Wednesday, 26 June 2013

flanders poppy collection

Flanders poppies are now in bloom! Perhaps not in the garden, but these knitted and crocheted poppies have started to roll into our local adult education centre for the Poppies for Remembrance commemoration in November.  We have had more partners come on board this week and it's looking to be a very inclusive community event.  People are having lots of great ideas about how they'll decorate their own spaces and what they can do down the main street - just what we hoped, that way everybody is playing a part and it gives people ownership.
That's my crochet poppy in the centre - now that I'm using the right stitches I am only a short way off posting a pattern!  I just need to finesse it and hope to have that ready next week.  I have a few deadlines to meet by Friday, so everything else just has to wait!  I can't tell you how fantastic it has been to start this project off and see it so readily embraced by our community.  Long may it last!
The set-up!  Photographing red - gah!  So hard to make it look good, so I apologise if it's a bit dark or not quite right on your screens.  I've just changed my camera setting to RAW so I hope that makes a difference.  I have a direct comparison of JPEG and RAW files - the latter seems to be better, so I will work in that for a while...  lah, lah, lah!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

when talking to your husband is a cure for nerves (aided by a beautiful bunch of camellias)

I had a crisis of writer's confidence last night.  I've had them less often, however now I've started looking into publishers the nerves are kicking in.  I am still a way off sending anything in for consideration, but the wobbles have found me all the same.  I talked it through with Joe last night, plus the fact that I've been considering applying for a manuscript development program run by an Australian publisher.  The first 50 pages of my manuscript have to be in Brisbane by next Monday.  As I only just found out about it, I only have a short turnaround time to polish everything, plus coming up with the $50 application fee and a return ticket to Brisbane if I'm successful.  I will see how I go over the next few days, but I have work obligations and the school holidays looming so I'm not going to overdo it trying to fit everything in.

As I talked about my writing with Joe, our conversation took a turn that I just had to share:

L: What if I'm delusional and wasting my time with this work?
J: Lots of famous authors have their first manuscript knocked back.
L: But what if I'm really just delusional?
J: That's irrelevant!
J&L: Laughter, snorts, giggles - try to talk - can't stop laughing....

And that was the end of that!

PS It was just as well Joe brought me home these beautiful camellias from work!

Monday, 24 June 2013

accessible books - how to buy?

I was in a real, live bricks and mortar book store yesterday.  It was lovely - filled to the brim with new releases, classics, beautiful books of every shape, size and topic.  Tom had a party and I was determined to find a book for the birthday boy - not an easy task for somebody who isn't from an English speaking background.  The other limiting factor was my budget - there were some beautiful books I could have bought about dragons and other monsters, but they were over $30.  I thought perhaps a Lego book or a graphic novel would do, but they were the only two categories not filled by the shop owner.  He admitted that if he started with them, he didn't know where he would stop.  Fair enough, I thought, but what do you do if you want to hook people into reading and traditional books aren't an option?

I ended up with a cute 'Where's the Meerkat' book, that followed the 'Where's Wally' format with history tidbits travelling through time, but it wasn't really what I wanted.  It made me wonder though, how else to find accessible books, those that might not be mainstream but still needed by people.  How can we encourage a love of books - and reading - if we don't have literature to suit people's needs?  I guess it's a matter of jumping online and searching, however I'm also of the mind we need to buy local - I suppose this is where the mantra of buying local where possible applies.  I can understand shop owners not wanting to have shelves stocked with books people might not buy, but one or two from a couple of diffferent categories shouldn't make that much of a difference, surely?

