Thursday, January 27, 2011

An outfit for a summers day....

Feeling rather dowdy and more than a little despondant, what with the flood crisis in my part of the world and all, I decided that my best effort at cheering myself (as is my usual method) would be to put some thought into my outfit for the least then I go through my day feeling good about myself and how I look. So, here is today's summery outfit which was perfect for taking my kidletts to the park in the morning and sitting by the pool in the evening while they splashed and played and generally wore themselves out !! I made this dress a few years ago from some vintage late 60's material and I love wearing it...not least of all because the vintage pattern gives me a more curvacious figure ! It is a light fabric with a bit of 'give' and I just adore the aqua colour...I need to find myself more of such eye catching stuff !!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Homesteads of the Murray - Introduction

Ten years ago, my girlfriend and photographer extrodinair - Brooke - and I put together a book titled "Homesteads of the Mighty Murray"..... It was a journey down Australia's Murray River exploring 12 of the diverse historic homseteads to be found established upon the rivers prosperous banks. Sadly, as is the case with so many would be authors, no publisher took the opportunity to publish this wonderful book.....although I did notice one of the publishers produced a strikingly similar book 5 years after I had pitched them the idea. Hmmmmmm, I am convinced it's not what you know, but who you know in the publishing game !!!!

Now with the wonders of online publishing, I want to take the opportunity this year to share my book with the world. Over the next 12 months I will be posting each of the chapters of my book, one a month. I do hope you enjoy this little bit of insight into my portion of the world, it's history, it's beauty and it's story......

Homesteads of the Murray - Introduction....
As a wide eyed, child I vividly remember cuddling into my Poppa Micks lap and begging for one of his many stories. To my little girls keen nose he always had the captivating scent of freshly rolled tobacco about him. At least, he did until he gave up smoking. There was always the contented feeling of coming home in Poppa Micks cuddles. He was a tremendous storyteller, as both young and old alike could attest to. And he would never fail to bring out the pride of his story-telling catalogue for his grandchildren – the day he swam the Murray with a billy full of pups. As the story grew older, and our childish adoration expanded, Poppa Mick would embellish it until at last he was swimming a raging, flood swelled river with the writhing billy full of yelping pups held between clenched teeth. It was a fine old story !

I don’t doubt that Poppa Mick loved that great old river. He certainly gave his grandchildren a love for it. Many a day he took us into the bush by the murky yellow depths and fished for hours on end, while we played under the river gums. He would dig up witchity grubs and tell us they were for lunch, while we thankfully tucked into Nanna Alice’s tomato sandwiches instead. And when at last we fishermen were all fished out, we would head home for Nanna to cook us up a tea made from our bounty. For most river children like me, this was their blissful childhood.

I was always warned about getting to close to the river and falling in. The river was dangerous for a little girl, and the reserved fear of the river has never really left me, making it’s snaking bends and coves all the more rich with mystery, adventure and allure. Even today when I swim at her sandbars, there is a wariness inside. I recall all the stories of people who have been tragically drowned in her waters. People who have been sucked into one of her powerful whirlpools, even tales of sections of the river where streams of water run deep underground, re-surfacing kilometres downstream. The river is an enticing enigma with an air of untamable power – despite all the weirs and locks to the contrary. She demands to be treated with respect.

In places it dawdles, sluggish and heavy with mud after torrential rains. Yet high in the mountains where it’s life begins, it sprightly dances, clear and sparkling as diamonds. Running for 2530km from North Eastern Victoria to the South Australian coast, the Murray River is one of the longest navigatable rivers in the world. For centuries it has given life to the peoples of this dry continent.

The native river dwelling people found the Murray a dependable source of food, abounding in fish and drawing wildlife to its lush grassy banks. The gums that flourished upon the rivers side gave up their bark for use in canoes and dwellings. The tribes of the Murray valleys and plains blessed by the rivers wealth in food shelter and transport.

In the 1840’s and 50’s, white settlers too succumbed to the Murrays magic. This seemingly reliable water source drew visionary men and women to establish immense estates, or “runs” along the steep banks. Cattle and sheep now grazed on the riverland grasses alongside kangaroos and emus. Primitive homesteads and foundling communities were set up, benefiting from the plentiful wood for shelter, just as their native brothers and sisters did.

As settlement grew, homesteads were exchanged for gracious riverland mansions, and community spirit ran high. Work in rural Australia was plentiful for those who were willing and able. At the turn of the 20th century 44% of Australians lived in rural areas, and so, humming with people, growth and prosperity, the Murray river region was firmly established as a vital agricultural region for newly federated Australia.

Australia’s renown as the country that rode on the sheep’s back was due in no small measure to the gift of water from the Murray. Wool clips were transported from pastoral stations to inland ports, destined for markets in Melbourne and Adelaide via that now romantic element of steam travel – paddleboats. Farmers in the heyday of river travel were able to tell exactly which steamer was puffing up the river to their landing long before the wooden boat actually came into view. The tone of the "toot toot" from the steamers whistle would announce their imminent arrival.

Like river transportation, irrigation too came as a tremendous boost to the economy of a fledgling nation. Irrigation farms sprang up like wildflowers after spring rains. Orange groves, apple, pear and peach orchards, dairy farms, rice cropping and viticulture – all an impossibility before the waters of the Murray afforded the people of the river such reward.

The pastoral stations of the Murray have also united the cultures of the various settlers along the river. The natives of each region rubbed shoulders in the workplace with the Chinese, Italians, Americans, Tongan and Polynesians, and the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish from the earliest days of settlement. Throughout the years these people have transformed the Murray region into the vibrant smattering of cultures and heritage that we see before us today.

What a blessing this river has been, rising grandly in the rush and gurgle of mountain streams, and winding it’s way through valley floors laden with ferns and greenery, out into the open country of the plains, rolling along still, under the fire of mallee stars. To me there is perhaps nothing quite so thrillingly Australian as the sight of a river gum in all its aged splendour of mottled bark and gnarled limbs. As it cascades its branches across its watery lifesource, there in is a sight give pride to any child of Australia.

I am a product of five generations of Australian farmers and as such, the love of the Australian rural lifestyle – especially in the river country – is something I cannot escape from, and would not want to. This book is about the sentiment within me, and so many Australians just like me, who stand with pride in our rural heritage. The beauty of our rural land, not only in its landscape, but in it’s stories and it’s people.

Each of the properties depicted in “Homesteads of the Murray” have achieved what most people in the country dream of realising – victory over the tremendous odds that are against each one who sets out to make a successful living off the land. Some properties may be battle scarred (giving them the greater story to tell!), but in today’s uncertain farming environment, they are winners. As winners, throughout the 200 odd years of white settlement, many of these properties have been able to display the trophies of their success though the establishment of their homesteads. A goldmine of architectural history lies hidden all along the rivers banks, the existence of which is sometimes not even known to locals. But they are there, preserving a taste of our prosperous past. Everything from a drop log cabin to a sprawling two-storied mansion can be found tucked away amongst the river gums.

The stations represented here are all one in their dependence on the river for survival. Today it is in the provision of irrigation water to a dry land. At one time, it was in the use of the river as a transportation link for wool clips and supplies. All claim a tie to the river, and without her, the properties may have simply faded into oblivion.

This is a book that relives the past and glories in the beauty of that bygone era of gracious country estates and honest reward for hard work. It shows us where we have come from, who we are today and how the humble contribution of those before us has changed our lives. Here is the preciousness of our settlement from the mountains to the mallee.
So journey with me if you will, down the meandering Murray, catching a glimpse of the stations of this mighty river, as it sojourns through the nation. Behold the impact that men and women have made as they carved their dwellings out of a courageous life on the land. Enjoy the beauty that God and men have created hand in hand. Sense the struggle and the heartaches that wrung the very core of the bold residents of the river. In honour of the colourful pasts of these jewels of the Murray, the river pastoral stations of our land deserve this, the following tribute.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Summer Ice Cream

With summer upon us in Australia, the kids and I took the opportunity to make our own ice-cream from a recipe I had stashed away, and it certainly was delicious !!! It really does one good to make your own 'standard favourites' as you soon realise (in this case) just how unhealthy they are.....I LOVE ice-cream, but have been alot more cautious about eating it since we made is now much more of a treat for me, and less of a regular thing. So if you have a spare afternoon this summer, grab the kids and mix up some home made ice cream...fill in your school holidays, and delight your taste buds as a special treat !

(Above - our home made ice cream with ice magic and sprinkles - yummy!!)

Home Made Ice Cream

1 Tin condensed milk
1 Cup water
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
4 Cups cream

Whip the cream
Add water and condensed milk mixed together
Whip again

Add whatever you like - fruit puree, fruit bits, dried fruit, chocolate, lollies, topping/flavouring...

Place in a container, cover with gladwrap and freeze for aprox 12 hours.

Mmmmmm !!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Betty Draper Barbie Dress...

 I have been working on this little project for quite some time now and am thrilled with how it has turned out !! Formally this dress had sleeves, a matching belt and made me look super matronly in 1950's style. But after a little Mad Men and Barbie Doll inspiration, I decided to try to similarly replicate Betty Drapers Barbie Doll Dress with the matronly dress as a base. I removed the sleeves and created a silk cumber bun - and look at the difference !! So happy !!!! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quote of the month - January 2011

"When I think of the future, I think, 'I am 36 years old. I am just getting started."

