December 23, 2008

A bit of bling crosby...

I'm a couple of days late for the Eye Spy a Bit of Bling postings, but I knew as soon as I saw the theme what I'd be posting this year.

It happens every year, in some form or another.

You're walking down the street, and you see festive messages in a big loopy child's hand, in chalk on the road. It's luring you on, past the chuckling dog-walkers - until - you spy - what's this?

Monster bling!

Closer inspection reveals monster bling plus a baubly tree of Christmas goodness. We like the understated, modern look around here.

Step back and get a good view. Rawr!

I think it's the eyebrows and the star-for-a-nose over the gate that do it for me. Or maybe the flut-flut-flut noise the windmills make as you walk past on the way to the train, early in the morning.

blingity bling!

Across the road, there's a little house.

A week after the monsters made their annual appearance, large white letters appeared, hanging from the porch:

A week or two later, the big words sprouted lights and tinsel.

Bah, indeed?

Christmas lunch..

My friend Nicky pointed out this gem to me, as found in yesterday's Age, Epicure section:

On Christmas Lunch with my Mother-In-Law

Today’s Menu

Plaintive Russian eggs shivering under depressed salmon slices
Darkly brooding cabbage salad
Cold gutted fish garnished with piquant complaints

Dry-tortured cool turkey roast spiced with dejection and futility
Despondent veal rolls stuffed with apathetic carrots and gloom-pickled cucumbers
in a lumpy ill tempered gravy
Inconsolably weeping pumpkin wrinkles and
Twice-overdried stony-hearted potatoes

Resentful cheesecake in a mango morass of despair

Bleak coffee

Author: milonguera

Found here.

December 21, 2008

Good things

I got up early this morning, needing to shake the sleep and some clingy bad dreams out of my mind. What better than an early-morning run with the dog?

It's a glorious day - 'Uno altro bello giornata!' calls my little old neighbour as Toby and I jog by. He's a keen gardener, and today he wants us to share some of his lettuces, fresh and smelling like pure green would smell, if it was a smell. 'Grazie tanto, e Toby ditto grazie anche' - we both thank you, in our dreadful Italian. We love garden presents!

Off we trot, to pass the next Italian garden. Now, this is one I've got my eye on. I am trying to work out how, in Italian, to ask about the multi-grafted tree in the front yard. It has lemons (citrone), grapefruit (that's pompelmo, right?), and at least 2 other citron fruit all grafted onto and happily growing on one tree. And once a year it gets all of its branches lopped off -- ohh, ouch, it looks awful -- but sproing, it comes back again and fruiting like mad. I want to know if I could do this to my lemon tree.

When we first moved in, I seem to remember telling Mr Tacc. about the 'scary' old man who stands on the street every morning, watching people walking past. Then we got a dog. Now, every morning, they have an open-armed reception, a big Italian-dog cuddle and lots of 'Ay!' hellos. My dog adores this man. Even when accidentally broad-sided by the hose (now, that was funny!) Soaking wet, Toby leapt over the wall, tail wagging furiously, he barked once at his friend as if to say - 'Hey! Look what you did to me! I'm all wet! Want to play again?!'

On Friday, a leaflet for classes at the Centre for Italian Studies arrived in the post. I'm pretty tempted. Not because I want to learn holiday Italian but for the gardening goss. I want to know how these guys get such amazing gardens with artichokes, aubergines, zucchini, and of course, rows and rows of tomatoes in the front garden. There's only so much you can say with words like 'bella verdure' and 'grazie'. And 15th century art history terminology. They didn't talk much about grafting in my textbooks....

I'm off to enjoy my cafe, panettone, e la bella giornata.


December 19, 2008

Christmas brooch love

A day to myself. Glorious. Wonderful. Practically unheard-of. What is it for?

All the things I love.

- Coffee at the market with Meghan, and meeting her lovely friends from France.
- Food, food, food, and Merry Christmas to the stall holders who have kept us well-fed all year.

- Sitting in the sun with the dog on my feet, watching the world go up and down my street.
- Laundry and sweep while listening to the cricket.
- Sewing, sewing... and more sewing!

Pretty felt brooches for friends.

Snipping the circle; fold and snip, fold and snip - to make the petals.

Sewing perle thread for a decorative edge.

Finished brooch: it looks better slightly ruffled, so a circle of heavy-duty thread is sewn around the edge and pulled tight for a ruffly flower.

The finished brooch.

Now I'm just sitting down to show a few photos of what I've made, then it's time to do some Christmas baking, and off to an open house tonight.

Lovely Friday.


December 11, 2008

Tested and proven: sewing lowers stress levels

I had one of those days. You know, the kind of day when the phone rings and you wince. Because the last three phone calls were the harbinger of hassle and trouble, things gone awry, files that have been lost and the owner off on holiday, colleagues on jury duty, major projects teetering over the deadline abyss.

Your schedule is such that you've got a full day at work with a superhuman supermarket sweep to do at lunch, two errands on the way home, extra house guests for dinner, and a freelance deadline to meet. By tomorrow.

Days like these make me feel like I'm standing amidst a pack of kittens -- each one of them is climbing up my arms and legs with their little tiny claws going pick-pick-pick. Pick-pick-grab-pick. Everyone wants a piece of my attention. Where is there time in this for me?

I got through that day, folks, and I survived. The next morning, early, I sat down to sew, in the sunshine. Just for ten minutes, and just one hand-sewn seam to close up a project. Sewing saved my sanity.

Calm stitching plus a sense of completion: I practically skipped out of the house to meet whatever those stress-kittens could throw at me in my day. And do you know? It wasn't so bad. I could just flap my new scarf at the worries and let the pompoms do their stress-busting trick. pop-pop-pop ... All gone!

December 9, 2008

My garden grows - in my mind

Something's eating my garden. And it's not me.

It's the perennial problem of the gardener: you plant in excitement, wait in hope, greet shoots with glee, and then despair as the caterpillars move in.

At least there are two things in the garden that are going great guns. My tomato plants are a wild and unruly bunch of long-legged green ladies (To use too many adjectives and a mixed metaphor. Must be the editing job, I'm on an adjective diet, which means occasional binges.)

Anyway, these lovelies are also holding up well: must be because they're not edible.

But they are sweet, aren't they?

December 6, 2008

Class Portrait, blogbag special

This class photo shows the gals of the season:
L-R - BigCat, Bellgirl, Reenie-Sue, Taccolina, and CurlyPops.

Don't we all look colourful in our summer finery?

Much fun was had today over mince pies (not mice pies!), mulled wine and the gentle whack of hammers crimping handbag frames. I'm extremely grateful to Nikki for running such a welcoming, informative class and inspiring us to create our little bags of delight. Big thanks to BigCat for being our organising inspiration.

Now if only we hadn't all decided to leave at just the moment that the thunderstorm tipped down....

December 4, 2008

The Old House

I bet you thought I'd stopped with the old house theme, but like any obsession, once you get started it just gets rolling. Or perhaps it's because I haven't taken the time to sit and draw more of the images I'm collecting.

Check out this bike! Apparently the sign in the window advertises rice vinegar. Mm. I bet it's a food shop selling interesting, wonderful things. Can't you almost smell the musty soy-sauce aroma?

Perhaps it's time for some breakfast.

There hasn't been enough sewing going on around here recently. As if I am going to say, 'Gosh, what lucky me, I've had plenty of sewing time". No, not likely. I finally sat down and started making my Christmas presents. With most of my family in Canada, I've already missed the post, but I'm sure they'll forgive me. They're gathering for the arrival of a special baby, and I'm on important baby-quilt duty.

A backing of extreme Japanese cuteness was purchased on the weekend. The Cute-o-meter went 'bing-bing-bing-Bing!' when I shook out its lovely folds of little folktale houses, bears and squirrels and little dogs.

And I've started on one of the patterns I downloaded ages ago. Soulemama's Gratitude Wrap will be going out to lucky friends this year, with my own cards tucked inside. That is, if I get organised...

Blogger, what is it with you and photo credits? Photo above originally uploaded by Life in Asia (aka Life in Nanning)