Category Archives: Family

Confessions of a list maker

Confessions of a list maker

How glorious is summer?!  The sunshine is just intoxicating after many months of gloomy weather ..lots of rain, then more rain…as the the days stretch out, my soul is crying out for the beach……..for the surf, to walk for miles on the ocean edge…….beachcombing for treasure from the sea.

We have had a couple of 4WD excursions down the coast & it’s been amazing.  The sky on this day was surreal.  SO BLUE.

I am blessed and constantly enriched by the lives of our grandblessings……….and without going into a whole ‘Nonna Brag Session’ (which we grandmothers can very easily do…) suffice to say we passed a significant transition time as the two older ones head off to school this week for the first time.  Milestones in their lives, create markers in mine…….ever aware of a countdown happening in my body.  There are days it hurts so much it’s physical, there are other days, when I am so busy going about life, I hardly notice the sand rushing through the glass.

As I have been saying for some time now – we are mentally (& physically) getting ready to move from our family home of 20+years at some point in the near future.  This has made me more critical of the value of things I create.  Where am I going to put it – how will I store it – am I ‘making’ for ‘making’ sake & there is no real ‘value’ in what I have created……(a technique refined, a new material/method explored, a gift or occasion marker)…..It was this contemplation – along with my confessions of the last post (seeking the ‘fresh’) that I decided a few months ago that I wanted to give each member of my family something meaningful, made by me for Christmas.  This meant putting aside some of my artistic preferences to accommodate the recipient.  I made a list, which, even to me (oh thee of little sleep), was a little ambitious…….and I didn’t get there in the end…..but here are some of the pieces I did finish……..Above are ‘envelope’ books I made to hold all of the school treasures…………below……….6 METRE accordion fold out (YES – that is NOT a TYPO!) & 160 photos – documenting the first five years of mile stones…….

For our precious DIL – I made a series of 5 canvases, with personal messages……here’s some vignettes……

As a ‘Natural Born, Card Carrying List Maker’ I have spent a little time making a life ‘to do’ list. Since that film came out with Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson in it the term Bucket List’ has almost become a noun……. but I think that’s a morbid term, I don’t want to ‘check off a list’ and then I’m DONE – A lesson I learned from the seemingly random reasons why one person was in the towers (who should have been) & another (who should have been) wasn’t – is I’ll be ‘DONE’ when it’s my time & I KNOW that won’t be the end of it!  Being around New Years it’s the time I like to revisit these kinda things & see how I’m tracking – reassess, whether what I have written there – is even important to me anymore.  This year I am hoping to be a little kinder on myself – instead of a punishing ‘to do’ – balancing a little ‘slow time’ and ‘grateful’ acceptance…… I mellowing?  Is this what growing old is – perhaps a little ‘wisdom’ is starting to be evident after all!  I have lived long enough to understand life is not an event….or a goal post – and that no achievement ever creates a true sense of self.

There is conflicting information out there on the value of this – one school of thought says JUST by writing down my goals (even if I don’t refer to them again) I am more likely to achieve them.   Derek Sivers advocates that if you tell anyone about your goals – you achieve social accolades as though you have achieved them already & you are less likely to actually do it……You can watch what he has to say here…….kinda like this new eco house that is seeming like it is NEVER going to happen!  But then – this runs a different kind of problem……..

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams. Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there.” – Erna Bombeck

So – here I am JUST putting these out there – just to write them down – to clarify them in my own mind really – NOT to receive any accolades from you, my special online friends.  As a certified ‘list maker’ it does seem to be like garnering resources for the future & providing direction for the now.  It helps to eliminate peripheral …..that prove to be only sparkly distractions for the now & not what you TRUELY want…

they loosely fall into 4 Genres: travel; personal; family; creative

1. Photograph architecture in England – I’d actually like to spend about 6 months to a year there – but may need some ‘fairy godmother’ intervention for this! LOL!
2. Photograph doors & windows in Italy (esp. Venice & Florence)
3. Shop for Christmas deco’s in Germany
4. Improve my conversational Italian
5. Fly first class
6. Do an extended (?3+ months) road trip to explore Western Australia, Northern Territory
7. Fly to USA & meet some long time art buddies

