27 April, 2010

What is so hard about Mother's Day gifts?

Today I was in the car and a 'Perfect Gifts for Mothers Day' ad came on the radio. It was from a local company called Vidcam, who I would go to if I needed something techie, something perhaps to do with videos or cameras...

Anyway, their ad went on listing all the 'wonderful' gift ideas they had for Mother's Day, none of which I can actually remember (because in my head I was thinking that would possibly be one of the last places I would shop for a mother) but the last recommended product did stick in my mind. It was... a rubbish bin.

"The perfect gift for Mum". Are they serious?!!!

If a family honestly wants to give their poor mum a rubbish bin, it'd better be full of wine, so that she can drink it and try to forget what the occasion was.

What is it about gifts? Why do we give gifts when so many people seem to have all they need (and perhaps want) and some don't have enough to get what they want so they get what they need (the Bunnings Gift Vouchers that I saw advertised last year as yet another 'perfect gift for Mum' springs to mind)?

I think a gift should show that you care enough to know the person.  Even that you've at least tried to know what they might like, and there's reason behind the choice. No gift at all demonstrates that they were not a high priority for you - hopefully not the intention you're going for.

I am a big believer in homemade gifts from kids for mother's day, and am currently suffering from consumerism-itis whenever I have to go to the local shopping centre. I am home a lot these days, and going to the shops and being bombarded with products I know we neither want or need is overwhelming. I find my personal desires are becoming simplified, the things I want have neither popular brandnames or high price tags. I covet originality, resourcefulness, thoughtfulness and care. I have realised I don't want any of the clothes being advertised, nor the jewellery or chocolates or perfume or (God forbid) rubbish bins.

This Mother's Day I'd like harmony in the house. I'd like handmade cards from my kids. Perhaps something small from the fundraising Mother's Day stall at school. I'd like to eat a meal together, recognising how lucky we are to sit at a table together, and no doubt we'll end the day watching Masterchef together, which we are all enjoying at the moment. I wouldn't mind the Julia Child cookbook... but it's not a dealbreaker.

Lately my life has felt out of control, very busy, with lots of balls in the air, some of which I've dropped. I'm not unhappy though! It's my stage of life. The kids are young and there's little free time. But I've decided to stop apologising for it, I will accept help when I can, and I will make time to plan - if only that was a gift that could be wrapped.

What do you want for Mother's Day?

22 April, 2010

No creative space today - just inspiration

Things have been too busy around here to do much of anything well. And I have a very special visitor from Perth arriving tomorrow, so hopefully she'll ignore the mess and enjoy my company, so I'd best get to bed so I'm feeling perky...

I did want to have a creative space today, but that's simply not going to happen (although there were banana bread, lemon cake and vegemite cheesy twists baked, no photos were taken), so here's what someone else's creative mind dreamed up instead...

From the world of wonderful ideas, check out these fabulous USB sticks from OOOMS (clever dutch design).

They are also the brains behind the glassbulb light and the solar birdhouse:

Very clever. Hope you're feeling a little inspired now.

For a little bit more inspiration, visit the new Pictory showcase here.

20 April, 2010

In my mailbox

I've been trying to restrict my blogging this week. Assignments to do and children to mother and all that...

But I've nearly finished this work I'm doing, the babies are sleeping, and I had to share this giveaway prize that arrived in my letterbox yesterday.

It's from sister outlaws and how cool is that? Packaging the whole thing in a real pocket. Love it!

This is what's inside:

It's a terrific idea and I look forward to pulling all the bits out and having a go when I get a moment. I have to confess (and it does feel like a real 'confession' on a crafty blog like this) that I have a serious, intense, complete dislike of buttons (stems from a young age) so might have to figure something else out there.

This is what it may look like when it's done (just without the button, of course).

And I finally saw Julie & Julia a week or so ago, and combined with the fresh eggs from our lovely chickens that I haven't mentioned much lately, and because I don't have a Julia Child cookbook (yet, I've put my order in for Mother's Day) I've referred to my quite posh Delia Smith cookbook and am working on making the perfect poached egg.

Yum. I used to be a solid yolk person, but I'm definitely converted to the deliciousness of a soft yolk now. Superb.

15 April, 2010

My Creative Space

The bub, while not sleeping that well at night, has actually had two decent day sleeps in the last two days.

So I've done a little bit of painting - mind you, nothing I've done has actually been on my to do list.

Which is starting to be a worry. But these pieces will be listed in my online store very soon. This little person is a constant and wonderful distraction.

Maybe I'm managing to create art because my special art talisman is finally up on the wall - this is just a taste - she deserves a post of her own.

On a happy note I received a parcel of lovely things from 'upon a fold'. I can only show the outside because there are some birthdays coming up and I don't want to give the game away.

 Front. Love that folded heart.

Back. Lovely use of japanese masking tape.

Pop over to kootooyoo for more creative spaces.

13 April, 2010

The kookaburras are laughing

This is not what a sleeping baby looks like.

Could someone tell my daughter?

The sun is peeking over the horizon and the kookaburras are laughing and obviously God is telling me not to be smug and assume I know anything about babies even though I've had a stack of them.

We've done it all tonight - I've even panadolled myself, and I've noticed one difference now is that I compose blog posts in my head as I'm patting that little bottom through the bars of the cot (I'm sure my forehead has a big flat patch in the middle from leaning on those bars) instead of counting to 100 over and over again which I remember quite clearly when boy number 2 wouldn't sleep.

He is now 8 and sleeping soundly at this very minute, which, thankyou God, reminds me that this too shall pass.


12 April, 2010

Some words I love

Today was the last day of the holidays and I FINALLY put this ikea cabinet together - and this is just before the drawers went in. And no, I didn't put the apples there. There are secretive, apple-depositing fairies in our house. (There are also lots of messy fairies living here too.)

Off on another tangent now... for about 5 years in the 90's I took a monthly calligraphy class with the fabulous Olive Bull. Olive is now a fairly regular tutor at the McGregor Summer School here in Toowoomba.

They were wonderful Sundays, full of paper and ink and delicious discussions about gouache and gum arabic. I was at calligraphy the day Princess Diana died. It was a great time of my life.

I'm not practicing calligraphy at the moment because you need space, and quality stretches of time, to get the rhythm going, to make sure, true strokes. You need clean hands and a clear mind. This sort of time is simply not happening for me at the moment, but I know calligraphy is definitely a skill I want to re-invigorate at a later date.

This is one of the poems that I "calligraphied" a long time ago. Even my husband remembers it, and I love being reminded of it from time to time. My massive pile of folding at the moment, and the fact that I don't mind finding apples on and in the furniture is probably evidence that we are managing to keep our hands busy with the important things...

My hands were busy through the day.
I didn’t have much time to play.
The little games you asked to do,
I didn’t have much time for you.

I’d wash your clothes. I’d sew and cook.
You’d ask and I’d read from your book.
I’d tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers; turn out the light.
Then tiptoe softly by your door,
I wish I’d stayed a minute more.

For life was short, the years rushed past,
A little boy grows up so fast.
No longer is he at my side,
His precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away.
There are no longer games to play.
No Teddy Bears or misplaced toys
No sleepovers with lots of boys.
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear.
That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands, once busy, now are still.
The days are long and hard to fill.
I wish I could go back and do
The little things you asked me to do.

PS. Go here to see how your website looks on the new ipad.

PPS. Go here to my son's website if you have kids of about 10 or so that might like to try a movie quotes quiz.

08 April, 2010

My Creative Space

I'm playing along with Kirsty's meme again today, and I'd like to call this 'procrastination crafting'... as I did it the other night when there were probably about a thousand other things I should have been doing.

To give you the background, I'd FINALLY tidied up these shelves in our kitchen that had been collecting clutter for at least the last three years, and when I'd finished I was underwhelmed.

I happened to have the sewing machine out and started imagining how I could 'wallpaper' one side of each shelf in fabric... but after thinking it through and measuring the space, I decided to stitch the fabric onto A4 sized card, then attach the sheets to the shelf with double sided tape. I would have made the pattern join up properly, but I only had a square piece of this particular Anna Maria Horner fabric design, so I just had to make it fit.

Now, I doubt if anyone else will notice it (including my husband, actually), but I'm personally very happy with the end result of a very small change in a part of the house I spend a lot of time in every day.(I've just noticed that there's still a champagne cork hanging off that cupboard handle... probably from when we whet the baby's head 10 months ago... amazing what you get used to, isn't it.)

On a completely different note, for gorgeous photographs (like none I've ever taken while travelling) check out this Pictory tour of London.

And for more creative spaces visit kootooyoo.

07 April, 2010

Other People's Studios

I have always been interested by the spaces that other artists create in. I also love the paintings or drawings they do of their spaces, and have bought posters of the spaces of Ken Done and Brett Whiteley that I have on the walls of my (currently unused because I have to stay in the house with the kids) 'big' studio, for inspiration.

Today I found the website of Nathalie Lete who featured in a video in a previous post of mine (painting a shop window here) and I love her space (above). Quirky, industrial, friendly, colourful, and importantly SPACIOUS!