Have you been in this situation before?  If so, what did you do?  Did you pick a cheap, plastic toy or find a quality book to encourage a lifelong love of reading?!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

orchids and poppies and writing

The week ended with lovely full-stop lunching with good friends - one of whom gave me these beautiful orchids.  We sat around the table and shared news, ate delicious food and lapped up a moment of togetherness.  It's been a busy week.  I paused on the poppy making to get stuck into promotion.  We're having fabulous feedback in our county town and getting more partners on board.  It has been met with such overwhelming enthusiasm and we've already received our first bag of knitted poppies.  May there be many more to come!
Writing-wise it's been a real achievement this week to reach 50,000 words.  It's made me start doing a bit of searching around the internet, wondering which publisher to first send my work.  Yes, it is still a long way off, but the publisher has to be the right fit or it's not really even worth making contact.  Once my manuscript has been sent off to a publishing house, I plan to start on my second manuscript the very next day.  I am aware it could take a few efforts for my work to get picked up - if ever!  Nevertheless, I am just going to keep trying - and in acknowledgement of that, I started planning my second manuscript this week.  I had to drive to another town and found driving gave me the perfect opportunity to think through a plot outline.  Now I'm hoping it will germinate and be ready to come out sometime later in the year, if not early 2014.  Onward and upward!

Friday, 21 June 2013

vintage linen love

Thursday nights for the past few weeks have been a dream on the TV - Little Paris Kitchen (SBS) followed by Kirstie's Vintage Home (ABC).  It's disappointing to see that the final of Kirstie's show ran last night, even though there is one more episode of the series yet to screen - what's happened ABC?!  I have absolutely loved this show - all of it really, but especially the episode they visited Zoe Murphy's workshop and screenprinted an old sideboard.  It looked absolutely amazing!  So perhaps to make up for the loss of the unscreened episode, I thought I'd share some of my vintage linen with you today.
I just love it.  The collection is stored away in a cupboard, but I want to eventually get pieces into frames and up on the walls.  It's too gorgeous to be shut away out of sight!
Those little roosters are so cute.  And I love the different colours in the frayed edges.  
This dog is one of my favourites.  He's such a stern looking thing and looks like he could hold his ground with dogs much bigger than him - just like Minnie imagines she can!

Do you have vintage linen?  If so, have you managed to display it and keep it looking good?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

six months on...

 Last week, our six month anniversary in the 33rd house passed by unnoticed.  It wasn't until we got to this week and our builders did a maintenance inspection that I realised...  wow!  Time has flown!  But in some ways, it feels so like home now, we could have lived here for any amount of time.  Inside, we have curtains - or blankets, something! - hanging on every window, paintings on walls and more than a smattering of mess from one end of the house to the other.  And outside - well after Joe mowed the lawns on Sunday, it really looks like a proper garden!
And just a flashback for you of only six months ago!  There was a lot of work ahead of us - and still is mind you, but I think we can afford to take a breather for a moment or two... 
Looking towards the back of the garden, you can see the edging Joe put down along the garden bed.  It's made from loose planks of wood I was given when the granny chic furniture came my way.  I knew it would come in handy one day!  And look at the plants - taking the risk on putting them in the ground is really paying dividends.  We've added a very small section of mulch and will do the whole thing as we can afford to - watching our pennies as we do!  All in all, it's a start and we are delighted.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

writing milestones: 50,000 words

I've passed a major writing milestone the past couple of days, reaching over 50,000 words in my manuscript.  I've now taken myself all the way back to the start and am going through the laborious process of sorting the text into the right sequence.  There is a framework at the start and it is numbered into chapters, but as I went along I just typed what I needed to on the day.  Now, it's getting down to the nitty gritty.  I want to sort what I have and evaluate the content - what will stay and what's going to end up on the chopping block.  Argh!  I need my next 40,000 words to shape what I have already, if that makes sense.  Some parts have been written in brief, just to get the idea on paper, so to speak.  Now, they will either be fleshed out and receive more detail or edited out altogether...

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

keeping warm

Min and Jono have a funny old friendship - sometimes it's having to sit and wear kangaroo ears whilst Jono listens to her heart with his stethoscope, other times it's running for her life when he's tormenting her.  And then there are times, like this morning, when Jono is someone to hold her and keep her warm.  Let's just ignore the fact that she's on the couch and we're really trying to make her kick that habit -  I had to leave her there for art's sake!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

lego in the sunshine and reflections on writing...

