Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Count down to 2011

Always a worry when you find this in the study rubbish bin, and a pair of your good sewing scissors on the desk. 

A quick head inspection revealed Miss 4 now has a fringe that extends right around to her ear on one side (It just kept bothering me, Mummy). We have since discussed the merits of seeking Mummy's opinion first, and I've found a good Trump like comb-over can adequately hide the problem.

Have you been having a 'festive' festive period? Hope you're lucky enough to be on holidays! 

We had a beautiful Boxing Day brunch at our friends' house. 

On Christmas Day, I even got to do some sewing! It was fantastic.

I will show you what I made when I get back, I even have some instructions in case you want to make something similar yourself. 

We are off to Paris for a few days, to ring in the New Year. We are taking the kids, so all the ringing will be done from bed, but hey, that can still be fun, right ;)

Hope you're all making the most of what remains of 2010. See you in 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It's Christmas Eve day here in France and has just clicked over to Christmas Day in Australia.

I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful, safe, family-filled Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to drop by here and say hello this year - it's been fantastic to 'meet' you all!  Looking forward to much more of the same in 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Anniversary Dinner

The meal was enormous and deliciously rich.


You call that ambiance? This is ambiance:


Afterwards we had to take a walk, despite the cold. It was that or hibernate. My trouser button was threatening to ping off and take out an eye.


The Hôtel de Ville was dressed for Christmas.


A group of young'uns wandering the square in sumo suits. Don't ask me, I just took the photo.


The next day I made it back to Aix for thread and stumbled upon this fabric. Provençal and now part of my stash.


I think it goes well with the print (seen on top, below) that I bought at the markets the other month.


I'm thinking a Bento Box quilt for now. But this may change without notice.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's coming...

A week today 'til Christmas!


Are you all ready?


Our halls are about as decked as they're ever gonna get and the Christmas shopping is all complete.

Thank you all for your well wishes for our anniversary. The dinner was fantastic; we rolled out of there full of foie gras and truffles, into the frosty night. I even managed to drag myself into town this morning for a bit of shopping - fabric of course! But more on that later.


Stripy monkey wishes you smooth Christmas preparations!

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Christmas sewing - the good and bad

Remember these guys? I brought them back flat-packed from the US when I visited my sister.


Well here they are, all plumped up. I love 'em and the kids do too. They've been playing Santa families with them. Dad, Mum, kids, baby - they think it's particularly hilarious the baby has a beard.


He is a cute baby.


Remember this thing? I got the chance to buy some thread for this guy when I had the machine serviced.


I was hoping to power through all the machine quilting last night, but it was just a big ole mess. Loopy stitches, front and back, and a lot of time spent with the seam ripper.


After changing needles, rethreading bobbins and machine and playing with the tension I've come to the conclusion that this is the culprit.


It's first time I've used this Mettler silk finish cotton and methinks my machine hates it. Must be too silky. My machine likes a rougher, tougher thread - able to power through the work, resilient, consistent, but just enough softness to thrill the touch.


Where was I? Thread, yeah thread.

This all means I need to take another trip to the quilting shop for more thread. I'll stay closer to home and visit Aix, hopefully Saturday morning, if I can get up early enough.

This may be a problem given the mister and I have a hot date tonight, at this lovely place, in honour of Monday coming being our 12th wedding anniversary.

Yep, 12 years. Twelve looooong years. You get less for manslaughter. Je rigole, I am a very lucky woman, married to my own Hugh Jackman who's given me nothing but love, laughter and adventures (including 3 beautiful rug rats) for the 15 years we've been an item.

I love you, Schmoopy!

Bon weekend, tout le monde!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas sewing

I finally took the sewing machine to Marseille for her service, and she's back home again with a clean bill of health. That out of the way, I couldn't put off the Christmas gift sewing any longer.


I'm not doing much this year. It can be a lot of work and stress at a time of year when there is already enough extra work and stress going around. And I know I could have easily had these all done in October, but what can I say? I was too busy galavanting around the south of France taking photos and making the best of the good weather!


