Friday, 28 December 2007

Kris Kringle

What do you give a woman who has everything?

I don't actually know, so in the absence of a great idea I made her a pillow.

I suspect history is about to repeat. Crafty things as presents echoes of my maternal grandmothers penchant for "china painting". Actually very sweet and well intended. For the first 10 years. Then it started to be a bit wearisome. All things considered though, I have never suffered the indignantly of being short of a bud vase or lacking a small decorative plate. And with my surfeit of doilies and crocheted hankies, I have never known a decorating crisis nor an unladylike attack of the sniffles.

I was actually quite chuffed with my magpies - until I realised my understudies were of the northern hemisphere variety and it was too late to change (Yay last minute crafting).

Now that I've realised, I can't seem to notice anything other than that at the very least their beaks should be white. Aargh. Perhaps I'll sneak into her house one day and make some ninja style modifications.

This was also my first attempt at binding. I forgot to get cord (one trip to Spotlight on Christmas eve was more than enough for me). So I used some wool yarn instead. Here's hoping it doesn't get put through the machine on hot. It turned out pretty well I think - I only had to unpick once when I forgot to put the binding on before the invisible zip. Yes I AM a professional.

Its hard to see in the photo, but the birds are actually a deep navy - which really pops against the natural linen colour (without being as severe as black would have been). The "glint" is of course my favourite acid yellow. The binding, which I really wish I'd taken a shot of, is a nice indigo and cream fabric reminiscent of the Eames dot pattern. And yes, it was the perfect excuse to lash out on some yummy Japanese linen. Even though I block fused the applique, it still distorted. There really is a lot of give in the weave of this fabric. But that is the nature of linen, which if it weren't for the pin stripe, none would be any the wiser.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Season's Greetings from the southern hemisphere!

Christmas is always the best excuse to do some serious baking.

Unfortunately its usually stinkingly hot in Melbourne at this time of year - so sweating it out over a hot stove on top of the usual Christmas time over achieving is a little more arduous than fun.

But with plentiful rain being the bestest-ever possible early Christmas present for our drought ridden land, I am seriously enjoying some quality time with my oven.

The last month I have barely stepped foot in the kitchen (except to sneak past the gargantuan pile of dishes and quickly grab the stash of home delivery menus). We have eaten so much pizza lately I'm ashamed to call myself a foodie. However this has been nicely juxtaposed with quite a few "nice" restaurant visits including the work Christmas party at Rockpool - encrusted with enough lobster and wagyu beef to fund a small military operation.

Nice as it was, my heart yearned for the simple pleasure of rubbing butter into flour, adding a bit of this, a touch of that and a few minutes in the oven followed by the heady sweet smell of baked goodness wafting throughout the house. And best of all - I am officially on holiday and can indulge in the fiddly biscuit department to my heart's content.

Now I can't claim any of the credit for these cuties. Instead all kudos goes to an unnamed and probably completely under valued staff chef at Nestle.

To be completely honest, they aren't the best biscuit flavour wise - but they are so much fun to make and the squeals and ahs a plate of these will generate is definitely worth it. They truly do look amazing and are remarkably good at restoring one's Christmas spirit. I am also tickled by the ironic use of a "Star of David" style cutter too.

Christmas Star Biscuits

Preparation time: 50 mins (including chilling time)

Makes approx 20

250g butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup clear boiled lollies, chopped

Cream butter, vanilla and sugar in a mixing bowl. Sift flours and cocoa together. Combine with butter mixture, mixing well.

Turn out to a clean surface and knead until dough comes together. Cut in half. Place each half between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to approx 8mm thickness. Refrigerate until firm.

Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Remove top sheet of paper, cut out shapes using a 7cm star cutter. Place onto a tray lined with paper. Cut out inner star with a 3 1/2 cm cutter and remove. (Collect the "waste" re-roll, chill and repeat for more biscuits)

Bake for 8 minutes, remove from the oven and fill the center with a few chunks of the chopped lollies. Turn up the oven to 180 degrees and bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until the lollies have melted and the biscuits have cooked. Allow to cool on trays.

Boiled lollies are often hard to find. Don't use the milky ones because they won't melt properly or give the glass effect. This year the only "boiled style" lollies I could find were Starburst lollipops. They worked fine but were pretty strongly flavoured. Also, don't overfill the middles - otherwise you will break your teeth trying to eat them!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Geek is the new punk

Saw Daft Punk live on Thursday night. It was incredible.

The seamless mix of old and new tracks accompanied by a killer light and graphic show is still sending chills down my spine. I've taken to playing "Alive 2007" really loud and flicking the lounge room lights on and off. If only I had a Christmas tree...

Speaking of lights - a not so small part of me that is now well and truly over 30 seems to be pining for my raver roots (just the dressing up - not the "chemical enhancements"). Some may call it regression, others a sad grasp at fading youth. I prefer to think of it as a legitimate opportunity to express myself with electronics. Viva la MAKE revolution!

Now I have a nice rack all things considered - but fitting DAFT PUNK in 5mm leds across my chest was a bit much - so I figured "PUNK" was sufficiently succinct and still in the spirit of the event. I suggested to Jms that we make him a matching Tee with "DAFT" but for some reason he was not so keen.

Anyways - because I am ever so spoilt, the boy got in some super cool multi-coloured LEDs from our favourite sweatshop in Hong Kong. Some serious soldering and tinkering and voila!

These little babies are great because they automatically cycle through red, green and blue without needing a separate chip.

There was an ever so slight hiccup when we'd not quite got the right resistance sorted and I burnt my fingers while showing off my modded shirt to my co-workers (I work for a fashion company that specialises in t-shirts). But being last minute and all, we couldn't rewire it, so I made my own switch to stop it from from overloading (ie. half unclipped the 9V battery and squeezed it with my hand to complete the circuit). This was ultimately serendipitous because I could emote by making it flash in time to the music (or cycle through the colours because I was dancing too hard to remember to unplug). And there was much dancing. At my yoga class this morning I was all ... wow my neck is pretty sore for some reason ... oh wait (sheepish grin).