We are like cats, chasing spots of winter sunshine in the house.  Sophie's been playing with her lego, rejigging the layout and making a comfy couch for her people, perfect for watching TV.  I've been absent for the past couple of days, busy with work and real life.  I had three days worth of writing to catch up on this morning and it felt like a hard slog.  Definitely not one of those days the writing flowed easily, but I kept going - the words 'you can't edit a blank page' echoing in my head.  I managed a spot of editing this week, going right back to the first page.  A new narrative voice crept in - I like it, but have to make sure it fits the entire text.  Write, write and rewrite - isn't that what they say?!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

a room of one's own - the perfect place to make poppies!

Last night, Joe straightened in his seat as ads for the soccer world cup qualifier flicked on to the television.  As an avid 'football' fan from the northern hemisphere, he is on a starvation diet when it comes to the world game.  Often, big matches are screened live from Europe - ungodly hours that require an alarm clock and Joe running the gauntlet of waking the rest of the family.  So last night, when I saw the look of hope in Joe's eyes, I took my leave and shuffled off to my study, not yet fully aware of the productive night that lay ahead of me.  The combination of catch up TV through my computer and all my craft materials in one room proved a heady mix...
A poppy tiara made from wire - my first time making something like this and I don't think it will be my last!  Definitely need more to go around the house for when the mood strikes...
Remnants of previous felting works reconstructed into poppies - inspired by my sister Kate's beautiful paintings from yesterday...
 Felt and wool wrapped wire stems, flowers made from an old jumper (very thrifty!)...
 Last week's cup finally received its poppy...
 And a wire poppy frame.
 Mr fiddly fingers caught me arranging everything for a photo...
and took a liking to the wire poppies.  They are safely out of his reach now - I hope! - and I will add this work to my display in the main street...  but perhaps not today!  It is absolutely pouring down and I will only be going out when I have to - school pick up and Sophie's netball in the afternoon.  Wish me luck getting through the day with a very active boy who loves his outside time!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

the flanders poppy round up!

It's all been about poppies here recently - Flanders poppies to be precise.  Our local town will feature Poppies for Remembrance between 11 - 17 November.  We hope to see as many Flanders poppies grown or made and displayed around the town to honour our heroes from years gone by.  It ties directly in with efforts to honour the three Victoria Cross recipients (more than any other town in the Commonwealth) and other former service personnel from the district.  There is such a long lead time on this project, not just because of the huge amount of work to do to ensure its success, but also because the time is right to plant poppies now.

My infectious poppy making to promote the initiative has inspired my sister Kate has been to paint a beautiful field of poppies today and link to my blog.  I  have noticed visitors arriving on my traffic feed and thought it best to do a round up of all things poppy and give you some background on the project!  I love this photo of Sophie (which featured in our local paper this week) hard at work with her finger knitting.

And here is the digital poppy trail from my poster promoting the initiative.  I'm back to crocheting poppies again, now that Sophie's basket liner is finished and think that any moment now I will be making poppies in my sleep.  I definitely will be by the time we reach November!  All heaps of work, but very exciting and a lot of promise for wonderful projects for many years to come.

Please leave me a comment if you'd like to be involved.

sophie's crochet stripy basket liner

Made it!  Now that the basket liner is finished, it's almost time to fill Sophie's basket with wool.  I have loved making this liner and seeing it grow in a proper pattern.  It's funny how just making one thing can highlight other shapes that could grow from a similar pattern ie with a few tweaks, this could have become a hat or a bag.  In fact, it seems a bit of a shame to hide it away inside a basket, but even basket liners should look this pretty!  Now, time for a quick bite to eat and back to work!  It is coming out of my ears at the moment, between poppies and grants and proposals, not to mention my own writing...

Monday, 10 June 2013

chinese lantern love and a basket liner in progress

We were lucky to see an abundance of chinese lanterns growing yesterday.  They are just beautiful and grown en masse form such a lovely display at this time of year.  I've taken cuttings and hope that with some gel I can strike them for our own garden. 
I just love looking up through plants to the sky, seeing the light through papery petals - the effect much like when looking through hollyhocks.
There were white chinese lanterns too, but I was so drawn by the yellow, orange and red that I neglected to take any!  Woops!
Sophie has asked for her own wool collection.  She is becoming quite adept at finger knitting ("I can even do it without looking mum!") and her fascination with all things fibre is beginning - how exciting. And of course she will need somewhere to put her precious wool.  I found a flat circle pattern using half trebles at Attic24 and just kept going once I got the hang of it.  I stopped increasing and that's what has formed the sides.  Hopefully my hand doesn't drop off before I finish and fill the basket with wool!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

meanwhile at the lego gym...

