Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fortuitous chair finds and Thursday Thrifting

Look at these beautiful pieces of art found op shopping today. They are "Kristaware" from Melbourne. Again means nothing to me but gosh those colours, hard glossy plastic and funny dimpled lids are just super yum. The kids were in awe of these and were both drawn in by their magnetic appeal. Note the splendid job that my silky oak table is doing as  a backdrop as well as showcasing the colour and grain I was raving about last post.

The big news is the fortuitous find of 6 chairs only a day after the arrival of the new table.  I had a pretty good idea what I wanted and lo and behold there they were on ebay with a local pick up and no other bidders. Done and dusted that night, the  kids bundled into pyjamas for a mini adventure at 7 pm on a school night no less.

They are replica Eames DSW chairs. They are the only white chair I have seen with wooden legs which was a big part of the appeal as it takes away from a completely plastic look. The metal bracing was apparently inspired by the Eiffel tower.  The low profile of their backs has really opened up the space in our living room compared to our old dining setting which you can see here (this is new table with old chairs).

Here is the new ( while being both antique + second hand ) improved version.

 And I'm already in love with those wipe clean surfaces. I'm still trying to fossick all the ingrained food out of the crevices in the old upholstered chairs before I sell them on ebay. In my defense they were purchased before the arrival of children ie when such things as food hygiene were not considered when making furniture purchases. I'm also taking it as a positive that the seller of the chairs had already owned them for several months, exposed them to 2 small children and they still looked in new condition. Now all I need to do is hurry up, choose a white and get those walls painted.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No table, how about a buffet

Unable to do justice to my new table due to old non complimentary chairs, I thought I would share another piece of silky oak gloriousness with you all. If you were  getting the idea that there is a  bit of a silky oak thing going on over here at Betsy's  you would be on the right track. It all started with a dresser bought unrestored 11 years ago just after we bought our old house. Since then we have intermittently added to the collection along the way, replacing other wooden furniture as we find the right silky oak pieces.

This buffet was an ebay find about 6 months ago and has been languishing in the office awaiting restoration. With the arrival of the dining table it has been pulled out of hiding in order to best display the new posy pansy vase. I love the art nouveau style carvings on the door. I don't like a lot of fuss and bother with wooden furniture, no glossy mahogany or elaborate carvings and frills and furbelows for me thankyou very much. But a little art nouveau detailing is quite delicious.

It took about 4 years of waiting for a simple mirror free buffet with some detailing to appear on ebay but as mentioned previously, once I have a vision I am tenacious. This one was living in a decrepit old house with a big sister buffet much larger and more elaborate in size as well as a dining setting and several smaller pieces all in silky oak. They had been in the same family for at least 90 years but none of the children wanted the dark silky oak furniture for their contemporary homes.

 For those who don't know silky oak, it is usually a rich dark amber honey colour with a very fine lacelike grain running through it and no visible knots. It comes from the largest tree in the Grevillea family and the wood is also known as lacewood due to the distinctive grain. Not to be confused with Tasmanian oak which is much lighter and with a larger grain and commonly used to build more contemporary furniture. It is also quite lovely but to me is the poorer cousin in colour and richness.
Eventually we will restore this one, her interior has had a very slap dash white makeover and a new coat of shellac would bring out her lustre but right now I think she and the posypansy vase are already bringing out the best in each other.

Several people posted comments about the painting so I thought it was time for a mini art tutorial.

We call her "The Beautiful Lady"  but the official title was "Indian wedding" and she is by an Australian artist named Genola de Jong. She does beautiful paintings of women as well as lovely still life paintings involving interesting flowers and fruits. Have a peek here if you want to see some more of her work. She doesn't seem to have any recent work but she was quite prolific back  nearly a decade.

Her style to me is a little reminiscent of the famous impressionist Paul Gauguin during his Tahiti phase. To see a lovely tribute to this phase of his work have a look here (image is from same source).

For art to enter our house Legoman and I have to agree completely that we both love it. We actually celebrate our wedding anniversary by buying a piece of art and have something from every year we have been married. The premise being that while we enjoy the art  we also hope to ward off the perils of divorce by both being unwilling to divide the art collection.  We don't buy for the artists name or brand or hype or investment potential, we very simply buy things that we love, and usually it is all about the colour for me.

 Most have been inexpensive, two have required considerable thought (it helps to average them out over the 50 years of anticipated marriage) and last years came from an op shop as the purchase of Betsy did not leave much left in the kitty.  The Beautiful lady was slightly more his favourite than mine (I think I was not entirely sure about the orange) but I love the cyan blue and all the detail in the fruits and flowers and fabric.

