Saturday, April 11, 2009

Simple Easter baskets

We wanted to give some Easter eggs to friends this week, so paper baskets were in order. Here's a very simple design:

Cut a rectangle of cardstock (we used scrapbooking paper/card).  Fold the top down, say 2cm or half an inch.  Fold the other end up the other way - this will be the bottom.  Cut notches up to this fold line (see photo).

Create a cylinder and tuck one end under the upper fold.  Stickytape along the join.  Stickytape the notches flat, to create the base of the basket.  Add a strip of paper/card (folded in half for more stability) and tape it to the basket for a handle...

...and viola!  An easy basket for chocolate treasures!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baby Surprise Jacket

Well, I'm back after a bit of a break! I seem to have bedded down the new baby (number three), but time does feel tighter, especially time for crafting and blogging. Have to make the most of moments... Anyway, here's a moment right now!

I'd been looking forward to trying out Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket for about nine months, and finally got to making one for our new little man, Jethro.  Picked the colours out from my stash before he arrived on the scene, not knowing if he'd be a boy or a girl, but that pink doesn't look out of place on him!

It's a great pattern, mostly for the surprise factor, how it all comes together so neatly.  I'd like to try it next with a varigated yarn - less sewing in of ends!  Not that I mind sewing them in, actually.  It can be even more meditative than simply knitting, I find...

Jethro can't wait to get his hands on it!  How satisfying!  I must say, I was glad to have another boy, cos now the jumper or two I made for Jasper (which he's eschewing, too cool for woolen sweaters) will get a second go...  =)

In all its glory, the RAINBOW baby surprise jacket.

And the back.  Love how it comes together.

And finally on...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Garden Harvest Soup, by Piper

Today Piper made us Garden Harvest Soup. Totally her own initiative. Set the table for us with a wet (for some reason) nappy, bowls, spoons, and serviettes. Had to be matching everything, even the spoons. She was very pleased with herself, very smiley, but had worked with great intent and obviously had a vision for how she wanted to present her soup, and how she wanted us to participate in her culinary act. It was bemusing but beautiful.

Piper took these shots, and I wish there was one of the soup. It consisted of: beans, beetroot leaves, dandelion flowers, spring onion tops and other odds and ends. No doubt very healthy! And we did eat some!

Gord and I have been reading a bit of The Art of the Commonplace: the agrarian essays of Wendell Berry, and this experience with Piper correlates directly with something he writes:

I do not believe that "employment outside the home" is as valuable or as important or as satisfying as employment at home, for either men or women. It is clear to me from my experience as a teacher, for example, that children need an ordinary daily association with both parents. They need to see their parents at work; they need, at first, to play at the work they see their parents doing, and then they need to work with their parents. It does not matter so much that this working together should be what is called "quality time," but it matters a great deal that the work done should have the dignity of economic value. (p. 68)

Piper is always playing and imagining, but I've never seen her so clearly emulate, on her own, the everyday work of cooking that Gord and I engage in almost every day. Especially settling the table like that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Turning 29

This time last year (on the 25th January), I was turning 28 in cold Canada. This year, I felt I hadn't had the headspace to work out what I wanted to do, except have a little dance party on our non-existent deck(!), so the day rolled out in a very unplanned, mellow manner, which can sometimes leave me feeling at a loose end, but it worked out well. I wanted to capture some of it in images...

A space to read in bed with a cup of tea for a little while - always a lovely treat, one that doesn't come along too often these days!

Favourite earrings.

My daughter back - I'd hardly seen her for a week, cos I left for north Queensland early Sunday morning, got back late Wednesday night, saw her a bit on Thursday morning, but then she stayed with my parents for two nights to tie in with a trip to the ballet! And look, she was right back into it, crafting and drawing...

A butterfly dressed up for my birthday.

A trip to the monthly Gembrook Market with Mum and Dad.

My favourite shoes, and the only skirt I fit into, now!

A birthday shared with this baby to come.

Lunch: turkish bread, sicilian pesto and olive tapenade from the market, with home-grown grilled zucchini...

...consumed with relish in front of the tennis!

The first sweetpea to bloom - it was a gift to inhale its beautiful scent - one of my favourite flowers.

