Monday, April 14, 2014

Holiday Reads - Making Soapies in Kabul

Seeing as we're suddenly in holidays I thought I'd take some time over the next 2 weeks to share some reads I've recently been enjoying. (Including a special guest review by Flip!)

Making Soapies in Kabul by Trudi-Ann Tierney is the kind of book The Atlas usually picks up at the library, it's an autobiographical book with some kind of travel element involved. The book covers the 3 years Trudi-Ann spent working in the world of making TV in Afghanistan.

This book is one of those that gives a human insight into the crazy world of living in 'the Ghan' and making soap operas. As you can imagine things aren't straight forward but Trudi-Ann's warmth and genuine love of her crazy role takes you in and envelopes you in all the madness. Trudi-Ann doesn't down play the crazy or the cultural disconnects and mis-connects but she writes with humanity and warmth and has a deep affection for the cast of crazy expats and Afghans she meets in her time there.

I enjoyed reading it. It's a bit like intimate emails from a loved one in a far off land and it captures an Afghanistan that doesn't feature in news stories and western perceptions. It's not a picture of perfection though, far from, it's riotous, shocking and hilarious, but I like that - real but different.

If you like the thought of far-flung adventures and peaking behind the doors of making soapies with culture clashes and the insanity of doing anything in a war zone this is a book that you'll love. It's both readable and put down-able; you can read large chunks or just pick up here and there with snatches of time in between holiday activities with your loved ones.

Details - PUBLISHED: March 2014 IMPRINT: Allen & Unwin CATEGORY: Autobiography  RRP: $29.99 EBOOK: Yes

love you more than taking an adventure into a danger-zone without the danger xxx

Sunday, April 13, 2014


This boy playing mix and match with my shoes.

This boy after 2 lessons playing (and singing his heart out) at church this morning.

These are the boys I was given and I couldn't be more grateful for them, and for the great man they call Dad.

love you more than a bum note in a first performance xxx

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make My Week - Will You Vote

So I am about to write a very long post to tell you about my entry into the Offset Warehouse Competition. If you're not one for reading these could I still ask you (very nicely) to go over and vote here.

There are four of us bloggers who have used some beautiful Offset Warehouse fabric to create something and it would be so nice if lots of people voted. Please vote for the one you genuinely like the best. Don't vote for me because you love me - vote for your fav. Ok?

So vote, vote, vote and make us feel like people are interested in our creations :o)

I was accepted with my idea by Zoe under the theme of Everyday Awesome and these are my thoughts.
When I read Zoe’s theme – everyday awesome – I loved it. What better thought to carry around in your heart than: there are ways as creative people to make everyday awesome.

We are given this day, others were not.  Some people’s days are taken from them by death, by force, by poverty, by slavery, by chance. We are given this day. This is a day to celebrate.  As a mama I have well known the pyjama filled days, those days of distaste at the stretch marks that have turned my tummy into something that resembles a deflating balloon. But I also know that getting up and dressing up for the day, choosing that favourite dress, those shoes that make you feel indestructible, those earrings given to you by someone who thinks you are wonderful – those days are better days.

Sometimes by being everyday awesome and wearing something special instead of saving it for a ‘proper’ occasion, we make someone smile. Maybe the person who smiles is the little person who looks up at a ‘dressed up’ grown up and thinks, ‘one day I will still dress-up too’. I think we owe it to ourselves and our children to send a message out to the world that we are more than bill payers, notice signers, dinner makers, environmental worriers/warriors, we are still just a little bit lot, wonderfully made. 

And so I was so thrilled to be chosen to make a dress from Offset Warehouse’s collection. Because I believe creativity is important and I am excited to see people helping us to do that in better ways – ethically, sustain-ably, leaving a gentle footprint. I am trying to make choices that reflect my respect for this great human family and for this wonderful earth we are charged to steward.

For the last 3 years we have journeyed through 10,000s of earthquakes in Christchurch, as the earth has destroyed grandma’s china, houses, sewer lines and lives it has also built communities that are knit together, it has made empty spaces that creative people have filled and it has taught us that what matters and what remains unshakable are relationships. It has taught me that joy and love and shared laughter are my gifts to the world and I will give them with all the generosity I have and in every creative way I can think of.  

It has taught me that I can, and should, use and enjoy my special things everyday or I can save them, only to find they are destroyed anyway. The value is not in the things themselves, it is in the use and pleasure we derive from them. It has taught me to use, wear, enjoy, and share today.

I’m not waiting for a special occasion. Today is awesome. Every day is awesome. I am not the youngest, oldest, wisest, strongest, prettiest, cleverest, slimmest woman in the world and so I owe it to myself, to other women, to my children and to others to declare (often with how I dress,) I’m not waiting for a special occasion, a better body, a better day. 

Maybe someone whose day is very far from awesome today needs to look at you and feel the hope of a better tomorrow. Go out with some glitter in your pocket (metaphorically) and make the world awesome.
Stop saving your blanks (in scrabble) until the end of the game. Wear your favourite dress, use your favourite china, use that massage voucher you were given, paint your toenails…. Or pay it forward and let someone else enjoy it.

I leave you with one of my favourite (slightly doctored) quotes:

Life may not be the party we expected, but while we’re here we might as well (don our favourite dress) dance (in public).

