Sunday, February 28, 2010

A little bit of reminiscence

I took these pictures in a Strathalbyn, SA,  antique shop a few months before mum died.

It is the same crockery set that my father gave my mother for either Mothers Day or her birthday when I was about five. I can remember it being hidden under their bed in a big cardboard box, and Dad dragging it out to show my sister and I. We were so excited. (I think we must have been pretty povo) At the time I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  I wonder if it sent a subliminal message to us of the importance of crockery/ceramics in ones life.

I think I should have bought it, but at the time it made me sad. Still does actually. I have never seen them anywhere else.As I recall it was was just purchased from Coles, so you think there might be a few pieces around. Maybe it was restricted to South Australia.

It is a very nicely shaped cup. xxN

me & m prada

I have had this picture of Miuccia Prada in my head since I saw it last year?
I do believe this is really quite dagy but stylish at the same time. She verges on this look alot of the time, its an awesome mix between classic 1950's and Italian mamma.

I love it and in my quest to emulate m prada I am tossing up weather to sell this skirt (as seen in previous post). Of course I would have to don a corset to rein in my middle age spread for it even to wearable but it could be done. Great thought will be given to this.

faded beauties

These are some of the dresses that I found the other week and washed yesterday.
I thought I would show the loveley detail of them.
The coral and blue ones at the top fit me and I am half tempted to keep them but the one I really wanted to keep (the green one) does not. Sigh. If they were not necessay to keep in my lungs, I would remove three ribs to fit into this dress. The dotted green dress is the worst for wear out of the lot but still gasp worthy.
I will show the others soon.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Garden inspiration

My favourite inspirational gardening bloke at this point in time, is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage. Yes, I do think he is inbred and slightly crazy, but he has a passion. Lordy has he a passion!

He holds the most wonderful seasonal fairs at River Cottage, with fabulous bunting strung up all over the place. I just love how everything has been stylised in that English-hand-knitted-woolly-jumper-and-rustic-pottery-sitting-on-the-mantle manner. It reminds me a bit of the 70's in Australia with Bendigo and hippy pottery, but not as daggy.

I am hereto inspired to make some bunting for outside to celebrate the seasons in the vege patch. It might also keep the birds away.  (There I have said it, now I have to do it!)

Monty Don is the pin-up boy of English gardening, a veritable Hugh Grant. He  nearly killed himself recently by being too anal in the upkeep of his gardens. They had to be perfect. He has since stated that he is relaxing his principles and things are allowed to become overgrown.

Ofcourse we can't forget old Jamie Oliver. Although he has a gardener, his kitchen garden is still his vision. My goodness, the walls! The gravel paths! The raised beds!

The Australian equivalent of Hughy is the Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans. I haven't been able to see alot of his shows, but from what I have seen, he looks a bit lost and not quite up to his big adventure. Unfortunatley he has no garden to speak of. However, he does a good job of sourcing ethical and sustainable producers, and has inspired me to want to visit Tasmania though, especially during their Food Festival.

Last but not least, there is ME! These are pics of my garden in the November of '09. I have posted them to give you a positive vibe of my garden, as in a few days time I will posting my stats and a current picture, and I am afraid it looks pretty sad and woebegone. But what the hey, that is the beauty of gardening, the different seasons and cycles. xxN

Bright Star

I went to see Bright Star yesterday. All of three people in the cinema., but hey, that's Lismore. I was lucky it even showed here.

I wasn't too impressed with the story, acting, or the poetry...tres boring darling, but was totally engrossed in the costumes, sets and locations. What does that say about me huh? That I am a superficial being obsessed with appearances and dismissive of high art?

Anyhoo, a couple of times I just wanted to scream out "Pause here!" just so I could get the deatils of the costumes. I particularly like the tiny granny square shawls and spencer that the heroine and her sister wear. Bugger the poetry, I weep for joy at the gorgeousness of the costumes. xxN

Image from photobucket

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My creative space - Pyjama Quilt

 I always gave my children's clothing away, as soon as they outgrew them. However, I could never part with their flanelette PJ's, usually because they were very well worn and often falling to pieces. I couldn't put them in the rag bag, that would be sacreligious. You see, they strike a chord in my soul.

