31 October 2010

Etsy finds on a Sunday

Check out these beautiful prints by illustrator Kathy Hare...

These prints can be found here at Etsy.  They are definitely on my wishlist.

And then there are these beautifully ugly creations by Jennifer Carson...

Aren't they adorable?!  They can be found here on Etsy.

Happy Sunday!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

26 October 2010

Have sewing machine - must sew

Now that Bookie Bird and I have invested in a basic sewing machine, I have been itching to sew something... 

My first project turned out to be round cushions that appear to have no actual use, but you would not believe how much calculation went in to calculating the exact pattern size of each segment to make a perfect ball - which I then ruined anyway by adding buttons at each end!   Of course, I could have just free-handed a segment to use as a pattern, but the Squary in me (see below) would just not let me.  I now know the various names for parts of a circle such as the chord, the arc, the segment etc... and have relearned how to calculate circumference, diameter and area of a circle.  An unbelievable amount of mental work for something so trivial!!!

Bird rather likes them though...

In spite of the fact that I consider myself to be a Squary rather than a Roundy (from Roger Hargreaves "I'm a Roundy. You're a Squary"), I still have a fascination  for all things round.  The new and useless cushion balls are very tactile and actually make rather good head pillows when you are lying on the couch watching TV.  The smaller one also makes a pretty good throwing ball!

And no, for the thousandth time no dear husband they are not pumpkins!!!  I just happened to have orange Ikea fabric.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

Cot Bumper Version #1

I have just realized the pain of a 19th century seamstress, sans thimble of any note,  following my ambitious attempt to sew a cot bumper together (made of Ikea fleeces and acrylic wool so it's washable and not shrinkable).  A very satisfied little camper, but a very sore finger and thumb!!  In very urgent need of a designer thimble before attempting such a task again.   I do feel that my creative needs have been fulfilled for this week, however, and know it wouldn't have been the same labour of love to whip it up quickly and efficiently on the new toy Arabella and I have purchased!

I have been known to make costumes for parties using duct tape and staples, so in light of those efforts (some of which stayed together for the night, some for a little longer) the cot bumper is an unadulterated success and likely to last until at least Christmas!

My little chick is a happy camper with his replacement, and the bamboo blanket and chip clips can be retired back to their respective homes.   A super safe noggin.


25 October 2010

A lover of print books gets an Amazon Kindle.

This chap, Roger C Parker has summed it up beautifully.  The conflicting feelings I experienced when I first saw my birthday present in its sleek leather case... just waiting to seduce me.

I'll let you hear it through the words of a bestselling author, as he's covered it beautifully for anyone who might be tempted to purchase one of these in future :)

Bookie Bird. 

Initial impressions: A lover of print books gets an Amazon Kindle

Posted September 19th @ 6:51 pm by Roger C. Parker |  Email | Print
kindle-two-5I’ve been reading and (too often) buying printed books all my life. I try to thin my collection, but it never works. I can always find a reason to keep one of my books dating back to high school and college on the off-chance I may return to my original dream of becoming a history professor.
Accordingly, I consider myself a confirmed print book lover. I love the pleasure of holding a well-produced, well-written book that’s “engineered” to fit well in the hand, like books by Harry Beckwith, Bob Burg, or Malcolm Gladwell…books that will remain in my shelves long after their 3, 4, or 5th reading.

Then, in anticipation of an upcoming birthday…

….my family presented me with an Amazon Kindle.
At first, I had mixed feelings about it. I felt sort of guilty about “switching” sides in the print versus e-book debate. Accordingly, I was polite, yet reserved.

But, that was yesterday

On the way home, I started to play with the Kindle, (Luckily, Betsy, my wife, was driving.) And, needless to say, I didn’t stop to read the instructions, and just played it by ear.
Wow! I quickly became hooked…but, hooked in a different way than I expected. I ended up spending quite a bit of time with it yesterday afternoon and this evening.
Here, for the record, are my initial impressions. I plan to return in future posts to see if my initial impressions remain as important as they at Hour 37 of my Kindle ownership.