Big, big ups to Dr. Jimothy for his leet ticket purchasing skillz. Thanks bro.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

I wonder why I didn't really fit in at Fashion School

I didn't have a collection of plastic bangles from Toxic. I didn't get fake tans or wear giant sunglasses. I shaved my head not because I was a punk but because I couldn't afford a haircut.

We had a very memorable "industry partner project" with a high profile denim brand. Those of us who didn't wear plastic bangles and get fake tans protested for something less vacuous than a brand whose ad campaigns were based on breasts and products they didn't actually sell. In the absence of an alternative I thought I'd just take "military styling" to its logical conclusion as well as make a genuine and heartfelt political statement about the war on terrorism.

My design teacher said, and I quote verbatim "They'll never pick you".

But they were going to be wearing denim bikinis under those veils!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Angry (again)

Monday, 10 December 2007

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Something for the ladies...

Perhaps that should read "for the boys". Its still safe for work because there's no nipple.

Needs work

Timing is everything in comedy. So too with comics. Not sure if this hits or misses. Its sometimes hard to distill a lifetime of experience into 4 panels. I am no Sparky.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

I miss that dog (still)

Raw (still) too.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Flashback Tuesday Afternoon

I've often fantasised about being a comic book artist - who doesn't? Especially when you consider all the money, fame and creative respect you get. Oh wait.

Snide remarks aside I am a regular reader of several webcomics. There are so many of such an incredible calibre out there in the interwebs. It is a real joy to find a new artist and have the pleasure of their entire back catalogue to spend a lazy afternoon scrolling through. Its like sitting in front of a huge tub of your favourite ice-cream with a spoon knowing you are allowed to eat it all and it won't make you fat. A warning though: both can give you a bad headache.

Jms hooked me up with QC saying that watching the art develop was almost as good as watching the story unfold. I admire xkcd too for having the presence of mind to not let a reliance on stick figures get in the way of an awesome idea. The kind of presence of mind I wish my virgo self would embrace more often.

An afternoon of trawling through old paperwork (ie. throwing crap out) uncovered a few random sketches that I'd scribbled down that I thought I'd share. In all their embryonic and raw glory. It's not called the random acts of Jimmy Trickle for nothing.

As mentioned previously, that is part of the impetus behind this blog. To catalogue all the random sparks of ideas and energy that randomly pop out of my head and fingers in the hope that they might coalesce into something cogent and identifiable. I am jealous of many of these artists because they chose something and stuck with it. Of a close friend many years ago it was said she was "a jack of all trades and master of none". I too feel like I am cursed with this moniker.

Monday, 19 November 2007

No ... there is another

OMG. The first book almost broke my mind.

As someone who has studied complex pattern making at Uni - I can only extol the sheer beauty and simplicity of Tomoko Nakamichi's visual instructions. Although all the instructions are in Japanese, those who know their way around a pattern will have no hassles. For those who don't - don't be afraid, the visual guides are exquisite and might just inspire you enough to have a go anyway.

Draping, at school and in industry, is all too often presented as highly complex, highly technical and only the realm of the experienced couturier. But pattern making is all about confidence - having a go and like many creative skills, requires a little practice to "get your eye in".

I applaud Tomoko's work on so many levels. Not only is it visually stunning and inspirational, she doesn't claim to own the ideas (unlike certain other designers doing similar things - patenting pattern making techniques - arrgh - the ego). In fact she steps you through the process, demystifying what are quite complex but ultimately commonsense ideas. Good pattern making is sculpture - translating two dimensional planes into a living, breathing 3 dimensional object. It has too be structurally sound, but also malleable so that it can move with the body.

I did a work placement in a rather famous Australian designer's studio last year. Most of my friends know not to mention their name for fear of the bile that I might gush. I guess I only have myself to blame.

(i.e. Don't put your idols on a pedestal because rarely do the actual mortals measure up. Truth is I'd still buy their clothes because they are that amazing - but I'd probably have to cut myself for compromising my ethics)

Anyway, self-mutilation aside, an afternoon in a comfy chair with this book taught me far more than many long days in a joyless, stuffy and poorly resourced production room.

Thank you Clementine (and your shoes) for adding Volume 2 to my wish list.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Monday, 5 November 2007

Craft vs Art

And this is what every gal should tell herself daily...

This has actually been finished for a couple of weeks - but between work and a computer with a dodgy power supply, I really haven't been able to do much updating.

I've another reason for not posting this earlier... but it is a confession of sorts.

This cushion was supposed to be a birthday present for someone very nice way back in July. Definitely a high caliber fox at that. Unfortunately after lots of quality time spent together sewing and what not - the thought of actually parting with my little friend is, well kind of difficult.

I'll freely admit greedy thoughts of "well her birthday was quite a while ago..." and "she wouldn't even know..." are often mused in moments of weakness. Not very charitable of me is it?

How do other crafters do it?

Which brings me to my next issue. I sort of promised Jms that I would set up an Etsy shop by his birthday. Yes well that was a week ago and still nada - but that's beside the point. The point is that I have all these little designs that I have been (v.v.v. slowly) working on with the intention of selling them. But I am finding it really problematic - because I can't seem to bear to part with any of them!

I love them, have dreamt about them, deliberated and slowly nurtured them into life - what if, god forbid, no-one loves them as much as me?

