"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This 'n that

 I finally finished the Kaffe Fasset challenge quilt - voila!
In all, 240 pieces hand basted and sewn together. The quilting was simple, I just ran a line through the stars.
Will probably use it as a table topper after Christmas. Gotta get started on my next challenge.
And speaking about Christmas - here's my tree. I must say I like my tree and how it reflects in the windows. Just call me a sucker for Christmas!

The studio is going ahead strongly; today they're putting the roof on, so lots of banging and thumping overhead. Bricks are supposed to arrive tomorrow- I wonder how well we matched them to the old ones.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Studio - cont'd

 Things are happening! Yay! The guys came to put the slab down last week. It took 3 concrete trucks to fill it all in. This little studio will have strong and deep foundations. It slowly gave me an idea of the size too.

Not much later, and the frame went up. The guys did it all in one - hot - day. Very efficient. The windows and door are in, and I love the big window looking out over the paddock.

Interestingly, the new part won't obstruct any views. You only see it from a small kitchen window, and .
you see straight through the studio's windows into neighbour's paddock.

Next week, the roof will be aligned with the existing roofline, and hopefully we'll get the bricks delivered.

With all this hot weather, I hope the aircon will come on again soon....

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Studio

Well, it's starting! The builders arrived this morning with a couple of trucks and equipment, and started to prepare the site Very exciting, even DH was excited. The happy feelings were momentarily dampened by the loss of some favourite shrubs (bottle brush, honeysuckle, cotoneaster), but I'll be able to get the honeysuckle and bottlebrush again. I've taken cuttings of the cotoneaster because you can't buy it here, it's considered a pest plant. But I like them, they're very pretty and the bees love them.
The old dog kennel was also removed. Wayne seems to think there won't be any more dogs. He's got another think coming!
I'm quite impressed so far with our builder, Mick from MM Constructions in Sunbury. Everything is progressing without fuss as planned, and with a little luck we should be at lockup stage by Christmas, and should be finished later in January. I've planned the layout and materials, just thinking about tables at the moment. Will check out ebay for a cutting table, bench height. More photos as the work progresses.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Photography course continued....what next?

Week 2 of attending Peter Ryan's photography course, and the theory is somewhat over my head. I've never been good with numbers, and according to Peter, numbers are the name of the game.
Well, ok, up to a point. If I started calculating everything before finally taking a shot, the moment would be lost. As in the case of this little fellow, who came visiting the other day. He kindly stayed for a while, so I could try out a few settings.
I can proudly say that I haven't used the AUTO function on my camera since I started. So that's a plus, I guess. I'm using the manual settings on my camera more, which is what I intended. Next week is the last theory session, then we go out and practise what we've learned.
I just found a travel writing course online, which looks interesting. I could combine two loves, writing and photography, might even get something published. I'd certainly have enough to write about the cruise we took earlier this year. I'd just have to be careful not to be too damning about some of my fellow countrymen...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Photography course

I just started a photography course this week, here in Gisborne with Peter Ryan. It is presented over 5 weeks, in the afternoon. The first 3 weeks are theory, then we go out and practise.
It was an interesting start to the course. I expected something more basic, since a few of the participants were quite unfamiliar with their cameras and digital photography. Still, one has to start somewhere. The first session was about shutter speed and aperture, f-stops and DOF. I'm willing but hesitant to move too far away from AUTO, so I welcomed the more technical side of it, even though I understood it more intuitively than logically.
I have a few exercises to do this week, working with the Av setting, adjusting ISO and playing with shutter speeds. This evening, there were some black yellow-tailed cockatoos in the yard, ripping a hakea to shreds. I used my long telezoom lens, but they were a bit far away. This (cropped and heavily edited) shot was the best of a bad bunch. Still, I used the manual settings, so that's a start. Should have used the tripod, but was in the middle of cooking dinner, so lots of shaking (that lens is bl.... heavy!). Peter gave us a useful cheat sheet, although I need to ponder it a while longer in order to use it effectively. Here's to more learning!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

