Monday, October 11, 2010

All the fun of the fair

The Junior Crafter's little school held their biennial Village Fair yesterday, and it was a wonderful day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and there was an air of festivity all about the place. The Fair also incorporated the *ahem* Grand Opening of our (not quite finished and not really how we wanted it but shh don't mention the war, it's not at all PC and we may seem ungrateful) new Junior Learning Centre which was overpriced   massively behind schedule  bungled  built as part of the Federal Government's Building Education Revolution. Our local federal MP put in an appearance and cut the ribbon. I'm hoping it will be completed by the time the Boy Genius commences school next February.

Anyway, back to the fair. The Bloke Who Lives At My Place organised races and games for the kiddies on the school oval, including the egg and spoon race, sack race and three legged races; some good old fashioned fun. I held the fort on the Cake Stall for the day, along with 2 other mums, and we simply couldn't keep up with demand! We had two trestle tables, which were completely covered and sold twice over, thanks to the generosity of our school community who baked and donated all the goodies which we sold.

My contribution this year was 4 dozen Anzac Cookies and two batches of my famous Chocolate Slice, a family recipe passed on to me by my cousin, who got it from our Great Auntie Jess, who I believe had it handed down from her mother (my Great Grandmother).
I'd love to share it with you of course, but I think that publishing a recipe like that on the internet would amount to some kind of sacrilege!
Hope you had a lovely cake filled weekend too :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010


You may have noticed my absence this past week. I would like to state that I have not wavered at all in my committment to Blogtoberfest. I have, however, been marooned by technology this week after we lost our phoneline and our broadband connection. Apparently the ancient copper wire connecting me with the rest of the known universe doesn't cope well with unexpected amounts of water, like, say....rain.

And I must confess, I found I don't cope well without the rest of the known universe at my fingertips.

Which got me thinking. About a time when I didn't even own a computer. Or a mobile phone. Or a GPS. And I didn't know much about the internet, and I certainly didn't access it. And I was okay with that! I got along just fine.

Back then, if I needed to write a letter, I used a pen. I remember after I left school and was applying for jobs, I wrote my resume (with a pen) and took it to a clerical services company, who typed it up for me and printed me out about 10 copies. And this wasn't in the dark ages, people, I'm not that old, this was the early '90s.

If I needed to call someone I used a payphone. Sometimes I even waited until I got home to make the phone call (imagine!). If I needed to get somewhere I hadn't been before, I used a map. If I didn't know something, I looked it up in our huge set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Or I went to the library. Or I just wondered about it for a while, and sometimes, I didn't ever find out the answer at all.

But this week, being cut off from the outside world has made me realise just how much I have come to rely upon having all the world's knowledge simply a mouse click away. And it highlighted to me the fragility of that connection which we all take for granted. That little copper wire, that can't even stand a bit of rain, is all that connects me to the rest of the world.

And I'm very connected. I buy fabric from countries I've never been to, I learnt to crochet from watching videos on YouTube, I learnt how to make Marshmallow Fondant from a cake decorator in Finland, I can look at the front door of a house 3000km away using Google Streetview, I can find the answer to my daughter's questions about the current numbers of Emporor Penguins in Antarctica, and I can see what the weather is really like in Italy today.

And I realised that I no longer wonder about things.

Seriously, I don't. Do you?

If I want to know something I just Google it. I can always find the answer, instantly, because someone, somewhere in the world knows what the answer is, and I can connect to them through the wonder of the internet and the world wide web (as long as we don't get too much rain).

And now I wonder whether it's really healthy not to wonder about things...

Maybe I'll just Google it and find out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bright sunshiny day

Today I am grateful for beautiful warm sunshine, the great aussie bbq, and the laughter of my children as they run and play outside in freshly mown grass. 

I *heart* Spring.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thank you

I really want to thank everyone who left me a comment or sent me an email yesterday, your kind words and caring thoughts really were just what I didn't know I needed. So thank you.

I am especially grateful to my gorgeous friend Trash, who left this comment:
Oh Gyps, I am sad to hear of your loss. It is difficult to explain the depth of the hole left by such a sudden loss of such an important part of your childhood.

