Monday, 18 September 2017


This is part 8 of the series I'm writing in the lead up to our daughter's sweet 16 Venetian Masquerade baroque ball early next year. Please read the other seven parts. 

So, I have been very busy, and broke, with Acerules' party preparations lately. Have been ordering and receiving packages of craft and other materials to start, or complete various projects for the ball. 

After alot of research on costs, I settled on making the napkin rings from either curtain, or keyrings, and glueing on fancy buttons, preferably recycled,( to help the environment, and my budget.)

A new eBay friend in Queensland is going through her stash of fancy silvery and goldy buttons, for my idea. She is at the top end of Australia, nearly, and I'm towards the bottom. I enjoy when she calls to chat. She has already sold me  laces and trims for the costumes and masks. 

She sold me a vintage mannequin head, so I can give the cheap black and brown ladies wigs I bought , a 1600-1700s updo. 
Does she look a bit Italian (still in her hair net.) she likes to answer the front door sometimes, lol. 

The lady also made four very cute mop caps, a gathered cap common for women to wear in the 1700s. Normally this lady makes lovely shower caps to order. 

Mop caps

Another idea I've been researching, are flower wheel chandeliers. I'd considered them before, rejected  the idea, and now I'm back to it, to solve a problem.  This party theme is mostly set in the 1600-1800 time period, in Venice,  but the two big lights already in the dining room are 1970s etched glass drum pendants. So I'm revisiting the flower chandelier idea to hide them. 

As such, I got my hubby to strip out the spokes from two discarded bike wheels today. The rims look good. Am thinking I might even do two more and completely hide the lights. There's a Council junk collection in October usually, and bike wheels amongst other unwanted hard rubbish , get thrown on nature strips around town (the grassy strip between the footpath and the road. ) 

The ceiling is high, as it's an historic building, but I'm not sure yet if the lights are tall enough to warrant double or single tier chandeliers over them. If I do the former, I'd put a smaller one under a bigger one. I already collected alot of hot pink artificial flowers over the last three years for this ball. I've learned that if my florist gets the wrong flowers delivered to her then it's not the end of the world, we can supplement. Some of those roses and lilies with cream and black flowers and gold leaves will look lush and hide the light fixtures, or at least upstage them. I've been looking for the best candleholders to attach to the tops of the bike wheel rims. Did find some hot pink ones for $1.00 au each, today, sounds good to me. I'd like to paint some kind of baroque stencil on them though. 

Acerules and I have been figuring out how to turn some of those artificial flowers into party LED light strings, as the pre- manufactured ones are $30 each. I bought one cheap set of plain battery LED  fairy  lights to experiment attaching  the flower heads to. The idea was to hide them among the real flowers in the large flower arrangements, and hang them over the wisteria cane arch. Then after dark, which will be after 8 pm that time of year, switch on all the battery candles and led fairy lights, with the overhead electrical lights off. The flower arrangements will softly glow. Much as I'd like to have real candles only, we are worried about a goofy teen accidentally burning the historic hotel down. The flashing disco lights in the dance room won't be historically accurate either, though I'm sure Vivaldi and Mozart would have danced to them if they were available back then. 

5.35 mins. Extended dance mix, so dance!

I kept the long canes from my last wisteria pruning, to give to a friend who was planning a "rustic Turkish " wedding. She changed her mind, so I decided to use them at our party. I said to Acerules, I'm thinking of making an archway from those canes. She said"Do you want me to enter through it?" That sounds like a good photo opportunity, her in her ballgown. 

Three strings of pink plastic rose LED lights came during the week. They are solar so I have to remember to charge them all up beforehand. 

I was going to use them in the dance room, but I think they have solved another problem I'd been trying to fix for months. You see, Venice makes beautiful chandeliers in Murano. Way, way out of my pricerange, I'm talking thousands, so I bought two cheap 1970s crystal Marie Therese ones instead in Melbourne, months ago, through eBay, as you read in my earlier post about that. Well I'm working on simulating Murano chandeliers with those, by taking off the faceted crystals and adding more flowing , smooth, glasswork. 

Then I had a weight problem. I have to attach them to the ceiling without putting a hole in it. So I was on the lookout for glasslike acrylic flowers. In this country they were very hard to find, until these opaque pink plastic flowers arrived on the led lights . Acerules said, "we can just use a few, take them off here and there, no one will notice , and put them on the chandeliers". I've also been collecting lots of different hot pink and colourless smooth glass beads that will replace the strings of faceted crystal beads. A sample:

As I don't have the budget for an electrician to wire them up, (it's the law in this country, no electrical DIY, ) I'm just going to replace their bulbs with battery candles. 

Acerules' Cinderella shoes came during the week from eBay. They are brand new, in a box, reduced from $120 au to $27. Completely covered in diamentes. 

That's all well and good, but if her feet grow any more, they will be too tight and I'm thinking if I stretch them the decorations might pop off. She does have back up shoes so we shall see. When she had the first fitting of the gown it was too long. Her father was adamant that she would grow enough. 

