31 January 2010

Sunday Stash #14

It's Sunday Stash day again!  I love looking through photos of my stash (in lieu of the real thing) to share with you.

Today's fabrics are from the Dolce collection by Tanya Whelan.  I am a big fan of her fabric designs as they have a dreamy old time quality without looking too old fashioned.  I also really like the promo pictures she had on her website before the fabric was released and I knew I had to buy some when I saw them.

Here are some of the photos of the samples she made up (photos from Grand Revival Designs):

Aren't they beautiful?  Don't they make you WANT that fabric?

Here is what I bought, mostly from Above All Fabric...

(oops... a little bit of Amy Butler snuck into that last photo... spot the odd one out)

So, you know what? I have just discovered through doing this post that I have not purchased one of the Dolce fabrics that I really liked in the promo shots... see that pink on on the pillow with the bamboo leaves? I'm off to hunt it down and then to convince my husband that I really do need it (he just recently discovered my credit card bill with page after page of fabric purchases and decided I am out of control... which in all fairness I think I am... but I NEED it).

Anyway, happy Sunday!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

30 January 2010

Photos of New Zealand, as promised to Arabella Chickie

Well Arabella Chickie, I'm finally going to post those promised photos for you.  Some were taken by us, some by our UK Chickie in London (who might just be pursuaded to upload a few more of her stunning photos from the Coromandel if we ask nicely).

Lots more 'family photos to be posted on Facebook asap. Promise.

Mission Bay - New Year's Eve 2009

Takapuna Beach - Boxing Day 2009

Takapuna Beach - Boxing Day 2009

Compliments of grandad chickie

On the way down to Castor Bay beach

Early evening at Castor Bay beach

Do you recognise the view? Should do...

On a clear evening you can see forever...

A spectacular view from 'up top' - Whangarei Heads 

Up and out over your neighbour's house below!

Not long and you'll be able to take some truly stunning photos yourselves.  
April Blackbird

Well now, that IS the question...

Arabella Chickie, I've been wondering about the Kindle question for quite a while now! 

It has many great applications, but the idea of being able to store thousands of books in one little space appeals to me no end. 

What appeals to me even more is the fact that a lot of the books can be 'read' to me while I do something else.  Staring at a screen all day leaves me with tired eyes and I'm hardly inclined to pick up a book and read after a day of reading online. My bookshelves are groaning with books I've got earmarked to read 'when I have time' and I'm just not getting to them... I'd much rather colour in Mandala's or do some knitting (still haven't finished the latest rug), or maybe even some sewing, but I could 'listen' with no problem.  I love listening to someone reading me a story.

Shades of listening to 'story time' on the radio when I was a child? I was always asking my 'oldies' to 'tell me a story'!  As young adults, travelling around Southern Africa, we used to 'listen in' to the 3pm 'story time' (for adults) on the radio everyday.  We were always sure to find a spot where we got good reception as we didn't want to miss out. 

Hey, I could even listen as I work during the day...  pure heaven. 

The new iPad sounds excellent too, but we'll have to wait and see how much 'books' cost in Australia before I would have a look at it (even Kindle and accompanying books might have to wait until I can shop in the UK or Europe!).  Not sure that iPad will 'read to me' though.  Does anyone know if it has that feature?  Should do as you can listen to music...

April Blackbird

To Kindle or Not to Kindle...

That is the question...  I have been asking myself lately.  I keep hearing about these Kindles, so I did a little research today to find out a bit more about them and I'm still not sure if I could totally replace a 'dead tree book' with an electronic one in my life, but I can see some advantages. 

Being able to download blogs to read would be great.   At the moment I have a netbook (an Acer Aspire Once that I absolutely love) that I take with me everywhere.  However I read today (here) that the latest version of the Kindle does not support wi fi internationally, so you would have to download to your pc and then transfer to your Kindle when travelling.  Strangely I also read here that it does support wifi globally...  Hhhmmm who to believe? 

At 1/3 of an inch and only 10.2 ounces you could definitely carry it around in your handbag, but it sounds a little bit flimsy to me and I would be worried about breaking it... (you wouldn't believe the things I carry in my handbag - I do like to be prepared).

