Thursday, July 26, 2007

My first craft show

Today I went to the Craft and Quilt Fair in Melbourne. I was a bit apprehensive about the anticipated crowds, but I got there early (9.20) and had previously planned out what I wanted to see. As I approached Jeff's Shed*, I felt a part of an army of like minded people. Marching along with me were women who, well, had that crafty look about them. It was a hoot! When I arrived the queue was not long and moved quickly. Fortunately I had brought cash with me, which eliminated the need for me to stand in another queue for the ATM.

There were half hour demonstrations of lots of products and techniques, and there were so many products, I was astounded. My favorite was specially treated fabric with paper backing in A4 size which can be put in an ordinary inkjet printer. Photos, graphics, text etc can be printed onto fabric and then sewn into a project. Most people there would have been thinking "quilts", but I was thinking "fabric covered books". There was something for everyone and I'll certainly be going to more of these crafty events.

*Jeff's Shed is Melbourne's Exhibition Centre, nicknamed after the 1990s premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett. The shed is an important place in the life of the Australian male, where he can retreat to, to tinker with bits of wood, metal and the like. It is a tragedy for the Man Who Cooks that there is no shed in our garden. He has to make do with part of the rumpus room.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Montsalvat, 1930s artist colony

Yesterday I met up with Lindsay (another Blogger buddy) and his wife Anne, and Gina who I've met previously. They live in Eltham, a lovely suburb of Melbourne, but had not met each other previously. We had lunch at a cafe next to the Eltham Library (yes, I did get there early to borrow some books), and then we went on to Montsalvat, an artists colony that looks like it could be in Europe. Artists in the 1930s gathered here and built an interesting collection of buildings, using materials from houses and buildings that were being demolished in Melbourne. They tried to be self sufficient by growing their own food, and had cows and poultry for milk and eggs. Artists in residence are housed around the place in quaint little cottages which form a village like atmosphere. It was a fabulous day, aided by wonderful weather and great company - my blogger buddies!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Natural friendship pools amongst bloggers?

Yesterday I wound up commenting on Motherkitty's blog for the first time. I have seen Motherkitty around the Blogosphere for a while now, commenting on blogs that I have been reading. Because I am making a conscious effort to keep my blog reading to a manageable size, I rarely add new blogs to my Google Reader. But sometimes there is just something that catches my eye (OK, if the truth be known, I was seduced by a link on another blog by the promise of seeing a "hunky pool guy", I couldn't resist clicking and wound up at Motherkitty's). When I first visit a blog I always read someone's profile, and then check out a few recent posts. In this case, I decided that Motherkitty was someone who had something to say, and had a few things in common with me. And of course there are some blogs that we both read.

Now I know that shared blog lists are the obvious way of bringing bloggers together, but what strikes me is that there seems to be a defined community of us, a tiny part of that huge world of blog communities 'out there'. We are finding each other amongst millions of blogs, and pretty much sticking together and that this community is not expanding that fast, considering all that's 'out there'. Is it just me, or does anyone else find this an interesting phenomenon, am I stating the obvious, totally out of it? Hello, are you still there?

We will not be here for the weekend, leaving tonight for the country and staying in our favorite Castlemaine accommodation, the Campbell St Lodge, for two nights. We've booked one of the two rooms on the upper floor, views over the town. Bliss!

Saturday morning will see us do our ritual visit to the library, then the art gallery, and Sunday will be taken up with a long hike in the Wombat Forest with the Great Dividing Trail Association group, which we've just joined. Will catch up with your blogs Sunday evening.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ghostly Melbourne

On the evening of the coldest Melbourne day in yonks*, do the Man Who Cooks and I choose to:
  1. sit at home in front of the TV?
  2. crank the heating up and get out extra blankets?
  3. put on extra layers of clothing?
  4. get stuck into the whiskey?
  5. all of the above?
  6. none of the above?
You would be correct if you said None of the above. No, we chose to proceed with our planned tour of Melbourne's haunted buildings, starting at 6 p.m. and going for a bone-chilling 1.5 hours before we retreated to a restaurant. And amazingly, we were not alone. There were about 20 of us foolhardy souls traipsing around the city, listening to stories about ghostly sightings, alarmingly many by security guards.