PERSONAL (I have about 6 other goals that are too personal to waft in cyber space)
1.Improve my knowledge of manual camera functions (F stops ‘n’ stuff)
2. Refine plans for eco/recycled materials home DONE
3. Participate in building our forever house – complete with Blow your mind Garage for hubbie & Studio Amazing for me!
4. Improve my fitness to make travel more manageable (i TROOOLY, rooooolly want this to be in progress – but it’s not!! No travel on the horizon = no incentive)
5. Settle into a manageable employment groove (manageable hours & expectations for a moderate return that still leaves time for a ‘life’ out side of work) – a cuppla false starts here – still hopeful.

FAMILY (likewise – I DO have other Family goals beside quilting! LOL! -ditto about the wafting in cyber space! LOL!)
1. Finish mini Princess’s quilt – in progress
2. Make single bed quilts for older grandblessings – purkulating!
3. Finish large quilt for our bed – in progress – but not recently!
4. Take EGF to Venice for her 16th birthday
5. Lay up an inheritance for my children’s children
6. Make meaningful contributions to each of my (grown) children’s lives
7. Support my DH achieving his dreams
8. Build a ‘home base’ for my family that will become their inheritance

1. Transition to primarily using my own imagery for all of my artwork
2. Publish a book (NOT progressing – not because I haven’t started – because I vacillate between wanting to write an art book & wanting to tell my story – I have started both!)
3. Create an inspiring website that I can edit & update myself – no more ‘web boys’ who talk techno speak!! LOL!!! – in progress. 
4. Design & run some online classes – in progress – doing the ‘field work’ at the mo

OH – I forgot to show you my CHRISTMAS architectural TRIUMPH – my very first gingerbread stable (house)

“One ship drives east, and another west
With the self-same winds that blow:
Tis the set of the sails

And not the gales,
Which decides the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As they voyage along through life;
Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Apprenticed Art


I’ve been spending extended weeks & months with one of our little Princesses who is now a very knowledgable four and a half years old.  My goodness how that time has flown.  Having had restricted reign in my art studio since she was born, she is very happy surrounded by ‘things’ to

Hey Nonna - what IS this white stuff anyway? (16mths)

working on first collage

create with.  Her first experience with PVA was very tactile as you can see from the picture.  Her mum & I were talking in the kitchen & realised she had disappeared…….such a funny memory of discovering her – covered in PVA……much to my daughter’s horror – MY first instinct was to grab for the camera – I AM SO glad I did.   The first collage she made just before she was 2 years old is one of my most valued treasures.  Over the weeks of February, we have been creating some ‘larger’ projects that have been far more intricate than miriad of little notes & drawings & paintings that appear as a part of her imaginative play of the day. 

1st collage (23 mths)

We have spent time discovering the different look & feel of various mark making tools – pencils, crayons, stamping & she has experimented with watercolour and acylic paints.   I don’t have any inflated dreams of her being a famous artist – I am just enjoying the pleasure of nurturing her own passion to create – what ever form that might take, now & in the future. 

We have played with creating colour wheels & I found this site had a great range of free resources that were easy to print out & use. (keep in mind if you are adding any kind of wet media, the print out needs to be lazar copy so it doesn’t bleed).  Kinda Art & Deep Space Sparkle are a couple of my fav sites (although the activities are for children a little older – I can usually adapt it).

The day she discovered sticky tape – about 9 months ago – a bit after she turned 4 years old – we had been ‘working’ in the studio and she said – Nonna, can I have my dinner in here – I don’t want to stop working in the ‘shhtudio’ (as she says it).  It was a first indication of a growing passion, which excited me almost as much as the priceless comment.  It is now common place for her to wake up & head straight for the studio, or for me to find her there, at her ‘desk’ drawing or colouring & sometimes painting (although I still enourage supervision for this)  – sometimes she just gets everything out herself.  At Christmas I bought her the whole range of Imaginisce – Enchanted Collection – Snag ’em Acrylic Stamps for her & she is JUST getting the hang of how to use acrylic blocks with a clear stamp. (you can get them from for about $1!)