Pyjama's seem to be a bit more intimate than other items of clothing. Call me a romantic flowery fool, but they kind of carry your dreams. So, I have kept my babies PJ's for 19 years as well as  my own for for a long, long time. Tucked away in cupboards, they have been moved from place to place in spring clean outs, but never thrown away...I was always going to do something with them.

At one stage I began a rag rug, but it fell to bits and was very hard to clean. I have now decided to make a patchwork quilt. I have made the design quite large, so that it won't take forever and a day to complete.

I don't think that the colours will be fabulous, a mix between pastels and maroons and navy. Also the patterns are mixed, with moo cows, funny monkeys, pirates, rocket ships and stripes.Quite jarring really.I don't think it will be aesthetically pleasing at all.  But as I look at those fabrics I can see, like yesterday the different stages and stories of my children, from crawling to getting their first job.

I can imagine me in years to come,  as an old granny sitting on the couch with a grandchild on my knee, the quilt spread over the two of us,  pointing out particular fabrics and telling related stories. Hmph, on second thoughts methinks I have read too much L. M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott.

The scene will most probably be me, old granny, with wild grey afro hair (I have given up on the colour) with a threadbare old quilt wrapped around my shoulders and trailing to the ground. I am limping and bent over. (I should have got that knee reconstruction, and yoga never helped my back) I am chasing a screaming child around a house, room to room,  desperately clawing the air. "Come back," I croak, "this is your heritage!" I fall to the ground, defeated, back against the wall, repeatedly whispering "This is your heritage. This is your heritage" whilst picking at what remains of the fabric of my life.

If you want to check out Kirsty and all of her creative followers head on over to Kootoyoo and say hello!

Miser or saviour?

I would love to own an ironing board and cover like Lisa Stickley's witty and gorgeous one pictured above, but I seem to recall it was something like 150 pounds. Crikeys! You would really have to enjoy ironing. Surely if you can afford something like AU $300 for an ironing board cover, you can afford an ironing lady?

Recently I have had to replace my ironing board. It was 23 years old and was still OK except for some metal bits that would snag me when I put it up and down. As I am always conscious of OH&S in the workplace and home, it had to go. OK, one may say. Twenty three years is a long time, she has got her money's worth out of it, and deserves to buy a "you beaut" brand new replacement.

Oh how wrong one is. I totter off to the yearly mega garage sale run by the nuns, and come out with a Tiffany (el cheapo) used ironing board for $5.00. It is a bit stiff and an ugly brown but who looks at ironing boards?Ofcourse the cover was in disgusting condition, but what the hey, I will make a replacement cover. While I am at it, (I think smuggly, in my save the planet, recycling mode) I will also make a replacement cover for my old table top ironing board, so they match.

Today I spent about an hour making said covers. They came up alright, but here is the gist. I noticed an ironing board at Spotlight last night for $29.95. ("Hmm," I think, "the prices of ironing boards have gone down, just like plasma teles") It isn't old, stiff and crappy. It was clean. It had a groovy little side panel to rest your iron on.  I bet it is lighter than the 1980's board I bought. If I had bought it I wouldn't have had to spend an hour making covers.

Let us say an hour of my time is worth $20. Plus the cost of the ironing board, $5. Cost of materials and elastic, $5. (the fabric is  27 years old and was free) You do the math. So the question remains, am I a miser or will I save the planet with my crafty recycling ways. Am I a superwoman or am I Ebinezer Scrooge? xxN

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

dinner party

6 place setting. Plus an extra cup.

I can't do white

As you can see, I don't do white very well. I am trying, lordy am I trying! Everyone, but everyone is citing that you need a white base to be calm and serene and one with the universe. No wonder I am a walking colours are fighting each other!

