Monday, January 28, 2008

Jam and a Ballerina

Greg and I have been very productive this long weekend, with Zoe away at Torquay.

Greg continues with his preparations for the start of the school year. He has been preparing course outlines for Literature and English, and has been typing up work for "The Kite Runner".

Yesterday, I made a ballerina doll, with sleeping
bag and pillow, for my niece who will turn three on Thursday. I made a doll from this pattern last year, but painted blond hair. This one has dark brown hair, like Sophie. She is dressed in a Madeline ballet costume I bought for $3 at a toyshop closing down sale.

On Saturday morning, while Freckle and I were on our run (about 8km), we ran passed the Abbotsford Convent and realised the farmers' market was on. Popped in to see who was manning the fruit truck and discovered in was my mum and my cousin-in-law, Janine. Picked up some delicious nectarines and peaches, and today made peach and nectarine jam, and peach and nectarine muffins. Yum!

Greg took the photo - very artistic, isn't he?

We went to see "Sweeney Todd" on Saturday night. The expressive eye-rolling of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter was excellent, coupled with the wonderful costumes and stunning cinematography. The singing of the characters of Toby and Anthony was great, and Alan Rickman was at his sleazy, evil best.

Zoe returned tonight after a great time boogy-boarding, watching movies, playing pinball and riding golf carts. A little more freckled and rather tired.

Back to work properly tomorrow - another school year about to begin. What will this one hold?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Black Dress

This is the black dress, made from the same pattern as the floral top. Pretty stylish, hey?

Very summer in Melbourne.

I finished reading "The Subtle Knife" by Philip Pullman. A satisfying second instalment in the trilogy. Loved the witches, and the characters of Lee Scoresby and Hester - a very moving death scene. And Lyra and Will were a good team. Looking forward to reading the last in the series.

It's Australia Day today, and a long weekend. Zoe has gone to Torquay with her friend, Mia. It should be lovely weather to be at the beach - hope Zoe remembers to apply sunscreen!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Holidays

It's been a while since I last added to this blog - we've been on holiday at my parents' beach house on the Mornington Peninsula.

Prior to our holiday, I had lots of fun completing some of the projects I had planned with the material I bought at Cleg's.

With the apple green fabric I made a pair of shorts, the khaki was make into a skirt and camisole and the floral fabric was made into a gorgeous top with puffed sleeves.

The top was such a success that I modified the pattern to create a dress and made one out of black fabric.

Greg was also busy working on the garden. The corner where the shed had been looks fantastic now!

Since my last post, I have been reading novels by Kate Atkinson. What a great writer! I have finished "One Good Turn" and "Case Histories", and have today bought "Human Croquet". I love her wonderful, rounded characters and the interconnectedness of events and people. The novels are witty and thoughtful - I laughed out loud and cried in turns. Bliss! Highly recommended.

I have started "The Subtle Knife" by Pullman. Quite intriguing. Poor Greg has had to spend time preparing for his classes - writing notes and finding resources.

Zoe has finished "The Secret Seven" by Enid Blyton, and is now reading "The Borrowers" by Mary Norton. We've hardly seen her to ask how she enjoyed them. She's off at another sleepover - this time with Anna who is celebrating her birthday.

We had fun at the beach house. With Zoe's friend, Chlo, we visited the Amazing Maze at Arthur's Seat, Greg and Zoe went to the Cape Schank lighthouse while I was at a hearing appointment. We took Zoe's friend, Bella, with us when we took the ferry across to Queenscliff, and the two girls had fun jumping off the Dromana pier.

Within minutes of getting out of the water, a seal swam under the pier and caught a puffer fish which it leisurely ate as it swam backwards and forwards around the pier. What a grea sight! I haven't ever seen a seal at the beach.

We also visited Heronswood - a beautiful historic house and garden. Worth a look!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Since our last post, Greg and I have been very productive!

On Monday, I visited a fantastic fabric shop in the city while Zoe was at her last day of ballet school. It's Cleg's and what makes it fantastic is the great sale and the wonderful sales assistants. The lovely lady who helped me gave me advice on choosing fabrics, and helped me match colours and find some great bargains. I bought a pile of fabrics and a few patterns. Since then, I have made a gorgeous shirt with puffed sleeves, a pair of shorts and a camisole and skirt. I also finished a white jacket that I had begun the previous week. I think it looks pretty good!

In spite of the heat, Greg has been working very hard in the garden. He knocked down our old shed and, with the help of Dad and his trailor, carted it all away to the tip. He has been levelling the ground ready for some concreting, and weeding and moving pot-plants. It's looking really wonderful out there, if you ignore the drought-inflicted lawn!

Zoe is at her friend, Bella's, beach house for three nights - her first extended sleep over. Hopefully, she is having a great time swimming and mucking around. One of their plans was to make things for a stall to be held outside the front gate. That should be fun!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Exhibition and Ballet

It's been a couple of days since I lasted posted anything - it's been so hot, and we have been doing things to try to keep cool.

