Sunday, 29 November 2009


I am off to Italy for a week. A friend of mine, Natasja de Wet, an artist from Cape Town, is one of only two South African artists, invited to exhibit their work at the Florence Biennale 2009. We are meeting up in Venice on sunday and from there we go to Florence to install her work for the Biennale and to emerge ourselves in art for a few days.
See you all next week...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Dubai in Pictures 2

This is the view from the school where the boys go for their swimming lessons. Twice a week as we walk back to the car, this is what we see. This was taken at about 5:30 in the afternoon, just as the sun was going down. The Burj Dubai was glowing pink. All 818m (2683ft) and 162 floors of it.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Anika's room

Our house was very much boy-orientated before Anika's arrival 16 months ago. With 2 boys aged 10 and 11 everything was about sport, cars and Star Wars... then the pink revolution happened. Our house became a lot more girly and soft. I think we all love it...although not all will admit it! For the first year Anika's bed was in our room as we did not have an extra room available. After long discussions about how we will rearrange our home we decided to 'build' an extra room. We have a huge living/tv room upstairs from where all the bedrooms are accesable. We built a temporary dry-wall to devide the room in two and so created an extra small bedroom for Anika. (We live in a rented house so permanent structural changes are not allowed.)

I painted a (pink) tree on one wall and decorated it with leaves and flowers. The tree is now attracting all sorts of creatures and we already have butterflies and birds living in the tree. I am keeping an eye out for frogs and insects... ;-)

The one end of the room is taken up by a changing table, but will be replaced by a play area in a year or so when Anika is potty-trained. Do you recognise some of the fabric in the curtain?

A lampshade from IKEA fits right into the theme of garden creatures...

and so does the cross-stitch sampler, grandma made for Anika.

Since we are plagued by mosquitos in winter (summer is far to hot for them too!) I made a mosquito net to protect the pink one at night..

More on her room to follow...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Dubai in pictures

Today I am starting a new series of posts. It will feature images of Dubai that you won't find in the tourist brochures.
This picture was taken in the Mall of the Emirates a while ago. The boys were looking down on a promotional display on the floor below.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Our bird family - (sad) update

Saturday afternoon as we came home from a shopping trip, we found the baby bulbul on the ground beneath the tree. Thy mommy bird was frantic and very upset. She sat in the tree nearby, calling loudly to her baby.

At first we stayed clear to see what would happen, but after a while I couldn't stand their distress anymore and I decided to pick the baby bird up and put it back in it's nest.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday we didn't see any of the birds around and the nest seemed deserted. But I still hoped...

This morning I found the dead baby bird beneath the tree. I still don't know if it died from injuries sustainded from falling out of it's nest, or if the parents deserted it because I touched it. I hope it is not the latter...
We buried the dead bird under the tree.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Quilt for new craftshop

My friends Riana and Jennifer are opening a new craftshop in Dubai next week. The shop will include a big workshop area where they will present quilt- and other craft classes. As part of all their preparations they asked me to piece a quilt top for the workshop.

They presented me with a stack of fabric and a pattern.

I have made quite a few quilts in my life but this was the first time I actually worked from a pattern.
It is made up of 2 different types of blocks in 3 different colour combinations.
The only freedom of choice I had was in how I will combine the 6 different prints into a 9-patch block

I just had to do the top. Someone else will do the actual quilting and finishing.

The shop opens this weekend. Can't wait...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Feathery visitors

The weather at the moment is just glorious! The summer is finally over and we can enjoy some mild temperatures and cool breezes. The sky is bright blue with a few feathery clouds floating by. (In summer the sky is a pale gray/yellow non-colour and months go by without a single cloud in sight) I have to remind myself everyday that this is autumn and not spring. But it seems I am not the only one who has season-confusion...

A pair of White Cheeked Bulbuls (Pycnonotus leucogenys) has built a nest in the tree outside our front door and they have successfully hatched two little ones! They get very angry at us whenever we go in or out near their nest, so we try to stay clear. Today I ventured closer and took a few photos. The nest is very well hidden between the leaves so it is not easy to see the babies.

The poor mommy bird got very upset with me and made a lot of noise, so I didn't stay long...

This fellow below is a Hoopoe (Upupa epops) and he is on his way south for the season. He feeds on the lawn in the school grounds where my son has swimming lessons and we have watched him for the past week or so. He will soon continue his journey south.

This Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is a resident in the UAE although they are more common in the mountains to the east than in the city. This one looked quite young and still unsure of himself. He sat on the railing of the balcony for a long time. I had to take the photo through the window as I didn't want to scare him away.

I have also noticed the Purple Sunbird in the garden but he doesn't stay still long enough for me to take a photo.

My daughter and I have a date for a picnic in the park next week - we might just see some more feathery friends to share...

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Memory quilt

At last I can tell you about my secret project!
My friend Vera and myself made a memory quilt for our dear friend Truda who, after 7 years in Dubai, are moving back to South Africa with her family. I have talked about saying goodbye before - it is one of the few bad things about being an expat - friends never stay around long enough...

myself, Vera and Truda

After making and remaking lists of friends to include, we gave each person a square of white linen to decorate with messages and memories as they see fit. We were overwhelmed by everybody's creativity and love! We received everything from embroidery, painting, applique,printing, writing and beadwork to include in the quilt.

The finished quilt

We decided to use camel blankets to frame the blocks and bind everything together. Camel blankets are used to cover racing camels before and after racing and can be bought at the Camel Souk in Dubai. You will find a stack of camel blankets in every expat home in Dubai, being used for everything from tablecloths to picnic blankets to bed covers ... and we knew Truda loves them.

racing camels covered in camel blankets

Here are a few close-ups of some of the handmade blocks...

An embroidered portrait of Truda and her family

A beautifully appliqued heart with a scroll. The scroll contains photos and memories of a trip to Israel. A real treasure!

A beautifully embroidered heart and rose. The stitchwork on this block is exquisite!

A quilted Christmas star by a master quilter

A painting of a few Dubai memories

A handpainted vine branch

Another beautifully embroidered heart and flowers.

embroidered 'portrait' of the chorus

It was a real honor to make a lasting memory for a wonderful friend. I pray that their new life in South Africa will also be filled with great experiences, good friends and many blessings.