Sunday, 21 December 2008

Shadow Shot Sunday # 6

It's Shadow Shot Sunday # 6 for me, but in actual fact it's SSS # 31 on Hey Harriet's blog, so hop across and take a look at some amazing images from around the world.

This week's SSS came about when I was photographing the beautiful little bird which I recently won.

I will be taking a break for a short while, as we are flying to Sydney tomorrow to spend Christmas with our two daughters and their families, as well as other much loved relatives and friends.

We had an early Christmas Day yesterday with our son, daughter-in-law and their four children and it was the most delightful day.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and look forward to catching up in the New Year.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Giving is good ... receiving's not bad either!

THERE'S A CERTAIN BUZZ that starts about two weeks before Christmas and it accelerates as the great day draws nearer. I see how impatient our little grandchildren are in anticipation of Christmas Day. We older, gentler folk have long lost that air of excitement, but it is replaced with something even better - we lucky ones can hardly wait for Christmas Day so that we can spend it with those oh so eager little children, their parents, and extended family.

Which brings me to the subject of giving. It's a wonderful thing to do and you get that warm and fuzzy feeling when you see the delight (hopefully!) your gift has given to the recipient. But there's also joy in receiving, and over the past week or so I have been blessed with some truly beautiful gifts - all hand-made.

I missed the Christmas gathering of the BrisStyle girls in November, which I was really sad about, because I had been looking forward to it so much. However, my spirits were uplifted when a small parcel arrived in the post. It was from my secret Santa, Margie of Marlier Designs and I was absolutely delighted with my gift. It blended perfectly with the top I had planned to wear to our BrisStyle Christmas Market - how did she know? The intricate work in this piece is truly remarkable. Thank you so much Margie.

Last week Schoolhouse Quilters held their Christmas party at the Kenmore Tavern and we were honoured with a guest appearance by ABBA. Oh, how I wish I had some photos, but I foolishly left my camera at home. Anyway, they have aged pretty well, all things considered, but they were reduced to miming their songs via a karaoke machine, poor darlings. In the end we all helped them out.

This year it was decided to drop our traditional blood sport of stealing gifts we liked from other recipients (it could get quite ugly) and settled for a pass-the-parcel system. Thank goodness no one was able to steal my beautiful gift.

This hand-painted box received many ooo-s and aaah-s from the others present, so I was really relieved that I didn't have to cry when someone took it away from me - it was all mine. What was inside?

These adorable little containers were liberally filled with decorations to sprinkle on our table on Christmas Day.

And I am going to use the box to keep my buttons in order. Thank you so much Jenny Whitehead, our new Schoolhouse President, for this very much loved gift.

But wait - there's more. I entered a blog competition organised by Magnolia Square and was delighted to be chosen as one of the winners. My prize was made by Miranda of Bride & Wolf, a designer I had admired for many months. Within a few days, there was a parcel waiting for me at the Post Office.

What I saw inside took my breath away.

It was the most beautiful little hand-carved bird with removable eggs...

... with different colours on each side.

It is a much cherished treasure which will give us years of pleasure. If you would like to see some of Miranda's work first-hand, you will have to be in Melbourne, where you can visit her stall at Magnolia Square Markets, or Sisters' Market. I know you won't be disappointed.

I also received a stunning hand-made fabric post card from Joy, a member of our Loose Threads group - eight old friends who meet twice monthly to quilt and chat. This is the second year we have made each other post cards and I will feature them some time in the New Year.

I have purchased some beautiful works of art from Amanda Twinkle Star Art, but I can't show you because they are gifts. You will have to take my word for it that they are gorgeous and I will reveal them in the fullness of time, in due course, at the appropriate juncture, to quote my favourite public servant.

So you can see that receiving can be just as much fun as giving, particularly when the gift is made with love.

One tradition we have kept for many years is to buy a panetone in a tin. As the years pass, it is harder to track down the tinned variety, as most come in cardboard boxes these days. However, a trip to a local deli produced this lovely tin:

After we have eaten the panetone (yum!), it will join our other tins.

Sorry to rabbit on. I wish you all a very happy Christmas. I hope you will spend the day surrounded by your loved ones.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Not all Markets Crash

No indeed, in fact, some of them rise spectacularly.

In these fiscally depressing times, isn't it wonderful to hear some good news for a change? Here in this little corner of the world our BrisStyle Christmas Market was a spectacular success, not only financially, but also because of the most marvellous spirit surrounding the day. Thirty BrisStyle members took advantage of the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day of the year and set up their wares in the Hamilton Town Hall and leafy outdoor courtyard. For many it was their first market experience and they approached it with trepidation. However, their fears were soon allayed as the crowds started rolling in when the doors opened for business.

It was so good to finally meet some of the group face to face, as much of the planning and conversations had taken place via emails. Many of us meet on a monthly basis, but there were so many new members and it was marvellous to put a face to the name.

And what a joy it was to see such beautifully made items - no "junk" or imported goodies here - just high quality goods created by a diverse group of artisans and designers.

Our Den Mother, Helen (left), with her Ruby Red Studios items

Beautiful baby shoes by Michelle of Pedrosprout

Benita of Bettsy Kingston with her oh-so-cute frilly baby bloomers

Raspberry Pink's Lauren spent the day entertaining the crowds by making tiny little penguins

Being Brisbane in mid-December, the day was hot and muggy, but this did not deter the crowds who came in a steady stream throughout the day. There was live entertainment and delicious sandwich wraps and iced coffee to keep the shoppers and vendors alike refreshed and happy.

The day was enhanced by the presence of families, babies, children, friends and supporters who added to the friendly atmosphere of the day. There were no unhappy faces - just smiles and laughter all day - wonderful.

I was humbled to be included among such talented designers - most of whom are young enough to be my daughters. Luckily, age doesn't seem to enter the equation, as we all share the same love of creating and designing.

Considering that my stocks were pretty low for various reasons, I was indeed very happy with my sales. One of my dresses is on its way to London - lucky dress!

With two markets in close succession, my stocks are now really low, but after the Christmas break, I will assume my role as the mad seamstress and hopefully will have lots of stock ready for our next market, which will take place in May, just in time for Mother's Day.

So the dollar may be dropping, but the BrisStyle spirit is certainly rising.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Shadow Shot Sunday # 5

Well, there I was dragging myself gingerly around the house this morning after a pretty full-on day participating in the BrisStyle Christmas Market yesterday, when I discovered these reflections on the dining room floor. I don't think I was actually crawling across the floor, but I may have been. The sun (already very hot and humid) was coming in through the front window and danced its way across the dining table. It also left some interesting shapes on the edge of the table.

But I really loved the rainbow effect it left on the carpet. Pity there was no pot of gold!

And now I'd really love to limp back to bed, but we have an appointment in the city in about an hour or two, so that's not going to happen.

The market was a brilliant success and I will write more on it tomorrow, by which time I should feel as though I belong to the human race.

In the meantime, why don't you pop over to Hey Harriet and take a look at some really creative shadow shots.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


WILL YOU BE IN BRISBANE this Saturday? If so, lucky you - just take a look at what's happening at the Hamilton Town Hall.

With around 30 stalls to choose from, we have all your Christmas gifts covered. No matter what your taste or who is on your shopping list, there will be something here to capture your heart. If you have admired the work of any of the BrisStyle artisans, now is the time to meet them in person.

It promises to be a fun and festive day, with live music, and tasty treats and refreshments available in the beautiful courtyard of the charming old Hamilton Town Hall. Also, BrisStyle’s favourite radio station 4ZzZ will be broadcasting live from the event in the afternoon as part of the popular and award winning At The Local program which is hosted by BrisStyle member Olivia (Scampsville) between 1pm and 2pm every Saturday.

Here's a list of the BrisStyle stall-holders who will be participating in our first market - check out their shops and get your shopping list ready for Saturday!

If you do come, please pop by my stall and say hello.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Shadow Shot Sunday # 4

This week's shadow shot is part of a beautiful bunch of flowers my daughter and son-in-law sent to us last week. OK, I cheated a little. I was playing with the image in Photoshop and thought this looked a little more interesting - almost like looking through bubbly glass.
What a wild, stormy night it was last night. In my dazed half-awake state it appeared to be one long thunder storm, with flashes of lightning and incessant rain falling. I guess the drought is over and summer is truly here!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Shadow Shot Sunday # 3

I'm afraid I've been neglecting Shadow Shot Sunday for a while, as I've had to travel interstate on family business.

Today's effort is courtesy of the wild weather we have been experiencing in Brisbane over the past couple of weeks. The first storm left us without power for five hours and we were forced to resort to using a battery operated little lamp. As Tony was creating our exotic evening meal (a ham sandwich), I was spooked by his shadow on the ceiling of the kitchen.

We decided to watch a movie on our portable DVD player, but the battery was flat. Then the batteries in the little lamp started to sulk, so we stumbled off to bed. Compared to how other parts of Brisbane fared, we were extremely lucky that we only suffered a loss of power.

Life for us this week has been particularly hard. My younger brother died peacefully in hospital yesterday morning after his life support system had been withdrawn. He was eight years younger than me and ten years younger than my other brother. He brought so much joy to our lives and now we are left with this huge hole which will be impossible to fill. Rest in peace, Phil.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Quilt Show

I KNOW IT'S NEARLY TWO WEEKS since Jems Quilt Sitters' Challenge Exhibition, but it was such a fun weekend that I felt I should write about it.

The weather was hot and humid - little did we suspect what appalling storms Brisbane was to experience over the following week. However, this car appeared to be feeling the cold - maybe it was the early hour. I have threatened to make one just like this for my son-in-law for his beloved Kombi Van, and I think I have him worried!

The birds woke us at their usual time of 4.30 am (who says we don't need daylight savings?), which was just as well, because I suddenly remembered I was rostered to bring a slice for the refreshments room. Eek! What's in the pantry? I found some cooking chocolate, dessicated coconut, a can of condensed milk (why on earth did I buy that?), butter, flour and eggs. A quick visit to produced the perfect recipe to match the ingredients.

