30 March, 2010

Free Postage on ART BAGS

I made original, handpainted ART BAGS for over 4 years.

They were hugely labour intensive, and I'm taking a break from making them right now, while my girls are small.

I painted and sewed over 500 bags - and there are now only 21 left.

As a special Easter offer there is FREE POSTAGE on any ART BAG until the end of the Easter holidays - that's 8.30am on Tuesday 13th April, 2010.

Just use the code EASTERART at the checkout.

The smaller 'Freedom' Bags are all $66, and the larger 'All Day Totes' are $110.

Perhaps yours is there right now. Waiting patiently. Hope so!

29 March, 2010

Five Faves

It's been a pretty productive and 'familyish' weekend at home, so thought I'd join in with Pip's Five Faves this week.

1. Sewing Cushions for me - I bought this craft panel from Aunty Cookie last week and just had to make it up (trying another easy zip method from this Design Sponge tutorial) into this denim backed number. I love it alongside my Anna Maria Horner homemade cushions.


2. Making Cushions for my kids - they get so excited, and honestly, there were no sewing mountains climbed here.

Firstly, this one from a Canteen bandanna for my boy who loves yellow (and I'd promised it for his October birthday, last year!).

Then these two Dora cushions made from the cover on the old kids fold out lounge. The foam had had it, but the cover was the real favourite. I just stuffed them like toys and she was ecstatic.


And this one for my boy who loves typical-boy-bottom-humor - and I got to recycle some of his old jeans. It was a big hit.

3. Baking - tried the very 'American sounding' recipe for Graham crackers today from this recipe here - liked making them, and am sure my attachment to trying them is because I've always heard of 'smores' and I think that's what they're used for - but they're not quite it for me (I'm happy to say that the kids still liked them and there's just enough left to send some to school tomorrow).

4. Little 'Lemonade' Stands - where a jug of water and a few cups mean hours of imaginative fun.

5. Handmedown toys from the boys to the girls - this dolls house was originally built by my father-in-law for my step daughter - who is now 22, and when it was passed down to the boys I painted the rooms and painted on some furniture ('real' furniture always got in the way of the dinosaurs). Today we got it out and cleaned it up for the girls, and I'm looking forward to seeing the next incarnation of play. It's been a huge success with S already.

And as an extra bonus I even went and saw Avatar this weekend, which I did enjoy, which was a pleasant surprise because I'm not a sci fi sort of person. And it was a lovely 3 hours of by-myself time, hidden behind 3D glasses. No complaints there.

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

26 March, 2010

Lemon Cake to make while babies are sleeping

Made this yummy lemon cake from kootooyoo's recipe this afternoon.

Can't say enough good things.

You don't even have to use the beaters - perfect when the little ones are asleep, and then it's eaten by the big kids home from school, warm from the oven.

Thanks Kirsty!

25 March, 2010

My Creative Space

Today I received the handy photo scanner that I ordered from here.

On Tuesday, during procrastinations about doing housework, I noticed a small photo album of my trip to the US in 1994 was falling apart, so I decided to take all the photos out and find a photo shop downtown that would scan them for me (as it's a pretty underwhelming job to do on my flatbed scanner at home, and let's face it, I may not get around to it).

Lo and behold about 2 hours later I saw a tv ad (whilst feeding the baby that rarely sleeps) for a photo scanner that would do exactly what I needed. And it looked fast, and easy, and if I had my own, well! The sky's the limit! I could scan so many of my other photos from before digital and make photobooks like I've always wanted! (OK, so that's a lot of exclamation marks. I don't get out much. This is really exciting for me.)

So I ordered it on Tues night and it arrived today, and whilst feeding B her lunch I managed to scan the whole pile, then after taking J to get his mouthguard this afternoon I corrected the images in photoshop (they are pretty ordinary photos - more 'memories' than 'photography') and set them to upload onto snapfish while we went to Mum's for dinner. Then after getting home and putting the kids to bed I've gone and made the book and sent off my order.

Can't believe it.

Honestly, I've been planning to make a photobook for SO LONG and now I've done my first one and I'm much happier than doing the housework would have made me. By far.

