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Archive for the ‘Cool Things’ Category

Cash Palace Emporium in Leichhardt is closing down, and everything is 50% off the marked price. If you’re a lover of ethnic and vintage textiles, I highly recommend that you race over there as fast as you can. The small store is packed full of treasures, carefully selected by legendary owner, Elaine Townshend.

You might recall that I bought my kantha quilt coat there last year. It’s made from a vintage Indian quilt, which in turn had been handstitched from reclaimed sari fabric. It’s the ultimate in upcycling and I wore it constantly last winter…

There is a wide selection of clothing and semi-precious jewellery on offer…

One-off carpet bags, each constructed from hand quilted fabric…

I bought a vintage 1920’s formal kimono in stunning condition and turned it into a jacket and shawl…

In the back room there are fabrics, cushion covers, bedspreads, quilts, wall-hangings, shawls and more. I may have lost my head a little over these Japanese prints…

I’ve been sewing furoshiki cloths…

…and practising tying them. It’s an indulgent but joyous way to use up scrap vintage kimono silk…

I’ve had a run on juggling balls, so I’ve been sewing squillions more. I adore my friends – they’re always enthusiastic about anything I throw at them (no pun intended)…

Here’s my own personal set – fat origami cherubs made with scrap salvaged from a vintage child’s silk kimono…

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Cash Palace will be open for another eight weeks, so if you’re in the area, do pop in and go treasure hunting. It’s a true family affair – Elaine’s son Luke and daughter Fleur are running the shop while she’s in India, and her granddaughters are often there helping out as well. Say hi for me if you pop in, I’ve been haunting the place!

Cash Palace Emporium
139 Catherine St
Leichhardt NSW
(02) 9569 5977

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I know, I know…making juggling balls isn’t your usual Easter craft project, but I’ve had so much fun that I thought I’d share them with you anyway.

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Start with three pieces of scrap fabric, each 10cm wide by 18cm long. Woven or jersey cottons work well.

Fold one piece of fabric in half, right sides together, and stitch along both sides to form a small bag…

Turn it right side out and poke out the corners…

Fill with 75g of rice, lentils or small beans…

Bring the seam lines together at the top to close…

Fold under a small seam allowance and pin…

Now either handstitch the opening closed with a small slip stitch OR carefully machine it closed, making sure not to run over any of the filling (a narrow machine foot helps here, as does making the bag from stretch fabric)…

Make a big bowl of these little pyramid sacks and leave them on the table for folks to play with. Small people love them and they’re relatively painless on impact (I’ve been throwing them at the boys to check).

There’s a lot of research to suggest that learning to juggle is good for your brain – I’m a bit rusty at the moment, but I’ve been practising hard!

Here’s my earlier post on juggling, and my video from 2014…

Have a fun Easter break!

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Audible.com

A couple of months ago, I finally succumbed to the “free Audible book” offer that kept popping up in my Amazon account. It was too hard to pass up the opportunity to listen to Sir David reading his revised autobiography

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Like most people who take up a free trial, I was fully expecting to cancel it before the first payment was due, but to my surprise, I’ve discovered that I adore listening to audio books. It’s certainly not for everyone – Big Boy and Pete prefer reading – but I’m always busy, and I’ve found I can listen and walk, or listen and knit, or listen and bake…you get the idea.

The monthly subscription fee of US$14.95 gives you one credit each month that can be used to purchase any book in their catalogue. They have a money back guarantee – if you listen to a book and don’t enjoy it, you can return it for a full refund (I’ve returned three books already without any difficulty). Being a subscriber also means you get 30% off all their other books. I know this sounds like a paid advert, but I promise you it isn’t!

Then there’s Whispersync, which is the genius system that links the audio narration with a Kindle version of the book (when available) and enables you to read along as you listen. You can even read a bit, listen to a bit, then come back and read a bit more – and Whispersync will start you at the right place on each device. Amazon are sooo clever with this type of technology, and brilliant at linking their various platforms together.

So what have I been listening to?

The glorious Tim Curry performance of A Christmas Carol (as mentioned in previous posts) and all the David Attenboroughs (there are six audio books in total). I particularly enjoyed this tale of his visit to Australia’s Northern Territory in the 1960s

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The Dispatcher by John Scalzi as read by Zach Quinto was so engaging that I ended up walking for over two hours while listening to it…

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Many of my favourite Ellery Queen novels and short stories are now available in audio book format, but it’s taken a bit of time to find a narrator I like (hence the three returned books I mentioned above)…

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Ralph Fiennes’ reading of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quarters was majestic…

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And finally, my latest discovery has been The Great Courses Series, which provide short lectures by university professors on a wide range of topics, all accompanied with work notes. I’m currently listening to 48 thirty minute talks on everyday life in various times and countries throughout history

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As you can tell, I’m hooked! If you think you might enjoy an audio book, I’d encourage you to try Audible.com’s free trial offer. And if you’re an existing subscriber, they’ve currently got a huge 50% off sale on until 14th December. Cheers!