My only clue to the answer to this conundrum is that this passion I feel for these little projects suggests something actually quite profound. I have turned my hand to many things in my life. Always searching for that "thing" that puts a fire in my belly. Crafting is something I have always dabbled with - but in my heart of hearts did not ever credit it as great art. Aesthetic consumption perhaps. And in my darkest moments when my critical eye is appalled at the footprint I am leaving on this earth, I think how could I possibly justify the creation of more stuff that no-one actually needs?

But that passion - that care and indefinable imprint of yourself that is imparted - does that not make it art? And Art I can justify. Art breathes life into a stale mind. Art can change minds. And if you can change enough minds - you can change the world.

So if my craft invokes a deep emotional response in me (even if it is just soft furnishings) I'm inclined to believe that it has intrinsic value, that others too may appreciate.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Granpa's couch lives on

Lucky me scored the Monday before Cup day off as well - so Ive been able to spend my 4 day weekend getting some big jobs done - such as recovering the couch (excuse the blurry shot but our house is delightfully Art Deco but very dark on the sunniest of days). The new foam was a bit of an expense - but soo comfurtables. I've used linen because its got such a nice hand feel and sheen that seems to be fairly resistant to cat hair - but I fear it may not be sturdy enough to cope with snuffling dogs.

Fortunately it was very cheap (from one of my favourite fabric haunts) so if it doesn't cope it won't be the death of me. I saw some lush Japanese linen that was divine from my local fabric shop, but at $55 p/m it was a little too lux for my budget.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Tocktober already?

Not only have I been trying to break into the cheezburger racket, I've also made some submishe to the cuteness mecca that is CuteOverload.

I waited with baited breathe for the calender to click over to the 1st day of the tenth month to see if the genius that is "Tock-tober" had made the headlines.

I was willing to concede that my swan tocks photo wasn't perhaps high calibre cute per se - but "Tock-tober" Come on Jerry - that's GOLD!

Alas gentle reader, as you might have already inferred from my intonation, there was nary a mention of buttocks nor October conjunctions. Dissappointed, Bitterly I am.

Doth this world no longer value the bad pun anymore? Is the use of bad in the previous sentence redundant? Hast this protagonist regressed into ye-olde English to appear more enlightened than said plebeians that shamelessly besmirched mine witty proposal and thus succor mine own cause? Or am I just a verbose git?

I think we *all* know the answer to that one.

But now we all know why swans have such long necks .. for snuffling in the rocks for tasty morsels!

This picture was taken in Zürich a couple of years ago - the water is so clear but surprisingly deep. So that neck is really stretched out (Maybe almost 6ft including the body??) Can't actually imagine what down there would be that tasty - but you are what you eat and we all know the story about how to make swan soup (ie. boil a swan and a stone in a pot for hours - throw out the swan and eat the stone). So I guess nothing that would excite us humans, but enough to make a swan go all out on evolving a gargantuan neck.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

I lol cats

Some of you may recognise these varmints... A.K.A. Gir, Jinjo (RIP) and Trout.

With this many cats - it was only a matter of time before I sought fame and fortune through their exploitation.

No good pesky little things. Serve no purpose what-so-ever.

Couldn't live without them.

Saturday, 29 September 2007


Stolen from Shula...

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Suzannah Impreza

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Cookie yo-yo

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Blue Cat

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Elizabeth Geelong

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The")
The Black Botrytis

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Joe Woijciech

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Babydoll Lindt

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names )
Therese Peter

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Boyle Berlin

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Boxing Bird of Paradise

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Cherry Shirty

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Toast Sequoia

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour")
The Sewing Heavy Rain Tour

Pass it on...

Sleepy kawaii

Every night, when the lights go out, Poika comes out, does a little flicker dance, and then pirouettes off to dreamland.

Jms got her for me for my birthday. I hope I never get too old for this sort of thing.

It was one of the many awesome gifts I received, not limited to, but including: the coolest torch (which I can't wait to take draining when the rain stops!), a super cute "Bear Paw" succulent, beautiful Dale jumper and beanie (obv cuter on me), kimono fabric, and this guy - who suspiciously looks like it might have been for the giver rather than the receiver (:P)

I am a very lucky girl. But enough of the gloating and stuff worship.

I do however wish I'd had a chance to blog about it all sooner. Lately quite a few things have been begging to be recorded - but alas, other things to do - and the moment passes. To me the joy of highlighting things is in their freshness and immediacy. Unfortunately, given that I am now a paid up and proud "wage slave" blogging is way down the list of priorities. Which is a shame because I really enjoy it and like the writing practice. In a previous life I was a professional writer (if you count legal documents and policy, nothing pretty). Words were very important to me and I really enjoyed flexing my intellectual muscle, grappling with the desire to create a precise turn of phrase.

Recently have been helping a friend get through a Graduate Diploma. An unbelievably talented person - but with no knowledge of academic writing. I've been pleasantly surprised how nice it was to put together something longer than a shopping list. Not to mention how easily I slipped into the rhythm - like a body memory. Years of essay writing built super-highway style neurotransmitters in my brain I guess. There has to be a plus side to having been at Uni for 6 1/2 years. And that was just the first time round!

God forbid I've been thinking about going back AGAIN. Only one subject though - I promise.

PS. Facebook is evil - spending 5 hours to become a Jedi Knight instead of posting. Aargh it robs me of my brain thinking!

Sunshine and Rain

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Oh Hai!

It seems I have finally emerged from my creative hibernation - with a record 3 projects completed this weekend!

Firstly - the finishing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Admittedly not strictly my project per se - but as fellow gentle readers shall attest, it has been a commitment spanning several years. In many respects, as I had enjoyed the story so much, I was not looking forward to the final installment - the end of a fantastical journey filled with real tears and laughter. Not to mention nights cuddled up with my best beloved hanging off his every word. Yes I am the luckiest 32 yr old alive to still be read aloud to - he even does voices. But it is, or was, a privilege reserved only for the Potter series. No more arguments about pronunciation - cries of that's not Hagrid's voice - and the once surreal experience of discovering a small bat flying about the house during a particularly chilling chapter.