 The green wall is soon to be painted white. My daughter doesn't like the concept of change, but as God is my witness, we will be relaxed and calm through colour! The wallpaper wall used to be white, but one rainy weekend I found the end of a retro roll at The Retro Shop at Bangalow for twenty bucks, and that was the end of the white wall! I think I should have left it white, but then I would have lost the character of the wallpaper. I am conflicted. xxN

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm wired - a work in progress

Living in the country means you collect a whole lot of fencing wire. Rather than throw it out, my husband will hang odd lengths of it in the most unlikely places, because "it will come in handy one day." Unfortunately, that day has never come. I trip over it, it gets tangled up with other stuff and it looks just plain ugly.

So, rather than send it to the tip I began a wire ball. My dream was to place it on a plinth in the middle of my vege garden, so that it could eminate spherical bliss. Given the large amount of wire, I thought the ball would become about one metre in diametre, however I didn't realise the strength of the wire would determine the size.

It is currently about 30 centimetres high and weighs 3.5 kg. and the winding is becoming easier. Creating the sphere is a  work in progress and will be finished when all of the wire on this place is cleaned up.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Penguin book covers

I have been noticing of late the fabulous book Penguin book covers that Jane Foster has been finding in her travels. As I have no mind of my own, I hereby declare that I too am on the prowl for vintage Penguin book covers to frame.

To start me off, I trawled through my book collection and realised that I have thrown out all my old Penguins as they were really rank and musty. I did however keep Gidget, although she has been through the wars. Poor girl has coffee mug marks over her face. I can't use this cover as the book is falling to bits and is very precious to me. It isn't as graphic as Jane's covers, but is retro enough. Old graphic penguin paperbacks has now been added to my list for op-shopping.  xxN

Friday, February 19, 2010


This week I have been helping to instal the latest exhibition at  the Lismore Regional Art Gallery,  Art Out of Water:The Fish of Art.

Melissa Hirsch's Barnacles stood out with their delicacy and form. Made from fishing line, the objects were  originally part of a solo exhibition that commented on the commercial uses of oceans. It looks as if they are crocheted very tightly with pale pink fishing line that shimmers in the light. Very ephemeral.  xxN

Thursday, February 18, 2010

No mind of my own

If a magazine features a product or item I am onto it. I am like a pitbull, focused and ready to pounce on my rounds of the opshops.

This week my obsession is Olivetti typewriters. I have noticed that they are featured in March Real Living and March-April Inside Out. This means they must be trendy, they must be now. This means I must have one!

Just by chance, or was it serendipity, my local Lifeline Distribution Centre had an Olivetti Lettera 32 for sale. It was designed by Marcello Nizzoli in 1963. However I only had 50 cents in my pocket. It was the end of the day. I could beg for them to hold it for me but they have a "no holds policy" and they would know that I coveted it. The price would skyrocket. No, I had to act as cool as a cucumber. I had to play the game.

Next morning,I got my learner driver daughter to drive to the Centre, which opens at 8.00am. She needs to practice both her driving and op-shopping skills. (I can rationalise anything)

Not trying to look too needy we arrived at 8.45am. The shop was deserted. Bob the manager, could smell our desperation. We walked in an attempt to be nonchalant, straight to the typewriter. Why did we do that? I am a veteran, and should have known better. Everyone knows that 'the strategy' is to act disassociated and disinterested. Like the Fonz.

Anyhoo, the style of the typwriter overtook us. We gushed, we squealed, we giggled. At the cash register desk I knew we were goners. We were smiling inanely like we were in love and Bob was like a jackel, sizing us up, ready to pounce.

And then salvation. Bob told us it was broken, that the carriage didn't move. Yes, I had him! Now, I had owned one of these typwriters as a thirteen year old. It was an Olivetti, they were not designed to break. I knew it inside out. A glance told me that the carriage lock was on. But Bob didn't know that.