Buoyed on by the promising image (above), I had the slice in the oven and it was time to get ready. Like clockwork, out came the slice just in time to leave for the Brookfield Showground. No time to cut it into slices as it was still hot, so it was a bit of a gamble what it looked like inside. However, more by good luck than good management, it turned out to be a bit of a success, so I have promised Tony the next time I find a can of condensed milk in the pantry, I'll bake up a batch for him. Fat chance.

If you would like a copy the recipe, go to

By the time I arrived at the showground, some very keen buyers had already raided the sales room, anxious to be the first in line to buy some of the quilts which were on sale. I had put my quilt from last year's exhibition up for sale, without much confidence, so I was somewhat gobsmacked to discover that it had been sold before the exhibition had even opened its doors to the public.

At our Christmas lunch every year, our founder Margot hands out a copy of the block which will become the basis of our challenge quilt for the following year. This year's block was called Lotus Flower.

The rules are that the block must be used in the central part of the quilt and can only be changed by colour placement and fabric choice. The quilt may be embellished after it has been constructed and borders could be added.

As usual, I procrastinated, causing the usual last-minute panic as the deadline approached. Using fabrics left over from my children's clothing range, plus a few gate crashers, I put the finishing touches to the quilt the day before the opening. And no, I was not the last to finish. One member was observed sewing the last of the binding onto her quilt as the men were rushing around on ladders setting up the show. That's what I call super cool!

Here is my quilt:

And here are some other examples from really clever quilters. It's hard for people who come to our exhibition to realise that they are all made from the same block, and they stand in front of some of the quilts for minutes at a time, trying to see the original block.

But the one that had everyone scratching their heads was this little masterpiece by my friend Joy. If you looked really carefully and held your tongue in a certain position, you could just make out the block.

The sales room was buzzing and items were eagerly snapped up for Christmas gifts. As is always the case, the early shopper got the pick of the goodies.

I had a successful weekend selling some of my Hot Fudge items and as a consequence I am now sewing flat out in a desperate effort to replenish stocks for our BrisStyle Christmas Market.

It was really good to catch up with three members of BrisStyle who came to the exhibition, so thank you Helen of Ruby Red Studios, Amanda of Twinkle Star Art, and Bec of Where's Becky Bean, who brought along her adorable little Kate, who really dug the jazz.

The lunchtime crowds were entertained by Stitched Up Jazz, who battled on bravely through the incredible midday heat.

By late Sunday afternoon, the first of the first of the green tinged storm clouds were gathering on the horizon, so the taking down of the quilts was achieved in record time!

And now we are eagerly awaiting the distribution of next year's block at our Christmas lunch. I have vowed to get an early start on it this time. Right.

Family and Friends

It's been an emotional roller-coaster of a week and one that has left us devastated. My younger brother suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage which left him in a coma. We caught the first available flight from Brisbane to Sydney to be at his side and together with his son and my older brother, we spent a week visiting the Intensive Care Unit, going through all the ups and downs that come with situations such as this.

My brother lost his wife three years ago to cancer. She was the light of his life and he felt the loss terribly. Had he seen the number of family and close friends who gathered at his bedside, he would have been chuffed. He is hanging on by a thread and there appears to be a lot of brain damage, so we hope and pray that he goes peacefully.

It really brings you up short when such terrible events touch you and you realise what is really important in life. Family and friends.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Quilt Exhibition Time

Well, despite all the gremlins set in my path, I finished the quilt last night, just in time to take it to the set-up tomorrow. I'd love to show it to you, but it's a secret and if you saw it, I'd have to kill you. But I can show you some of the children's clothing I will be selling.

I am now frantically doing the hand-sewing on three new dresses and somehow I still have to make a label for the back of the quilt, sew it on, and make four pairs of baby shoes. Lots of deep breaths and one step at a time does it.

So if you will be in Brisbane over the weekend, a trip to beautiful semi-rural Brookfield will do you the world of good. The historic Brookfield Hall is so cute it looks like a Hollywood set. Add to that a fantastic quilt exhibition, oh-so-tempting things to buy in our sales room, scrumptious refreshments, and a great jazz band to entertain you at lunchtime, and you have the perfect day. Please say hello if you if you come - it'd love to meet you.

While we are talking about exhibitions, next weekend Reverse Garbage will be holding their popular annual end-of-year pre-Christmas exhibition. There will be some wonderful and innovative pieces of art and craft on display and better still, they will be available for sale. What’s particularly exciting is that three of the participating artists this year are fellow BrisStyle team members. Included in the “Renaissance: a rebirth of recycled materials” exhibition are Helen Berthold (ruby red studios and ruby 2 go-go), Ali Chisholm (jellygnite) and Rebecca Hollis (wheresbeckybean). For more information, please go to the Reverse Garbage link. Good luck, girls!

And finally, don't forget our BrisStyle fabulous give-away parcels - three gorgeous packages of goodies - each one valued at over US$100, and you know what that is in Aussie dollars! Time is running out, so don't delay.

Have a wonderful weekend everybody.