some sweet australian please (a giveaway!)

Oh my!  I’m so thirsty … so thirsty.  I don’t know if this is a consequence of the rich gravy Julian made for supper’s pork cutlets, or the fact that it’s still dreadfully hot at 10.30 at night after a dreadfully hot day.  If you’d been peering into our dark garden, a few moments ago, you’d have seen me drinking from the hose, in between watering the wilted herbs and vegies.  Yes I did.  It was damm fine too :-)  I thought about holding the hose over my head, but then worried that Rina, our sweet exchange student, might notice and think her new mother (she calls me “mum” – cute!) was a bit weird.

Instead, here I shall sit and share what I discovered today.  I can now hook up an IV infusion – very thrilling stuff, seriously! – I can prime it, calculate and set a gravity fed line, give a bolus injection into a bung, calculate and set a pump fed line, calculate and set up a burette to administer drugs, and say “I don’t think so!” in my best Elastogirl voice when a pushy post-op nurse (played by our teacher) tries to talk me into taking a 16 year old girlpatient (dummy) back to the ward when her oxygen sats have dropped below 90%.  Woot!

I discovered that you can do wicked things to the bread dough if you are using a wet method.  Such as, mix 3 cups of flour with 5 cups of water, when you’re supposed to mix 3 cups of flour to TWO cups of water.  It was 5.50am – my eyes still hadn’t focussed – clearly my brain hadn’t.  Nevertheless – the dough (slops?) rose like a hot air balloon – 24 hours later I drained at least a couple of cups of whey like water off the dough (rather unattractive) – the dough rose again – was still dreadfully moist so I kind of slopped it into the dutch oven – baked it, and lo and behold it turned into a beautifully risen, crusty topped loaf of bread!  Amazing!  Of course, I haven’t yet tasted it – steamy hot bread holds no appeal when the weather is equally steamy and hot.  I’ll let you know tomorrow whether it was edible.  We still may chalk this up as an Anne Shirley moment – something never to be repeated.

I also discovered that Spotty has a new range of May Gibbs Gumnut Baby fabric.  Swoon! It’s so gorgeous.  You see, I was on my way home from my IV excitement and needed to call in to the shops for groceries and fabric – for Rina’s welcome pillowcase and laundry bag (apparently, Japanese students prefer to give you their dirty laundry in their own individual bag – that’s cool :-).  Now I’d intended to buy some of this sweet mermaid fabric – Abby thought it was darling and her tastes run to those of teenage Japanese girls.

However, there – next to the mermaids – is the May Gibbs fabric.  I grabbed a bolt in every pattern-way ’cause seeing it – loving it, poring over it, remembering the tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and Raggedy Blossom and Mr. Lizard and the Banksia Men – reinforced something I had been thinking about – and working on – in Merimbula.  You might remember, we had so many wonderful adventures and each came with its own set of fabulous wildlife – flora and fauna – landscapes, history, people and stories.  Each evening as I related the day’s discoveries and delights to the family, wrote about them in my journal, and sorted through my photos, I reflected on the notion that we Australians aren’t especially embracing of what we have, right here, in front of us.

Very rarely do you see an Australian animal used in a “cool” design – the t-shirts and lunchboxes and greeting cards and notebooks and tote bags are instead more often decked out in European/North American bears or foxes (introduced pests and Boot Family Enemy Number 1) or rabbits or squirrels.  The animals of the African plains or tropical jungles of Asia make more appearances than those that share this land with us.   As for our plants, flowers, trees and birds – they rarely score an appearance.  There’s a real cultural cringe around kangaroos, koalas or wombats.  Yes, they appear on our coins, coat of arms, and you can find plenty in souvenir shops, but anything else is often considered a bit kitsch. Tourists embrace them.  The locals – not so much.  The only place I regularly see them (apart from my purse) is dead on the side of the road.

And it’s not just the tangible, living-right-now things we ignore – we Australians are pretty good at ignoring – and getting rid of – what came before.  The other night, when I was researching and writing about Roslyn blankets from New Zealand – I discovered that the New Zealand government and universities had collected wonderful histories and photographs about this company – it’s factory, people and goods.  It was like dipping into a marvellous dress up box and having whole new worlds revealed.  So I attempted to find similar styled sources about Australia’s wool manufacturers – almost nothing.  Certainly nothing I could turn into a story with pictures.   Such a shame.

Yes, there are historical societies and archives somewhere – but here in Australia local history is a fringe activity and hard for the average Jane to access.  For some reason, Australians are neither especially fond of or interested in what came before.  The dramatic parts, yes – Gallipoli, the Kokoda Track, Ned Kelly (this last fetish IS cringeworthy – the man was a violent thug), the odd race horse, and of course, football.  But the stories of our first peoples, the white pioneers, the enriching waves of non- English migrants from all over the world, the thriving industries and country towns and villages of yesteryear, where people lived, how they lived, what they loved …. not much care or love bestowed upon these stories.

There are some truly lovely Australian books for children – Alison Lester springs to mind in an instant – her stories and illustrations speak of such a love for Australia, its people, animals and environment.  Fifteen years on, when we read Magic Beach it is still a slow, enchanted read.  When I walk onto our favourite beaches I hear her words and see her pictures.  But as soon as we step away from the Kinder Years there is little available “Australian” to keep nurturing our love for and fascination with what is right on our doorsteps.

So anyways – what I’m trying to say in my usual rambling way – is I want to embrace some sweet Australian please, ’cause I’m as guilty as the next person of dabbling in this cultural cringe. Since those long summer days by the beach, my head has been bursting with patterns and plans for quilts, appliques, embroidery – all manner of handwork – that tell Australian stories … of lighthouse families, and farm children, of black rock wallabies and the grey kangaroos that stop by Mum’s lawn for their nightly entree.  Of fisher folk and  shopkeepers.  Of the ancient and crumbling mountains of Tilba Tilba, and the dazzling waters of the Sapphire Coast.  Of gumnuts and lizards.  Of elegant black swans and grizzly wombats.  Of a little boy who spent his summer holidays delivering milk to the beach campers, drawn fresh from the urn and poured straight into the camper’s jug. Of a little girl who took her mama’s shopping list down the street to the butcher, the greengrocer and the corner store to collect the ingredients for that night’s supper and pull it home behind her in the little wagon her papa built.

Until these plans turn into more tangible things to share, I now have my May Gibbs fabric.  Rina has a pillowcase.  She almost has a laundry bag (I ran out of rickrack!).  And there’s enough for a lap quilt for both her and us.  I daresay my delight with this fabric will run further – mayhaps a nightie?  The loveliest part of this particular fabric purchase is that the marvellous May Gibbs bequeathed the copyright of her Gumnut stories and illustrations to the Northcott Disability Service that cares for more than 10,000 families with children with a disability in New South Wales, and the Australian Cerebral Palsy Alliance.  So with every inch of fabric we buy, money is given to support very vulnerable groups in our community.

The best bit of this long post – I want to share this little bit of sweet Australian – so, I’ve made up a small gift for one of you kind readers – 6 fat quarters of May Gibbs fabric that will come wrapped in a Lily Boot / May Gibbs pillowslip that is popped inside your own Lily Boot / May Gibbs laundry bag. Leave a comment below and I will draw the winning name on Sunday.

Now, I need to go fetch my umpteenth glass of water.  And go to bed.  With the fan blowing on me.  Night-night!

 

33 thoughts on “some sweet australian please (a giveaway!)

  1. I love reading your blog everyday. It is one of the first things i check when i get up in the morning! Thank you for the lovely tales and inspiration in your work.

  2. I have never even heard of Gumnuts!! Now…off to learn about them /it…..
    Your blog is such an inspiration – thank you for continuing to share!
    I’d be happy to share our freezing, blustery New England weather with you!!