We got the typwriter cheap and it is in perfect working order. My daughter arrived to school late, (so what if it is her HSC year?) but having learnt valuable life skills. The typwriter is sitting on the dining room table in its cool retro case. I have no idea what I am to do with it, but I have one, just like in the magazines.

Lesson learnt, know your product (fade to The Saints) xxN

Post script: I have just found the exact typwiter for sale here for $325.00!! Crikeys, what a bargain. I am sittting on a gold mine. This can't be a realistic price, surely.

ironstone you tease

One has the signature. One doesn't. But both are the same. I won't tell you that I walked away from two whole sets on the weekend because of a scribble.
Kicking myself.
The old philosophy when in doubt don't. Out the window.

l :(

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cushion inspiration

Don't these just make you weep? Vintage, with just that little bit of grunge to stop it from being too prissy. Lisa Stickley has been subliminally influencing  me since the April 2009 Real Living article showcasing her London flat and store.

From  Melbourne, these wonderful cushions from Miss Pen Pen and her store Cottage Industry. I have a pile of tea towels that have "cushions" writtten all over them. The wonderful thing about using these old tea towels is that they are mostly pure linen and made in obscure places like Hungary, plus they have rarely been used, so the quality is excellent. I will start!  xxN

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Easypeasy chilli pickles

I never knew that pickling was so easy! This took very little time and effort. Now I have a stock of chillis for when the war comes or if I become Amish, whichever happens first.

Basic Pickled Chillies

This recipe is for approximately 900g of chillies.
Soak the chillies overnight in the brine first as it keeps the chillies crisper when pickled.

•3 cups water
•1 cup pickling salt
Combine the salt and water.
Cover the chillies with the brine in a bowl and put a plate or something similar over them to keep the chillies submerged. Soak the overnight then drain, rinse well, and dry.

Pickling Solution
•3 cups white vinegar
•3 cups water
•3 teaspns pickling salt

Poke two or three small holes in top of each chilli and pack them tightly in sterilized jars leaving 1cm (½ inch) at the top of the jar.

In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, and salt. Bring the solution to a boil and then pour over the chillies, leaving no space at the top. Remove trapped air bubbles.

Store for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool, dark place before serving.

Recipe from Chillies-down-under

Good enough to eat

And have a look at these colours together.  Soo-pwerb. xxN

Friday, February 12, 2010

Project Day - Book covers

I don't know about you, but I tend to have an abundance of notebooks hanging around the house for lists and organisationing activities. One is for my gardening journal, another for miscellaneous stuff such as budgets and renovation costing. I have an art journal for my artwork and my husband has one for his CD lists. (Lord love his socks. It lives on his bedside table and is regularly updated on the arrival of every music mag. However he forgets it every time we go up to Brisbane. We spend hours trying to remember the names of obscure alt country bands)

The thing is, they are all ugly and we always misplace them or forget them because they are so ugly. To rectify this situation I am covering all of the journals and notebooks in the house.
To start, my gardening journal. Exhibit A. Pretty ugly huh?

I have a pile of vintage fabric and was tempted to use this piece of barkcloth with fist sized sunflowers...but I couldn't. My scissors were poised ready to cut and I heard a little voice from deep within, "Cease and desist!" it yelled. What could I do but comply. I reverently refolded the fabric and replaced it on the shelf where undoubtably it will sit until I am six feet under. Does anyone else share my anxieties?

After much deliberation, I chose a green, floral theme for the journal. I am trying to get away from the olives and muddier colours, but they keep on surfacing. Why oh why can't I do white and pastels? The fabrics are a mix of vintage and new.

For the binding I used string for that rustic feel. The button is a small wooden duffel type. I printed the labels with some cool little stamps I got from a scrapbooking shop and sewed them in place with some plastic from some packaging.

Please note the artfully arranged jalepeno chillis. I will be preserving them today and will let you know how it goes.

I needed some space on the inside of the book for pencils,seeds and labels, so I made little pockets in the front and back covers, and sewed some elastic loops for the pencils.

