March 28, 2009

What's Cookin'?

Today was a recipe for a great day. Sort of in the ethos of the Slow Food movement, today was a Slow Saturday of cheer and sunshine.

It began with hot cross buns and coffee, a walk in the park and a chat with neighbours (and their dogs).

We don't buy hot cross buns very often, and I've sometimes tried to make my own, resulting in a hot cross me with little lumps of dough, rapidly turning rock-hard. Mr Tacc saved the day when he came home from the Vic Market on Friday and casually announced that he'd bought some hot cross buns. Not just any hot cross buns: gooey, sticky, yeasty, spice-laden raisin-hoarding buns from the bakery ladies. I forgive them a year of a mild taciturn tendency for these buns.

So, nice buns, tick. (giggle) Coffee, tick. Off I went to the market at Thornbury, to meet with lots of lovely crafters, gossip and eye the cupcakes, and generally just mooch around the colourful stall of goodness known as the Curlypops and Tinniegirl shop. Yay!

These two did a super job, and their colourful wares looked amazing. So amazing that I had to take some home with me.... yes, Ms Curlypops, I secretly had my eye on that orange apron from the moment the teatowel was glimpsed in the corner. And when it was revealed, well -- I decided that if the gods were smiling, it would be my new apron.

-It is!

So, welcome! Come on in, and make yourselves at home. Something nice is cooking and the chef has a silly smile at the thought of her lovely new apron.

Last year, I decided Earth Hour was an occasion, worthy of celebration with a fantastic dinner by candlelight, and maybe a game of cards to follow.

Here's what's on the menu tonight:

Organic chicken braised in wine with olives, tarragon and home-grown tomatoes.
Baked jacket potatoes, crusted with Murray River salt.
Pumpkin baked in olive oil, dusted in cumin, chilli and rubbed with garlic.
Crisp green salad.

Oops, we ate dessert already. Maybe a zucchini cake will get made while the chicken finishes roasting (says she, spying there's about 6 minutes left on the time).

Dinner's on! Must go and set the table, cloth and candles, while the bird browns. Earth's worth it.

March 27, 2009

Sniffling the roses

The cold continues to hang around, but how can I be entirely grumpy when this is part of the view out the front door? We had the door open to the sunshine and the breeze this afternoon, while I snoozed and he worked. The dog monitored all.

Later on, a teeny bit of crafting even happened, in a sort of slow and lazy way. These are three scrap lavender bags, sweet smelling and bright-coloured, for a bit of summer when winter comes.

March 26, 2009

Looking on the bright side

We're moving slowly here at Tacc Headquarters, due to a nasty cold virus that took up residence almost a week ago and refuses to leave.

I remain cuddled on a sofa with a quilt, crochet to hand and a good Michael Pearce historical whodunnit. Drinking lots of tea.

Wouldn't a tea cup like this in my favourite shade of yellow make it all a bit better?

teacup and saucer from my dad
Originally uploaded by loveitaly

March 23, 2009


Scary rabbits ahoy!

hop... hop... RaWR!

Last night, I sat up far too late trying to read a library book that's due back tomorrow. I've already renewed it once, perhaps even twice. So I know our days as associates and friends are numbered.

magical mystery moths

The book? Traditional Embroidered Animals, by Sarah Don. It's a compendium of animal embroidery images, including some patterns and plenty of stitch diagrams, for stitchers who are inspired by medieval and Tudor embroidery.

My, my, what handsome tailfeathers you've got!

I've been inspired by gorgeous old textiles before. When we were in London last July, I spent whole days in the V and A's Textile Study room, staring at the amazing embroideries, pulling out drawers and gazing at the delights. (If you go to London, slip away and get to the Textile Room. The guards will show you what you can access, and believe me, it's a lot! Give yourself an hour or more, just for that room alone....)

So far, so good, I was thinking... I like the peacock, and love the owl in a pear tree. The rabbit's a bit on the wild and woolly side. But then.... holy frogspawn, batman -- what's this?!

What's going on here?

