Friday 31 August 2012



Girls for lunch yesterday and I made these mini quiches the night before. So easy with quick puff pastry rounds pressed into muffin trays. I filled them with caramelised onion and goat cheese, bacon with parmesan and swiss cheese, and chorizo with olive and baby tomato. With the leftovers I made a large quiche for dinner that night.

The filling was fresh organic eggs mixed with cream and sour cream, salt and pepper and poured over the filling in the prebaked crusts. If I had more time I would have made my own shortcrust, next time.

We had them with asparagus, green salad, beans and new potatoes.

They bought home made flourless chocolate cake with cream and strawberries, vietnamese pork and noodle rice paper rolls, cheese, fruit and biscuits and champagne. The only thing I'd change would be a couple more hours with these favourite women!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

dog shame


I laughed till I cried reading through the tumblr. Here are a few of the sweet puppies being publicly shamed by their owners, though actually some of the worst offenders don't look even slightly abashed.

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my last birdie post. The last few days we've had more than fifty birds congregate at a time in our garden, hanging out socialising around the bird bath and in the trees chattering to each other. Its another thing putting a smile on my face this week. Welcome spring.

Thursday 23 August 2012



Its feeling a lot like spring here today and my friends have been singing all day. I think they might be checking out the honeysuckle and jasmine bushes for places to nest. I hope so, and I hope this wind is blowing in some rain to water all my little growing seeds.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

show & tell - suzy small

show & tell 27

I have a bunch of clever online friends who are sweet enough to help me out when I'm faced with tricky sewing or knitting questions, Suzy Small, for her sins, has been one of that crafty brains trust for a few years now. She is unfailingly generous with this advice, and luckily, because she's a Sydneysider, an Inner Westie in fact, its even location specific. Case in point I'd never made apricot jam until Suzy blogged about making jam from apricots on sale at the local greengrocer. A week later when I found myself walking past the display I had to stop and buy a bag.

Suzy was also one of the main inspirations for me finally trying clothes sewing for myself. I was always inspired by the beautiful outfits she blogged, she has a great eye for a good pattern and interesting, elegant fabric to match. The same goes for knitting, she has a knack of finding the best patterns and knitting them up in the perfect yarn and colour. It was because of this I read with great surprise her rocky path to knitting success in today's interview!

Suzy started writing the lovely Floating World blog way back in 2004 when she was living and working in Japan, so she is really one of the pioneers of Australian craft blogging. For interest's sake I went back and read her very first post, which describes finding a wonderful craft shop in Tokyo during her time living there. What a great achievement to still be blogging about making eight years later.

When Suzy and I finally met up in person she was as lovely as I imagined and so were her sweet kids. I was lucky enough to see that beautiful recovered chair in person and after five minutes we'd found some funny connections, I'm friends with her cousin and our kids went to the same preschool, we have the same sunglasses... we like jam ;-)

So I'm delighted to feature Suzy today, not only is her blog always interesting and one I never miss, but I always learn great stuff from her. I think if you've never visited you too will be inspired like me and become a fan as well. Thanks again Suzy for being part of Show & Tell today.

Suzy Small
Sydney, Australia

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
I just like to create things, it makes me happy. I sew and knit, and I like to make things out of paper and print things sometimes too. My style is fairly minimal, with pops of colour. My blog has changed over time, but at the moment it mostly documents the things I make.


2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started a blog in 2004. I was living in Japan, teaching English, and had quite a bit of free time. I absolutely loved living in Tokyo, and the quirks and details of the city, and wanted a place to document them. I didn't really know about craft blogs, but I stumbled on a blog called Pinku (which sadly is no more) that another Australian ex-pat in Tokyo kept, and she was a keen knitter, and through the links there I found all these other craft blogs like Wee Wonderfuls and Angry Chicken and Soulemama.

I'd recently bought myself a crabby old Toyota sewing machine (with no foot pedal!) from a flea market, and had re-taught myself to knit,  so it was so exciting to find other people who also liked to make things and had a similar aesthetic. And I felt so lucky, because at the time Japanese craft books and fabrics were really popular with crafters in other countries, and I had all this on my doorstep.

Gradually it turned more from a "Life in Japan" blog into a craft blog, and then when I moved back to Australia in 2007 I kept it up as a way to keep track of the things I was making. When I first started my blog I didn't really know anyone else my age who sewed or knitted, so a wonderful bonus of the blog has been meeting a group of talented, stylish and wonderful women who are interested in the same things.

3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
When I was 13 I did a dressmaking class at Grace Brothers, back in the days when department stores had fabric departments, and I studied "Textiles and Design" (fancy name for sewing) in years 9 and 10 at school. I don't think I ever wore anything I made in either class, but it taught me to read a commercial pattern. The most useful thing I learned in the textiles class at school was about different fibres, how they're made and how to wash them.


My Nanna, my maternal grandmother, was a fantastic knitter and taught me to knit as a child. I was terrible at it though, and not very patient, so it never really stuck. When I was in Tokyo I found a copy of the original Debbie Stoller Stitch and Bitch book on sale in an English Language bookshop, and I bought a pair of needles and some yarn and knitted myself a scarf. Even though I hadn't knitted for so long it felt like my hands remembered what to do, like some kind of muscle memory. I wanted to try other things, but none of the yarns specified in the book were available in Japan and I was worried about substituting different ones, so I didn't really go any futher with it.

But then in 2007 when I moved back to Australia and was pregnant with my first child I had the burning urge to make baby things, and my sewing machine and all my fabric were in storage so I decided to give knitting another try. And by then Ravelry had come along and it made it so much easier to find patterns and work out what yarn to use. So I started making things for my son, and just kept going from there.


Being mostly self-taught has its hazards - after I made a few things I realised that I was knitting all my stitches through the back loop, which actually looked quite nice but gave the knitting a different texture. And so I learned how to do the knit stitches properly, and kept knitting away but I could never work out why when I made something that had some sections in the round and some knitted back and forth they always looked really different. Anyway, eventually (and this is after I'd been knitting for a few years and had made HEAPS of things) I realised I was doing the purl stitch completely wrong, wrapping the yarn around the needle the wrong way. So I am finally knitting "properly", although it took me quite a while to get used to it, after doing it the wrong way for so long.


My mum sews a bit and was always very encouraging and let me use her machine (a gorgeous Elna Lotus that she got for her 21st that still runs beautifully), but I think she has been more of an influence with her approach to cooking. She's a very good cook but doesn't get too hung up on following recipes to the letter, and is always happy to improvise, and that's kind of how I sew.

4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
We've just moved house. In the old house I used to have a little dedicated study, but at the moment I'm working on the kitchen table. I hope that I'll eventually be able to carve out a corner of the spare room, but at the moment it's full of boxes.


5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
I registered the domain name on a whim before I moved to Japan, thinking I might use it for some kind of life-in-Japan blog. I had no idea how long I'd be using it for.

6. Favourite media to work in?
Fabric, in all different ways. I love making things for the house, and quilts, and I'm getting more and more interested in making clothes for myself and the children. And I like to print and dye it, too. Natural fibres are my favourites, cotton and wool.

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
I have a habit of bringing home stray and orphaned chairs, so I'd really like to learn more about furniture restoration and upholstery. And I want to do more fabric dyeing and printing.


8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
I like to be able to spread out what I'm working on so it may LOOK messy, but as I explain to my husband, it is actually very organized.

9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
There's a beautiful chair that used to belong to my grandmother. I had upholstered in handprinted fabric from Ink & Spindle, and I love the combination of old chair and new, hand printed fabric.


10. Favourite food/recipe?

11. Favourite colour?


13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I really love Tokyo. The city has so much energy and I love the Japanese design aesthetic.

14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
I try to keep what I'm working on handy, use small blocks of time, and try not to worry about having an immaculate house. Knitting has been great for me since having children, because it's easy to keep nearby in a bag and take along to swimming lessons etc., and I can knit for five minutes and then put it away again. When I sew or print I like to spread everything out and get on with it, so it's better to have a big chunk of time and lots of space for that, and not so compatible with small children.


15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters etc?
This is hard - I have so many favourites. I tend to be drawn to work that uses colour and texture, and often textiles. Some of my favourites are Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara, Paul Smith, Louise Weaver, Eley Kishimoto. I've met a wonderful group of local crafters in Sydney and they are a constant source of inspiration.

16. Your favourite thing you've made.
I made a quilt for my nephew at the start of this year, and I was really happy with how that turned out. I'm still at the stage with quilting where I learn something every quilt I make.


And the quilts I made for each of my children before they were born are so special to me, because they remind me of that time when I was pregnant and getting ready for them to arrive, and because I remember them lying on the quilts when they were tiny.

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
I like to cook, play with my children, walk around the city and read. I drink a lot of coffee.


Sunday 19 August 2012

catching up

catching upcatching upcatching upcatching upcatching upcatching up

I feel like I've been a bit quiet in this space the last few weeks. It happens sometimes like that, I haven't been keeping up with Instagram either or taking many photos. Sometimes real life takes over for a while and I have to drop a few things to keep up.

One of those things was my boys making it to the local Zone (area) Athletics carnival and asking so nicely that I come to all their events that I couldn't say no. This meant two full days sitting in stands cheering them on, cheering on their friends, catching up with friends from other schools, eating hot chips and drinking polystyrene tea. It was exhausting and exhilarating and by the time I got home each day my brain was fried! (That's my J lining up for the last leg of the senior relay - far right.)