The tours are being conducted on Tuesday evenings while the current exhibition of Spooks: Stories of Haunted Melbourne is on at Melbourne's City Museum. I am a great fan of this museum, which is in the lovely Treasury Building (designed by a 19-year-old in the 19th century) to store the gold from the gold rush. Melburnians and visitors to our city would do well to spend some time in this museum, looking at the various exhibitions, the gold vaults, continuously running video of old trams (a Val favorite), and much more. Oh, and the Treasury Building is haunted too...

*a wonderful Aussie word meaning "a long time"; usage also indicates laziness at looking up the exact length of time elapsed since it was this cold

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our rainwater tank

Our rainwater tank was finally delivered and installed on Friday. It has been a long wait as the suppliers could not keep up with the demand due to the drought. Now we can start collecting 5000 litres for use in the garden and pool. A hose will go under the house and out into the back garden - there's quite a fall so we won't need a pump. It started raining shortly after the tank was hooked up and what a wonderful sound that was, listening to the water pour into the tank.

The Man Who Cooks inspecting our new addition to the family. The lower pipe is for the overflow when the tank reaches capacity. It's an optical illusion that makes it seem that the pipe is going uphill...
We park the cars in front of the moveable fence which is on castors.

After only a couple of hours of moderate rainfall, water had already reached the lower tap on the right. I wonder if we should give the tank a name.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Grand opening!

...of Val's craft room! Come in and have a browse.

Since the return of Techie Son in June I've had to move all my craft stuff back into my study. This room had been well set up for when I was working when I needed a desk. But as a craft room it was useless. So I moved my desk out to the kitchen/family room area, and replaced it with a table with adjustable height and a stool, so I can work standing or sitting. It is working very well for me.

Beyond the chair on the floor is my tool box, and above that are two trays that are designed to fix onto the table legs and rotate out of the way and for easy access when you need stuff. Table, chair and trays were bought at Ikea which I braved for the first time for this project.

This is a small room (just over 3 x 2 metres = 10 x 6.5 feet) but has a built in wardrobe with 4 large drawers. One of the drawers is used for storing SOME of the paper I have, and I'm using all the area above the drawers and on the upper shelf for my craft things.

My craft room is the mirror image of the Man Who Cooks' study on the other side of the wall with the wardrobe in it, and was designed by the original owners to allow the wall to be removed to make one larger room. However, dear readers, I am now reluctant to even entertain such an idea, as I'm SO happy with this room.

This is a new acquisition, a trimmer I got on sale this week. Not only does it cut in a straight line, but also a wavy line and does perforations. I've always wanted to be able to do that so I can make notebooks with pages that can easily be removed. It also has a scoring wheel to make crisp folds. It's brilliant! But can anyone tell me what those arcs are for? I'm sure they're meant to do something useful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Coffee/tea meme!

How do you take your coffee/tea?

This is from Stu out in Western Australia. I have strong feelings about my coffee, so this meme is ideal for me.

Whether you're a coffee or tea drinker, you too might have fun answering the questions and posting a photo of your favorite coffee cup or mug.

What's your preference - coffee or tea?

Mine is definitely coffee. "Regular" tea makes me cough (something to do with the tannin?), but I do like peppermint tea.

Instant or Brewed?

Instant coffee is a contradiction in terms for us. And it has to be filter coffee, none of this new fangled plunger stuff for us. When we go on holiday, we make sure beforehand what the coffee making facilities there are like, and if necessary bring our own filter and other equipment, even on the train to Adelaide.

How do you take it?

Black. The Man Who Cooks weaned me off the tiny splash of milk I used to put in it, and now HE drinks lattes! (but only when he goes to a cafe).

Do you have a favorite cup?

For coffee we use the cups and saucers that go with our every day dinner set. I use a couple of mugs for my afternoon tea, both from my library days.