Also, and the crafty types who visit this blog will know exactly what I mean, handmade gifts aren't always the best road to take. I myself love them. As a crafter I can see the time, thought and effort that went into them, and I particularly love it when the giver has taken my tastes/interests into account.


But not everyone appreciates handmade gifts. Some people turn their noses up at them and see them as cheap (this makes me laugh so hard, when I think of the money I spend on supplies and material compared to what assembly lines in China pay, but some folks have no idea of the costs of these things). I won't give them a hard time for this - who am I to dictate people's tastes, everyone has the right to like and dislike what they want. But I also won't give them a handmade gift. I will go into a trinkety-type store and find them something, with a very pronounced label, and give them that instead (and boy, is it quicker than making something).

The receiver is happy and therefore so am I. I can think of nothing worse than spending hours - in some cases, days - to make someone something that they will secretly throw in the rubbish bin as soon as they get home. So I choose my handmade gift recipients carefully (at least you know that if you receive a handmade gift from me it means I really, truly love you!)

These little covered books come from Bloom's tutorial over at the Moda Bake Shop. I was going to go all patchworky on them:


But I got annoyed at how my corners weren't matching up. Even moreso as I wasn't even drinking when I made them.

So instead I stuck with whole prints, which I really like because there are so many stunning ones out there that stand on their own. They all also have coordinating linings too, which I think is a classy touch.

The two smaller ones are for the daughters of a lady who has helped me out a lot this year. They are 4 and 8 years old, so I wanted something small, with a little secret inside. (Little girls just love secrets, don't they?)

I made some envelopes to stick on the front pages.


And then filled them up with stickers.


Add some pens, and now all I need is some coloured elastic to make a little band for each one. As soon as the baby wakes I'm off to Eurodif to grab some.


What else? I whipped up a quick boy quilt mat top with the leftovers from my sister's baby's quilt. This one went together a whole lot quicker. I'll be backing it with a single piece of material, in keeping with the quick theme.


Now for a little whinge.

Remember this thing? I laugh at how I thought completion was nigh in that post. Ha, ha, ha.


Ay-ay-ay. How long is it taking me to sew it? I've only done four squares so far and there are 24 in total. Plus last night I realised that there are another 16 half squares around the edges to be sewed. Arrggghhh!

Words of encouragement, please?

And also, what do you think about handmade gifts - whether you are crafty or not (which will greatly influence your answer, methinks) Don't forget to tell us your horror handmade gift stories too (have you seen the site Regretsy?). Not all handmade is good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spectacle de Noël

Continuing on with the Christmas theme, we took the kids to see a Spectacle de Noël (Christmas Spectacular) in Marseille on Wednesday.

It was almost a disaster from the start - we missed our exit off the autoroute, ran into embolism-worthy road works and then couldn't find a car park.

The spectacle was held at an indoor stadium - it was huge, a few thousand attending. Each child received a sling bag full of chocolate bars and a glow-in-the dark wand, which made the 1.5 hours in the car all worthwhile for our lot.


Booming acoustics and the half hour late arrival made picking up the storyline a little tricky, but here's the gist:

The MC of the evening (a Toulouse Lautrec-looking clown) became possessed by an evil spirit.

No amount of Chinese magicians:


Irish dancers:


Pirate rock bands:


Or ancient Egyptians could exorcise him.


The grand finale saw Pere Noël, the Snow Queen and all the children in the audience (armed with their wands) vanquish the evil spirit. Phew. After that we all sang another song.

The Snow Queen and the now unpossessed MC. I didn't catch Pere Noël on film as it was my turn to hold the baby. 

It was all good fun, but my favourite part of the show was this lady.


She seemed very petite and graceful, but she went hand-over-hand up that 10m of silk quicker than Spiderman. Unbelievable.


And then she still had enough stamina for shenanigans like this:


At the end of her routine she adopted this pose:


And slid all the way down to the bottom of the rope, without smoke trailing from her thighs. I would have needed a skin graft after that, had it been me.


I suspect this act was also the mister's favourite, probably because of:


And perhaps a bit of:

Hello Boys!

We exited the stadium two hours after we arrived, all juiced up on chocolate. Just as well, as it was a 2km walk to the car!


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