I do think it would be great for taking on holiday (or in my situation taking away for a year of work rather than filling up my meagre luggage allowance with real live books).  At the moment I spend hours and hours scanning recipes into my computer so that I don't have to lug recipe books around with me... Being able to download whole recipe books to a Kindle would definately save me hours of totally boring, mindless work, but I do like the colour pictures I get on my computer.

At this stage I don't think a Kindle is on my must have list, but I am keeping an open mind.  I havent actually seen a Kindle in person yet, and none of my close friends have one, so I would be interested to hear if anyone has any advice or comments to make. 

I had a request for some more information on the Kindle vs the iPad, so here is what I have found...

I gathered the above information from KindleKindle DX and Apple iPad  (if you find that table hard to read, here is a link to it).  I have not actually seen either the Kindle or the iPad in person, but I am interested to find out what I can.  I understand the iPad will not begin shipping for nearly two months.  I did read somewhere when the iPad was first announced that the display screen technology will be harder on the eyes than the Kindle display screen, but I have misplaced that link. 

Here are a few links that give Kindle vs iPad comparisons (bearing in mind that the iPad has not actually started shipping yet): Kindle vs iPad Review, The Knox Student, and Five Reasons iPad isn't a Kindle Killer.

In my mind, the bottom line is that the Kindle is a dedicated e-book reader, while the iPad is multi-functional.  It really depends what you are looking for and how much you want to pay.  Personally, I am quite happy with my little netbook and am not looking for he multi-functionality provided by the iPad, so I think I would prefer a dedicated e-book reader.

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

29 January 2010

Virtual catch-up time... returning to 'normal'...

Whatever 'normal' might be! 

Well the holidays are done and dusted and we've had a fantastic time catching up with some of our family and friends 'in person' instead of virtually.  Skype is wonderful, but there's nothing quite like a real hug and cuddle and time spent chatting away into the wee hours of the night about things so many families take for granted.  I think these times are made ever more precious because we know they won't last and that we'll soon be having to put on brave faces for yet another airport farewell.

Oh well, I tell myself that each parting is just another step on the path to our next meeting.  If one doesn't keep one's eyes on the horizon one might easily lose the way. This is all just one big adventure!  Isn't it?  I know we have a visit from our Chicks in Palma to look forward to and we're all very excited at the prospect of spending time with the two of them!!!

Our 'UK' chickies have landed safely in their Wimbledon nest and all will soon return to 'normal' for them too.  My 'other-daughter' (don't like that 'in-law' word... too many negative connotations!) made the marathon run home to London on her own with the littlies.  Not a job for the feint-hearted.  Apparently, they were very good and the journey went well.  Needless to say, they are all exhausted and it will take them a while to reset their internal clocks.  It will help that it's still dark early/late.

Our preggie-chick is due to deliver very shortly now.  She's looking absolutely fantastic, but her feet are swelling in the heat now.  We're all debating on when bub will make an entry.  I'm putting my name down for Wednesday 3rd February.  Gender?  Well, that's a difficult one... I kept dreaming it was a little boy, but woke up this morning thinking it would be a girl and she would weigh 8lbs 4oz.  What do you think? I sure hope they have a name for a boy and a girl. We'll all be thrilled to have a healthy baby and nobody is at all fussed as to the gender.  Or when it will be delivered.  We're just trying to keep things 'light'.

There are heaps of photos to be posted after they've been resized and I promise to start posting some tomorrow morning.  Arabella Chickie in Palma... there are some lovely shots from NZ.  I've managed to sort most of them out now and have finished downloading the lot to my computer.

Oh, the mysterious malfunction of both our cars has finally been solved.  The coil needed replacing.  In both cars.  Yes, I am serious.  They inexplicably continued to go to sleep on us, in perfect unison, over the last two weeks.  This happened four times.  Fortunately, preggie-chicks 'other half' was able to loan us a car (for which we are extremely grateful) while all this drama played out.  Who would want to be driving through the Sydney tunnels with two wee chickadees on board in a car that couldn't be trusted to stay awake?  It's still one heck of a coincidence that they both fell asleep, at the same time, for the same reason.