Fresh flowers from the garden.

Presents from my in-laws - Gord's parents and sister! Yippee! Made me feel like making something right there and then.

More presents...

The desire to create leading to me pulling out almost my entire yarn stash to see what I could do with it. I've had the idea for a while of a colourful blanket comprising of knitted squares, but the thought of having to work out the gauge of half the balls of yarn, and the equally demoralising thought of having to sew all the squares together somehow, left me feeling a bit stymied...

... but I started knitting anyway!

Another present, from Tessa - a nectarine tree for our future orchard in the front yard.

Starting to read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, an Australian classic, to Piper for the first time. I love introducing her to stories I love.

Kids bathed and ready for bed, without me having to do anything!

And still the desire to create! It overpowered a vague idea to catch a movie and/or purchase some birthday cake in Belgrave! Finally settled on a feather and fan blanket pattern from Country Living's Cosy Knits for Cuddly Babies, and cast on with soft handspun Romney Marsh wool from the market, a gift from Mum and Dad. My first attempt at a lace pattern. Stayed up too late, just enjoying knitting (in front of the tennis, with my husband reading beside me) - nice!

So really, what a lovely birthday, matching my mellow, home-body state at the present...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Robert Maxwell Ackland 1928-2009

My grandfather died early last week, after a long encounter with prostate cancer and various treatments and complications. He'd been sick for a while, so I don't feel sad that he's out of pain now, but I do feel sad for my grandmother, and her sons, and sad that I'll never hear his laugh again, amongst other things. I flew up to Atherton (inland from Cairns) with Jasper and my parents for the funeral on Monday this week. We were there for four days... just got back and am trying to pick up the pieces. I'll blog again sometime soon...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Photography: steps 2 & 3

I've been thinking about the importance of photography for this kind of blog, a blog that's attempting to capture a moment, a lifestyle, a creative act, an idea. As I've mused, a sense of a step-by-step approach to photography has emerged for me. So like I said in a previous post, I reckon Step 1 is taking your camera with you, no matter how mundane your errand or environment, cos you can never predict when the perfect visual moment will come together.

Step 2, in my experience, is reading through the camera manual so that you become familiar with your tool. I was annoyed for weeks cos the exposure setting on the aperture-priority mode of my camera was set one stop up, so everything was over-exposed, to the point where I couldn't use the images at all. And yet, using a short depth of field (ie. playing with the aperture) is one of the easiest ways to add focus or interest to an image. So finally I pulled out the manual and sorted out the solution. If I was really motivated, I'd write down the solution I found, so that next time I don't have to wade through it all again.

The next step, Step 3, that just seems to roll out, is to regularly and deliberately take photos. Making a regular photoshoot space, if you like. For me this means a space where I approach my photography as a creative act in itself, rather than using it to capture other physical creative efforts. Using the lens to see moments of beauty all around me. Experimenting with colour and effect. Seeing a place, seeing life, in a new way.

On Sunday we were at the Prahran Market, our old haunt, with some friends. The kids were having fun on the carousel, so I attempted to capture the moment...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Impromptu dolphin

More and more, Piper pulls out the craft stuff by herself to create whatever she's imagining in her head. Sometimes it's bemusing not to be needed, now that she knows where the scissors are and is so adept at cutting the bits of sticky tape she needs. Yes, a lot of sticky tape gets consumed around here these days! But that's all good. I've been keeping many bits and pieces that would have ended up in the recycling bin, cos invariably they get used in the next creation, as a turtle shell, or a dolphin pool, or an aquarium.

But the other morning, Piper decided she wanted to make a dolphin out of felt, which required a bit of parental presence. I probably took over the project, like did the sewing round the edge really need to be blanket stitch, or could I have just let her at it and see what happened? It's hard for the perfectionist in me to let go...

Found a picture online and printed it off as a pattern/outline.

Me sewing the blanket stitch, cos Piper didn't want to.

Taking time to snap a shot of her brother...

Stuffing the dolphin.

A new creature in a new home. A satisfyingly felty finished product. What a pity I was grumpy by the end, and what a blessing that the doorbell rang just then, announcing a friend, and an instant change of mood!