Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Some foul bug

I've been laid up the last couple of days with some virus - really vague symptoms but generally feeling extremely tired and dizzy and worn out. A couple of people at work have had something similar and it must have been my turn! At least I'm feeling much better today, if a little wrung out. Which all means nothing exciting to write about at all.

Thank you for your comments on Costco - I can report that the Fries Sprinkle was a success; I expected it to take a bit fake and weird but it was actually just a yummy peppery flavour that livened up the potatoes no end. Just as well it was good because I have a tub the size of my hand.

And Tammy asked why I was talking about butter colour - here is a photo. On the right is American butter, and on the left is Australian butter (complete with crumbs, I am clearly a slattern. Isn't that a great word - slattern?). The American is much paler (the tub is the churned spreadable stuff, but Australian cooking butter is exactly the same colour). Both sorts taste the same, but I hadn't realised how much I rely on colour when I'm creaming butter and sugar for a cake, or cooking it with flour for a white sauce, or seeing how hot it is for pancakes. Butter colour ... that, ladies and gentleman, is the most exciting thought I have had for about four days now.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Practising my quilting

Last weekend I pieced together a big simple medallion in plain colours (yellow and purple and green, which I am not terribly sure about now, but it seemed like a good idea at the time). I am quilting every border in something different to practice free motion machine quilting; not marking or drawing anything but trying out a few designs completely freehand. Unsurprisingly, some are much more successful than others. I re-did the baptist fans on a smaller scale. There's about a quarter inch between the stitching lines.

Luckily I had a long meeting on Tuesday afternoon where I could doodle to my heart's content. I justify this by saying I listen better when I doodle .... if I have to sit and stare at the speaker my mind completely wanders off. But if my hands are doing something then I can listen properly and even make sensible comments (when I can think of anything sensible to say. Not always guaranteed). And for some reason my work colleagues take a dim view of me bringing my knitting into meetings, but if you have a pen and paper - who knows - you might even be taking notes. Hah.

These ferns came out quite nicely when I stitched them up, as did the ubiquitous peapods. Modern quilting motif of the month I think. I used a striped sheeting on the back, so the back of the quilt bears a strange resemblance to my doodles...

Today was a very quiet Saturday - my husband did baseball after my  heroic efforts on the fund raising bbq last weekend. Actually not so heroic but my god it was cold. I stayed home this morning and coppiced the daisies which had gotten enormous. I took out the secateurs but ended up pruning them with a hacksaw! If you need a saw to prune your daisies then they are far too big. 

So in the end my only outing today was for more thread. Number one son came too, and bought some modelling clay, to make an Egyptian vase. They are doing a unit on ancient egypt and we have had obelisks and the odd hieroglyphic. I'm keeping some white fabric on hand because there is certain to be a wrapped-up mummy sooner or later...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A utility quilt

Well, now I have another whole house to furnish, I thought I better make some quilts. Despite the fact that I have enough quilts already for about eighteen houses, and we only actually have one bed at the beach house at the moment (and a couple of camping mattresses for the boys), I felt the urge to make another everyday quilt. Just in case. So this is what those shoo fly blocks I was making from my 3 1/2 " strips turned into.

I called it "Fingertips". Not sure why. It was fun to make - nice and easy - and very scrappy. Fabrics are used once or twice at most in the blocks, and possibly again in the border.

I quilted it in an allover baptist fan; modified to allow it to be continuous. It was a good quick way of covering all that ground and you can't even see it from the front. It just looks like some sort of curved quilting - I could have done a random meander but I liked the fans and the discipline of rows kept it marginally even. It might be easier to see from the back. A bit crooked but I got much better at it by the end!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not up to much

It's been five days since my last post which is longer than usual - but not because I've been up to anything interesting. Now we're back from New Zealand and had the first inspection of the beach house it is all a bit ho hum. And the weather has been really cold and rainy so I just want it to warm up and be proper seaside weather! Summer can't be too far off; remind me of this when I'm whining about the heat in February. On the sewing front, I used the dark grey I dyed to make pink and grey flying geese.

I may or may not trim off those dog ears. I don't know what I'll use them for but I'll keep making them and see where they take me. I suspect not very far, I only dyed half a metre of that grey. Maybe a very small quilt ... And that's all the sewing to report. I've been going to work, boring, and even my non-working Wednesday was fairly dull. I dead-headed the roses.

