Monday, 31 January 2011

Humidity Insanity

This summer has been so humid. We are all tired of being sticky and I am definitely sick of the trickle of sweat coming from the back of my neck... if there ever was a good reason to cut off all my hair this is it. Perth is not usually humid so many people (including us) cool their houses with evaporative airconditioners. Cheap to run, constant fresh air entering the house and adds moisture to our dry, hot air. All awesome bonuses over refrigerated airconditioning until... we have some humid days then it is useless... actually it is worse than useless. Something akin to sucking on an ice cube to stay cool while standing on the surface of the sun... yep that kind of useless.

The upside of the heat and humidity is that you can catch the people you love doing some really odd things... this insanity can bring unexpected delights to your day. Today Mr W got out all his connector pens and made a fez shaped hat out of them, which he then wore around the house for a few hours. Yesterday he wore his rice paddy hat around the house. We've kept the aircon off and resorted back to hand fans; Mr W used his large woven reed fan (he looked me straight in the eye and said "Mummy you need to feed me some grapes") and I used a page sized plastic magnification sheet. I told him that when I was a kid, most houses in Perth had no airconditioners so using a fan was how we kept cool... he is constantly amazed at how old I am. I always remind him that at least we are both much younger than his dad. It makes me feel better until... he dobs me in for saying it. I need to bribe him with chilled tim tams.

 If my weaving works out I may have something to share in my next post.  And if it doesn't I'll have a 'how not to' post.

Wherever you are on this big round rock I hope you are warm/cool enough and dry... and doing something you love. Happy stitching!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Now here is something really special!!!

Earlier in the week I mentioned I hadn't been organised enough to make a special Australia Day project for the 26th. Well some other Aussies (the team at Planet Cake in Sydney) were organised and they made a gigantic cake shaped like the Sydney Opera house. Click the video below to see it being presented live on breakfast television on Australia Day. You can see all seven days worth of videos which show all the energy put into preparing this monster cake by all 10 employees and 23 volunteers.

There are no other words... simply amazing!!!

Friday, 28 January 2011

New temari

Perhaps new is a misrepresentation... This first temari is one that I unpicked the bands on not once but twice so this here is the final version. Still not 100% happy with it but I wanted to put it away so I could focus on other things.

This one is my 'disco' turtle temari. It is what I came up with from the TK stitch along. The pattern was discussed during an online hookup that I missed so I was really stitching blind, there was no final project image shown at the commencement of the project. I remember now how much I dislike stitching this way, call me a spoil sport but I'm not a big fan of mystery stitching... I am a road map person I need to know the destination and I'm happy to learn the land marks as I go. Of course having said that... I did learn some interesting pointers about not making assumptions and working from verbal (written) instructions alone is an important skill to acquire... I guess the reason I don't like it is because I'm just not too good at it. I've got a few green colours I'm going to add as a startbust onto open areas on the sides.

I am wondering what to do with my really huge C10 ball for the TC flower challenge. It is wrapped in mid green with treasure braid petite marking lines. I think I am going to outline the shapes before stitching the flower but I'm not sure what would look best. I might just go with woven pentagons to keep the framework simple in the hope that my stitching on each pole will pop. I also need to examine how to subdivide the pentagons to increase the number of centers so I can stitch multiple flowers in each section. I am either going to stitch the flowers in #8 perle cotton or KYO. So many choices!!!

Tonight for dinner I made basil pesto from the herb patch basil. It was delicious... or at least I think it was... Mr W said is was gross but I'm not sure if that was due to him having a 9 year old palate or due to me having a raging head cold which means I have few working taste buds.

I didn't use a proper measured recipe for it, I've made pesto before, so I just threw in garlic, pine nuts, romano cheese, EV olive oil a little salt and of course lots of basil. I guess I should have added pepper but I don't like it so my hubby can grind some on top if he wants to.
Tomorrow we are having a big clean up of the yard, sick or not, there is a Category 3 cyclone (named Bianca) heading down our coast line and it is expected to hit land at either Perth or Bunbury (about 2 hours south) so everything that could possibly get picked up and/or tossed about is getting secured down and moved away from window areas around our home. I really hate cyclones. We are lucky that it is rare to get them this far south, but this one is predicted to hit Perth directly... hopefully it will get downgraded to a Cat2 or Cat1 by the time it gets here. Fingers crossed!!! So here I go looking for the silver lining... ok... got it... I'll spend some time on Sunday stitching temari because the storm should hit about 10am and we wont be able to leave the house.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Mt Kirishima blows

This morning a place I have very fond memories of woke to a large and growing cloud of ash. One of the volcanoes in the Mt Kirishima area on the Southern Island of Kyushu has woken up yesterday and is very grumpy. I recall that somewhere I have a picture of me with a group of other young people at the Kirishima Shrine (Kirishima-jingu). I had a great weekend up at My Kirishima onsen when I was escorted by one of my students and her family. Mt Kirishima is situated in a very volatile range of 20+ volcanoes including the very active volcano Mt Sakurajima in the Kagoshima Bay.

I lived for a while in Kagoshima, and Mt Sakurajima kept me awake on many a night with its' grumblings and rumblings, but I never saw anything molten coming out of the top just ash, ash and more ash. Some days almost 2 inches would cover everything when I awoke. I think my worry was made worse by a visit to the island where Sakurajima resides... I saw and in fact stood next to the shrine whose top cross bar now sits just a metre from the ground.

Thankfully Japan as a country has embraced disaster training and conducts regular emergency drills for its' population. I hope everyone stays safe and sound... and I also that this activity doesn't wake up Sakurajima which is overdue for a major vent.

Come on Mother Nature please, please, please go easy on us for a bit. No matter where you live on this great big rock this last few months has given us many reasons to wonder how we can get back on Mum Natures' good side again.

Sorry for the lack of images on this post but I can't seem to locate the box containing my Kyushu photos. Click the links to see the shrine and live pictures of the volcanic activity.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Happy Australia Day 2011

Today it is our country's birthday. Last year I made an Australia Flag temari ball. I'm not organised enough to have an Aussie Day project this year but I'll share with you some videos to promote International Australia Day on January 26th.*

Now these videos all very much a joke so please don't take offence to anything you hear in them... after all they are just designed to sell lamb. I do like the version below set in Europe... though it is very politically incorrect.

Not sure what we'll do today but it might possibly involve Vegemite toast for breakfast and later on a BBQ with lamb on it... or maybe chicken...

* this is actually just an ad campaign by Meat & Livestock Australia Limited to sell more lamb to Australians.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Blog Shout Outs

Finally it has happened, Barb Suess, author of Japanese Temari - A Colorful Spin on an Ancient Craft
(ISBN 1933308125) and co-author of Japanese Kimekomi, Fast, Fun, and Fabulous Fabric Handballs (ISBN 1933308214) has begun blogging!

Here is the link: Barb's blog is so fresh and new that it doesn't yet show up in a google search, but please pop over and say hi. Her first post is about temari obsession... or as Kristy S from Kuriosity and the Kat and I joke temari ORBsession. Yes we temari makers are all orbssively absorbed in our craft.
Something I have noticed and loved about many of the English language temari blogs in 2010 was the crossover into other languages.  From time to time on this blog we have posts in Japanese, Jane writes in Spanish on her blog , and Rod has done some blogging recently in Italian.

I never imagined I would be a blogger but I love reading everybodys posts, as they allow us to see little snippets of each other's interests in temari and other things too...
I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog posts this year.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Temari definitions with illustrations

You can find some wonderful resources on the internet for temari making and here are two places to visit where you can find lots of help with terminology.

Barb Suess has consolidated a set of definitions and illustrations onto a single web page here. There are also several links (in red type) that will take you to step by step pages and other additional learning resources.

Temarikai also has a long list of how tos in the toolkit here. There are also definitions on other pages.

Why is it important to use the same words? Well simply it helps us all to communicate effectively. Temari makers are scattered across the globe and we all speak our own native languages (even English is different based on which country you live) so by learning a unified temari language we can all understand each other and discuss temari concepts in spite of our own language differences.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

We're going to eat the grandchildren!

First off they are not human grandchildren! Thankfully I don't have any of those as my son is only nine himself. Rather we have collected the first eggs from our chickens today. Here is a pic of Mr W holding them. Note the excitement on his face and the blurry egg at right because he couldn't stand still.

The eggs are quite small being just 40g and 41g but from what I've read they'll get progressively bigger over the next few weeks of laying. It is interesting that the egg shells are different colours even though the chickens are the same breed, although one chicken has slightly darker feathers than the other. I think we may have quiche for dinner tonight and also give our dogs some egg on their dinner to use up the last of our purchased eggs.

Jammy Jammy Jam and Oprah in Oz

We had our jam making session on Friday. Mum made apricot, Miho made plum and I made cherry. We shared them all out so I came home with 2 jars of apricot, 2 jars of cherry and a jar of plum. Miho and I also make some Japanese pink pickled ginger.

My hands are so stained from pitting the cherries... all 2.5kg of them. Mr M didn't eat too many, Miss D tried - and loved - the cherry juice (before we added the sugar of course). Mr W had apricot jam on toast yesterday for breakfast and gave it a big 2 thumbs up.  I purchased 2 more kilos of cherries today, I'm going to wash, pit and freeze them for use later on. This time I will wear gloves though!

I have been watching the Oprah in Australia shows this week. The shows really make me want to go to Australia... and then I remember that I actually ALREADY LIVE HERE!!! Lucky me!! I am amazed at how many freebies* are given away on American talk shows like this. I loved the pearl necklaces given away from Kailis Pearls. 
image from

I have been into the all the Pearl showrooms in Broome (here they grow the South Sea Pearls) when I have visited up there and the Kailis and Paspaley pearls are to die for. A lot of pearl jewellery made from Broome pearls also feature Argyle Diamonds. Pearl is my birthstone and while they used to be thought of as an 'old lady' jewel these days they are so much more modern and even considered a bit cool.

*Freebie - This is slang for something given free. Promotional merchandise, items, products, gifts given away to promote a company, corporate image, brand, or event.

Michelle asked for the pink pickled ginger recipe: I used the one from this book. We also made the apricot, plum, strawberry and raspberry jams from this too. This book 200+ pages of lovely jams, jellies, curds, cheeses, vinegars, pickles, chutneys, sauces and relishes. There are also some recipes for flavoured liqueurs.

ISBN: 9781405329545

500g Fresh Young Ginger Root
1Tbs Salt
250ml Rice Wine Vinegar
115g Caster Sugar
Peel ginger (if necessary) and slice finely (we used a thick cut peeler) and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and combine well. Sit for 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel. Pack into hot sterilised glass jars.
Place vinegar and sugar in a stainless steel pan and heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil  then carefully pour liquid over ginger while hot. Cover with vinegar safe lids and cool then keep in fridge for up to 4 months. To get the ginger to turn pink you need young ginger... I couldn't find it (of course I didn't look to hard either but the book suggests Asian grocers or specialist food stores). Miho says that not all Japanese pickled ginger is pink so not to worry.

There is no way the two of us could use this much ginger in 4 months so we just made 100g of ginger slices with half the quantity of the liquid mixture and divided it into two glass-lock containers. It tastes delicious.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Pretty Pretty Shiny Shiny

If you've got kids (or grand kids) you may have heard this being chanted... I think it is from the kids cartoon My Gym Partner 's a Monkey... which I am sure is a program designed to rot children's brains (like 98% of all children's television) but it's one of my son's favourites and I guess if I don't let him watch the Simpsons then maybe it all evens out?!... or not. 

Anyway this post is not about children's tv but rather my newest favourite thing. My 9 litre stainless steel maslin (jam) pan with interior volume measurements marked in litres and pints right on the inside. It is much more shiny in real life. Tomorrow I am taking it up to my Mum's house for it's maiden cook up. I am going to try Cherry Jam without pectin... I really hope it works out because I'll be pitting 1.5kg of cherries for the job (of course Mr M will probably eat a good portion of them, he is like a truffle dog and can sniff out pitted cherries at 500 metres) if it doesn't set up we will have some delicious ice-cream topping anyway.

I am going to be sure to wear an old black shirt so I wont care if it gets ruined. I dug my cherry/olive pitter out from the back of the utensil draw and my microplane to shred the lemon peel - actually the microplane just needed washing up as I used it to shave Romano cheese onto my pasta dinner tonight.

I also purchased a knob of ginger at the store today because I want to make some pink pickled ginger, not sure if that will happen though as I forgot to get rice wine at Seoulmart today so I might need to find another use for it... maybe shredded with the microplane into warm water... mmm ginger tea! I think Miho wants to make piccalilli and I'm not sure what Mum will make.

Next week I am going to make up another big batch of Sherry Brescia's Pasta Sauce, I made some a few weeks ago and it was delicious even though I forgot to add the red wine and Parmesan to it. Now I have this huge pot I won't have to worry about it sloshing out the top of the pot when I stir it.


In Temari related news: I have finished wrapping my TC ball, it worked out to be 49.7cm  round, and I have marked it as a C10. I am still stuck on the TK ball... thanks to Jane I know the shape to stitch but I'm still not quite sure on how far from the pole to begin so I'm going to wait for more info... I hate ripping out!

I received a voucher from my local Spotlight store (like Joannes?) for $40 off with a $100 purchase and found some 100g balls of yarn for $2 and $3 each, 4 Milford threads and some cheap spools of over locker thread (2000m for $1) so I splurged and now I have enough wool (I lost count at 35 balls) to reach from my doorstep all the way into the main post office in the Perth CBD... (this is between 15-18kms) Thank goodness I hoard the shipping boxes sent to me, I have a huge box full of yarn now.

I also started to clean out my workroom, which was looking like a scene from 2012. All the larger boxes are away (including the Christmas Decorations too) so all that's left is the counter top. Now I just need to get the 2 bathroom exhaust fans and the kitchen range hood installed so there will be a little more space in the corner for our teams Soccer equipment which has come to live at our house again until September. I don't hold out too much hope for this as I have been 'very gently' suggesting that we install the range since 1999 (no sadly I am not joking, embellishing or mistyping the year) and 'less gently' suggesting that we install it since 2009 when we did a mini renovation of the kitchen. I think I need to strike until this installation work is done, maybe a stitch in... I could refuse to do anything except temari making until the range hood is installed, or maybe sit the box on my hubby's pillow until he gets tired of moving it every night. Any other suggestions??

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Australian Flood Updates

Google Flood Map Take a look at the map to see where the water levels are now. You will see that there is still a lot of water across Queensland and an increasing amount of water through Victoria and New South Wales and there has been a little localised flooding in Tasmania.

I have managed to make contact with about half the temari ladies in Queensland, they are safe and thankful to know we are all thinking of them. None of the temari folk I know in the other states are in any of the flood zones . Our own family managed to ride out the flooding (even those living in Ipswich) and stay safe which we are truly thankful for. Thank you for all your well wishes and kind thoughts for my fellow country people and a special thank you to everyone that have made a donation to the flood appeal. It is wonderful to see the beautiful humanity that neighbours and strangers can show each other in times of crisis, and the general population of Queensland (and many others from elsewhere in our country) are doing their best to ensure these guys get back on their feet as quickly and smoothly as possible. Lots of sports people and other celebrities have donated their time, goods and talents to help with the cause. Tim Cahill (a Socceroo who also plays for Everton) has an Ebay auction running, a bunch of players from the Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers Rugby Clubs have gone up to help clean up. English cricketers donated their match payments and even Jamie Oliver has begun to cook up free meals in Ipswich. Several people from Perth have organised trucking containers to transport goods donated locally which will be sent East shortly.

Over here in the West we had one of those delightful summer showers on Tuesday, you know the type where the sky is still sunny and bright with small blue patches of sky but there is crackling thunder and the rain drops are big and fat. The weather dropped from 33.55C to 25C we got about 2mm of rain in about 25 minutes, just enough to clean the air and make the world smell fresh and sweet again. It took me back to my childhood when occasional quick rainy spells were a common occurrence in the heat of summer.

Stitching projects online

The international temari community is slowly returning from hibernation. Everyone seems so busy in the months leading up to Christmas that many can't commit to new projects etc near the holidays. 2011 is beginning with a new project on TC and TK.

Let's talk about the TC one first. An election was called for new projects for the group to work on for the start of 2011. The clear winner was a Flower sampler (one for each month - fits perfectly on a C10!) with 28% of the votes. I think I voted for Multi-centers marking, Thread Challenge and Character temari - geisha, samurai, emperor, empress etc.

I've almost finished wrapping my ball for the flower sampler and it is a whopping 50cm circumference, I've used a muted green for the surface wrap. The next job is exploring the flowers to use, there are a few schools of thought on this, some people are using the flowers of the month (seasonal or birthday) and others have suggested using the state flowers (such as of USA). Now I'm an Australian so using the state flowers from America (beautiful as they are) doesn't seem too patriotic so I started to investigate some of our native flowers.

Images from
 The top flower is the Australian Golden Wattle and is our national flower.
The second row has the Australian Capital Territory flower the royal bluebell and the Waratah from New South Wales.
The third row shows the Sturt's desert rose of the Northern Territory and Cooktown orchid from Queensland.

The fourth row features Sturt's desert pea floral emblem of South Australia and Tasmanian blue gum,
The last row features the Common heath from Victoria and the red and green kangaroo paw which is Western Australia's floral emblem.

So the result of that is maybe I need another idea because there aren't enough flowers to fill a C10 and I wouldn't want to stitch any of these twice anyway even if I could work out how to stitch them. I decided if I wanted to stitch Australian flowers I'd need to look beyond the floral emblems so back to the internet I went.

Of the 100's of images available of Australian Native flowers these are the only ones I liked the look of.

Images from
 And some of these flowers I really only liked the common name such as the top right image which is called Eggs & Bacon Pea... how classic! I think my most favourite of these images is the top left one which is the NSW Christmas bush. I am sure I could translate this flower onto a temari... given enough time!

So I need to ponder this a bit more.... Or I might go another way and just do flowers I like no matter where they come from.


Next is the project from TK. It is a S8 spindle based stitch along which is being presented by text, no diagrams. I did well with the first 2 steps but the wheels fell off at step 3, I can't follow the directions at all, and I think the problem is I can't imagine stitching a hexagon over 8 lines. I read the instructions several times over the morning, again after I'd eaten a healthy lunch and once more after a few squares of chocolate but they still don't make sense to me. I know the answer is obvious... I usually get tripped up by the most obvious things, so I guess I'll just wait until a progress photo is uploaded in a few days. In the mean time I'm going to finish wrapping my big green ball for the TC project.

First Temari for 2011

I've had these ones finished for a few days now but I've not had time to post them. I'm not sure which one I like most, probably the yellow one, although the pink on is very effective too... but then the purple temari is growing on me. I haven't removed the scrap thread yet on the purple one. I don't make many temari that need to have the marking threads removed, I really like the effect of the design not appearing anchored to the ball.

I want to draw your attention to Rod B's Japanese Textiles blog today so you can see a new temari he has been working. He included a draft version of the pattern (there is no diagram yet) but the steps have been written. I really love his use of colour on this one... I think they seem quintessentially Japanese.

I need to work on varying my colours more, I find I get into a colour rut and have trouble escaping it. I think I will go through my Japanese fabric stash for some inspiration.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

My new favourite things are...

A Clover ring thimble with plate! Gotta love all things Clover!

I have long complained to my family about the constant rough patch on my palm due to temari making, it is always dry and discoloured no matter how many types of hand cream I use. Their solution is not to stitch temari... excuse me?? are they serious?? They may as well suggest I stop breathing too!

 At a class last year one of my students told me I should try a sail makers palm so I did some investigating but they all seemed a little too big and cumbersome but I did manage to stumble across this neat solution. I had never seen one of these 'in person' but my wholesaler could get them for me. So here is one on my hand... my rather berry stained hand.

I love that these are adjustable... even to fit comfortably on my great sausage-like fingers. I have tested a little stitching with this on and it is awesome... I have put some up in the shop.

Why are my hands berry stained? I spent the day with my Mum making jam at her home. I made two small batches of Raspberry and then Mum made one large batch of Strawberry with Vanilla jam. Isn't that colour  of raspberries in the pan amazing? I think my fingers got stained from washing all the dishes afterwards.

Of course we had no nice fresh bread to try the jams on so I also made a batch of scones to eat them with whipped cream.  Sorry I forgot to take a photo before we gobbled them all up. I love scones, many people dread making them because they are hard to get fluffy inside but crisp on the outside. I remember at high school we all drew recipes from a hat for our final Home Economics examination. Everyone in the room chanted to themselves 'please don't be scones' as they drew from the hat... when My turn came I drew scones but somehow I managed to score a perfect 100%. I think I've only made them 3 times in the last 20+ years. Tonight like the last times I've made them I exclaimed 'I don't know why I don't make these more often, they are so easy' and that is because they really are. 

2 cups of Self Raising Flour,
A pinch of Salt
about 3 or 4 teaspoons of Butter (No margarine)
Enough milk to bring it together (just under 1 cup).

Preheat the oven to 230C and line a try with baking paper. Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl (yes it should be sifted at least twice but a 30 second whisk is fine). Rub in the teaspoons of butter with fingertips and then whisk gently for a second time (this makes up for not sifting and aerates the mixture a bit more) Make a well in the center and pour in almost all the milk. Use a butter knife (I just mean an ordinary knife not a meat cleaver or other sharp knife) to mix in the milk until the dry dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured board and roll out (or press out with your palms as I did tonight - I can't believe my Mum doesn't own a rolling pin!) until 3/4 inch thick and then cut into rounds and place on oven tray. Be economical with the cutting as scones don't like to be re-rolled and get tough. Brush tops with a little milk (or egg wash if you have it but milk is fine) and place in the oven but turn it down to 210C and bake for about 10 minutes ... until just lightly golden on the tops. From start to finish this recipe takes about 15 minutes to make.

Pop on the kettle and make your cup of tea while they are in the oven. Break the scones open fill with jam and whipped cream then put on your best Queen Elizabeth II accent and enjoy.

 Here are two of the jars, Raspberry on the left and Strawberry with Vanilla on the right.

I love love love Raspberry jam but had never made it before. In the preserving books I have they mentioned that Raspberry was the easiest jam to begin with.  It tasted much nicer than any store bought jam... of course I am only slightly biased. 

On the other hand I passionately despise strawberry jam, just the thought of it makes my skin crawl (bizarre because I really adore fresh strawberries) so it took some coaxing for me to try this jam but it was really nice, very nice and I'd actually eat it again without needing to be tied to a chair and forcefully fed it... I think it was the addition of Vanilla or maybe the little bit of motherly love stirred into it. I am going to look around for some nice cherries to preserve next week. Yummy!!

I hope you spend your day doing something awesome.

I've got a new temari to share next time.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Incredible flash flood footage

We are experiencing flooding over much of Australia right now. Queensland has it the worst right now with more than 10 people killed in the flood waters and many more missing.

All my hubby's family are spread out around Queensland and have been trying to keep in contact, so far they are safe and sound. For that we are thankful. A King Tide is expected in a few hours which will raise levels in the Brisbane river, which could flood many more areas in the city itself.

