31 May 2015

Three things I like this week

Life consists of many small events. At the time, we often don't realise how they will influence our life. That's why I love to take notice and appreciate each moment. Here are three things I like this week.

1. Adam Goodes. I was at the game on Friday night (the first in this year's AFL indigenous round of games) when Adam celebrated kicking a goal with a tribute to his indigenous culture. It was fun and we all loved it. I'm so glad I was there to see it happen and I hope it becomes a tradition of the game.

2. The novel habits of happiness. This is the latest book in the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. I devoured it, I tell you. Isabel is my favourite of all his characters and I've been hanging out for this book. It will be one of my books of the month later.

3. Green onion pancakes. Have you ever tried these? I was excited to see these in our local Chinese grocers this morning. Ordering a green onion pancake when visiting a Chinese restaurant is a must for me but now I can cook them at home whenever I want. Yay!

What things do you like this week?

25 May 2015

Three things I like this week

Celebrating the small things that make life lovely!

1. Mandarins. Really, who can't be entranced by these colourful orbs of deliciousness? I have a mandarin tree in a large pot and it fruits like crazy every second year. This is one of those years so I'm able to pick a mandarin each day and eat it within minutes. Yum.

2. Rechargeable batteries. Great invention, eh? I'm not just talking about those in-built batteries in our tablets, phones, and laptops but also recharging units for ordinary AA batteries that I use in my doorbell and camera. Brilliant.

3. Clothes dryers. Some days, the washing simply won't dry on the outdoor clothesline. Today's one of those days in Sydney - no wind and no sunshine, just lots of clouds. My washing has been hanging outside for six hours, yet it's still wet. Inside it comes, all of it!

What things do you like this week?

19 May 2015

Textiles Tuesday

Hello! Here's my latest batch of interesting information for you.

* Love A Good Yarn: knitting and crochet from Nanna to now is an exhibition at the Migration Museum in Adelaide. It explores these crafts and showcases some of the treasures from the museums collection. Closes 31 August.

* Lisa Walton has released her second ebook in her Creative Journeys series: Beading on Fabric. This book is all about adding beading embellishment to your textile work and includes links to over an hour of videos that show you step-by-step techniques.

* Here's a fascinating project - a hand-stitched copy of the Magna Carta Wikipedia page, that explores the fabric of democracy.

* Call for entries: Under 35's Quilt Competition. Entries close 27 November 2015.

* Barbara Brackman has spent years analysing quilt patterns, in order to organise them for her books. Here she explains how she's started a unified field theory for applique.

* Free tutorial by Ashley Lotecki to make a handy travel sewing kit.

* Here's a new book by Judy Coates Perez, all about painting textiles with acrylic inks, filled with photos of techniques and ideas. Also available as an ebook. Looks great!

* Songs of Freedom - Celebrating Democracy: call for entries: expressions of interest close 21 August 2015. Full details here (link opens pdf).

* Article about tapestries in the time of Henry VIII.

* Why knitting Is the must-have life skill by Barbara Hannah Grufferman.

* Check out these quilts that feature the Pantone colour of the year.

* Abby Glassenberg has raised this interesting question on her blog: is secrecy necessary to sell craft books? What's your opinion? 

* Very frank article by Deanna McCool: Four signs that it's time to quit your creative business. Even if you don't have a creative business, it's worth reading so you can appreciate the other side.

* Do you want to get published in a magazine? Here's helpful advice from Ros of Sew Delicious. My additional comment: magazine editors are ALWAYS looking for content, so why shouldn't it be your content they use? Go for it!

Are you thinking of starting an online course? Here's some useful information from Chantelle Ellem of Fat Mum Slim, who ran a blogging course. Her tips would apply just as much to a craft eCourse.

* Cloth Fabric: 20 years in the making, Mittagong, NSW: until 31 May.

* There are many ways to make Flying Geese units for quilts. Here's one of the most thorough guides I've seen, by Amy Gunson from Badskirt.

* War-time Quilts, Manly, NSW: 3 July-22 November.

Well, there you are - 18 links to explore. Enjoy!

18 May 2015

Three things I like this week

Celebrating the small things that make life lovely!

1. Leaves. I've been photographing different leaves on my plants, both indoors and outdoors. This is a closeup of a dieffenbachia - aren't those curves and shade variations gorgeous? There's so much to see when you get up close to plants.