They are pretty. And I went to Costco. I do like Costco, I know I should prefer organic boutique pop-up whatever but I wander very happily round Costco with my enormous shopping trolley. Staring at the strange American things. Who would buy two litres of mayonnaise? What is frozen cookie dough? Why is the cheese a funny dark yellow and the butter weirdly pale? I bought something in a jar called "Fries Sprinkle" today that apparently you put on potatoes. I will give it a try and report back.

As you can see, I mostly buy a month's worth of meat for the freezer. Makes life much easier. I've learned not to be sucked in by the huge quantities, no matter how cheap they are. I just end up throwing half of it out (looking at you one litre tub of bocconcini) or overeating to the point of illness (1.2 kilo bag of dark chocolate chips, my god that was good).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Guess what I bought?

I've been up to something that I haven't shared on this blog - not because it's a super secret but just because until it was all signed and sealed I didn't want to jinx myself! You know sometimes you don't like to share good things in case it all goes horribly wrong? Well, it's finally all wrapped up and handed over and I can say that we have actually gone and bought ourselves a beach house!

My husband and I have been talking about this for twenty years - we both love the sea and being beside the beach - and every time we go to the coast we peer into real estate windows and do our sums and then ... nothing. So in August we realised that we're not getting any younger and if we want to have this as a family thing - while the kids are still happy to go on holiday with us - then we better just bite the bullet and do it. It will make it a bit tight financially, but then we never seem to have any money, so at least now we have something to blame for being constantly broke...

Finding one was dead easy once we'd decided - my husband and I drove down for the day, looked at 9 places, picked one, made an offer which was accepted the same day (which means it was FAR too high but I'm trying not to think about that) and then everything else just fell into place. The people we are buying it from also used it as a beach place - we didn't meet them but they left us a folder full of instructions to all the appliances and a lovely note on the top! We bought their furniture and washing machine and fridge at very reasonable prices and I think they left far more than we actually paid for ... but all gratefully received. I am trying to furnish and fit out the entire place for a budget of basically nothing. Hand me downs and garage sales!

We redeemed our impractical decision slightly by buying a very practical place - only twenty years old, tidy little brick and tile two bedroom with a small garden and low maintenance (hopefully). We would both love the romantic windswept shack in the dunes but we couldn't afford it and would struggle to maintain it. So this is our street.

You go four houses along, turn the corner, cross the road, over the dunes, and then you're at the beach.

The day was hot but the water temp was freezing! We made sandcastles and got sandy and wet but didn't swim. Even going up to your kneecaps meant lots of squealing and jumping.

And after tea we went down again for another walk. We've been holidaying at this beach for many many years and I know it can get quite busy in midsummer but just look at this emptiness in early November. It gives it all such a different twist when you can think of yourself as an almost-local.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I had a good sort through of my dyed and solid fabric and weeded out those that were too ugly to use or had some other fundamental flaw. And then I overdyed them, and they are all much better now. Not super wonderful, but at least useable. First up was yards and yards of commercially dyed yellow brown. I think it was left over the gingerbread man costume in 2010.

It went a lovely teal.

Another disaster in black and purple - I still have a few yards of this to do.

It went dark green - a bit gloomy but I'll probably find a use for it in something.

I did this with fabric paint when I thought that might be fun. It was a bit wishy washy and not very interesting.

I overdyed it with bright green and it didn't get any more interesting. Just greener.

These two were dyeing mistakes - not enough dye and not a high enough ambient temperature. One of the reasons why I stopped dyeing in winter.

But they did go a very nice moroccan red! Finally. I added in heaps of the dye powder and it worked much better than my earlier attempts.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Back into it

I'm back at work and the boys are back at school and I'm also back in the sewing room ... which is lovely. I haven't quite decided what to make next because I want to use the stuff I've been dyeing. And so I have to think about it a little bit before I start chopping. Not a lot of thought, but a little bit, which is more than usual. In the meantime I finished up the baby medallion quilt. I did the top a while ago.

I don't think I mentioned but I did two of them - twins! Two baby girls, so two quilts kind of the same but mostly different. It's quite fun to do - almost all the same fabrics just in a different pattern. And with different quilting. I like them both.

The babies have been born so I'll pop those in the post soon ... actually posting them is always the part where I procrastinate! I don't know why, it's not exactly difficult, and I need the space on my shelf.