The other unexpected bonus is that both my children as infants would point to that gorgeous Tahitian princess and say " Mama" . Personally, given that I have curly hair, never wear orange and neither child has ever witnessed me in any sort of reclining  position let alone draped in flowers and  fruits, I think it's a bit of a stretch. Perhaps, it's just the curved expanse of child bearing hips. Either way, she is here to stay.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Posy Pansy vase love

Legoman and I had a rare treat today. Feng shui Nonna looked after both the kids so we could have a few hours to ourselves. We had intended to sort out our office but instead ( procrastinators that we are) we snuck off for a prowl around the Woolloongabba Antique Centre or WAC as it is more affectionately known.

Many years ago we would spend many a weekend wandering through the Paddington Antique Centre and the WAC is the same concept on a much bigger jam packed scale. It is one of those places that if you were accidentally locked in for the night the fun would begin. You could try on all those scrumptious frou frou vintage dresses/hats/gloves, kick back in the rows of cinema seats with an old Enid Blyton and just take your time examining the myriad of deliciousness all around.

We had gone back to longingly look at a huge silky oak table that we had seen months ago and was now on sale. Unfortunately it was still way too expensive for us but thankfully was probably also just a bit too big to comfortably fit back with Betsy. I did manage to find this lovely vase (Legoman would debate that descriptor as it is not exactly his cup of tea) but he humoured me as a man does who is trying to convince his wife that he should be able to waste his bonus on personalised plates. I really just love the colour and the flowery texture and knew I had just the spot for it.

Being the purists of the colour blue that Betsy and I are, we feel that it is probably a light Cyan colour but we are open to correction from higher authorities. It is a "Diana" vase made in Australia. As I am completely clueness about branding of items this meant nothing to me. A quick curiosity search on ebay revealed an entire series of similar vases and a replica of mine was titled "PosyPansy vase". Further down the list similar vases in other colours were titled "Trough vases". Strangely the image of snorting piglets was not as appealing as petite bunches of flowers. It was also nice to see that the price I had paid was modestly better than ebay.

I took a peek at Sandy's area from Paint me white . Her section looks beautiful and her prices are really reasonable. She has several beautiful fabric covered stools that have motivated me to dig out mine and make it over. We also snuck over to Add Vintage  across the road as well. While most Mid Century furniture is not quite Betsy's style it is nice to admire the architectural element to all those buffets,credenzas and crockery. I have to say after sitting in  a Casala chair they score high marks for comfort,stackability and all round good looks. I could imagine a set of those on Betsy's back deck, perhaps when we have a roof to protect them.

After such a lovely morning, we were pleasantly surprised to be able to inspect another silky oak dining table that we had found on ebay. This one was much more within our budget and came home with us this afternoon. As I have been looking for one just like this for about 3 years, I am more than a little excited about it all. Now just to find some chairs that do the gorgeous honey coloured timber justice...... will share some photos tomorrow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday ferreting

What a wonderful week for op shop ferreting adventures. Two kids clothing patterns, two balls of chocolate brown crochet cotton ( still in the packet), some gorgeous fabric- the background piece is actually a huge cushion cover complete with button up back, a fruity counting puzzle and 3 glorious hardcover Enid Blyton books to match the set of three Magic Faraway Tree books I have kept since I was a little girl. Even better I don't actually remember reading the Naughtiest girl stories so will enjoy sharing those with Liongirl in a few years. The minute I arrived home I had to line all those glorious coloured spines up in a row on the bookshelf - perhaps Roboboy's desire to have a complete set of things is a little teeny tiny bit genetic......

The most surprising thing was that the puzzle and crochet cotton came from an opshop in West End. Now I assumed that Boundary St being a hive of vintage lovers that everything would have been thoroughly picked over and cleaned out. I think in actual fact most people in there were perusing all the groovy vintage fashion so the toys and craft items were not on the radar.

Liongirl and I were out on a girls only adventure ( ie eating mini chocolate mudcakes and having pots of tea and babychinos). We don't do this anywhere near as much as we should and  it was nice to have an excuse to slow down and savour the whipped cream on the side. We were actually on a mission to pop into Avid Reader and pick up a copy of this book for Roboboy.

Avid Reader recently held a book launch for the author of this awesome book. Peter William Rowe has Down's syndrome and unable to talk his family did not know he had the capacity to communicate for nearly 30 years. Finally he was introduced to a picture communication system and uses this to write and illustrate his stories. Given that this story is both about Robots and that it's ok to be different  I knew it would be ideal for Roboboy. Even better there are at least 3 more in the set..........

 I love wandering down Boundary street, we of course had to climb all over the mosaic lizard, do our fruit puzzle, have snacks and generally bask in  this gorgeous spring weather that has finally arrived about 5 months later than expected.

