Monday, 30 April 2007

Press, please be safe

I am actually, seriously, praying for my antique letterpress to make it safely, gently from the back of the Penske truck to the floor of our carport. Without incident. It simply cannot live through a century only to meet its end at our inexperienced hands...

It just can't.

Pray pray pray.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Cupcakes and kittens

Zoe made this!

Cutest cupcake/kitten combination I've ever seen. Berry is a huge fan because she loooooves kittens and recently had her first-ever cupcake at little C's first birthday party. (I relented because my sister made extra-special-healthy cupcakes... I need to get that recipe.)

So this cupcake brooch was the most delightful farewell present...

A fortune in phone cards...

Ohhh boy... this stack of phone cards represents $680, and just a fraction of the money I spent on phone calls to the United States in our long-distance-relationship phase. I'm so glad I didn't add it up at the time – I would've had a nervous breakdown.

The first long-distance phase lasted about a year. We started calling (and emailing and IM-ing) in August of 2000, when I got back from backpacking around Europe, and finished in July 2001 when I left Australia for New Orleans. The second long-distance phase lasted about a year, while I worked for UBC in Vancouver, Canada. I don't know why I kept the stack of phone cards from the first 'phase'... I always had one with me. I'd duck out of work mid-afternoon every day and go down seven floors to the phone booth outside the post office, and call from there. I don't miss those days at all.

Anyway, I stumbled upon these while I was cleaning out boxes from the mezzanine in my parents' shed in Brisbane. Every time the kids come home from overseas, Dad pulls out about 30 large boxes, lines them up, and suggests that we "might want to go through those boxes up there and sort out what you want to keep...". It's a valiant attempt to get random mountains of his grown children's stuff out of his shed, and I'd say it's about, oh, 25% effective. But you have to start somewhere.

Friday, 27 April 2007


Someone posted in their blog about Googling their own business name for kicks, and I thought yeah I'll do that. And this (above) is one of the more surprising things that came up, on a site called Kantenklaer.

I don't know, is this Dutch? Afrikaans? Am I showing my ignorance about those languages?

I can guess what the last line says, but who can tell me about the rest?

Another one was from DesignMind (below). A productive little bit of Googling, really. Thanks to these people for writing about my cards!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Two at the foreshore

I was four and my sister was two, and Dad took this photo of us in black-and-white and very fetching hats at one of our favourite places – the Wynnum-Manly foreshore.

Fast-forward a couple of decades... Berry is 18 months old, little C is 12 months, and Dad wants to recreate the scene during our Australia visit. What a fiasco! Organising toddlers for a photo is like herding cats. Truly a fool's errand, and in blazing Brisbane heat it's less funny than you might expect. This (below) is one attempt that doesn't have little C powering into the foreground, or Berry throwing her hat somewhere. Or Mum, mid-flight, trying to rein in a stray child or turn them to face the camera.

But oh look – fabulous – there's a shadow of the photographer's thumb in the corner! We won't name names. We also won't try to pose these little rabbits for a photo, ever again.

(We may have our fingers crossed behind our backs, though.)

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Berry at the beach

Finally – Berry has tackled a real Australian beach.

It's really unheard-of for a little Australian girl to reach 19 months without seeing a real beach, but that's what happens when you live in Washington. We did visit Cannon Beach in Oregon and it was charming and picturesque and hauntingly windswept – I'm just saying if you need your jeans and anorak to visit, it's not a real beach.

We took Berry and cousin C to the beach at Currumbin the morning after Aaron and Sue's wedding. Sparkling white sand as far as the eye could see, and real crashing surf, and sunshine so bright it was hard to look at the sky.

This is a beach.

Food Art

At my brother's 21st, his girlfriend Zoe said when she first liked him, she'd go eat at the cafe where he worked and leave "food art" for him to find. It was usually things like chips arranged to spell out "Hi Dan" and stuff like that.

The cafe's history, but Zoe still makes the food art. This is what she came up with for Dan the other night.

When people say, "But it makes me sad to eat him!" – then you know you've made a good giant-fruit-lobster.

Signs of home (VIII): Nappies

Yes: in Australia, "diapers" are called N A P P I E S.

Here's proof.

Pretty at the gallery (II)

This installation is part of The 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery.

This'll make me seem like I have no artistic insight whatsoever, but I'm going to say it anyway: I like this because it reminds me of lollies.

So there.

We love a good wedding

Aaron and Sue got married! It was the event that launched this April trek around the world, and it was so worth the distance!

You know how much more fabulous weddings are when you really, really like the couple and truly see that they're meant to be together? Well, this was one of those weddings.

A gorgeous, sweet bride, my three brilliant brothers looking oh-so-smooth in their suits, and lots of happy people in very pretty places... perfect.

How cute are the little bride-and-groom corks? My brother Dan's artist girlfriend Zoe created them – hilarious, genius...

Berry did put on a bit of an uninvited performance in the second row of the chapel during the first prayers. Nothing bad or noisy really – she just saw no reason why an 18-month-old in a special dress shouldn't be allowed to caper around among the guests, and made every effort to get out there... Zoe distracted her for a few minutes with her special kitten brooch (note to girls with children: Zoe is a treasure trove of magical decorations guaranteed to fascinate children – sit near her!) ...unfortunately in the end I spent most of the ceremony standing up the back at the doors, with Berry scampering around on the grass outside. Lucky the chapel was cosy; made it easier to hear.

