Monday, January 31, 2011


The cat next door has officially adopted us and has taken up camp in the driveway, under the cool of the carport. I am calling her by turns Piewacket and Catskills and no doubt confusing the hell out of her (given that she probably also has another name altogether)

We are being besieged by mosquitoes at the moment but this torch filled with citronella allows us to sit outside without being bitten within an inch of our lives (though I am still bitten a little). Plus this gives me the opportunity to fiddle with the camera and take cool 'flame' photos!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Photo from

It is going to be 40 degrees here today. We have already got to 35, so 40 will probably come by mid-afternoon. Outdoors is somewhere best visited briefly as the sun tracks my every move and I scour the ground, wondering if a snake lurks amongst the grass. Up to about 32, the sunshine is encouraging, a cheerful ally. But most Australians acknowledge that 40 is a bit beyond the pale (literally) and best sheltered from.

It is, however, a beautiful time for a dip in the pool. We went to the local pool this morning as soon as it opened and already a queue had formed. But everyone fanned out into their own lanes and it was lovely to bob about in the cool and soothing world of the water. I have never been a strong swimmer - or indeed much of a swimmer at all - but in my new spirit of enjoying things as much as I can, I've found that there are some things in summer that are not so bad at all.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In the Summertime

The lemons are slowly going yellow...

The very old hydrangea battles on...

No one can remember what this is but it's pretty and smells nice...

Lettuce in my husband's veggie patch doing well...

But only with the help of improvised possum barriers (an old birdcage)...

Our very own cornfield...

And finally, a praying mantis who has taken a real liking to the green beaded curtain hanging at the top of the back steps...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh, what fun we had!

A weekend of thrifting brought...a set of rune stones, which I have been looking for for some time but haven't bought because they were at least $50...found yesterday for $5...

A packet of very sweet and old cigarette cards with Australian birds...

A wonderful volume of Golden Hands as I look for the perfect A-line skirt pattern...

This even freaked out the little old lady behind the counter in the thrift store...

Fabulous 50s matchbooks. The Gay, that's a restaurant name that's not often used these days...

Good times.

And Judy Collins was great on Friday night. As if I wasn't in enough folkie heaven, there was a terrific doco on Joan Baez on tv last night. What a woman!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good things

Some sweet vintage finds in the thrift stores... two lovely 1930s/40s dinner plates. Should I have bought all four?? A dash back to the shop may be necessary...

Don't you love her? Unfortunately one of her stocks is broken but I still love a woman who goes skiing in a dirndl!

And I almost forgot...I am going to see the wonderful Judy Collins in concert tonight! So excited...60s folk music royalty in the flesh!

Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Barbara Pym Cookbook

Now, regular readers of this blog will be aware of my long-standing obsession with the English writer, Barbara Pym. Imagine my delight this morning then to receive in the post The Barbara Pym Cookbook. I have only had a brief look through it so far but already I think I will certainly give Chicken with Tarragon, Beef Casserole with Lentils, Oeufs Florentine, Curried Fish Cakes and Sausage Rolls a go. All well-known recipes of course, but I am always especially on the look-out for new sausage roll recipes! And I love what I would call 'traditional' recipes. Good, 'straightforward' food. Hmmm. I think I'm channelling my grandmother here!

There's also Fairy Cakes, Victoria Sponge, Trifle and Railway Pudding (what could that be?) They are all included here because of references to them in either her books or diaries. I'll keep you posted on the results. And I love Barbara's quote in here from her diaries on the extraordinary things people say:

I never read novels
I never watch television
I never eat jam
I never have tea

Oh Barbara, I do love you :)

Are you a fan of the 'tried-and-true' recipe or do you like trying something new?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Everyone's a critic

Is there anything more difficult to take than criticism? I have never thought of myself as a genius - far, far from it. I am not even sure that I am an especially original thinker. But I guess I would say that I know stuff about what I know stuff about. I have just received back two reviewers' reports on an article I submitted to a journal. Ouch! One report was bearable - lots of 'constructive' criticism which I try hard to take on the chin - but the other? Ow, ow, ow. Me - a writer? No, not me. Never claimed to be...did I? I think I'll just go and hide in the cupboard for a little while...

How do you deal with criticism?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Norse beading - some results

Skadi, Goddess of Winter

Freya, Goddess of love, life and death

Frigga - Goddess of fertility

I am so pleased with the results of my beading on the weekend! Since I have based these necklaces on the ancient Norse style, I have accordingly chosen colours and named each one with one of the Norse goddesses in mind. What do you think?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Norse Beading

Is there anything better than getting a lovely little parcel of goodies in the post? My bead order arrived form the wonderful online shop Over the Rainbow today - - and so I can now have a go at making some Norse-style beaded necklaces. I know what I'll be doing this weekend! There are lots of lovely inspirational sources for Norse jewellery online, like this picture from

Thursday, January 13, 2011


There is a strange atmosphere in Australia at the moment. As you may have heard there have been devastating floods in Queensland, a state thousands of kilometres north from us. Nevertheless, it has really introduced a strange, anxious quiet even this far away. That's exacerbated I think by the oppressively humid whether we're having down here as well as heavy rain ourselves (it is pouring outside at the moment). As a famous poem here says, it really is a land of "drought and flooding rains". A land of extremes, in which the precarious nature of human life in the face of nature is never far from the surface.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thrifting happiness

You know how some days you have just a really great thrift store day? Well, today was one of those days.

Some beads for my jewellery making.

A great kitsch tea towel which I am going to make into a cushion cover (and put in the shop).

A vintage magazine rack.

A gorgeous 1950s tea cosy (probably put this in the shop too).

A vintage doll in Norwegian (?) folk costume - again, one for the shop.

A very collectable and so sweet 1950s Ladybird book.

Embroidered serviettes (also shop-bound).

Happy days!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I have been having some fun lately with the crafting, as well as hoping to hit on some new ideas for my Etsy shop. The top one is a little sewing needle case - my grandma used to make them - but I would use less girly-girl colours if I were to sell them! I rather like the little grey rabbit in the middle and the final snap is of the rune Fehu worked onto felt. Maybe simply a keepsake or as a brooch.

What do you think? I'd be especially interested to know what you think of the rune - is this medium right for runes?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thanks Grandma

My grandma was a prolific knitter and when I was about eight, she knitted me a patchwork blanket. I had forgotten this until fairly recently. I had had it folded up in the bedroom and really didn't pay it much attention. For no reason in particular, about a week ago I suddenly looked at it and thought "I'll give you a wash!" It came up fairly well, although there are a few moth holes in it thanks to my inattention. These can be easily fixed, though. I love it! It's so simple really - it's all in plain stitch and would have been a doddle for my grandma who knitted some amazingly complicated garments - but to snuggle under it while watching tv is just lovely and takes me straight back to snuggling under it at eight, in my bedroom at home.

Do you have anything like this, made by a family member for you in childhood?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

You know you're nearly at the end of the decorating road when you start putting things back up on the walls. I bought this poster last week and when it arrived I thought "That's way too big!" but now that it's up, I really like it. The red and white goes with the kitchen and the wartime history of the message goes with the house as a whole. Apparently the slogan was devised in Britain in 1939 as a civilian morale booster but it was never used. It boosts my morale - I think its message is a wonderful notion. In this snap, taken in the mid-afternoon with the blinds down, it looks rather World War Two-ish, with the tiles and the lighting, like it was taken in an underground Tube station. Maybe?

The crafting resolution is starting to slowly come into effect. Having some fun with felt today (sounds like a book - Having some fun with felt...), with a hopeful view to some new goodies for my Etsy shop.

And fiddling about with some lovely beads too. Now I just have to actually make something rather than just fiddling!
It's 35 degrees here today so I think the quiet pursuits of felting and beading might be just the ticket. Are any of your new year resoultions happening yet?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On the holidays, I...

Our main focus over the holidays was to renovate our beloved 1940s kitchen. It has been on the 'to-do' list for so long and by the time Christmas rolled around we were both thoroughly sick of its dim, tired appearance. It was last painted at least forty years ago, by my grandfather. So while it was perhaps not the most exciting way to spend time off, it was time well spent. One of my aims this year is to simplify, simplify, simplify and I think part of that is very much one's surroundings. Walls therefore are a simple, soothing white and cream (except for our new retro red clock!), a work-table has been repainted white (from a dingy brown) and I am trying hard to resist the urge to cram back in all the stuff that we took out. The window-sill is a case in point. Up until very recently every square inch of it was covered with my Chinese teapot collection and my group of Babushka dolls. The dolls may make a comeback but for now there is just two glass jugs and lots of space and light.
There is still some detailing to do, but so far I love it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wishin' and a-Hopin'...

Happy New Year! I hope that 2011 will be everything you are hoping it to be. I'm going into the new year with genuine feelings of positivity which really is quite a treat for me when I think back to where I was at at this time last year. 2010 was a year of getting myself sorted out and while I have a way to go on that, I feel 2011 will be a good year of consolidating all that I've built up so far. Here's hoping, anyway!

I am not really one for resolutions, but here's what I'd like to see in 2011:

Improving my sewing and knitting skills so that I making stuff good enough to wear and sell - not just dabbling around with the sewing machine or the knitting needles occassionally.

Keep working hard, hard, hard on my writing - my thesis is due for submission to the publisher in March and I have just submitted a collection of short stories for consideration. Gotta keep up the momentum!

While working hard, staying calm - at the moment, meditation is a passing interest but I would like to make it a regular part of each day.

What are you hoping for this year?