The other op shop find was a pile of lovely crochet doilies for 50 cents each. I am thinking of using the large round and large rectangle for cushions, the little one maybe for dress sleeves.

Finally a model shoot for the girls. The full set of white, brown and black....... or as Legoman likes to think : breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pecking order is in full establishment mode. Meek and mild Sooty has risen to the ranks of head girl. Super pretty white Rose is next in line and poor Dora 2 seems to be on the receiving end of both of them. And they are still putting themselves to bed roosting on my washing line, which is right at window level of our lounge, so they can stare us down if we are not sharing the corn cobs around.

Enjoy your weekend, lets all make the most of this glorious spring weather.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wecome Rose and Dora 2

What to do on another wet Sunday? I know, lets match our outifts to our umbrellas and go down to the RSPCA to see if they have any chooks for adoption. Liongirl's outift was selected with much care and planning, you can't actually see the Hawaiian print skort underneath this Red Riding Hood number.

Unfortunately for us there were no neglected chooks needing a home. Did make us feel good to know that all current chooks  around the traps were wanted and cared for though. So it was off to Brookfield Produce to select some new besties for Sooty.

We planned to get just one other girl to keep Sooty company but Roboboy has had his heart set on a white chook for months. He gets a little transfixed by collecting complete sets of things, in every colour available.  And we were in luck with just 2 white chooks left amid a sea of brown ones. One had a limp, and the other one, that's our Rose. Roboboy's choice of name. The replacement brown chook, well she has predictably been called........... Dora (mark 2)

 Both are called "point of lay" meaning they are around 5-6 months old and should shortly start to lay eggs. Both are also very timid and skittish and not at all like our old Dora who would frequently just invite herself inside at any opportunity to steal cat food and peck up rogue bits of fried rice under the dining table. Even Liongirl is now a professional at "Shooooing" such badly behaved girls outside and off the deck.

We kept them locked in the coop for the first 24 hours and this afternoon let them out for their first foray into our garden. I suspect they have not been free ranging before as it took a fair while before they had the confidence to leave the coop. And they had not quite worked out the bit about putting themselves back in the coop for bed. Instead they found a nice safe high fox proof perch.........

On my clean washing. We had declined having their wings clipped. Really hope I'm not going to regret that one. Luckily they seemed to either be asleep with their eyes open or in some hypnotic trance like state as they were amazingly easy to retrieve from here. I will try and capture a photo of the complete set, I mean trio, tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Liongirl did what any girl does when her best friend comes over for a play on a hot day. Time to retrieve 2 pairs of matching swimmers to share for a quick dip in the clam pool. She and Fifi have been friends since they first started toddling around and have had many sessions of mutual trying on of shoes, loading of shopping trolleys, chats on toy mobile phones and intermittent eye gouging and hair pulling- usually when snacks are involved.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday night crochet fever

It's time for some crochet action girls. Betsy and I have got the FEVER, yes that's CROCHET fever ( said with the accent of Donkey from Shrek for maximum effect) Parfait? EVERYONE loves parfait. I was thinking that with my recent lack of updates on crochet progress that you were all out there scoffing that this crochet was just some flash in the pan thing. Some whim lasting all of the duration of a Shane Warne/Liz Hurley relationship.

Well proud to say we have outlasted Liz Hurley. And going strong. This was my first effort from my 200 crochet squares book. Number 76 titled "Granny Stripes". All the patterns are very helpfully graded from easy- moderate - hard by the number of crochet hooks so this was one of the one hook wonders. I do have some slight concerns about the fact that it is actually more rectangular than square. Not sure if this is due to a stuff up by me or if when it gets blocked ( ie stretched and steamed) that it will spontaenously behave and take on squarish tendencies. Note the superb job my newly painted greyish deck is doing as a backdrop. The colours were inspired by this old friend....

Thought you might like to see the other side of the cushion, forgot to share that last time.

I thought not a bad colour effort considering I did not have the cushion stuffed into my work satchel for the spontaneous shop at Spotlight when the wool was purchased. Still deciding whether to do a cushion or a rug.

Have something to confess. You know how recently I was flaunting the fact that I could now read a pattern, part of a secret club blah blah blah?
Yeah well that came back to bite me didn't it. Kind of like when you smugly boast about your 3 month old baby sleeping through the night because of your superior skill as a mother (not directly said but implied of course). Then they start to get teeth/get sick/you go travelling and you suddenly join that club of zombie mothers and feel like total goose.

 I just started on my next square and have had to pull it apart about  20 times in order to work out what "into ring" means. Having made a "ring" of stitches I was trying to then join stitches into my chain/ring. But no, that is not remotely what it means. "Into ring" actually means " into the big hole and nowhere near any previous stitch".