The skirt is too ornate to take up successfully, but we can always raise it up with a hooped petticoat if necessary. Im trying to avoid that though, as Ace wanted to dance, and I want that for her too, so the lady has attached cords underneath for her to raise up the front of the gown. Then I found a short "Goth" black iron hoop that Ace fell in love with. It does look good. Eventually I talked her out of it though, because she wouldn't be able to sit down for 6 hours, the duration, or go to the toilet!! 

Some other random things for the party, below:

Murano glass vase, a precious piece. She will be able to have it in her adult home later. 

Bags for Italian chocolates, transparent in the middle.

Vintage Italian silk pictures for the walls. The top one is quite large.

Pink berries that light up, well they are pink when off. For the flower arrangements or arch, whichever is closest to an electrical outlet. 

Decorations for the masks, a sample. There are also flat backed cabochon "jewels", lace, ribbons, etc. 

A sample of the vintage jewellery giveaways for girls. I kept telling Acerules she should wear a cameo, as they were very popular in that period, but she didn't like any of the previous ones I found. She's almost sold on the  black ones below, though. Her outfit is not historically accurate , it is more inspired by the period, with a modern wildness to it. She also doesn't want to wear pearls. I have a collection of faux ones for guest costumes as they were very popular in that 200 year period.

For guests

A feather pen for the guest book can be used again for her wedding if it still works. Black narrow ribbon for small table flower arrangements etc. 

Mop caps for costumes made by the Queensland lady, below. Ace will be wearing a mini black top hat off to the side. It has a black rose , bow and feather. She is mixing Goth/steampunk touches with her Cinderella look. As she has always been a mix of tomboy and princess, that's quite appropriate. I remember when as a preschooler,  she would sit out in the garden in a pretty dress playing with slugs. 

Italian brass dish, below, probably for the wall. Things are arriving here from around the country, as Italians downsize, I'm guessing. I look for thecheaper prices. Afterwards I want to have a garage sale. Usually after my theme parties I feel sick of the theme. The preparation for each one always takes a minimum of 12 months, this time three years! Acerules can keep things she wants for her adult house and I have my eye on a piece or three, then the rest must go. The exception is anything that can be used for her wedding. She says she wants a medieval theme, so I'm selling the baroque things. She doesn't want a big 21 st party, just to go out to dinner with her friends. Some kids from Australia like to travel overseas for their 21 st. 

Another sample of the large stash of vintage jewellery for guest gifts for the girls. 

Ceramic wall masks that I will give a makeover to suit our colours. 

There is always one where you think "You had one job."  Accompanying the following item, there was an invoice for what I actually ordered, which was straws with pink stripes. I've been collecting those for three years and exhausted the local supply. I explained I didn't want spots. They are sending the right ones. I could understand colourblindness, but....

Thursday, 14 September 2017


The Holidays are coming. I don't like last minute shopping so I collect gifts in advance.

Reading through the Avon site of my friend who is going through difficult times, I found this perfume that has very high customer reviews, as one of their best sellers. It would make a good Christmas present, as it seems to appeal to both those who like florals, and those who like less sweet scents, at an affordable price, US $30 for one, or $38 for two.

Sorry I do not have scratch and sniff on my blog at this time, but who knows what technology will offer in the future? 

If you are in the US there is free postage for orders totalling over US $40 , going to the same address, so you could have a look at the very affordable stocking stuffers from their Sale department. For international orders , talk to Nancy.

Please support this lovely lady. This is just one product, but you can jump around all over her Avon site. There are lots and lots of Christmas present ideas, and more will be coming in. Sign up to receive email notifications. The bonus is that it will help her family situation, I promise. She did not ask me to help in this way, I'm just a friend :) As such I will be advertising some of her products in the future. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017


An appeal to all our readers. 

I'm sorry I've not loaded any new posts this past week. I have had a special interest in natural disasters for many years, at least since the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. I have been following Hurricane Harvey, monstrous Hurricane Irma, it's desructive path and that of Jose and Katia, the other two with it. I have friends in Florida. It seemed like I could not add any new words to the terrible news I'm reading. 

There might not be any new words for me to write, but there is prayer.

Please, if you believe in God, or think He might exist, go to church this week , any church, and pray for the people in the path of this monstrosity. There is strength in numbers. Jesus said if two or three gathered in his name, he would be there. I'm not the world's greatest church goer these days, but I will be there. If you cannot get to a church please pray anyway.

There are other disasters and causes to pray for too. The monsoon victims in Bangaladesh and India. The Mexican earthquake. The victims of war in the Middle East. Private concerns re sick family and friends. The list goes on. 

One of our writers on this blog has opened up her home in the path of the storms, to strangers who normally live in a mobile home park. This will most certainly save their lives. That is an inspiration to me. So is the work of all the volunteers. Let's see if we can support them.

Irma, in the middle, Katia on the left, and Jose following.


Let's do whatever we can.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

VENETIAN PARTY part 7 - How to make disposable placemats for cents.

