Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Australia Day!

January 26th is Australia Day. If you know someone Australian, make sure you kiss them! Preferably long and hard.

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In honour of the day I'll be eating my croissant with Vegemite. Mmmm.

Well, it's a flurry of organising and packing and cleaning out the fridge here before we head off to the Italian Alps for a week of cross-country skiing. We have found a small, quiet village where we can play and walk (on groomed tracks) and cross-county ski as a family - and bonus - it's forecast to snow on Sunday. Wheee!

I'm packing my current hand sewing project so I can get some more work done.

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On the craft front, I have been sewing lots of half square triangles...

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And trimming them up to make chevrons (all part of Jennifer's fab Chasing Chevrons quiltalong).

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I signed up for Rachel's Curves Class, which starts the first of Febuary. I'll miss the first few days, but I'm sure I can catch up in good time.

Here's something random - did you know there are scorpions in France? I didn't, but now that I've found a few around the house (none bigger than my thumb) I guess I have to. This fella was trying to back out through one of our downlights when he must've got stuck and then (ahem) fried. He's been there for ages because I'm too scared to unscrew it and find the whole family. Sounds like a job for the mister to me.

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Crispy critter.

Have a wonderful week folks. I hope to be back in early Feb with lots of snowy photos to show you!

And happy Australia Day! Mwwwwa. (that's supposed to be a kissy sound)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aix-en-Provence Carnaval

I'm still sorting out my photo files and came across these pictures from last year's Carnaval. I can't believe I forgot to post these!

Spring time in Provence holds many joys but I think Carnaval would be our kids' favourite.

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All the large towns hold one and we ventured in to Aix-en-Provence to enjoy their version in early April. We arrived about half an hour early to find a nice spot on the Cours Mirabeau, electing to camp on the grass around the Rotonde fountain at the head of the street.

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As the crowds continued to build the hawkers made a good turn-over on balloons, confetti and cans of silly string.

The kids all get into the spirit and come dressed in costumes.

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When all the best vantage points were taken the fountain itself became a viewing platform, probably the only time of the year the police turn a blind eye to such shenanigans.

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"Nice hat, Bill" "Thanks, Frank"

The parade was late getting started and the natives got a little restless:

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But finally the strains of the band could be heard and the floats began to inch their way down the Cours toward the fountain.

The theme for Aix's 2011 parade was Tim Burton's films and here are a few of the floats they inspired:

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Alice in Wonderland

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Mars Attacks!

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Beetlejuice

The parade came to a halt around the fountain (another good reason to camp out there) but the band continued to play and several characters disembarked to interact with the crowd.

These guys below look like they're carrying some kind of Ninja Turtle shell on their backs - they turned out to be fan-propelled streamer shooters. Awesome!

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So glad I didn't have to clean it all up.

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This strange contraption housed a sort of trapeze act:

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Untraditional Scotsman was wearing underwear beneath his kilt. Spoilsport.

But the ladies were still suitably impressed:

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Eventually the crowds dispersed and the clean-up crew was left to tackle everything left behind.

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Carnage on the Cours

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We only had the three kids back then and they all had confetti in their underwear at the end of the day, which we all know is the definition of having had a good time. I know that's how I rate my night out the next morning. "I can't remember a thing but it must've been good because there's confetti in my undies."

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I really like finding forgotten Spring photos in the middle of winter. Gives you a mid-season reminder to keep holding on; it will be warm again soon(ish).

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In the meantime we're embracing winter and heading to the Italian Alps on Friday for a week in the snow. I'll try to squeeze in another post before then and if I'm really clever I'll rig one to post while I'm away. Man, these Internets sure are nifty.

Hope you're all having a great week!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Innocent Crush Block Quilt

I made this quilt approximately 7 months ago but forgot to post about it in the midst of my pregnancy fog.

About a year ago I bought a fat quarter set of Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush. The Charmed palette became this quilt:

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The scraps from both palettes became this:

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But not before I scratched my head for a while about the Swept Away palette:

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Eventually an article on Design*Sponge caught my eye.

Photos used with permission. 

I followed it back to the source - the photo in question was of the poolside Cha Cha Cabana bar at the Lords South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach.

If you like yellow you really need to have a look at this hotel.

Check out this photo of their Cha Cha Rooster Bar. If you stuffed a disco ball down the neck of I Dream of Jeannie's bottle and then shook it real hard, this is what you'd get:

Fab. U. Lous

Anyway, back to the quilt. I liked the idea of lots of white (or in my case Kona Snow) around each colour fabric block.

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I quilted around the inner and outer edge of the Snow portions to define each block. In retrospect I wish I'd also hand quilted around the colour blocks in a contrasting colour. If for no other reason than having an excuse to buy AMH's gorgeous flosses!

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I used a luxurious flannel sheet for the batting (for any French quilters reading - les draps en flanelle blanc are on sale at quelle.fr at the moment; 60% off). The backing was also flannel (more Anna Maria Horner), so the quilt was very soft and snuggly (and wrinkled very easily, as you can see in the first photo).

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And the binding was the scarlet Woodcut print that I love so much:

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The quilt lends itself to chain piecing - it's made from these two blocks which are joined at 90 degrees to each other.

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I'm annoyed that I've waited so long to blog this as I've lost the measurements for the blocks and have already given the quilt away to the baby girl for whom it was made. Sloppy, Kirsty.

I will say that the baby girl came for a visit about a month ago and the quilt came too. It had a few smudges and milk stains and some of her older brother's fingerprints on it. The quilt was obviously being loved and used and it made me soooo happy to see that.

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Yep, definitely missed a hand quilting opportunity there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dopey Daffodils

Two posts in one day, what is going on?

Well, I have a question for any green thumbs (mains vertes) out there.

We've been having some unseasonal weather in our part of Provence: 18 ℃ (65℉) on New Year's Day, for instance. It hasn't been quite that warm since, but it's still pretty steamy for the middle of winter.

The mornings are still quite frosty though.

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These pictures were taken in the field just across from our house.

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I think I've mentioned we live kindof in the country. We are on the outskirts of a village, but outskirty enough that we have a septic system and drink canal water (filtered and deeelicious).

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Driving back from taking the kids to school the frosty morning in question, I looked out the window and saw this stunning creature in the field.

Stock photo I had to buy - you'll see why below. 

Phuck, it's a pheasant, I thought. Look at all that beautiful iridescent green and red - gorgeous. Must rush inside and get the camera.  

We regularly hear gunshots from our house - hunters out and about looking for pheasants and other tasty winged creatures, not to mention the odd sanglier (wild boar). After I'd taken this guy's photo I was going to sit him down and have a long chat about camouflage and concealment and how he was doing it wrong. 

I parked the car, grabbed the camera and raced back to the field. 

And of course, I couldn't find that little bugger anywhere. Crafty pheasant: 1, Kirsty: 0.

So instead I took pictures of the foggy, frosty loveliness around me, until I couldn't feel my fingers properly.

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This is the paving on our front doorstep. I have never seen frost patterns like this - it's incredible.

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Don't they look like hand-painted feathery ferns?

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So here's my question (that last one was just rhetorical). Our daffodils have been bamboozled by our higher temps and have already sprouted:

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If the real cold weather finally hits, are they doomed? Can someone clever tell me what to do when your daffs jump the gun?

Hanging with Aidan again

Hi everyone, did you have a great weekend?

We loaded the family into the car and headed across to visit with Aidan and family, in Montpellier.

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The small market right at the end of Aidan's street. Can you imagine it? Amazing.

We've been to Aidan's before - and again we had such a good time.

Aidan has chandeliers. They are beautiful.

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Will someone please offer me a book deal for a chandelier coffee table book so I can justify all these pictures I'm taking? Thank you.

This is the new addition to Aidan's family. Clementine Mirabel Petals (this is what happens when you let all three children name the dog) - isn't she gorgeous?

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Our toddler had a heart attack every time she came near him, poor girl. I hope she didn't get a complex.

The food was fantastic. From the welcome cocktail (Bellinis -champagne with peach puree) to the mari's lasagna to la fille's decadent cheesecake.

Speaking of the cheesecake, a certain young man couldn't wait until dessert and broke his sister's heart when he did this.

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Thank you darling Aidan and famille, it was wonderful to catch up!

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