Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Sweet Family - Christmas in the Tropics

For a country with such a diverse population, culturally and religiously (and not necessarily Christian) the celebration of Christmas in Singapore is something you cannot miss (literally).

Growing up in a country where Christmas is part of Summer holidays, it always feels special to me spending this time in the chilly seasons of the northern hemisphere. Santa Claus has his toy workshop at the North Pole, so it makes sense that snow and reindeer feature heavily in the celebrations.

Incredibly, it features highly in the tropical Christmas in Singapore. It feels bizarre walking near Tanglin Mall, dripping with perspiration, past a giant gingerbread house with snow everywhere, then into the Mall to see the furnitue shop displaying a dining room complete with roaring logs on the fire (fake of course). This year's theme is 'The Sweet Family - An Enchanting Christmas'. The Orchard Road decorations are once again amazing with sweets and candy hanging from every tree for about 5kms, with sparkling lights everywhere. No worries about global warming or saving energy here! Even Miss14 was quite taken with it (it must be spectacular!). The supermarkets are brimming with imported foodstuffs from the West - though the thought of cooking a turkey in our dolls house oven just doesn't work.

Last year's lunch would have been over in an hour if we hadn't tried to slow the wait staff down with all courses typically arriving Chinese style in rapid succession. This year we are fortunate to be spending the holiday in the US so hopefully we'll see Santa and the reindeer in the snow I see is falling already.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Table Runner

A few weeks ago I ordered one of my favourite magazines from the US taking advantage of the good exchange rate at the time (which was short lived), Quilting Arts. It's a rare event indeed that I have a) begun something from a current magazine and b) finished it and c) been able to use it before Christmas! Recently I did a machine quilting class with Ms Chan (whose first name I cannot remember!) from Kuching and I finally managed to do something other than practice on calico. Each section of this table runner is quilted slightly differently, but it was a great piece to test out some different stitching.

Some of the fabrics are from the "Olivia the Pig" range, which I sourced here in Singapore. They are lovely and bright and a bit of a change from the usual Christmassy greens and reds.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Peranakan Museum Singapore

A visit to the new Singapore Peranakan Museum showed some lovely textiles and beadwork. The Peranakans or Nyonyas are known for their elaborate wedding attire, beaded shoes and bags and the distinctive bright colours of their ceramics, Nyonyaware.
These beaded shoes are still on the beading loom.

Unfortunately no flash photography was allowed, so it's difficult to see the true colours.

The embroidery and beading on this pageboy wedding outfit is magnificent.

The tiled floor outside the kitchen could be a new design for a quilt!

The beadweaving is almost a forgotten art, but has been rediscovered by a local woman who now teaches classes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stately Homes & More Gardens......

This is the cottage garden at the stately home Stansted Park where my niece works in the tearooms (while she looks for a 'real' job). There is the chapel in the background and pretty English flowers which I really miss here in the tropics.
We haven't seen gardens like this for a long time in Australia either with the prolonged drought and severe lack of water.

Colour in Nature

My friend Ms T came to visit a few months ago and we headed to the Orchid Gardensat the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
I am always taken aback by the colour and beauty of the orchids - they are just stunning.
I have taken these pics with my trusty Casio Exilim 10.1mp. It's a great little camera which travels with me everywhere so I can hopefully capture a good shot or two.

I am currenty taking some interior design classes and find that nature is a great inspiration for which colours go well together.
Now having to choose a colour theme for my living room, I have completely turned full circle away from the reds I originally planned. Living in the tropics has changed all that and I can feel a cooling green theme taking over, perhaps with a splash of another bright colour.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


It was great to spend a couple of weeks holiday in our home country recently. Miss14 and I drove up to visit my Mum and discovered the freeway now bypasses one of our favourite little towns, Malmsbury, which is well known for its great bakery. Being nearly lunchtime, we decided to stop there anyway. This is the lovely courtyard - perfect on a nice sunny day.