Kind of reminds me of many of my forays into baking desserts. Try as I might, I am genetically incapable of producing an intact dessert. It seems to me that They (that would be the evil THEY who write dessert recipes) always leave out that one critical explanation that other women must just know. Passed down genetically through a long line of women and just incorporated into their knowing gland for recipes.  Like when they tell you to add the eggs but leave out that the mixture must be at room temperature ( because surely any self respecting woman just knows that) and not just off the stove which was the prior step and suddenly everything is curdled and disgusting.

Having sorted that out, I have progressed another row and am now trying to work out what 1tr into next 3tr means. If it is between the trebles there are only 2 not 3 spaces, if it is inside the trebles which bit of them do I go through. AAAARGH, I need the equivalent of a spell check for crochet, something that gives you an error sound and a red flashing light when you stuff up and a ping sound and a green light if you get it right. In the meantime will just have to persevere and hope it ends up vaguely squarish and like the picture.

By the way that wasn't me boasting about the baby sleeping through,  Roboboy didn't work that out until practically 2 and while Loingirl was much more accomodating I wasn't silly enough at that stage to announce anything so reckless. May all sleep deprived mothers of small children unite. But not over crochet as it takes way too much concentration to be doing it sleep deprived.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deck progress and a little glam

Remember this deck? Well finally I have been back there to sort out that hideous dirty blue floor. The pale grey at the bottom of the photo was the first sample pot colour I tried before I quickly realized it was too pale. Luckily with some rain it showed how much it would be stained by the leaf pigment from the millions of poinciana leaves that land on our deck every minute.

Fourth sample pot seems to be the winner again this time and I did a small patch that I have then been considering now for a few weeks while our busy lives hum on. Finally,  there was a window of time without small children or rain where the paint would actually have a chance to set properly.
It still amazes me how a $60 tin of  paint can transform a space.  The colour is called Deep Gorge from Taubmans. I did find it quite irresponsible that Dulux did not provide their own brownish/greenish grey  to complement the brownish greenish White Duck wall colour. Slowed me down a bit having to look at other brands sample charts but when it comes to getting the right colour I am terrier- like and do not give up easily. In our previous house I actually hand mixed both an external balustrade colour and an interior white as I coudn't find any that matched the very clear vision in my mind. Once you know that the colour contains black, yellow and magenta for example, it's not difficult to tweak how much there is of each pigment until you get the desired result.

I only got as far as the balustrade mainly due to all that pesky preparation. After clearing all extraneous toys off the deck, sweeping off all the leaves, a light sand in parts then a final mop, time was running out for the actually painting. I'm really happy with the colour and can't wait to get stuck in and do a second coat. It is also nice to have one small section of Betsy looking glam as the rest of her looks distinctly more worn out dishrag.

Someone else was looking mighty glam in her skirted Dora swimmers with matching new swim cap. Had to share my proud mama moment watching my little Liongirl starting her 4th swimming lesson. She had lessons for a few months as a baby but we stopped around 15 months as winter arrived and it was all too hard. You know, neglected second child syndrome.

Well after 2 lessons of crying, the third producing  a brief grizzle ( for my benefit)  at number 4 she happily suited/capped and goggled up and was happily in the pool doing dives off the edge, attempts at handstands and picking rings up the bottom of the pool. The only problem now is she wants to play in the pool at the end of her lesson like Roboboy and likes to wander down to the deep end despite not actually being able to swim. Oh and have I mentioned that she likes to ignore my hysterical shrieks to GO BACK TO THE STAIRS. Twice she was yanked out and once I was within a hairs breadth of jumping in fully clothed. I can sum it up best with a high order mathematical equation:

2 years + stubborn as a mule + fearless + no actual swimming ability = mother needing alcoholic beverages. What is this monster I have created........

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dora's demise

Some very sad news to share today. Our poor chook Dora died of presumed un- natural causes yesterday. In the time it took for school pick up something happened that rendered her flat on her back, legs in the air kind of way. There were no feathers around to suggest a dog incident. She was tucked into a corner of the yard near the deck and we are not sure if it could have been a cat or a snake incident. I have spared you all the chook with rigor mortis photos.

The worst part was the fact that the discovery of her stiff little body by our visiting friends children who already had pre- existing BIRD PHOBIAS. I should probably just start a generous savings account now for their lifetime therapy sessions . Eternal gratitude for the father of the bird phobia kids who promptly dug a deep grave for
Dora next to the compost bin ( which was her favourite place to spend a sunny afternoon).