2. I've read four of the library novels I mentioned last week: The Chocolate Promise by Josephine Moon, Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding, The Country Practice by Meredith Appleyard, and You, Me and Other People by Fionnuala Kearney. Enjoyed them all and some of them may feature in my future book of the month posts. Stand by!

3. Sending tweets to authors after I've read their books. Twitter is the easiest way to spread the word about things you like - have you tried it? People who create things (books, magazines, quilts, gardens - anything, really) can often feel their efforts disappear into a black hole. Sending a quick tweet of appreciation is always well-received and I've had conversations with authors from different places, which would have been impossible without Twitter. You can tweet me @ericaspinks if you want to say hello!

What things do you like this week?

16 May 2015

Saving seed

As much as I love gardening, I confess I often have failures. Plants that don't thrive, leaves that are distorted, or infestations of pests (and yes, I include possums in that category!). It's the small successes, though, that keep me pottering in my garden.

These are the flowers of garlic chives. I don't always eat all the garlic chives I grow because I love to see the flower heads develop. Gorgeous clusters of petals attract the bees, and that's to be encouraged in any garden. 

Once the flowers are fully open and starting to show seeds, I cut them off and let them dry in a brown paper bag. As the juices disappear, the petals become husks and pop open to reveal their treasure - seeds.

I shake the black seeds free of their cases and store them in paper. Next spring, I will sow the seeds in the earth and start the cycle of life again. Immensely satisfying.

11 May 2015

Three things I like this week

I often feel overwhelmed by all the horrible things that are going on in our world. It makes me feel sad and totally powerless and I don't want to feel that way.

To counteract this, I'm starting a series of weekly posts about things I like. Here are my three things I like this week.

1. Starting today, I have two weeks off from my day job. There are so many things I could do during this time but nothing I must do. That's my idea of a real holiday!

2. I have 11 new library books sitting in a pile on my table. Brand-new titles, waiting to be devoured. Reading is such an essential part of my life and it's wonderful to be able to make my selection. I feel secure when I have a pile of new books waiting!

3. These violas. Their lovely 'faces' make me smile, every time. I think I'll plant some more so they can greet me from different parts of my garden.

What things do you like this week?

06 May 2015

New tutorials: craft how-to

Observant readers may have already noticed that I have been rearranging my craft tutorials. You can see a new tab called Tutorials: craft how-to at the top of the screen.

That's all very nice, I hear you say but, apart from all being in a single place, what's new?

I'm glad you asked. I've spent a lot of time reformatting my information so that you can download a pdf of each tutorial. Hooray, I hear you say, what's the catch?

No catch, just free tutorials in pdf format for your personal use. I hope you enjoy them!

05 May 2015

My book of the month: May

My recommended book this month is an astonishing story about grief, love, delusion and fear. Set in an England that is fast running out of water, powerful emotions force people to believe the worst about others in order to have hope for their own lives. Gripping.

You can read more about The Well on Goodreads.

04 May 2015

The seduction of labyrinths

In one of those coincidences that often seem to happen in life, I chanced upon a television program about labyrinths on the same day I found out that it was due to be World Labyrinth Day a few days later. My curiosity was piqued, so I made some enquiries.

First, let's understand what a labyrinth is (and isn't). It is not a maze. A maze is a puzzle that has multiple branching paths and directions - not all lead to the centre. It is possible to get lost in a maze.

In a labyrinth, a single path leads to the centre. It is not possible to come to a dead end in a labyrinth. In modern times, a labyrinth is a pathway used for contemplation and walking meditation.

This photo is of the new labyrinth in Sydney's Centennial Park. You can read more about it here. It was this labyrinth that was the subject of a recent Compass program on television; a fascinating story. You can catch up with this episode here.

I imagine it would be a brilliant place for quiet reflection, so a simple walk here is now on my must-visit list.

01 May 2015

Hello May

The nights are cooler and it's lovely to snuggle under the doona at night - welcome to May! My violas are in bloom and I love looking at their sweet little 'faces' as they greet me each day.

This month, I'm looking forward to: some exciting games by the Sydney Swans Football Club, playing in my garden, two weeks away from my day job, writing, sewing, and catching up with friends, some of whom I haven't seen for months. Hello May!