Handmade 1st Birthday Card for Thomas

Thomas turned one nearly a month ago, but we’ve been so busy catching our breath after a very busy Christmas season, this is the first chance I’ve had to blog about it!

This was our first ‘proper’ Christmas with Thomas, as his first Christmas was spent in the hospital nursery, and I was still in hospital that day myself. That’s why we decided we should make an extra effort this season, and visit everyone in the family, which we managed to do, except for seeing my sister and her family in Darwin. We hadn’t gone anywhere all year, with Thomas being so small I didn’t feel confident enough. So Christmas was a very busy season for us indeed this year, and we’ve decided we should spread things out a bit better next year so it’s not so overwhelming!

One thing we can’t change though is Thomas’ birthday, which is on December 14th, right when things start to get busy. We had to have a party of course, in fact we celebrated all week with visits from family and friends spread out so our small home would not be too crowded in case it rained. Thankfully it didn’t rain! My mum came to visit Thomas on the day though, and brought gifts and this very special handmade 1st birthday card.

I just adore my mum’s handmade greeting cards, don’t you? They are so special. I’m trying to convince her to try and sell some, I think they might be popular!

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Summer Drinks "Frangipani" Coasters

This is the last coaster set I’ll do for now. I guess if anyone else wants one, I’ll just get some more cotton and make more! But next time I buy cotton, I’ll get some red, pink and purple so I can get different colour combinations. Below is a photo of the colours I used for this gift giving season.

It’s fun to think of a name, a scene or season to match the colours and vice versa. I have done this last set because these three colours to me say ‘frangipani’ and I had enough of these colours left over. When I lived in Darwin there were a lot of frangipani trees about. They would loose all their leaves in the dry season, which is the north Australian equivalent of winter, but it really doesn’t get very cold at all. Then as the wet season approaches, the trees would become full of flowers and the smell was gorgeous. Most of them were the yellow and white variety, some had a light blush of pink. And very rarely, there was a deep red variety which didn’t seem to grow as thick but had the rich fragrance of a rose and was very special. The blue in this set represents the clear blue skies of the Darwin dry season.

I do not recommended this coaster set for red wine drinkers, as it’s mostly white and yellow. If you spill red wine on these, soak in cool water immediately. Here are some more tips on how to remove red wine stains from cotton.

Next, to make some Christmas decorations and practice baking some home-made treats to share as gifts!

My Piano, November 2010 Update

I need to keep a record of what’s been happening with my piano, as every time someone comes to look at it, I forget what work has been done!

My 15 year old Alex Steinbach piano got it’s first tuning in about 4 or 5 years this week, which is a bit sad. I had left it to wallow for that time while I had other things on my mind, like sorting out my life! For the record, I bought my piano new in 1994 or 1995 for $3995, and it was shipped to Darwin from Tasmania. While in Darwin I looked after it pretty well, getting it tuned every year, sometimes twice due to the monsoonal humidity. After I separated from my husband, the piano sat at my friend Nikki’s house for a year or so, from there the piano was trucked to Brisbane around 2005 for the cost of $880.

While living on the north-side of Brisbane I got it tuned once, and I vaguely remember that tuner saying something about silverfish and a broken string, he left some insect repellents in there which was removed this time around. I started looking for a south-side piano tuner about 12 months ago and it’s taken me this long to get up the courage to get someone in. I narrowed my search to tuners registered at the APTTA site for Queensland. I really wanted to get it done before I was 20 weeks pregnant, because that’s when the baby can hear in the womb, but I am 28 weeks now so I have left it a bit late.

So last week the piano tuner I had decided upon, a local musician called Martin Holmes, comes in and says it’s not worth tuning because all the felts on the keys have been eaten, probably by silverfish, and need to be replaced first. This of course tripled the price and really threw me at the time, although in hindsight it shouldn’t have surprised me that much. It has been sitting idle for a long time, afterall.  I was very nervous that this man unknown to me was taking out all my keys, to take away and refit some new felts, which apparently is a very fine and detailed job to do, and would take more than the weekend to complete. I had to utilise several anti-worry techniques that I’ve been taught this year  by my counsellor to get through the week, lol!

So this time around, the key bushes have been re-felted by hand. A string has broken and will need to be replaced when the part arrives in a week or two. There is a spare broken string wound up in the bottom of the piano which might have been the original of another string which had been replaced at some earlier date. The piano has been vacuumed out, so next time we can see any new dust. Thankfully, the piano is sounding very nice again, I think Martin has done a good job, and I can’t wait to get stuck back into my playing.