Then came explaining it all to Roboboy who was already starting to ask questions about death quite recently. I explained that Dora had gone to Chicken heaven where she was free to roam all day eating corn kernels with her friends. He was initially hysterical about her being buried ( under the dirt with no window) but found some glass hearts to use in the ground as windows  which seemed to make him feel relieved. He made her some treasures to take with her- some space foil and pirate money and was trying to get his head around the fact that the trip to chook heaven was a one way taxi with no opportunity to come back for holidays. He  then rapidly  moved straight on to asking about when we can replace her with  a white chook and another brown chook he also wants to call Dora.

I'm missing her today. She was so feisty and pushy and always underfoot looking for more food, more action and would search out my company in order to get more treats. Sooty is more beautiful, but like many humans who are more beautiful she has a much less well developed personality. I'm also worried that whatever killed Dora might be back for Sooty so we have had to curtail her free ranging while we are out. We did see a big ginger cat in our garden for the first time yesterday- has anyone else had incidents between cats and chickens? Our cat shows no interest in them at alll- not sure if all cats  are equal in this respect. So now the new job is to get out to Brookfield produce to choose  new bestie for Sooty. RIP Dora.

On a much lighter note, that wonderful mid century groove queen over at Make Mine Mid-century nominated me for an award :
Apparently this means "loveliest blog" and is awarded to new up and coming blogs worthy of a little extra attention. I am a little chuffed to be given this award and hope the extra attention is not being sent my way to correct my sentence construction as grammar has never been my strong point.
So, now it is my responsibility to gift this award onto 3 of my favourite newish blogs as well and share their positivity with the blog world.

1. Timber and Tin - a lovely blog about moving an old queenslander onto a block of land in the country
2. St John's Wood - another blog about living on acreage in the country
3. Clothwork - a gorgeous visual feast of crochet and quilting

So pop over and have a look and hopefully you too will be hooked  by this trio of delights. 
And if you need a comic boost for your day, frequently involving food smeared offspring, plastic horses with hollywood aspirations and some mid century appreciation go and hang out with the esteemed Make Mine Mid-Century                                                                        

Monday, March 14, 2011

Octonauts and Johnny Depp vs Charlie Sheen

Sound the Octo- alert, one GUP A coming into dock at the Octopod, piloted by  Captain Barnacles and his trusty Navigator Kwasi. Yeah, ok I might have watched  couple of shows in order to design the cake. There was also a full set of all the characters faces as cupcakes and each child got to choose one for their goody bag.

One little boy was so overwhelmed by choice he deliberated for about 3 full minutes. I had to check if he wasn't just being too polite to say" bugger off lady I don't want any of them" but no, it was just a REALLY hard choice. It was lovely to see the excitement generated by this bunch of 5 year old boys who are all so into the same show and in awe of their favourite characters coming to life in cake form.

Overall I have to say that the party was a huge success. We had taken a risk and invited 4 of his new prep friends as well as 2 old friends. And we decided to be accomodating and invite all the younger siblings as well because we knew that in all likelihood one or both parents would be coming as well. So that meant 7 five year old boys, 8 toddlers aged from 1-3 and 14 parents. And these were parents that mostly we only have briefly met at school drop off and pick up, slightly daunting for someone with a pathologically messy house. But we had already decided to do something to make our lives easier, because remember Roboboy is Quirky.

At school he tries really hard and mostly comes off as good Quirky - think Johnny Depp- slightly eccentric in a cool, married to a french model kind of way. At home, all that effort to appear normal has completely worn him out and we get a lot more bad quirky - picture any movie with an exorcism and you've got the gist. And as much as he loves the idea of a birthday party, when he's in the middle of one he pretty much doesn't know what to do with himself. At best he could  hide in his room and demand us to send everyone home, at worst he would be chanelling Charlie Sheen ie losing the plot and ranting in a delusional and narcissistic fashion. So, we bit the bullet and ordered one of these:

My goodness what an absolute winner. Room inside for up to 12 kids at a time with a ladder ramp that goes up to a  slide down (just to the right of the kids) The party went from 2-6 pm. And do you know what? Even when it started bucketing down rain at 4pm that castle just got better and better. Because then it turns into a bubbling spa with WATERSLIDE. We did not see any children until they all crept inside drenched at 5.30 pm to eat snags in bread and collapse in front of a few Octonauts  re-runs on the telly.

And all the parents got to kick back on the deck, eat copious nibblies, have a few beers and meet some new friends. Not to mention, going straight home with knackered well fed children who would collapse straight into bed. And although Roboboy did make his friends line up in an orderly fashion to look at his new lego set and completely freaked out when a gang of toddlers got into his room and hijacked his fleet of garbage trucks, mostly he and was just like any other 5 year old boy having a great time with some new friends. And for that we are eternally grateful.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cake anyone?

