Saturday, March 30, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Week 25

I spent a lot more time writing letters this week than making mail art, but I did get a few pieces finished. I have a heap of craft bits and pieces lying around so I'm trying to use those up, in addition to the usual reuse and recycle, which comes in handy when there's no craft store locally to buy new things. It's friendly on the wallet too.
#83 of 365:
Recycled kiwis for Maaike in Holland...

#84 of 365:
Recycled Brian Froud faerie for Laura...

#85 of 365:
A pink cupcake birthday card...

#86, 87, 88 and 89 of 365:
And I put a rainy day to good use by making some old school Friendship Books (the original mail art).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Week in Pictures...

** With each passing week it is feeling more and more like autumn, which is a relief since Indian Summers are frustratingly common. The mornings are cool and bright, the afternoon shadows long and the evenings are notably chilly. The autumn equinox (Mabon) passed on Thursday so now the days are becoming shorter and shorter.
** We are still receiving the odd hotter day (or two) every week where the daytime temperature will suddenly soar to the mid-30s (*C), but a series of much cooler days generally follows. We had thunderstorms and 2mm of rain fall in the early hours of Thursday morning; the lightning was so bright and the thunder so loud we would wake with the arrival of each new storm, of which there were 4 between the hours of 2am and 5am. These came from the same front that spawned the tornadoes in rural Victoria.
** During the summer months we live on a lot of salads and fresh fruit, but now that the weather is cooling we are craving roasts, fresh breads and soups. If you've not tried this recipe for roasted vegetable soup then you must: It is absolutely delish and an autumn/winter favourite in our house.
** Had a lovely book haul this week with the arrival of an order I placed prior to my birthday, plus the surprise arrival of a belated birthday gift from the lovely Nicki. I've already read one, am halfway through another and I'm itching to get to the final two. I look forward to the days when it is cold enough to sit by the fire and simply immerse myself in a book for hours on end.
** Bailey-dog is enjoying the cooler days also. Every morning I find him soaking up the sun's rays on the back deck, a look of perfect contentment on his sweet spoodle face.
I hope your week was just as pleasant?

Friday, March 22, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 23 & 24

Autumn and Saint Patrick's Day were my inspiration for the last two weeks of mail art; stampers were my craft tool of choice.
#76 of 365:
Autumn leaves for Lina in Lithuania.

Clover leaf postcards for Saint Patrick's Day (clockwise from top):
#77 of 365 for Alison in Australia;
#78 of 365 for Rin in Australia;
#79 of 365 for Janice Marie in Australia.

#80 of 365:
Busy fern leaves in what was supposed to be the colours of dusk for Nicola in Australia.

#81 of 365:
Falling maple leaves for Laura in Australia.

#82 of 365:
I used stampers and watercolour paints to make matching paper and envelope for Sarah in USA.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Week in Pictures...

** The week started as summer with hot days and humid nights, but by week's end it had morphed into autumn with cool, breezey days, bright orange sunsets and damp, dewey nights. Today it was only 11*C at 7.30am, a temperature we've not seen for at least four months and its sudden arrival gave us goosebumps. But that is what's so great about autumn: After months of seemingly endless heat you don't mind a bit of chill.
** We are eating the last of the summer fruits and veg (that which didn't die in the heat) whilst the weather forecast for the coming week only has one day above 35*C. Hopefully this means summer is well and truly drawing to a close for at least another 7 or 8 months, and we don't end up with an Indian Summer in May like we did last year. We pray for abundant, rejuvinating autumnal rains.
** Bailey-dog had his last "summer cut" this week. From now until next summer he'll only need a trim every 6 weeks or so. He's super cute all the time, but even more so with a bit of curl.
** Autumn has me unpacking my stampers and inks and decorating all sorts of items in the red, yellow, orange and brown of autumn leaves. This month I am taking part in the Love Notes Postcard Project and sent out my first postcard on Friday to J in Melbourne.
** I continue with the mail art, although this week I had to undertake a shopping trip to stock up on pens as I was officially penless. I think I've bought enough to last the next two months, but I have a terrible habit of scattering my pens throughout the house and then forgetting where I've put them, so when I need them I don't know where they are.
** I've been quiet on the blog these past couple weeks whilst I work on a novel critique and complete assignments for my editing course. I have many things to write about but just struggle to find the time at the minute, but I'm hoping the critique will be finished by the middle of this week. That should free up some time.
** Oh, and Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I hope your day is wonderfully green.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kiss Me (I'm Irish)

[Me - a few years younger than what I am now - at Fore Abbey in Ireland]
Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day. I don't participate in the celebrations but I do find it a good day to reflect on where my family originates and how I came to be a South Australian. Like many Australians I have Irish ancestry; it is something that has always been assumed but in the process of researching my family history I have been able to confirm it with at least one set of great x4 grandparents (Isaac and Catharine) originating from Londonderry in Northern Ireland. They came out to South Australia as free settlers in the mid-1800s, eventually establishing their own farm at Bundaleer. As I continue to research my family tree I've no doubt I'll find further connections to the Emerald Isle (to not would just be odd).
Earlier in the week I received an email from Aine Greaney (author of Dance Lessons) advising that in "celebration" of St Patrick's Day (and all things Irish) she is providing access to three of her short stories on the theme Infidelity, Irish style via her website.
I wanted to share this information with you earlier but work committments kept me from the blog until now and I missed story #1 (Wednesdays). However, story #2 (La Belle Femme) is currently available for reading, and the third (What the Body Remembers) will be up in time for St Patrick's Day. So, if you are interested in some contemporary Irish fiction then I suggest to head over to Aine's website. Her work is lovely. And it's free.
Now, tell me: What is your connection to Ireland?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Week in Pictures...