Spring has been calling to me too so I've been out in the garden a bit. After our last winter sports game last weekend we detoured via the local nursery and picked up lots of vegie seeds and seedlings - purple heirloom carrots, artichoke plants, spaghetti squash, capsicums, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers both long and round, purple beans, rhubarb and sweet corn, did I miss anything? Yes we got carried away! I'm not sure we have the space for it all but I'm squeezing it in where I can. I'm going to fill my front yard with artichokes and sunflowers - seriously.

The winter planting of garlic is going well, I just hope its growing under the ground as well as above, I'm not too sure! And yesterday when I was weeding round the beetroot and spinach in my worm tower beds I was very gratified to come across lots of healthy red compost worms doing their thing in the soil.

Every evening at our house the local Currawong flies along the rooftops and power poles to call his evening song. With the warm evenings I was outside as dark fell for the first time in ages and he came past doing his thing. Excuse the blurry phone pic from Instagram, I think he looks like the twitter bird here! Cyndi here's a link to his call especially for you :-)

Two more things, I must mention, the first is this lovely snail mail I got during the week, a pantone postcard in lovely limey green. It is from sweet Kate who is sending out 100 of them to lots of different people. She is such a sweetie and it was such a nice surprise to find it in my mailbox, what a great idea and a great way to connect with lots of people. Second is this delicious Chicken Tikka Masala, my first curry paste from scratch,  made to a recipe from Ruth who is always inspiring me with her delicious food on instagram. I'm so lucky she helpfully blogs her recipes too!

One of the reasons I am popping in here today, is also to remind you that its that time of the month, Show & Tell is back this Tuesday, Yay!

My guest this month is a (very) local blogger who has been a favourite for many years. She has inspired more than a few of my creative projects and given me advice along the way.  Can you guess who it is? Come back Tuesday to see if you're right!

Thursday 9 August 2012

my creative space - pink and green

pink and greenpink and greenpink and greenpink and greenpink and greenpink and greenpink and green

I had a great time in my creative space this week, on Tuesday I had a sewing day with my friend Marg. We talked, we lunched, we chatted, we drank tea, and we even sewed a bit, just a bit! By the end of the day we'd made three pillowcases with my tutorial and some flower press fabrics. Our three daughters got one pillowslip each in these lovely spring colours. And they loved them.

I didn't get many photos of Marg's pillowcases but that's one of hers with the Bloom flowers, I made mine with the Trileaf pattern. And we both edged them with my Daisy dots fabric (back in stock, free postage!).

Kirsty is asking everyone for their tips for staying creative today.

One of the things that helps me stay creative is to try and keep a sketchbook handy, and take notes when inspiration strikes. I like to buy these cheap A5 sketch books and when those thoughts float across my mind I quickly jot them down before they disappear. I take down a motif or a pattern or write a list, draw a design, write myself a note. Sometimes I just doodle for a while and one thought leads to another.

When you leaf back through your sketch book you are reminded of those ideas and the ones that still inspire you slowly grow and improve and some of them, like this trileaf design which I found an original sketch for, become reality!

I'm looking forward to reading other peoples tips for creativity, are you sharing some today?

Sunday 5 August 2012



The other day I came across a big Giveaway on Cloud9 Fabrics giving ten winners their choice of 2 yards of fabric, cut from past and present collections. I'm a big fan of this little company which produces organic quilting fabrics, often commissioning artists and independent designers to produce guest collections. Some of the artists I admire who have designed ranges include owner Michelle Engel Blenckso, Heather Moore from Skinny Laminx, Julia Rothman, Gennine Zlatkis and Kayanna Nelson from JuneCraft.

So despite the fact I never win anything I joined in. Imagine my surprise when I was away recently to get an email saying I was one of the chosen winners! I've been wanting these Julia Rothman prints (floral and fish) for a while, a couple of the others are from Heather's collection and two others mini florals by Michelle. I really like the unusual and slightly more grown up colourways of these ranges. Sometimes quilting fabrics can be a bit pastel, pink or bright for my taste so its a nice change to see some mustard and blacks, turquoise and deep reds. Anyway, not sure what I will sew with them but don't they look sweet all together. Thanks Cloud9!

Matching perfectly are the new growth on our baby photinia hedge and this new spotty graphic visitor to our garden (making a little nest) a pardalote. I managed to get my new 'bird' lens hooked on before he came back to get this action shot!

If you follow me on instagram, forgive the repeat of this little orange candle project, seen on pinterest and tried out last night. I love it, its so clever! The orange pith forms the wick and the peel a cup to hold oil, in this case olive oil. It takes a while to light but then burns for hours giving off a slightly orangey smell. I was so tickled with this clever little experiment.

You can even make a little cover as we did but as we found later you need to cut a little chimney at the top or the flame burns it. Link to the tutorial on my pinterest making board.