuck to the ground (weird!!!).

So there you go. Lee will be so happy that I have done a 'train' post. Don't forget to check out Meet Me at Mikes to see everyone else's vintage children's illustrations (thanks Pip for a great meme!)

And now I'm off for a 'child-free' dinner with my husband. Yay!!! And for the first time in almost two years we will have a child free night ALL NIGHT!!!! - yep, both kids are staying with Grandma tonight. Luckily she is only five minutes up the road so we will be there bright and early (and refreshed after sleeping through the night with NO interruptions!!!!) for an Easter Egg hunt.

Hope the Easter Bunny is kind to you all :P


Friday, March 21, 2008

Day Five: Vintage Children's illustrations

Sooooooo busy

Busy busy busy....

Good busy, know....busy....

Deans New Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes, illustrated by Janet & Anne Grahame Johnstone.

A cherished favourite. For obvious reasons :) See Meet Me at Mikes for more gorgeous vintage children's illustrations.

Now, back to being busy....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day four: Vintage Children's Illustrations

Wow, this blogging every day thing is HARD!!! Lucky it's only for a week (or my house would be in a shambles!!!).

Continuing the meme run by Pip from Meet Me at Mikes, here is another cracker from my childhood. Oh how I loved this one!

It is a story that came with a little record, with beautiful music from the opera "Hansel and Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck! If only I had a record player!!!!! Anyway, the story is put out by Walt Disney Productions, and I'm afraid I have no author or illustrator for you. But how could I resist showing these pictures.

I'm starting to see a bit of a theme to the kids of illustrations I am drawn to (excuse the pun!) - simple bright retro looking illustrations, with beautiful clothes a must! I also don't know when this was published, but it does say it was copyrighted in 1967. Given that I received it when I was very young I think I can safely say it is VERY pre-1980!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day Three: Vintage Children's Illustrations

Busy day today, so here's a quick one. My Big Christmas Book, by Hayden McAllister. Illustrations are not credited, which is a shame as I really love them and would love to know who created them.

So many pictures in this book would make gorgeous cards.

I can't find a publishing date on this book, but I'm guessing it would date somewhere in the 70s. If anyone has any ideas about the pictures, I'd love to hear them! All I know is the name of the author, and that this edition was produced for Peter Haddock Limited by Asset Publishing limited. And that it was printed in Czechoslovakia.

I wish I could dress like these kids below. Love their style!

Have a great day everyone!

Oops, just editing this to add that in my rush out the door this morning I forgot to add that you can find more gorgeous illustrations on Pip's List, on the Meet Me at Mikes blog. xxx

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day Two: Vintage Children's Illustrations

Day two of Pip's Week of Children's Vintage Illustrations meme.

I read this to my son last night. Another book from my childhood. Unfortunately the last page at the back was ripped out (I'm blaming my brother - he always sabotaged my books :P) and we didn't realise until we got to the end. Whoops. So I had to make it up!!!

But the illustrations are gorgeous.

The book is called A Dragon in a Wagon (and other strange sights), and is a Little Golden Book. Written by Janette Rainwater, illustrations by John Martin Gilbert. Published in 1966. I love what the little boy is wearing on the cover. Shorts, long sleeved shirt (with decorative stitching), a belt and a tie (that's a bit too short). Gotta love it!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Day One: Vintage Children's Illustrations

I'm joining in on the new meme by Pip from Meet Me at Mikes - A Week of Vintage Children's Book Illustration. Seeing as though my sister and I had just finished going through my mum's old trunk full of our childhood books - yep, she'd kept them all!! - I could hardly not join in. I had so much fun pointing out all the gorgeous illustrations to my sister (who to her credit refrained from rolling her eyes at me as she picked out her own - less old - books from the stash). I mean really, look at the picture above, how gorgeous is the detail on the dress!

So anyway, if you're guessing that my take on this meme will be "Vintage Children's Illustrations From Books That I Read BEFORE They Became Vintage"....then uh, yeah. You guessed right. Hope you don't mind. It's hard to resist such a happy walk down memory lane....

Now I must admit I do not know who is and is not famous in the children's illustration circles. I just know what I like. And so many of my childhood books I loved as much for their pictures as their stories. This one I really love. I remember so vividly the feeling of wonder I had as a child reading this book.

The book is one of the Rand McNally Junior Elf books, called Humpty Dumpty and Other Mother Goose Rhymes, with illustrations by Mary Jane Chase. Published in 1952.

There are many two-toned illustrations in it, which left me a little nonplussed as a girl, but I have a bit more of an appreciation of them now - although they still don't hold the magic of the full-coloured pictures. So anyway, these are just a sample of my favourites from this book.

This creation

Thanks to Betty the Geek for this week's This is... theme. I had a good think about this, and here is the best thing I have created in the last couple of years (excluding my kids, which are by far my best 'collaborative' creation").




