Monday, 30 April 2012

Something promised... and the promise of something good

Yesterday I wrote about the ladybug temari I have been working as part of the TC stitch-a-long... that just finished. Did I mention yesterday I am really far behind? I am sure I did... and here is the proof.

The good news is that I had my lovely niece for a sleepover on Sunday night and when I asked her what I was stitching on  this temari she said without even pausing "Oh they are ladybugs Auntie!" So at least I know I am on the right track even though I am way behind.

We had such a busy Sunday. Mr W's soccer match was at 11am, then DH was asked to referee the match that followed. We didn't leave the ground until after 1:15pm. Then we dashed to collect Mr W who had gone home with a friend. Actually not only did we collect Mr W, but his friend came with us too, together we headed home for a quick bite of lunch and an equipment change before heading off to DH's soccer match at a soccer ground on the other side of the city. DH hasn't played for a few years but his old team was desperate and begged him to play this game. This game started at 3:30pm (we made it just in time) and we sat through several rain storms and saw really passionate, spirited soccer - I learned a  few new swear words - and watched DH get taken out big time. I heard the cracking sound from the opposite side of the field, he actually laid on the pitch for ages before he could get up again. Don't worry he's a tough guy and there are no permanent injury (although I did keep checking on him for the following 24 hours because it was his head that got cracked). Good news is that his team won 1-0 (not as good as Mr W's team that won 9-0). I took a bunch of craft books from the library by Barb Suess with Kathy Hewitt (9781933308210) and Kumiko Sudo (9781933308043 and 9781933308142) and I read them during the rain breaks. At 5:30 we were leaving the soccer ground and went to pick up Miss D for her sleepover, then drove back to Fremantle to drop off Mr W's buddy before heading for home. Phew what a big day!

What do you do if you can't pick between 5 colours? Paint them all of course!
Today I spent the day with Miss D. Another busy day!! We took Mr W to school then, painted her nails (in five shades of varnish), baked cupcakes, pressed out icing flowers and leaves, decorated cookies with royal icing, did some washing, played with and fed the chickens, same for the dog, had lunch, cleaned up again, picked up Mr W from school, met Miho and my nephews, took all the kids to the skate park, came home again, cooked dinner, cleaned up again, played with everyone, bathed the kids, ate dinner and said goodbye as they all headed off home.

But the most fun and indeed most satisfying thing we did today was let Miss D make her own temari ball. I stitched a little on my ladybug temari and Miss D chose the thread wrap and wrapped most of it herself (I did the final layer) and then she chose her own threads while I went looking for a suitable needle (a bit thicker and not so sharp or long as the type I use). Then off and on all day she kept going back to her temari and stitching a bit more on it. I was so pleased she willingly went back to stitching on it. She didn't stab herself (or anyone else) with the needle and I just let her go at it after I showed her how to take a stitch and how to thread the needle. A totally freestyle temari stitched by her apart from a heart she asked me to make for her because she said she couldn't quite get it right.  Here is a progress shot.

Miss D's (4 years old) first temari in progress.
After this she chose some deep purple to add to the lavender and metallic red threads. I did try to stitch down the long piece of thread until she said "Hey hey hey Auntie don't break my hanger please!" The finished ball got wrapped up during the dinner preparations (before I thought about taking another picture) so she can give it to her Papa when he returns from a business trip.

Perhaps she will ask to make another temari some other day... I hope so!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Chucking it down

After a long hot (and fairly dry but not as much as last years') summer we are getting the first good Autumn rain today. It is raining fairly hard, hence the phrase 'chucking it down' which just means raining hard. It was reported in our local news that for the first time in almost a decade the whole of Australia is free from drought. Lucky us! It has been so dry for so long that we let some of our gutters get a bit old and ignored a rust spot by the front door... now the rain funneling through the small hole in the gutter, falling onto the pavement path and driving me nuts. I'll be lucky to sleep at all tonight if it keeps up.

On the positive side (not that I am failing to see the positive of the lovely rain) I am catching up on my Ladybug temari that I am stitching with the TC stitch-a-long. I realise that everyone else is almost finished but that doesn't bother me. I marked my C10 weeks ago and planned to add marking lines to make a T6... but I just couldn't get motivated to do the marking. I did pin out about 1/4 of the ball but things kept getting in front of doing this... like working at a new job, school holidays, baby shower, birthday and funeral wake baking.
Image from:
This week I decided to abandon the plans for additional markings on my temari and just start stitching as a C10. This means that there will only be 20 ladybugs to stitch and 12 areas for flowers and lots of in between places for smaller blossoms and leaves.  I have decided to make my ladybugs follow each other around a path on the ball, like when you stitch a HHG on a C10, the bugs will spiral from the north pole all the way down and around to the south pole. I am stitching the bugs using the first method outlined by Debi.

I also did some research on what flowers attract ladybugs. It seems that mostly they are yellow and orange flowers, some are white. I thought instead of stitching the kiku or lazy daisy style flowers that many other people are using I'd try some of these suggested flowers. This is just a thought at this stage of course and I do reserve the right to do whatever takes my fancy at the time of actually stitching the flowers on :)

So far I've got 5 spotless, eyeless, antenaeless, black headed, outlined ladybirds and 2.5 red hexagons stitched. I've decided to stitch 5 at a time so it doesn't seem so overwhelming - not that it is overwhelming in anyway... I am just feeling a bit overwhelmed with life in general at the moment :)

I'll take an in progress shot of my ladybug temari tomorrow and load it on another post.

Friday, 27 April 2012

It's apple season

On Monday I baked cupcakes and because it is apple season they are some of them are apple cupcakes.

Pink Lady
I love apples, my personal favourite is Pink Lady pictured above. They are crisp and juicy with a sweet to tart taste and are never floury like Granny Smith can sometimes be. Also they are an apple developed right here in Western Australia. How could I not love them?! I ran this photo through Kuler and I'll see if I can make some Pink Lady inspired temari.

Pink Lady Kuler Colour Selection
Ooops I lost my train of thought... oh that's right cupcakes. I need 4 apples for my recipe and I used some delicious new season apples grown just a few hours south of where I live, in the Manjimup and Donnybrook areas. Of course I used a Pink Lady and a Granny Smith (Mr W's favourite apple variety), but I also used two new apples.

These new apples on the market this year are Kanzi and Greenstar varieties. I saw the Kanzi at the Perth Royal Show last year so I was excited to buy it at my local grocer this week. Kanzi is a new variety of apple that was first grown in Europe, where it was developed from a natural cross between a Gala and a Braeburn apple. This created an intensely flavoured apple with the juiciness of a Gala, and the tartness of a Braeburn.
"Kanzi is a very crunchy and sweet apple; it'll be another fresh eating experience after the galas."
"Greenstar may well look like a granny smith but one of the great differences is that Greenstar won't oxidise due to high levels of vitamin C so you won't get that browning." The Greenstar apple was also developed by the European organisation Better 3 Fruits, from a natural cross between the Delbarestival and Granny Smith varieties, both of which are known for their juiciness and fresh taste.

I actually did my own test to prove this point made about the browning... it was true, even after a few hours the Greenstar and Kanzi apples were hardly brown at all, the Pink Lady and the Granny both browned fairly quickly.

What is in season where you live?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Look what google alerts turned up

I have a google alert set up for various things I am interested in. As you can imagine one of those alerts is set for Temari.

I was quite surprised to see this link in my alert list today. It is for a verbena. It is quite lovely but I did feel a bit sick in the pit of my stomach when I saw the word Temari had a registered symbol next to it. How can anyone register that word? And could that mean a potential problem for the all us Temari makers?

This world is getting to be a scary place when words that are have been used with a generic meaning end up being trademarked or registered for business. Anyone remember the Ugg boot saga recently. Hope we don't all start receiving cease and desist notices.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

ANZAC Day 2012

Today is ANZAC Day. After the dawn service, and the March most people go on and savour the free time afforded by this public holiday.  Many people with previous defence force ties go to their local RSL (Returned Services League) to have raise a glass and enjoy time with mates and remember those friends that are no longer here.

A tradition for ANZAC day is a game of Two-up. It is a gambling game, Aussies (mostly) love to bet on almost anything horses, dogs, goannas, even which fly will reach the top of a wall. Perhaps this evolved from the early settler days of living in a large mostly desolate country and needing to find their own amusement in simple things.

Two-up is a traditional true-blue Australian game which is actually illegal to play in public, apart from special days such as ANZAC Day public holiday, since it's actually gambling. Of course you can gamble and play it any time in an Australian casino. There is a good video on YouTube about how to play Two-up.