If you know Trash, you will know she has a very special way with words. She managed to articulate the exact thing I was struggling to understand myself. Of course I was shocked and devastated by Jeannie's sudden and tragic death, as were so many people who's lives she had touched. But if I'm to be completely honest, I couldn't understand the depth of such overwhelming grief and loss, when in reality, I hadn't seen Jeannie for many many years. She was not a part of my everyday grown up life, her death would not actually leave a gap, an emptiness, in my day to day life. But Trash nailed it: The sudden loss of such an important part of my childhood. I think part of me is even grieving for the loss of the little 7 year old girl that I knew and loved, because that's how I remember her most.

Thank you Trash, for giving me the words I couldn't find.


Friday, October 1, 2010

The 1st of Blogtober

Hello Blogtober, my old friend. I have not been blogging as much as I'd like to of late, and I think Blogtoberfest is just what I need to kick start me again.

I'm beginning Blogtober with a very heavy heart. My dear childhood friend Jeannie died last weekend in a terrible car accident. We farewelled her yesterday at a beautiful funeral, surrounded by many of her childhood friends and her heartbroken parents. I am in shock, and can't believe that she is gone. Jeannie was 37 years old, taken too early.

Photo by Wildwood Pictures, used with permission.

We met in primary school, in Grade 1, and we were the best of friends for a number of years until I moved to a different school. Whenever we would meet people and were introduced together, we were always met with looks of disbelief: "I'm Gypsy" I would say, "I'm Jeannie" she would say. People had lots of trouble believing two little girls were really called Gypsy & Jeannie! People would often confuse us, and I spent quite a long time answering to 'Jeannie'!

Jeannie and I stayed in touch during our teenage years, but lost contact after that. I have kept up with Jeannie's 'happenings' over the years, through mutual friends, but it has been a long time since I have seen her. Nonetheless, I am feeling her loss very deeply, as are so many other people.

I remember Jeannie's energy, her vibrant nature and her zest for life. Even as a child she was always coming up with great ideas to keep us entertained, and Jeannie always made us laugh. Being with Jeannie was always fun. And from what I heard yesterday at her funeral, she hadn't changed a bit. 

Rest in peace Jeannie. You are loved, and sadly missed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Donate Life

Image from here
Today, our family is rejoicing. A much loved family member today received the gift of life from an anonymous stranger: My husband's beautiful Aunt endured 9 hours of surgery today and is the grateful recipient of new lungs. Truly a gift of life.

Our entire family is rejoicing in this amazing gift we have all been given today.

But also in our hearts today are thoughts for another family, a family in grief and sorrow at the loss of their loved one. We have only thanks and immense gratitude for this anonymous family, who, in their time of grief, were able to donate their loved one's organs to give new hope to so many families. We are eternally grateful, and our heartfelt thanks cannot be adequately expressed in words.

Have you made a decision to donate your organs? Have you talked to your family about your wishes? Please do, your decision could save many lives. Visit DonateLife for more information about organ donation.

Don't take your organs to Heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A series of unfortunate events

Hhhmm, I have just realised it's been a long time between blog posts for me, and there seems to be no way of gently easing back into it. So I'm just going to jump back in with both feet.

We have had an eventful few weeks here at Chateau Dance For Cheese. We seem to have been suffering a constant stream of winter ailments, including the usual winter flus, colds, coughs and me being incapacitated by a horrid chest infection. The weather has been grey and miserable (although the rain has been glorious for the gardens), I'm cold and tired and uninspired, so there has been precious little crafting happening here of late.

But the most unfortunate event occured here this week when we discovered (the hard way) that my dear little Cheeseboy has a severe peanut allergy.

I was making crackers with peanut butter for the Boy Genius on Wednesday (his favourite snack) and Cheeseboy asked for one. He had never had peanut butter before, but as he is now 18 months old I decided it was probably the right time. My other two children eat peanut butter regularly and we have no history of allergies in our family.

I watched him carefully as he ate the cracker with peanut butter. No reaction. Great, thought I smugly, just as I suspected, no allergies here. What I didn't realise, having never really been educated about allergies, is that allergic reactions are not always instant.

About 10 minutes later I noticed that Cheeseboy's little cheeks were quite red. I did think it was odd, but didn't for a second think that it might be to do with the peanuts.

Another 10 minutes later and he began suddenly vomiting, and I noticed a bright red rash appearing on his face, and slowly spreading down his neck.

At this point, I still did not realise he was having an allergic reaction, and in fact, I couldn't fathom what was going on at all.

