Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Full steam ahead ...

When we visited the Handmade Expo at Ipswich recently, we were thrilled to find out that a vintage steam train was running just nearby.
I didn't even know the Swanbank Vintage Steam Train existed until I was invited by bubbachenille to check out the expo and the train rides.
The train usually operates between Bundamba and Swanbank Stations, but on the day of the expo they offered shorter rides to Box Flat and return, at a reduced price.
The kids have never ridden on a true steam train before, and they were so excited as we boarded the train. (Disclosure: Part of that may have been due to prior consumption of fairy floss...)
Even though the scenery wasn't that exciting for adults (we passed backyards, sports fields, paddocks, unloved buildings, and dumping grounds rather than say, waterfalls and rainforest).
 But did the children care? No way! If anything, the scenery made the ride more exciting. Graffiti-d tunnels? Old tires piled up in the middle of nowhere? Horses? It was kiddie heaven.
C. and H. loved exploring the old carriages, looking out the windows and feeling the air hit them in the face, standing outside and breathing in the noise, movement and steam.
As kids do, they made instant friends with whom to share the experience, and there was a really happy, friendly atmosphere on board.
I loved seeing how much the children loved the experience, and for me personally, it was a reminder of how much fun it is to live in the moment and experience life through their eyes.
The ride was educational as well. The kids delighted in trying out the old-fashioned seats, peeking inside the loos, and learning about transportation in the past.
My favourite part was seeing the excitement and enjoyment in their faces. My least favourite part was being asked if this was how I used to travel in the 'olden days'!
Really, I'm not quite that ancient ...)

Miss H. dubbed this 'cow pat pond' ...
All aboard!
An unloved station...
...and carriages ...
The kids loved standing outside and watching the world go by

They loved the old-fashioned, disgusting loo (which was out of bounds, but curious kids could still sneak a peek).
Oh, this is the fairy floss kicking in...
And again...
Miss 7 takes in the scenery
And waves to the trains' fans ...
We stopped traffic

The kids wanted to know what a 'lavatory' was ...

The Guard kindly retrieved Miss 7's pink beanie after she accidentally dropped it on the tracks while disembarking.
If you go: The Swanbank Vintage Steam Train is operated by the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway Co-Op Ltd. 
The Co-Op is a small group of railway enthusiasts from Ipswich and Brisbane who have worked tirelessly over the years to preserve this iconic part of Queensland history.
It is run entirely by voluntary labour and the support of the community.
For details on dates, prices, times and locations, go to their official website.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Handmade heaven part two

As promised, here are some more photos from the Handmade Expo at Ipswich on the weekend.
We were all mesmorised by the fantastic art - wearable and traditional - produced by Kirsten Bailey.
Kirsten admitted she was a teacher by trade, and didn't get enough time to produce her art. She was, like so many other stallholders at the expo, perfectly happy to chat about her work to the kids, even though - on this occasion - we couldn't afford to buy any. I was particularly taken with her jewellery and memento boxes - just gorgeous and reasonably priced.

Later, we stopped by a clothing shop for kiddies. (Stallholders, if this is you, please provide your details so I can credit you for your work.) Everything, from the clothes to the accessories were gorgeous, and the summer dresses were selling at $10. $10 for the prettiest dress our tomboy Missy Moo has worn in a very long time.
Happy with her purchase ....
So pretty she insisted on wearing it to bed!
Mr 9 was taken with the indigenous art ...
Miss 7 loved sampling some home-made goodies ....
Just like Grandma and Papa used to make. Oh okay, but without the chilli!
H. loved these almost-too-beautiful-to-eat cupcakes made by The Cup Cake Taste, possibly Brisbane's most beautiful little cakes.
Mmm...cupcakes ....
There is no end to The Cup Cake Taste's Sammy Gollshewski. She also makes pretty brooches, rings, cuff links, and hair ties. 
Finally, some more wearable art, by KL Bailey.
If you go (and I highly recommend you do): See previous post. Enjoy!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Handmade Heaven - Part One

