Wednesday, 27 August 2008

lip service

Dear America,

The service is crap. Yes, it's ingratiating but it's slow and inefficient and frequently borders on obsequious.
It's also often mechanical and insincere. Who is impressed by a sales assistant who pounces on you the moment you walk in the door with a well-rehearsed "Welcome to wherever, it's my pleasure to assist you today. Let me know if I can help you to find anything" delivered in a monotone and without once even looking you in the eye? Ok, I exaggerate, but only slightly.

On the other hand, my favourite lipstick for pretty much half the Australian price. At least I can buy it online.

Sincerely, Amelia

Sunday, 24 August 2008

this is ... my favourite children's book

Childhood truly does have some magic about it. There are certainly things from childhood that had a magic quality to them, things that seemed to be secret and one of a kind and didn't exist anywhere else in the world except for the spare bedroom at my grandmother's house. That was Eloise for me.

I remember this book so fondly and it's one that I can't wait to introduce to baby bear. Nowadays I would just tap the isbn into good ol' abebooks and have my own copy winging its way to me in no time. In this 'information age' where basically the magic of anything can be dispelled with a quick google search, what will hold this kind of mystique for our children?

I think that I will keep looking for Eloise in the second-hand book shops and perhaps my cry of delight at the old-fashioned thrill of finding something special that you have long sought after will give baby bear a magic moment to remember.
I rawther, rawther hope so.


Did you know about this? How come no-one had ever told me about Ottobre Design? Why did I have to wait until now? Ah well, I have been fortunate to come across it, and in the most inspiring way - by witnessing what Naomi made from a length of fabric from the Salvation Army and the Autumn Walk in Paris pattern. Recycled style - my favourite! I think that she has done a fabulous job, especially with the pattern matching on those covered buttons, and I am very inspired. I had bought a McCall's pattern to make a coat from my Romeo Gigli wool flannel but this coat is much more what I had in mind.

Anyway, back to Ottobre - I haven't had a chance to get my hands on an issue yet but I really like what I can see on the website. They appear to do four children's issues and two woman's issues each year, available in English, German, Finnish, Dutch or Swedish. Patterns in the children's issues are divided into infants, toddlers and older children's styles.

I gather that the company is Finnish, the layout and aesthetic of the photo spreads is good with a healthy mix of very normal looking children and women modelling the garments. And they're healthy looking garments too - no midriff-baring five-year olds. I suppose that issue after issue the patterns might get a bit repetitive (how many variations on the onesie can you do?) but of course at the moment I want to have a peek at all of them. Anyone have an issue that they are ready to part with (or lend)?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

snigger snigger

Whereas you conjugate a verb, in some languages (for example Latin) you decline a noun. For example, the declension for the Latin puer, meaning 'boy', is:

puer - nominative
puer·ī - genitive
puer·ō - dative
puer·um - accusative
puer·ō - ablative
puer - vocative
puer·ō - locative

From whence we get the English word 'puerile', an adjective meaning:

1. Characteristic of, or pertaining to, a boy or boys
2. Childish; trifling; silly.

Which brings us in turn to this:

Highly amusing.

Friday, 15 August 2008

letter to america

From 1999 to 2004 the incomparable Alistair Cooke sent out to the world a 'Letter from America'. You can listen to them in the BBC archives and I highly recommend that you do.

A few weeks ago now, the delightful Maureen from Annapolis paid me a great compliment by suggesting that I do my own version, a sort of 'blog from America'. What I've settled on is a new and occasional series named 'Letter to America', partly because I have a few things to say and partly because I think that Australians love to let America know how odd we think it is. So, here goes:

Dear America,

Cheese is not orange.

It is coloured with annatto. Please stop doing this because my revulsion for cheese the colour of earwax is greatly limiting my dairy intake.

Sincerely, Amelia

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Here's a little something that I have been working on, on the side. Not too many details because it is a gift for my secret pal.

Monday, 11 August 2008

the price of admission

I really hate to admit defeat but it has come to my attention that I can't do everything, or at least, not all at once. I do have a bit of a habit of over-enrolling myself in activities, over-committing myself (even if just to myself). It's just that the world is so exciting and there is so much to do and really, I am interested in so many things.

I had my deferred exam for Introduction to Health Economics yesterday - hooray. It went ok, I'm confident that I passed but the lead-up to it was very stressful. And now I am enrolled in two subjects this semester and I just don't think that I can manage it. I am vacillating at the moment between discontinuing just one of them (already done) and discontinuing them both and just taking a breather.
The thing is, it really means something to me to be doing this course - makes me feel like while I am taking this year out from my 'career' that I am still achieving 'something'. Because raising a child, moving countries, settling in and setting up a house doesn't count as something? Oh, Amelia!

