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Magical Mallacoota

Australia is experiencing our worst bushfires in history and the news from Mallacoota was some of the worst. It is harrowing and difficult to get your head around. It’s hard to know what to even write under the circumstances. There is so much commentary on how to donate, whether or not to send goods or money. Should we be making joey pouches or donating money to animal shelters? I enjoyed listening to Magda Szubanski yesterday, who’s teamed up with Will Connolly (aka Egg Boy) to raise money for the long term relief effort through providing trauma/mental health support. Here’s the link at GoFundMe.

So, I will donate money and time and sew joey pouches, but in the meantime, I’d like to share my connection with one of the worse affected towns, Mallacoota. We first visited Mallacoota in January 2009. We decided to treat ourselves and stay in a house rather than camping. It was a mudbrick flat and the excentric owner encouraged feeding the wildlife, especially the birds. We fell in love with this magical little town by the sea. The abundant wildlife captivated the children and when we left we always said we’d go back one day.

Ten Years On

It took a while but finally, we returned to Mallacoota, and it didn’t disappoint. Again we found wildlife, beautiful bushland walks, hundreds of little blue crabs scurrying on the beach and the most stunning scenery you can imagine. And now a delightful little coffee hut near the beach selling delicious coffee and a daily supply of origami animals! The kids might be older but nothing beats a bit of origami art. My husband loved to admire the spectacular coffee machine, and I enjoyed the coffee and the view. When you go, visit them! Mallacoota Origami Coffee

Hope

So this week has been heartbreaking but my little ray of hope is seeing that Origami Coffee is still operating on the seafront in Mallacoota. A lot of their customers are the fireys and they’re running a little jar for donations. I read a lovely little article in The Age that offers hope and optimism. We are all hoping that Mallacoota will continue to be the magical place of our memories. We’ll certainly be visiting again with our empty eskies.

If nothing else…. draw.

Using the inspiration I have from the wonderful times we’ve spent on the east coast amongst the parrots and lyrebirds I’m getting back to designing and drawing. Watch out for some colourful patterns!

Australia Red Cross

Go Fund Me page for Trauma and Mental Health ongoing Support

Wildlife Rescue

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Happy Holiday Season

I made this!

The holiday season always seems to creep up on me at an alarming rate in Australia. The kids finish school and the weather starts to warm up so we all hit the beach and forget that Christmas is coming very soon! I did manage to organise myself a bit this year though. I ordered some of my own fabric printed through NextState and got sewing with a beautifully easy-to-follow pattern from Tilly and The Buttons. Of course, when I came to actually wear out to an event I had a crisis of confidence and felt very silly. That’s where having daughters really helps. I swear I wouldn’t leave the house in anything but black without their help.

Puppy news

I know this has nothing to do with design, pattern or illustration but just look at this gorgeous boy! He’s distracting me a lot when he’s not napping or eating so it’s been tricky to get on with any real work. But that’s what the holiday season is for, isn’t it? Plans, drawings and pattern collections can come later. In the meantime, I’m running around in the sunshine with this one.

Happy Christmas

I wish anyone reading this the very best holiday time. Stay safe and have fun!

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Christmas Cake Toppers Workshop

A bit of history

A few years ago a friend and I met once a week to make cakes. It was a good excuse to get together and laugh, and she really makes me howl! We got pretty good at cake making aswell. I can’t, or rather won’t, bake but I can design stuff. Over time I started making my own fondant and even figured out low-sugar or honey replacement fondant which was delicious. I learnt how to smooth fodant, make all sorts of little models, paint on fondant and create 3D model shaped cakes. We even started exploring gluten free options and beautiful tiered decorated cake with minimal frosting and fruit and flowers. We made cakes for all kinds of different occasions. A lot of them, but nowhere near all of them, are on this Pinterest board.

Christmas workshop

Several years later and we have both got back into teaching. But it’s great to have a reason to work together again. So yesterday I went to run a workshop in cake decoration at the High School where she teaches. It was so much fun I really hope we get the chance to do it again. I tried to keep it relatively simple and gave the kids step by step instructions. They did a truly fantastic job and we laughed a lot.

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Tea Towel Design

I’ve never designed a tea-towel before. I did this one for this weeks Spoonflower Challenge and it was an absolute joy. I thought I’d do something that would be of use to me. As you can see, the pages of my recipe book are well worn on this particular page. I’ve been making chocolate brownies for the kids since they were little, or since I was given this book was given to me by someone super clever at giving presents. I’ve adapted the recipe and simplified it but it’s usually successful. ‘Bosh it together and chuck it in the oven’ is my way of cooking. The brownies usually last about two days in our house.

The Anti-advent Calendar!

If you’ve heard of anti-colouring books you’ll get this. I’ve never given my kids advent calendars with chocolate in them, firstly because I’m a really mean old cow of a Mother, but also because book illustration doesn’t pay much and dentistry isn’t covered by health funds or the state in Australia. But that’s a different issue.

So, this year we’re building our own advent calendar! Adding a little bit each day. The kids really surprised me by latching onto this idea and running with it. We’re only two days in but our Aussie Christmas scene is coming along nicely.

More cake creativity

Loved making this cake last week. It was for a birthday….yes, chameleons again. It isn’t over, we still have the party to come! I really enjoyed practicing painting on fondant again.

The chocolate cupcakes were made for the class at school. They are completely gluten free, dairy free, nut free, colour and preservative free. Not egg free, but I am assured that that is also possible. They’re really delicious. It’s great to be able to cater for everyone.

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Love Cake

Whilst I was painting this cake I was listening to the news on the radio. It got depressing after a while. The half hourly reminders that Tony Abbott is using every tactic available to him to block marriage equality in this country. It’s shameful and embarrassing.

But this is a blog about illustration, not politics. So whilst I was painting this cake I was able to remember the absolute highlight of my year so far, my sisters marriage to her long term female partner. It was a glorious, joyous and emotional day of celebration as all good weddings are.

 

This is the first time I’ve tried painting on a cake and I’m really happy with it. The fondant is home made, as is the delicious chocolate cake inside. Next time I’ll get some proper fondant smoothers to make it super-smooth. If you know anyone who would like to give me the opportunity to create an original, hand-painted wedding cake, I’m up for the challenge. P1030624

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