Lego man is busy boxing, training to be world champion!  Tom's new Lego creation is a house for his police mini figures.  It includes the gym (some of which is pictured above and then again below), a kitchen, dining room and living room, laundry and a bedroom.  It looks like a great place to hang out!
 Don't you just love the treadmill?!  Tom says the only gym he's ever seen was on Peppa Pig (who says you can't learn anything from the television?!)!  I think the large set of weights is priceless too - great use of Tom's imagination.
And the bird's eye view - what a great share house for the police to hang out!  Complete with a healthy bowl of fruit - just what you need after a long day catching criminals!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

of dogs and sleep

Wasn't Minnie just the cutest puppy ever?  It helps to remember this three years down the track, because this week she's been in the dog house.  She's been waking up through the night and whining to be left out of the laundry and it has been taking its toll on our precious sleep.  It's like having a new baby in the house - are they too hot / too cold / thirsty / need the toilet etc etc etc.  We've brought her kennel into the laundry, hoping this will keep her warm and adjusted dinner time and water intake.  Now, either we just didn't hear her last night or she managed to get through until 6am this morning.  We are so proud of her!  And the relief of a full night's sleep - alleluia!

Friday, 7 June 2013

and who will lick the bowl?!

Jono and I baked yesterday morning - strictly out of necessity as it's all contraband around here.  You can't imagine the temptation that lay in my kitchen - delicious Anzac biscuits and chocolate brownies and not a one of them sampled by yours truly.  I have one of those birthdays ending in '0' coming up in December.  Oh, what did you say?  A 3 in the front?!  How flattering, but no...  a 4!  It's enough to spark fear in my heart, thinking I must be healthier or it will be all downhill from then...  we will wait and see.  So until then, I''ve dared myself to keep away from lollies, junk food and alcohol.  And if I win?  A big shopping spree on clothes and new shoes.  Please, wish me luck!  I've gone a week and a half so far and let me tell you, that's no mean feat!  As long as I don't have to bake too often, I will be fine!

PS I have two favourite chocolate brownie recipes - one made from real chocolate and the other from cocoa.  The latter is what I made for the sale - Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies recipe and is delicious!  But for really special occasions, the recipe with real chocolate comes out.  Best to wait til December then and I will post the recipe.  It will be too tempting to look at it before then!

PPS Of course it was Jono who licked the bowl, I didn't even accidentally let my tongue touch the spoon.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

the writer's edition - month 3 check-in

Did you think I'd forgotten my writing check-in this month due to the abundance of poppies about the place?  Well, I can tell you, I've been keeping up my writing too and it's hard work fitting everything in!  I have now written over 45,000 words - this is 12,458 words ahead of target at this time.  This time last month, I was about 8000 words ahead of target.  I've added another 4500 words to that which is fantastic.  Sorry if you're not mathematicians - just nod and pretend you understand!  I'm too tired to explain!

It is so hard trying to write with everything else going on.  The poppies have been very time-consuming and will continue to be a commitment as we promote our commemoration.  I have other work commitments to undertake as well.  I'm  looking forward to the long weekend and hope that this gives me a chance to catch up a bit.  None of this particularly fits in the doing less theme I'm trying to achieve, but what that really means is to try and do less other stuff with Jono around during the day and when Tom and Soph are home in the afternoon.  Anyways...

Now I know some of you are wondering what my manuscript is about.  I said I'd try to condense a brief sentence for you, so here goes:

First time parents struggle with undiagnosed postnatal depression: a story of love, friendship and healing.

Hmmm.... that's a start!  That was harder than I thought!  Mainly due to the subject matter: I don't want people to think it's just all terribly depressing because it's about depression as such and I'm hoping it will appeal to a wide audience due to its broader themes.  There are characters in there I'd love to meet - a wonderful doctor who appeared this month and I think he is a gem.  He wasn't planned at all - well there had to be a health professional, of course, but this man is far different to anyone I thought would appear.