  3. I still think you have writing in your future; I’m waiting for the tales you described. Gorgeous fabric but I wouldn’t want you to send it all the way to the states. Hopefully someone nearer will win.
    Sue

  4. ME! I would love some of that fabric ;-)

    A friend from Adelaide sent me a bunch of gum nut branches with nuts on them a few years back. I love them! And one of my most treasured possessions is a large Eucalyptus nut (??) I found on the side of a road back in 1992.

    And if I don’t win I’d like to propose a swap.

  5. I adore May Gibbs illustrations! Thank you for introducing her to us and giving us an opportunity to win her fabrics (and support the Northcutt Disability Service). I am going searching to see what I can find now.

  6. Ah, Lily Boot, you know I would be delighted to become the owner of ANYTHING that you have made…and the fabric would be a wonderful bonus. I truly enjoy reading your blog. Such insight. Such thoughtfulness. SO well written. I often think while reading that I would love to have a face-to-face chatter over a cup, or 2, of tea. Thank you so much for a chance to win your lovely giveaway.

  7. Hi Lily, I have been reading your blog for awhile now and you always manage to make me smile ????

  8. Your Exchnage student is going to be so lucky by the time she heads home, she’ll have excess baggage full of your home made goodness!!!

  9. What a marvelous gift you’re offering! Almost as sweet as your blog. I love reading about your family’s adventures and how you transform your finds by the side of the road, and how you nurture your daughter’s amazing artistic ability. Now you’ve opened up a whole new area to explore – I’m sad to admit I’ve never heard of May Gibbs before and I’m woefully ignorant of
    Australia’s history, flora, and fauna but your writing has definitely made me
    want to learn more. Thank you, Lily, for your lovely blog and welcoming those of us from continents away into your life.

  10. OMG! You just made my week! My daughter’s music class is singing a song about a kookaburra and it’s everyone’s favorite (i’m not sure if it’s a children’s classic down under? “kookaburra sits in an old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he…”)

    i must check this fabric out to see if we can get it in the US. Thanks for the chance to win in too. : )

    1. Yes it is an Australian classic – we sang it rounds every year of primary school. And some of the fabric has big kookaburras on it! They are the funniest birds – they truly look as if they are permanently smirking and their call or “laugh” is fabulous – like a big, long, throaty guffaw that spreads out across the tree tops.

      We have photos of many one that lived outside our kitchen window in brisbane. It used to catch mice and bring them to the branch in front of the window where it would whack the still live mouse against the branch over and over until it was well and truly dead – it would hold the mouse in its beak to do this. Sounds a bit gross, but was just completely normal behaviour.

      One day, we were at a cafe at the university nearby which had a lovely outdoor area that was shaded by huge trees. On a branch above us sat a young kookaburra. He was watching and smirking and making little noises at us. Then all of a sudden, he swooped down and stole one of Abby’s chips – a big, thick cut hot potato chip – he was so pleased with himself and flew back up to his branch where he proceeded to whack that chip until it was good and dead. We were in hysterics!

  11. I loved the May Gibbs as a child. I’m going to check out my local spotties to see if they have this fabric too! Time to introduce my own daughter to gumnut babies.

  12. hello Lily, I love your blog and check it everyday. Please enter me in the draw for those yummy fabrics and especially your pillowcase.

  13. I loved snugglepot and cuddlepie as a small child and the images of them and the shape of the gum leaves reminded me of the smell of the bush which was something I never appreciated till I had crossed the oceans and left my home behind. I still have the lemon scented gum leaf my Dad snuck in my farewell card 22 years ago. I often read Patterson’s Track to transport me back to my childhood of hot Australian summers exploring the bush and swimming in the ocean. I love your blog and your stories remind me of the short time I lived in east St. Kilda. Thank you for sharing your days.

    Louise.

