Sunday, 31 January 2010

Cut and Paste! Makes you feel good!

I had a splendid time at Stamp Club yesterday, cutting and pasting! I used an old phrase book (French Idioms) to get mysterious things for all the people on my collages to say. This is an awesome source of unusual phrases - see out old phrase books at the op shop, you'll thank me!

The people are all photocopies from older fashion (and pattern) magazines, some of them German.

The colour all comes from watercolour crayons (the Stampin' Up ones, natch), which are wonderful for laying down colour and blending just as much as you want to.

So I doubt this is leading to anything artistically, but it sure is fun!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The tale of Planty

Jeff gave me an upside down tomato planter for Christmas - we were deciding if it was a novelty, a useful way to grow tomatoes, or a plant torture device. On Boxing Day I bought a little tomato plant and some potting mix, and planted Planty. That's its name, you see.

Planty noticed straight away that he'd been planted upside down, but he didn't complain. By the end of the first day, he'd turned most of his leaves around to face the sun. That splash of red in the photo is a bought tomato in the window. Just to encourage the little guy, you see. He added more leaves, and looked quite content. Then some flowers arrived (and there was much rejoicing) and they were followed by (the botanists amongst you know already) actual tomatoes!

Planty kept growing up and up, and adding new sprays of flowers (about 11 sets of flowers, I have counted - I figure that means around 66 tomatoes).

Today was a special day in Planty's life. He dropped! His top got too heavy to be held up, and he reached the point where, had he been planted in the ground, he would have needed a stake to grow up. But instead he gets to use his height to keep him off the ground. He has about 10 small green tomatoes!

Christmas Cakes

We made some special cakes this Christmas - well, actually, families being busy places, we didn't manage to make the "christmas" cakes until late January. But we were very impressed, and the kids insisted on a blog entry. Catriona and I had enjoyed browsing a recipe magazine, and used the recipe from there. They were nice too!

And here's the original we were copying... that's white chocolate there. Schlurp.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

We're off to Brickvention

What's a Brickvention? Just a fantastic Lego exhibition for the public - here's the link. We go every year (it's been on the Australia Day weekend for a few years now). It's wonderful fun, for kids and grownups!

So if you need to know, it's on in Melbourne on 24 January, at 300 Flinders St (12th Floor) - it's easy to find, between Elizabeth St and Queen St.

And today's photos are some of OUR amazing Lego creations - the scene from "Jaws", and the "body building" scene.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Kids at Jamboree

The kids just came home from the Scout Jamboree in Sydney. We went up to the site on the open day, and have a lovely visit (but gee it was hot!). They looked surprisingly clean and happy. The leaders of the troop (both army men as well as scout leaders) were fond of giving pushups to keep the scouts in line. It was working, they did their chores and joined in all the events.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Eating Well And Cheaply In Sydney

It's easy really. Just find some friends who invite you to stay at their place, then juggle the dates so they coincide with your friends' OWN holiday.

We had the pleasure of "minding" John and Emma's place, along with full "help yourself" rights to the pantry. We didn't overdo it, of course, but one night I DID make bread. And then set the table with marinated feta, a few relishes, a real tomato, and basil from the garden. It looked pretty awesome.

Sadly the bread was pretty much a dud. Didn't rise overnight like it should have - we put it down to dud yeast, and added more very late on in the process. But the other sachets of yeast from the same box seemed fine, so who can tell?

So the NEXT day, I made more bread (with good yeast this time) and what do you think I found to put on it? EGGS, it is! Poached eggs, freshly startled out of John and Emma's own chickens. We were under orders to collect and use the eggs. Jeff found out that if a chook is sitting on the eggs, you have to hose it down to discourage it. So he was on chicken-hosing duty, while I was the main collector. I tried to poach the eggs really nicely (the Short Black Cafe in Camberwell is the best egg-poaching venue I've ever found, so I wanted them to look like that). Not a huge success, but still lovely.

We're back from Sydney!

And when you are on holiday, things that look too expensive normally seem to come out of a different budget ... like this morning tea Jeff and I had at the Guylian cafe in The Rocks.