It is played in a ring which must be a smooth area of ground 3 metres diameter with any number of players participating. Here's a few terms used in the game:
KIP : Piece of wood on which the pennies (coins) are placed for spinning
RINGER : Assistant to the Boxer who runs the centre of the ring
SPINNER : Player spinning the coins
COCKATOO : Keeps a lookout for the "Law" aka Police .
BOXER: Owner of the game

The RINGER will call for the SPINNER who will place a bet with the BOXER. When this is set, side bets may be made, for either Heads or Tails. The RINGER will then call "Come in Spinner", the SPINNER will then walk into the centre of the ring and tosses the coins upwards.

If the coins land with 2 Heads facing UP, it is called "HEADS". 2 Tails is called "TAILED THEM", and when one of each is showing, then it is "ODDS". The coins must be tossed until a result is obtained.

The game is for the SPINNER to spin as many pairs of "HEADS" as possible. When 2 Tails are showing, the SPINNER passes the KIP to another person.The modern game is now played with three coins thus giving a quicker result i.e. 2 HEADS or 2 TAILS.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Temari Stands

I purchased some wooden shadow box stands from York some weeks ago to display my temari when I am at festivals. I felt I needed some extra security to stop them rolling away if the table gets bumped so I purchased some discs to sit the temari on, this also means the temari wont sit on the woods' beeswax finish.

The bonus of clear ring is that he fade away to the background and will go with every temari (I don't need to remember which stand goes with which temari), but as I looked at them in the packages I thought about what they might look like covered in thread to match a temari. I tried to wrap a single ring but couldn't get it to look neat so I stacked two together and it came out really nicely.

Here is the same blue wrapped ring from the photo above placed under a temari. I think I will wrap a ring stand for all my future gift temari.

The same temari on top of the large and small disk is featured in the photo below. I like that they temari looks like it is floating just above the surface, but it wont roll away.

I am also going to stick one of these rings into my temari project bag so that when I have to put it down for a spell it wont roll away from me then either.

If you want some of these rings I've added some of my excess (I purchased way more than I need) here.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Birthday Cupcakes

On Friday I worked at a bookkeeping job for a few hours and then I came home to make several dozen cupcakes for the birthday of a friend of our family. She is having a black, white and pink party. I made chocolate cake with vanilla butter cream and then decorated with small hand made flowers.

I spent much of Thursday pressing the fondant flowers so they would have time to air dry. I made lots (and lots) of these little blossoms so I'll have some in storage for all the upcoming cupcake-able events in the next month or so. Below is a left over cupcake, I think they turned out kinda cute.

Below is a box of the other blossoms I made... they are just waiting to be placed on their own cupcake. I experimented with a variety of single colours and two tones. I also tried a few different cutters and even did some free form blossoms with just a ball of RTR fondant. I really love the red ones... in real life they look like velvet and were made with flower moulding paste.

It took me a few tries to get used to using the flower mould to press the flowers and then get them to release with out destroying them but Mr W was happy (understatement of the century) to eat the damaged ones. I have previously spent 30c per blossom on similar small flowers from the cake decorating store, even factoring in the price of the cutter/veiner set and the fondant I think I am still in front. OK they did take me hours to make, but I was having fun so we wont cost out my time. Also the flowers from the store are only available in red, white or yellow so making my own gives me more colour choice too.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Our feather babies

Peep 22wks

Back in February our broody chicken set her second clutch of eggs, now they are 8 weeks old and getting huge. Also the chick we kept from the previous clutch is fully grown at 24 weeks and will soon be laying eggs (we hope!)
It is funny how the chicks change as they grow. First they are cute fluffy bundles of yellow downy feather, then they begin to go through that awkward teenage stage where feathers start sticking out in random places, and they look long and gangly. Then as they get toward 9 weeks old the feathers all begin to look more even and the funny stubby tail feathers begin to grow in properly and they start looking nice again.

Chicks at 7wks

We've put the new chicks up for sale so Toto can get back to laying some eggs again instead of fussing over 5 chicks. Soon they will be off to other homes, but we are keeping one gal for my niece and nephews flock.

Saturday, 21 April 2012


My Mum loves second hand shops. She can't go past a goodwill store like Vinnies, Red Cross, Good Sammy's or even an RSPCA. Actually she wont pass up the opportunity to enter any 'junk' store even the smallest tackiest one. But She also has a great eye for a bargain and can pick the valuable treasure every time. This skill has held her in very good stead over the years as her fossicking has unearthed many treasures that now grace her beautifully decorated home.

We have taken two trips together into the countryside recently which has meant we've done some fossicking for goodwill treasure.

In York I picked up four lovely Japanese plates with Sakura patterns on them, they are a perfect size for holding a temari ball secure. I actually saw the dipping bowls for this set in this video from one of my favourite YouTube chefs whose channel is called Cooking with Dog. (Just so you know they don't actually cook dog on this channel)

In Donnybrook I got some plastic egg cartons and a replacement cooler bottle (for the not so princely sum of 50c) for Mr W's lunch box. Mum got some fly nets that go over your head, a crystal bowl with a lid and some stuff for the kids.

At Boyanup we visited a really gorgeous store called Rustic French Living. Ok it isn't a junk shop but it does have some up-cycled clothing, and a lovely cafe area inside an old Methodist Church building. We had a delightful morning tea and made several purchases.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Photo first, eat second

A few weeks back I drove to Bunbury to take a class in egg decorating. Then I made some cute Easter egg cookies decorated in a similar manner and promised to take photos... but I forgot and when I remembered they had already been handed out and eaten. Never mind.

Today I went to my friends baby shower. I took along some iced biscuits and cupcakes. Lucky I took some pictures before I left because there were none left at the end of the party.

Here are some of the biscuits I made. The icing is a bit shaky, I am still just starting out at piped/flooded icings but they tasted really nice.

Since we don't know if the bub will be a girl or a boy I tried to make neutral baby bottles... and nothing says you're not sure more than mint green and lemon yellow. I made a heap more bottles and hearts. I really liked the butterflies and they we really fun to make.

The cupcakes were nice too... some ladies thought they were from a bakery so that is a nice compliment (I think).

Here is a photo of some of the ones that made it to the shower. They were a vanilla butter cake with butter cream icing. I piped a rose topping shape on the top and intended to make some candy blossoms to go on the top... but I ran out of time. So instead I sprinkled them with sparkly sugar and hearts... I need to make some blossoms in advance and keep them in a box ready to use next time.

And of course this was a brand new recipe that I had wanted to try for ages. There were a few that didn't quite pass quality control... the first batch oozed all out the top and down the sides of the cupcake wrappers (the doggie, husband and son enjoyed several of them) and then some of the second batch rose then sunk below the top of the wrappers. Frustrating or what?! Never mind I've still got this many left... not sure if I should just give them to the chooks and dog, or just ice them in the morning for my son and husband (and nibble on a few myself). Here are the ones that John West rejected...

Honestly I don't know why they all turned out so different. I think my cooking mojo must be on holiday, or maybe I should just ditch the recipe I used ad stick with my usual tried and true ones.

The baby shower was pretty fun, I even won a prize for guessing what each bit was on various baby scans. Who knew I was so darn smart! Not really, two of my choices were pure guesses, and two more were switched at the last second. Really the only part I was sure of was the spine. I almost mixed up the heart and kidney until I realised what I thought was a head was actually a butt.

Back to stitching tomorrow, hoping I can get the first of my ladybirds onto my temari. Boy am I far behind with this stitch-a-long... more like a stitch behind... never mind I'll get there.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

100 year old embroidery book

I find it interesting that two groups of people can come up with a similar idea even though they are 1000's of miles apart. Often this results in both parties contesting who came up with it first... like the Italians and Chinese arguing over who dreamed up noodles first or the Aussies and Kiwis arguing over ANZAC biscuits and Pavlova. At the end of the day who cares where these things came from I love pasta (and noodles), ANZAC biscuits and Pavlova too.

Sharon B (from shared a link to an old embroidery book that is available to download or browse at the Internet Archive site.

I scrolled through the text and came across this part:

This book was written by ME Wilkinson and published in 1912. It makes me wonder if balls made of loose rags were really common enough to have a stitch defined for making them in Western crafting 100+ years ago.

The balls stitched just with this stitch were probably just utilitarian as opposed to the temari made in Japan around the same time.  We have been told that temari making as a useful item (rather than a decorative one) began to wane in the advent of rubber balls becoming available in Japan. Vulcanised Rubber was available in the late 1830's in the Western world but possibly not until after the middle 1800's in Japan when its' borders were opened. Or possibly the final nail in temari as a toy wasn't until the 1960's when compressed synthetic rubber balls were developed.

I suppose I will never know the answer for sure, so I'll just keep myself happy with the knowledge that our ancestors all seem to have made ornamental balls for children from rags both in and outside of Japan. Across cultures, distance and time we humans are all the same.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Koinobori Set for Mr W

Since we were blessed with Mr W 10 years ago I wanted to have Koinobori to fly on boys day. Earlier this year we purchased a flag pole (did I mention that before?) so the thought about having Koinobori came back to the front of my mental filing cabinet.

I searched on Amazon Japan and Rakuten but no sellers would send them to Australia (they are a large package with a full set including a pole and sometimes a weight bag or balcony harness. I didn't give up and decided to look on eBay. There were a large array of choices, all out of China which made me feel a little sad really, I mean if I want to spend the money on something traditionally Japanese I want it to come from Japan right?! There were a few single fish flags from Japan but they were used 'vintage' and while they were expensive, they showed signs of wear.

Unperturbed I continued to look over a period of a few months and eventually it paid off when I came across a listing from the Gallatin, TN in the US for a full set including all the bells and whistles, they were unused and from Japan too. Alright!!! The postage was a rather princely sum (twice the cost of the set) but in fairness the box is rather large and I purchased the item anyway.

I think we will only use the actual flag parts because this is a balcony set (we don't have a balcony) and I can't work out how we could possibly rig up the spinner parts which sit at the top of the telescopic pole on our flag pole. We (I mean DH in this case) will make up a short section of rope which we will attach the streamer and 3 fish flags onto and then run this up the flag pole. The longest one is 1.5 metres long, so it should stay clear of the roof as our regular flags are that length.

Speaking of boys day and Koinobori, a while back During one of my many recent trips to Bunbury I purchased some fabric from Michael Millers Asian fabric range. Not sure what I am going to do with it, probably just make a panel for my niece and nephews to hang up on Girls Day (3 March) and Boys Day (May 5th)

Top Row: GirlsDay and Onnanoko panels. Bottom Row: Boys Day and Otokonoko panels.
I showed Miho this fabric and she commented that she had never seen a Japanese boy riding a scooter like that, but the rest looked fairly authentic and she also said that, not having a brother, she wasn't sure what boys did on boys day. If you look closely in the girls panel (top right) you will see temari balls being tossed in the air.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

I've been everywhere man...

I have been travelling a lot lately, since the beginning of February I've driven just short of 8,000 km's (or 4970 miles). This has meant little time for stitching (or other crafting) because I have been on the road 4 or 5 days a week. To put it into context, if I had not needed to be home by 3pm everyday to pick Mr W up from school, I could have travelled this route with those same kilometres. Yes that is about 65% of the road distance (staying as close to the coast as possible) around Australia.

Put another way, I could have travelled from Perth to Sydney and back and still had about 100km's to spare. The good news is I met my kilometre requirement for the FBT year and DH doesn't need to a pay a penalty of $3,500 in tax.

I know you've all heard the Johnny Cash version of I've been everywhere man, but have you heard the Aussie version? Bigpond has used this song for several years to advertise their Internet services in Australia.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Today I made... a bunny...

then I accidentally killed it. More temari stuff to share, I am getting really behind with this blog (and everything else in general) but this is a quick one.

Here is the before pic...

Not too ugly (or bad) for an absolute beginner, of course the pre-made flowers and laves hide the worst bits. It is hand painted flooded royal icing on a chocolate egg. The girls at Bunbury Cake Works wrapped it up in cellophane with a lovely string. But 90 minutes later....

It looked like this...

Oh the humanity!!!! or is that bunmanity?

Oh well that's how it goes!!! Good news is DH and Mr W enjoyed eating it, and I learned a new technique (even though it may, er will, take me years to master it). I was really sad for about half a nanosecond until I remembered (a lesson I learned but adapted from temari making) it was only chocolate and royal icing so it didn't really matter. Thankfully the ladies at the store took a picture so I asked Maria to email it to me.

By the way Mr W said it was quite nice (he meant delicious) as he munched it to bits.