No mitigating circumstances

There have been several instances recently whereby murderers and rapists have had insufficient sentences or been set free on parole after a ludicrously short time in jail. Several of them went on to resume their killing sprees after being released. Something is seriously wrong with the legal system that sets the individual criminal's needs higher than those of the general public. For instance, a week or so ago, a man was sentenced for the brutal murder of his girlfriend. He got an 18 year jail term with a minimum of 14 years. Inside, he's likely to learn from the worst and will eventually emerge, still, and probably even more of a danger to society. A life should be worth more than 14 years if it is taken, especially in such a manner. One of the reasons taken into account when the judge sentenced him was that he 'had grown up in a brutal society in his African homeland', in other words, this was used as a mitigating circumstance. Something is seriously wrong with this. Not everybody who grows up in a bad environent goes on to become a murderer. This person was granted refuge in our country, and had a chance of making a good life, an opportunity which not many have handed to them. Instead he goes on to murder a young mother. I don't understand how mitigating circumstances can have bearing on any case; they are just excuses. You do the deed, you pay the price. In full.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Scriptum amo

You may not have known that I have an obsession with all things stationery, from pens to books to papers and so on. On a recent holiday I could indulge my passion in an amazing shop called 'Scriptum'. It is a British concept originally (http://www.scriptum.co.uk/), but it's slowly expanding to other countries, and I was lucky enough to find one in Florence.
I LOVED! this shop! One could go nutso in here, given enough cash, and I did indulge somewhat....
I really like the Paperblank books, and I had this little one with the Mucha girl, which I used as my travel diary. The top one was another purchase, used as a sketch book. I did do one drawing, but didn't find time yet to do more.
The 'Fiorenza' book is handmade, bound in leather, with beautiful, thick pages that could be used for watercolour.
Lastly, the purple one I found in a shop in Kusadas, Turkey. Again, it is hand made and contains pages of vellum.
Other things I found at Scriptum were lovely wrapping papers, which I'm sure I'll find a use for in my art journaling. They also had a quirky set of
bookmarks, showing cats in the costumes of the figures of the Commedia dell'arte, a medieval theatre style originating in Italy. Don't know yet what I'll do with these, but they're cute.
And I found this wonderful calligraphy set in Venice. It's fully functional, with ink, but I think I'll tuck it away until I have a nice spot for it in my studio.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Feeling creative

 Had some visitors recently and convinced one of them, Chris John, to add something creative to my Art Journal. (My friend Nancy didn't get around to it but I hope she will create something and send it to me once she is settled in back home).
Chris was in her happy place. She got right into it and played with the gelatos, creating a very colourful background and embellishing with stencils and stamps. Love the ladybug stamp (with a nod to the lady bug Nancy).
The words were truly from the heart and certainly reflect our friendship that has grown over the years. I'm so happy to have an 'original' Chris John masterpiece in my journal!

Next, it was my turn. I had wanted to re-create something like Einat Kessler's pages, with a bit of a different twist. It really is a learning process. I had a rather gorgeous turquoise background but unforunately messed it up a bit trying to add more colour. Oh well! It was a large area to fill and I might have gone a little overboard. Still, I liked the concept and I enjoyed fiddling around with the stamps and colours. I shall have to work on my handwriting though! I look forward to the next creative 'attack' and hope some more of my friends will add to my journal in time. It reminds me a bit of the old friendship albums we had in school.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Balmy days in wine country