I rang Nurse On Call for advice (gosh that's a fantasic service). Whilst dialling, I stripped off his clothes and saw the rash had already spread to his tummy. His face was now completely covered in angry red welts. As I was describing his symptoms to the nurse, I realised it was an allergic reaction to the peanut butter. His eyes were swelling and puffy and red, and he was quite distressed. The nurse advised me to take him immediately to the Emergency Department at our local hospital (less than 1km from here).

At the ED they told me that whilst his throat was irritated and slightly swollen, his tongue was not swollen and his airways were clear. The doctor immediately treated him with antihistamines and steroids, which took about an hour to bring his symptoms under control.

We stayed in the hospital for 7 hours so they could observe him and make sure he was fine. We were sent home with antihistamines and steroids, and advised to have him seen by an Allergist as soon as possible to find out if he will need an epipen. The doctor also told me that if he accidently ingests peanuts again it is likely that his next reaction will be more severe, probably affecting his airways. This was one scary day.

We are waiting to see a specialist, and being extremely careful about what our little Cheeseboy eats in the meantime.

Interestingly, Cheeseboy has been suffering from a red rash on his face, for about 6 months. We have tried many many things to get rid of it, we weren't sure if it was eczema, a dribble rash, a teething rash, or maybe caused by his dummy? After our trip to the hospital and all the medications he was given, his rash has completely disappeared. Which makes me think it was possibly a reaction to traces of peanuts he has been ingesting in regular food - we eat lots of food which state on the labels 'may contain traces of peanuts'.

So now, I'm trying to get my head around how to manage a child with a potentially life threatening allergy. I'm trying to retrain myself to think about food in an entirely new way, checking labels carefully, asking about ingredients, and making sure everyone around us is aware of the situation, so hopefully my dear little Cheeseboy will not have to suffer through another allergic reaction.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Creative Space...

...this week is a lesson in perseverance. As you may remember, I have been trying to master the art of crochet, for quite some time now. I fell in love with the Granny Shrug, printed out Lara's pattern, dilligently read Kirsty's fab instructions, purchased some Paton's Wilderness in Mulberry and a rather large hook, and have practiced and practiced. All I seem to make is a big pile of Mulberry Tangles. I have finally come to the disappointing realisation that I suck at crochet.

Determined not to be the biggest loser in the yarn battle, I have taken up a new weapon. I learnt to knit as a teenager, and to be honest, I wasn't very good at it. Probably because I found it a bit boring and time consuming, when really, I much preferred to spend my time at my besty's place, crimping my hair, dancing madly to 'Papa Don't Preach' and singing into a hairbrush.

These days my priorities seem to have changed somewhat (thank goodness, I hear you say), and the thought of sitting quietly, enjoying the rythmic click clack of the knitting needles seems like heaven on a stick. Okay, so I haven't knitted for...a really long time, and when I did knit, I never actually completed anything, but nothing was going to stop me now!

...except when my stitches strayed so far that the pattern was barely recognisable. This was how far I got on my first attempt before deciding to unravel and start again. And let me tell you, I don't knit very fast, so this attempt took me hours. Unravelling it was awful.

My second attempt was unravelled before I'd invested quite so much time:

Can you see the big hole and tangle where a stitch is supposed to be?

Here's my third attempt right before I unravelled it: 

Honestly, who thought that knitting a scarf would be so difficult??? It's almost enough
to make a girl dig out her Best Of Madonna CD from storage.

Okay, so I persevered. Which is not something I usually do. I'm more of a 'do it perfectly the first time or don't bother at all' kind of gal. Which, all in all, is not a very productive attitude. So here I am, in my creative space, persevering. And actually enjoying it a little...

For more creative spaces, visit Kirsty, who's a whiz with yarn and hook.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One of life's sensational pleasures

I am pretty sure that, if you will be quite honest, you will admit that a good rousing sneeze, one that tears open your collar and throws your hair into your eyes, is really one of life's sensational pleasures.
~Robert Benchley,1932

Yes. Quite. Unfortunately, familiarity breeds contempt. The gloss has come off and we have all well and truly had enough of sneezing. And coughing. And sore throats. And feeling miserable.

Hope you and yours are still enjoying a good rousing sneeze.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


An excellent email arrived this morning to brighten up my my otherwise dreary morning, from the lovely Anna at Polly Pratt, to tell me I am the lucky winner of her dress giveaway!

