On a hottish day in Perth, I got some of the kids and nieces and nephews to help me making a gingerbread house - we did one two years ago, and it was great fun.
Here's Xanthe, Jessamy and Catriona on the early stages. We just baked everything from scratch, no complicated kits for us, just print out a template and cut the gingerbread... and if it doesn't all come together, use more icing...
Here's the finished house - note that Coles own brand of lollies includes pink and white MUSHROOMS, which make pretty good gardens. Oh, and many of them have caterpillars on them - that's a nod to Absolom, from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
And here's (mostly) my team of helpers. By the time the photo was taken, Jonathan had disappeared, but Mitchell arrived to pose. That's Connor in the middle getting Bunny Ears.
One of the kids disappeared to the craft room the other night to do a little sneaky sewing. And it wasn't Catriona. Young Jonathan took a break from on line battling to create an Albino Penguin. He drafted the pattern himself (probably because he's never sat still long enough to look at other people's patterns). It's a little creepy but darned cute.
And here's my attempt at photographing it in a realistic setting - the iPad is standing up, and displaying some wallpaper icebergs!
I just have to warn you ... it's GRAPE SEASON here in Australia! You know what that means. Delicious, sweet grapes to snack on while you watch all the Pixar movies in order of release (it's a nice thing to do on a hot day). Well, yes, it does mean that, but it also means the start of the DANGERS of GRAPE SEASON!
I found this glossy and expensively printed card at a local supermarket. And I just had to warn you.
So, please, secure your grape bag, folks. Prevent those loose grapes from falling out. And if you do happen to catch a glimpse of any such loose grapes, please do alert the G.R.A.P.E* Squad, who are standing by at all times.
The Ride for Home was today - that's a charity bike event, where the Eastlink tollway is closed to all traffic, all morning. Jeff and I both went in it, and it was fabulous!
We were worried about terrible weather - the forecast was heavy rain. And just for laughs, the Department of Primary Industries warned us about a plague of locusts that may descend.
And it turned out ... the rain held off all day, and conditions were near-perfect (no wind, not too sunny or hot, just smooth pedalling all the way.
We rode 35km (that's the shorter ride), and the grand finale was a screaming zoom through two tunnels! Turns out a 1 in 20 grade means you career down at great speed, but it's a tad of work getting back up. No problem for a
It's nice to do an arty/crafty thing first thing in the day. And nicer still if it's a day off!
Today was Melbourne Cup day, so no work for me. I got out the Ephemera Pack I got from Michelle at stamp club the other day, and pulled out all the little bitties. I took a small blank canvas off the pile (gotta keep them in the house at all times, they are a staple).
Here's the pack I started with (shown with Michelle's example collage).
Then I got busy with paint, glue, scissors and an iPad (I watched an episode of The West Wing while I worked) and made this.
It's kind of my usual style, but with materials I might have overlooked. Made me look differently at materials. That's good, eh? Loving using map scraps!
There was a scrap of white fabric in the bag. What is that for? It's not transparent enough to use as a layer. Hmm. But Michelle must have put it in for a reason (she's an engineer in real life). So I tinkered a bit, and discovered this is the fabric that MELTS just a little bit - you can make snazzy little flowers, as long as you are careful not to let the heat get out of hand. Then I painted it (I was on a roll with the paints...). I did add a button that was not in the pack.
And guess what? There's still enough goodies for another morning's entertainment. When it comes to crafting stuff, it's important to measure it by the hours of fun you get out of it. One small envelope -> several hours = a good rate!
You can get on of Michelle's Ephemera packs from Etsy here. Well, I think that's enough shameless plugs for one night.
Oh, and we went to the Melbourne Museum for Cup Day. We paid our respects to Phar Lap, and watched the race. The horse I have in the work sweep came first!
We went to the Model Solar Car challenge at Scienceworks last weekend. All three of our kids were competing, racing the cars they have built all year against all comers.
Here's Catriona, watching her car, Random Stranger, rip into the lead! Sadly, a wire came loose (that's a pretty rare event) and the car came to a halt. They repaired it and raced again in a later round.
And here's the boys' car, Fluffy Foam, winning one of several races. Notice the cars have eggs as "drivers". Breaking your egg is a bad thing!
And here's Fluffy Foam, with the solar panels not yet in place. This blue foam is a popular building material, at Box Hill anyway.
These little cars have solar panels driving one wheel. There's no batteries allowed. The cars run on a track with a guide rail. The track is a figure 8, which means there is a mean little hill to manage! Also a bridge to go under - on really low sun days, even that is an obstacle.
And here's Random Stranger being worked on. This team decided not to go with the traditional foam. For their efforts, their car was considered for "Best Engineered". It was another car from Box Hill that won that one, but the girls got the opportunity to answer questions about their design!
And the final results were : in a thrilling grand final, Canterbury Girls SC beat Melbourne Grammar. It was best out of five, and in the first race, the girls' car came off the track (as they sometimes do when the sun really comes out). Next race, and the girls' car came to a complete halt (we know what that feels like!). They were given a short interval to make repairs, and they went on to win three in a row!
All four finalists go to Perth for the Nationals - and Box Hill had a car in fourth place, so we are represented there. Yay!
We woke up this morning to chilly temperatures and heavy rain. Wait a minute, that's not rain, that's HAIL!
Here's my sturdy rosemary plant...
And here's the delicate tomato, just loving this weather.
Jeff and the kids are off to Scienceworks to race solar cars. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha h.
It's Night of the Notables soon. That's a special research project year 7s get to do at the kids' school. They pick a notable person (doesn't have to be a hero, could be a villain, just someone interesting), research them, and do a presentation evening all together.
We have William Shakespeare... Yorick here is a money box, a "second" from Smiggle being sold at the market. It was black but very scratched, but now it's pearly white. Jonathan has asked if he may use it as his own money box afterwards.
Yorick was going to be played by a very sad dolly I bought from the op shop - with a bit of surgery, her head would make a nice skull. But she's safe now ... so, another creepy toy for the collection instead.
And Julius Caesar... He's going to make an "olive" wreath tomorrow I hope.
And yes, this is as far as my sewing skills/patience extend. Slap a belt around the lot, it'll look fine.
It's time for my annual "wow, it's spring" post, where I get excited about the fact that spring has unexpectedly sprung yet again. No, really, it is amazing every single time!
I carefully tended last year's tulip bulbs, and replanted them this year. Look what's happened - actual tulips! Ya know what that means - these ones were free!
Then there's the starflowers growing en masse. They are super impressive, because I don't have to do anything, they just pop up!
Too stingy to get new herb plants, I just encouraged what was still growing from last time (or had popped back up from seeds). We'll have plenty of parsley and oregano, but the snails seem to have eaten the sage. The rosemary cuttings I took a few years ago are well on the way to being bushes, so we are totally self-sustaining in the rosemary department. Which is handy, because potato and rosemary pizza is on the menu most weeks.
And we're trying tomatoes again! One in a big pot, and two hanging upside down. This photo was taken on the day it was planted - already it has turned its leaves up to face the sun!
It's fete season again! The local retirement village had their annual fete on, so I went and bought jelly cakes (yum), a grapefruit knife, some grapefruits, some lemons, and this awesome penguin fabric! I think it used to be two cafe curtains.
So what can I do with it (I can't really sew)?
On the down side, my bike got stolen! It was a good one too, I ride it to work. Here's a photo of the same model, in case you see it around. Mine has a packrack on the back, and lights added too.
So it's double important that you cheer me up with penguin fabric ideas!
We just had a lovely Fathers Day. A bit unusual, the kids were all busy for part of the day at school. And it was different parts for all of them - so we didn't do the fairly-traditional movie outing I was looking forward to.
Instead, we had a super breakfast (bacon, eggs, savoury pancakes) made by me. We showered Dad with hand made cards, and a book. Jeff and I went out for a drinking coffee/shopping outing, and had fun browsing at our favourite things (the Apple store, new Lego, books and DVDs today). Topped that off with a dozen donuts!