This is part 7 of the series I'm writing in the lead up to our daughter's sweet 16 Venetian Masquerade baroque ball early next year. Please read the other six parts. 

Making disposable baroque placemats. 

I was looking for gold paper doileys, to protect my tablecloths from Italian food, but couldn't find any. (We are not using the white tablecloths available from the venue, but layers of cloths , very "OTT.") The first layer underneath will be long heavy woven bedspreads I've been collecting, with wonderful patterns. On top of those will be shorter cream or gold tablecloths, on top of those hot pink damask table runners, 

vintage silver plated drink coasters, old silver plated cutlery, candelabras the same, old silver plated pedestal bowls full of fruit, low baroque vases of flowers, lace fans for the ladies, old silver plated and pewter goblets, napkins and disposable placemats. Over the centrepieces will be a thin veil of faux spiderwebs, as a concession to my teen, who wanted something spooky. As the chairs are upholstered metal, the venue promised white fabric covers, but I'm covering those with a wide cream lace sash. 

The effect will be rich and textured by (battery) candlelight. Less like function rooms, with everything matching,  more like a baroque private house, as if stuff had been pulled out of carved linen chests for the occasion.

  I couldn't find disposable placemats to suit the theme, so I decided to make my own. I took the simple materials to the rescue service building that my husband is involved in, because they have 4 metre long table formations in their incident room. We took donuts.


4 metre rolls of silver damask wrapping paper x2, purchased at a discount store.

$2.50 au for each roll. 

62 disposable placemats made , plus 2 with a small mistake, use for keeping them clean. 

Cost per placemat, 8 cents Au. 

Rolled up for transport.

Maximum pizza and pasta sauce protection, tiny cost. 

"Sword" fighting and the sound of "digeridoo" playing, priceless. 

Hubby had been to give blood plasma that day, under the auspices of his rescue service, SES. Hence the bandage. Some "Aussie bush" photos from the journey. Copyright Runningonempty. 

This post including its photographs is copyright.


The following is part two of a pair of articles written by Dan Copping and myself on the same topic, on both of our blogs.

Hey True Blue, can you bear the load

Will you tie it up with wire
Just to keep the show on the road
Hey True Blue
Hey True Blue, now be Fair Dinkum

Is your heart still there
If they sell us out like sponge cake
Do you really care
Hey True Blue"

Excerpt from True Blue by John Williamson.

So, President Donald Trump has pledged 1 million dollars to help Houston Texas recover from this week's dreadful floods there, following Hurricane Harvey. No doubt this is a good thing if it gets to where it will do the most good. In an article on his blog, Dan discusses the donation and the announcement of it. Please click the link to his post, at the end of this. Trump has been criticised for his visit to the flooded area, for not displaying enough empathy. 

Trump has handled billions of dollars in his careers, much of it other people's money. Another person who has done that with taxpayer money, in fact, he threw it around, is ex Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, of the Australian Labor Party. They are not my party, but I respect him. Like Trump, when Rudd got into office, he wasted no time putting his electoral promises into practise. To do that, he allegedly yelled, swore and generally put the boot up  bureaucrats. His own staff dobbed on him (leaked) those stories at the end. In the meantime, many things changed for the better. For example, solar panels and insulation were rolled out on houses. Halls, gymnasiums or libraries were built for every school in Australia. Money was given to every adult in Australia, all of this economic activity helping to stave off the worldwide recession. Aboriginal Australians were apologised to, by Rudd, on behalf of all of us, past and present, for the first time. 

However, he was not to be allowed to just get on with it. Mistakes that were made along the way were beaten up by the opposition party (NLP), and the media. He was ousted from office by his deputy, Julia Gillard, (I call her the queue jumper and I'm not the only one), and her cronies. Some time after that he went into major heart surgery, which he called a "bit of a grease and oil change."

Earlier that year, there were terrible floods in Queensland, where Kevin Rudd had his electorate. (He was Foreign Minister by this time, distinguishing himself by talking Chinese on trips toChina). In the midst of controlled chaos, quietly working with other volunteers, there was Rudd, wading through muddy sewerage laced water, helping people evacuate, and helping with the cleanup. He was stopped from doing that only by getting an infected cut from floating debris and going to hospital for antibiotics. There is footage of him carrying someone's heavy suitcase down a flooded street on his head, this is a man with a heart condition since childhood, and gall bladder problems. 

The cameras caught him and I saw it on the news. It is something that I deeply respect. Without any official trumpet blowing, he just flaming got on with helping his local people. He was just one person in an army of volunteers, but he was an ex Prime Minister, and he would be one again, two years later.

No massive jet , helicopter or limousine (though his wife can afford one.) No announcement on social media, no stiletto heels, or hats for sale. No "look at moi, look at moi look at moi". (From Kath and Kim, an Aussie comedy TV series.) Just wading through filth.

Oh well, that's politics for you, I guess.

Photo of Kevin in the floods:

Kevin covered in mud ;)

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens , photo by Biatch, Creative Commons.

True Blue, in Australian , means real, genuine, like fair dinkum.

Well here's the must -read article: