Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Did you ever have a childhood wish come true?

There were two things I REALLY REALLY wanted when I was a kid - a dolls house and a full set of 72 Derwent colour pencils. I don't recall any of my other friends having a dolls house, but I saw pictures of them in books, and used to dream about how I would set mine up if I ever got one. My parents could not afford to buy one, and although my father was a very practical man around the house as far as the garden and maintenance went, he wasn't a carpenter, so he couldn't make a dolls house for me.

As for the Derwents, all the kids at school lusted after Derwent pencils. Nobody had a set of 72 (or if they did, they weren't allowed to bring them to school), one or two kids had sets of 24 or 36, and I had a set of 12, which all had my name carved into the top by Dad so they wouldn't go missing! Those of us who had any Derwents suddenly acquired 'best friends' in art or drawing classes, as kids wanted to borrow a particular colour for something they were drawing.

When I enrolled in the sketching workshop a few weeks ago, we were given a list of requirements, which included a choice of Faber Castell or Derwent pencils. I Googled them both and quickly discovered that Faber Castell was WAY out of my price range, even on eBay, so I went looking for Derwents. Cutting to the chase, I won an eBay auction last week for a set of 72 Derwent Artists Pencils, for well under the retail price. They arrived today, and I felt just like a kid again - wanting to try them all out on a piece of paper just to see those gorgeous colours materialise!

Tomorrow I might just buy a colouring book at the newsagent so I can play with my pencils, lol! As for the dolls house...Sylvia over at Linens and Royals found one at an opshop a couple of years ago, and has renovated it. OH MY GOODNESS, if I found a dolls house at an opshop, it would be MINE within seconds! I posted a comment on her blog recently, saying wistfully that I'd always wanted a dolls house as a kid, but Ken would really arc up if I got one now! Maureen posted a comment under mine, saying "Gina, it is never too late to have a dolls' house". Well, if I get lucky like Sylvia, and find one in an oshop, my second childhood wish just might be fulfilled!! (No, I am not going to look for a dolls house on eBay....)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It has been a pleasant weekend here.

Saturday was such a lovely sunny day that we spent most of it outside in our yard. After I'd hung two loads of washing out, I joined Ken up at the aviaries. He had just finished mowing the lawn, and although tired, was very pleased with himself.

So I cut some sandwiches and brought them up to the top of the yard with cans of Coke, and we ate while watching the budgies and finches dancing around in the sun on their perches.

I made sure both cats were securely inside the house, and then let the chooks out to do the "free range" thing on the newly mown lawn. But they were more interested in pecking crumbs of bread from Ken's hand.

Today, the annual Wattle Festival was held at Hurstbridge (about 20 minutes drive from our place) and so we set off just after midday in bright sunshine again. Another beautiful day weatherwise - could not have been better for this local festival. The animal nursery is always popular with little kids, and I can't resist photographing them with the animals.

The vintage steam train is a major event in the festival every year, and due to our previous involvement with Steamrail a few years ago, when we arrived on the platform to see the train, the volunteer officers pounced on us to hop aboard for a free ride!

A yard full of magnficent vintage cars.

And another favourite ride every year is the Cobb & Co. coaches.

There was also a small quilt show, and I took heaps of photos, but you will have to go to one of my other blogs here to see them if you are interested.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Making cards (or collages).

In between the patchwork I've been doing, and the sketching, I still find a bit of time to play with paper crafts. I borrowed some books on the subject from our library a few weeks ago, and yesterday I had an urge to try some of them.
The 'gingerbread' figures are cut from fabric and glued to the card, with sequins glued on for the buttons.

I had fun doing this! To make the stripes, you cut up strips of coloured paper and glue them all on to one plain sheet of paper. Then you lay the fruit templates over it, draw around the edge, cut them out and stick on to the background. Cute!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wildlife Art exhibition and a renewed interest in drawing.

Eltham and the surrounding suburbs have dozens of art galleries. One of the newest ones is called The Light Factory Gallery, and not only is it close to us, the exhibitions are free! My friend Glenda (who is an artist) and I go to the Light Factory for most of their exhibitions, and last week we viewed the current one which is on until 4th September. It is called "Wild4Art" and has a collection by four artists whose passion is Australian wildlife, birds in particular. If you click on the link, it will take you to the Gallery website, where you can click on each name and see a sample of their works.

One of the artists is Janet Matthews, who is a charming lady with a bubbly personality and a unique way of drawing birds that shows individual personalities - very cute! But not just cute - her pencilled drawings are exquisite. So when we heard Janet was conducting a workshop at the Gallery in October, on how to draw birds, Glenda and I both booked in for it.

When something like this happens, I get carried away by my enthusiasm and start searching eBay for a full set of Derwent or Faber & Castell pencils, to have with me for the workshop. I have found the Derwent Artist range for as little as $55, but the Faber & Castell range that Janet recommends cost well over $100 for a set of 60, and that's not the full range! So I think I'll settle for the Derwents, if I can find them on eBay again (I missed out on the first auction!). In the meantime, I dug out my sketchpad to start practising...

I seem to be better at drawing people than flora and fauna. I sketched my left hand here, and drew some faces from an art text book.

See what I mean? These poor pastel drawings look nothing like the beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets that were posing for me on the birdfeeder yesterday!

I visited my friend Helen today and we spent the sunny afternoon in her garden. She read a book while I sketched a Banksia plant nearby. Helen thought this was good. She said "You can see immediately what it is." The highest compliment, lol!

Tiger obliged by sitting and gazing at me with that unblinking stare peculiar to cats. It isn't a bad likeness, and I'm pleased with it, as I don't usually have much joy drawing cats, as much as I love them.

Sad stuff.

This past week I've had a number of subjects buzzing around in my mind to write about on this blog, but they were all a bit depressing, so I held back. Just to set my friends' minds at rest - there is no bad news about Ken or anyone else at this end! We had to spend nearly $700 on having deadlocks installed on all our exterior doors and most of our windows, after receiving the renewal on our house and contents insurance policy, which had increased considerably. When I phoned the insurance company to ask if they could reduce it, I was asked if we had an alarm system (no) and deadlocks on all doors and windows (no) and the lady said if we get that done, they will be able to reduce the premiums. So we did the deadlocks and got a bit of a reduction. We've since learnt that there have been a few burglaries in our area lately, so I suppose it is just as well we were 'forced into' getting the locks.

I got really depressed last night after watching a doco on the Biography channel on Foxtel, about an English reporter who spent some time at a children's home in Bulgaria. What she saw was shocking to the core; the children had been abandoned by their parents because they couldn't cope with their disabilities. Some were blind, some deaf, others physically or mentally handicapped. The carers weren't nurses - all they did was wash and feed the children, and that took all their time because of the state of the kids. Kids died from malnutrition and illness caused by that, and some of them went insane because they had no other attention or love in their day to day lives. It was the saddest doco. I've seen on t.v. for a long time. The English reporter wrote to the Bulgarian government about it, and received a very hostile letter back, defending their position in caring for orphans. During the doco. there were the usual advertisements for beauty products, new cars, etc. and it made me feel sick, to think there are children suffering so much in the world, while we go about our lucky lives in the Lucky Country. I just feel so helpless. Ken couldn't watch it after a few minutes - said it made him want to cry, so he went downstairs and revved the hell out of his Honda.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blogger stats

Have you ever had a look at the Stats that Blogger supply on your Dashboard thing? I knew it was there, but haven't had a close look until tonight when I had nothing better to do. Well, I did actually, but Ken is playing some of our favourite music DVDs (Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, The Shadows, The Bee Gees) in the lounge room and because I'm humming along with them I can't concentrate on any craft stuff. So I'm sitting at the computer mindlessly surfing. Great way to spend a Saturday night, huh?
Ok, back to the stats. I'm using to seeing the majority of my readers are from Australia, followed by the USA, UK, then a scattering of other countries. Imagine my surprise (shock?) seeing that I have more readers in China than anywhere in the world outside Australia. WHY?? Are these people trying to hack into my computer via my blog? I can't understand why so many Chinese would be interested in my blog, regardless of whether they can read enough English to understand it. Bit of a worry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trying out some different recipes, American style.

Last Tuesday I had my two American-born (living in Melbourne) friends around for a cuppa, and we were discussing the differences between American and Australian foods. Val's son made corn bread once when I was at her place, and he'd given me the recipe to try. I also had a recipe that I'd downloaded from Pam Kellogg's blog. Glenda said how much she loves corn bread, but hadn't made it for years.

I had bought a pack of Polenta (cornmeal) this week to use in a recipe for dinner one night, and still had a nearly full pack. So I thought I may as well use it up by making corn bread. I decided to use Pam's recipe because it was more of a basic recipe, whereas the other one had vegetables in it as well, but I just wanted to make a plain version. Pam wrote on her blog that her Mom's corn bread recipe was the best one ever, and 'you'll never find a better recipe for corn bread!'. She made it using a muffin tin, and said it could also be baked in a pan, but I decided to make mine into muffins. Well, I've got nothing to compare them to, but I thought they were delicious. I called Glenda and told her I'd just baked some corn bread and would bring some around for her to taste while they were still warm (she lives around the corner from me). She was delighted, and on tasting them, said they were great. Thank you Pam!