Here's some of the cards : an apple themed card by me, using my new markers (I only have red, pink and green so far, so that rather limited my colour scheme).
Then we have a private gag by Jonathan : it's an emu, see?
Then there's Thomas' message, which you will fully appreciate if you are a Discworld reader. Maybe.
And here's the next installment of What I've Been Doing with Envelopes.
We'll start with a little tutorial on using business envelope windows as shrink plastic. First step, colour with some colour pencils (I've used Prismacolor here, and I've chosen light colours). If it looks like nothing's happening, you're doing fine.
Second step, stamp something nice on the plastic. Here I've used a big alphabet (the Big Deal alphabet from Stampin' Up). The ink here could certainly be something permanent like Stazon, but I'm just using Stampin Up black (that's a waterproof ink). Non waterproof ink will not work at all (so coloured Stampin' Up ink is out).
Yes, you could stamp first then colour - then you would probably HAVE to use a true permanent ink - otherwise it would run when you coloured near the lines. Of course, if you just stay away from the lines, you might manage it. I did, but I'm not going to recommend it as fun and safe for the kiddies.
Third step, cut out just the plasticky bit of the window. And heat it - with a heat tool (and tweezers so you don't blow it away) or in the oven (I used a bit of baking paper on top of my baking try to keep things neat. The shrinking happens in seconds. Sadly, so does the curling!
Here's my sample after shrinking - wow, the letters changed! Oh, wait, no, I just swapped samples. Stay with me, same method. See how intense the coloured pencil is now. And see how the piece is a bit curled up - it would be nice to get it flat. Back in the oven for a few moments, and we'll whack it flat with any flat utensil (this wood mounted stamp will work).
And then there are no more photos of THOSE two samples, because they both curled up so very badly they became molten puddles of recycled mush.
So here's one I prepared earlier...
This is my little book, made of mat board and envelope paper, and shrunken window. The book is called "ImPOSTers". See what I did there? That's one of them puns. Well, kind of. I thought I might fill the book with faux postage.
And here's the other complete book I made. This was the one where I stamped on the front cover, and tried to hasten the drying with my heat tool, only to see it curl into a hideous mess ... which is when I realised I had shrink plastic.
The pages inside both books are all patterened inside-of-envelopes. So pretty, as you can imagine.
And in real life : Ouch, ouch, eye-hurting! Yes, after imagining how inspiring my all-patterned art journal was going to be, I can only look at it for a few minutes before my eyes go all fuzzy!
Well, following that diverting discovery about envelope window plastic, it's back to business. Business, in this context, meaning making STUFF out of old envelopes. I cut them out days ago (while I was annoyed at being on hold for a long time), and at last it's time to get making.
The whole envelope paper idea came from a class I did recently with Ro Bruhn (see here for photos of the actual day!). She had us making journals out of recycled pages - one of her sample pages was paper from an opened out business envelope, and she'd painted a flower on it - it looked cool! But of course, mucking around with envelope paper goes back further than that ...
See how the screen went all wiggly there? That's cos we're going BACK IN TIME! I've been through the archives, and found this. I entered a swap in 2001, where the theme was "One Stamp" - you pick one stamp, and do six extremely different things with it. It was a challenging swap. This was what I received from Danielle D'Onofrio, and it took me a few days to work out what the mystery paper was Insides of Envelopes.
I used the idea in 2002 for this : I put it in a competition (nah, didn't win...).
Along the way I showed these things to Maria, who has used envelope paper in her collages ever since, including just the last stamp club (go here to see!).
And I even found this gem in my photo collection - a book I must have made to entertain the kids. First here's the cover :
Then the first page : "I have a shell. I live in the water. I walk sideways. What am I?"
You can see a tantalizing glimpse of the mystery animal through that envelope window....
And finally, the big reveal!
Did you guess it was a crab? Nope, me neither.
So that's the history of Why I Am Spending So Much Time Cutting Up Envelopes.
Next post is What I Did Next...
That might come later tonight, but I warn you, I have the sniffles, and am likely to collapse on my swooning couch at any moment. Especially if there's a small glass of Tokay next to it.