I am pleased as punch as now I can leave my journal on the coffee table and it doesn't look like the "dogs dinner."  It is easy to find under my piles of paper and I can take it up to the vege garden without my bits and pieces flying around everwhere. If it gets dirty, the cover can simply be thrown in the wash. Once this journal is full, I simply put the cover on the new journal.

I can't wait to get started on my other notebooks. xxN

Thursday, February 11, 2010


This is Hilde by Claire Lier. I have not been able to find any info on the internet about the artist except she was German born in 1916.

She is very Frankie I think.
Quite charming.


stick with it

In the last few months I have not been hardly able to lift a finger to do anything crafty. I get anxious about not doing anything and then anxious about doing things.
So the closest I have come is pasting.

The boxes were just the ones you find in the two dollar shop found at garage sales and the wallpaper was from a garage sale also.
They will go on display at the markets.


patchwork scottie

Found a few weeks ago. I was lucky to get him. There is a lady who frequents the same haunts as I do and on this particular day, serendipity had it that we were in the same vicinity. I would have walked right past him if she had not picked him up and put him down.
I tried to thank her but she either didn't hear me through my joyful babble or chose to ignore me because of my joyful babble.

I have seen this pattern in the Womans Day Handicrafts book from the 70's. The fabric patches are really nice. A mixture of scraps from a couple of decades.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Posh 'noush

After all the rain we have had recently, a break in the weather meant that I donned the old galoshes and ran up to the vege garden. The storm last week decimated most of what I had growing, but after a couple of hours of hard toil preparing beds for new plantings, (I am not joking, I think I got sunstroke today) I gathered the fruits of my labours.

I couldn't believe that I filled a whole basket! The first Diggers Heritage corn was cooked up for dinner and my oh my! It tasted just like corn is supposed to taste, and better.

But I degress. I stripped all of my eggplants. These are a small "Slim Jim" variety, again from Diggers. They are fabulous to cook as they don't require salting like the bigger varieties. Saute a few with some tomatoes in olive oil,  and add to some cous cous. Garnish with basil, and you have a great meal that takes minutes to prepare.

Back on track. There were just too many eggplants for the abovementioned recipe. What was I to do? Baba Ganoush was the answer. After consulting my Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer (no, I don't have any verjuice) cookbooks, and realising that I didn't have all the ingredients, I decided to wing it. Combine the recipes, thought I, be creative. Let the juices flow. Relax into the process. Instead of the juice of three lemons, I threw in some frozen lemon sorbet, tahini was replaced with hoummus. This is the final recipe, warts and all.

1 kg eggplant, chargrilled and skins removed
1/2 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons garlic from jar
1/2 cup hoummus
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon dry roasted cumin, ground
6 desertspoons lemon sorbet
1/4 cup olive oil

The final product served with some bread. The recipe made about a kilogram. It has been a success for after school snacks. Look forward to more recipes as I attempt to use all of my produce like the country women of yesteryear, opposed to arranging it  artfully in pretty bowls, until it  ferments and is given to the chooks.

Taste test. Very smoky, as I basically incinerated the eggplants on my gas cooker, but quite nice. That bit of sugar in the sorbet has done the trick. My husband commented that he has "eaten worse in restaurants." I think that is a compliment. xxN

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Husker Du

Danish for "Do you remember?"

We went I a day trip yesterday to the Gold Coast. Absoulutely nothing in the op shops. It is as if all civilization began in 1980...oh wait, it did.

One of the items on my list to look out for is vintage childrens games. This isn't quite vintage but I bought it for the sheer fact that one of my favourite bands is named after it.

One of the best bands of the 80's, Hüsker Dü were a three piece punk/power pop band born in Minneapolis, USA in the late 70's, and went on to become one of the most influential bands of the 'Alternative' or 'Punk' generations. Bands such as Nirvana, the Pixies, Foo Fighters and a whole host of others all quote them as a major influence. If you haven't listened to them and love music, do yourself a favour...  xxN

 Image from


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