While I was in the mood for baking, I decided to make some Brownies - another American favourite. Glenda and Val had mentioned them on Tuesday as well as the cornbread. Today I used a low fat recipe for my Brownies, and while it is edible, it is really nothing like the traditional Brownie in another recipe books which uses 250g of butter, and is absolutely delicious.

It didn't rise much, and because it uses wholemeal flour, it has a completely different taste. I won't be doing this one again. Bugger the diet - I love the real Brownie!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This month so far.

I'm so tied up with my other stitching blog, that I haven't thought much about posting anything here for those who still drop in to keep up with me. Not much happening, really. Ken visited his lung specialist last week, who said Ken is doing well on the new inhaler, but will need to be monitored once every three months. Ken is happy with that; he doesn't have to see the cardiologist until next February, so the bottom line is that they have all done as much as they can for him, and it is now up to him to keep himself fit and well. The doctors all tell Ken that it isn't just luck that he is doing well; many people go back to old bad habits like smoking and eating the wrong foods, not to mention forgetting (or refusing) to take their medications! Ken is very compliant with everything he is told to do.

I am the same with my exercise routine. If I don't do the stretching and other exercises for my lower back and neck, my body stiffens up within a few days and I can hardly get out of bed in the mornings, let alone do any housework. So it is in my own interests to keep doing the exercise routine set up for me by my chiropractor.

Tiger got himself into SERIOUS trouble the other day. I heard a commotion out in the front yard, and when I opened the front door to see what was going on, there were a dozen Noisy Miners circling the garden area nearby, squawking and squealing. I saw a heap of feathers, and knew exactly what had happened. I looked over the side of the porch and sure enough, there was Tiger looking up at me, with feathers sticking out of his mouth. I yelled "You naughty little cat!" and grabbed him. I held him up so the birds could see, and smacked him! I'm sure the birds understood, because after seeing me do that, they flew away. I took Tiger inside and kept him there for the rest of the day. He was very subdued, and followed me forlornly around the house as I went about my housework. After a couple of hours, I relented and picked him up for a cuddle, and he snuggled into my shoulder and purred. Then he found this box, and amused himself in that for an hour.

When I told Ken about it, he said "Well, I don't care if he kills the Noisy Miners, as long as he doesn't go for the Lorikeets or Rosellas", and I said "That is silly - they are all birds as far as a cat is concerned - he is not going to select the less brightly coloured birds just because we don't want him to! Anything that has got feathers is fair game". I hadn't been putting the collar and bell on Tiger for a while, but he's got it on now all the time.

Topsy is bigger and fatter than ever, despite being on a 'cat food diet', but she seems healthy enough. She can certainly move fast when she wants to. Last night I was sitting on the couch with Tiger beside me, and Topsy wandered over and looked up as if to say "Why is HE there? I want to sit up there with you". I had just finished eating a banana, and, being silly, chucked the skin on the floor near Topsy. Well, you know how animals jump up in the air when they are startled? Topsy sprang into the air about a foot off the ground! Ken didn't think it was funny; he said she might have a little heart attack. But I laughed so much I had tears running down my face! I would never have thought she had so much energy with her size, but it looked like she had springs under her paws! Tiger didn't bat an eyelid; he just looked down at Topsy as to say "Are you right?"

To finish off this post, have a look at what one can do with the humble toilet roll. Paint it white, push one end down, and paint little animal faces on it!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Winter flowers at my place and crafty stuff.

Winter is such a great time to do things indoors when the days are cold and wet. Not that it really matters to me; most of my hobbies are indoors hobbies, so summer or winter, I've always got a new project on the go!
Last year I read about the craft of using paper napkins to decorate objects - a form of decoupage I guess. This is a shoe box, which I have transformed into a useful box by cutting up a napkin and rearranging the elements before I glued them on to the box.

I made some of these paper Kimono dolls earlier this year, and decided to use one to make a birthday card for an arty friend. Hope she likes it!

It was only a week ago that our back yard looked bare with nothing much flowering. But when I was out there today, I noticed that all of a sudden there were flowers popping up all over the place. So I grabbed my camera before the sun disappeared behind the clouds..
Close up of the lovely Grevillea blooms on the shrub below.

Dwarf form of the Banksia group of plants.

This Cyclamen is a complete surprise! I must have had it in a pot sometime ago, and thrown it out into a corner of the garden when it finished flowering. Lo and behold, it is still alive!

Our Irises were in the garden when we bought the house 30 years ago, and they still flower every year. Does anyone know what the lifespan is of these bulbs? Could they outlive us??

Dwarf form of Acacia (Wattle).

We planted these daffodil and jonquil bulbs about four years ago, and they get better every year. Tiger came out with me to inspect them.

adopt your own virtual pet!