 Friends of ours saw an ad about a good deal for a two-night stay at Warrenmang, a winery with accommodation in the Pyrenees region of Victoria. Although we couldn't all go together due to everybody's commitments, DH and I thought we'd make use of the deal which was really good.
We'd been to Warrenmang several times, with friends, and with my sister, so the place is very familiar to us. It has very pleasant accommodation in log cabins or a large multi-room cabin for groups. Each cabin has a balcony and looks across the vineyard and adjoining national park. Warrenmang boasts an award-winning restaurant, and even though the famous hare dinner hasn't been on the menu for many years, the food is sublime. Most people, of course, come for the wine, but I rarely drink these days, and neither of us drinks red wine, so that's wasted on us. Still, I enjoyed a glass of bubbly on the terrace, watching the sun go down.
The harvest was on, and only a few vines remained with grapes still attached. Guests were encouraged to try the grapes, and they were delicious, small and sweet.
Kangaroos are regular guests here and come out to graze in the evening.
We spent the next day driving to Halls Gap, a small village in he mountains, and tootled around enjoying the scenery. There are some good lookouts that are quite accessible and provide lovely views over Halls Gap.

We saw lots of wildlife too, from eagles, currawongs, cockatoos, wrens, and kookaburras to an echidna, kangaroos, and lizard.
I really liked the trees on our trip, they were often large, old gums with pale cream and grey bark. Some of them were huge, with hollows for possums and owls.
On the way down the hills we saw these interesting rock formations. Would have liked to take more photos, but it was difficult to stop or park.
Later that day, we headed back via Avoca and enjoyed a leisurely dinner at the winery. DH had a yummy duck and veg, followed by icecream, and I ordered one of my favourites, house-made gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach, followed by a pretty raspberry muffin with chocolate an cream. Very indulgent!
Luigi, Warrenmang's owner, is trying to sell the winery. One can only hope somebody who loves the place will buy it and keep it going as a tourist venue and restaurant. We'll certainly keep going back.

Friday, March 6, 2015


 Golly, that came around quickly! Once again it's Friday night with friends, and due to the lack of anything interesting to sew, I once again turned to the paints. This is my very first entry into my art journal. I think I will dedicate this journal to poetry. I don't like motivational sayings or flowers and babes, so poetry it is.
I prepared my page a few days ago with a coat of Gesso, which I pressed all over with a bath sponge for texture, and used impasto with a stamp for the wavy bits.
So tonight I started with a couple of gelatos and kinda mushed them all over, mostly using my fingers. Looks a bit offputting, but I've found that things tend to work out ok later.
I added some Dimensions ink around the edges with a dauber, which gave the edge more depth and better colour. Then I dabbed the lines with some copper metallic stuff, and again used a stencil for the background, with Lumiere old bronze.
The page is about travel, so I added a few bits and bobs about travel, the Eiffel Tower, a Kaisercraft arrow, and a suitcase cut from "Daphne's Diary" magazine (it's brilliant!).
Slowly things are coming together.

 Now for the poem, one of Hans Christian Anderson's which I liked. I glued the words down, darkened the paper with some pastels, framed them in black marker and gold pen. Then I added a few streaks of Inka gold to the page, and finally some bubbles with black oil pastel.
Et voila! My first art journal page finished.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The old picture challenge: Nightmare

"Nightmare" is the word of the month. Hmm, what gives us nightmares? It's often the mundane, everyday things that turn our dreams into something more sinister. So I took some ordinary photos and played a bit with Picasa, to turn them into something that might give you nightmares.
The first photo was taken last year in Singapore, and depicts three lanterns with faces of different deities (one is the Mountain God). I thought they looked pretty forbidding and like something that might haunt your dreams.
The second photo was taken a while back in a small Melbourne alley. he street art owl was quite benign, but once you play with colour etc. those eyes really pop and that fierce stare could give me the willies!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Lunar New Year!

