Tuesday 16 September 2014

My Crafternoons Workshops Hamilton

I'm delighted to recap my first Crafternoon Workshop held in Hamilton, Victoria, which was a wooly wonderful success!

You may have read my previous post on my new hobby/business venture: My Crafternoons.

My Crafternoons will hopefully grow into a neat little website filled with creative inspiration and pics from my real-life workshops, which will beheld monthly in my local town; Hamilton.

The town is notorious for it's loveable geriatric population, but in a bid to find younger cohorts I've decided to entice young creative ladies to find me, instead of me trying to find them- hence My Crafternoons, and also the aerobics class I teach!

I've been enjoying buying supplies and taking photos of inspiration whilst on my travels (some of which can be found HERE on mycrafternoonsvic Pinterest boards and HERE on the Facebook page), but haven't actually done much making recently- I've been too busy!

Heart-shaped pom poms- must try!

I wanted to make a heart-shaped pom pom garland like the one above to decorate the room but ended up making a regular spherical pom pom garland at the workshop instead, which you can see alongside my pom pom bouquet below!

I was very happy with how the workshop went; there was chatter, chai lattes, tunes, biscuits, strawberries, grapes, polkadot tablecloths and every colour imaginable, and everyone left with huge smiles and beautiful pom pom bouquets. There were no burns from the hot glue gun either- win!

You can read more about the workshop HERE at, and the next one is set for Sunday September 28th.

This time it will be held in the newly opened HIRL Gallery and we will be making painted paper collages- email to book!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Introducing: My Crafternoons! Craft Workshops in Hamilton, Victoria

I'm excited to announce the reason for my relative silence recently: I've been busy setting up a new website and small business/hobby: My Crafternoons!

Since moving out to rural Victoria to be with my sheep farmer beau, I've had to have a bit of a life re-organisation, not to mention learn some new skills (who knew the ability to light fires and muster sheep would become so essential!)

To make more friends, make some money and also do something fun and positive in the local community, I've come up with the idea of running monthly craft workshops in my local town: Hamilton.

In order to shout about this... picture me yelling from the mountains; "HOLLA! IT'S CRAFT TIME!"... in a less weird, more efficient way, I built a website using

I'd recommend using the templates on sites like this but add your own flair through fonts, images, backgrounds and layouts. In order to change the website address from to, you have to upgrade the site, the most basic domain-hosting only package starting at around $5 a month. If you're going to be selling something through the website, you need an eCommerce package, which is around $17/month.

I'll be using my site more like a blog and info portal for anyone keen to come to the workshops, which will be held one Sunday arvo per month (for the time being).

As for venue, there are a few places in Hamilton I've been considering. Do I choose the cool Roxburgh cafe with upstairs function hire rooms, the new HIRL art shop opening in a few weeks time, or the practical but non-trendy Community House? Perhaps I could rotate it until I find the cosy crafty home of future workshops, or until one day I can afford my own crafty tea house, complete with all my favourite British confectionary from back home- ah to dream!

Tunnock's Teacakes would feature heavily in my dream British Tea Shop!

My Crafternoons will be keeping me busy over the coming months; finishing the website, planning workshops, ordering supplies, costing materials, building Facebook and Pinterest followings- oh and actually practicing making the things I'd like to make!

This is all alongside my two other jobs- teaching dance classes and soon doing some freelance work for an online language learning tool (more on that later).

Wish me luck!

Thursday 19 June 2014

Country vs. City Life, or Having the Best of Both?

I have a confession to make...

I'm leading a double life.
I am Jack, and I am Earnest -and although Bunburying does not float my boat- having a country life and a city life seems to!

Monday to Friday I am living in rural Victoria; surrounded by sheep, mountains and country markets and enjoying small-town small talk with old women in second hand shops, which- by the way- have almost ruined my ability to pay high street prices for anything anymore. Almost ;)

Lambing season is upon us, and most ewes are having twins or triplets- good news for the farm!

Come the weekend, I usually venture to the big smoke of Melbourne to get my fix of fruity friends, busy bars and $5 burritos from Gusman Y Gomes, $5 Sailor J's fro Eydie's on Lygon, and whole bags of new clothes for $5 from Camberwell Market. Again, my bank balance applauds me!

That is until I bought a car and a new MacBook Pro, but these things are Life Improvements and thus worth every cent!

Sometimes the benefits of city excitement and country location overlap, like when Lior ventured out to the country for an intimate gig at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre, which was quaint and surprising, especially the Yiddish gospel song he ended with. 

Triple J favourites Kingswood also played a packed gig at Hamiton pub The Cally last weekend, which was awesome- and full of young people I didn't know lived out here! It's harder to meet friends in the bush than it is in the city, but by saying yes to every invitation, I'm meeting more and more people every week, and some of them seem cool/fun/weird enough to be my friends :)

Festivals, like gigs, are usually part of my city life, but for one weekend last month a small group of us headed to Halls Gap the Grampians Grape Escape Food and Wine Festival.