But without spoiling a thing for those who have not yet read - I am actually somewhat relieved now that it is over. Too many sleepless nights spent worrying about the emotional and physical wellbeing of a fictional teenage boy.

As a side note: the subsequent hysteria and caterwauling associated with the harm of actual people I know is a force to be reckoned with. And a warning to all vets: I am without doubt the most inept and appallingly behaved pet owner you could ever wish to deal with. Fortunately my brother is a vet, so you may be spared the indignity. Besides, years of abuse as my younger sibling has numbed him to all pain.

I digress. So the Potter saga is over - and while I may miss the thrill of the unknown ending, I am perfectly content in its conclusion and any pangs of longing I have for the exquisite world of Hogwart's can be instantaneously quenched by the opening of a book. Just as Narnia, Middle Earth and other such places will always exist on my bookshelf waiting to tempt an idle afternoon.

Second on my list of accomplishments is I have FINALLY put the binding on my quilt. Hurrah. Now I can rankle over what I wish I did differently and inevitably start collecting fabric for the next one. The sun even came out momentarily for a picture. Excuse the overly verdant garden but I also had to take a picture of my new sneakers. Not quite ruby slippers but just as magical (hey - they can put a smile on my face instantly - and I have been known to sing songs about them) I wonder if that's how it started for Imeda. First purple now silver. I have forewarned jms that this may become a problem. For him.

And finally the third project to have its eyes dotted and nose stitched - indeed the little face heading this post. Sometime this week M & J's new bub a.k.a. 'cashew nut' shall be making an appearance - so Aunty Cato had to extractus digitus and make a softie suitable for a lil 'un.

Possibly a little too "if Jimi Hendrix made plush toys" yet for some reason this fabric always spoke to me of giraffes gone wild. Hopefully an ideal size for tiny grasping hands and a wee face ripe for sucking on. Partly "Splendid Toy Book" with a large shout out to julie giraffe, a treasured gift from Miss Red. And check out her sweet hiney.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Quick... look like you've been busy

Yay ! Only one more sleeps till jms gets home (assuming he's on the plane). Anyways - no cake this time but don't you think every good boy deserves bunting?

WIP update: I still haven't managed to bind my quilt that I picked up nearly 3 weeks ago - but this is slowly turning into this. Nevermind that it is supposed to be a birthday present for Gem (the party was only 2 weeks ago). Quite frankly its been too cold to sew (well my sewing machine doesn't fit under the doona I've taken to wearing around the house). So there. Hey - I made bunting!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

The Crafter's Way

Read this. Found via My Little Mochi. Couldn't have said it better myself. Thankyou Poppalina.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Rogaliki with Rose

After waiting so long to get my recipe translated - it seems somewhat remiss of me to not pass it on. So here it is - enjoy!

Rogaliki półfrancuskie z różą (Polish Rose Crescents)

600 grams (3 cups) flour
1 cup cream (I used double - its much nicer than the thickened stuff and easier to mix in)
Pinch salt
250 grams unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Dash of oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Rose jam or paste
1 egg white (glaze)
Crystalised sugar for sprinkling

Cream butter, oil and flour (by hand or if your lucky enough to own a Kitchenaid make yourself a cuppa and watch as it does all the hardwork). Carefully mix in cream, salt and sugar. Refrigerate the shortbread for at least 30 mins, wrapped tightly in cling film.

Roll out to about ½ cm thickness. Cut into 6cm x 8cm rectangles. Spread jam along long edge. Roll into a tube. Slash tube along one side repeatedly and then twist into crescent shape (with cuts to outer edge. Alternatively cut into squares and make little danish style shapes with jam in the middle. As I did here. Glaze and sprinkle with sugar.

Place on lined baking sheet and cook in a hot oven for 15- 20 mins.

Note. try to use a thick jam - because once it's hot the jam will liquefy and dribble out. Not necessarily a cardinal sin - but its more likely to burn if it does.

Thursday, 28 June 2007


I can't call it workaholism - but all I seam to do is work and sleep. It's like a pendulum - bleary eyed stumbling off to work and then when the sun goes down I get home, crumble in a heap - maybe eat something and then go to bed, to repeat the cycle again.

The weekends are a befuddled mix of the realisation that OMG the only time I have to do the grocery shopping is Saturday morning along with every other person on the planet. AND I've turned into one of those delightful customers who seems to take an inordinate amount of time to locate their purse despite having 20 mins of queuing time to ready herself, manage to drop all my green bags on the floor (especially after the attendant has already packed the shopping) and can't seem to muster anything more intelligible than a grunt when spoken to.

The rest of the weekend is then spent wondering if I really do only have 3 black socks, despite countless searches and only discover the answer to this conundrum on Sunday night when I follow that strange smell and uncover all my underwear, socks and work clothes have gone mouldy from being left wet in the washing machine for too long. God help me if I decide to have children. I guarantee they'd be the ones living off spoonfuls of peanut butter and wearing garments fashioned from pillowcases.

But it's not all bad. It's just cold, and Jms has gone away and I feel a little unsettled because my Virgo self has yet to find a routine. In fact, this week highlights a marked improvement. I no longer have the startled bunny caught in the headlights look at work. I am vaguely competent and don't try and hide under a pile of t-shirts each time the phone rings anymore. There's been some really stressful things happening - completely outside our control - but nevertheless as the middle men it's our head on the block. Yet everyone still makes jokes and laughs (somewhat maniacally admittedly) and it is on the whole a very nice place to work. Which makes bitching about work seam quite unfair, because I am actually really enjoying my work - its just the bit outside it seems to be lacking in substance.

