Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What I'm working on

I have been sewing and quilting away in and around the travel - but I don't have much to show for it yet because it's taking forever. I'm still a bit obsessed with the crumb blocks, so I made a quilt with crumbs and pink and cream; and now I'm quilting it.

You can see from the little squiggles why it's taking so long - it's pretty dense quilting. It might be too dense because it's making it quite stiff and unyielding, although that will soften up over time. I should be finished (one day!) and then I'll show it to you properly.

I've spent the last couple of days a bit slow and sleepy. No jet lag or anything - Honiara is in the same time zone as Canberra - just the after effects of having a really full on week that made me think AND talk to people. Neither of which is a strength ... I'm really at my best sitting quietly on my own watching trashy television. Not that I got much of a chance to do that today even though it's my not-working day. Just paying bills and running errands ... and we FINALLY did our wills. Isn't that terrible, not to have had current wills for so many years. Good thing we didn't die.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A few more Honiara photos

Not very exciting, but probably a bit more realistic than the seaside pictures! The ocean is beautiful, but you do probably spend more time on the streets. Dusty streets with utes and minivans and lots of people.

This is a french restaurant at one of the hotels - open at the sides; which was great the night we went there because it was pouring rain which made it a lovely temperature. Not too hot! I do not know why this restaurant has six foot fibreglass statues of fish. It is very strange.

We stopped by the markets one morning - it is mostly fruit and vegetables but there are a couple of tables for the tourists! I bought a sarong  ... cannot resist cloth, no matter what the form :)  And also a couple of shell necklaces. It was hard to choose they are all so pretty!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

And back to the other

I'm working this week in Honiara - on the island of Guadalcanal and capital of the Solomon Islands. I'd like to say it's lots of palm trees and tropical beaches ... but it's really lots of dust and stray dogs! It is wonderful to see our Solomon Island colleagues again though, and it's always a treat to let someone else do the cooking for the week.

This is breakfast time yesterday looking out at the little harbour. The mornings are just lovely but it gets hotter and steamier during the day and we've had some massive tropical downpours at night.

This is looking in the other direction from the harbour. It really does just make you want to hop in a banana boat and go island skipping for a few months - you could go completely Robinson Crusoe around here (although I don't think anything is uninhabited! Take a good wad of cash and some insect repellent).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Back to it

Back to the routine means back to the gym - and it has been a rude shock for my fat sloth body. Not that I do anything very vigorous there but it is still more than in a full six weeks of christmas, holidays, beach and beer. This is the before shot, wearing part of my collection of Target's finest exercise gear. The hairdresser gave me a fringe last time, unexpectedly. I quite like it, but it does look better when I've brushed it a bit.

And an after shot. I go so red when I get hot, like a volcano.

At least all that whining about the weather fixed it! We have had nearly two days of solid soaking rain - more rain yesterday than the last three months combined. Such a relief.

Friday, February 14, 2014

So dry

They promised us rain today, but nothing has happened. It's humid and grey but I am not holding my breath for any actual moisture. So far this year we have had 4.8 mm of rain. That's not very much, especially when only two days in January were below 25 degrees, and 16 days over 30 degrees. That's pretty hot, and our garden is suffering in a way I haven't seen since we moved in nearly eight years ago. This is the "lawn"...

We're keeping the hose on the golden ash because I would hate to lose it, but there are quite a few shrubs that won't survive. Climate change or just a bad summer? Who would know.

I had Modern Quilters again last night - I decided to re-join Canberra Quilters for another year - did I say? I will just take it for what it is and not worry that it's not all it could be. And last night was fun with lots of awesome show and tell. People have been very busy over the break and it is great to get hands on with different quilts.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shirtings top

Here is the shirtings top - all done. It is limited in colour because I only had four coloured and three white shirts but I think they still work together reasonably well. And I still have masses of cloth left over! I can see how if you went to second hand stores or started scavenging off friends you would have a huge collection of fabric pretty quickly.

I did think about adding another border but it was quite problematic to work with because all the shirts were so soft. Some of them were a twill weave too, which stretched alarmingly as I cut it. Pip recommended starch - which I have never used before but I went and got some and it improved it no end! Thank you!! But it was still not as stable as new cloth, and I gave up on my plans to do a nine patch on point border ... too much bias. So just piano keys, and even then there was a bit of fudging and shifting to get it to fit.