I also love seeing the studio of  Judy Wise - a prolific artist and crafter with a super blog that I've followed for a few years now. I love the freedom and the calamity, altho she would admit in this photo (above) it needs a bit of sorting.

Another artist I admire is Tiel Sievl-Keevers, and this is a shot of her workspace that she shared recently. All of Tiel's photographs are beautifully composed and she looks really organised - and that's a goal of mine.

I loved the ABC DVD called "Studio"  although I think I was watching it on the laptop and got distracted before it finished - I must find that ...

Now I am off to sort out my space before I share it - if you're showing your studio or workspace on your blog, I'd love to know about it! Just leave a link in the comments. Thanks!

Words to work by

There's no doubt about it, I'm a visual person. But from time to time words do it for me.

Here are some of the words I've chosen to display on my desk - perhaps some of them will speak to you too.

A print by Jen from Swallowfield.

My calligraphy from years ago. Reminding me anything's possible.

My calligraphy again. Love this call to action.

 This is also important to remember.

I tend to make all the cards I give, but occasionally I buy them to keep for me. This is one of them.

 Googling to find out more about Laini Taylor, the artist that made these lovely hanging ladies, led me to the world of blogs a few years ago.
One reads:
“When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I have not a single bit of talent left, and I could say I used everything you gave me” (erma bombeck)
and the other reads
"Dream, grow wings, soar."
Reading her blog today is still wonderful. She's a writer and an artist with a baby, who often stays up til 2 in the morning, painting and doing stuff - can you see why I like her?

 A few words that remind me of friends I've lost.

 A favourite from Paper Boat Press.

 As my Mum always said, "Smile and they won't notice the toothpaste on your shirt". 

What words do you have up in your workspace?

06 April, 2010

Here comes that bandwagon again...

I hope you all had a lovely Easter. We enjoyed what is most likely our last extended family gathering at Wivenhoe Dam (the property is on the market) and treasured every minute. Home now, with mountains of washing and extremely tired kids...

Which may be why I just had to do a few little paintings last night...


The last time I painted Alice in Wonderland characters a local shop snapped them up straight away.

This time I'm showing them to you, my lovely blog friends, first, just in case one catches your eye and you'd like to grab it before I promote them to my email list next week.

Each character is a 25 x 20cm original, painted in top quality artists acrylics (Golden Paints of course) on 15mm thick plywood, sealed all over (front, back and sides) with a gloss varnish, and with an indent drilled in the back, ready to be hung on a nail at your place. I decided to leave the ply showing through this time, and love the neutral, textured background of the panels.

They are priced at $55 each and there's free postage if you're reading this - just enter the DISCOUNT CODE "BLOG" and the shipping will magically disappear! (Australia only - please email me for overseas postage prices.)

The extra good thing about painting on panels like this is that they are easy to post, so I know they'll get to you in perfect condition.

Just click here to go to the site. (I've been trying to link the images to no avail... ah, blogger, one step forward, two steps back at the moment.)

Thanks again.

01 April, 2010

It worked!

Would you believe I write a post about blogger problems and they resolve themselves!

Thank you Universe (and Hoppo Bumpo!)!

Here is my new photobook (of old photos and sweet memories) and there will be more. Kid's First Years, birthdays, holidays... better start saving up now...

Blogger Problems

I've been trying to upload a TINY image that I took when my lovely FIRST EVER photobook arrived yesterday (I'm very happy with it), but this 'blogger draft' setup I've found myself stuck in (I do like the new 3 column layout) won't upload my images.

It LOOKS LIKE it's uploading, but it goes on and on (those dots go round and round) but it never ACTUALLY uploads and stops. Do you have any ideas about how I can fix it?

So I'm going to say HAPPY EASTER to you all and start packing for our 'almost camping' (we stay in tents around a house and I'm related to pretty much everybody there so the kids are safe and someone's always got the thing we forgot to bring and are happy to share - the best type of camping) Easter trip.

Next week is school hols so my teacher husband is home and I'm hoping I'll get some more painting and projects done. HOPEFULLY blogger will let me show and tell.

Again, HAPPY EASTER. I'm going to be spending some of it talking about the real reason for Easter with my son who desperately wants the Stig (from Top Gear) Easter Egg from Target (exclusively, he tells me). I hope the bunny shops there!

Oh, and I'm trying to remember the blog  that offers wonderful free papercrafts so S and I can make some paper easter baskets... they've got a goegous flowy script for a logo and the paper printables are seriously modern and cute... anyone???...  and my memory's here somewhere too...

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