My men are all back at work and I will be in full swing from Monday too.  Lots of marketing to be done for my other half and for myself.  I just need to get into the 'mood'...  to focus...  this post is my first attempt at that. 

April Blackbird

28 January 2010

Cool quilt block... do you know what it is?

I love looking at all the amazing quilts out in blogland at the moment... There sure are some super talented quilters out there!  Some of my favourite colour combos and and quilts at the moment can be found on Cluck Cluck Sew and on Red Pepper Quilts.  These ladies really have an eye for colour and pattern and knowing what will go with what.  I also really love the simpler kind of designs that they use and the no fuss quilting... so stylish!

The other day I came across a quilt block in someone's quilt (I can't remember where I found it now) that looks a bit like this:

This was my attempt to recreate it in Powerpoint for future reference when I have my sewing machine around again.  I kind of like it... I envisaged it in a quilt with lots of white spaces.  I mocked up a version, but I'm not happy with the imbalance.  I think I will have to have another go, maybe with five blocks across instead of four or in another pattern altogether maybe.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knows what this block is called? 

Happy Wednesday!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

27 January 2010

Lovely Finds

I have been doing a lot of blog and Etsy surfing lately, and I thought I would share with you a few things that are on my "Want" list at the moment...

These lovely vintage buttons from More Than Buttons on Etsy... 

Aren't they gorgeous?!  I have to confess I have a bit of a fondness for buttons, but these... these are just amazing!  The blurb on Etsy says "These buttons were made in Germany in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. They were no longer produced since that time. All buttons are in unused condition ("new, old stock"). They are remainders of stock from an old button store." 

Next up, these beautiful crochet Apple coasters from Monika Design on Etsy.

Dont they look lovely?!  I definitely have to get some of these.  She also makes crocheted pear coasters and a very cool owl!

Now Valentines Day is coming up and I don't really agree with all the hype and commerciality of it all (is that a word?) but I totally agree with Emily of the Inside a Black Apple blog that Valentines cards should be for anytime...  Have a look at these beautiful cards available in her shop.

Hhmmm...  I hope she will be listing some more, because I can't see any in there just now...

And finally, everyone is talking about this beautiful baker's twine right now available from Whisker Graphics, here and here, oh and here you can read all the uses of the Divine Twine.  I WANT it... in every colour... ASAP.   Pretty please?

I hope you like my lovely finds as much as I do.
Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

26 January 2010

Monday Weekly Menu Plan #1

In my role as cook/stewardess on the yacht I work on, I always have to have meal plans rolling around in my head.  I tend to make a mental weekly mental plan on a Monday and usually I stick with it for the most part for the week, but I am flexible if something else comes up that says "cook me... you don't want that boring old cottage pie... make me!  I know you've got some spinach in the fridge and everyone knows canneloni is make sexier than cottage pie!"  (or something to that effect).

Anyway, the reason I mention it is because I thought I would start putting my weekly menu plans down in writing from now on.  If you need an idea for the week, pop over here and see what I am cooking (bearing in mind that one of my crew is extremely fussy and pretty much only eats meat and a selective few veges).  I am happy to send out the recipes to anything you see that you like the sound of... just leave me a comment with your email address.

So for this week:


  • Lunch:  Hotdogs (by special request from the fussy  boy) with lettuce, tomato, cheese and fried onion.

  • Dinner: Mozzerella stuffed risotto cakes (using leftover risotto from the weekend) and stir fried vegetables.


  • Lunch: Bacon, pea, leek, carrot and red pepper (and cheese of course!)self crusting quiche with a green salad and fresh bread.

  • Dinner: Chicken, mushroom and broccoli and pea pasta bake with fresh bread.


  • Lunch: Roast chicken (from the rotisserie at the grocery store since I don't have time to cook lunch on grocery day) and baps, with lettuce, tomato and cheese.

  • Dinner: Spaghetti Bolognaise with green salad and fresh bread.


  • Lunch: Homemade hamburgers with lettuce, tomato, cheese and gherkins.

  • Dinner: Spinach, feta and ricotta canneloni with green salad and bread.


  • Lunch: Chicken and vegetable stirfry with noodles.