** I had hoped that with the arrival of March the summer weather would finally begin to ease, but alas! it hasn't been so. I think it might even be worse now as the days are in the mid-30s (*C) or higher and the humidity is up around 70%. We are not tropical. We're not even sub-tropical. Perhaps that's the reason why, unlike the tropical parts of the country, we don't get the relief of regular, afternoon rains. The week ahead appears to be much the same: High temperatures with high humidity but no rainfall. Clearly Mother Nature missed the memo about the changing seasons.
** Although warm, the mornings have been lovely; almost too beautiful to complain about. The moisture in the air creates a gentle mist that weaves itself around the trees and through the garden, before the warmth of the sun finally gobbles it up. I like to think of it as interactive weather: You can smell it, taste it, feel it, and it sustains the hope that autumn really is just around the corner.
** I got to spend a few precious hours with my grandparents this week as they were passing through on their way home from Adelaide. They live more than two hours west of us, in a cozy farming community on the Eyre Peninsula. They ended up staying longer than expected, which was wonderful.
** I also had a birthday. A little older and hopefully a little wiser, right? Shane took me out for a special off-the-menu gourmet vegetarian feast at our favourite local eatery (lucky we know the cook!). I spoiled myself and ordered books and shoes and nerdy postal knick-knacks, and received the most wonderfully thoughtful gifts from friends and family, including a pair of handcrafted emerald earrings from my sweetest friend, Lau. I finished the day watching episodes of Ghost Adventures and eating icecream cake. Not a bad way to spend a birthday at all.
How did you spend your week?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Week 22

It seems that letter booklets are becoming an increasingly popular way to send correspondence. Rather than fight the trend, this week I decided to join it and make my own. 
A letter booklet is a handmade booklet that contains a letter and any other bits and pieces the writer wants to include inside.
But before I got on with making the booklets I had two birthday cards to send out:
#70 of 365:
Handmade birthday greetings for รพ in Iceland...

#71 of 365:
...and C in Holland.

#72 of 365:
The letter booklets I made are being sent in transparent envelopes with loose confetti inside for decoration. The first is on its way to Raquel in Sweden.

#73 of 365:
Another is on its way to Holly in England...

#74 of 365:
As well as Ashley in Canada...

#75 of 365:
...and Cheetarah in The Netherlands.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

I made Eggplant (aubergine) Parmesan for dinner last night. Shane was adamant he wasn't going to like it but then when back for seconds. I was eating the toasted eggplant fresh out of the oven, before it even had a chance to reach the casserole dish. It really is delicious, so I thought I'd share the recipe so everyone can enjoy it.
It's based on a Quick, Light & Delicious recipe, which I've modified to suit my own tastes.
3 eggs whites, lightly whisked
1/4 cup water
1 large eggplant (or 2 small) cut into 5mm slices
1/3 cup of plain flour
1 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs
440g can diced tomatoes
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (extra sharp)
Dried garlic flakes
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 200*C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a small bowl lightly whisk egg whites and stir in water.
3. Add grind of salt and pepper to flour, and garlic flakes (as little or as much as you like) to breadcrumbs. Dip eggplant in flour, then egg whites followed by breadcrumbs.
4. Place eggplant in a single layer on baking trays and bake in oven, turning once, until golden and tender (approximately 30 minutes).
5. Spread 1/3 of the tomatoes over the base of a medium casserole dish. Cover with a layer of the eggplant, 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients, finishing with tomatoes, mozarella and parmesan on top.
6. Bake in oven until cheese melts and ingredients are heated through (approximately 15 minutes).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Week in Pictures...

** Although it was a busy week with much to pass the time, there is only one thing you need to know: IT RAINED. It fell non-stop from 8am until 8pm on Wednesday. Nothing torrential, just 20mm or so, but it was absolute bliss regardless. We opened all the windows and doors and let the fresh, cool breeze flow through the house and enjoyed the sound of raindrops on our hot tin roof.

Friday, March 1, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 20 & 21

Trial and error: It's the only way to describe the last fortnight's attempts at mail art.
I made a lot but ending up ditching most of it because it just didn't work out the way I'd imagined. I mentioned in Week 19 that I was out of ink in my printer and I haven't replaced it because I thought being without it would force me to try something different, and it did. But the downside to this experiment is that I am now drastically behind schedule with the project: I need to make around 10 pieces a week for the next 31 weeks!
No pressure or anything.
#65 of 365:
I have decided to make birthday cards for all my friends celebrating birthdays this month, as mine also falls in March. This handmade postcard is on its way to F in the UK (trying my luck sending buttons through the post yet again!).
#66 of 365:
For L in Australia: A handmade aerogramme! When I first starting sending international mail at around 12 years old I used aerogrammes quite regularly, especially for introductory letters since they were only 80c at the time.
#67 of 365:
For L in South Africa - I just hope my instructions for opening these aerogrammes (scrawled on the reverse) makes sense to the recipients as aerogrammes aren't as widely used as they once were. 
#68 of 365:
You know how I love to recycle, right? Twinings teabox hearts for F in Canada...
#69 of 365:
And hand-punched clovers for M in the USA! I had a hell of a time figuring out the sewing machine for these pieces - it just refused to be nice! In the end I discovered the tension was all wrong so after a bit of adjusting and readjusting it now seems to be working fine, although I can only use it to create a straight line (but that's not the machine's fault).