Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter everybody!

I hope you all are having a lovely easter. I have never really felt any fondness for easter - we didn't get chocolate eggs growing up, and we have no traditions associated with it at all. There were none at school either - not even a bunny to colour in, let alone hat parades or egg dyeing or any of the other strange things I see other people do. But a four day long weekend with chocolate?  I have learned to like it.

Not much happened during the week. Baseball presentations are always good for a laugh (translate: boring as batshit) with a wide range of speeches no-one could hear while small children fidgeted and larger children threw dirt at each other. At least it was a beautiful evening.

The landscapers have finished - except for a few follow-up things like topping up the paving sand and getting the electrician to put the lights in - and it all looks fabulous. It'll look even better when we get it planted, and the lawn back to grass from its current dirt and mud. This is the dry creek bed / rock creation with a bridge over it and a bog garden closest to the camera. It is such an improvement!

And a short week meant only two pairs of shoes. I'm keeping the red wedges, they are much more comfortable than they look. A bit frosty on the toes this week! And the turquoise heels had received their marching orders before lunchtime. Nice colour, but not at all comfortable, and that goddam tassel would not stay tied, and threatened to trip me up and hurl me down the stairs. So bye bye homicidal shoes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crumbly baskets finished

I've quilted and bound my crumb baskets. It's big stitch with perle cotton in a kind of "liberated baptist's fan". With spiky triangles quilted in the blue border.

I'm fairly sure that wasn't the fabric I had originally intended to use for the binding, but it seems to be OK, and it was on the top of the stack of fabric teetering beside my sewing chair. Too late now if it's wrong!

I've got no idea what to do with the quilt now, onto the pile I suppose.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lanyon Plant Fair

Just outside the southern border of Canberra is a historic homestead, built in the 1850s and now run as a house and farm museum. I've been a few times, and it's rather lovely - in a classic Australian farm style with wide verandas and high ceilings. The gardens are lovely, with some massive old trees. Every year they have a plant fair with lots of stalls and events, so we wandered down yesterday afternoon.

It was an absolutely perfect early autumn day of sun and clear skies but with just a hint of crisp in the air. Hot enough to make the shady verandas very pleasant, and to realise what a good idea they must have been back in the days before airconditioning. But not the hideous baking heat that must have smothered the place every February for 150 years. 

We had a good poke around all the plant stalls - new plants and different plants and all looking so promising! Before they turn up their toes and die. Before they are left for six weeks by the back door waiting to be planted. Before they go brown and sad.

That won't happen this time, my husband said. Son was up a tree, waiting for it to be over.

So we went around the back and overlooked the mighty Murrimbidgee (that's a river, it's not mighty at all, but trust me, it is in the landscape somewhere) and had a cold drink and a chocolate muffin. I will keep you updated on the progress of the planting ... the landscape guys reckon only another few days, and then we will be able to plant things! And try and remediate the grass, which has taken a terrible beating thanks to the concrete cutter and general dustiness.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Shoe round-up

You'll all be pleased to know I am in a much better frame of mind today. I don't know why - it's another grumpy day of appointments and boringness, with the added pain of a couple of hours of real job work that has to be done - but bad moods do come and go.  Although I think I was in a bad mood that lasted four years when the boys were babies ... not sure. Blocked it out.

This week I entered a sensible and comfortable patch in the shoe racks. Which is good for my feet (and therefore good for my workmates, I like to spread the pain around) but not so good for throwing anything out.

No-one stepped on my blue suede shoes.

Or the pointy (but thankfully low-heeled) witches shoes.

Or the very sensible red Hush Puppies. My god my feet look ENORMOUS in this shot. I do wear a size 10 (8 in the UK I think, 42 European) which is pretty huge. It's about the biggest you can get before you have to go to the speciality shops and hang out with the transvestites. And no disrespect, but trannies' taste in shoes is not necessarily  mine ... although I do have some red velvet numbers still to come.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today was one of those horrible tedious days where you spend the whole time doing time consuming and boring things that no-one will notice and that won't make your life one bit better. Like a boring half hour on the phone to the insurance company to fix a plate glass window that one of the little horrors sent a rock into. Waiting to pick up routine ultrasounds. Waiting in Medicare. Waiting to ask the guy at the petrol station why the pump kept stopping and I couldn't get any petrol into my car ("I don't know. Maybe the pump is low?" I stared at him, he stared back. After a couple of minutes I paid my $3.60 and left.)

A boring half hour in the hairdressers while the boys had haircuts they didn't want and the cutters kept asking me how I wanted it done. Like I would care. Do other mothers care? Am I missing something? A painful twenty minutes on the NRMA online shop trying to spend a free voucher for renewing our membership. Why do they need a log in? I'm trying to spend $100 on shit I don't need, I don't need a password, let alone one with an upper case and a number and four letters that are an acrostic in a non-romance language.

My biscuits didn't work, they crumbled. I have two trays of gingernut crumbs. The best part of an hour filling out school forms because the ACT Department of Education has a new one-page form which you have to fill in for EVERY excursion - name of doctor, name of health fund, known conditions, last tetanus shot, emergency numbers ... to be filled in with exactly the same information a dozen times a year. Are they completely stark staring mad????? An hour with the physio who says my lymphoedema is never going to get better but I"ll be able to manage it. I don't want to MANAGE IT. Old people manage health issues, people in their forties RECOVER.

And the phone just rang. A telemarketer. Poor bastard, I told him to PISS OFF.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Peer pressure

I really did not mean to make this quilt. But, I went to a Canberra Quilter's meeting on Thursday night for the first time in ages. It was the Modern Quilt Group, which is a smaller group of very nice ladies sitting around and sewing. I enjoyed it very much, but they were doing Bonnie Hunter's scrappy trip around the world block. I was quilting the basket crumbs,which was fine, but those scrappy blocks were calling to me…

So I did just a little one, to make me feel better. This could not be called a modern quilt, by any stretch - my fabric choices were non-existent. The central yellows are planned, but other than that it was a matter of which strip came first to hand out of the 2" strip bag. And other than the yellows I didn't use any fabric twice. Which makes it look very traditional and scrappy!!! I will quilt it over the next couple of weeks and then I can take it to the next meeting and sew the binding down, and try to explain how it is modern. Which it isn't. To be honest I'm not entirely sure what modern is, but I don't think it matters.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A quiet week

It's been a slow couple of days here - mainly because I had a mild gastro on Wednesday that left me feeling a bit weak and depleted. Some random bug and not too severe, just enough to make me take some pills and lie down! I thought it might be the dumplings a friend and I stuffed ourselves with at the Shanghai Dumpling Cafe at Tuesday lunch, but that wouldn't kick in Wednesday morning. So we'll call it a virus.

On the weekend I did these bright and lovely beauties. I used all my yellow dye, and I've ordered some more and can't wait for it to arrive. I do love yellow. We have to re-do the upstairs bathroom because the shower tray has rusted through and is leaking a bit - so I'm thinking yellow tiles! My husband draws the line at yellow fittings but I think I can get a daffodil bathroom one way or another. If all else fails I can buy yellow towels. 

The bathroom is a bit disheartening because it's all asbestos sheeting, so it has to be completely gutted with the walls removed by duly accredited guys in hazard suits. Painful and expensive, but no way around it. The bathroom is nearly forty years old, so there is no point in trying to bodgy it up, we just have to take a deep breath and fork over fistfuls of cash. Because it was so manky I was going to give it a quick re-paint to tart it up a bit, but when I started scraping, the plaster came away and some tiles fell off ... with this terrible permeating smell of damp. Can't paint over that.

And on the shoe front, I walked down the street to lunch on Tuesday wearing a very comfortable pair of flats. And do you know, I realised for the first time looking at this photo that these are exactly the same as the cream pair I wore a couple of weeks ago. I've just been to the cupboard and checked the brand and yes, they are the same shoe in different colours. Life is constant learning, isn't it. This is the ugly lino at work; nearly as bad as the carpet.

However Thursday's shoes are off to the donate bag. Those toe-pinching ends are every bit as uncomfortable as they look. The only reason I bought these shoes is because the style is called the .... wait for it ... "Linley"!!! I was in one of those shoe warehouses where they just have boxes stacked up, and the name caught my eye, as you can imagine, and I thought "no matter what is in that box, I am buying those shoes!". And that's how I ended up with a pair of purple suede shoes with gold embroidery.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A big birthday

This year is the centenary of Canberra - one hundred years since they decided that Canberra would be in this empty valley in the middle of nowhere, and put down a memorial stone, and made a speech. The actual city took another forty years to get started, but the stone is having a very big birthday. Yesterday there was an event, or rather lots of events, down by the lake (the forty year old completely artificial lake). It was sunny, hot and INSANELY crowded.

Give a Canberran a chance to do something interesting, and they seize it like starving wolves. We should have packed a picnic, found a shady spot, put a picnic rug down and watched the concerts - but we didn't even take a water bottle. I thought we'd just wander around, buy some food and drink, and see what was there. Bad decision - too many people and the queues for sustenance were extraordinary.

So we weren't there for very long, maybe a couple of hours. Some things were cool - enormous inflatable letters spelled "welcome". The boys were being stalked by a giant "w".