  • Dinner: Steak with a mushroom sauce, creamy mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.


  • Lunch: Leftover hamburger patties or steak or canneloni from the week (I usually freeze what we don't use to eat later... I find most things freeze and reheat quite well).

  • Dinner: Dine out (I hope!  I love eating out!!!  Husband, are you reading this?)


  • Brunch: Poached eggs on toast with bacon, steamed spinach and roast tomatoes.

  • Dinner: Chicken, lemon and cashew nut risotto with green salad and bread.

So that's my reasonably flexible menu plan for the week.   Now I know what to buy when I go grocery shopping tomorrow and hopefully I won't overspend!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

24 January 2010

Sunday Stash #13

In my stash today are some lovely Japanese books I purchased recently from This and That from Japan.  I am really looking forward to reading them (or just looking at the pictures since I don't read Japanese).

From left: Amigurumi book, Japanese Hat Book and another Japanese Hat Book.


Clockwise from top left: Room Shoes, Eco Woven Zakka Goods, Japanese Bag and Pouch Collection and Bags and Pouches.

Don't they look fun?

Happy Sunday.

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

23 January 2010

Palma de Mallorca... Put it on your must visit list!!!

I think Palma de Mallorca is one of the most beautiful mini cities I have seen!  It is so nice to be here again enjoying the sites and smells and vibrancy of Palma. 

For me, Palma has a lot of everything...  a lot of history, a lot of quirky, a lot of beauty, a lot of industry, a lot of festivities and a lot of lovely people.

Wish you could be here!  But since you aren't... here's a wee peek.

Isn't it beautiful?!

Tomorrow night as part of the two week (yes two weeks!!!) celebration for the Festival of St Sebastian there will be fireworks in front of the cathedral.  Hopefully I will be able to get some photos of that.

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

22 January 2010

Giveaway Alert!

Have you seen Yellowgoat's Etsy shop?  It's so cool!  She makes the sweetest jewellery!  Anyway, Oh, Hello Friend is giving away a $30 voucher to the Yellowgoat Etsy store... so head over there right now and enter the giveaway!!!

These are my favourites from the shop:

Aren't the cute?!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

21 January 2010

Some thoughts on Creativity...

At, creativity is defined as:
“Having the ability or power to create (adj): Human beings are creative animals


One who displays productive originality (noun)


The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination (noun)”

I found this video on creativity at Portabellopixie and it got me thinking...

When people look at me always mucking about with something (cards, sewing, crochet, drawing, cooking etc...) they almost always say things like “that’s very nice, but I couldn’t do that... I’m not creative” or “I don’t have time to do things like that” or “I’ve got no imagination” etc...
It’s so frustrating! Everyone can create and we probably all do on a daily basis, we just don’t think of it as creating.  It also doesn't take long to do little activities.  Most people take some time to watch TV in the evenings, even if it is just the news.  I find that TV watching time is the perfect time for me to work on my little projects and still be spending a bit of time with my husband.  Like the video suggests, we were mean't to create, it is in our make up.

My husband does not consider himself to be creative, he is a very practical person, but one of the first Christmas presents I received from him was an absolutely beautiful wall display unit made of native NZ wood and stainless steel. He had designed and made it himself especially to fit my TV and objects d’art in my living room (this was before we were married). It was the best present ever!

Singing, playing a musical instrument, cooking, baking... all these require creativity. Even just doodling while you are on the phone is creating something. I think all humans need to create on some level. It’s amazing what a bit of creativity does to calm your mind and stimulate your brain activity... think of it as clearing your head and relaxing your mind and shutting out all the stresses of work and living for a little while. In fact, I think if we all took a bit of time out to do something creative that we enjoy every day, our work productivity and our general happiness levels would probably increase too!

I also think that it is important to involve kids in creative activities from an early age. Things like drawing, painting, playing with play-dough, papier mache, sewing, baking, making cards, playing with lego etc... All these are great activities for kids and it’s not hard to set them up with their projects while you work on your own grown-up projects alongside them. From playing with my god-daughters, I think creative activities can be great for teaching kids how to finish things they start, how to entertain themselves, and how to tidy up after themselves among other things. I hope that if and when I have kids I can make the time to have lots of creative time with them.  I know they get some of this at school and pre-school, but it's just not the same (and not as rewarding) as actually spending the time with them yourself.