Have you seen the lovely clothes Anna is making? If not, you really should, her dresses and skirts are so pretty. I'm usually more of a 'pants' kind of girl, but I'm looking forward to a change this summer in my new Polly Pratt original.

Thanks a million Anna, you've made my day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

80s Movie of the Week - The Colour Purple

Week 4

Her Choice: The Colour Purple, 1985

What's it all about: Well, I have tried and tried to write you a short synopsis of this amazing film, but I have found it an impossible task. If you haven't seen it and want to know more about 'The Color Purple', there is a good (but lengthy) description here. If you have seen it, you will understand the difficulties I'm having!

Who's in it: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey

The Upshot: This film is a heart wrenching and uplifting tale of the triumph of the human spirit. I laughed, I despaired, I wept, I hoped, I was filled with joy. If you haven't seen it, you must.

His Rating: 9/10 Violet Crumbles

Her Rating: 9/10 West Coast Coolers

Craft & Quilt Fair x 2

I must confess, I actually started writing this blog post last week right after the fair, but didn't manage to finish it and hit 'publish' until now! I hope you enjoy this somewhat belated account of the Craft & Quilt Fair!

Last weekend I made it to the Craft and Quilt Fair not once, but twice! What a lucky girl I am. On Saturday I spent the entire day admiring the beautiful quilts, making one or two small purchases (!) and being inspired by all the talented crafty peeps at the show. I spent the day alone, but before you start to feel sorry for me you must remember that I am the mother of 3 very busy little people and time alone is an extremely rare commodity in my life. So I absolutely relished the thought of spending hours and hours, by myself, wandering through the craft fair. (I did try to make Jodie's meet, just to say hi, not realising it had been cancelled, hope you're feeling better soon Jodie).

And it certainly was a great day. I stopped to admire the beautiful free motion quilting of a very talented lady who turned out to be Kate of Kate's Sewing Centre, who invited me to sit down with her and proceeded to give me a half hour tutorial in the art of FMQ. Kate was so lovely, not to mention generous with her time and sharing her knowledge, I learned so much, thank you Kate!

I was particularly taken with this beautiful whole cloth quilt "Hearts of Love" by Wendy Arnold. I am very new to quilting, and to be honest, it had never occured to me not to have a colourful pieced quilt top. This has opened up a whole new world of ideas for me. Although this quilt is actually pieced from three pieces of white cloth, it was still referred to as a 'whole cloth quilt' by the 'quilt angel' who was chatting to me about it. It is huge, measuring 216cm x 260cm and is machine quilted.
Andi has lots more photos of the amazing quilts that were on display, including another of my favourites, Crop Circles.

On Sunday, I made it back to the Fair with the Junior Crafter and her Crafty Sidekick in tow. We met up with Karen and Liesl (with Argy and Bargy in tow) and had a wonderful afternoon wandering around the fair.  Argy and Bargy were particularly well behaved and ever so cute, despite dire forecasts to the contrary!

The Junior Crafter was very interested in purchasing some 'horse fabric', so Karen kindly took her to a stall over in the next aisle to find some. The Junior Crafter carefully perused the fabric and informed Karen that although it was lovely, she didn't think she would buy it as it wasn't great value for money. She had already purchased a fat quarter for half the price this merchant was asking for a 30cm cut, she knowingly informed Karen. (She's 8 years old, and was ever so careful with her $20 spending money!)

The girls and Argy and Bargy had a wonderful time felting at the Sewing Art Studio. The kids were able to use the Pfaff Embellisher machine to make some amazing pieces of fabric art. I love this machine, it uses no thread at all but instead has 5 needles which punch through the layers of fabric, creating a felted effect.

The Junior Crafter using the embellisher (and wearing the pinny I made her)

Bargy discovering his artistic side on the embellishing machine

I also had fun playing with fibres and free motion stitching in the Sewing Art Studio:

I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with it, but I really like it. I think it would be nice inset into a panel on a bag, or maybe just hung on the wall in my sewing room?

Of course, the afternoon was somewhat hampered by my painful foot, but I soldiered on and eventually made it home where The Bloke Who Lives At My Place administered ice, bandages, rest and a healthy dose of medicinal chocolate. Just what the doctor ordered.

Update: xrays showed no fracture and the foot's only bothering me slightly now, thanks for all the concern lovely readers.