Initial Kindle impressions

Here are a few of my positive initial impressions of the Amazon Kindle:
  1. Readability. I had worried that I wouldn’t enjoy reading on the Kindle, if the Kindle would be “transparent” after I started reading, i.e., would I be “aware” that I was reading off a 6-inch screen, and would I quickly tire of reading. By the time I got home, having downloaded several sample chapters of my favorite books–Robert Parker’s Early Autumn, in particular  (no relation)–I completely forgot I was reading off a screen in a moving car. The Kindle’s default combination of type size, type design, and line length provided a sharp and easy-to-view reading environment.
  2. Ergonomics. As someone who has had a love-hate, often violent, relationship with every cell phone I’ve ever owned, I wondered how comfortable the Kindle would feel in my hand, and whether or not I’d have trouble using it. Would there be an endless series of menus and control keys? Would I accidentally turn the pages forward or backwards while reading? Would I have to ask for help or, gasp!, read the instructions? No, No, and No. Best of all, was was light and easy to read in bed.
  3. Sample chapters. One of my most important favorable impressions was the joy of being able to instantly download and begin reading sample chapters from books that I might be interested in. The lack of commitment, i.e., no need to visit the author’s website and share my e-mail signature in order to obtain a sample chapter, encouraged me to download books I wouldn’t otherwise have considered purchasing. And, accordingly, my Wish List has grown. Obviously, as an author, the Kindle’s free sample downloads won’t help me build my mailing list. But, on balance, I’m comfortable with the trade off of a slight drop in website traffic in exchange for exposure to additional new prospects.
  4. Blogs. The big surprise was how quickly I was able to use the Kindle to subscribe to many of the blogs published by my favorite authors, and the number of new blogs that I discovered in the Blog area of the Kindle Bookstore. I’m not an RSS-type, so I sometimes fail to check the latest posts from many of my favorite authors and marketing voices. Within a few hours, I had signed-up for the free trials of a couple of dozen blogs, and I’ve enjoyed getting caught up using the Kindle in between projects or while reading in bed. (After 14-day free trials, charges 99 cents or $1.99 a month for subscriptions to most blogs.)
My only initial concern was a slight disappointment with the search capability of the Kindle Bookstore. Having come to depend on the robustness of the online search, with its endless inventory and in-depth suggestions and revelations about  titles, I didn’t experience the same serendipity with the Kindle’s search feature. But, in the context of what it can do, this is more a quibble than a complaint.

What about you?

Are you also a print book lover newly-exposed to the Amazon Kindle? What do you like most about it? Are you using the Kindle to complement print books that you continue to purchase, or are you purchasing Kindle books in place of print books? Even better, have you found yourself buying the print version of a book you especially like after you’ve purchased the Kindle version? Are you as pleased with the ability to receive and read your favorite blogs on the Kindle as I am? Am I overlooking any Kindle features I should be paying attention to? Share your experiences and impressions as comments, below!

24 October 2010

Meet Bird...

This is Bird from concept to completion.... I rather like him.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

22 October 2010

Slacking off...

Wow, if anybody had told me the days would wizz by so I wouldn't have believed them.  Which is my excuse for slacking off on the business of posting.

It seems one or the other of us has been ill ever since I arrived.  Just when we thought we were out of the woods our littlest boy picked up some tummy bug that had him depositing his dinner all over his cot and his parents bed three times last night.  We've been changing nappies far too often too and he's obviously had a headache 'cos he keeps squeezing his little eyes shut and resting his head against the softest surface available.  He's sleeping at the moment and I'm hoping he'll feel a whole lot better when he wakes up.

Our 'tonsil' princess is recovering well. It's been a week since her op and despite very wakeful nights, things seem to be progressing well.  She has got even thinner and that voice has gone up a few octaves.