When I was little I had this great set of books called "The Rainy Day Activity Books."  They were fantastic!  They had little projects in them I could do by myself and also bigger activities to do with my parents.  They weren't all creative activities, there were some puzzles and some science projects, but really they were hugely entertaining, and I bet they gave Mum some time to do her own thing for a bit too.

Here is an interesting excerpt from the Creative Woman newsletter I just received this week (they must have read my mind)...
“According to a recent survey by the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA), self-described crafters listed health as one of the top five reasons they work on a favorite craft.
Just imagine what would happen if doctors actually begin prescribing crafting as a remedy for depression, stress and anxiety! They would confirm what we crafting ladies already know: Crafting can have powerful effects on the body and mind!”

So that’s my two cents on creativity... The bottom line is that we are ALL creative in some way or another. Drawing or sewing or baking may not be your thing, but there are thousands of other crafts to choose from and just think of the health benefits!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

20 January 2010

Copic Mermaid

I had a go at drawing a mermaid last night. I think she looks kind of sweet... and let's face it, nobody really knows what mermaids look like anyway!   These copic markers are so addictive, I find I need to keep drawing stuff so I can practice colouring in with them.  I can't wait until I get the rest of them to play with.  I feel my colour range is a bit restricted at the moment.

This is the sketch...

And here she is coloured in...

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

18 January 2010

Sunday Stash #12

Another stamp stash post... These stamps are from The Greeting Farm and Sugar Nellie Stamps at Funky Kits (who, by the way, are having a sale just now).

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

17 January 2010

Beautiful Mandalas

Have you heard of Mandalas?  If not, keep reading...

Mandala (Sanskrit: मण्डल maṇḍala "essence" + "having" or "containing", also translates as "circle-circumference" or "completion"  (from Wikipedia)

The word "mandala" is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean "circle," a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.

Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.  (from The Mandala Project)

The mandala pattern can be found in thousands of things in nature... think flowers, the cross section of an orange, spider webs, snowflakes, atoms etc...

"Both Navajo Indians and Tibetan monks create sand mandalas to demonstrate the impermanence of life.

In ancient Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, monks created intricate mandalas with colored sand made of crushed semiprecious stones. The tradition continues to this day as the monks travel to different cultures around the world to create sand mandalas and educate people about the culture of Tibet.

The creation of a sand mandala requires many hours and days to complete. Each mandala contains many symbols that must be perfectly reproduced each time the mandala is created. When finished, the monks gather in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones as they sweep their mandala into a jar and empty it into a nearby body of water as a blessing. This action also symbolizes symbolizes the cycle of life." (from The Mandala Project)

An example of a Buddhist Sand Mandala from Wikipedia

How amazing is that?!  You can also upload your own mandalas to the gallery at The Mandala Project, which is "a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting peace through art and education."

I was first introduced to Manadalas a couple of years ago in Spain.  A friend was buying some Mandala books for herself to colour in and I thought they looked fascinating and beautiful... especially for someone like me who seems to have a fixation on things being perfectly balanced and visually symmetrical. 

I find colouring in Mandalas to be very calming and a great way to keep the creative juices flowing on a small scale.  All you need is a little book and some colouring pencils and away you go... great for long flights or when you just need some calming time out.

Here in Spain, you can often find little mandala colouring books, but I had a hard time finding any in Australia and New Zealand.  If you are interested in giving them a try though, you can download free mandala pages and print them out to colour in here and here.

Another mandala idea I just came across recently is to create your own mandalas using stickers.  Here is an example of one that Lauren at Biz Miss has created using store bought stickers.  Isn't it great?!  She also has some sticker mandala prints for sale in her Etsy shop that would be great in kids rooms. 

Happy Saturday!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

16 January 2010

I'm missing out on summer in NZ

It is great to finally be back in Palma, but it is so cold and miserable here at the moment that I can't help thinking I'm missing out on this...

and this...

and this...

and this.

Ah well... hopefully there will still be some sunshine and heat left when we go home for our holiday in March.

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca