Monday, December 31, 2012

Things I'm not thinking about

Last year I did a post of my resolutions for 2012. I don't think I'll do that this year. Things seem different. This time last year I was about to start a beautiful month of holidays including 10 days in Tasmania which were wonderful. This year I'm going back to work on Wednesday. Last year I was excited about a new role at work and had lots of plans and ideas to implement. This year I also have a new role at work but I'm more apprehensive given the year that has just been. I'm trying not to think about workload calculations, program rules and regulations, QA manuals, duty statements, timetabling, metropolitan campuses, meetings, agendas, minutes, dealing with "challenging" people, sessional staff, contracts and other such things. Clearly, I'm not doing a very good job. I'm also trying not to think about how I am going to fit my piano teaching in this year, together with choir, orchestra and study. The week does not seem big enough. Of course it will all fall into place as it always does but right now I'd love to be starting a long holiday, focusing on getting some exercise and eating right, cultivating some more hobbies and achieving some balance. No doubt I will think about this some more not just today but over the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sorry Russell Crowe.....

I took myself to the movies this morning to see Les Miserables. I am always a bit concerned about going to see films of which I have heard good reviews. Inevitably, I am disappointed. Perhaps my standards are too high? Whatever. This post isn't about me. It's about Russell Crowe.

First though let's talk about the good things. Anne Hathaway has finally delivered a film performance I can praise because let's face it The Devil Wears Prada was too long, very boring and extremely superficial and the less said about The Princess Diaries the better. Her singing was impressive as Fantine and she did the part justice. Of course Hugh Jackman was outstanding as Valjean. Did we expect anything less? If you have seen him in Oklahoma (which let's face it you may not have) you would know the man can sing. Here he is perfect in every way. Amanda Seyfried is fine as Cosette, the most boring part perhaps but she manages to convey some substance. Eddie Redmayne (?) is excellent as Marius. I was genuinely moved by Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. This chap can sing and act. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are fine comic relief as the Thenardiers. I expected a little more from them. At points I felt like they may have been phoning it in, but they got away with it as the comic foils all the same. The sets and costume were fabulous. The new song, Suddenly fitted seamlessly into the score. Unfortunately though Russell Crowe is dreadful miscast. That is, Crowe can sing but with the high standard surrounding him he fails to bring any sense of power to Javert and that is what is needed. Everyone else tromps all over him and (spoilers) when he falls into the Seine at the end all I thought was "meh" where it should have been a major moment in the plot. Also, he totally failed to do justice to Stars - one of the treasures in the many wonderful songs in Les Mis.
This is what it should sound like: I imagine there are a lot of excellent theatre actors who are currently despairing at Crowe's casting. It leaves a big hole in what otherwise is a great movie version of Les Miserables.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

no sewing Saturday

This morning saw me spending an extraordinary amount of money on new underwear. It was time and thank goodness for Boxing Day Sales. Then a coffee stop and a Spotlight stop where I bought some patchwork material and a length of dark green material that I will do something with. And then.....Ta DAAAA...the highlight of Saturday...yet another holiday meal with my grandmother. At least this time we had a buffer with my Aunt and Uncle visiting. And we also went out for lunch so there was not need for lots of food preparation and awkward silences when we ran out of conversation. Then it was everyone back to my parents' place for yet more trifle, cups of tea, chit chat and more Christmas presents. My Aunty Kay who has been paying attention to my Facebook photos of my sewing gave me the awesome gift of fabric. It has come all the way from New Zealand:
I like it a lot! Then I fell asleep on my parents' lounge. My Dad has developed a slightly annoying new habit of taking photos on his smartphone of people while they are asleep. I did wonder why he asked me if I had checked my email a while after I woke up. He's a trick!
Keen readers will notice I am wearing my patchwork skirt. It wore beautifully and hardly creased at all. I lurve it. Sadly, there wasn't any sewing today. I am running out of days before I have to go back to work.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Do I hear happiness?"

It's day 4 of the #blog12daysxmas challenge and so far I am keeping up. Until I go back to work next Wednesday I fear these posts might become a little repetitive. Yesterday I sewed and sewed and sewed and came up with this:
No your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed a skirt of patches. A patchwork skirt. It took me quite some time to read and decipher the instructions pre-cutting and putting it together. But then once I had the picture in my mind I sewed and sewed and sewed some more. I wasn't at all confident that the different patterns would go together. I am no genius with colour but I think they look okay. It was very exciting when it all fitted together. All in all from start to finish it took about 4 hrs. After all that concentrating I had a little nap in front of the cricket. What else is cricket for? Then I went for a walk in the "cool" of the evening with my Mum. We met a puppy and sternly told him to go back home. He ignored us and wanted to play but we were insistent. Then we chatted about the laws of physics in the world of Angry Birds. My mother is a recent convert since she received the iPad for Christmas. And my evening's entertainment was watching Annie on the television. Observations. Carol Burnett is still as good as she was when I first watched it at the age of 9. Annie is quite annoying. Albert Finney cannot sing very well. Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters are underused as the scheming Rooster and his girlfriend. Also, they all look very young. And the ending is totally over the top. Here is my favourite song:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My brain...she is tired

I had every good intention to do work from today onwards. I have an ethics application to put together, a research project to start properly, some QA manual to keep writing and other delightful things. I had even made a bargain with myself that I would have "holidays" up until Boxing Day and then after that would devote part of each day to work tasks. But now that today has dawned I have no desire to spend any of it working. I just want a holiday. I need a holiday. The weeks (and dare I say months) leading up to Xmas were hectic and mentally draining at work. And when I return on January 2 I know I am going to be busy and challenged in a new role. So, although I will feel a little bit guilty, I have changed my mind on the working front today. I'm not going to do a thing. I will sew and read and maybe go shopping. I will plan to go to the movies. I may drink tea and stare out the window. It might look like I'm not achieving anything but in fact I will be relaxing. My brain - she is tired. She shall rest.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

tablecloth material

Well I didn't exactly have the Boxing Day Blues but I wasn't up to much today. I did manage to get to Spotlight first thing and pick up some specials in the fabric department. It was really hot though and their aircon hadn't really kicked in so I was feeling a little seedy by the time I left. I did manage to buy some good lengths of seersucker in cute prints so I was happy. When I was little and my mum used to sew clothes I was particularly disdainful of seersucker (or what I called "tablecloth material"). Now though I'm looking forward to sewing with it. Perhaps I am more mature? I did manage to finish off my easy dress that I started on Xmas Eve. I bought some 6 dollar a metre material just to try it out. It turned out well and I made a tie out of the same fabric to wear with it instead of a belt as the pattern suggests. Here it is at various angles. (I really must get a full length mirror)
Then I ate lunch and slept for a solid two hours. It was fabulous and I woke up feeling much better. I even made a cup of coffee. And then I sewed some more. This is one of my standard tops that I had cut out last week. This was the third time I had tried the pattern and I have just about got it sorted out now.
I went for a walk in the late afternoon with my Mum. It was a bit hot still but not too bad. Now I just have to watch Doctor Who and that's Boxing Day. Tomorrow may be movies, sewing, reading, sleeping or some combination of these activities.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

so that was Christmas

Christmas is done and dusted for another year. I got lots of lovely green gifts including a complete set of bathroom towels etc, a cute green purse, a green spotty mug, some green tea and new cushions for my lounge. Non green gifts included a scratchie ( I did not win anything), pins and a pincushion and these fabulous earrings.
Those of you who are aware of my penchant for silver filigree jewellery will understand my joy at receiving these from my grandmother. What she didn't know is that I chose and bought them myself and then gave them to my mother to give to her to give to me. My Dad was totally convinced by my delight at unwrapping the gift. I didn't win that Year 12 Theatre prize for nothing. We ate, we drank, we were relatively merry and then we all ran out of puff by about three o'clock. From then on it was napping. I got a headache so took some panadol and had a lie on the bed in the aircon. After my parents took my grandmother home we rallied a little, ate some leftovers (cold lamb and roast potatoes!) and then I further inducted my mother into the ways of the new iPad. I left her sitting in the lounge with a look of glee as she made her way through the levels of Angry Birds. I should probably say something profound here about the meaning of Christmas and suchlike but I'm a little bit tired. I'll let John Lennon say it for me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the Christmas Eve version

And here we are at Christmas Eve. In an effort to have a Christmas event without my grandmother, for the last few years I have my parents and sister for dinner on Christmas Eve. It's not a big foodie event. It's just a moment before tomorrow when we can have some family time. Soon I will make some salads and a trifle. I will also have to clear the dining table of all sewing paraphernalia but that can wait until much later. For our entertainment I think I will find some Xmas episodes of TV shows for us to watch. Yep, forget the carolling around the piano. We're a TV watching family from way back. Traditions! I checked through last year's Christmas Countdown and it seems I restrained myself and did not include my favourite ever Christmas song. Apologies if you saw my tweet from a few nights ago. I make no excuses for loving this song. That's correct. I am unashamed and for once, not being ironic. If that's too much for you enjoy my number one choice from last year. Such Fun! I adore Rockwiz Christmas Specials. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the nativity scene from days of yore version

Inspired by @georgianoakes twit pic of her childhood handmade nativity scene I present to you this. Behold its wonder for it is a nativity scene made some 33 years ago when I was in Year 2 at West Bundaberg State School. It has been the pride and joy of the Davis family Christmas decorations for every year since. (Excepting the years when my brother refused to let my mother get it out the cupboard because it was too crappy). I can still remember the joy of making it. I was especially attentive to making the angel's hair a beautiful brown with my felt pens. She also got the glitter (now much faded) on her gown. I still have trouble telling the difference between the three wise men, Joseph and the shepherd so you are excused if you have the same problem. The sheep is covered in real 1980s cotton wool and held on with Clag glue. And you will notice at the back of the manger (ice block box from the tuckshop) there is a "window" of cellophane. I think you're supposed to shine a torch back there to provide some light. So put away your fancy schmancy Christmas decorations and enjoy the delights of children's craft from days of yore (yore being 1980).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the gravy version

Here's one of the best songs about Christmas. Ever. (thanks for the reminder 612 ABC Brisbane)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the feats of strength version

What's Christmas Countdown without a little bit of Festivus. Classic.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the Christmas earrings version

Every year I swear that I will not be caught up in Christmas fashions. But what did we see yesterday dear readers? That's correct. A CHRISTMAS SKIRT. Where does it end? Here. With these Christmas earrings that I bought yesterday. I'm sure they're quite tacky but I bought them anyway and I will most likely wear them every day from now until Christmas. Damn it I'm wearing them as I write this post. Because if you can't wear festive jewellery in late December then when can you wear it?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the festive skirt version

I impulse bought this piece of Christmas fabric a month or so ago in an internet buying frenzy. I didn't really have a plan. First I thought about a blouse, then perhaps bunting, a tablecloth ....and then this afternoon I decided to throw caution to the wind and whip up my very easy skirt pattern (which I have got down to an hour) so I would have a Christmas skirt. Of course I can only wear it this week and on Christmas day. That's okay. I didn't want the material to sit in the cupboard unused until next year.
Yes. I added ribbon.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Countdown: two for the price of one

I missed posting yesterday so here are two of my favourite traditional carols.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the 60s folk go tell it on the mountain version

Back in the days when Art could still hit those high notes nice and true :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the community O Come All ye Faithful version

Last night was the final choir concert for the year at the Holy Rosary Church with the Bundaberg Municipal Band. This is what is an important part of my life here in Bundaberg: community music. And while sometimes I may complain about having to go out every Monday evening to choir rehearsal, ultimately, I do it because I believe in the power of music to bring people together; the power of music to provide individuals with a place, a voice, a sense of purpose; the power of music to generate a sense of belonging in a community. The majority of people involved are not professional musicians - a few are. That does not mean we do not strive for a high standard. We do. Sometimes though we do it with only two tenors, or sopranos missing in action. We soldier on. Seriously, though I think the real reason we do it is for events like our concert last night. This is a time where we can be involved in the community, where we make a connection and use music to engage with others. And let's face it: quite simply, singing makes you feel great!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the carol of the bells version

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs and here is a great version. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

the invisible zip

I was excited to receive a dress pattern in the post this week and couldn't wait to try it. Luckily I took the advice of the pattern and used a material I was not in love with for the first attempt. The dress has a fitted bodice, waistband insert and then gathered skirt. I managed to fit the bodice quite well. I inserted the waistband pieces successfully and managed to work out how to insert the invisible zip at the back. There are some issues with the waistband aligning all the way around (oops!) and I think I cut the skirt pieces one size too big as they are very gathery. Also the material is a bit heavy so doesn't sit very well but I needed to use it for something and I will know what to do next time now. It's definitely wearable but not a super awesome success.

I was happy with my choice of a contrasting waistband and matching hem though. Pretty patterns.

Christmas Countdown: the Gangnam style Xmas lights version

I suppose this was inevitable. I am inspired to drag my paltry single string of fairy lights out of the cupboard and plug them in.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the Steve Martin version

Well this is the kind of nice surprise that youtube can provide. I love Steve Martin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Countdown: solo violin version_2

Here's another one I prepared on Sunday: In the Bleak Midwinter. I was mucking around with some double stopping. My rusty violin fingers certainly were surprised as you may hear!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Countdown: the solo violin version_1

Here's me playing one of my favourite Christmas carols: O Come O Come Emmanuel. I don't know what came over me the second time through when I went up an octave but apologies in advance for slightly dodgy intonation.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Countdown: Bring a torch version

Here's me playing the piano in the new room for the first time. I chose this simple carol: Bring a torch, Jeannette Isabella. Sorry about the light. No curtains.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

trimming all over the place

In an attempt to make lemonade out of lemons I finished this white top to take to Rockhampton tomorrow and added some daisy chain trim to the hem. (The lemons are Rockhampton. The lemonade is the daisy chain trimmed top that I will wear while there). I also whipped up a skirt to wear tomorrow and added red rick rack to its hem. I am trimming all over the place.

Christmas Countdown: The Snowing Sinatra version

This is for everyone enduring the stinking summer heat in Australia.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

a room of my own

I have spent the afternoon removing my "office" from the living area and setting it up in it's very own room. That's right. I have a room of my own. Well I actually have an entire house but you know what I mean. The office is no longer part of the lounge, kitchen, dining, sewing area of the house.
Here it is

My office consists of a seventy year old tray mobile procured from an elderly relative's estate, a student desk made of pine that I have owned since I was a student and a two drawer filing cabinet. I dream of a tidy, bespoke set up with a place for everything and everything in its place but at this point that's just not going to happen. I am really happy that there is air-conditioning now for summer is on its way. I do need bookshelves but that's a job for another day.

What did I fill the space vacated by the desks with? This small sideboard and my very small collection of brass things. It looks nice. Different but nice.

Christmas Countdown: The Fairytale of New York version

If you don't think this is an awesome song that references Christmas then I can't help you. I know it's featured in previous Spiralling Shape Christmas Countdowns but it's my blog and I'll post what I like. Enjoy.