I left the labels in on a few pieces on the border, just to make it clear they're shirts! And to let the world know that my husband buys his clothes on special from Myer, and is an XL.

School continues to go well for both the boys and they seem to be settling in nicely. Although they were very tired Friday night - number two and I went down the beach Friday night and the others joined us after baseball on Saturday. It was scorching hot in Canberra over the weekend but the coast was delightful, of course. It was so hard to come back on Sunday! But have to work to pay the bills.

On Monday I got vaccination boosters for work travel this year - typhoid AND tetanus AND flu shot all three needles jammed into one square inch of arm. Normally I don't react to vaccinations but I've never had those three together and I had a rough 24 hours of feeling just awful - I even had to leave work I was feeling so wobbly. But much better now (except for my arm which still hurts!) and I know it's better than actually getting the diseases...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A big week

Back to school, and a big week for us as number one son starts high school! A giant leap after seven years at primary school. Here in the Australian Capital Territory they do seven years at primary, four years at high school, then two years at college. Which seems to work quite well although it makes this transition reasonably major (well, for me it was major! He just sailed through it, so calm and so grown up).

As you can see no more school uniform, which is fine by me. They have some dress rules - covering your shoulders mainly - and as far as I can tell from staring at the kids it's not exactly fashion central. But how would I know! The subtleties of early teen dressing completely pass me by.

A few of his friends are at the same high school, but a fair number have peeled off into private schools. Unsurprisingly, I have Views on the Limited Usefulness of private education, but I don't rant about it too much as quite a few of our friends have gone that path and their kids are all perfectly lovely! So my sweeping generalisations after a couple of wines tend to be undermined by the appearance of a delightful young adult, apparently unscarred by Elitism and prepared to be very polite to Drunk Family Friends.

Monday, February 3, 2014


These are the blocks I'm making from my husband's old shirts. Half are white, or close to, and half are coloured; so I'm doing something that is basically two-tone. Background and the other. The fabric is very soft - which will make a lovely quilt - but it's hard to get them perfectly square. They tend to slip around more than new cottons.

I got the block from this book, which was a Christmas present. It is a lovely looking book, but I was a bit disappointed on the first read through, because the blocks are quite simple, and she only gives a couple of ways of setting them - all in a sampler style, using a lot of different blocks. Which I'm not really very interested in. But when I was on holiday I indulged in some brainless colouring in - just taking one of the blocks and seeing how it would look duplicated, in various colours.

And sometimes different blocks together, or using different lights / darks. It is a completely mindless exercise but perfect with a glass of wine and River Monsters. My god the boys LOVE River Monsters. I have no idea why, that guy drives me bonkers, but it can be quite hard to tear yourself away. Giant fish, dramatic soundtrack, and crappy re-enactments.

I did this for about 20 blocks and it was strangely satisfying. Some worked in different combinations, and some looked fabulous and I want to make them in various solids, or with crumb blocks and solids. I have changed my position on this book - it is a great starting point and reading the introduction I think that is exactly what the author intended.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Visitors, and the terrifying passage of time

My sister and her husband came and stayed a couple of nights with us down the beach on their way from Melbourne to Sydney. They were over from NZ having a week's holiday  - leaving their now-adult children at home! what a luxury - and stopped in with us for some salt water and catching up.

They were having a great holiday, but were in Melbourne during the worst of the heat, including at the Australian Open, so a bit of beach time was perfect. And of course it was lovely to see them and catch up on all the news (gossip) and have a glass of wine or four. As siblings do. Here they are with the boys ... who don't seem to see the need for clothing on the upper body during January. They did have shorts on, I promise.

The reason for their holiday was to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary ... so here they are 25 years ago.

And here's one with me in it - signing the register in a pink dress. Not a bad outfit considering it was 1988, when hair was big and dresses were shiny; although it did have a fairly solid pair of shoulder pads from memory. My dad is standing in the middle next to my sister, with the best man next to her and the celebrant watching me carefully, to make sure I sign in the right place probably. Twenty five years! My sister was 23 and I was 18 ... the terrifying passage of time.