Friday, 26 August 2011

Opportunity Adventures

To find craft items at low cost I often score the op shops and second hand stores.
Often wool and embroidery threads are found at reduced prices and a fraction of what you pay for in craft shops.
With my re enthused passion for crochet I have been on the hunt for crotchet cottons. The local Goodwill Store has very kindly made up bundles of crochet threads in brightly coloured bundles for me to find on my bicycle adventures. I was very excited to  find these bundles but alas didn't have enough shrapnel to purchase them and wandered off on the deadly treadly to obtain the necessary  funds. I have resisted the temptation  to commence crocheting with my find straight away wanting to complete other  UFOs in my basket and continue to produce items for the craft stall at the school fair. Ill just have to wait until mid September or so. They look pretty in my woven basket which is also pre loved. It was not purchased at a second shop but at a shop which retails hand crafted items and other desirous things. It was probably over priced but my pre loved basket from a Chinese village has a lovely shape and interesting weave.

I have previously bought crockery cheaply under the guise of wanting to smash it up for tiling. Instead of smashing the china I found I loved the colour and quality of china so much that I have started to collect the Jade Glamour set from J &G Meakin. It has a contemporary art  Deco appeal about it and was produced in the 1940s. During the period of WWII English crockery was sombre and plain, manufactures were not allowed  to produce printed designs on crockery,  instead injected style and design into their production.

Things that are usually hard to find in second hand shops are honey pots and egg cups of quality. This week I have found two lovely honey pots and although worth  little are still a pleasure to own.

Green is one of my favourite colours and I also seem to be developing a love and fetish for cabbage wear and other manor of green crockery.

Buttons are often collected on mass in jars and sometimes can be bought cheaply this way. I particularly  like dealing with men when  it comes to buttons because generally they have little sense of value and worth for buttons. I just about danced away from op shop after buying a box of buttons for $5 from a gentleman whom was only to happy to get rid of them. The same week in a shop around the corner a medium sized jar was up for grabs for $20 and not of the same calibre of buttons, needless to say I didn't buy them.

Todays purchase is a totally frivolous teapot most suited to Halloween which we tend not to celebrate  in Australia but I liked it because it was colourful and cheap

I am loving Carlton Ware Australia Design hand painted ware.

This one looks to have lost its colour over time I think but is still beautiful in its own right

Hand painted tomatoes a reminder of summer.
All these lovely little pots and plates have to find a home in my very limited cupboards, time for a clean out before the school fete! More work!
Anyway have fun trolling through the opportunity shops and second hand stores. I'm addicted.

Fete Produce - 3 - Hanging Christmas Decoration


COMPLETION 1 hour plus drying time
makes about 16 decorations


quantity of air dry clay - white - 500g
cookie cutter - Christmas tree, star, angel
knitting needle or  similar pointed instrument
flat tray
paint if desired
ribbon to hang
two doilies with a semi open  pattern
rolling pin
fine sandpaper

Take approximately 1/4  portion of clay and roll out with rolling pin to about 3mm thickness
position a doily on a flat surface
Lay clay on top of doily taking note of surface that will be imprinted by pattern on doily
Lay second doily on top of clay. Clay is sandwiched between 2 doilies

Run rolling pin over clay a couple of times to imprint surface being careful not to drag doily, clay should be about 2mm thick
lift upper doily
Press in cookie cutter shape on desired  area of pattern. Lift clay and other doily, then remove doily and excess clay
Place shape on tray. Use needle to make hole for hanging ribbon

remove cookie cutter shape. Repeat process until all clay is used up.
Allow to dry. Clean edges with sandpaper
My decoration took a week to dry as the weather was very wet and there was lots of moisture in the air

If left over clay,cling wrap with plastic film to maintain moisture until next use

Paint decoration as desired and hang with decorative ribbon

Well done.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Port Elliot Farewell

A fond farewell was given to our lovely friend Jacqui whom had worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a registered nurse for in excess of 20 years. She has been a good friend over the years and a tolerant locker buddy, but  has decided to pack up her kit and pursue work closer to home. Cant blame her, who in their right mind would travel a 100KS each way to come and play with us at the QEH, but apparently Jacqui thought we were worth it all these years.
As a fitting goodbye and a chance to escape we arranged a night away at Port Elliot with the staff of ward south 2, and were fortunate to find accommodation in the Marist Brothers holiday retreat at Port Elliott. "The Bungalow" had in  excess of eight bedrooms, enough to sleep us all. The house is a lovely old building with high ceilings, ornate ceiling roses, open fire place and immense kitchen.
Port Elliot is a favourite holiday destination of our family and so I came well prepared with bicycle  in tow so that I could squeeze a quick ride in along the cycle tracks running the entire length of shoreline from Victor Harbour to Gawler. I only made a short trek with Jodie whom  I had convinced to throw her bike on the back of my car even though she said she hadn't ridden in ten years. It was lovely out in the sun drinking in the views.