Sydney was overrun by scouts every day we went in - but no embarrassing meetings with our OWN scouts.

We went to the Reserve Bank (for a laugh) and saw the Currency Note Museum. I recommend it! You can see the whole 4 minute ad that went to air in 1966, introducing decimal currency. All to the tune of Click Go The Shears, it was a very Aussie, possibly copyright violating, introduction to a whole new way of working with money. More scouts in there with us, but they were all leaders. Somehow they had arranged the Sydney outing so that all the leaders arrived with the kids, set a meeting place, gave the kids checkpoints to visit - and then nicked off and did what they wanted all day. Well, the scout leaders were putting in considerable extra hours at the Jamboree, so I'd say they deserved it.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Kids off to the Jamboree!

Here are Thomas and Jonathan almost boarding the bus to the Jamoree - that's AJ2010 to those in the know.

And that's Catriona, doing the same.

Jamboree is two weeks of intense scout activities for 11 to 14 year olds - oh boy. There's waterslides, rock concerts, BMX bikes, and you get to put the leaders in the stocks. And that's just what we parents have heard about - lots of surprises to come.

Meanwhile, us parents are running off for a week away in Sydney (on one day, we get to visit the Jamboree site, but the rest of it is just us in Sydney, having a holiday!).

Saturday, 2 January 2010

A trashy Treasure

As you may know, I'm fond of visiting Trash and Treasure markets, and garage sales, and church fetes, and school fetes, and basically anywhere that old strange stuff is sold, most especially where it is sold cheaply by people who have no idea what it might be good for.

Here's something I scored at a church fete before Christmas : a little trinket box. Rather tatty, if you were being honest.

All the red parts are just a flocked-paper insert, which I pulled out and used as a template to make my own insert. I've been dying to paint it up, and yesterday was the day. I was slowed down by a Paint Disaster, but I got back onto the metaphorical horse and galloped home well in time for tea.

Reason for doing this? None I can think of, but it all keeps the creative juices going. Very good for all of us.

Actually I just realised there's room for a giant "gem" right there on the lid. Must check the stash.

My Problem with Golden Paints

I have some paints made by Golden - I got them specially for a workshop with Michael deMeng, and they've been lovely. I even got some more (when Jeff went to the US I got a nice parcel delivered to the US office for him to bring home).

And the best colour, of course, is Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold. Why? Because Michael deMeng uses it a lot. I've used it so much, that is the only tube that is close to running out. And with so much fun in each tube, I won't mind buying more.

So yesterday, I popped open my Quin Gold. Or rather, cra-a-a-acked it open. I looked at the lid. Hmm. I didn't remember the lids looking like that. Uh oh. I've broken the whole lid. I never knew you could do that.

Well, being resourceful, I reached for one of my empty tubes. Yes, of course I have empty tubes on my desk. Three of the, from Reverse Art Truck. Easy enough to fill, but how does one seal the end without a special gadget? I used the heat tool (paint stripper, that is) and pressed variously with surgical clamps, tweezers and a steel ruler.

Yes, of course I have surgical clamps on my desk. It's a big desk.

It finally worked, and I now have a 20ml tube of lovely paint ready to use until it really does run out.

There was a tad of paint left in the old tube, and since it was destined to go dry, I urgently painted everything at hand that needed painting. Like this pie tin (bakers, don't worry, it was too rusty for baking in - I would never waste a valuable cooking utensil)

Christmas with the Laings

We had Christmas at home this year: a very odd arrangement, as we usually go away to Jeff's parents' place. This year we had to be home to send the kids off to Jamboree in time (they go today). Here's some of the Christmas stuff we did:

Jonathan made Thomas a "Blind Tortoise" - you'd have to be one of us to know how cool that is.

Catriona made Dad a spider - he just loves those creepy, leggy spiders that POUNCE on you.

Inflatable lizard - check.

Magnificent lunch - check. We had a way bigger than usual chicken (I thought I knew the weight, but on popping the little guy on the scales I realised I had been wrong. Would have made lunch at least an hour late.).

There were little cheesy quiches, and smashed potatoes, and beans, and chocolate mousse, and sliced melon and cherries.