I had this whirring around in my head for a while, so on Chinese New Year I sat down and put it to canvas.
The base coat is acrylic, red and some orange. The I used a stencil, some gelatos and oil pastels for the background. I used some Inka Gold for the edges, and i had ordered some nice Chinese napkins, which I used for background, glueing them down with Gel medium.
Then I drew on the goat, from a photo I had in my "Inspirations' folder.
I shaded the goat with Dimensions stamp ink. While I was in Chinatown the other day, I found these amazing coins that had Chinese script and dragons on them, and attached a few to the canvas as well. Finally, I found the birdie sitting in the tree, gave it a rub with Dimensions ink, and added it as well. Lets hope that the year of the Goat brings us all health, happiness, and prosperity!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Books - again

I think I was an Indian in my former life (of the subcontinental variety). I love everything about India, enjoyed every minute I spent there some years ago, and am always on the lookout for books about India. There is nothing more flattering or comfortable to wear than a salwar kameez, and don't get me started on curries...
I have quite a few books about India, from fiction to cookbooks to other non-fiction. For several years, I read books about the British Raj in India, in particular about women's experiences during that time, gained from diaries etc. It makes for fascinating reading. Far from being fainting Victorian damsels, these women were fearless, intrepid travellers in far flung outposts of the British empire. One such lady comes to mind, Harriet Tytler, a brave soul who was the last white woman who remained during the Delhi siege of 1857. She was living in the armory with her young child, and survived to tell the tale.
I could ramble on for quite a while about this topic, but today I wanted to point out a few books of fiction that I've enjoyed reading, relating to India.
At the moment, I'm reading "Tell a thousand lies" by Rasana Atreya. It's about a young girl raised in rural India by her grandmother, and how her and her family's life is affected by a corrupt and ruthless politician. It's a good read, and very believable. It depicts the daily life of thousands of Indian women, whose lives are laid out along predictable paths from birth - school (not too much though), arranged marriage, babies, supporting the in-laws and husband. And heaven help you if your family can't provide sufficient dowry. On my trip to India I met very highly educated men, who also had highly educated wives, but the wives still needed permission from the in-laws to pursue a profession. Producing an heir is much more important.
Another book I enjoyed is called "Saree" by Su Dharmapala. In this book, six stories are intertwined about a saree maker in Sri Lanka. I never knew that sarees are such amazing social devices, for want of a better description. One learns about sarees as well as the gods and goddesses that govern so much of life in these parts. The six stories come together beautifully at the end,
I think it was M. M. Kaye's "The Far Pavillions" that got me started on the Indian subcontinent. I can read that book again and again, and I also have the old video with Ben Cross and Amy Irwin. The other M.M. Kaye book about India is "Shadow of the Moon", another good read about the British Raj. Both books are fiction and could be called historical romance. And who could forget "The Raj Quartet" by Paul Scott. These are four books set in the latter days of the Raj and follow the lives of a number of different characters. The books are called "The Jewel in the Crown", "The Day of the Scorpion", "The Towers of Silence", and "A Division of the Spoils". Some might remember the excellent drama series of "Jewel in the Crown". I recommend these to lovers of historial fiction.
Finally, there are some rather more 'fluffy' books about India with which you can while away an afternoon. One is Thalassa Ali's 'Paradise Trilogy, "A Singular Hostage", "A Beggar at the Gate", and "Companions of Paradise". The books are about a young Englishwoman who travels to India in the 1850s, and her adventures in the Punjab and Afghanistan. Good read about the "fishing fleet" during the Raj (young women sent to India to find eligible husbands). An oldie but goodie is "When the Rains came" by Louis Bromfield. It's basically about a minor scandal in the town of Ranchipur, before the monsoon arrives. The book was also made into a movie with Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy -loooong ago!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Friday Nights with Friends

I joined Cheryll's blog adventure "Friday Nights with Friends", whereby every first Friday evening in the month we work on a craft and blog about it the next day, with real and/or virtual friends. I'm usually a quilter, painter, and photographer, but my sewing machine packed it in recently and I found a new interest - art canvases and art journals. So last night, I finished a canvas I had started in a class, and it was great fun messing about with paints and glue etc.
 Here's my little craft 'nook', with just enough evening light to see what I'm doing. And a coffee and cookie to keep the creative juices flowing!
 This is as far as I got in class. I played with colour, used some spackle paste for texture, stamped some tissue paper and glued it on with gel medium. The tissue paper needed another coat or two, so that was my next step.
Once the gel medium was dry, I added embellishments. First, a photo of my sister Rebecca in a cardboard frame, then some vines and a flower, dabbed with gold and apricot pink.