But its on the improve - I actually managed a cooked meal yesterday. Because Jms is away - I guess I'm having a bit of a meat fest. My cockles obviously needed some warming because I've been craving hearty fare. I made Beef Stroganoff last night. My one concession to my vague ideals of healthy living was to have it with wild rice. I usually make a vegetarian mushroom version, that to be honest is completely superior. But its the principle of the thing. While the vegetarian is away the carnivore shall play.

Tonight I went back to an old favourite - Osso bucco with gremolata and pappardelle. Unfortunately I misread Miss Stephanie's directions. Not 45 minutes cooking time but two 45 minute stewing sessions with an extra 30 mins to be sure. It really has been a while since I've made it. Needless to say, I'm not waiting till 10pm tonight to eat. So it's a cheese sandwich and a glass of red (I don't normally drink - but I bought some for the stew and well, its open now so I might as well). Time to fall asleep now in front of the teev.

Lunch tomorrow will be

Sunday, 17 June 2007


My yoga teacher emphasised that at this time of year we are meant to hibernate - to take it easy and nourish ourselves.

I was bone tired this weekend, in spite of the short working week, so after my morning yoga class today I spat the dummy and "hibernated".

It was late afternoon before I emerged from my many layers of doonas, blankets and cats. Not wanting to tackle dishes or washing, I indulged my inner child a bit more and finally pulled open my Splendid soft toy book. After all, all work and no play is pretty uninspiring.

Although I had earmarked the giraffe, I instead took a little detour from these guys, and fashioned a nesting doll of sorts. I love matryoshka, and am always looking for an excuse to draw them. I'm pretty sure everyone I know has at least one birthday card from me decorated with them.

I've been wanting to make a softie version that nests as well - but I haven't been able to get my head around the physics of it all. Now that this little lass is complete I think I might just have the answer.

So I guess that technically makes this, a work in progress.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

I (heart) this song...

The Knife has finally been given reprieve - I have a new obsession. Listening to this song, loudly, on repeat with a hairbrush microphone (of course).

Perhaps wearing my purple boots...

Monday, 11 June 2007

What a week (or two)

For the record, my new job is awesome. I do seem to spend a remarkable amount of my time not knowing what the hell is going on - its so nice good to know age does not save us from being complete n00bs. ahem.
But so far no-one has actually called me retarded to my face and they seem genuinely happy to see me at the start of each working day. So until they change the security code, I'll still keep rocking up and in exchange I will receive more of those wonderful pay cheques.

Aaah - the bliss of disposable income. It's been a while my friend.

True to form I went out this weekend and blew my first pay on absolutely anything that took my fancy. Actually I was really quite restrained (jms - I swear they were all on special). Call me a little self indulgent - but I got a REAL hair cut and colour. Forgive my ego the indulgence.

The rest was really spent on the usuals - new jumper (yikes the morns have been frosty), t-shirts, new jeans (for work of course) socks and undies and the most delectable purple suede boots ever. Suede boots? PURPLE? Yes a tad extravagant. With my flush of funds I did something I never let myself do - and that is go into that certain spanish shoe shop.

I actually thought I'd get a demure pair of flats (with cutsy clothes sewn on them ^_^) But they were just too wide for my very little feets. After trying on nearly everything in the shop - the exasperated but determined assistant said "The only narrow shoes we've got in your size are these purple boots". I nearly didn't bother trying them on such was my disinterest. I mean purple - I only wear black. I only wear black. That's right - I only wear black - and it bores the %$#@ out of me. Goddammit if I'm not tryin' on ther purple boots.


It felt like I was putting my tootsies in marshmallow. I think I actually had an out of body experience. And the "PURPLE"? Well they kinda looked more bluish than plum and would actually look ultra hot with the skinny black jeans I'd just bought. What could I do?

Needless to say I spent the rest of the afternoon proudly sashaying around chaddy with a shoe box the size of a small car. And a smile to match.

It has poured with rain all day - so this is the closest these babies are going to get to being worn till they get waterproofed.

In other news there shall be much more craftyness afoot soon. Just over a week ago I had to go to hospital for day surgery (dear god - how much can two itty bitty stitches hurt?). I was a bit worse for wear after the general anesthetic, but my best beloved in his infinite wonderfulness had arranged for a little present to help speed my recovery.

Yes I am now the proud owner of the essential crafty tome "The Splendid Soft Toy Book". I feel like I have arrived. Its not for the faint of heart. There are some creepy, but indeed splendid, creatures in there. The 70's were definitely an interesting time so far as what adults deemed appropriate for children. The mere mention of the name H.R. Puffnstuff makes me feel nauseous - actually seeing a picture, we are talking fetal position quietly shaking.

I'm serious.

But I'm working through it. And what better way than to make some creatures of my own, plus our little circle of friends is about to get one small person bigger. I think softies are in order.

To the sewing machine!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Sculpture Walk

Spent a blissful Sunday walking around the sculptures at Werribee Park with Miss Red.

Such a wonderful precurser to starting the 12 week Artist's Way course.

The course has seemed to have had a profound effect on my life already - on Friday I was offered an awesome full-time job! I'm very excited about this new development, however as this is my last day of freedom (ie. unemployment) I don't have much time to potter around with blogger (boo hoo) as I have sooooo many things to organise (ie. washing). So forgive the badly posted photos - I promise more adventures to come!

Friday, 11 May 2007


Do you think this is a sign I'm not using my workroom enough?

Monday, 7 May 2007

If at first you don't succeed


Yesterday was one of those days where I promised myself I could spend the day in bed. However after going to an early morning yoga class, coming home and generally "getting on with it" including doing a massive grocery shop, it got to late afternoon and I still hadn't put my jarmies back on and realistically, it was an increasingly unlikely option. So on the basis that I had nothing to lose (ie. I hadn't planned on getting out of bed, therefore any task achieved today would be a windfall) I figured I'd have a go at the salty caramels again.

