30 December 2007

Summer reading

Holidays provide the opportunity to indulge myself with more reading. Besides, it's too hot to do anything else!

This novel's been around since 2003, but I seem to sometimes miss new books in my favourite series. The main character in this series is Dido Hoare, an antiquarian bookseller who lives in London. She has a toddler and a father and, of course, is too inquisitive for her own good. Like most of my favourite characters in novels, Dido has a knack for solving mysteries involving dead bodies. Highly recommended - there have been two more books in this series since this one, so I'll be tracking them down soon.

Val McDermid writes terrific stories. She has written multiple series - this is the latest in the Tony Hill series. Earlier works were adapted for TV and resulted in Wire in the Blood, but I never found the TV series very appealing. Absorbing characters through words and carrying your own images of them in your head is infinitely more satisfying. I finished this one today and enjoyed it immensely.
This is the next book I will start. It was enthusiastically recommended to me by Sarah, so I expect it to be a good read. I love the way readers want to share their favourite stories with others, don't you?

What are your fiction recommendations? I plan heaps of reading time this year, so please leave a comment with your suggestions so I can get started!

28 December 2007

Cricket and sewing

There's something wonderful about the soothing sound of Test cricket droning on in the background while I sew. India is playing Australia in Melbourne this week and I have spent the first two days in front of the tv, hand piecing my Japanese quilt. Today, for variety, I spent the day at Jan's place, where we both spent the day in front of the tv, sewing, talking and drinking cups of tea and coffee. It was the most wonderful day. Thanks, Jan!

To answer Lisa: yes, I now have a Sydney swans garden gnome residing at my place. He is comfortably placed next to one of my indoor plants, since I wouldn't be able to see him as frequently if he was outside in the garden. To Helen: he is lining up the football to kick for goal - that's why the football is where it is!

23 December 2007

The summer garden

Lush. That's what my garden is at present; the result of some wonderful rain. The past few summers have been dry as the drought stretched across most of our country. It's been difficult to keep the water up to the plants and none of them have thrived. Until now.

This is a Hebe variation - one of many of the gorgeous plants from New Zealand in this family. Hebe, in Greek mythology, was the goddess of youth, so it's lovely to this represented in the garden. I love these plants because they are fairly hardy and have such gorgeous flowers. They brigten my spirits every time I see the glorious pink wands in bloom.

22 December 2007

Holidays!

Today is the first day of holidays - at last! I visited one of Sydney's Italian restaurant areas - Leichhardt - for lunch with a couple of family members and we indulged ourselves with wonderful food. Even though it was oppressively humid, we managed to consume an extremely tasty meal.

I discovered an extraordinary shop - The Merchant of Venice. This is a tiny shop in the Italian Forum walkway, which sells unique imported papier-mach
é masks. They have to be seen to be believed. Many are gilded in gold or silver; have feathers or ornate beading; and are simply sumptuous.The shop also sells a unique range of Venetian jewellery , which was quite tempting (but I resisted). I was reminded of the scene in The Phantom of the Opera - do you remember the masquerade ball and the costumes and masks that all the guests wore? If you are ever in Leichhardt, do visit this shop. It is so amazing.

15 December 2007

Playtime




How beautiful are these? I haven't played with ricrac braid since I left primary school, but these braids called to me in Lincraft last week and I couldn't resist. Perfect for ATCs - I feel a new series coming on.

12 December 2007

The big screen

Some movies are meant to be seen on the big screen. Elizabeth: the golden age is one of these - the glory of the patterns in the architecture, the scenery and the DIVINE costumes make this a fantastic visual feast.

I regularly go to the movies with my friend, Angela. We sometimes see movies that intrigue us (Snow Cake); movies that menace us (Michael Clayton); movies that make us cry (Brokeback Mountain) and movies that overwhelm our senses (The Phantom of the Opera). But I confess, dear reader, that last night it was the smouldering Clive Owen who was the attraction. Aaahhhh.

Honestly, this movie may be a little loose with the facts of history, but if you let all that go and ignore the schmaltz, it is a wonderful treat for the senses. There is even a wonderful sea-battle scene (it was meant to be the Spanish Armada being defeated by the English) - I do so love a good explosion, especially when it is the result of cannon-fire.

And did I mention Clive Owen?

09 December 2007

Saturday with Scquilters

Yesterday was the Sydney Scquilters Christmas party. Well, it was really just one of our regular monthly gtgs that happened to have a Christmas theme. It was a wonderful day of fun - you can read all about it on the Sydney Scquilters blog, which is maintained by Pennie. There is even a tastefully soft-focus photo of me with my recycled present (the less said about the present the better).

