Tag Archives: linky

Art in August 2

This week, Matilda and I did ‘Book Week’ inspired art. I was going to do a new cover for a favourite book, but I found that idea too limiting as I have very strict ideas on what characters should look like and I didn’t feel like I could improve on the original cover art. Then I got a delicious idea: I could design the cover for my book!

You see, one of WriterMummy’s Art in August posts was for cover art for her fourth novel.  I felt rather envious.  But then, I figured, rather than doing all the hard work of actually writing a novel (or, you know, four), I could skip to the fun part of choosing a cover design.  Hurrah for instant gratification!

A cover design for "Laptop on the Ironing Board: A place to procrastinate when you really should be folding washing" by Kate Moriarty

Of course, if I were to write a novel, I probably wouldn’t call it that.  But I’d put so much work into imagining I’d written a whole novel, I was too exhausted to think up a title as well. It’s a little like the way whenever anybody whistles or hums in a TV show (well, a 1980s kids’ show, anyway), they hum the show’s theme.  That’s what this is.  Inspector Gadget whistling Theme to Inspector Gadget.

It makes me smile every time I look at it.  I don’t even need to write a novel anymore!


Get Ready for Art in August!



It’s almost here!  Art in August – an excuse for those of us who don’t think we’re very artistic but like the idea of nurturing our creative side to crack out the paints and pencils and spend some time doing art for art’s sake.  We do this without apology or explanation.  We do not listen to the voice that says we have more important things to do, we don’t deserve this time, and, what’s more, that picture looks like rubbish.  We produce and we post!

If you’d like to join in, here’s what you have to do:

  1.  Get creative (and don’t apologise about it)
  2. Take a photo of your creation (unless you’ve created a photograph, in which case you can skip this step)
  3. Post this photo on your blog
  4. Link back to this post and mention somewhere that you’re joining in Art in August

I will link to you in my blog as well.  If you don’t have a blog, there are two ways you can join in:

  1. Post your work on the blog’s Facebook page
  2. Email the photo to me at laptopontheironingboard-AT-gmail.com  (I’ve written it out that way to stop robots spamming me; when you email me, write it out the regular way)
  3. I will post it on my blog for you.  You can even use a pseudonym, if you like…

I really should have put this post up months ago.  I haven’t given you much notice, I’m afraid.  But no fear – it seems to be the tradition for Art in August to post well into September and October!


So, I’ve been thinking…

10 Short Takes

I get stuck sometimes with blogging.  I write these long, rambling posts with far too much detail and then nothing for weeks on end.  Then, it’s like I’ve set a standard for myself to write another overly-long post.  Well, no more!  I’ve had an idea for another sort of post for those times when I don’t have an epic fail to write about and I haven’t constructed something out of wool to boast about.  I’m calling it “10 Short Takes”, a list of 10 comments or pictures on a given theme.  It will combine my love of numbered lists with the discipline of brevity.  It will also be a nice way to keep in touch without the pressure of a long post.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing any more painfully long posts full of tangents and asides.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stop that if I tried.  That’s the way I talk as well, incidentally.  I prefer not to get straight to the point.  I can spend more time in the centre of attention that way.  These short takes will be in addition to the rambly ones and (hopefully) will help to fill up the long breaks between boasts and fails and miscellaneous God-bothering.

I was also thinking this might be a nice chance to have a bit of a link-up.  If you’d like to have a go at a ’10 short takes’ post, link to me and I’ll link to you.  All you need to do is write 10 comments (or photos) on any theme of your choosing.  I’ve even been playing around learning how to make a button:



Ohhh!  I can’t believe that worked (after the fourteenth try, I mean)!  So if you’d like to use the button in your post, copy the text in the above grab box and paste it in your post when it’s in “Text” mode (not Visual – see those two tabs at the top?)

I’ll follow this post up with some “10 Short Takes” posts.  The ironic thing is, this whole idea got me stuck for a while (I’d written most of this post beforeSlump‘) because I wanted the first “Short Takes” to be perfect and thus I froze.  These posts will not be perfect.  But an imperfect post that’s actually published is better than a long absence whilst I chase unrealistic ideals.  It would be really strange if you were sitting at my virtual kitchen table and I only spoke when I had something profound and well-edited to say.   Blogging is not a performance, it’s a conversation.

Blogging is not a performance.   It’s a conversation.

Stay tuned.

Crab Apple Fail.

Annie's Haul

Oh, this was going to be such a beautiful post.  A visual delight.  Truly Pinterest-worthy.  You would have been really impressed, I promise you.

It’s all Mathair Fiona’s fault.

You might remember Meghan from Mathair Fiona if you stretch your mind back to last August, when we had our Art-Along.  One of Meghan’s art works was a photo of her canned produce (do you still say ‘canned’ when it’s in jars, or is there some other word?  ‘Jarred’?).  Pretty little rows of jars on a shelf.  At the time I remember feeling wistfully about how nice it would be to make my own preserves, just like Anne of Green GablesHow very wholesome.

Well, a couple of months ago, Meghan put out a challenge: I’ll Give You Six Months, You Give Me Food in Jars.

This approximately describes my thought process:

  1. It would be good to support Meghan in her blog-along, when she had been so supportive of mine.
  2.  I could make it part of Matilda’s homeschool curriculum
  3. It would give me so much Other-Mother cred
  4. I would have a legitimate use for all the pretty, empty jars I’d been accumulating
  5. I could finally make crab apple jelly

A street near my house is lined with crab apple trees.  Every year they put out a bounty of fruit.  Every year, Chinese families gather to reap with buckets and baskets and long-sticks-with-hooks and still the little red gems are everywhere, carpeting the footpath in their rosy (and, later, brown and squishy) abundance.  Every year, I promise myself that next year will be the year when I join in this suburban harvest and finally get around to making crab apple jelly.

pretty little crab apples

Crab apple jelly.  When I was little, my dad’s Aunty Lal, home cook extraordinaire, would somehow create these little jars of magic from an otherwise inedible fruit.  It would taste delicious spread on her fresh-baked scones, but, more than that, it looked beautiful.  Clear and rose-red.  In my mind’s eye, I saw how my jars would twinkle on the pantry shelf like rubies.  I saw myself giving the jars away as considerate little presents.  I saw myself becoming one of those people organised enough to give considerate little presents.  I saw this and I couldn’t unsee it.  I had to make it happen.

Every day, the children and I would watch the progress of the little apples as they grew and turned yellow, then orangey, then gradually more red.  I would tent my fingers and cackle “Soon, my little pretties, soon!”.  And the children would giggle, under the mistaken impression that I was joking.

I got a little panicky when we went on holidays for a week just when the fruit was getting ripe.  What if we missed the boat?  What if we came back to find empty branches and rotten fruit?  I had already signed up to the “Of Course I Can!”  challenge, what would I do?

That could be me...

I want to be her

Relief came the following Thursday when I arrived home to see the dinky little trees still as fruitful as ever.  We were going away again after Easter (this was Holy Thursday, you see – yes, I know, it’s taken me a while to get this post up…) so we only had a little window to go apple-picking in.  At least, that’s what I thought.  As it turns out, we needn’t have worried.  These trees stay in fruit for a long time.  As I write this, almost a month later, the trees are still laden with little red apples and don’t look like they’re going to stop any time soon.

We didn’t go the following day because, as Christopher Robin announced solemnly, “It would be too much fun to do it on Good Friday”.  Also, it was bucketing down rain.  It was seem that Holy Saturday was to be our Harvest Day.

Thus, it transpired that on Holy Saturday, whilst Mr Knightley was at the garden supplies store doing Manly Things, the children and I rugged up in raincoats and gumboots and grabbed fruit-bearing vessels of all sizes and marched up the hill to collect our bounty.

On our way

And, oh, we had so much fun!  There are times (often closely connected the state of the living room floor, the state of the school-notices-pile or the state of my hormones) when I doubt myself as a mother, when I worry that I’m not doing the right thing by my children, when I feel like a failure.  This was not one of those times.  I felt so satisfied and smug.

Harry's Method

The children were beside themselves with glee and so engaged in the task.  Christopher Robin and Matilda had clambered up a tree and were sitting in the branches making a verbal list of all the people they would give jars to.  They had draped plastic bags over twigs to collect their pickings.  Harry sat on a lower branch.  There were no crab apples within his reach so we got up a system.  Harry would badger me to pass him a ‘cwabappoo’.  I would reach up into the branches, pluck off a small bunch and pass them to him.  Harry would then toss the crab apples towards the bucket at the foot of the tree, invariably missing his mark.  Annie, tottering around under the tree would gather these fallen treasures and deliver them to the bucket.  Harry would badger me again.  As far as systems go, it was not, perhaps, the most efficient method, but it kept them entertained.

home again home again

When we got back home, the kids got to work washing the crab apples and choosing the ‘premium’ ones.  Meanwhile, I had another look at all of the internet tutorials for crab apple jelly.  In the end I picked this one and got to work.

As I stirred the simmering apples, I started to daydream about how I would dress up all the pretty jars.  Would I use fabric or little crocheted caps on the lids?  Ribbon or vintage lace?  I’d seen a cute way to decorate jam jar covers with paper on Pinterest, but of course, that wouldn’t work when it came to sterilising the lids.  The labels would need to be attractive too.  Hand-written on pretty paper.  The hand writing was important.  It would convey a certain nonchalance: “sure, I make this sort of thing all the time!  No need for printed labels – I haven’t given this a second thought!”  Mmmmmm…

After a while, it was time for much mush mashing.  Everybody took a turn and everybody got bored and everybody’s arms started to ache.  When we were sufficiently Over It, I decided it was time to strain the mix.  I poured the sludgy goop into a damp pillowcase and waited for Father Time to work his magic.

the mush

Two hours later and the sludge hadn’t budged.  There was no steady trickle, no drip-drip-drip.  I poked and I prodded, but to no avail.  I decided to leave it overnight.

Here is a picture of the juice I collected the following morning:

our gleanings

Just so we’re clear on scale: this is a 2-cup capacity jug, not one of those 2-litre ones.