I feel compassion for the generation of women who are ‘choosing’ to have their children so late in life, that not only will they not enjoy them as adults, but they will not ever experience the joy of grandchildren.  It is an amazing pleasure and joy, sprinkling delights & sunshine through the day like glitter – you don’t know when the sun is going to ‘catch’ it and you are bathed in sparkles.  Like these recent little conversation starters:

‘I am very busy today Nonna, I am going to have 18 babies and they are JUST about to be born!” (hmmmm…….sounds like a busy day to me! LOL!)

Girl discovers Sticky Tape (4 yrs)

(I was reheating some left over Indian food for lunch & she commented) ‘I don’t like Indian food – I just like the yarn (nann – bread); not the saucy stuff’

Nonna could I please have some Mangoes  on my mosquito bite’ (mistaken for ‘Stingoes’ – bite relief)

& excitedly recounting our shopping trip to the local shopping centre – ‘Poppa we used the alligator (escalator) to go up stairs!’

One of my proudest moments recently was when she told a complete stranger…… “My Nonna is an Artist – and I am one too.”

Anyways – I began this post some time ago & was determined this morning to finish it BEFORE I went to bed – & it’s 2am THE NEXT morning!…. all of this rambling I am doing about my grandaughter is all to say – it’s never to early to share your passion to create – start with a colour wheel! Colour is SUCH fun to share! (see the tab at the top of the page)

Mermaid - 26in long

WIP fairy - 30ins

Generations revisited


heart of my hearts Nina has written on her blog (Ornamental) today about the heart wrenching process of watching her parents in the twilight and, in a way that only she can, has captured glimpses of her parents that will be treasures for generations to come.  I experienced a similar thing recently hold my handas we celebrated a family wedding & saw the juxtaposed energy of the ‘babies’ (who are fast growing into small children); and my mother-in-law, now in a wheel chair, unable to get around without help.  Despite being frail, she looked lovely, amongst great protestation from the menfolk (her sons) I was determined to try to get some photos of her with them, as no one knows how much sand is left in her glass, or when the last grain will fall.  Aging enriches us with one hand, all the while, robbing us with the other.  I have mentioned before, but the mobility issues that I now live with daily are making this a harsh reality for me, and I hate it…….but back to ‘mum’… she was shining……'Old' Nanna this is her & my DH (her eldest) – and even though neither of them is looking at the lens – I love this shot, I am going to give it to her for Christmas.  it’s difficult.  She now lives in a nursing home, whiling away her hours, a woman that was so competent, so accomplished, to be reduced to redundancy.  How she would hate that her day is so wasted, she has filled her days with hard physical work, loving and caring for her family, and now time is flittered away so dismissively, waiting, waiting, ticking, ticking…… waiting….and ticking….. she hates her days now.

A Lovely Day


Img_5710_resizeI understand why red roses have traditionally symbolized love -though the flower is beautiful, it is fragile, & the thorns that surround the beauty ever threaten your enjoyment of it…… DH bought me home 6 bunches of red roses in appreciation of my Message in a Bottle of Valentine’s Wishes Img_5720_resizefor him & I have spent SOME time this evening putting them in vases (after I used them as props for my photos of course!)  Our 28 years of love have sometimes been a rocky path & it is nice to think that despite that, we can still find things to be thankful & appreciative of in each other.  We are not by any means the perfect couple – however our love has found a comfortableness like your favourite slippers that feels nice when we are not both so filled with work (we work together) & we take time to appreciate each other.  All of the imagery for these pieces is from Alpha Stamps.

Img_5663_resizeImg_5695_resize Img_5713_resizeImg_5677_resize

What’s in a Name?