Betsy and I have been a little busy for the last few days. You see it's a big day tomorrow, it's a big 5 year old birthday party kind of day. And in our house any excuse for a party is welcome. In fact we have been party deprived since we moved in with Betsy 8 months ago so lets say it's a housewarming party as well.

Now I will warn you that birthday parties in our house are a serious business, especially the cake. I can still remember poring over the Women's Weekly birthday cake book back in the early 80's trying to decide what I would have next. In fact my mother aka Feng Shui Nonna has often recalled that the day after any given birthday I would be straight back to that book choosing the next cake for her to whip up. And credit to her, she always came up with the goods, despite being a full time working single mother. So for me, part of the whole package of being a mum is producing an awe inspiring cake.

Feng Shui Nonna always produced the cake, but then she was done. February is a disgustingly hot month in Brisbane and this would serve only to remind her of my birth via Royal Flying Doctor in a 40 degree heat mining town  and she would then leave the rest of the party planning to me. Not that I minded at all. I can distinctly remember around age 7 planning my own mintie hint in the back garden and hiding them all , then watching all my mates find them. So party planning for me goes WAY back.

Roboboy has the party planning in his blood too, and this was his first year to choose his own cake. Previously, it has been my chance to unleash my imagination and whip up whatever inspired me. I knew the day was coming to hand the reins over to him. He studied the cake bible and predictably wanted the train a few months ago, mainly as he thought this entitled him to eat an entire carriage by himself. But, creativity won out and recently he requested the current obsession- an Octonauts cake. In fact he would really like the Octopod plus all the Gup submarine vehicles but we are currently in negotations about that.

I thought I would share the 4 previous cakes I have made. The first three were made completely out of my imagination and I still love them. Number 4 was straight out of the cake bible as I was creatively stifled at the time. A month before we had started an elimination diet for food intolerance and I was unable to uses any food colouring, additive,preservative or dairy  (as this is the constant allergy for him) hence the very plain race track with cocoa icing and natural lollipop signs.

So here goes,

First birthday : Seahorse. This cake was gluten free, dairy free and egg free due to severe allergies and held together by icing and lollies.

Second birthday: Red Mower. There was a LONG period of mower obsession over at our place- in fact Roboboy had 4 toy mowers in his prime- red metal, red plastic ,green plastic and yellow plastic.All parents at this party were required to sign waivers regarding taking matters into their own hands if they let their children eat that red icing.

Third birthday: Rubbish truck- front loading type. This was going to be a 2D cake until Legoman egged me on to make it in 3D- took way too much time but pulled it of in terms of  the  lolly stakes. This was also related to a  long phase of fixation on anything rubbish truck related. He still owns 3 - front loading, side loading and back loading. I did manage to scuttle 2 others off at a previous garage sale.

Fourth birthday: Racing track- completely artificial free and dairy free cake. Unfortunately everyone at the party asked my why I had done a number eight when he was turning four.

So tomorrow, hopefully I've got my cake making mojo back. Along the way I have learnt to simplify my approach. What I now go for is maximal lolly coverage, maximal use of colour( but natural) and something vaguely in the  child's interest area. Fingers crossed I can pull a Gup C out of my hat.......

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All the girls decluttering, except Dora

There has been a lot of cleaning and decluttering going on over here. This has been on the agenda since we moved in 8 months ago but the need to have a vaguely clean and tidy house for an important birthday party pushed it up the priority list which is a win win all round really. Especially when you have a keen and enthusiastic 2 year old to help. All outdoor toys which had been strewn around the yard rounded up, sorted, cleaned and several binned. Liongirl felt the only way to adequately clean the  yellow storage pig was to just hop right in with a pair of sponges and get down to it. She is currently preferring to spend as much of her day as possible sans clothes so this kind of work was well suited to her requirements.

We had a lot of butterflies helping us in the garden, most are too quick to catch a photo of but one paused long enough for us to gawp in wonder, and immortalize digitally. This was one of the biggest wing spans I have ever seen- easily 12 cm.

Today was spent inside doing a massive cull in Roboboy's room. He has unfortunately been genetically predisposed to collecting and hoarding instincts. He likes to acquire complete sets of things, in every possible colour and then store them in an assortment of boxes and " treasure chests". He also has an incredible memory and could easily request an item that he has not seen or played with for a year. It has been with great trepidation that I planned to ferret through his entire toy stash and remove as many items as I thought I could get away with. Only the next month or so will determine if I have been successful but so far so good. I was impressed with my work as I managed to retrieve-

One chainsaw with  matching goggles
One broken metal detector- beeps constantly when turned on with no discrimatory powers whatsoever
One jackhammer
One remote controlled snake ( awesome until it chewed through 7 AA batteries in a nanosecond)
One firefighting outfit with helmets,axe, walkie talkie and gas mask
One yoyo
One lightup Thomas torch
One portable Lightning McQueen FireEngine set
One Matchbox Cargo plane

On reading this list I am also now hoping we will not be involved in any further natural disasters as some of these items could actually be argued to be essential  and life saving.