I haven't suffered from post-natal depression myself, however this story has become important to me due to seeing and hearing about it happen to so many women.  There are so many pressures on new parents regardless of what else is going on and it often strikes just as parents are hitting their strides career-wise - a theme occurring in my manuscript.  This is at odds with the needs of new parents who are suffering with lack of sleep or parents who travel for work and have to be away from their very young babies and children.

So, there you go - a little peek at what I'm doing.  As everything unfolds I will fill you in on more...  until next month!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

a surprise in store - more Flanders poppies... papercraft, crochet and digital!

I bet when you clicked on my blog today, you were really surprised to see Flanders poppies!  Ha ha!  Well our window display is now installed in the main street and hopefully that will inspire our community to get on board with our Remembrance project.  Included is this papercraft vase of poppies, plus the crocheted ones that featured earlier and more.  We also have an article in this week's paper featuring pictures of Sophie and Tom doing their bit to help - a real family affair!  Tom and Joe planted a border of Flanders poppies in our garden on the weekend, so hopefully they grow and become part of our town's poppy trail.
 This mug and bowl are minus their poppies - I only had time to finish them last night as is.  It was too late to make their poppy adornments, but they are to become friends with the poppy plate I featured on yesterday's blog.  They are a little bit wonky, but it's all part of the learning process - that's how I justify it anyway!!

And here's a snippet of the poster I designed to promote the poppy project, a digital trail of Flanders poppies.  I am delighted with them - a real departure from the first draft of the poster I completed, which was a bit dark and just not right.  I love pushing myself creatively and seeing what happens next... all very exciting stuff.  We've had an overwhelming response to our project as a whole so far and it's only been a week since its inception.  Just goes to show how when things are right they quickly build their own momentum - exhausting as it is!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a tea party with my little boy!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

crochet flanders poppy plate - check!

Last night I had an idea...  what if I put a border around one of my crochet Flanders poppies and kept going.  Could it?  Would it?  Become a plate?  My first attempt went a bit wonky, so I ripped back and tried again.  I crocheted an edge around the poppie first, then on my second go around, just did the tops of the petals, then chained five between the gaps.  I've been trying to find the correct term for the stitch I used, but I can't...  maybe it's a hybrid stitch?!  I will ask mum when she comes home and let you know!  I thought it needed an edge once I made it large enough, and the blue makes a nice contrast.  I've started making it a friend - hope to have more to show you later!

Monday, 3 June 2013

crocheted flanders poppies adorning containers

Wow!  I graduated to three dimensional containers last night, crocheted in a round!  Kate tried to explain them to me a few weeks ago, but I still couldn't understand.  I accidentally created a flat circle for a base (trying to do something else!) and realised I was half way there.  Then I googled and found out all I had to do was revert from double crochet somethingorothers and just do singles, then the sides would curl up and a container would form.  I even managed to do double somethingorothers again on the green one and create a lip to the container.  Wah hoo!  And with poppies on them, for something different!

For all of those wondering, the poppies will go on display in our town to promote a Remembrance project we're working on for November.  If you'd like to make poppies to be involved in the project, we would be thrilled to have you on board.  Please leave a comment and I will contact you with further information.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

making poppies as I sleep...

A beautiful field of poppies has grown inside our house.  It's made from paper and paint and yarn and looks so cute I think I'll have to keep it!  I think I will be making and counting poppies in my sleep for quite some time now.  Things could be worse!  Most of these poppies have been sewn into a long string of bunting, whilst the others will be arranged in a vase made of card.  More photos to come!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

poppies on a rainy day

"Look at my finger knitting mum!"
I've called in the big guns to help me get ready for next week's poppy display!  It's pouring outside, the perfect weather for making!  We're producing poppies from crepe paper, cardboard and printing them as well.  Who knows what else we'll use?  Newspaper bunting printed with poppies, making them from paper plates...  the poppy world is our oyster.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to start carving us some potatoes!!