Unfortunately, the event for me was a huge Disappointment (note the capital 'D'). The event has a strange ticketing system of separate day and night passes, with a 1.5 hour break between sessions. All good in theory, but in reality, festival goers got day-drunk, wobbled back to their accomodation and didn't seem to make it back for the evening, presumably in favour of a nice boozy nap. Perhaps having to pay again to enter ($35) or brave the drizzle put punters off, because the evening 'carnival' was more flump than fiesta. I only recall there being three fast food trucks open and three beer and wine stands- does this strike anyone else as ludicrous for a food and wine festival?! Apparently the daytime session was great with too many food and wine trucks to choose from (jealous-me? Never!).
My cohorts and I almost left but decided to stick it out for a while before having a much better time watching a local singer in a nearby cafe, and ended up with the hangovers we had anticipated from such an event.

Another little dampener on the weekend was my unfortunate fall from grace during a blaze of two-wheeled glory, when I fell off a hired electric scooter and lacerated my hands


Thanks in turn to friends' first aid efforts, copious amounts of rum and Betadine ointment, they have now healed well enough to start crafting again- more on that soon- and picking copious amounts of rosemary (don't ask). 

I'm working on making my country life as sociable as my city one, with netball training, fitness classes, going out for dinners and coffees seeming to be the way forward. I also recently attended a Country Women's Association curry night, where- contrary to my expectations- at least a third of the attendees were under 30, and it wasn't all swapping housekeeping tips and recipes. We drank wine, made future social plans and enjoyed great food as local Guest Speaker Pat Cameron informed and entranced us all with her fantastic photography, like this panorama of the nearby Grampian Mountains. The food was so good though, maybe some recipe swapping will have to occur!

I see these mountains every weekday while I'm a country bumpkin out on the farm, but if I didn't have my city weekends to look forward to, I don't think I'd appreciate them as much as I do. 

Hopefully I can maintain this balance and reap the benefits of both lives, because one without the the other is simply not enough for a gal like me who needs her tractors followed by trams and her mountain views chased by city lights, and may my cooking skills improve enough from shared CWA country recipes to stop me craving GYG burritos- though I doubt it!

Monday 7 April 2014

From England to Australia, via Marrakech and the Philippines

After all that glorious sheep farming I did to get my second year's Working Holiday Visa in Australia, I received that much-coveted email from DIAC confirming I'd been granted a second visa (YAY!). The application process was a little more harrowing than I had been led to believe- due largely to all the printing, scanning, copying, filling in of forms, uploading documents and feverish praying that took place. However, seeing as I'm writing this post from that same farm (having realised that farmers make quite good boyfriends) it was worth all that time, effort and printer ink.

Since my last post I've been on a few more intrepid adventures; this time showing England to said boyfriend, exploring in Marrakech and relaxing in the Philippines en route back to Australia. Oh, and I've not yet blogged about my time in Lombok and Bali with Mum last year- I will catch up I promise!

So... England
It was great being back home for a while, catching up with friends and spending some QT eating fish and chips or tea and cake with my family, enjoying how cheap items in GBP were compared to AUD, re-discovering my favourite three cities (London, Birmingham and Manchester <3), watching Matthew Bourne's impressive male-centric Swan Lake in Glasgow, and making more Pinterest-worthy gifts- a blog post on which I will share soon.
Surprise View in the Lake District

Ashness Bridge
London... you beauty
St Paddy's Day celebrations at Trafalgar Square

The view of Manchester's Northern Quarter from the Wheel
Inside Manchester Cathedral

Birmingham's Gas St Basin canal

A sneak peek of one of my recent craft projects

Now... Marrakech
We arrived at the suave but wifi-less Marrakech Airport at 10pm with nowhere to stay, so THANK-YOU to the wonderful tourist information lady with the amazing Arabian eyes for lending us her phone! Our taxi (sans seat belts) straddled both sides of the road, the driver refused to run the meter, talked on his phone, put his (hopefully optional) glasses on just before dropping us off somewhere in the middle of the medina, and then overcharged us for the experience. A couple of young lads gleefully seeing our suitcases offered to take us through the maze of apricot coloured alleyways to our riad for a fee- something badly needed until we got used to the bewildering layout of the medina.

A typical medina alleyway
This is just begging to be explored!

Our riad- Riad Palais des Princesses, was wonderful- all fountains and rose petals and chandeliers, a real sanctuary amid the chaos for around $35 a night, with free breakfasts and sweet mint tea a.k.a "Berber whiskey". We later moved to Equity Point Hostel Marrakech to be more sociable, and ended up booking a 2 night trip to the Sahara through the Atlas Mountains with a bunch of really interesting people- including, excitingly, one of the 118-118 guys! Our trip included chaffed bottoms from 5am camel treks, scaling a huge sand dune to miss the sunset, and dancing around in a huge tent to traditional drumming after a tagine feast. I'd 100% recommend getting into the dunes, but if you can elongate the trip to break it up then do, as the 10 hour bus journey back was less than enjoyable, especially for my chaffed areas!


