Monday, December 28, 2009

Scenes from a Simmons' Christmas

What does a Simmons' Christmas look like?
Handmade ornaments adorning Wilma's wire tree...
Generations coming together to celebrate...

Japanese visitors enjoying a first Aussie Christmas...

 Anticipation ...
Lots of food...

Santa Stockings ...

Family Fun - opening presents ...

Sharing new toys with parents...

Sharing new toys with cousins...

Satisfaction after completing a new Lego kit...

Playing until exhausted...
Sleeping after a big day...

 Hope you enjoyed a happy Christmas Day, too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas - Family and Friends

A time of year
To think of love and sharing
A time of peace
For the whole world to cherish
A time to be with all your friends and family
And wish them all
A Merry Christmas
This verse by Phillippe Brisebois sums up the festive season for me. The last week has been a frantic rush to finish handmade gifts and then enjoy the wonderful times at Christmas parties with friends and family.

2009 was the fifteenth Hello Dollies Christmas party and everyone still enjoys the time to share our favourite creations of the year, and to enjoy the company of both the Sydney and Newcastle Dollies.

It was really hard to believe that it was the 25th Simmons Family Christmas get-together in its current format. There are now four generations of Simmons and their families attending this " not to be missed" annual party. Our grand daughter Amy is the latest addition , and  was introduced to her wider family on Sunday. Our other grandchildren as younger members of the family certainly have no problems getting into the spirit of the "laid back" style of an Aussie Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all...
Thank you for following this blog during 2009.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gumnutters Dolls Cup Challenge

How lucky am I ? This is the beautiful doll I received in the Gumnutters Doll Group Cup Challenge. It was made by Marg from a small collection of fabrics, lace and an embroidered piece I provided. The Cup Challenge is fun - a "doll challenge" which began at the Gumnutters Christmas in July meeting and finished on Saturday at the December meeting. Each participant provided some fabric and it is rolled inside a cup/coffe mug and the parcels are swapped. The cup is a gift, but each person then makes a doll or something else (if requested) using the fabrics provided. Most unlike me, I chose "pink" and gathered together pink/maroon coordinating fabrics from my stash. Thanks Marg, your interpretation of the bits and pieces I gave you is absolutely beautiful.

There were of course many other fantastic dolls unveiled, including a very richly dressed Santa,  cheeky Christmas elves, and starry angels, and brightly costumed elegant girls. Congratulations to all who participated. Everyone was delighted with their dolls and amazed at how the fabrics were used so creatively.  No doubt, all Gumnutters are thinking about the next challenge?

I didn't have so much work, as my swap partner, Gamarna requested a "bag". Here is my interpretation of her fabrics. The fan design prompted me to choose an Asian theme, so hence the decorative chopsticks as the handles of this bag.  I designed this bag as  a knitting bag and included some knitting needles and wool inside, but it could be used as a shopping bag,too. Hope you like the bag, Gamarna.

Merry Christmas to all Gumnutters - see you in January for an "informal" meeting at my place on  the second Saturday as usual - 9 January 2010. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Family Weekend

We had a rather eventful weekend last weekend. Our grand daughter, Amy Rose was born a couple of weeks earlier than expected and in a big hurry. Our daughter made it to the car park of the hospital. She and her husband left their home at 3.50pm and Amy was born at 4.10pm on Sunday afternoon, but all are well and happy, including big brother, almost 4 years old.

It was quite a weeeknd for him. On Friday night and Saturday afternoon, he performed in his first ever dance concert. Friday night was a little traumatic, with tears on stage, but with encouragement from his "big" cousin on Saturday, he performed like a seasoned star.

The concert was followed by his birthday party, held a week early to accommodate the predicted arrival of the new baby.

Little sister of course had other plans and made it a weekend to remember for the whole family. Welcome to our fourth beautiful grandchild, Amy Rose.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Handmade Treasures and Good Causes

The annual Handmade Treasures Sale is over again ... it was a hot and hectic day, but I think we created a great atmosphere which lived up to the prior advertising as ‘stress free and non-commercial Christmas shopping for good causes – and free morning and afternoon tea included!” The work from all the contributing artists was stunning, and everyone who came commented on the quality of the work.

I was very fortunate to have made contact with the Hunter East Timor Sisters after I saw the movie ”Balibo” and we had beautiful hand woven tais to sell to support an educational scholarship for a young East Timorese woman.

Other money raised goes towards the purchase of a Rotary Shelter Box , temporary accommodation and emergency supplies in a “box” ready to be taken anywhere in the world where people are made homeless by natural disaster. Humanity Coffee and bilums (string bags from Papua New Guinea) were also on sale to supplement the funds for medical equipment at Goroka Hospital (Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea). Tonight, I am proud and happy to say we raised a substantial amount for all three very worthwhile projects . It has taken me hours today to do the bookwork and sort out the money for each artist and the packing up but I love hosting this event every year. Everyone benefits from this sale – the customers , the artists and people worldwide needing support.

Close to home, the outstanding success of last Thursday’s Hunter Homeless Connect Day is still being broadcast.

About 1500 people attended the day and participated in the services available – health checks of all kinds, swine flu vaccinations, birth certificate recovery, financial advice, housing and accommodation advice, haircuts, massages and facials, living skills and creative workshops, and of course our Rotary daily essentials bags- all for free. The 250 bags we provided didn’t really go very far – we needed many more, but the ones we distributed were gratefully received. Congratulations to our friend, Nicola, who was the coordinator for this amazing event – sad it is so needed, but happy we have been able to participate to make life just a tiny bit easier for those doing it tough in tough times.

And next week, I am temporarily going back to work for a couple of days in the Principal's Unit at Callaghan College ...for a rest!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Felted Fallalery and Homeless Bags

What is fallalery? It is the using and making of fallals (trifling, decorative ornaments). This was the basis of my talk at NCEATA – Newcastle Creative Embroiderers and Textile Artists on Saturday. I have recently joined this group and will be one of the tutors at their Creative Retreat in May 2010. I am offering a workshop called “Felted Fashion and Fallalery”. The felted art bowls in the photos are samples for the workshop where participants will create beautiful handmade felt for fashion accessories and jewellery and/or decorative art pieces like these bowls or art dolls and embellished them with handmade polymer clay pieces, buttons, beads and embroidery. More information from NCEATA website

Second episode of the Homeless Day - packing night was last Sunday., the hottest day of the year so far. I don’t think it needs too much explanation About 20 Rotarians friends came to our place , brought more donations, packed 250+ daily essentials packs and made up beautiful "hampers" to be distributed at the Hunter Homeless Connect day. Each pack has a towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, other toieltries, underpants , tissues, bottle of water, and a few other useful bits and pieces. Nicola, a young member of my Rotary club is one of the coordinators and sent this message “. On behalf of the Hunter Homeless Connect Day organisers and guests, my thanks to Rotarians for your efforts in collecting and packing goods for our special day this week, and the gorgeous hampers which will bring extra joy to a few who are probably not used to being 'winners'.   Thanks of course for your own generous donations and to your suppliers for their care for those in tough times.  “

and a last reminder about the fantastic HANDMADE TREASURES CHRISTMAS SALE
  Saturday, 28th November, 8.30am - 5.30pm