Well - who would have thunk it? I followed the recipe (strictly no substitutions) and it worked! What's more - they're really good. I used our beloved Murray River pink salt. Perfect. The only downside I guess is that it makes a lot of very rich toffee. So I guess Jms needs to organise a Poker night quick smart so I can off load some of the goodness. Good as it is, there's no way my fillings would survive. And I'm already very overdue for a dental check up/complete rebuild.

In the midst of the craziness that has been our life for the last month or so (more freelancing, homeless family members, spousal unemployment to name a few) we have also had some very special visitors staying with us. Fortunately they're pretty easy to entertain and love my cooking (grated carrot and mushy peas again? Yay!). The only strange bit has been going to the pet shop to buy live crickets. Eww.

Jms was very antsy to begin with - he thought Central Bearded Dragons were a bit of a naff pet (as did i initially, I'll admit). But a true convert he now spends hours at a time poking the logs and rocks in their enclosure with his "cricket divining stick" and jumping around outside catching bugs and flies to feed them.

3 months seamed like a long time to babysit such unusual creatures, but with the folks due back from up north in a matter of weeks - I think Fred and Vyvian will be sorely missed.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Afternoon Applique

Text based entries have been a bit thin on the ground of late. Partly due to an Easter filled with my first real freelance job as a patternmaker (woo hoo!). What was a big job (but actually pretty straight forward) grew into an even bigger job with the number of patterns to be worked on swelling from 75 to 99. In keeping with this 30% growth I thought it only fair to do the same to my initial quote. Anyway suffice to say there was no wailing and gnashing of teeth when I tendered my invoice - so double woo hoo!

As my first foray - I know in my heart I am well under the market rate - but you gotta start somewhere, right?

Another (not so) small matter keeping me AFK, was that Jms' Mum (ergo my defacto M in Law) has been staying with us. Unfortunately a visit not due to choice or happy circumstance on her behalf. But after some initial rocky days - things have calmed and I must say she has been dealing amazingly well with what has been a major upheaval in her life. It is without question that we would support her through this, but nevertheless house guests do take their toll on the house. And this is a very small house.

But fortunately some secure and appropriate emergency housing has finally been found and she now has a room of one's own. Hopefully this will give her a stable base to take the next tentative steps.

So now with my empty house - and a room of my own I set out to do something for me. My new very boring, but comfy yoga hoodie needed a face lift. And so I turned to my favourite sea monster, the weedy sea dragon. Was very good for the soul to be immersed in craft while listening to the rain gently caress our parched land.

**Jms has just walked in and inspected my work - tis only supposed to be "here be dragons" or "there be dragons". So I guess here be some unpickin' ...

That's better.

Friday, 20 April 2007

WIP - Patchwork Skirt

Sunday, 15 April 2007

On the third day

Unlike the big man - mine did not rise, but rather were affectionately refered to as my Christian Rock Cakes. Chocolately (not choc chipped - as in an effort to encourage rising the chips melted) and nicely spiced, they were still a flavourful success.

Well loaves may now also be off the list but I know I can cook fish...

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Ganache, the chocolate God of Obstacles

I regularly pray at the alter of Smitten Kitchen, and aspire to have a blog filled with such sumptuous photos (alas I must make do with the tools at hand). I have been particularly tickled by her Salty Chocolate Caramel recipe. Ordinarily I am wary of American cooking websites - because all to often in the conversion to metric and local ingredients - something goes awry. However, that said, the easy to follow directions, copious conversion references and user comments have made all my attempts thus far purely pleasurable.

With my meager budget I finally gave into temptation and purchased the requisite candy thermometer. Yes, egad, things are a bit lacking in joie de vivre when a $10 item can blow the budget. I had been feeling a little glum for a few days and so sought some spiritual solace in the pursuit of cooking for pleasure.

Now, as always, as a lesson I am deemed to repeat ad infinitum (Sisyphus hello?) - when choosing to fill that sense of emptiness with something (hectic social calender, work, worrying, guilt, food or overindulgence of any kind) the universe will endeavour, whether by design or sheer randomness, not to reward my weakness and offer a pat on the back - but usually give me a sharp rap on the knuckles. And deservedly so.

So my desire to have a kitchen "win" to cheer me up - resulted in a resounding failure. Not only did my toffee split into oil and a new type of substance that I suspect may outlive the human race, it also burnt so badly the scent of charred chocolate has embedded itself in the kitchen tiles. 3 days later, my heavy, copper bottomed stainless (ha!) steel pot is still sitting in the garden, unwilling to relinquish its charcoal shroud despite numerous soakings, reheats and poking with sticks and other sharpish instruments. Despondent, angry and even more miserable I slunk off to bed swearing all American food blogs be damned. But indeed Smitten, nor anyone else is to blame, as the story further reveals...

The following day - hell hath no fury like a woman scorned - or in this case, the "I'll show you who's in charge of THIS kitchen" I set out to even the score. Now rather than tackle my foe on uncertain ground I decided to regroup at least and counter-attack with a tried and true recipe, the premise being a birthday cake for B's dinner that night. Now I certainly don't recommend vengeance be a key ingredient in any recipe, let alone one so innocent and untarnished as a birthday cake. But woman scorned and all that - mixed in with a healthy dose of exhausting day and an over stimulated sense of timeliness, I forged on. The unconscious cursing in the kitchen even warranted jms to poke his head in and suggest that time was not in fact "of the essence" and that a modicum of peacefulness might aide my plight (tho' perhaps not quite the exact words he used). Not sure also whether the 5-headed hydra he saw in my stead was particularly appreciative of the advice either. Evidence suggests it was definitely not heeded, as upon pouring strange looking batter into a carefully buttered and floured bundt pan, said hydra discovered she'd forgot to mix in a key ingredient (ie. sugar).