I loved the musical for Aaron and Sue's bridal waltz. No idea what it was called, but I loved it. And the speeches were excellent (this is rare at a wedding, I don't care what anyone says).

Pretty at the gallery

Our trip to the Queensland Art Gallery: we saw this amazing light sculpture hanging over the reflecting pond in the Watermall.

(The chandelier was created by Chinese artist Al Weiwei and has more than 300,000 crystals (!) It's part of The 5h Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.)

Last time I was there – two years ago – the pond was filled with thousands of baseball-sized polished silver balls, and it looked magical.

It makes me wonder what I've missed in between visits.

Signs of home (VII): Kookaburras

"Thou shalt not covet thy parents' vintage kookaburra-shaped ceramic jugs" ...or something.

I've wanted these for sooo long. They belonged to my Nanna and Pa, and I was always fascinated with them as a kid. For years the kookaburras sat above the fireplace next to the mantle clock in their lounge room at Duncan Road. Now my parents have them above a fireplace next to a mantle clock in their house.

I'm going to have to get me a fireplace and a mantle clock, I reckon.

Signs of home (VI)

Oh Scrabble mornings! Once a week, since forever, my mum and my Aunty Bev have played Scrabble together. Mum's intolerable to play Scrabble with. She keeps coming round to look over your shoulder at your letters and say: "Ooohh, I can see a GREAT one for you! Let me tell you what it is!" Intolerable, I tell you. She doesn't do that to Aunty Bev.

I can win at Boggle though. We're word nerds, it's true.

Signs of home (V)

{abandoned house, Redlands, Queensland}

This old house says "home" – Australia – to me in so many ways. And the big blue sky and the telephone pole and the brittle brown grass, the red dirt and the power lines and that little bit of loneliness. All, somehow, home.

Signs of home (IV)

{Boxing kangaroo flag, New Farm, Queensland}

I love that they're using it for a curtain. This New Farm house sits near the end of a street full of other characters ... the kind that make me think the homogeneous whitebread residential developments we're building now are a serious mistake.

Bring on the kangaroo flags.

Signs of home (III): Kangaroos

{Aussie kangaroo souvenirs in a Chinatown shop window, Fortitude Valley, Queensland}

I spent a morning taking photos around Fortitude Valley, for the new cards I'm working on and for ...hmm... I have a feeling I'll use them for something else, I just don't know what it is yet. I think I'll spend a while looking at the images, playing with them, and see what comes of it.

It's strange to see all these Australian souvenirs now, as a non-tourist "tourist". I find myself looking at plush koalas and thinking "Awwwww..." then– "waaait a second!" Seriously, I almost get sucked in.

It's even stranger to feel like a stranger in your own town. But that's a whole other conflict.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Beach baby

The lagoon and beach at South Bank are man-made, but a one-year-old doesn't know that! It was a very sandy and fun adventure, all the way up until some kid crashed into her in the shallows. Knocked her over, then it was tears tears tears...

Happily, grandma and a cup of orange juice and water fixed everything.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Signs of home: II

Ah, Australia Post and Coles trolleys... this reminds me in a funny way of my uni days. Toowong and St Lucia were always littered with shopping trolleys abandoned by uni students who didn't have cars, and didn't want to carry their groceries all the way home.

And I still think red is a much easier colour for spotting postboxes than blue (think about it, USPS).

Signs of home

Little things I've realised I miss about Brisbane, since I've been here: kookaburras at dawn, lemon gum, magpies, heavy rain on hot bitumen, rowers on the river, and old Queensland workers' cottages like this one.

I'd love to know the lives that have been lived here...

Friday, 13 April 2007

Treasury Fun

Oh yay! My 'Ciao Bella' vintage vespa cards are featured in a gorgeous stationery-themed Etsy Treasury chosen by TheIvyLeaf (top row, center). What a nice note to end the week on...

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Brisbane: pretty in a frame

We stopped in Highgate Hill on a sunny afternoon at a park with sweeping views of the Brisbane CBD. Next to the park is an apartment tower that my brother says was once the city's tallest building. Happily, it seems very small now.

Highgate Hill is an unpretentiously charming mix of the uniquely Australian house styles I've been longing to see again (with a few spectacularly ugly errors thrown in... otherwise how would we be entertained?).

Such an excellent afternoon.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Behind bars

Yesterday I went on a photography adventure around the city, getting material for more in the chopsueycocktails line as well as some inspiration for images to screen-print. There are always scenes I can't resist capturing along the way, even though I can't think of any particular use for them at that moment. This is one.

Friday, 6 April 2007

The other side of the world

Here we are on the other side of the world – home for me, and little Berry's first trip to her "other half", Australia. We've been here a bit over 24 hours and already Berry has thrown herself into it enthusiastically. An abundance of space, sunshine and uncles, plus a puppy (oh the joy) and a cousin. She's been chasing Ruffy the dog, she's been chased – possibly too many times now – by cousin C, she's been climbing steps and exploring tractors and kicking soccer balls and playing with the magical tea set she got from her grandma and granddad. She's also had Christmas-in-April and cousin C's first birthday party. All in the first day.

It's likely to be too much fun.

Spring flowers

I didn't want to keep these to myself...

Birthday Girl

At last I can show you the custom invitations I made especially for Erin's 18th birthday. They needed to be gorgeous, they needed to be made in her favourite colours and they needed to be a secret until her special party was over! This sweet retro birthday girl seemed just right for the occasion...