Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas Lovelies

Only one more sleep (thank goodness). Here are our little elves doing last min prep for Christmas. Love you all near and far, have a lovely day tomorrow.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

The Cat Is Almost In The Hat

I am so close to finishing all Christmas prep. Please let the day be as beautiful as this one because I want to set a huge table in the shade of the big tree for Christmas lunch. I mowed the lawn and tidied the garden and finished off Kian's stocking. One more day of work and all productivity stops for a while.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Slightly Underwhelming Festive Bunting And A Christmas Stocking

I managed to do the bunting to match the oil cloth, but it turned out a bit dull against the gutter colour. However I am pleased with Leith's Christmas stocking. I was going to do twelve (one for each family member, including adults) but like with almost everything this year, I have had to adjust my expectations and so I decided to do only the kids stockings. Life is long and there will be time for the others next year.

Monday 16 December 2013

Mexican Love

The Mexicans sure do know how to make a place festive (whatever time of the year). I popped into a little shop that was selling Mexican oilcloth this morning and decided to cover our outside table with it. The table has been taking strain with all of the rain so this was a great solution and such an easy way to give it a face-lift. With the tiny bit left over I think I will make some bunting to match.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Neon Reindeer

A couple of months ago I bought a cardboard stag head from TYPO, thinking maybe it would suffice as a Christmas tree of sorts. Hang a few ornaments from the horns, pack the pressies underneath sort of thing. However when my mum and dad gave us their tree, I decided to spray him neon orange and have him at our front door instead of a wreath (they remind me of death). I bought a cheap Merry Christmas sign, which I also sprayed orange. What do you think?

Sunday 8 December 2013

Our Tree

My mum and dad decided that now that we are in Aus they would downscale their Christmas activities and help us to upscale ours, so they bought themselves a tiny tree and donated their big one with all the decorations to us. I cant tell you how thrilled I was because they have decorations dating back to the 1940's among their collection. We added a few of our own (but we did not have many as in SA we always celebrated Christmas at our seaside holiday home). There was a string of lights from the 1940's which finally died this year but Darren has promised to convert them to LED lights so they can live on, however I think that may take a while (more of that when it is done). Ta-Da

A few of the vintage beauties
Some rabbits
One of my Biccie decorations and my favourite ornament from when I was a kid
Leith and Kian's new decorations from Typo
My absolute best: a blown glass clip on mushroom from the 1940's


I have spent the last few days focusing on Christmas in the hope that by the time we get there, there will be very little to do. On Friday I wrapped like crazy. I love the wrapping paper I picked up at Typo, especially the neon pink cross stitch wonder.

Eloise came over to help decorate the tree yesterday and I bought the three little ones tiny pressies in the form of their very own decorations, and crackers to get into the fun (middle pic).

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Lovely Ms Walne

I have a wonderful friend Helen Walne, we are linked by many things: brothers, back steps, inappropriate pub behaviour, but most of all the quietness of our friendship, we really do not need to talk about it, or to each other, very much to know that it is simply there. 
This is one of her recent newspaper columns 


