Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Puffing Billy Work Christmas Party

I can't believe it is the end of the teaching year already, the year has gone so fast, as is evident by my lack of posts. However, I have been doing a bit of sewing lately, mostly work wear.

I got the opportunity the other day to take my DSLR on Puffing Billy. Work had a Christmas function organised where we caught the locomotive to Gembrook and then we had lunch at The Independent restaurant (argentinian cuisine).

Nicholas doesn't really allow me the luxury of taking pictures anymore (oh! How I miss attending camera club). So if I get the opportunity to whip out the camera and take a few snaps, I will take it!

I got to Puffing Billy nice and early to allow time to explore and take a few candid snaps of the engineers doing their stuff.

The trip to Gembrook took ages. But given that the train generally doesn't go any faster than 15 kms, it did well. Along the line there are signs telling the engines to slow down to 10/15 kms when turning corners. Another teacher had their iPad with them that tracked the speed of the engine as we went up to Gembrook.

Given we were all teachers or support people, I think that everyone re-lived a bit of their childhood that day. Hanging their legs out of the carriages,  carriage hopping at each station and having a grand 'ol time!

Lunch at the Independent was just divine. Not overly excessive as some Christmas Lunches had been in the past and I was impressed at how they handled the group of us that was "Nut Free".

Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Free Worldwide Shipping and 20% off

You might need to be quick on this one, Society6 have got Free Worldwide Shipping and 20% OFF until Midnight PT!


I am thrilled to bits at how my products are produced by Society6. 
The Tote bags, cups and mobile covers have endured the rough handling that I have given them.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Lovely kitchen prints

I wish I had more wall space to hang some of these lovelies.

I love the water colour type prints of multiple objects.

This vegetable print is gorgeous as well, giving us a visual representation of what should be in season. I think that this one will be lovely in my laundry space.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Cathedral Window Quilt

At last a tutorial which makes quilting "cathedral windows" easy!

I'm loving the Missouri Star Quilt Co youtube video's. Instruction is clear and I like the fact that she uses a larger size of blocks to show you how it works rather than using 2.5 inch blocks.

I love both the complexity and simplicity of the Cathedral block.

Similar but different was the OhFransson Clementine Quilt using appliquéd quenelles to create a faux Cathedral look. The posts are no longer on her blog, but this picture from Pinterest gives you an idea of the loveliness of her design. She would either rule up the squares or sew squares together, then cover the seams with her quenelles. This charm pack from Missouri Quilt Company would be ideal for this design.


Have you tried to make a cathedral windows quilt?

More Links:

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Patchwork inspiration at the British Library

There is patchwork inspiration everywhere!

OpenCulture put up an article on the images that the British Library have released into the public domain and I found this one in the "Flickr highlights" link.

Image taken from page 189 of 'The Chromatographic Chronicle of English History, illustrated by ... coloured charts, etc' 1864 [source]

I can see how this could translate quite nicely into an interesting quilt. Can you?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Vale Maggie Iaquinto @VK3CFI

When a close friend passes away it is hard to know what to say or do. Maggie passed away on this day in 2014, and I guess that it has taken me this long to be able to write about her without bursting into tears. It has been a tough year without her friendship.


I met Maggie through my association with the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association.

Maggie was a sharp shooter. She didn't suffer fools and she loved teaching students. Her love for the job extended to helping teachers and so our two world collided. We worked on the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association together and she was a great friend to be able to "run an idea past".

She was more than a Colac housewife, she was amazing.

As Information Technology permeated through secondary schools, Information Technology teachers who knew how to actually program became scarce. She wasn't afraid of teaching her students the hard stuff and never dumbed anything down for them.

Maggie is probably the first person that I know of, who has passed away leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs. Twitter, Facebook, Livejournal; they all tell the tale of a remarkable woman and I am truly blessed to have named her as a friend. I miss her counsel and her amazing optimism and energy. Right up until the very end she was working on the VCAA Computing and Infomatics Study Design.

A friend wrote a blog post in 2009 called A Tale of Three Margaret's which summarised Maggie's accomplishments in IT Education.  But it wasn't until she passed away that I realised how much more there was to her life and I got to meet her two gorgeous son's. Ben and Josh, your mother is looking down upon you and so proud of what you have achieved.

Maggie you are missed.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Plummeting towards her eighth birthday

My husband reminded me this morning that it was three months until my daughters 8th birthday.

Where does the time go?

I took these pictures on our last school holiday family trip to central Australia.

I am constantly amazed at how fast she is growing up and how her mind is developing. She has amazing ideas about how the world operates and she isn't afraid to ask the questions.