I do have some lovely 'places I have been' stories, but they're going to have to wait until I return to Sydney on the 3rd November.  Yes, my return has been delayed.  Another story for another day.

Must go and keep my dad company now, he's been keeping himself busy with a magazine, but I know he'd love a cuppa.  Oh yes, I have some lovely photos of him with his littlest great grandson.  Too, too cute.

April Blackbird

19 October 2010

Lovely Homemade Bread!

There is something so lovely and comforting about homemade bread... I have been wanting to make my own since I was a little girl.   I have tried a number of bread recipe books, but the perfectly textured, soft on the inside, chewy on the outside bread has always eluded me.. up until now.

While I was stocking up for our boat trip to Tunisia recently I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get fresh bread for the guests every day, and I didn't have enough space in the freezer to store bread (because I had stocked up on delicious meats and frozen berries and things I can't get hold of easily in Greece) so I did a bit of research into a good bread recipe book.  I knew I could make okay bread with my other recipes, but I wanted to make really good bread.

I narrowed it down to two cookbooks with good reviews and decided on the River Cottage Handbook No.3 Bread by Daniel Stevens because it didn't require the addition of extra gluten in the recipes...

I was so pleased with how my bread worked out and dare I say a little bit proud of my first effort...

It was delicious!  

I will definitely be using this book again... It explained everything so well and has loads of lovely recipes.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

16 October 2010

Sleepless nights!

Chickie's latest talent is pulling herself to standing on anything she can, and her favourite time to practice this is of course, at night, when she should be sleeping. Needless to say, we have had a number of sleepless nights of late, rescuing Chickie from all sorts of predicaments in her cot. Half the time she is fast asleep and not even aware that she is standing up or doing head stands, or whatever other crazy moves she can think of.  So I sit here rather bleary eyed, trying to wake myself up enough to tackle my quarterly tax stuff that needs doing.

Right, I now have another coffee on the go, having had to get up to take delivery of our new outdoor furniture which has just arrived. Things are finally progressing outside. The pool should be finished within the next couple of weeks, and they begin work on our front wall next week some time. We've planted 3/4 of the plants in our garden (the rest are waiting on the front wall to go in). We've bought a BBQ - now we just need the weather to improve! It is freezing cold today with gale force winds. Miserable to say the least!

 My other news is that I have agreed to resume one day of work a week next year. When I left work I handed over some clients at a private school to a friend who is now expecting bubs number two, so she is handing them back over. I must admit I have mixed feelings! On the one hand I am horrified at the thought of leaving my baby (who by then will be over one year old) however she will be with her dad for the day, so the two of them will love having some special time together. Then on the other hand I am excited at the prospect of doing something for intellectual stimulation and of course, will be very nice to earn the extra cash too. Then on the other hand (just how many hands do I have) I think OMG why on earth do I want to do that job again (I was never mad about it in the first place) and then on the other hand, I think I really do want to keep my foot in the door and not throw away my entire career that I have worked so hard at over the years. My husband will tell you that I just think too much. I should be more like a man, less thinking more action. Mmm, anyway, I have comitted myself to the work now so shall see how things pan out!

Right, off to tackle the tax now. Big BLAH! How cumbersome.

Love to all you Chicks, hope you have been having fun and not working too hard. Wish  I could have been over there in Greece with you all this last week. Once you know your plans Arabella we have to make a definitive plan for us to come and visit you somewhere next year!


10 October 2010

Rainy days and Mondays

Phew!  An Arctic wind has blown down over Lavrio the last few days and we've scrambled like mad to gather all our warm woollies together from various locations and raced to the shops to buy some more hats and goodies for our little chick.  I was getting about wearing a couple of tee shirts, a thin jumper and thongs with jeans... but had to concede that I'd just have to go to our apartment and gather up the winter things I'd carefully unpacked into the cupboards there, and bring them back to the hotel.
About to do another trip to collect an even warmer winter coat and more shoes.  But we worked out the central heating last night in our hotel room which has made an enormous difference.