(click on it to get a better look)

Apparently it is a youth riding a frog. We are told it comes from Konrad Gesner's collection, Historia Animalium, of 1551. Must have been a wild year, that year of the big frogs. C'mon historians, now's your time to jump up and yell "Allegorical Significance! Allegorical Significance!" Meaning -- "We haven't the faintest idea."

March 20, 2009

Up to the blue -- or should dad be boo?

I got eight hours of sleep last night: this is an achievement! Up and out in the regular early, not the dark and extra-early early, and these autumn days are gorgeously crisp. Lots of dog walkers. Balloons in the sky.

I took this photo at about exactly this time last year, and although I forgot my camera today, this was just what the sky looked like. Pearly clouds and the jewel-bright balloons.

Sadly, sometime in that long sleep, I seem to have caught a cold. I've been sneezing my way around the house this morning, and it's not looking good. I've got one more busy work day ahead of me, and Sewjourn's quilting bee tomorrow, and dinner out, and more catching up with friends on Sunday, and I just want to go to bed and sniffle.

March 19, 2009

Do not....

My parcel for Do Not Leave Unattended arrived today. And like any kid at Christmas, I couldn't resist tearing into it right away, to see what everyone's been posting in this little art journal that's been around the world.

There are quotes and notes, drawings and portraits, a painting, a sweet story with kimono fabric and vintage envelopes and more. To see what's happening and read about the project, have a look at the Do Not Leave Unattended blog.

I did three rather serious pages. All the time, harassed by the cuddle monster, Mr. Toby. So my last page was dedicated to him. Fancy feeding that monster? I do!

Up early; out in the dawn

I woke up at 5:30 this morning. Dark and still, only one apologetic hoot from a train and no traffic on the road. But I couldn't sleep.

I don't think I've had a full night's sleep, or, more certainly, two full nights in a row, for weeks.

I read a book recently in which the same thing happened to the main character. Eventually, she got used to operating on less sleep. She started getting up and going out for walks. Today, I found myself doing the same thing.

Sleepy dog wondering what's going on, but happy to be out. He's a darker shadow in the grey gloom, still so dark that I can't see the shadow of his tail, but I know it's wagging merrily. The parrots are shouting at each other from the safety of two popsicle-stick trees, one on either side of the road. Not a light in most houses. Cracks of orange in others.

Soon, dark morning walks will be the norm. It's been nearly two years since Toby and I were up and out in the dark every day. This time last year, I was getting ready to leave my job. To quit corporate marketing and make use of the round the world tickets we bought, before coming back and figuring out what happens next. Now, I'm here, back in Melbourne and in a new job and a different career that I enjoy enormously. Not every moment, but most of them, and many of them greatly.

We went to Italy last May. Slept the long flight and woke up in Rome. Despite my happiness in this moment, I want to do it again. To live in Italy, for a few months. To be in Italy.

Recently, I started writing daily pages -- thoughts and ideas, no design to the words, no audience, just stuff. It was a treat, today, to be up early and to write without one eye on the clock. Two cups of coffee and the mists of night dreams fading away.

I had a nightmare last night which is now making me laugh. Yesterday, the talk on our street was of the spate of burglaries on our block. Some houses have been done twice. We haven't (yet). I thought 'What if they took the laptop? All my photos of Italy!' I resolved to buy a back up drive, today, and to back up the whole machine and hide it.

So, then I'm dreaming, late at night, and I find myself on a lilo (air mattress), half-sinking, in a lake. I had a big camera, and I was trying to keep it above water, while sitting next to me was a guy (I don't know who, some New Zealander), and he kept saying, 'Don't worry; I'll download your photos and then they'll be safe even if you drop the camera'.

Then a shark showed up. And I woke up. (This shark was not very scary. Its teeth were remarkably tiny, like fig seeds, all in a row, and I think it sort of slobbered on my leg. It even looked more like an overgrown trout, because I've seen lots of trout and I've never seen a shark.)

- And who said that we don't dream our daily concerns? Back up those photos or the trout-shark will come and slobber on you. That's what I say.


As you can see, early mornings make for rambling.