I have been trying to make contact with all the Qld based temari makers I know, many areas have no electricity and communications are difficult but I am hopeful that they are all OK.

Incredible flash flood footage: "Watch the terrifying flood waters of Toowoomba rise before your eyes. Courtesy of David, Toowoomba. "

Please keep flood affected Australians in your hearts and prayers.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Seven to Eight to Nine

I took this photo while standing under the boardwalk at Coogee Beach during Mr W's swimming classes this week. I had been sheltering under there not because of the scorching sun but incredibly because of the driving rain. Something about the lapping of the waves and the darkness of the tunnel created by the black pylons leading to the light at the end called to me and I just wanted to wade out there. I took a bunch of other photos trying to capture the moment but this one turned out to have the best framing, I was juggling my umbrella, beach bag and umbrella so I guess you had to be there...

Are you wondering about the cryptic title to this post? Well the Seven to Eight refers to my son passing his beach swim certificate. I'm so proud of him, he had to stay out of the water until he was 6 due to recurrent ear infections, and us not wanting him to undergo surgery to insert drainage grommets in his ear canals. His ENT specialist cleared him to begin lessons when he turned six and he has passed 7 grades since then. During this class it was the first time he has been allowed in the ocean without a parent holding his hand to keep him safe.

Here he is crashing into the surf to head back out to the instructor. He is racing another student who is obscured by the girl standing in front. She was also in Mr W's class but is about 12 years old and taller than me... that is a big height difference!

Eight to Nine in the title refers to Mr W's birthday, I can't believe my boy is nine years old. I am beginning to understand what my Mother and Grandmother meant when they said raising their babies to adulthood seemed to pass in a blink of an eye. He still fits on my knee (just) and is still happy for hugs and snuggles so long as none of his mates are around. We began the day with homemade buttermilk pancakes and opening gifts at 6am (initially it did seem more like 3am though I managed to generate a more than adequate level of enthusiasm after a few minutes of waking) Here we are cutting his cake, it was an Echidna and I forgot to take pictures before we began cutting into it, but it was an ice-cream cake so we couldn't wait around or it would have melted away to nothing. Thankfully Miho had grabbed my camera as we sang happy birthday or we wouldn't have any pics at all. We had a casual family barbecue tonight to celebrate and in a few weeks (closer to the start of school) we'll have his party with his buddies at the local ice arena... and that means a new cake so I'll try to get pics of that one.

Mr W ate a piece of this cake that totally filled and hung over the edges of his bowl (the one near his hand) and Miss D ate a slice almost as thick... I was sure she wouldn't be able to eat it all but she did which just goes to show what I know. Mr M (who is allergic to dairy) had his own mini pavlova cake piled with fresh pitted cherries. I think the children will all need to eat 1/2 a cucumber, 3 carrots and a whole head of lettuce each tomorrow to make up for all the sugar they consumed tonight.

Goodness me, after all this excitement today I'm off to bed... I think I deserve to indulge in some temari making tomorrow.

Hope your day brings you much joy!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Japanese Temari Book Review Resources

Barb Suess has been reorganising her bookshelves and supplies, and has kindly consolidated all her resources for anyone interested in information about Japanese temari books into a single downloadable file. Here is a link to the PDF file on her website. There are 7 pages of book reviews which include each book's cover images, also a listing by ISBN and another by title. There is even a convenient book label page so you can print it on sticky paper and stick the title in English on the spine of your book.

Ginny at Temarikai also has a listing of book reviews here, it is spread over a few pages and the link will take you to the first of three pages... you can click the other pages from there.

Check out both of these excellent resources, you'll gain a valuable insight into which book(s) are right for you. When you decide which book(s) you want visit our store to purchase them at very reasonable prices... better than ebay. I've got a huge (more than 20kgs) order of books making their way from Japan, and we will be expanding the range of books we carry... keep an eye out at our supply store.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Queensland is wet and getting wetter

Our weather has been unusually harsh here in Australia. We have extensive flooding in several states including the mid coastal area of my own state (the big orange one). But Queensland has it particularly bad with an area roughly the size of New South Wales under water. This is quite a horrifying thought. Here is a map of Australia, Queensland is purple and New South Wales green.