A small friend was trapped inside the netting over our chick's cot last night, so he woke up this morning having been nibbled and munched and with four great mozzie welts on his face.  Doesn't seem bothered!  Though the mosquito was a little bothered and it turned out, had a limited time to live.

Off today to unpack some more bags, put up some curtains and unravel some rugs the right way around.
Nesting at its finest!

Looking forward to seeing April Blackbird this week!  What a lovely surprise to be able to meet her!

Bookie bird.

09 October 2010

Notebooks and digi stamps....

With limited crafting supplies here in Lavrio (except for my copics which travel everywhere with me), digital stamps seem to be the way forward...  There is a tiny little craft shop here with mainly paints and stationery and basic bits and pieces.  The other day I found some cheap little notebooks in there that I thought I could pretty up a bit...

The robot is from the Critters and Cogs collection by Pollycraft and the little girl is HG Rain Rain from The Greeting Farm.  I tried some texture over the robot with some decoupage glue which gives him a bit of a vintage look.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

02 October 2010

There's a new man in my life...

Move over husband... there's a new man in my life.

He's smart, handsome, sophisticated and he is very supportive of my crafting habit.

Meet Dave...

His legs pull in under the couch and his torso tilts... he's great for copic colouring in front of the TV.  He cost 20 Euros at Ikea here in Greece and was available in red and black too.

I think I might be in love all over again.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

(Photo from Ikea Australia website)

01 October 2010

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Mmmm... well, it doesn't seem as though our 'big girl' is going to be having her tonsils removed tomorrow.  She has impetigo and is being treated with drugs for it.  She's been very run down with a bad cold just lately and I don't suppose her immune system was able to fight off the germs.  We're only hoping that our little chap doesn't get it too! 

They're both fast asleep.  A little person lay next to Granny while I read a book to her until her eyes went droopy and she turned over to cuddle in for a sleep.  So precious.  Now she's snoring a treat... those adenoids are definitely in dire need of removal.  Next week, it would seem.

It's interesting to watch the interaction between these two little chickadees.  Little brother adores his big sister and calls her longingly when he can't see her.  She's sweet with him, but he is (after all) her little brother and he's a bit of a bother when he wants to take away her toys. He totters about with hands held high and is just too cute to watch as he shuffles around the obstacles in his path.  Conversely, he is an absolute terror on these steep stairs and we have to be sure to shut the gates tightly or he's up (and if possible down) as fast as lightning.

He loves to sing and dance and happily sings along with his mad granny as we try to remember the sequences from his gym and music classes.  Heads, shoulders, kneees and toes... there she goes.  Wind the bobbin up, wind the bobbin up, pull! pull! pull!  with lots of delighted cackling filling any quiet spaces.

He's got quite used to me by now and is happy for me to pick him up from his night's sleep.  He indicates the procedures I should follow.  Points to the change table and the cupboard where the nappies are, points to the cream, pulls at his grobag and then points to the ground.  Down granny.  Then, he's off to play while I get his morning bottle.  I love the quiet times with the littlies.  His mommy and daddy don't exactly get to sleep in peace through all of this, but I do think the little bit of extra lie in time they do get helps a little.

Big sister is sleeping well now.  Sleeps until at least 7 most days and later others.  She goes down to sleep well in the evenings now.  No more endless singing. 

They both love being outside and our big girl chickadee has been absolutely delighted by the bumper crop of veggies she's grown (with a little help from her parents).  She asks her mother to pick herbs from the garden for her food and happily eats them on everything. Basil, parsley, the works.

Thank goodness the rain stopped for a while today.  We have washing outside, knowing full well it will not get totally dry, but it does help just a little.  It's not at all cold today.

Oh, the pink tutu was a huge hit!  I'll have to take a photo before I go.

April Blackbird