Now it’s finally done, and I can start with my planned repertoire of children’s songs, a basic piano course and some improvisation. As long as I don’t need that bottom A with the broken string too much over the next fortnight, I should be right!

Aloe Vera and other succulents

I have a modest collection of succulents, including some thriving aloe vera from Freya and Brian’s garden in Stanthporpe. They’re so easy to grow and take no fuss at all.

Aloe vera is an essential plant for any herb garden, as it’s just so easy to grow. You just basically chuck a bit in a pot and pop it in a sunny spot. And if I ever have the poor luck of pulling something out of the hot oven anytime soon, I’m almost guaranteed of burning my hand, so a little aloe vera can help. Although I haven’t had a chance to try this out yet, as David likes to do all the cooking at the moment, which is just great of course! Apparently you can break a leaf off and use the clear juice from inside to rub on the burn to give relief. This plant is the major ingredient in the aloe vera gels I used when I got sunburnt when I lived in the territory. You know, back in the days when I didn’t have a vitamin D deficiency!

This jade money plant is very special. It was one of three plants left by my grandmother, one went home with my mum, one with my aunty and I got the third. I think my mum’s plant has been eaten by her pet peacocks! I haven’t done anything to this plant, just the occasional light fertiliser, and it prefers full sun. These plants are considered to be lucky for prosperity, due to the shape of the leaves, which is said to resemble coins and money.

I’m not sure if a ponytail fern is technically a ‘succulent’, I don’t think it is, but I keep it in the same area because it prefers the same conditions – full sun and not too much water or fertiliser.  I used to have a big ponytail plant in Darwin which I bought as a tiny plant in 1990, and carted it around for nearly 15 years so it grew quite big. In the mess that became my life when I left, I think my ponytail plant ended up in the garden of my friend’s house which she sold during that period of time. This plant I have now is a special consolation, it’s a pair bound together and they have actually produced an offspring which now has it’s own pot.

The other succulents I have are plants that have kind of ‘migrated’ to our potted garden, and thrived, most coming from Dave’s mum’s garden. These plants are very hardy, and other than the aloe vera and the jade money plant, I don’t even know what they are! They seem very prolific too, taking to a new spot without any fuss at all. Sometimes, I simply put cuttings  and shove it in a pot with the other succulents, not even bothering to plant it in, and it still takes! Our other plants which need more care have decided they would not grow in pots that are too dry and hot with too much sun, so I have shoved some of these succulent cuttings in there to fill the fallow spot!

I am also trying some small cuttings of these in two bonsai pots I have, and they seem to be going well. I planted a tiny piece of jade money plant that broke off last year into the green bonsai pot, and it’s slowly growing and will make an attractive bonsai plant. I will have to learn more about repotting bonsai at some point, as the roots will become bound. The root ball will need pruning at some point, hopefully later rather than sooner!

If anyone knows any common names for these other plants, please let me know! These cosmetic plants I tolerate in our potted herb garden, only because they are so very easy to grow, take no fuss at all and fill empty fallow spots where other plants won’t grow.

Long Berry Pink Scarf

I liked the stitch from the purple baby jacket so much that I used it for this scarf! This is my post for Pink Saturday hosted @ How Sweet The Sound.

I edged the ends with 3 x 5 treble (American double) clusters. I still have heaps of this colour left over and I figured this stitch would make a nice patterned scarf. I was wondering if Shelly would like it to go with her new hat, but I didn’t get it finished in time. When she comes back here, she’ll be on her way back to Darwin so hardly a reason for a scarf living there! maybe my mum would like this, as the hat she might like is also made from the Berry Pink mix.

Interesting that David’s sister lives in Darwin, and so does mine, but David and I didn’t meet in Darwin. But both of our RSVP photos were taken at Darwin beaches at the weddings of our siblings in mid 2006. Both brides at those weddings are school teachers, and both grooms are mechanics. Uncanny, isn’t it? I think of David as my angel sent to me by the universe when it figured it was about time to send me a fair go! We were meant to meet, if not in Darwin, then somehow sometime! Now my life is complete. /awwwww

Be sure to check out other pretty pinks @ Pink Saturday.

Paper Lady in a Red Dress

This is a very special memento from my old life as a professional vocalist in Darwin.