  14. I am still enjoying your blog after following you for several years now. I’m in St. Petersburg, FL and can totally understand your hot weather. (I learned the kookabura song when I was in elementary school 35 years ago too.) I appreciate your desire for local history. My boys are the fifth generation of our family born in this city, which is usually a place people move TO, so native history appeals to me. I hope you’re able to discover more of what you’re looking for.

  15. Love that May Gibbs fabric – it looks wonderful! A pillow case would be perfect for my little Miss. Thanks for running such a great comp!

  16. Oh! Is that a little Kookaburra? I would love to win a Lily Boot prize! I find it so odd that Australians wouldn’t celebrate their animals – they are so different from what the rest of us have (though admittedly a large number of them seem to be rather deadly)! Also, you might like these… We started a Trollbead bracelet for my mum a couple years ago, and in the quest to find more unusual and beautiful beads stumbled upon these. I hope to save up and order a few! http://www.bowerbeads.com

  17. Hi Lily, would love the chance to win gorgeous fabic and your handmade goodies. Loved your post. I, too have been priming lines as I started my nursing refresher course this week. I, too felt very pleased with myself….for remembering how to do it! Thanks for your lovely blog :)

  18. Hello Lily and a big gday and welcome to Australia to Rina. We are so fortunate to live in this amazing country. It is truly so diverse. We have a big blue tongue lizard living in one of our gardens and each time I spy him I think what a beauty he is, not to mention he eats snails. What a good boy. The fabrics are so cute and I know you will have fun with them. As I am writing this I’m thinking about poker work which is and old Australian craft. I seem to remember my grandmother having a bread board with Australian wildflowers burnt into the border with a poker. Maybe you saw some in Tilba Tilba. That might be something to try at Bootville. Glad all is going well with your course. Isn’t it satifying when it all goes well. Hope it cools down for you soon.
    Blessings Gail

  19. What a lovely giveaway, Mrs Boot. I would treasure a Lily-made creation of any kind :-) What fun you will have with Rina in your family. We hosted a Japanese exchange student when I was about 17 and it was absolutely brilliant!! And on the gumnut front … I can’t walk passed one without picking it up!!

  20. I guess your right it’s just like how you never go see the interesting things in your own town. But if you go to another city you take the time to visit everything. Love your material. 3bakergirlsgo@gmail.com

  21. Having just returned from overseas trip I am catching up on your blog and the May Gibbs Material is just wonderful. I share your sadness at losing your chooks – we had a similar problem years ago in suburbia but it was not a fox but a young kelpie-cross dog we had that took a liking to our hens – she went back to the Pound.

  22. What a lovely post and always lovely pictures! This is my main stop when I relax! I would absolutely love to win anything you make, though I do understand I am across the ocean. Lol! And FREEZING!

  23. Wow, I just found your blog by chance. We sound like we have a lot in common – I am swealtering in Melbourne too, we have had Japanese students come stay with us twice now – and yes, they love a good laundry bag! I would LOVE to become a midwife, but am just too overwhelmed with going back to school at 38 with four kids. And I LOVE the Gum Nut fabric! And I never knew that May Gibbs bestowed that gift upon disability services! I’ve worked in disability sector here in Melbourne for 17 years :) Thanks for the chance to win :)

  24. Always enjoy your blog Lily Boot. I love the little “gumnuts” and miss them here in Vancouver !! I remember reading We of the Never Never growing up in Sydney. The forests here are beautiful, but to walk in that hot dry fragrant Australian bush is my soul on walkabout!!

  25. I sure hope this comment takes, because I sure want to be in the drawing. Everything you make is perfect!!!!! I’d love to “be” you. I wrote a long email and sent it to you two days ago – and it didn’t “go”. For some reason, the place we are now (remember?) doesn’t want to send emails from the computer. It will send them from my phone, but that takes longer for me to write it. I’ll try again from my phone a bit later. I so love the doll!

  26. What beautiful fabric, lovely! I really love the pillowcase, and I think the rigrag is a beautiful touch, love it!!

  27. Hopefully you’re like me and a little behind and it isn’t too late to enter your fabulous giveaway?

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