We were sitting around with our (grown) kids after we came back from holidays & as two of them now have children of their own, they are very interested in stories and detail of their ‘babyhood’ & things they did as a small child.  Some how or another the conversation got to names & our son (pictured Toby_daddy_web_1here with his son, Toby) asked how he got the nick name ‘George’, (something only his father has ever called him).  I told them both that it was the name that we had for him ‘in utero’ before he was born & we Name_detail_webdidn’t know his gender.  George/Georgina…….it worked…….any ways, that mystery solved, a name like that is emerging for Princess ‘L’.  I put a panel with her name & its meaning in the centre of her cot quilt,  my daughter saw it in passing & asked, “Why did you write ‘light & creamy’ on Ellie’s quilt?”  Bemused, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but then realized she had mistaken ‘light (Eleanor) & mercy’ (Grace) for ‘Light & Creamy’……between ourselves, we have been calling her Miss Light & Creamy ever since!  I wonder if they will be sitting around in years to come trying to work out where THAT name, & its subsequent derivatives came from!

Comfort_quilt_webMy foray with cot quilts before Christmas has provoked me to rekindle some of my quilting skills. Though of course I didn’t NEED to – I while we were away I bought a few fat quarters of fabric (1/2 metre of fabric, cut in half…so it is not quite square as the fabrics are about 110/115cm wide….so it becomes a FAT quarter).  I think that I will start a new quilting project, it is trying on my hands which are over worked on computer during the day, so I expect it won’t be anything terribly complicated.  DH & I are POLES apart on body temperature, so I often use a throw rug or quilt, so I don’t mind having a few more around.  While we were watching the cricket (oooppps….I am not sure whether I have ever let that slip……….I am a MAD KEEN cricket fan!) I finished the binding on a quilt that has been sitting in the attic for ages…I machine sewed one edge on it a few months before Christmas, & I started handsewing it down, but didn’t get much done.  In the last week 3 different people who were visiting have picked it up & gone to use it, I had to stop them as it was still pinned.  TIme to finish it, me thinks………so last night I did.  Here it is. 

A Christmas Quilt


Pic_with_title_web_1  Here it is, the distraction that I’ve been telling you about, Toby’s Cot Quilt, wrapped & under the tree at long last!  It’s a riot of colour, which is a bit scary for some, & a huge departure from your traditional pastels, which is how I did Ellie’s (mostly because I knew her gender).  It is made from a very simple block that starts with a 4 inch square in the centre & is wrapped around with 2 inch sashes to form an 8 inch block.  If I hadn’t been under the time pressure that I was, it would have been fun!  Toby_sleeping_in_colour_web

Here is a new pic of darling little Toby.  He is such a big boy already, (NO, I am still NOT over his volume of hair…………where did this child come from????)  Only 2 weeks old on Friday and already he is one pound or 500gr over his birth weight.  He is literally growing in leaps & bounds.

Quilted Angels


19_quilted_angels_web While this may seem a funny title for a Christmas Page………I spent the non working hours of this day (4am – 7am yesterday & 10.30pm – midnight!!!) working on the babies quilts for Christmas.  Ellie’s is all but finished, I am just attaching the binding………..but I have only just finished the quilt top for little Toby’s.  I got the fabric ages ago, however I got stuck on the whole gender thing……..things for babies seem to be either gender specific…..or pastel………& I couldn’t get inspired.  I eventually ended up using the fabrics that I started out with anyway…….so that was all wasted productivity time……..oh well…….who can figure the mind of an artist?!??!

This patchworky pieces on this page are the colours I have used in Toby’s quilt……the image is from an art friend (?Suze?) & the card is rubbed down with Harrison Bell gold leafing powder.  I spilt it on my work table the night before last & it’s migrated everywhere… is hard to clean up, I will just have to throw out my plastic cover sheet over my table, so I just turned the page over once I had stuck the images on, & rubbed it all around in a circular motion.  It (of course) looks much nicer in the flesh……….soft & etheral.