The view just one street down from the bungalow. Lovely granite rocks tinged red are typical of the area and form Granite Island, a sanctuary to penguins, a short stroll from Victor.
The guide hall and town hall are typical of the area, utilizing granite in structure

Wind swept trees cling to the rock faces of the granite cliffs

A surf and beach culture is strong throughout the region and is popular with townies and locals alike.

When we arrived back from our ride others had started to arrive and were eager to do lunch. We settled on a short walk into town and dined at the local pub, The Elliot, for beer and tucker.
Lunch eaten we ambled back to commence merriment. Of course copious amounts of liquid were consumed and vast quantities of food were available to feast upon. I don't remember ever feeling so bloated, I ache just thinking about it.
Teresa brought along 4kg of gnochi her mum had made, a bucket of tomato sauce, a trough of cabbage and noodle salad, a honeycomb cheesecake and a huge container of vanilla slice. Her contribution alone would  have been enough to feed us all let alone the mountains of food that was brought along.
Sonya amazed us all with her techno savy by producing a wonderful and clever compilation of many of the people Jacqui has worked with over the years and gave much amusement and merriment with her photo shopping efforts. Contact Sonya on for photography and photoshopping.


Looking towards Victor Harbour

Whale watching is free during the winter months as the southern right whale migrate through the region with young calves. The scenery is always spectacular even if you don't get to see the whales and usually a couple of seals frolic around the rocks at Port Elliot and Victor Harbour.
Sea urchins are washed up on the beach in droves and are free for the collecting. They dry out over a period of weeks and make lovely hanging threads, fragile as they are.

A lovely stay away enjoyed by all
Enjoy the day. Monique

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Super Easy Muesli Bar

I returned  home from work this evening and decided to investigate the supply of fillers for lunch box snacks and found we were sadly lacking in edibles, so I whipped up a batch of super quick and easy muesli bars. After the day I had at work I didn't feel like doing much else.

I use this base for all the muesli bars I make and then add extras to it so that the bars are not always the same

125g butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup rice bubbles
1 cup coconut

and then add as extra
250 g mixed nuts (I like 125 g cashews and 125g almonds) roughly chopped or whole
1/2 sup sultana,currants, dried fruit- apricots dried apple and dates
small handful of sunflower seeds
you can add chocolate or peanut butter if you like

TURN OVEN ON 150 degree C
Melt butter sugar and honey together until liquid
Pour over dry ingredients
Mix until combined ( I'm lazy and do it in my electric mixer for 10 seconds, the bowl is nice and big to hold all the ingredients )
Transfer into lamington / slice tray non stick
and cook in 150 degree oven for 40 minutes

ALLOW to cool completely before cutting
Makes 16 - 20 bars
Wrap in plastic cling wrap ready for lunches or place in airtight container

Too much butter will make bars chewy, more sugar makes them crunchier

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Fete Produce - 2 - Fairy Skirt


Skirt length 40cm, width dependant on elastic length used for waist band


2 meters of tulle in colour of your choice
elastic 1.5-2cm wide length  1meter (approx 50 cm for each skirt)
variegated sewing thread
sewing machine
overlocker if you have it
safety pin

The tulle I used came in a width of approximately 180cm wide when opened up. Leave folded in half
If making fairy halo I cut a strip from the folded edge the complete length of the material to use as contrast in the halo. (Cut 5cm from the folded edge - opens up to 10cm wide)
You'll be left with 2 pieces around 85 cm length x 2 metre wide
Satin stitch edges top and bottom of each width in variegated thread(or over-lock using rolled hem in variegated thread)
fold in half so hemmed edges line up. Length will measure about 40-45 cm. x 2 meters
Sew a line 2cm from the folded edge of tulle the width of the skirt (2m) starting about 5cm in and finnishing 5 cm from the end. You can satin stitch this edge if you wish - I do on my over-locker
Join the circle of tulle together matching these ends opened up, this way the seam will sit in the middle of the skirt and not against the skin.
thread  the elastic using a safety pin through the gap left. sew ends together then complete by finishing the
waist band.