Marilyn Monroe

Amen to that sista ! I wish we could have seen what else you might have brought to the world.... a lesson for me at 36 years of age, to value every single moment while it is with me - seize the day!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Todays outfit....

Today I was inspired to dress somewhat like a 40's pin up girl. I donned my button detail red high waisted shorts (made to my own pattern) and a cute little collared, pinup girl print, tie front top. ( I need to find a pattern for this was a gift from Brookie, and I want more !!!) I found some darling red and white spotted wedges in Echuca this week, and I popped a red hibiscus in my hair for that holiday look. Ta da, transformation of dowdy Mum in pajamas to 'sexy mamma' (here's hoping !!) dispite my not-quite-ready-for-summer legs ! Let's just say the fake tan will be making an appearance tonight - milky white is lovely on the face, chicken meat white is just not acceptable on the legs....a hint of colour and a bit more tone required !!! For now it's off to enjoy the summer day with my little ones !

Monday, January 3, 2011

Living Dolls - Miss January 2011

What does 'vintage' mean to you?

It took me a while to answer this question (not least because, for some reason, I kept singing it in my head to the tune of ‘What Christmas Means to Me’ by Stevie Wonder!) but I suppose for me it means not having to wear what mainstream media tells me a woman should wear. I can pick and choose what I want and create my own style.

What was it that first prompted your interest in vintage culture?

I suppose, in some ways, I’ve always had an interest…I grew up watching things like Miss Marple (with Joan Hickson) and old Hollywood movies (my favourite actresses have always been Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day) and listening to 50s and 60s pop music. I think it wasn’t until I was 20 or 21 that I realised I could dress just like the women in the films I loved watching all the time, if I wanted to, though. For my 21st birthday I had a 1940s themed party and it just snowballed from there.

What is your favourite era, and do you 'live it' every day? In what ways?

Sometimes I’m torn between loving the 40s and 50s equally and some days I will love one more than the other. I’m currently more in a 40s mood. I don’t dress 100% authentically because, to be honest, it’s too time consuming. A lot of people think my look is authentic, anyway, and I suppose that’s because I’m more inspired by old movies & photographs than current pin up or burlesque culture (which, by the way, I LOVE). But I suppose I like to think that the spirit of the eras I love is alive in my outfits, as pretentious as that may sound. I’ve been swing dancing for a year, now, and that’s another way I keep in touch with the past. I also like knitting and things like that – I suppose some women still find that an uncomfortable thing because they see it as a symbol of oppression but the rise of crafts like knitting and cross stitch over the past, maybe, decade, has definitely come from more of a feminist, DIY culture, I think. Plus, I find it so sad to think of these crafts disappearing!

Tell us about your favourite item of vintage clothing, kitchenalia, music, furniture or whatever!

Oh, gosh, I don’t know if I can pick a favourite anything! Although, I recently inherited a 1950s chrome-edged laminex kitchen table from my dad. That’s pretty special. It’s red and will look great in my future kitchen (I still live at home and can’t convince my mother to use it in lieu of her IKEA table).

Can you share with us why vintage culture continues to hold such appeal for you?

I feel like I’m always discovering something new and learning different things about the way life was, the fashion, the design, etc. I still have a lot to learn and discover and that’s exciting for me!

Do you have any tips for anyone starting out in the vintage scene?

I suppose it can be a little overwhelming to begin with, especially seeing others who have been around for a while – I think remembering that everyone hard to start somewhere is a good idea. Knowing if you want to go for the look of a specific decade will help. Do research – there are a lot of great sources out there: blogs, old photos, movies, etc. I think making sure you’re having fun is one of the most important things, though.

Now is your chance to provide us with an overview of who you are and what you do.
I’m 23; Adelaide born and bread. I spent the last three years doing a Bachelor of Visual Arts, majoring in photography, which I loved but I’ve taken a bit of a break from the world of art, this year. I’m a would-be movie buff and spend far too much time watching TV shows; I suppose I’m a bit of a pop culture junkie.

My main love at the moment is ukulele; one of my friends and I have formed a duo and we’re going to start performing soon. I also always feel a bit cheesy trying to think of things to write about myself!

Finally, what or who inspires you and why?

There are so many things that inspire me but I would say the ones that I keep returning to are:

Dolly Parton – I used to sometimes wonder if I might be perceived as a little ridiculous (I don’t have many of those moments any more) but then I would think about Dolly and how she is never anyone but Dolly and she doesn’t make any apologies for being true to herself.

Wanda Jackson – she’s 72 and still rocking! So inspiring.

Audrey Hepburn – I think she was a truly beautiful person, within and without.

My mum – she always encourages me and tries her best to fill me with hope when I despair.
Related Posts with Thumbnails