Here's something gorgeous:

Spoonflower fabric of the week: Teacups, by Hannah Raeside of Manchester, UK. I've been profligate and ordered a yard. It's going to be cushion fronts, for the colourful scatter of cushions I am determined to make, inspired by the latest CraftSanity interview with Jennifer Paganelli. At some point in the interview, both Jennifers are chatting about how fun it is to have real colour in your house, and how everything doesn't need to be 'matchy-matchy'. Well, I agree. A light went off in my mind, and the cushions will be happening. I can't wait to show you the first pair!

March 16, 2009


I promise to return to quilts when I can get in the door of the front room. Which means I need to move some fabric. But in the meantime, here's my first crochet scarf.

(Yes, it's supposed to be skinny).

40c ball of yarn, scored at Lincraft. Even though it's a weeny little scarf, it's fluffy and warm and super-super soft.


March 15, 2009

Doing the train stitch

I don't know whose quilt this is. They didn't tell us whose quilt this is! Lovely colours.

Today, I went to the Stitches and Craft show. Yesterday's rain scared me off, and 'though I had planned to go I stayed at home snuggled under a quilt reading Georgette Heyer novels and eating chocolate frogs.

There, I said it really quickly so that you wouldn't notice.

So today, off to the show! Down to Flinders Street.

- Doesn't that awning look like ric-rac?

I've never been in a completely empty train carriage before. How truly odd. Good thing I had some crochet in my purse to entertain me. And what does a girl do when she's making a scarf on the train? Why, the train stitch, of course!

The show (of which there are few to no photos: conjure up visions of colour in your minds, me lovelies) -- the show was in large buildings, threatened by rain and valiantly guarded by market makers in was proposed to be a merry, fun outdoor market. They looked very cold, actually. Not too merry, but trying with true spirit.

The main hall held lots of cheery friendly faces -- Hello blog girls! Familiar faces and new, lovely fabrics, lino badges, zine-scene, stamps and paper and bags of delight. It's great to see you there and all showing off your fabulous talents. We have so much to offer!

The show was a mixed event for me: the demographic is, as it always was, a mixture of kittens and cats, a little muddled as to what it is and who it's at. Maybe, in this first year of Living Creatively ownership, not sure where its best audience is. While a part of me wants to say that I would love to see a craft fair of the indie type here in Melbourne, I also know it's already happening, on a smaller scale, at different locations.

Part of the lovable likefulness (I just made that up) of the crafty scene here is that you have to look for it. But, like dust bunnies, and cute ones too, once you see it, you wonder how you missed so many places and things to see. It's just not mainstream, and the big shows need to cater for the big groups of people -- which is, by nature, the main stream. We've just got to make sure our little rivulet doesn't dry up.

A real highlight of the day, and something to get me thinking about the mixed love-hate relationship I have with the Stitches and Craft show, was watching 'Handmade Nation'. This film was put together by Faythe Levine, who wanted to document the stories of the crafters across the US who were defining the Indie Craft scene. Go see it if you get a chance! I thoroughly enjoyed the personalities in the film, the enjoyment in crafting and the questions it raised. Is this a passing fad? (Not for me, mate.) Whay do we love craft? (It's authentic! It's fun. It has a heart and a sense of humour, just like a good date.) Later, I bumped into Faythe on the train station platform, and wanted to tell her what a key part of the day the film had been. It was nice to chat, even though she must have talked herself hoarse after days of promoting and introducing the film. Thank you!

A word of advice to marading crafters?

I should be off, but I wanted to say a big WELL DONE to all of the blogland superstars who bravely put their wares on show, invested time and love and colour and spirit in the show. I'm proud of you. You lot done good.

March 9, 2009

So, about these quilts then...

There are so many thing whirling around in my head that every time I sit down to blog it all flies out my ears. Or something. And so I read all your posts and forget and have to dash...

I've been meaning to post about the quilt convention since last Sunday. I wasn't sure whether or not to go this year: in the past, I've been disappointed -- not by the quality of the quilts, but by the venues. (Though to be fair I might be remembering a poor Stitches show of years past -- let's hope those days are gone).