She has recently discovered Doctor Who and is devouring the complexity of the episodes and back stories to the Doctor and the aliens that he comes across.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The pursuit of a clear ice cube

My fascination with how to create clear ice cubes at home began a few months back when I had a chance to visit Palmer and Co in Sydney. A 1920's bar in Abercrombie Lane in Sydney, the ice that they use is called Artisanal Ice.

My father is a refrigeration mechanic, so we have spent lots of time talking about how the clear ice blocks are made and how you could make it in your home freezer. The fancy ice making process fascinates me and I am sure that it will be the next evolution of domestic refrigeration ice makers.

But does it make your drinks nicer? I must admit that for a special occasion, a clear cube does make a difference to the ambiance! So I was very excited to see this Kickstarter project, the "Polar Ice Tray". I love design items, I hope that this Kickstarter is successful.

Until then ... enjoy a bit of ice!

Friday, 3 April 2015

#BigRockTrip - Traveling with Nicholas

I'm not sure if we are crazy, but we agreed to accompany a group of close friends on a trip from Melbourne to Uluru during the Easter Holiday break. 

For those people with no concept of the size of Australia, it is like driving from one side of Europe to the other. But in harsher conditions, sometimes with days of no petrol stations or internet services.

Image courtesy of Google

Knowing that Nicholas is special needs meant that packing "lightly" was a bit more of a challenge than usual. I guess his disability isn't as very visual when you only see him every once in a while within a controlled environment. Often people comment that he doesn't look like he has a disability. At social events we can set him up in the corner with his iPad and his cars and he will generally be no problems. There is another four year old on this trip with us. When you put them side by side, you can see the differences quite clearly.

But in the outback, Nicholas can run and continue running. He doesn't respond to "stop", but will respond if we start to sing a Justine Clarke song. That has been the greatest challenge so far on this trip, his ability to go from stand-still to full on running in 5 seconds. Which is manageable if there is an adult looking out for him, but if you turn his back all of a sudden he is half way to Adelaide in the wrong direction. When he gets exhausted he falls to the ground and is a dead weight to pick up. He then re-energises and he is off again.

So we needed to bring a pusher with us. Which took up lots of room in the back of the car and sometimes the pusher was completely impractical in the outback (it is falling to bits and it is not a rough terrain pusher), but the ability to strap Nicholas into a safe space has been so important for his safety and our backs! At 20 kilo's we are pushing the limitations of the stroller a bit. 

He is too heavy to go into a camping back pack and when we do horsey rides on our backs he doesn't have the understanding to clasp his hands around our necks. We looked at the piggy back rider, but when he is exhausted he is a dead weight.

Today has been the first time since starting this adventure that I have had a change to read the online newspapers and although I was initially shocked to read the article of the Canberra Primary school that build a "cage like structure" in their classroom. I can totally relate to having a safe space where you can place a high-needs child. 

I'd be asking questions like, why does the child need a withdrawal space. For the safety of the child or the rest of the children? What disability does he have. Some autistic children are physically violent and bite. The article leaves out so many details and places all the blame on the school without allowing the reader to understand how the school came to the decision. I am sure that the decision wasn't made in haste and was made to try and ensure a conducive teaching and learning environment for all involved.

In the outback it is harder to allow Nicholas to roam free and do what he wants, he has loved the opportunities to run and feel the soil and use all his senses in this new environment. But his safety has to be paramount.

We have spent the night in Cooper Pedy in a hotel, and for me as a parent it has just been bliss. A confined and safe space with internet access. Tomorrow night we are back to camping and back to the carefully choreography that we go through to enable him and us to enjoy the outback safely.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Loving those guitar solo's with The Bluetones

When I have songs on shuffle, I often find myself listening to an album and reminiscing about how that album came to be on my system.

I am not sure where I heard "Slight Return" the first time, but it was the guitar work that eventually lead me to buy The Bluetones "Expecting to Fly" CD and the album has been a favourite ever since.

Classic Britpop, I fear that I might have also been listening to Oasis at the same time. I believe that the Bluetones album is way better than the Oasis album and the band lasted a bit longer than them!

I have no other albums by this band, I just like this one. My album collection is scattered with one off purchases like this.

"When your near my heart beats quick and faster" I love "Putting out fires", especially Adam Devlin's guitar solo. 

Great driving and singing music.

Enjoy their music courtesy of Youtube.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Reflecting on Rare Diseases Day 2015 #22q13 @MCRI_for_kids

This weekend we pause to reflect on Rare Diseases Day which aims to raise awareness of rare diseases and conditions which effect members of our community. There isn't much that we can do as a society to "fix" people affected, except support those doctors and researchers that are finding ways to lessen the impact or cure rare diseases.

My son, Nicholas is one of about ~ 1,000 people worldwide (60 in Australia) who has been diagnosed with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (22q13); a chromosomal deletion that effects the brains ability to produce the protein needed for long term memory and cognitive development.