In 2001 and 2002 I was studying voice as part of a Bachelor of Music at the now Charles Darwin University (it was called the Northern Territory University back then). I was attempting to finish this extra degree for which I would get a lot of exemptions, the main challenge was completing the musical performance units which would take 3 years part-time.  The main reason I was doing this was because I had a highly desirable job at the Northern Territory Music School as a vocal and choir teacher, something that was coveted by other teachers and I was exceptionally lucky to have. So the pressure was on me to prove myself and that I deserved my place there.

It was during this time that I did some unpaid performance work, where prior to that I had always been paid. My voice lecturer was a wonderful lady called Kathy Banks, she was absolutely amazing and lovely. So of course, when she asked me if I was available for a Gilbert and Sullivan production she was directing I accepted! It was a showcase of excerpts from Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, I would play the part of Peep-bo, one of the three little maids in the Mikado excerpt. It was so much fun. I was glad I made it clear I didn’t want the lead so I was able to enjoy it and lend comfort to the other performers, as many of them had not performed before a large audience before. This was held in the Darwin Entertainment Centre, and I’m not sure how big the audience was maybe several hundred or more. This paper lady in a red dress was given to me as a thank you gift, and it is such a special memento for me to cherish now I no longer do that kind of work.

Of course, I don’t perform any more so this is a mere memory from my past. It’s so very special for me that I still have this, after so much else I have lost. It is a memory of a fun event during a very hard time for me. I was in the process of leaving my husband, and by mid-2003 a colleague had committed suicide so my world pretty much fell apart from that point and I didn’t finish the third year performance units.  I didn’t show up for my mid third year exam as it was a week after that terrible event, then I pulled out of the rest of third year altogether and left Darwin for good 12 months later. At least I had successfully finished my end of second year exam with a very difficult 50 minute performance. It was opera and included pieces in Italian and German as well as English, it was the hardest performance I’ve ever done. I have never rehearsed so much for anything in my life, rehearsing once or twice every single day for over 2 months so ended up doing very well. I was determined not to make a fool of myself and just had to grit my teeth and do it, it was very hard. I did all this while I was secretly planning to leave my husband without him knowing as I was scared for my safety, rehearsing at home everyday while still living with him. No one I know now came to see my exam, my family was busy, and there is no video of it which is a real shame but at least I can remember it.

Looking back I can’t believe how I possibly got through that time in my life as well as I did, despite it being one big mess. But special memories like Kathy Banks and these performances remind me I am probably stronger than I think I am! Thanks to Kathy and the kind people that I knew back then I someone how got through a terrible period of my life. ❤ ❤ ❤

Seeing Pink

Throughout my life, I’ve owned several pairs of rose-coloured glasses. What started off as a performance costume item become something of a ‘statement’! This is my post for this week’s Pink Saturday which is hosted by Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound.

The first pair of pink sunglasses I bought cost me $10 I think, and it was an impulse buy. It was during a period of time that I was collecting brightly coloured items to add to the performance costumes for my children’s entertainment group called the ‘Tootee Fwoots’. My business was often employed to provide family entertainment, mostly by the city councils in Darwin and Palmerston for ‘Fun in the Park’ days and events, and sometimes by the shopping centres and sports clubs for their family days.

One day, my normal pair of sunnies broke, and I couldn’t bare to go out into the daylight without a pair, especially in Darwin after I’d had a late night! I did have this pair of rose-coloured glasses, so chucked them on. I loved how they made the bright cloudless blue sky a pretty shade of lavender, and decided I should make a statement! During the day I was working as an early childhood teacher, so I needed to stay positive and chipper and these glasses were just the ticket!

Eventually, my first pair of pink glasses broke, but I kept one of the pink lenses as a memento. It now lives in my small blue trinket box where tiny special memories are collected. After I bought the first pair and fell in love with them, I tended to buy any cheap pink glasses I came across. I think the pink ones here with the thick plastic frames might have only cost me $5! I still have these two pairs left, but I don’t wear them any more. But I think it’s important to remember that period of my life, when I was free and brash. Some people thought I was a bit strange for wearing pink sunglasses, but plenty more people understood what I was saying, that it was a tongue-poke at a silly world that took itself too seriously.

Now, I think back to the time when I used to wear pink sunnies. It was a good time, but there does come a point when we must take off our rose-coloured glasses to look at the world and accept it for what it is. I am learning to sit with it, look at it, not to buy into it, not to argue with it, for the world is as it is. But sometimes, seeing the Pink is not a bad thing either, and good to keep in mind, to come back to and remember.

Be sure to check out pretty pinks @ Pink Saturday.

❤ ❤ ❤