Zoe continues to attend the Australian Ballet Summer School program - and she loves it.

We all went to see "The Golden Compass" on Saturday. Zoe and I really enjoyed it, but Greg wasn't so keen. He loved the costumes and settings but wasn't convinced by Nicole Kidman. He isn't into fantasy, so it wasn't really his type of movie. The girl who plays Lyra, Dakota Blue, is fantastic. I also loved the settings - the scenes of Oxford and the snowy North are gorgeous. The wonderful modes of transport, the flying machines, boats and bears, are fabulous. I read the book about a year ago, so knew the story and what to expect. I thought the entire cast did a great job - lots of familiar actors, too.

I saw "I am Legend" with friends, Christina, Marina and Cheryl, on Friday night. It made me afraid to go out in the dark afterwards! I missed a lot of the dialogue due to my poor hearing, but it was an interesting premise, and great shots of a deserted New York. Will Smith is great - good to look at and works well with the role. Wish I could do chin-ups like he does!

And Christina is pregnant - how exciting! Due in mid-June so I'll have to plan what to make.

I have been doing some sewing. I made a Harry Potter peg apron for Leonie's fiance, Tom. He wanted manly fabric, so hopefully Harry will fit the bill. I am attaching a photo of Greg modelling its useful features. I have also made a dressing gown, or house coat. Years ago I found a house coat belonging to my Nana in the cupboard at home. Why it was there after she had died so long before I don't know. It was a lovely navy one with pink flowers, trim and buttons. This one isn't the same but it has echoes of my Nana's.

I finished the autobiography, "In my Skin" by Kate Holden. It is a must-read. She slid into heroin addiction and then prostitution in such a way that it makes you realise this could happen to anyone. Her family struggles with the terror, shock and shame of her addiction and lifestyle. She tells her story in a very matter of fact way - she experiences both good and bad, frightening and brutal, and tender and loving. Throughout it all is the pull and torment of addiction. Interestingly, it is through her job as a prostitute that she regains the dignity that inspires her to ditch the herion habit and return to a more regular lifestyle. She does state that her prostitution experiences are the opposite of the normal trajectory, where a girl might start in the high class brothels then descend to the street, whereas Kate went from the street to a high class brothel. Certainly, a life to be avoided. Kate Holden is a great writer - I love her column in The Age.

Greg is now reading "The Great Gatsby" by F Scott Fitzgerald, and I have started "One Good Turn" by Kate Atkinson.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Walkabout Had such a lovely day today.

Took Zoe to the Australian Ballet School for their summer school program. She had a terrific time, made new friends and learnt new things. She was so mature in the way she handled the challenges.

I went walking through the city and Botanic Gardens. Met some nice women in a city cafe, both crafty types. One had the cutest pink felt pig she had made, and the other the most gorgeous dolls. She sells them on Etsy and through her blog, arabellacucumber. The dolls are absolutely divine.

Had lunch with Leonie in Brunswick Street - well, breakfast actually. Lovely to catch up! Have offered to make Tom a peg apron in "manly" fabric. Should be a fun project!

Greg finished "The Kite Runner" yesterday. He doesn't think it is particularly well written but the story is such a strong one that it is a very impressive novel. He thinks the film might be too confronting to watch, although I think that the film makers won't need to make it too explicit. After all, they are using child actors - it can't be too confronting, surely? He will be teaching the novel in Year 12 English this year. It will be quite challenging for many of the students in terms of its content, but a novel worth the effort.

Zoe and I made a cool bag together. You can see the picture. It's reversible: white denim on one side and a cute red and white print on the other.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

It's a scorcher today - up to 40 degrees earlier, but a cool change has come through about an hour ago.

Zoe spent last night at my mum and dad's house - swimming, visiting the neighbours (three girls) and seeing films. They stayed up until midnight, having a swim in the dark and watching the Sydney fireworks on TV.

Greg and I went out to a lovely restaurant. Delicious antipasto platter for entree and spectacular souffle for dessert. In combination with wine, we were very sleepy when we got home!

Made a new shirt this morning to wear on these hot days. It's a light cotton with pale gold spots. Very easy.

Greg finished "Strange Blooms - the Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants". He said it was very interesting but definitely a niche book. It details the introduction and development of gardening for the English aristocracy. At the start of the 17th century, gardens were created for their usefulness, but as Britain's explorations took them further into the new world, and as the aristocracy became a wealthier group with disposable income, they began to collect objects from all over the world. Of particular interest was the plants. Wealthy land owners would have huge collections of plants, and many of these were sourced by the Tradescants. Their travels were wide and varied, and their daring in gathering curiosities was great. One for gardening history-buffs.

Greg has now begun "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. This novel is on the booklist for Year 12 in 2008.