And here's the finished canvas, with a few more embellishments. For a first try, I'm quite happy. And the ideas are coming for more....

Monday, January 26, 2015

More book stuff

Thought I'd post a bit more about some books I've read recently. Most were on my Kindle, but a friend gave me a REAL book to read, called "First Impressions" by Charlie Lovett. I must say I really enjoyed this one. It's a story that switches from Jane Austen's world to that of Sophie, a current-day bookaholic, and is a bit of a whodunnit. The premise is quite clever, whereby the authorship of "Pride and Prejudice" is questioned, and all the action flows from there. The ending is a bit too fairy tale, and the characters could use some development, but overall, it quite satisfactorily filled an afternoon.
I've said before that I love reading Donna Leon's books, and discovered one I hadn't read. This one was not an Inspector Brunetti one, but a separate novel. It is called "The Jewels of Paradise", and revolves around Catherine, a lecturer returning to her home town of Venice to solve a family dispute over an inheritance. Her research takes us into the world of baroque opera, castrati, and tales of old Venice, and leads her into unexpected dangers. Most enjoyable as always and very well researched.
The other one I thought I'd mention is "Singapore Black", the first part of a trilogy by William L. Gibson following the (mis-)adventures of his sleuth, Detective Hawksworth, Chief Detective Inspector of the Singapore police back in 1892. Gibson's portrayal of Singapore at this time (when it still was a British crown colony) is very detailed and shows a good understanding of the intricacies of race relations then. The story is also very entertaining, a history thriller at its best, what with warring Chinese gangs, sinister goddesses, and the long overdue monsoon all mixed in. Can't wait to read the second book, "Singapore Yellow", out soon I hope.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Well, just when I got some mojo back for quilting, the sewing machine gives up the ghost! I had started a new project, a small Amish style quilt, when the bobbin winder got stroppy. Happily, at the same time, I found a new creative  art form on Pinterest and YouTube. There are lots of  "how to" videos about art journals, in particular by Einat Kessler, a very talented lady. I have several of the materials needed to get started, so will attempt an art canvas soon. Serendipity helped, with the discovery of a new shop in Sunbury that carries a lot of the materials needed, such as paints, stamps, stencils etc. (it's at the bottom end of O'Shannessy Street, if I remember correctly, it's called 'Bella Carta'). They have classes, and on Monday, I shall attend a class about using Gesso. My task today is finding all the bits and pieces I've collected over time that may be useful for such a project.
I've finally taken some time to get more acquainted with my new big lens, so stand by for some photos  of wildlife this year. By wildlife I mean rabbits, roos and birds in the backyard, but I'll be heading for a zoo sometime to play a little more.
I might also join Cherryl's 'Friday night with friends' blog list. It's nice to see what others are working on, in a variety of art and craft forms.
Finally, I'm looking forward to our weekly and monthly quilt group happenings. Which reminds me, I'd better get on to that 'Blues' challenge!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Old Picture Challenge 2015: SUMMER

Alsha's Space has a new challenge, the Old Picture Challenge for 2015. Thought I might go along with that, as it gives us a chance to post photos lingering in old albums and on old discs. The link is http://alshasspace.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/the-old-picture-challenge.html and everybody can participate.
The first theme for this month is SUMMER, and the first photo is from last summer, when we visited the bay in February. These bathing huts along the bayside always evoke thoughts of summer, beach, and water for me. Their owners paint them in fun colours and motifs, and they are a pretty sight along Melbourne's beaches.

The second photo is from Ocean Grove Beach, again last summer, with the surf school out in full force. Nothing nicer than sitting on the beach in summer, watching the surfers' endless routine of paddling, standing up, surfing, and crashing!
Finally, I've added this one which I took just the other day, and which I think shows the fun to be had in summer, at the beach, wearing light clothes and just feeling happy.