March to the beat of your own drum, dress with attitude, be imperfect, be everyday awesome.
Miriam x

Self-made flouncy petticoat, shoes from the goodwill op-shop, hand me down tights, also earrings made from wood from deconstructed houses (as a result of earthquakes).

My sincere thanks to the fabulous folks at offset warehouse for the opportunity to make this ensemble and for their enthusiasm in all our correspondence.

Hugethanks to lovely Zoe for picking my entry and for her continued challenge and inspiration to make good, ethical choices in my own crafting. I hope I have made something you think is beautiful. Good luck to my fellow contestants I so look forward to being inspired by your fabulous makes. 

More crafty ladies over here

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a brand new stranger-stopping dress xxx

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

in my neighbourhood - The Studio

The Art Gallery is situated on North Terrace in the central city. We've been here a couple of times with the boys. Perhaps, typically?, they don't like spending hours looking at each piece of art, although they definitely have their favourites.

We have however made a wonderful discovery in the art gallery. In the gallery there is a room set aside called The Studio - sponsored by a couple it features some kind of interactive art making that goes with the theme of the latest special exhibition.

The first time we went the room was decorated to go with the Middle Eastern art that was currently featured. There was Plasticine and we made little 'trinkets'. At least that was what we were supposed to make. Bounce made about 40 things and Flip made some kind of obstacle course that used rather a lot of the tools as well. I made a 'tree of life'.

The next time we went we had The Atlas with us. The exhibition was the current 'Dark Heart' one. The large house they are posing on (we read the sign afterwards that said please keep off, oops!) is also part of the exhibit.

This time we were supposed to make talismans - being that I'm not really  into them we just did our normal make your own thing. The Atlas made me an eye patch (so romantic) and I made a couple of brooches - which I forgot to photograph. I really liked that for this one there was no tape or glue so aside from sewing you had to get creative with how to put things together.

Also they decorate the studio to match the theme which is pretty cool too.

... and the cafe features colour in table cloths - what's not to love?

The Studio is open the same days as the gallery and is free. Yay! If you like making and you have no shame you can go by yourself as an adult or you can round up some kids and take them too, for a cultural experience.

** In my neighbourhood, recording our journey and writing the kind of posts about living in Adelaide I wanted to find before we left NZ**

love you more than crafty challenges xxx

Monday, April 7, 2014

Reading and Making

I'm a start messy, finish neatish baker - I get out all the ingredients and everything I need before I start and then put it away/in the sink as I go. (It's important you know these things about me right?)

As I currently have no 'baking' recipe books (and these are the kind I like most of all) I was very happy to receive The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook which is a collection of winning recipes from 'show' bakers. The show and its baking is clearly a popular part of the 'country comes to town' shows around Australia. The book also includes tips and tricks from judges and winners as well as a bio of each person (not all women) featured. I love the social history element of this book and the huge collection of historical photos throughout.

In terms of the book as a recipe book I really like that they include measurements in cups as well as weights. Having no scales here and preferring a cup of this and that style for my own baking. Personally I would prefer a layout that was by type (biscuits, cakes, etc) than the way it is laid out  in alphabetical order.

The first recipe I tried was the lemon slice (which is The Atlas favourite type). It was really good but I under cooked it the first time and it was super gooey, as in eat with a spoon. We didn't mind until The Atlas remembered he had to take morning tea the next day and so he took a slice to share that really didn't have the right qualities for sharing in a work environment where you can't wipe your hands on your trousers and you are likely to get coated in lemon goo.

The second try was consumed in record time and cooked for longer was a greater success. (i used brown sugar rather than caster sugar which is why it looks so caramel coloured).

I also made jam drops (I put too many on the tray so they are not the uniform perfection one might be expected to produce).

Finally I made 'plain biscuits' which I added cocoa and peanut butter to, to make a very popular lunchbox biscuit. Although I doctored the recipe I like to think it's in keeping with the tradition of the show, home cooks doing what works, with the ingredients they have.

I am really looking forward to trying some more recipes from this book and I think they'll be achievable and have that wonderful good old fashioned flavour you can't go past in home baking.

Am I cut out to be a 'show cook'? Not a chance, nothing I make is uniform, but it won't stop me enjoying and making the recipes and learning more about the ladies and men behind them.

The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook is published by Allen and Unwin and came out at the beginning of this month. RRP $ 39.99, you can also get it by ebook if that's more your flavour (he he pun intended!)

love you more than eating warm baking straight from the tin 
(for quality control purposes only mind!) xxx

Sunday, April 6, 2014

14 of 52

Bunny craft with friends

it's so nice to let them make things that are special and chose ideas

love you more than a chocolate and marshmallow combo xxx

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Madly Making

So my gorgeous fabric arrived on Thursday for the Offset Warehouse challenge. The fact that we had a flat inspection (flat needed to be tidy) on Friday meant I could only wash the fabric and stroke it, smell it and imagine the exotic locations where it was lovingly hand stamped.

Friday night and I am pinning and cutting pattern pieces and making piping.

Marvelling at pretty good lining up of the line that runs through the pattern.

Inserting boning (not actually difficult to do if you haven't done it before).

And ironing! Yes I hear you gasping in surprise too - but I want to impress Zoe, who picked me for her representative.

Hoping I make good progress tonight, we have visitors arriving tomorrow to stay and this dress must be finished and photographed and submitted before Wednesday next week.

Sending me all your accurate and fast sewing vibes please.

Love you more than a mad sewing rush xxxx