What I love about blogging is discovering other websites, meeting interesting people, and doing loads of fun things I probably would never have come across without the power of the internetz.
And so, after an invitation from bubbachenille, the kids and I decided to check out the Handmade Expo at Ipswich Turf Club, Bundamba yesterday.
With free parking, free entry, and a tasty collection of stalls, all offering handmade goodies to eat, wear, use or display, the expo was relaxed and unique compared to similar events we've been to.
Considering the kids had sulked when I first told them of our destination, we all had a wonderful day, and they loved absolutely everything on display.
Quite frankly, I could have spent a fortune, because just about everything was on special and/or decently priced as well.
I loved that the stallholders had time to chat and explain their work to the kids too.
There was so much to see and do, and so many fabulous homemade, locally produced products, that in aid of preventing this from being the longest blog in history, I'll cover it in several posts. Including our ride of the Swanbank Vintage Steam Train ride, which the kids declared to be awesome! 
One of the lovely stallholders was John Grieves, of Pens N Things. Mr 9 in particular, was fascinated by John's precision-crafted pens, un-pickers, key-rings and more, which he creates on a small bed lathe at his Ipswich home.
John took time to explain his work, and even gave the kids a few lollies.
I would have loved one of his gorgeous pens, but maybe next time!
A close-up of Joe's gorgeous creations
Mr 9 loved these ties by Little Mister clothing...
While Miss 7 and I were tempted by the funky clutch purses, bags, and jewellery created by sybella
And how about these for a creative idea? Artistic hair clip organisers by Holdilocks. Genius!
Miss 7 loved these gorgeous cupcake and flower biscuits on sticks. The small taste she allowed me was lovely - crumbly yet moist and not too sweet.
What child can resist fairy floss? (And yes, I did regret it later ...)
Pre-sugar rush!
A Taste of Heaven fudge and coconut ice. Their motto? Enjoy life piece by piece.
Home-baked goodness ...
The kids enjoyed a chat with Goondiwindi author, artist, illustrator, sculptor and educator Lynelle Zita Westlake. She was really patient with them, and I'm sure her school workshops would be inspirational.
So many pretty things to choose from ...
There was cheap locally-grown produce as well
Lunch-time. A wood-baked ham, pineapple and cheese pizza, just like Mr 9 loves them.

And all this is just for starters ... stay-tuned for the next post about the Handmade Expo.

If you go: The Handmade Expo is held monthly at Ipswich Turf Club, Brisbane Road, Bundamba. Entry and parking is free, and the Swanbank Vintage Steam Railway offers short trips in conjunction with the expo (small fee applies).
Hours: 8 am-2pm.
The next dates are: Saturday 17th July, Saturday 21st August, Saturday 18th September, Saturday 16th October,  Saturday 20th November, Saturday 18th December.
For details, email

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yum - a peek at our favourite food

My kids favourite food isn't Maccas, KFC, or Burger King.
No they share a diverse palate, and typically, have expensive tastes.
Their special treat when dining out is Peking Duck.
There's a place in Darra we love to go to, called fittingly enough, Yum Yum Peking Duck.
We loved Yum Yum way before it become popular. It's a no-frills, small room kind of place, but the food and prices are great. And once you've been there a few times, the staff welcome you like old friends.
They always make a fuss of the kids, and remember what they like to eat and drink the most.
And for the record, it's duck. Peking Duck. Washed down with Yum Yum Peking Duck's home-made lemonade.

Mmm, peking duck ....
Miss 7 tucks in...
Mr 9 gobbles down a pancake

What I love best is they don't just love the sweet, fatty, sticky pancakes, but the adore the aromatic duck meat soup. Mr 9 usually has four or five bowls!

If you go: Yum Yum Peking Duck
146 Scotts Rd
Darra QLD 4076
(07) 3217 0188

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big Day Out, Portside

Last Sunday dawned fine and sunny, so we decided to make the most of it by heading out.
We'd never been to Portside at Hamilton before, so when I spotted an ad for a Big Day Out for kids and dogs, we decided to check it out.
Parking was easy and free, and the atmosphere was buzzing.
There were some gorgeous stalls offering pretty clothes, art, toys and more (for kids and furry kids), plus plenty of dogs dressed in their Sunday best.
Miss 7 with Super Dog
Colouring-in at the Guide Dogs stall

A happy snap with one of the PR reps for the Guide Dogs
Sand art

Time for lunch
Fisherman's Basket

Mr  9's finished sand art
Miss 7's sand art
Whoever said kids and animals don't mix?

If you go: Portside Wharf is at 39 Hercules St, Hamilton, Brisbane.  There is free parking undeneath the building, and shops, cafes, cinemas and restaurants upstairs. It's also a great spot for viewing visiting cruise ships.