We only realised after seeing what we ordered how much we miss typical Aussie fare -
Big M, sausage rolls, proper toasted sandwiches, jam tart, a decent coffee and some yo-yo bikkies to take home for Mum. It was Yum!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fabric Covered Journals

My friend Melinda is running classes to make these fabric covered journals. She has sourced all the bookbinding supplies as well as the gorgeous fabrics and ribbons. The test group had a great time making these. She is also going run classes for her lovely quilts.
I then returned for another class to make a covered recipe book. Diaries, journals, address books and guest books are just a few of the other options. What a great way to personalise a gift for someone. Don't they look awesome?
Mind you, I haven't written a thing in mine yet. Anything less than gold lettering or stunning penmanship will ruin it I'm sure.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Milo McDoodle

How cute is this little guy? He's perched in his favourite spot - on one of the armchairs with a silk cushion for added comfort. I have found a wonderful groomer who doesn't want to just chop all his wool off. Someone did ask me what I did with the leftovers - apparently I could spin it and knit the wool into a hat!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


On a recent night out Miss14 discovered this delectable delight - McPizza. Normally I would nick a couple of fries off her plate, but this concoction really put me off. Doesn't it look awful???

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Old Houses...

One of my favourite pasttimes is touring old houses. This one is Uppark near Petersfield in West Sussex. The first pic shows the front gate....
...then the side entrance, or probably the back door to us.
Uppark was practically burned down about 20 years ago and thankfully a lot of the artworks and furniture were rescued. It has been restored by the National Trust at great cost, but it looks fabulous and most people would not be able to tell the new from the original. Unfortunately we were unable to take photos inside the house.

They have a beautiful Georgian Dollshouse, a miniature of the house, which I could have sat and looked at for hours.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oldies are goodies

I didn't want to turn this into a travel blog, but since doing my art course I see things differently. We are taught about the importance of pattern and repetition and I wonder if this is what architects were thinking in the 14th Century or whether it just had to be bigger than anyone else's palace. This is a courtyard in Hampton Court Palace taken when the sun peeped out for a brief moment in July!
The clock has some amazing gold work on it and the colours are still quite intense.
We were lucky to see some of the costumes used in the recent film, The Other Boleyn Girl, which I just happened to watch on the plane on the way to the UK. These would have been worn by Scarlett Johannssen....
....and the hunky Eric Bana. Eric's can be seen on the left.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christmas Decorations

First, some fabrics with a Christmas theme. These are Japanese ones which I had in my stash.They are then cut into 2 inch squares and folded in various ways using Origami techniques

And Voila! A pretty bauble hanging from my bamboo plant outside. I did this class in a local patchwork shop one afternoon recently. Other participants were Chinese and made cute little mandarins which they were hoping to give as gifts for Chinese New Year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quilting Challenge

Every year the Quilt Groups in Singapore have a challenge.

This year the task is to use at least a Fat Quarter of this fabric in something. It's a design by Iota called Every Iota by Robert Kaufman. Of the two colourways to choose from, there was only one left when I decided to take up the challange. Probably just as well, as I would not have been able to decide between them. Yuck. Of course there were none of the co-ordinating fabrics available, which would have made it easier. The challenge for me has been whether to make the fabric a feature or try and lose it somewhere. Fortunately Miss14 loves it. Teenagers seem to have a completely different view of the world of colour sometimes.
Bernice Bernina has decided to spit the dummy however, so the next challenge will be whether she's able to be fixed in a timely manner. I wonder why I think my machine is a woman? Surely I should rename it Bernie, as only a bloke would do this to you!

Oh I love Ikea!

Voila! A gorgeous piece of artwork for the wall. Now have to find my handyman to put it up!

None of the four thumbs were harmed in this production
Miss14 had her eye on a lovely piece of Amy Butler fabric, which was hiding in my stash
We moved into a new house a few months ago and need to do some serious re-decorating. The house is only 5 years old, but the climate helps everything deteriorate rapidly.