I am writing this quietly. If I could, I would be typing in mute and the letters would be the colour of smoke. 
Next door, children are shouting. They have a new foofie slide in the garden. A wooden platform on the boundary wall now overlooks our compost heap and I am worried they will see the dog poos we throw in and will catch sleeping sickness from the flies that rise like dirty baubles from the sticks and stones.
I worry quite a lot. I got it from my mother, who worries about her windows and her feet and the washing. But recently I have stopped worrying about one thing: being quiet.
It came as a surprise – this permission granted so suddenly. On a long-haul flight – admittedly with one eye on an Adam Sandler movie – I started reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet. In it, she investigates the merits of being an introvert in a world that favours extroverts and details the difference between the two types.
Introverts are most comfortable when they are alone, and they find it difficult to make small-talk. Extroverts feel adrift in their own company and make easy light conversation. They are often the loudest in class and the most exuberant at parties. Introverts often blush and suffer from social anxiety. Many are sensitive to over-stimulation. 
Bam! There I am!
Those who know me will disagree. They will shake their heads and cackle and point to the fact that I make donkey noises and am fond of wearing red with pink. They will accuse me of eating moon flowers again.
However, what these kind and persistent people don’t know is how much effort this carnival requires; how much I would prefer to be in the quiet of home, with farting dogs, a pile of books and at least 30 fingers of shortbread. 
Venturing out to a party or an exhibition or a concert or a dinner or a launch or a braai or a gathering of knitters (okay, that last one would scare anyone) fills me with dread and anxiety. It is physically impossible for me to make small-talk: the weather, what others are wearing, who’s shagging who, what’s the best insurance plan. I worry then what I will say, and get terrified when someone approaches. Then I blush and say something inappropriate, usually involving toilets, crotches or comic strips about willies. Sometimes I spill wine.
If I can, I leave early. After two hours, I am tired. A large group of people feels so pointless. Once home, however, everything falls into place. Bats bleep in the trees, a distant siren rescues someone, the neighbour’s electric fence snaps and growls. This is good. This is quiet.
The sickest I have been in my life came after two years abroad. For 24 months, I put on a carnival – I was outgoing, affable and noisy in new languages. I had a job which required lipstick and skirts. However, at the end of it all, during a visit to Paris, my carnival fell apart. The beauty of the city – all that gold, the people, the heat, the gilded bridges – overwhelmed me, and all I could do was sit on a bench for three days, drinking milk from a bottle and shielding my eyes from the sun.
Being an introvert means being in good company: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, JK Rowling. Cain argues that before the 20th century, we lived in what historians called a “culture of character”, where morality and integrity were valued above all else. Then, with the rise of business and the move to cities, people began to ask how they could stand out from the crowd. Dale Carnegie loomed large, with his emphasis on being a total wally, and so the “culture of personality” was born. And we all began talking loudly, got blogs and started playing bongo drums.
For those of us who have been chastised for needing too few, being in our heads and watching from the sidelines, the good news Cain brings is that it’s okay to be us. It’s okay to walk alone in the woods, marvelling at birds knitting the air with twigs. It’s okay to turn down invitations to networking functions where the dress code is loud and the music is a clamour of sibilant voices. It’s okay to return home after a night out and silently thank the bats. And it’s right that we quietly take our place in the world, and talk with purpose without fear of being drowned out. 
I am thinking of starting an introverts club. It will consist of no more than six people and meetings will be held remotely, preferably by SMS. If you are interested, send a small and aesthetically pleasing smoke signal, or a note sent by ant which reads: I won’t stay for dessert, not because I’m on diet or have a baby to return to, but because I know I won’t want to.

Wednesday 27 November 2013


It has been a bit of a crazy week. I have been applying for a visual arts teaching job and trying to get ready for the Mornington Racecourse Twilight Market that I have on Saturday afternoon, as well as getting postcards done to advertise my commissioned portraiture. I am finally finished the painting of Eloise (about 15 working days from start to finish) and I am using it for some of the postcards, so here she is complete in all her cuteness. I have included the wee portrait of Kian below - they make a lovely pair don't you think? I have a Christmas special running: if you book a portrait before the 25th December 2013 the price is $1750 (down from $1950). Please spread the word to any friends or family you have who might want a portrait of their kids / grand kids.

Friday 22 November 2013


Samsung has just paid their fine to Apple - 1 billion dollars in 5c pieces. Good for you Samsung! I do love a small protest.

The Garden of Eden

It seems our little reluctant bloomer at the bottom of the garden is in fact an apple tree. The promise of summer feels very real today. Happy weekend friends.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Making a Home From a Rented House (Part 4)

This is the last post featuring some of my favourite bits and bobs from around our home.

I love vintage cook ware so much more than the new stuff. The first pic is of a great set of pots I picked up a while back. Pic # 2 is a bit blurry but features our wonderful Miffy Piggy bank that Darren bought as a gift for me when he was in Japan. It is filled with $2 coins that is our holiday fund.

These snaps are of my world globe collection and of the swallow wall plaque on our bedroom door.

And these great wall pieces are the work of my talented friend Carla da Cruz and they hang on the beautiful red brick wall that forms part of our patio.

That's it folks - a tour of our home.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Making a Home Out Of A Rented House (Part 3)

The boys rooms are wonderful sunny rooms in our teeny house.

Above are pics of Kikki's room. We have used little wooden cubes to house his books and toys as they are much more his height than fullsize bookcases. The bed shows his prized Miffy toy his Grandpa Terry brought home from one of his trips abroad and the little quilt I made him a while back. The last pic is of two of the board game pieces he has on his walls.