 Now here is the same map broken up, I haven't altered any of the sizes, you can see NSW inside Queensland. This is approximately the size of the flood affected areas..

I have made contact with many East Coast temari makers (rather a lot of them live in Queensland) everyone I have been in contact say they are that so far they are lucky to remain more or less dry but many of their family or friends haven't been so lucky. So far 10 people have been swept away and drowned. I want to ask you to please join me in praying for those water levels to drop so everyone can get back to a safe and normal life. And if you gals in Queensland (especially Kristy, Rosa, Daphne, Vicky, Joyce, Belinda and Sonia) are reading this, just know my family's and my thoughts are with you all. 

Traditionally many homes in Queensland were built like the one pictured below. It is a style referred to here as an 'Old Queenslander' (my hubby always talks about wanting to buy one of these... I keep telling his he is an old Queenslander so there's no need to buy one). The area under the house is used for storage rather than living space and even the cyclone fencing is designed to allow the water and wind to flow through. We have been in such a state of drought for so many years that lots of new homes are now built at ground level... and in flood affected areas these new homes are now under water to the roof line.

Image from:
I know there have also been terrible storms in the US and Europe, if you are in an area affected by nasty weather right now please stay safe and well (and know I am saying a little prayer for you too).

De-treeing the house and gaining a room

Today it is time to do the job I loathe, I can't avoid it any longer... putting away the Christmas tree. How can something that is so joyous to put up be such a chore to put away? And where do the hordes of people that help decorate it disappear to? I wonder if Martha Stewart's many housekeepers feel the same?

I remember when I was a kid one of the neighbours had a huge argument just before Christmas and the next thing we saw was their decorated tree and many various presents go flying out their front door and all over the lawn. Unfortunately this memory still makes me laugh, but now I am a parent I can understand the frustrations of being the Mum, and I do consider doing the same thing after Christmas just to avoid packing away the decorations.

After almost 3 hours of searching for decorations and then the correct box to store them in we are finally tree free for another year. I told the boys that we would be doing a 'special family project' when they returned from swimming today... I think they guessed it was taking down the tree because they should have returned by 12pm but they rolled back down the driveway just after 2:30pm. On the upside they did come back sporting haircuts so that is a job off my list.

Now that we have the use of our family room again we spent some of the afternoon playing wii because it is just too hot and sticky to be outside. I stink at baseball (and many other things too) but I can out shoot and hula hoop the boys.

I also unpicked the banding on the temari I had recently posted about but I can't work out what to put back on, I am thinking thin ribbon but I'm just not sure. I mean how would I hide the cut ends? So back into the UFO pile it goes for a little longer.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Sound the trumpets it's 2011

Welcome to 2011! Wow how fast did 2010 go?! I set myself some temari goals for last year I think achieved most of them. This year I aim to knock off the one I missed out on... an entry into the Perth Royal Show. I have researched the categories now and I think I might be able to enter into one of three: Folk Art, Handicrafts or Needlework -Hand. Now I just need to dream something up.

I was amazed to see that I posted 123 posts and had 13,000 visitors to this blog in 2010. We also began celebrating our love of all things temari by celebrating International Temari Appreciation Day on October 22. Our temari supply store expanded to include a wider range of threads and books and personally I achieved my first step on the JTA study path.

I can't help but wonder at the possibilities for this new year? Where will we be in 12 months? It's time to sit back and reflect on what I want to seek out in 2011 and then develop some plans to make sure I can achieve them. I know there are some wonderful things waiting to come for all of us... we just need to be ready to catch them as the fly past.

If you are interested in so goal setting hints Anne-Marie Faiola from Brambleberry has some excellent pointers on her amazing SoapQueen blog. She sure is a lady that inspires me.