But when you're snappy at your husband, impatient with your little one and generally at the end of your tether, it's time to stop, take a breather and smell the roses. So, I do admit defeat, it's time to slow down and do some joyful mothering, a bit of crafting, relax a bit and be happy - that's kind of a little victory in itself.

ps. Can you see that I've been quilting? More about that next time.

this is ... a work in progress

Ha ha, this topic makes me laugh. A work in progress ... well, what's not? This life, this blog, this post ... all of it, a work in progress.

But oh, the crafty kind? A while ago I attempted to document my works in progress, all tagged with 'best intentions' but really, I couldn't keep up with all of the materials and ideas that I kept coming up with. There's a little list over there in the side bar which I will dash to update as soon as I have hit publish. Some of those things are languishing heaven-knows-where and there are others that I am halfway through which haven't even made it onto the list. Like this:

My quilt is coming along really well. My $3.00 quilt top, with some $25.00 of cotton batting, $15.00 of backing fabric, an $8.00 spool of yarn, a $25.00 freehand embroidery foot,a packet of machine quilting needles, and two packets of basting pins
at $10.00 each keeping it all together! Oh well, some of those things are reusable. And I have an idea for recycling some cotton weave blankets that I came across at the op shop as filling for any future quilting projects.

I still haven't worked out how/why it is that some projects just grab you, harness your motivation and practically get themselves done, intruding on any number of other things that are on your to-do list. This is one of them. Perhaps because it is so big (204 cm x 219 cm) I felt that I just had to get it out of the way. I have been machine quilting it and am about three-quarters through. I'm really enjoying the process - the machine quilting is really addictive. Quick, instant results and you think, oh, I'll just do another line ... and another ... and ... (oh dear, I sound like a coke head).

Any ideas for binding it? I'm thinking something a bit whimsical so that it's not too twee - perhaps a sage green with small white or cream polka dots?

Monday, 4 August 2008

this is ... my trade secret

You might question just exactly what my trade is when I claim that Origins Pinch Your Cheeks blush/gel is my trade secret. But really, when do you not need to put your best rosy cheek forward?

I used to wear a lot of makeup. Mostly because I was very self conscious about having bad skin and well, it gave me something to hide behind. I never wore blush though -
even though makeup is an artifice, I didn't like the idea of it just sitting there on my cheeks. And I had no idea how to apply it besides.

That's why I love this stuff so much. It actually stains your cheeks (and the tips of your fingers a bit - slight drawback) so it doesn't at all feel as though it is sitting on your face. Many is the time that I have been complimented on my rosy cheeks and general healthiness. If you're a bit shy of blusher as I was but need a secret lift on a grey day, I highly recommend something like this.

I'd just like to take a quick opportunity to thank Angela of Three Buttons for initiating 'This is ...' and for asking me to suggest this week's theme. I am really enjoying participating and I love the way that the topic each week makes me think about things in my own life, to sometimes see or interpret them in a different way. Do be sure to go and have a look at what some of the other participants have written about (links via Three Buttons) - I don't think that any one has come up with a secret blend of herbs and spices but there is something for almost every other taste!

Sunday, 3 August 2008


James is a lovely little boy who lives across the road from our old house in Melbourne. He is one of baby bear's very first friends. His equally lovely mother is one of my very dear friends. James and baby bear were born twelve days apart and as they grew up, so did Leah and I as mums. Boy, did she see me through some tough times. Thank you Leah!

And so this little jacket is for James.

Again, it's a 100 per cent natural fibres, 100 per cent recycled materials project.

The woollen outer is refashioned from a MaxMara knitted skirt (75 per cent wool, 25 per cent angora, chosen for its delicious softness and warmth), the body lining is from a Princess Tina t-shirt (100 per cent cotton, chosen for its great graphic) and a random dark green t-shirt to line the sleeves (100 per cent cotton, chosen because it toned in). All were purchased at the St Kilda Salvation Army, the first two during one of the designer sales.

The pattern that I used is from The Golden Hands Book of 60 Things to Sew for Children, which incidentally is one of the second-hand craft titles that I reviewed in mixtape #5 (no, not incidental at all really -
editorial honesty gets the better of me, I've been saving this post for until the 'zine came out). Have you got a copy yet?