Leith's bed also shows the quilt I made for him and his prize soft toy is Polar Bear (who is almost 40 years old) and was Darren's soft toy when he was a lad. Leith has organised his Lego very precisely on his bookshelf and on his walls you can see the beautiful enamel Tintin pieces that Darren's Mum and Dad brought back from Vietnam for him.

Making A Home From A Rented House (Part 2)

To follow on from my last post here are snaps from the lounge. As you can see from the first pic, I am a little in love with hand embroidered fabrics. These cushions were all made from vintage tea cloths or place mats and they adorn the seating in our tiny lounge.

The great light was from an exhibition which show-cased a collaboration between Brett Murray and The Bitterkomix boys. The funny wee deer must at some stage have been a Christmas velveteen decoration (although it is very large for that). I love him as he reminds me of the little Duikers that would be found in the bush-land around SA.

The great old shop counter we found in a second hand shop in Durban and ditto for the 1970's poof (which I love and Darren hates).

Making a Home From a Rented House (Part 1)

These are the words to a lovely little song I have on one of my mixed tapes. It is what we have tried to do since we have got to Aus. Here are a few of my favourite bits and bobs from around our home. I will start with my best room which is the dining room come playroom.

The wonderful wall tattoo was a gift from my greatly talented friend, Kim Longhurst and the enamel dresser and bowl were exciting finds at my friend Kirsty Machen's shop MINT.

This book case houses some of my best vintage finds / gifts ever. Firstly there is the v old tin doll house which I found in pieces in the corner of an RSPCA shop. Then there is my Fisher Price music box collection from the 1960's and 1970's. I had some of the same toys when I was a kid and both my boys have played with them. The wind up mechanisms were virtually indestructible. The books are mostly my Dent Dutton collection of classic children's books, they are all cloth bound and date from the 1940's to 1960's.

The beautiful old scale was a gift from our lovely friend Alistair and the kitchen unit was a gift to me from Darren for one of my birthdays. I think we spent about $40 on it in a small town in the Eastern Cape SA. It is filled with great enamel ware mostly purchased from MINT.

I made this little Bokkie wall plaque a while back and she hangs on one of the doors leading off the dining room.

It Runs In The Family

The crazy comes from all sides. Is this picture of the cousins not just the best? It is Stevie-Grace's birthday this weekend and she is next up on my portrait list.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

My Day - Part 4

OK so Monday was a struggle. I am trying to work in the coat. I started off trying to put in the tone and thought I would do the tweed like texture afterwards, but that didn't work out so I did the texture first instead. That took all day. Today I thought it would be dry enough to work in the tone, but it was not, so I refined the face a bit. Late this afternoon the top of the jacket was dry enough to start working in the tone.

As it was on Friday - As it is at the end of today
I am not sure small pics like this are showing up the changes any more. There is actually subtle colour in the face now and the jacket has more texture in real life. I will finish it off and show you the results at the end of the week. Hopefully Darren can be convinced to take a good photograph for me.

Clowning Around

Our little Pook is a kook for sure. Darren wouldn't let me put the pics of Leith horsing around on the blog, he said he was too close to the teenage years for public humiliation, but Kian has at least a decade before anyone will mock him for these.

Monday 18 November 2013

Out On The Town!

We so very seldom are, but on Friday night we entered the big room to go and see some bands who were playing at the Ding Dong Lounge. The headliner was Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, but we actually bought the tickets to see Admiral Fallow. They were excellent (as were Cash savage) and we managed to pick up an LP and have it signed by the band for our friend Rob, who is very into vinyl. Darren, myself and my cousin Cindy rocked like we were young and childless. We even made a friend named Mercedes, but we forgot to get her number, so she'll have remain a one night friend. Big thanks to Cath for the heads-up on these wonderful bands!

The moon was hanging all full (of excitement) over Parliament

Friday 15 November 2013

My Day - Part 3

It has taken me all day to get the first layer of oil paint onto her face. This is always so stressful, but it is done. On Monday I will try to get the rest of her done to first coat and then the glazing and real detail begins. So far this portrait has taken me a week.

The work as it was this morning - The work as it is this afternoon
Other random news about my week: I bought some super cool red shoes dirt cheap at a charity shop. They will go really well the the beautiful top Darren bought me a while back.

Have a happy weekend my friends. Here is a pic of our wonderful neighbour on the other side's spring hedge. Don't be fooled by the loveliness, there is no spring in Melbourne, just a protracted winter. Sigh.