So, I had to go in the end: couldn't resist seeing the show quilts. Up off the sofa, hop on the tram and down to the the Australian Quilt Convention (AQC), in the fabulous Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building. Have I mentioned before that I love that building? I love that building, and so does Mr. Tacc.

As for those quilts. Well, they fit right in to their lovely surroundings. Wonderful and awe-inspiring, zany (those doughnuts!) and zingy -- there was lots to see. Sadly, I left my camera at home, but what I did write in the sketchbook gets my ideas going again. This is what I wrote:
  • palest green border and high-contrast applique swirls -- Berneice Sayer's Magical Medallion with Loops - All I can say is: 'Whoar!'
  • quilting grids of black and yellow (there were close-together lines, and ochre dyed textiles: it looked like burnt wood)
  • Nichole Bridges' Ginko Garden quilt: lovely colours, all jewels, and fabric with calligraphy on it.
  • Pretty octagon florals -- in the Brigitte Giblin Retrospective. And then I've written at the bottom of a rough sketch: "So that's what to do with those hexagons!" We have hexagons, we can make beauty.
But don't worry, that didn't stop me from buying just a leetle bit of fabric....

I want to post a link to this video and song that I have been enjoying and watched a few times this week. It's in my head!

March 3, 2009

The yarn lady's laughing at me

Well, after yesterday's excitement, posting the photo of my stitching practice piece, I could hardly wait for the day to end.

Not because there was anything wrong with it: just because when the work day is over, I follow the stream of commuters down to the station, and -- oops! -- trip over the doorstep of Cleggs. Now, I know their selection and prices are a little less and more than I'd like, but the fact that they are on the way home makes popping in as easy as picking up a take-away coffee. It has the same illicit pleasure too: I know I could look around, but it was just here, see, and it's so soooft, and it's blue!

Anyway, I was quizzing the lady in the yarn section about hook sizes for various yarn and asking her advice aout trying my first and one and only crochet scarf. She started to get a twinkle. She was very helpful. - And as she popped my skein of wool and hook in a bag at told me to have fun, she cracked a huge grin at my perky response: "I will!"

Oh my ears and whiskers! - As they say.

March 2, 2009

Uh-oh. Hooked!

So, last week I mentioned oh-so-casually that I was teaching myself how to crochet.

There was a little bit of confusion in the works, and some cussing, and even a few chocolate buttons (says she, implying that this is an unusual occurrence. Did you fall for it? No. I thought not.) And perhaps those who saw the way I failed to remember the simplest knitting stitches from one craft day to the next stood back, waiting to pick up the pieces.

But then something clicked, and I woke up dreaming of making double crochet stitches, and I've been carrying balls of wool around in my purse ALL WEEK and setting myself a nightly task of learning a new stitch.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you:

A photo of wonky home-made geekiness viewed by the maker with much pride and barely-suppressed glee. I'm going to point out that it's not as twisty as it looks because I propped it on the potted plant, and you can believe me or not. I don't care: I'm in love.

I am soo going to make me a scarf with scalloped edges now. Woo!


You may have noticed some colour changes around here as I'm trying to infuse some autumn colour into the blog. I wanted fresh green, because there are little leaves sprouting about as the summer burn fades from memory. But after a tussle with Blogger, this is what I got. Still contemplating de-camping to Wordpress. Any thoughts from anyone about that?


I went to the Australian Quilt Convention yesterday, in the gorgeous Royal Exhibition Building. But I forgot my camera! (No room in my purse, next to the two balls of wool, the crochet, and the half-depleted bag of chocolate buttons). But I did remember my sketchbook and hardened my self-consiousness against the people who think that sketching in public deserves STAAAARING at. (jeesh!)

More about the lovely quilts tomorrow. My train departs in - ohholycrap - 8 minutes.


March 1, 2009

Eye spy...

Something that makes me happy.

Last year, we went to Italy. I can't quite describe how happy I get when I go to Italy. We both get a little silly, actually -- he used to live there and I used to go there alot, so it's comfortable and fun. We love the people. We adore the food. And I get quite completely doo-laly when I see a Brunelleschi building, empty, waiting just for us to sit and enjoy.

Eye Spy thanks to Cindy and this week's theme from Iris and Lily.