Whilst this was rectified, the sullied pan was not, so ultimately, after much pacing in front of a cursedly slow oven, said cake did not pop out gleaming in its fluted beauty as per usual, but cracked in twain leaving a ring of sticky cakeyness behind. No amount of cajoling would reunite the two, it being so throughly stuck it could only be pried out chunk by chunk with careful fingers.

So in a vain attempt to resemble a whole cake, crumbs were pressed together, and eventually a ringed cake of sorts was achieved. But oh did I rant, and curse. Bang pots and stomp shoes. Till eventually random acts of kitchen violence gave way to wailings of "I am a failure" and all the pent up feelings and unrealistic expectations of my previous glum mood outed from their subconscious hideouts.

Fortunately, the god of obstacles was not deaf to my ministrations, and like an out pour of rain to cleanse the earth, a simple chocolate ganache came to purge my cake/me of all its insecurities and imperfections with a warm velvet cloak of love and acceptance.

And I am reborn. Whole, perfect, once again. (And the cake was delicious)

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Not quite the real thing... but one step on a journey of a thousand miles

In 2005 my Dad took me on a family pilgrimage back to Europe. Whilst in Poland my great Aunt introduced me to her biscuit of choice, the simple but delectable 'rose filled rogaliki'. Now I've never been particularly fond of rose flavoured foods (I suspect caused by an overdose of lack lustre turkish delight) but these little tidbits really wove their magic on me. In fact I can pretty much blame my travelling 'excess baggage' on the number of these I scoffed on my very short Polish stay.

As can be expected - being long back on the other side of the world, I've been craving their delicately floral shortbreadishness ever since. Now initially I was not too despondent, because living in an area of melbourne with a surfeit of European cake shops, I assumed tracking them down wouldn't be too hard - or at least something to scratch the itch. Alas after much searching (and sampling) none to my knowledge make these particular style treats. Not being able to speak or write Polish made googling a recipe for some morsel I did not even know the name of at that stage, actually started to give rise to a sense of panic - as you know, a spoilt palate is forever tainted... until accidentally and unintentionally I stumbled upon this photo while archiving some files - and TA DA! The name of my secret culinary desire was revealled.

There followed a scramble to translate the recipes the internet did finally proffer. Unfortunately the Polish translation engines I found only produced indecipherable hieroglyphics (largely due to the colloquial nature of a cook's instructions I later discovered). Anyone I knew and met with a slightly wog name was grilled about whether they or anyone they knew spoke or wrote Polish or happened to imbibe vast amounts of Polish vodka thereby having the requisite translation skills needed to bring me closer to my goal. I was about to insist my younger brother prostrate himself to his abusive (but suspected Polish - bless them) elderly neighbours - when by chance the friend of a friend dropped by and OMG not only spoke and read Polish but had her mother immediately on the on the phone to give sage advice and cooking directions! Bless you Al.

I was saved.

And pictured above is the fruits of this near 2 year quest. Whilst not quite on the money (in a moment of weakness I decided to have a go sans rose paste substituting plum, apricot and boysenberry) it is my first attempt at shortbread. Fears of overworking the dough and burning the jam filling were unjustified. Simple yet tasty, they are my metaphoric base camp, from which I hope to ascend to a delicately floral shortbreadish summit. Onward and upward chaps!

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Family Tree WIP

This is an idea I had for a cushion cover some time back and am just getting around to. Continuing with my obsession with birds (can you blame me? its such a simple and elegant silhouette) I had an idea where I had a perfect excuse to use their motif but actually put the little buggers to work...

I fashioned my own tree design which was transfered to fused fabric and machine stitched to a linen backing. And now for the birds - one for each member of the family (obviously there's room for more babies!). The cushion is for Bronald, Ferg and Imi, with whom I'll be visiting in Syd soon. My last visit there was a flurry of activity and new house decorating - in which I introduced B to the joys of "acid yellow" (border colour anyone?).

Truly an addictive palette - it is fresh, has the wow factor and excitement of canary yellow - but is ever so slightly in the 'cool' spectrum, thus is charmingly soothing and relaxing. A welcome addition to any home. Part gift, part "I promise this colour will be OK..." And as a thankyou to F for putting up with our decorating maelstrom - I've used the beautiful italian cotton from one of his old shirts for the birds.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Cate discovers hot links..

I also discovered the wonderous site called smitten kitchen, which so inspired me, that despite the heat (and that he'd just come back from the land of toblerone) I made a welcome home chocolate stout cake in his honour. OMG. Yum.

Friday, 23 February 2007


Both jms and I have a serious addiction to toys and childrens books.

The discovery of a Powerful Owl feather in the (very suburban) park across the road from our house got us all excited some months back. Having moved back to the big smoke after a stint in the bush, we very much missed our native neighbours. In the context of the current fashion for stylised owls on craft, t-shirts etc I decided to celebrate this discovery with my own little homage to the ultra cool children's artists of my youth such as Dick Bruna and Attilio Cassinelli.

Its some months old now - but it is an important reminder to me of the ability of nature to continue to do what it does best in spite of our suburban sprawl. We may not have a resident kangaroo in our front yard any more - but its nice to know the local park can support a large native bird of prey.

I still miss my eagles tho' : (

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Only 24 hours from Tulsa

Yay! Jms called about an hour ago - and as I type his plane will be taxiing out - the first step in a near 24 hour journey home. Quick I better go do something so it doesn't just look like I've been sitting around pinning all this time! The dali cats and hotdog will be so happy

(Actually) midnight patchworking

Only 4 rows of eight completed - realisically I could have pieced it all together but I figured if I had any hope of returning to normal sleep patterns I ought to pretend to go to bed (I still read till after 3am...)