As the costs of genetic screening becomes cheaper and more sophisticated, the ability for us to identify why children are developmentally delayed becomes easier. So cases like Nicholas' will become more common place in the future, rather than lumping them all under the "Autism" banner.

Nicholas has just turned four, and he is non-verbal which means that he finds it hard to communicate. His low muscle tone makes it hard for him to physically do sign language (Makaton) and his issue with memory means that he basically just can't remember. He has low muscle tone and auditory processing issues. Many of his habits manifest as what would traditionally be described as low-functioning autism.

He gets exhausted very quickly and has just dropped his 2-3 hour daytime nap. There are some physical issues along with increased risk of kidney challenges in his future. I am sure that you can google all the details if you want them.

Currently there are many 'institutes' in second world countries that offer stem cell therapy for children such as Nicholas. But the landscape is a bit of a 'wild west' with un-FDA approved clinics offering cell reprogramming that costs the earth. There are currently a number of hospitals looking into cell re-programming because there are implications for dementia patients.

Children such as Nicholas, will be less of a burden on Australia's disability support system if we make science and research our priority. Tacking on the label of Science Minister onto the role of the Minister for Industry, is just insulting. I try not to make political statements on this blog, but in this case, our Federal government has it wrong. I encourage you to let your local federal member know how you feel about cuts to Science, Universities and government funded research institutions such as CSIRO in favour of privatisation and the establishment of new private medical research insitutes who will only research if it is commercially viable.

But in the meantime, if you would like to help, please consider donating to the Murdoch Children's Research Institute to support ongoing research for cell and gene therapy to lessen the impact of chromosomal abnormalities.…/…/genetics/cell-gene-therapy

On the Donation page, please mention Nicholas Kammel and then indicate the condition that he has, Phelan McDermid Syndrome or 22q13.

We are very fortunate to have a little boy that gets so much enjoyment out of life and who at least sleeps through the night. He finds great joy in Bubbles and slides, and is totally in love with the "Where is the green sheep?" book by Mem Fox and Judy Horecek at the moment.

He loves his family and he is learning to dance (quite clumsily) to Quando Quando Quando. But at 20 kilo's, he is still very much a dependent and we rely heavily on a pusher when we go out to either restrain him for safety or to push him when he is exhausted. When you pick him up, he goes limp like a rag doll cat, which makes dealing with him 10 times harder if he is uncooperative.

Nicholas will have a wonderful life, as he is oblivious to what is going on around him. 

Please consider donating and writing to your member of parliament.



Saturday, 14 February 2015

Redd Apple Crochet Necklaces

Life has been busy over the last few months. New house, new job and not much time for crafting. But every once in a while I love to do some window shopping on Etsy.

I love these crochet necklaces, quite elegant. She has some lovely colours and combinations.

This one is just gorgeous!

Be sure to check out Redd Apple on Etsy.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Loving the photo widget sites

I love this site and the potential that it has. My Year Printed takes your instagram photo's and makes a lovely poster out of them.

I went through my instagram pics and decided to choose all the cars that I have gushed over during 2014. The preview section allows you to get an idea of what the poster might look like, which is where I have grabbed this image from.

I would imagine that you could make a poster with all your crafty exploits or perhaps just one with family. Schools could use this to document the progression of a building or perhaps pictures of what the kids are reading in the library. Endless ideas!

Starting at $40 for a custom poster, it isnt' too bad.

What do you think?


Friday, 2 January 2015

Farewell 2014

As 2014 falls away in the background the hope that 2015 holds sparkles like a gem.

How corny is that!

For the last few years since we sold our house in Northcote, we have been in limbo. Living in rental properties, items in storage and not feeling connected with our surroundings.

Four days before Christmas we got the keys to the new house and by Christmas morning we had all the bedrooms moved in, most of the big stuff (a big thank-you to the movers at Dumbo) and a Christmas Tree constructed. Somehow in amongst the chaos, Santa found us ;-)

In the new space we can organise, hang, paint and essentially start to nest again knowing that we won't be moving for quite a few years (or even decades).

Given that I somehow managed to finish my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship) at the end of last year, my study (for the time being) is mostly behind me. I can concentrate on other types of writing this year. I submitted my first attempt at poetry to the Short and Twisted anthology at the end of the year.

2015 is a year of intentional focus for me. Regaining that focus in my professional life and also my crafty life. Nicholas starts at a Special Development School in February, so we are hoping that the new approach to therapy will reap rewards for us.

Moving my crafty collection, I have far too many Un-Finished Objects floating around. So completing some of these will be a priority when I get my sewing machine set up once more and I get stuck into my quilting which I miss so much.

I hope that your 2015 brings you a balance of challenges and triumphs and that you travel safe and well throughout this holiday season.