OK, I'd better elaborate. Like many people I suppose, my head is almost always full of incessant chatter. Always thinking, worrying, working through scenarios - just the usual sort of thing. Before I had kids, I used to do yoga, and the meditation session at the end of a workout was the only time that I noticed a quietening of the internal 'noise', when I could just calmly lie on a yoga mat and enjoy the feeling of stillness and quiet. So I decided to try and cultivate a little of this 'mental' space, so that I could access it whenever I wanted/needed to, rather than only after a strenuous workout, and with a guided meditation.

And with a lot of practice I have done just that. The thinking and chattering is often still there, but I seem to notice it more, and don't get caught up in the drama of it. This in itself gives me a lot more space. And one of the best things about having a little space? It seems that one of the things that likes to pop up in the middle of a quiet space, is creativity!

I've read a number of times about people who meditate to enhance their creativity, or who feel they lose their creativity when they stop doing yoga. Amazing huh! And bizarrely enough, it was only just after I started making an effort to cultivate a little stillness, and be more aware of my internal 'noise' that I had such a strong urge to learn to sew.

And the rest is history. I sew more, I stress less, I stop and smell the flowers. It's all good!

On a much more literal note, I also do have an actual physical creation to show you.

I'm trying not to be too critical about it, as it is my first ever attempt at a quilt, and I decided to just jump in and do it. Following a pattern? Learning a bit about quilting techniques? Nah!!!! "I'll just wing it. Best way to learn" I told myself. Well it was true, I did learn a lot. But I can't help but feel that with just a little more preparation and buying a few important tools (walking foot - why don't I have a walking foot!!) before-hand might have made this quilt a cracker! Ah well, my son loves it (it is a train quilt, of course he was always going to love it:P), and that is what is most important. Please excuse the bike helmet - it is a new one and my son insisted on wearing it all day...

So the main things I learnt about quilting by making this were:

* Cutting out is REALLY important. You should actually measure and mark before cutting. Cutting things out freehand makes things a WHOLE lot harder. Looking back now, I can't believe I thought I could cut everything out by sight. What was I thinking?

* Cut the selvages off FIRST (DUH!!!!!). I can't believe I have to write this! I will simply say that in my big rush to get this quilt done (it is my practise quilt as I need to make one for my sister whose baby is due in 3 weeks, so I wanted to get one under my belt first) I just forgot! And once I'd cut everything out I realised what I'd done. But to cut them off would have changed the dimensions (rough as they were) so I left them. I thought about just doing bigger seam allowances to swallow them up, but then the quilt would not have been quite big enough for my son's bed. So in the end, I thought "hey, they might even work and look kinda cool". They don't. Oh well, moving on...

* If not stitching in the ditch, then mark your sewing lines. Going by sight and hoping for a straight line produces disastrous results. (Hello quick unpick!)

* Don't quilt the border before you have finished quilting the inside of the quilt. Even if you're bored and need a change!

I'm sure there are many many other good lessons I learned with this project, but these are the main ones that come to mind. If you have any other handy hints of bits of advice regarding quilting, then I'd really appreciate them. Especially as I'm going to start my sister's one this week (and glaringly obvious hints are welcome too - as demonstrated, seeing the bleeding obvious is not always one of my strong points)!

OK, very very lastly, I want to share a little creation on my son's. Because it is so sweet, and it tickled my fancy.

These were some paper off-cuts I left lying around when I had been making some cards and tags. My son set them all out on the kitchen floor, and was so excited to show me. He pointed out Mum, Dad, Kate and Lee. We are all there. A little paper family. AAAWWWWWWW

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pass the tea, bag!

I remember my Poppa Fred used to always tell this joke: Three men were having dinner with their wives, and the first leaned over to his wife and said "pass the honey, honey", the second then looked at his wife and said "pass the sugar, sugar", and the third looked at his wife and blurted "pass the tea, bag"....aaaahhhh that one just gets better with age.

Anyway, the relevance of this joke? Well for starters, I'm about to rave on a bit about last night's tea (dinner). My brother-in-law (the amazing chef) got his hands on a whole kingfish, so he and my sister came over to our place and cooked it up with a lemon, fennel and dill risotto and a fennel/orange salad. The fish was so huge, we had my mum, dad, and aunty over as well, and between the seven of us we couldn't finish it. It was sublime.

And my mum (the amazing baker) made Impossible Pie for dessert. All this gorgeous food, and we didn't even leave the house (our lovely and understanding family all came to our place so we could partake without having to keep the kids up late - how considerate is that!!!).

It was by far the loveliest Monday night meal we have had in a long time. Great company, great food, can't ask for much more than that eh?

OK, and the bag reference in the joke comes in here - I finally added another bag to the shop today. This one is called the Cheery Tree slingback bag.

Anyway, stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Poppa Fred's jokes!!! (sorry, only really...)