I glumly put this jug of my gleanings in the fridge and went away to Warrnambool for a few days.

When I came back, it was with renewed determination.  So what if I only made enough jam for everyone to get one taste?  We had worked hard and we needed something to show for our efforts!

I needed to do some tricky arithmetic to work out how much sugar to add.  The measurements provided were for each cupful of juice.  I didn’t have enough juice to make up one cup.

I was no longer thinking about pretty jars and lovely gifts.  As I stirred, I thought moodily about the fact that crab-apple jelly probably wasn’t even FODMAP-friendly, much like most of the things you might spread it on.  The recipe said to simmer and stir for at least fifteen minutes, but after ten I had a feeling it was ready.  I let it go for a couple more minutes just to be sure and then poured it into my one, lonely, sterilised jar.

After it had cooled, I gathered the children around the precious jar.  I wielded the butter knife with a solemnity that befitted the occasion.  As the knife struck the surface of the jam, it made a strange sound.  The jam was solid.  It would seem i had overcooked the mix.  Several day’s effort had yielded one dirty pillowcase and 50 millilitres of solid jam.

crab apple toffee

Anyone for crab apple toffee?

PS.  I decided the ending of this post is just too tragic.  We did give it another go, with more successful results.  Matilda is going to write all about it soon on her blog.

Art in August – A Wrap Up

So, here’s something you should know about me.  I’m excellent at starting up new and exciting projects.  That’s definitely a strength of mine.  Finishing off all the projects I start?  Not so much.  I’m not the best at tying off ends.  So when we see that the final post for Art in August is coming at the end of October, we all just need to hold hands and take a deep breath and be glad that Kate is actually finishing something.

Rather than produce a new art work for the final post, I thought it might be nice to create a mosaic to represent the different contributors and their widely different styles.  I only chose one piece from each participant, which was difficult as there were many great works to choose from.

I also tried to set it up so that, by clicking on the picture, you would be taken to the participant’s blog, but it turns out I can’t do that when I have the pictures in a mosaic like this, so I’ve put the links underneath instead.

Top row: The Plucky Parent, The Hippy Geek, Mathair Fiona

Middle row: 可愛い国, Laptop on the Ironing Board, Red Lipstick Mama,

Bottom Row: the mmmmm family, Allison Road, Sourdough Lifestyle

Isn’t it amazing to see all this hidden talent?  This is what happens when we stop critiquing ourselves and just play.

I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU for everyone who joined in and everyone who encouraged me and the other artists.  It has been such an affirming exercise and I’ve loved making friends in Blogland.  I will definitely be doing this again next year.

In the meantime I have a germ of a new idea to work on: Finishing Things in February.  What do you think?



Oh!  I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself!  It’s almost time for Art in August, where we break out our old (or our kids’) art supplies, have a play, and post the results on our blog.  And here’s the really exciting part:  I’ve got some friends in Blog Land to play along with me!  It’s ridiculous the amount of excitement this gives me.

So far, my fellow art-alongers are:

Naturally Cathy of The Plucky Parent.  Cathy is a fellow mummy-blogger  (except she’s a ‘mommy’) who has already STARTED with an amazing coloured-pencil-on-printer-paper piece that took the length of one nap time to create (not her nap, obviously).  It’s called Indigo Violet and you can see it here.

セレネ of 可愛い国.  I will be calling this blog “Kawaii kuni”, which is the Roman alphabet equivalent of the blog’s name.  It translates to “cute country”, in reference to the Netherlands, where the blog is written, but I forgot to ask セレネ for her name (how rude of me!).  Kawaii Kuni is written in Japanese, Dutch and sometimes English too (perfect English, I might add).  The thing I love about this group art project is that it completely transcends language.   I can’t wait to see what セレネ creates!

Red Lipstick Mama is a “schizo-psychotic 30 (something) year old mum  with verbal diarrhea who is in search for cheap therapy” blogging from Harlem, New York.  Red Lipstick Mama has also started creating with an incredible denim and lace headpiece called Emily which you can see here.

M of the mmmmm family.  Actually, her name is Michaela, but I couldn’t resist.  I’m just getting to know this magical blog, but it’s a joy to read.  I suspect Michaela is as terrified as I am about this project, but that’s just why we need to do this!  Michaela signed on just last night and I did a lot of bouncing around in excitement.

and finally,

Allison Profeta of Allison Road.  Allison joined as I was writing this post.  Soooooo exciting!  Allison is so talented that she did a post for this before “Art in August” was even thought of!  In it she documents the struggle and inner turmoil of a militia of GI Joe soldier figurines trying to survive in a world they cannot control.  I hope she shares more of these!

Perhaps you might like to join us?  It’s not too late!  If you are a fellow blogger, leave me a comment at the bottom of this post and I will be sure to link to you.  If you don’t have a blog, perhaps you could share your art on the blog’s Facebook page or perhaps you could email it to me and I’ll post it for you. Matilda has already asked if she can join in and I’ll be posting some of her works as well.

I’ve already started on my first piece, I did the outlines while I was waiting to pick Matilda up from netball practice.  It’s so much fun but I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for Art in August!  Hurrah!