As it is, I'm glad because when I did surface this morn/noon/ish - I realised that just because I was awake, didn't mean I was actually competent... so there was a bit of unpicking to be done. How is it that I can sew a set-in sleeve without too much fuss and line a jacket with a minimum of pain - but getting basic squares to line up? Aaarrgghh. Give me kilometers of 2mm edgestitching to do any day.

Anyways - pox photo - the bedroom colour scheme aint really that lurid (the fill in flash made everything stark and ugly - so I went for blurry and oversaturated). Think burnt orange and sky blue against a bone background (not nuclear Murakami flowers coming to kill you in your sleep) And the quilt itself is predominantly soothing olive tones with turquoise and red highlights. Yes this is part of ongoing obsession with all things turquoise. A certain italian lamp from my friend Suey is to blame. I tried to add a photo of that too - but I'm getting the feeling this will not be one of those blogs with sumptuous pics of my latest projects. Just me prattling on about latest projects. Bugger.

WIP - Midnight quilting

One more (no) sleeps...

Well since my boy went os - the art of sleeping seems to be something I've lost the knack for. Admittedly its been stupidly hot for too long now - and the house hasn't cooled down at all, despite being left open all night (with a security door that won't lock which no doubt adds fuel to the insomnia fire). Not sleeping is something I'm not very experienced with - quite the contrary. The past two years (admittedly a side effect enhanced by certain prescription drugs) I have been not so happily able to sleep anywhere, anytime. Snoozes on the train to Uni, kips on the couch, and afternoon lie - downs in order to build up the energy for a big night of sleep (I'd average about 13 hours a night with more on days with no early starts). Getting me out of bed often requiring several cups of tea, breakfast, lunch or in many a case, loud exclamations of joy or horror from the boy to rouse my curiosity as to what he was doing.

Nights of wringing my pillow into a shape reminiscent of chewed gum led to stealing his less tortured pillow. Even an application of his fragrance to a freshly washed and made bed (mattress turned, pillows plumped and everything) gave just a few hours of respite before I was startled awake and couldn't settle again for the night.

In desperation I went out yesterday and bought a new latex pillow. Following an application of soothing verbena linen water (yummy L'Occitane) - my head and neck slipped on to the beauteous caress of cool marshmallow... unfortunately the rest of my body twisted an tangled and rebelled and eventually sort to find space for it too on my new cool little cloud, and I ended up koala style clinging to it for dear life. In the end I committed the worst possible crime and instead of patiently breathing and waiting for the next sleepy train, I got up and started sewing. Oh and then did some dishes (hey - it was finally cool enough to face a sink of hot soapy water!). And then checked my email...

But the good news is only one more night to endure - so much for independent living. Pacing the house trying to find things to fill my days until he comes back and I can feel a sense of routine and order. Please tell me its just the heat and everyone else feels equally stretched thin and blob-like.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Yar - my life in a Nutshell

Spent the day noodling around - yoghurt, did some dishes, more piecing on my quilt, had cups of tea and pondered where Jms was in the universe (hence the clock addition). Wandered lazily about the house - noticed a certain slant of light in the bedroom that made blue bear and monkey look kind of swish all cozy as they were on the bed. Got out the camera to maybe blog their technicolour beauty - setting up the shot - just straighten the pillow - what the... Eeewww! The remains of Sprocket's "I'll just repack the contents of my belly" last minute decision.

Needless to say blue bear and monkey did not stay sitting contented but were flung to the nether corners of the room whilst Cato stripped and sanitised the bed. Certain slant of light waned. Cato spent the afternoon wishing the laundromat was internet capable. Oh well - did get to read Inside Out cover to cover and will no doubt dream of Eames chairs and ittalia glassware tonight...

Me thinks it best I spare you the photo for this entry.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

15 sleeps ...


I can't help but feel self conscious with this, my first post.
To be honest I thought blogging would be more like an opportunity to commit my internal monologue to "paper". But this is something far more awkward than that. I'm typing and meanwhile my internal monologue is backseat driving - screaming "
you can say that - it's lame" or "just get to the point" amongst "be more pithy/witty" "don't self edit " meanwhile I barely type a sentence before I [backspace]

Urgh. I guess it gets easier with practice. I really want to find a voice that is not so self conscious. I guess I'm concerned about who YOU are. Do I know you? Is it better that I don't?

I've spent many an hour trolling the interwebs reading others posts - and they are frank and honest in a way that I casually assumed I could emulate. But looking at this dialogue box there seams to be a pressure to perform I didn't expect. I guess most people started blogging because they want to be famous or at least acknowledged, linked or listened to. I'm not sure that I even want to be read. By anyone. ever. Easy! I hear you say - just uncheck that box on the setup thingy! Yessss, but...
then I won't ever be discovered...

Mmmm. Inside every shrinking violet is an underfed ego screaming for attention.

Then why blog? Why not just write in clandestine journals that shall never see the light of day? Well, yes I guess I do want to be read and linked to and be delicious'd. But perhaps only when I am confident of the things I have to say. Perhaps THAT is what this is all about. I want to find my voice - I want to have the opportunity to explore my ideas and interests in a way that can be catalogued and complied. A diary cannot link to other peoples exciting things or even encompass all the exciting things I have planned in my head that I need an excuse to commit to physical existence (even if only in a digital way). And at the end of the day - all that scrapbooking and careful attention one can lavish on the pages of a diary may never be found - chided perhaps by the self as indulgent or one day emotionally shared with a beloved...

But for me - embarking on a way to crystalise all the trillion ideas I have - the simple blog seams to be a way of creating a tether for all my creations, both personal and professional, whimsical and intellectual. So that one day I might be able to stand back and say - yes - that's me.

Pretty big ideas for a blog that may only last until the boy comes home from OS!

Mmmm. In a world of infinite possibilities it is hard not to be paralysed by choice...