The plan is to sequester them in the granny flat for a good month or so, make sure there are no desperate or hysterical requests for them as part of an elaborate plan, and then dispatch them somewhere other than here.

I tried to nab the Bob Builder tool belt with matching hard hat but Liongirl had other ideas........note the size 00 pants that she refuses to part with. Having children with a petite builds and narrow bums is extremely cost effective where clothes are concerned- these should last her at least until kindy if Roboboy's track record is anything to go by.

And I suppose you are wondering about Dora, well she was not really contributing to the tidying and decluttering movement. In fact she was taking it upon herself to make a dog's breakfast out of my mondo grass. Remember this lovely border of mondo's lovingly planted a few weeks ago with some vague concerns aired by myself about their permanence?

Well obviously mondo grass edging was offensive to Dora's sensibilities...... or more likely she was remembering the tasty treats unearthed in that gardening marathon and was having cravings. Either way, it's still a dog's breakfast. And I don't think she looks the slightest bit remorseful either.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Taking a breath break with Queenie

Remember I found this glorious taste of 1982 the other day but was struggling to capture the awesomeness with a night time camera? Well time to share to joy around a bit........

Not sure if this would work for school drop off, perhaps better for a playgroup setting?

Now Legoman is really breathing a sigh of relief that I haven't expressed an interest in quilting ......  I'm breathing a sigh of relief that he has not discussed re growing a moustache like this one. His previous moustache lasted 2 dates and  a third date was conditional upon its permanent departure. I do know that I will never look at hexagons the same way again.

Tonight Queenie and I went for a little ride around the local burb. It was that gorgeous time of night when the sky is a beautiful shade of blueish purplish dusk, the stars are coming out and most people are inside eating dinner and watching tellie. It was a mercy ride. A case of let me go NOW if you expect me to get through to the weekend with children and sanity intact. I met  Legoman at the door with 5 words- "Tether- at the end of"  and funnily he was happy to let me go, immediately.

 Despite being 80% of the reason for needing to get out of the house (he talks 30% more at least), Roboboy really wanted to come with me. (I think they can smell when you are on the edge and know to pull out all attempts to be delightful children just like the ones on TV commercials). I explained that I really needed a breath break to calm down. This is our attempt to bring him back from hysteria when ABC kids changes their morning programming or we drive a different way home. He has to put both hands together at his fingertips  and take a few really deep slow breaths.

 He followed me out to the carport and said " I don't think you will be able to ride Queenie at the same time as doing a breath break mama because how will you hold the handles? After that comment and 15 minutes cruising around in complete silence, suddenly I loved them all SO much more. The only thing missing was this gorgeous cycling outfit to make the moment perfect.........

Just a little reminder that not all crochet is actually OK.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Creation Station Cleanup

Just in case either of them ever doubt that they are related we have photographic proof that suggests otherwise. These extra cheesy smiles are the result of a shopping expedition with Feng Shui Nonna this morning. Ever thought while travelling how great it would be to have a ride on suitcase? With a strap so that if you get tired others will just pull you along? Roboboy was hyperventilating at the sight of his Octonauts orange case and I think Liongirl's 6th word was pink  so excitement all round. Apparently they both rode them through Target and all the way to the checkout where they rang up at a very impressive $16.

Despite the fact that we are not travelling to Grandad's farm until April, Roboboy was straight off to neatly fold and store all his undies. Adamant that this will not cause him any problems getting ready for school tomorrow.

While they were out purchasing travel accessories I was frantically try clean up my house for the impending 5th birthday party next weekend. Had a little moment the other day when I arrived home from school drop off  to discover that Legoman had waltzed off to work leaving the back door completely open.

 Stopped in the doorway to survey the carnage of a break in and thieves having flung items willy nilly around the living room. On closer inspection I realized that the thieves had in fact left the laptops and big screen telly and focused their efforts on strewing duplo across the floor amidst a rash of rice grains and corn kernels under the dining table,  a trail of clean washing leading to the ottoman and little molehills of dirty washing popping up all over the room.