And because the planets all aligned, I was seriously inspired by seeing a book my visiting aunt made about her trip to NY last year with her daughter. I saw Patsy and her fabulous book this morning, and when I came home the scanner was sitting here, waiting for me. I couldn't have planned it better.

And wouldn't you know it - the housework is still all here, waiting for me. Perhaps tomorrow...

For more creative spaces, be sure to visit kootooyoo.

22 March, 2010

How many times should you reboil water?

I understand that you're supposed to boil fresh water for the perfect cup of tea (and probably not use a teabag I guess), but if I boiled fresh water every time I'd be personally responsible for our water crisis.

I think I've boiled the kettle intending to have a cup of tea at least 6 times this morning. I'm happy to report that I've finally poured the water into the cup - so that's a step forward.

Now, I'm going to share a couple of handy family recipes that I find useful. My focus on recipes at the moment is because I'm learning web design and have decided my first 'code only' project is going to be a simple recipe site, so I need so take some photos and figure out some links.

These first biccies are Sultana Bran cookies and I got the recipe (that was originally from the Kelloggs website) from Jane Kennedy's blog. I just added a bit of leftover chocolate icing to distract my kids from the fact that there are sultanas in there.

My second recipe is for Chocolate Slice and was originally from a Burkes Backyard mag (I think - I've cut it out and pasted it in my recipe file, and can't remember!). Anyway, I've made it marginally healthier (if that's possible when you start with 200 g of butter) and have drawn out the recipe for you (inspired by a terrific illustrated recipe site called recipe look - thanks Cathie!). Just click on the image to see it bigger.

I use it as a very quick to make lunchbox treat, and when choc slice is needed for tuckshop. You can of course use plain flour and sugar, but hey, if you've got the brown stuff, it still tastes great.

Oh, my tea is now cold. Might just refill the kettle...

20 March, 2010

Painting LIVE

I found this on the choccybangles blog and I have to admit I watched it with one eye while I fed the bub a yogurt and I got a little bit distracted and she got quite a bit messy.

I WOULD LOVE TO DO THIS! I really have no desire to be on the stage, but I get a total buzz whenever I have the opportunity to paint in public (now that I read that back it does sound a bit bizarre). And we have a Carnival of Flowers here each year, so there's got to be some keen, quirky shop out there who'd be happy to have me! Logically it'd be a shop that's stocking some of my art and products. But it'd be great in a dress shop too. (Now there's another goal put out there into the universe...)

Now I just have to get my butt into gear (literally) so that I look more like this gorgeous woman from the back...

18 March, 2010

My Creative Macarons

This is what good 'parisian' macarons should look like.

Tartelette is one of my favourite 'food' blogs and her talent with the macaron (and macaron photography) is second to none. Check these beauties out...

Ah, mouthwatering.

Now, I'd admired these macarons, and seen them on quite a few blogs and today I attempted my own - without reading anything except the recipe in the Women's Weekly Bake book, and without a decent piping bag (I used a glad bag).

And they were not perfect (and they were really pointy on top!), but they were yummy.

And I made them to use the egg whites leftover from an ice cream attempt. So they'll be made again, and next time I hope to get a little closer to the Tartlette ideal! So I'll make sure I read her instructions here.

There have been paintings finished this week, but I'm too tired to post them now.

For more creative spaces, head over to Kirsty at kootooyoo...

12 March, 2010

Two REALLY easy meals

As promised, here is the info about the Donna Hay recipe (and another that I made up the other day) that I LOVE. I am not a food stylist, nor do I call myself a photographer (so don't let this top photo put you off), but I love these simple meals and so do my family. Maybe you'll enjoy them too.

Firstly "MOZZARELLA CHICKEN" (from 'No Time to Cook' by Donna Hay, p140).

I'll paraphrase.

  • pitted olives
  • cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • chicken breasts
  • mozzarella
  • basil leaves
  • pancetta (or ham or bacon)

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
  • Line a tray with baking paper and sprinkle on a good handful of pitted olives and a punnet of halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 mins.
  • In the meantime cut 2 chicken breasts in half lengthways, and top each with a slice of mozzarella and a couple of basil leaves. Then I usually don't have pancetta (which is in the recipe), so I sort of 'drape' the chicken piece with a slice of ham or bacon.
  • Then just place the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes and olives and back in the oven for 18 mins.
  • Serve on top of green leaves.