Fete Produce - 1 - Fairy Halo




Wire length  approximately 70cm
tulle approximately 1 metre in any colour , can be scraps
flowers and ribbon if desired to decorate
wire cutters
tape - can be sticky tape

Cut approximate length of wire. Form a circle of  about 60cm. Use a small bucket/ plastic bowl to form circle if you are not confident, but it doesn't have to be a perfect circle. The circle will likely fit your head (although I do have a large head)

Twist wire ends over each other to secure circle. Tape ends down to protect little heads
cut strips of tulle approximately 2-3 cm wide (Not an exacting science)
Grasp wire circle (I hold between my knees) and knot tulle to circle (half granny knot- one end through the other and pull tight). To be economical with your tulle knot near the ends leaving about 5cm tab hanging off.
Don't bother cutting individual ties-  work a bunch of tulle ribbons 5-10 and the cut tails to desired length
Tie away until circle full of tulle

I usually work a base colour and add a contrast later every 4-5 knots, just push your base colour aside and work contrast between.
trim ends and shape
Add ribbon flowers and ribbon as desired
Organza also looks good as a contrast.

Now for the school fete just make twenty!!!! ugh!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Insidious C

Coldness by Monique Smith 

C is without a doubt the ugliest letter in the alphabet when you couple it with "ancer".
That line .. "it's a word not a sentence" may apply to some but a full blown metastatic disease is just pure ugliness. The C word conjures up thoughts of calamity, catastrophe and chaos and eliminates calm and brings on the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy in itself is a disruptive process that drags the client from pillar to post to recieve drugs and then to suffer the after math of the toxic effects of drug induced nausea vomiting rashes and pain. C is so  persistant that it rears its ugly head repeatedly despite the onslaught of drugs attempting to erradicate and diminish its spread. it is corrosive and vile eating away at its hosts to reduce the person to a shadow of the former self.
Many cir cum  to this onslaught not only in body but in spirit. Those that do fight, fight the demons of self and survive with the love and support of those held dear. So when to let go? Fight to the death or drag on until the merciful night cloaks its victim in permanent shadow.....
What follows C?

Bullshit just fight !
linoprint by Monique Smith 2009

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Naive Child Inside

By Caleb 2000

For my children: Caleb, Benjamin and Jordana, still young at heart and much loved.

The Naive Child Inside

Childhood drawings kept safe
Rapt away in a tidy space
No lines constricted
Imprisoning thought
freedom of motion
Lines not taught.
Without structure
Natural flowing
Pictures for me
Love in art
All things close
Family drawn bold and wild
Stick pictures constructed
Lovingly tell all those that they hold true
Magic is their world
Splashed in colour
Liberated confines
Guided by you.

Love mum xox

By Jordana 2004

By Benjamin 2002

By Benjamin 2002

By Jordana 2004

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Insect Infestation

It has been a month of insect infestation with renegade termites deciding to make my house their home . One day the toilet door frame was intact and the next the kids tell me there is a gaping hole where the frame used to be. The little pests had eaten clear through the frame and left the paint work intact.

Education can be an expensive thing. I am now educated in the likes of termites, favouring damp dark spaces below the bathroom where a slow leak has left a damp area under the house perfect for a mud mound to house these fascinating creatures. These photo phobic creatures craftily chew away at door jambs and floor boards, remarkably maintaining the structural integrity of what they chew until some heavy weight breaks the surface structure.
Our friendly neighbourhood builder informs me he has walked on roofs that have flexed under their weight and upon further investigation has found the ceiling supports to be totally undermined.
We were lucky to to only suffer minor damage and Danny The Bugger, a very apt name, made short work of chemical eradication our pest problem.

Following the theme of bugs and slugs I appear to have a high attraction to all things creepy crawly. My recent walks at dusk in the OHallaran Hill Reserve or Yurrebilla as known by the Aboriginals of the Greater Mount Lofty Parkland, has exposed me to some unusual variety of insect which I had not seen before. Whilst photographing a particularly pretty purple plant, a native wisteria, I came across what I now know to be Spitfire caterpillars. These unusual bugs collect on mass or in clumps and upon approach will rear up to deter invading marauders.

I went back to video them two days later and found the group had move the length of the bush from the top to the bottom.

I also came across this centipede  that was crossing the open path in the reserve.

I must say it has been a very mild winter in Adelaide and aside from a few very cold nights in July we haven't had to suffer the icy artic winds that we sometimes experience.

Stalks of fennel plants growing wild

This weeks walk with Matilda the family mutt have been warmly pleasant and lovely glowing rays of light have played across the land scape. I particularly like the golden hues and glistening greys seen in some of the flora of the park. Who would think these tired old thistles, standing on their last legs would look so pretty basking in the last rays of the day..

thistle plants

A view from Yurrebilla - OHallaran Hill Reserve looking back to the city of Adelaide

gum nuts of varying eucalyptus plants

a weedy view

weeds no less but very pretty!
warratah linoprint by monique smith 2010

blue emperor dragonfly linoprint by monique smith 2010

I hope you have enjoyed my walk with me and trust you will enjoy the day. Monique.