Eventually we got an ice-cream, and listened to some music, and saw some strange buskers. But the most fun was taking off our shoes, having a paddle to cool our toasted feet, and skipping stones into the water. Which is a Canberra kind of thing to enjoy...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last gasp of summer

The weather has been awesomely lovely this week - warm and sunny with just a tiny tinge of coolness in the mornings and evenings to remind you that is really technically autumn. But thirty degrees during the day and blue blue skies. The baseball mums try and put a bit of effort in during practice - outfielding and batting stations - but on Wednesday we kicked off our shoes and sat in the grass with the sun on our shoulders. Enjoying it while we could!

It was also photo time. Trying to get a dozen eight and nine year olds in an acceptable photo pose at the end of the day was as successful as you might expect. Normally I don't post pictures of other people's children, but I figure the chances of anyone identifying these two little munchkins is quite slight. That's mine in the middle - slightly disengaged but at least no longer rolling around the grass making cat noises.

And an order from Hancocks turned up. Because their shipping takes forever and ever and ever I had completely forgotten what I'd ordered. And some of it I'm not sure why I did - it must have been REALLY cheap. I'll use it one day, nothing is so ugly I can't find a place for it.

And I'm donating these shoes. Despite being really cute, they are not well balanced and I teetered and tottered around all day. Practicality wins, finally. 

Now I'm off to mop the floors - the landscaping guys invented an excellent way of getting the paving dust down the stairs from the road to our house - they backed the ute down the driveway then stood in the tray and pegged shovelfuls of dust over the retaining wall to a waiting wheelbarrow ten feet below. When I mildly objected to the two inches of dust on the front path, they promised to sweep it up before they left. And did so, with great vigour and enthusiasm, while I had the front door open. I was sitting at the dining table and looked up to see a great fog of dust through the whole house, that then gently settled. I couldn't be cross with them ... they're nice boys, just sometimes such boys.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Different crumbs

I'm still making crumb blocks! But different ones this time, I went into the bin of solid scraps. These blocks are a bit bigger, because my solid scraps seem to be a bit bigger, and it seems silly to cut them up further. I'm not sure what I'll do with them but they were fun to make and crumb blocks look good in solids.

The landscaping is cracking on - they reckon they should finish the paving work this week and then it's some treated pine something and then the bog garden. Which is a favourite project of my husband. We had a lovely big bog garden in our old house, made out of an old pond that was indestructible concrete. The pond itself was about twenty feet across and two feet deep and covered with green slime. Which of course made it completely indistinguishable from the lawn, and a fifteen-month-old of our acquaintance plummeted straight into it on his first visit. So we knew we had to do something with it - and eventually we drained it, added soil and rock, and planted a heap of soggy-loving plants including an enormous gunnera and rushes and bog sedge. It looked awesome. We don't have anywhere near the space in our current dwarf garden but my husband reckons he's going to give it a go and put it in a little boggy space where the spa pool used to be.

And I'm keeping these shoes too - despite being a bit silly and high-heeled and only suitable for warm weather - I like yellow and don't have nearly enough yellow shoes.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pink crumb quilt

Here is a photo of the finished pink crumb quilt. And no, I haven't found the camera, I had to re-take this with my phone. I am getting quite cross about the camera, because I've looked everywhere, so I'm  starting to think that had an absent moment and left it somewhere incredibly stupid, like the freezer.

I couldn't decide whether to machine quilt or hand quilt this one - I wanted the rumpliness of hand quilting, but given that it's probably going to end up with a little baby girl at some point I was worried it wouldn't be robust enough. So, while I was pondering this critical dilemma, I read on someone's blog how she had machine quilted the broad grid of the blocks and then hand quilted the rest. Bingo! When the student is ready, the teacher will appear :)

And, finally, today I found a pair of shoes I'm happy to donate. They look nice, and the tops are comfortable, but teetering around on those teeny pointy heels was not fun. All day I felt like I was going to break an ankle. This is the carpet at work - isn't it hideous? I know work carpet isn't meant to be attractive, but they really pushed out the ugly boat with this stuff.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Where is that goddam camera?

This isn't the photo I was going to post but the camera has completely vanished. I looked for ten minutes, and then stopped looking for ten minutes, which usually works, and it still hasn't shown up. So I went outside and took a photo of our newly laid pavers on my phone, which I'm very excited about (the paving, not the phone). They're the old pavers, re-used, but actually flat now! It looks so much better already, and they're not even half done.

The photo I was going to show you was the pink crumb block quilt, which is now quilted and bound. And very pink and wonderful it looks too. Summer is officially over now it's the first of March, and Canberra has chosen to put on a freezing cold and windy day to show everyone that summer is GONE. It'll warm up again, but not for long.

And I'm not having much luck throwing shoes away. I wore these to work yesterday and they were very comfortable - they're not flats but a low wedge - I don't wear them much because they are an awkward dark purple/brown/red. But they pass the comfort test so have earned their continued existence. To be on my feet all day!!! Winners!!!!