Honestly, this looks great and tastes like a restaurant meal. And it's ready in 30 mins and there's only one tray to wash up.


The other recipe I have to share is for my "BBBBLT" (below).

It's simply a salad of:

  • Bacon
  • Basil Leaves
  • Boccocini (I used baby boccocini because it was on special)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato

Divine. I've had it three times in two days. Hope you like it too.

08 March, 2010

My parallel universes

I think I could be living one life in two separate universes. And they're both busy right now.

By day I do stuff like this (not every day, but it happened yesterday - all the while S was trying on each item of clothing I was trying to sort and B tried out her new bottom teeth on my ankle - I mean she's now literally an 'ankle biter').



Read this quote today on the Simple Mom blog and loved it so much I had to print it out and put it on the fridge.

Pretty much sums up most of my days. Except it doesn't snow here, lately it just rains. And the grass grows and grows. So it'd probably be better to read "... like mowing while it's still raining." But then it wouldn't rhyme...

And by night I do this. Because I have to. Otherwise I'll go crazy. This one is for the upcoming Grammar Art Show.

And I've blatantly jumped on the Alice in Wonderland bandwagon and painted these for my 'homewares' line, and I'm happy to say they are now available at "The Chocolate Cottage" in Highfields. They also bought a lot of my other stock so I'll have to keep painting to add to my site asap.

I wish there was another part of the day that I could manage to get a little sleep in. What would you call it? There's 'daytime', 'night time' - and I think 'me time' is a total myth. And I've got the (lack of) hairstyle to prove it.

In other news, this Donna Hay recipe for dinner is SO delicious and quick, I'll post the recipe tomorrow.

Now to do some tidying up in this office. Goodnight!

06 March, 2010

Stop Motion Animation

My lovely friend Annie (who should have her own blog but doesn't yet) told me about this and I had to share it. Just beautiful. I love the way beautiful things just happen... sometimes that happens here too. But my hair is a mess. And my clothes would be paint spattered... ok, nothing like this video at all... I'm just dreaming.

Visiting APT6

This top photo from here.

A dear friend Sue, initiated Thursday's visit to the Asia Pacific Triennial at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. It was so fantastic that we simply didn't have enough time and have to go back and take the big boys.

There were rooms full of string and elks in glass balls and 400 little men holding flowers... most artworks/installations had messages, but most were simply so enjoyable - and so wonderful viewed through the eyes of my kids.

We'll be back before it finishes on 5 April! Guaranteed.

Zhu Weibing, Ji Wenyu | People holding flowers (detail) 2007 (above).

A Request

A little while back I needed a pincushion, so I put it out there (through the Meet Me At Mike's forum) and lo and behold the lovely Cherry made one and sent it to me!

So here's another request that I'm sending out there to blogland - I'd really like to do a painting of matryoshka/babushka dolls, but haven't been able to take an image I'm happy to work from.

Do you have an interesting photo of these dolls that you'd be happy for me to paint from? Whether it's one, or the full set, I'd be really keen to see it! I'm thinking of interesting angles... I'm painting a series called "Collectables" and love to use colour - does that help?

If so, could you please email it/them to me at anna@annabartlett.com. I'll be sure to send a special thank you if I use your photo.

OK Universe. Do your thing!

05 March, 2010

I LOVE this blog

Cake Wrecks
- have I mentioned it before? Makes me laugh every time I read it.

Happy weekend! It's so foggy here that we're sitting in a cloud. Amazing I have any (wireless) internet access at all (didn't this morning). Everything is damp. Poor chickens too. But we need the water!

04 March, 2010

Creative Space Thursday

After seeing this post here, we're trying a spot of Glue Batik on a table runner I hemmed ages ago. So far the glue is on (couldn't get 'Elmers' so am trying 'Crayola') and has dried (it took all day in this weather). Next step is to colour with watered down acrylics. I really hope it works!

In other creative news, this was yesterday's haul from the vege garden (me thinks the carrots were pulled just a little too early) ...

And here's a creative pic of the rain coming towards us yesterday afternoon. We're very waterlogged here in Toowoomba, which is a welcome change as our dams were under 6%. They're hoping they'll reach 10% sometime next week. Fingers crossed!

Visit kootooyoo for more creative spaces!

02 March, 2010

In my mailbox

I won a lovely giveaway last week and here are the prizes that arrived in the mail.

A fancywork pouch, badges and tags from the inspiring Pip from Meet Me At Mikes (the first blog I ever followed) who was 'guest posting' at Bigprint Little, the blog of mega-talented artist, Allison Langton.

Allison has a regular gig illustrating for House and Garden, and included the original Hydrangea illustration that she did for the Nov 09 issue. I watched the progress of this illustration here, and now it's mine :) and will go up on the wall in my office (another artwork with a story - read my last post), next to my gorgeous Gennine prints (which were bought as gifts but I couldn't part with them).

Thank you Allison and Pip, I feel very lucky!

01 March, 2010


A dear friend of mine borrowed some of my paintings to hang in her house when it went on the market. I heard yesterday that a contract was due to be signed today! Lovely. Her husband has a new job in Brisbane, so with the house sold, they'll have less to worry about with the move.

She mentioned how much they've enjoyed having the paintings on the walls and wondered why they didn't put some art up earlier.

I can totally understand this. When we first painted the walls in our current house we enjoyed having them clean and blank for a while. Then I started hanging some of the art we already had (not much). And over the years our collection has grown (I believe that buying art has made me understand the process and will improve how I make art), mainly through a couple of school art shows we regularly support, and now our walls are filling up. I sometimes move things around, and I have to admit there are probably at least 3 nail holes behind everything on our walls (I'm not a big fan of measuring) and a fair few lumps of blutac keeping things straight. Luckily my husband is a dab hand at replastering when required!

I have to say now, that I think the art on our walls is the backdrop for our everyday lives. I get a huge amount of pleasure from the art we've chosen over the years, and hope that our kids are growing up with happy memories of them too. I want this to be a 'fun' house. Not a 'Home Beautiful' house (and those that have visited would know that's probably never going to happen!).

Just before I had the girls I met a woman who had bought an artwork for each of her children, that would be displayed in the family home until they leave home, and then it will be theirs to take to their new home. I think that's a wonderful idea and we have chosen a piece for each of my girls that isn't baby-ish, but look wonderful in their rooms now, and that they will always know is theirs. They weren't expensive but they are lovely.

For my eldest's last birthday, D and I bought a giclee print by a teacher from school, it's full of detail and something a boy would love, and had it framed. It's his piece of art and he knows the artist. We still have to find the right thing for our second boy... and there's no rush. I know when a painting is right. Do you know what I mean?

Have you ever had a painting 'talk' to you? Some of the ones I remember most clearly are the ones that got away. Sometimes because they were just too expensive for me at the time (there was a beautiful oil painting of a feather that was priced at $250 that I'll never forget, and I just didn't have enough money), and other times because I simply didn't get organised quickly enough and they sold out from under me (and perhaps weren't meant to be mine anyway).

With my own art, I have been known to paint over a painting up to four times, and then it would sell, and the next day someone would call or arrive, asking to see the painting that I'd painted over. They'd waited too long. My art had moved on and I needed to use the canvas. I use good quality canvases and top notch artist's paints, so they stand up to overpainting. With some of my previous work, I've pulled the canvas off the frame and sewn it into a clutch or bag. It was time. Other times I've been just about to repaint something and a buyer would call - they'd found the painting that was meant to be theirs.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to encourage you to let go of your bare walls (if you have them). Be open to art in your life, and if there's something you really like, work out a way to pay for it. Artists and galleries are open to payment plans and laybuys, and from my experience, the price is quickly forgotten (unless you're talking STACKS of money!) but the joy and memories that a piece of art that you love will give you and your family are priceless.

That's not to say that the art you choose has to be expensive. Just choose things that speak to you, and you won't go wrong.

OK. Sermon's finished!
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