 It was with slight horror and disgust it dawned on me that no we had not been burgled, we were just living in a tip.  My brain immediately jumped ahead to the personal mortification involved as I explained to the young police officer that all that what appeared to be the result of a robbery was actually a typical day for Betsy lately.

So, it was straight to the craft table/creation station. Forgot to take  a before shot but believe me when I say it could have been entered  straight into the  crime scene evidence log. I find that when things get overwhelmingly messy the kids just won't go near them and the minute they are sorted and organized they are back in there creating away.

Bliss. All feltpens checked for ink flow. All spare lids/chunks of dried out playdoh/dried out pens/dessicated glue sticks binned. All essential items assorted into containers. Jam smeared  on window possibly spelling the words " my brother is so mean" windexed into oblivion. And within minutes of arriving home.......
Yes angel wings are essential when gluing  paint selection charts into one's scrapbook. I bought this coffee table on ebay for  $20 and do have plans for it that vacillate between repainting and recovering in a funky vinyl. And would you believe at the end of all this everything was put away in it's spot. Now just another 6 rooms to go.......

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grateful for the best neighbours in the world

All is quiet tonight as it's just me, Liongirl and Betsy home. The boys have absconded across the road to our neighbours for the first inaugural street campout. They have set up tents, got a fire going, massed all the scooters and bikes on the concrete slab and are eating sausages in bread. Boy heaven really.

Another clincher for us having the BEST neighbours in the entire world. Our street has alot of kids ( 16 in total from age 2-10 ) and 11 of them are boys. Even more amazing is that 2 boys other than our Roboboy are also certifiably Quirky and therefore have really tolerant and understanding mothers. They are also an incredibly tight knit and social bunch. In the 8 months that we have lived here they have organized a Welcoming party for us, the annual fancy dress Halloween party, a Christmas pool party and now the Big Backyard Campout. Oh, not to forget the monthly girls Bookclub that I have been invited to join but just need to organize myself to read the damn book.

Sometimes I feel like I'm on the set of the Wonder Years or equivalent 1950' TV family. The neighbouring two houses share gates in our back fences for the kids to visit each other and many afternoons we have a handful of kids climbing our trees, on our trampoline or building lego on the back deck. I  often have visitors requesting cups of sugar/eggs/grass to feed pet mice or visits to Legomans hoarded stash of Star Wars lego.

 In fact Legoman is now infamous on the local school carpool as many trips are apparently spent speculating on exactly how many and which Star Wars sets he has amassed in his Lego stash. One of our neighbours school friends was in shock that Legoman was actually someone's dad as they thought he was just a really big kid, with a heck of a great collection of lego.

So, while the boys are away, I'm plotting some crochet squares. You see, Spotlight just happen to be having  sale on wool. And I just happen to work just near Spotlight and snuck in there today on the way home. And fancy that but crochet books were on sale too.....

So, I wanted to do a cushion cover in  some colours that complimented the birdhouse cushion. I think they will be  a good combination, now just to choose the first square to start on. Joining in with Maxabella to share the gratitude around.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Fancywork

Well today I'm pleased as punch as I managed (without any assistance) to decipher a crochet pattern and produce a specimen that matched the actual picture. Would you believe that production of above piece requires deciphering of this:
Make 17ch. Base row (2tr,2ch,2tr) into 5th ch from hook,(5ch,miss next 3 ch, 1dc into next ch)twice,5ch,miss next 3ch,(2tr,2ch,2tr)into last chain. Turn.
And that is just the first 2 rows. Amazing to think that a  few weeks ago that was all goobledegook and now I get it. It feels like being part of a secret club where everyone speaks PigLatin and I finally know what they are saying.

This practice run was with Dollar shop acrylic yarn. Feels kind of nasty and sticky in a furry kind of way. Now I just need to work out where to get wool or cotton yarn from. Any tips from those experienced crochet gals?
The pattern was from yesterday's Thursday thrifting adventure. Stumbled across the usual pile of craft magazines. Normally these seem to contain craft nastiness from the mid to late 80's- think decoupage, floral curtain pelmets and bows on everything. But yesterday the sun was shining on me again.
A pile of 6 pristine editions from a glorious weekly magazine collection called "Busy Needles" produced in the UK in 1982. Full of little projects with knitting, crochet and other random decorative arts.

I really like this crochet panel being used for straps and bordering for a cami. I like to make things that are gorgeous AND functional and there are only so many granny square rugs a girl can use in a town like Brisbane. The red pattern in the top photo is one of these panel type designs and would probably look brilliant if done in a cotton like this picture. Hence the search for cotton yarn. 
There are also some real 1982 treats in Busy Needles but I could not do them justice with night photography so will post them tomorrow. Found another vest for Legoman, he should be very thankful I don't know anything about quilting...........