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10 July 2016: Oh, how I wish you were here! I took this photo from the top of Lombard Street, famous for the way it zigzags down a steep 27% incline (there are eight hairpin turns in the one block). There are tourists everywhere! San Francisco is super hilly, and from the top of the street, you can see all the way out to the water.

Beautiful pink hydrangeas line the street, and there is an orderly queue of cars lined up, waiting for their turn to drive down. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in one of the houses here – you’d have people in your front yard 24/7!

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4 July 2016: Miss Art Deco!  We’ve found a spot to sit right at the start of the Piedmont Parade. There are vintage cars (proceeding from oldest to youngest), a horse drawn stagecoach, and marching bands of all kinds. The hilarious Balloon Platoon have just gone past – they’ve been taking part in this parade for more than 20 years! 

It’s remarkably well-organised for a neighbourhood parade. Costumed characters (including Uncle Sam) are strolling down the street, handing candy out to the kids. We bought the most American tshirts we could find at Walmart, just to wear for the occasion!

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11 July 2016: I squealed and asked Dan to stop the car when we arrived here! The Palace of Fine Arts is a remnant of a bygone era. It was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo, and completely rebuilt in 1965.

It’s an amazing space – the water is teeming with life (swans, turtles, ducks, dragonflies and oodles more) and the grassy areas are full of joggers and families having picnics. It’s such a perfect day – the best one we’ve had since we arrived. The fog (so prevalent in San Francisco city) has lifted and allowed the sun to shine through. The temperature is a very comfortable 24ºC (75°F). Great day!

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14 July 2016: The only thing that could have made Mel’s Diner better would have been waitresses on roller skates! We’re having a proper Happy Days moment – the food was fine and exactly as we expected, except for my huevos rancheros which tasted ok but looked like slop. The staff are very friendly, and the manager just offered me a 10% discount if we eat here again during our stay. Love that about eateries here – nothing is ever too much trouble, and they’re always so keen to get return business!

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12 July 2016: This guy was hilarious – his pitch was “very bad advice for $1, money back if you don’t laugh!’ I asked him if I could take his photo for a dollar, and he was more than happy to oblige! 

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12 July 2016: We’ve spent the morning at the San Francisco Exploratorium, at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. It’s a wonderful place – two floors filled with interactive science exhibits.

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests are on display at the moment, much to the excitement of Small Man who has watched several documentaries on them. These intriguing wind powered walking machines are made from piping, wood and fabric. They “live” on beaches and move across the sand in a very organic way. Both Benny and Small Man had a chance to “walk” them!

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13 July 2016: Oh Muir Woods, how we love you! It’s hard to believe such spectacular natural beauty exists less than an hour from the heart of the city. This 550 acre (224 hectare) reserve – half of which is old growth redwood forests – has some of the tallest trees in the world. Not just trees – we’ve seen deer, a red-tailed hawk, and a chipmunk today. Did you know that chipmunks are tiny? Or that a deer has the same face as a kangaroo? I didn’t!

Big Boy and Pete have just announced that this is their favourite place in San Francisco so far. We’re finding it hard to leave! It’s very well managed too – easy walking trails and lots of information signs.

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5 July 2016: We couldn’t come to America and not go to a baseball game! Giants vs Rockies – let’s go, Giants, let’s go!

We’re sitting up in nosebleed seats and freezing – the fog has just rolled in and it’s icy cold. Not at all what we expected from a SF summer…but sooo worth it, because it’s exactly like in the movies. There are guys walking through the stands selling cotton candy, they play the dum dum dum dum music after each hit, everyone sings “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in between the 6th and 7th innings, and the electronic scoreboard has just flashed up “Judy, I’ll love you forever…Sam”. Next time though, I’m bringing blankets.

PS. Just noticed some locals wearing Giants (orange and black) polarfleece dressing gowns. It’s really cold!

PPS. The Giants lost 3-7. Poor Mitch was devastated!

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When I had my recent cross stitch revival, I went digging through the storeroom to find my old patterns.

In amongst the appallingly twee designs (Holly Hobby, cutesy angels and an entire books of teddy bears), I found my Charley Harper charts. And I realised that after thirty years, I still loved them…

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Given that they’d withstood the test of time, we thought it might be nice to try and find some Charley Harper art for our walls. Harper was a Cincinnati-based American Modernist artist, with a highly stylised, geometric style that focused almost exclusively on wildlife. Both Pete and I find his use of shape, colour and humour very appealing.

We bought this beautiful coffee table book from Amazon...

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I also added two sets of postcards to our order. They’re printed on thick gloss card, which makes them ideal for framing. We laid them out on the dining room table and spent an enjoyable couple of hours sorting through them…

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I’d purchased three silver photo frames at a closing down sale earlier in the year, and the mats were exactly the right size for the cards. Narrowing it down to just nine designs was tricky – I, of course, simply picked the ones I liked best, but Pete took into account colours and curves and themes. The nesting birds, for example, all have similar leaves…

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Art really doesn’t have to be expensive – the frames (including mats) cost $20 each (half price) and the postcards worked out at just 50c each.

I’m so chuffed with how these turned out – they’ll look wonderful hanging in our hallway!

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