One of the central courtyards in the riad
One of the cool seating areas at Equity Point Marrakech

We travelled through the Atlas mountains to get to the desert
That's me on the second camel!

The comfiest position I could muster

Almost at the top!
Campfires in the desert with our group

Hello sunrise!

Mohammed the Camel

Walking through the souks (markets) that meander off the main square; Djemaa el-Fna, was an exercise in dodging locals, tourists, donkeys pulling carts, motor scooters, hanging meat carcasses, goods for sale and haggling traders.We saw countless little shops full of lanterns, jewellery, home wares, hand-woven carpets, locals carving wood, piles of fruits and sacks full of spices, Moroccan oils, paintings- you name it. Some of my favourite purchases were more tan leather bags to fuel my addiction, and treasures such as mirrors, lanterns and jewellery. It was a bit of a skill just choosing from the mountains of goods, and also haggling without causing offence- a kind but firm 'la, shukran' (no, thank-you) was certainly the most useful phrase we learnt!


Woven wonders
Decisions decisions...
Spices galore
Street traders

The square itself is unlike anywhere else I've been- drum beating musicians, snake charmers and dancers, ladies offering henna and men shining shoes, boxing matches and games, entertainers of every degree, horse-drawn carriages and men wielding nappy-clad monkeys. A personal favourite were the smoky food stalls with their charismatic faux-accented hawkers, shouting things like "O'rite gov'ner!", "Vajazzle!" and "Lidl prices but Marks and Spencer quality!" We tried everything from spleen pittas to 7 pence doughnuts and harira that tasted like a Heinz soup, plus tagine, bread and couscous galore. I wasn't blown away by the cuisine, but maybe we just didn't find the best places- though the French restaurant at Les Jardins De La Koutoubia was delicious, especially followed by a cigar and cocktail in the piano bar ;)

New friend

Like new!
Harira with strange sweet crackly things and sweet mint tea

A trip to the leather tanneries was both a highlight and an ordeal; great to see how leather is made, not so great being hugely overcharged for a quick tour by a local 'guide', and I encountered a whole host of new smells, even shielded by a 'Berber gasmask' of fresh mint. There are lots of beautiful and interesting buildings that Trip Advisor can tell you about, but I'd rather talk about the strange experiences we had, including my jaunt to a hammam.This is like a communal bath house- I entered expecting something akin to the onsen I went to in Japan (DO IT) but was stripped to my knickers, doused in warm water, rubbed with soap, led into the sauna, later collected and re-doused, smothered with a body-mask, put back in the steam room, doused again, scrubbed to within an inch of my life while lying on a concrete block, then put in the shower to admire my new pink skin. It was hard to communicate with my attempts at bad French but I made it through the massage part of the experience reasonably happy if a little confused and oily.

The tanneries- complete with ammonia aroma from the 'pigeon shit' phase
Scraping the fat from the leather
Marrakech was full of beautiful doorways like this one
Strolling through the YSL gardens- the Berber museum there is 100% worth a look!

Next, but my no means last... The Philippines

We arrived in Manila with no accommodation (a pattern emerges) and accidentally booked into the red light district of the city, Malate, for a place from which to plan our next move. We ended up running through the airport to board a spontaneous flight to the beautiful but touristy island of Boracay, where a last-minute reservation at the Shangri La was the best decision we'd made all week. The resort and it's staff were amazing, as were the cocktails, the shrimp, the in-pool jacuzzis- everything. It took a while getting used to 'vacationing' and not 'exploring' but we managed to go scuba diving, make friends in the capsule-hostel-esque MNL hostel, drink too much local Tanduay rum, get many massages, a $4 pedicure that still looks great, eat wonderful food and buy local crafts for a whole week without feeling too lazy. Back in Manila we rode the shiny Jeepneys to Divisoria market, where we were welcomed by a local shouting "Hey my friend! Welcome to the jungle!". We didn't see another Caucasian all day, but did see bizarre multi-coloured chicks, street foods of every description and more over-head cables than you'd ever expect a pylon to be able support- Asia never fails to surprise.

I hope no chicks were harmed in making them look so awesome
On our way to the resort watching the sun set- beautiful
Feeling like a BOSS
I think this should some with an extreme hangover warning
I love the Philippines!

Divisoria Market
The back of a jeepney in Manila and the ever-present cables overhead

Now I'm back in rural Victoria, and for the foreseeable future will be attempting to balance part-time work (for money), self-improvements (for myself- fitness, creativity, knowledge etc) and working on some hopefully creative, exciting and successful ideas for the future. This is also whilst renovating a house, making good investments and a plethora of interesting friends, with which to share my growing culinary skills and artistic endeavors. Well, something like that- let's see how I get on :)