On the way to the Blue Gum hotel (if you are ever in Sydney on the first Saturday of the month, you are invited to join us at the Blue Gum, Waitara - we have a private room!), I stopped off at Craft Depot and ended up buying a couple of metres of this gorgeous Valori Wells print. Now I have to add 'Make a blue and green quilt' to my Things to Make List.

Now it's Sunday and a heavy thunderstorm has just finished pelting down. We've had thunderstorms most days this week and, compared to the others, this one was tame. It did have hail, though! The legacy of the storm is oppressive humidity. Welcome to a Sydney summer.

08 December 2007

Welcome the world

What a thrill - welcome to my first blog readers from Israel, Vanuatu and Iceland! I enjoy browsing the statistics that Site Meter provides and often see surprises. If you come back, dear readers, I'd love if you left a comment and tell me a little about yourselves?

06 December 2007

The Things to Make List

Here's the beginning of my Things to Make List (Does not include Things to Do - this is a totally different list!).

Let's start with the things to which I have committed.
* Kambra challenge (due ?? theme ?? I forget - must check)
* Art brooch for Rhonda (recklessly promised last time I was on holiday)
* Cecile's art quilt challenge - due 8 February
* Art Quilt Workbook lessons (after many months, I have reached the end of chapter 1)
* Aus/NZ art quilters journal quilts (one a month in 2008)
* Rock-inspired quilt (ha! you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you Susan?)

Things I want to make but haven't told anyone yet (until now).
* Scquilters Cheer me Up ATC swap - at least 4 cards due 16 April. (Better sign up for it first).
* Baby quilt for a friend
* Applique quilt with linen
* Pink and yellow quilt
* Locker hooked rug (Lessa got me interested in this when I was in Adelaide - she even let me practise on her sample)
* Framed textile pieces
* More ATCs for swapping
* Seven Sisters quilt (I have the templates. Maybe this should be on the other part of the list - I think there are at least three people who know about this).
* Another blue quilt
* Japanese floral print quilt

When exactly do I imagine I will do these things?

03 December 2007

Lush

Being a gardener encourages patience and planning. Even when you don't feel like either, the rhythm of the seasons takes over and you soon learn that all things come in good time. You may recognise this photo from earlier in the year. It was taken just after I had laid out the edging for a new garden bed, one that I planned for vegetables. It looks pretty sad, doesn't it?

I dumped a whole compost bin's worth of compost on it; dug in bags of blood and bone and cow manure and then planted. Aided by the wonderful rain we have had over the past month, everything flourished.
The tallest plants are tomatoes - two different cherry tomato varieties. They are as tall as I am and laden with flowers. The other bush on the left is also a tomato; this time a Roma. You can see some of the fruit at the bottom. In between, I have climbing beans, four types of capsicums, three eggplant bushes, a rosemary, two clumps of chives and three basil plants. Not bad for a small bed!

02 December 2007

Matt Price: a man of words

Isn't it strange how someone you've never met can have such an influence on you? Australian journalist Matt Price died last week, only two months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. He was only 46.

I first encountered Matt's writing through the sports pages of The Australian newspaper. He was a totally committed, hopelessly besotted fan of the Fremantle Dockers AFL team. Every week during the footy season, he would despair, rejoice (although there were usually few reasons for rejoicing) and basically torment himself about his team, all the time with a wry sense of humour. Although a totally committed, hopelessly besotted fan of a totally different team in the same competition, I felt his pain.

Soon I discovered that Matt wrote about politics with the same attitude. His observations were always acute and delved below the obvious. I listened to him on the radio and, sure enough, he sounded exactly as I would have expected him to sound. He made me laugh especially since his comments were so spot on.

The world is a poorer place now that he's gone. That a person I never knew could have such an impact. I shed a tear for a person I never met. Such is the power of words.

Matt Price's obituary is here. His blog is here.

Quiltland

Queen Helen has announced the formation of a new country - Quiltland - in response to a group called Stashbusters. You can read the court's judgement in the case of Stashbusters v Helen Conway here. Liberating quilters everywhere, Queen Helen has declared:

"Today the nation of Quiltland declared its independence. An archipelago of several million islands, ranging from tiny outcrops of sewing to spacious art studios, this brand new land is already struggling to survive. Surrounded by hostile nations who claim that Quiltland is occupying land promised to them by the founding fathers of Woodwork and Mechanics, this tiny country is bravely establishing its legitimacy in the international community."

Quilters unite! Pledge your allegiance to this new land now.