How many will you enjoy during a normal day?

I used to drink a lot more, especially when I was living in Germany years ago - they used to call me the Kaffee-Tante (coffee aunt). But now I have my two strong cups in the morning and will rarely have coffee after that.

Does it matter if you don't start the day with a coffee/tea?

Absolutely!! I do not venture outside the house without first having my morning coffee. This has two implications:

  1. I am not a candidate for going out for breakfast. This fits well with my preference for having my breakfast while still in pajamas.
  2. When I have to fast before having a cholesterol check, I am an absolute wreck until I get the all clear to have breakfast and coffee. Just don't get in my way on those mornings.
Anyone else care to do this meme? Let me know!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Excuses, excuses

why I'm not blogging so frequently: I've been working on getting my study transformed into a craft room. It is coming along splendidly and I will post photos when it is completed.

In the meantime I guess I had better try to upload some photos I took in the Barossa Valley. I hope Blogger is co-operating tonight.

In the last post I mentioned that the Barossa Valley was settled by Germans in the 19th century. When we were last here in 1990, evidence of German heritage was still quite strong. However, that seems to have diminished in the intervening years. German restaurants and bakeries are rare now, and there are only 2 butchers left producing the traditional German sausages and other smallgoods. We did manage to find a bakery that made those beautiful large soft pretzels with the large salt grains on them. I could eat them daily. Here we are at a lookout above the valley, brandishing our pretzels. MIL really got into the spirit of things.

It was a bit too breezy for our picnic though, so we retreated to the hoon-mobile we hired. What a lurid color! But it seemed to be quite a popular car color around Adelaide, we saw it frequently. You might just be able to see the MWC and MIL sitting in the back seat getting ready to eat lunch. We had a panoramic view of the Barossa Valley from here.
This church and cemetery has a very German look to it, and there are churches everywhere. Very picturesque.

We also saw a number of thatched roof buildings.

One memory I had of our previous trip to Adelaide and the Barossa was of our young sons' joy in visiting Gumeracha, home of the largest rocking horse in the southern hemisphere and where you could climb to the top. There is a toy factory and shop next to it which specialises in wooden toys. It was also where I finally relented and bought them old fashioned wooden pop guns. (I had never let them have toy guns before). I'll never forget their happy little faces. For nostalgia's sake, I bought them each a pop gun and I think they were both tickled by that. Occasionally I hear the gentle pop of a pop gun coming from their bedrooms. Remember, they're 20 and 22 years old!

The Barossa is famous for its wines, and vineyards fill a lot of the landscape. We did a tour of the Seppelts winery, founded by a Prussian. There are thousands of date palms throughout the property. The Seppelts developed a scheme for their employees to plant the palms during the Depression, so they could remain employed. Unfortunately the business is no longer in family ownership.
An unexpected highlight for me of our trip to the Barossa was practically right across the street from where we were staying. The owner of a craft shop was retiring and selling all her stock at great discounts. I bought stamps, embossing powders, stickers, paper, glitter and a craft punch at a fraction of what it would normally cost. I was a happy camper.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Train journey to Adelaide

Taking the train to Adelaide was a good move: so relaxing, read lots, dozed, gawked out the window. And Adelaide had so much to offer, we'll have to go back to visit again soon, to see the things we didn't have time for.
In the train

Cafe carriage, able to gawk out the windows while having quite good coffee.

Beautiful glass conservatory in Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Inside the conservatory, filled with palmsBicentenary conservatory, containing a whole rainforest
Inside the conservatory. These were aerial roots that seemed to be translucent.

We visited the excellent art gallery (current exhibition is the Egyptian collection from the Louvre). Next door was the museum which had an exhibition on the Middle Eastern cameleers who came to Australia in the 19th century when camels were used to cross the vast inland deserts on explorations. And next door to that was the South Australian State Library, both new and old buildings. I preferred the oldest building, although I wish they didn't have that flag hanging in the middle. Still, I think you get the idea. Now THAT was a library building.
We hired a car and drove up to the Barossa Valley. But that's for another day.