Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just chillin'

After the excitement of a day in Melbourne (yes, it was exciting, first time I've been on a plane all year!) it was a very relaxed long weekend.  Number two son is still happily rehearsing - I helped them move from the rehearsal venue to the theatre on Monday and it's all very professional and a bit intimidating. They had a media call yesterday, tech rehearsal today, dress rehearsal tomorrow. He's relishing it. I thought there was a bit much hugging. Theatre people....

He did use a spare morning to make biscotti. I'm not sure why, but it was absolutely delicious. A bit frustrating because you have to make the cake/loaf and then wait overnight to slice it and bake it again ... but worth it. I've had a lot of biscotti in my life and I think this is some of the best ever - lots of orange and nuts.

I felt an overwhelming urge to make snail trail blocks. And to do it on white! After reading that Unexpected book I thought I would be all scrappy and re-claimed and improvised ... but no. I felt like a single block with a limited colour palette - so snail trail in blues and greens. Quite fun so far, and an easy block to sew with the window open and the rest of the family just doing whatever it is they do.

And every now and again I could break for coffee and biscotti. Here is an action shot.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The old and the new

I think I mentioned that I now work in Parliament House; my job is very interesting and the people are great but one of the best parts of the job is actually working in the building. It's less than 30 years old and the architect - Romaldo Giurgola - must be an absolute genius, because it manages to be grand and accessible at the same time. And it also feels very modern - limited materials, lots of wood,  pale colours. Even in the back corridors where I am you can see it; there are no cornices - the walls curve into the ceiling - and the door frames are flush with the walls. It's a bit starship enterprise and I like it a lot.

I'm rambling on about door frames because on Friday we had a day working in the State Parliament of Victoria, in Melbourne, which was built in 1856. Apparently it's only half finished, and they meant to do a whole heap more, but gave up in the 1920s. The whole thing would have been extraordinary. It's a hunk of neoclassical gorgeousness as it is. We were in one of the large old rooms, and it was amazing. Huge gilt chandeliers hanging out of thirty-layer ceiling roses, ornate carved doors and window frames, crazy levels of painted cornices, mosaic tile floors, vast wooden banisters, marble fireplaces  and history up the wazoo. Love it, and it made our Canberra minimalist rooms look definitely under-done.

But ... there were the icy draughts every time someone came into the room, and the tiny inconvenient toilets half a mile away, and not nearly enough power points, and the queue to get through security because nobody designed space for a metal detector in 1856, and having to haul your suitcase up all those stairs .... it didn't make you happy to spend the day in it in the same way the new building does. Nice to visit but I'm glad I don't work there.

I had a spare hour before my flight home so took a stroll down by the river. Melbourne, as ever, is awesome. It was late Friday afternoon and people were starting to have a few beers and wind down. Melbourne is regularly named one of the world's most liveable cities in one of those completely unscientific polls that they do and I can see why - heaps going on but still quite human-sized and friendly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Floriade again!

Every September I post photos of flowers as Canberra does its Floriade festival. My husband's parents were down for the weekend and we all trotted along to see the tulips and hyacinths and daisies and rhododendrons and daffodils.... The theme this year was "reflection" which wasn't bad, although it's always a bit lame because there are only so many ways you can re-arrange beds of flowers. Number one son put a poppy on the wall commemorating 100 years since Gallipoli - it was kind of cool with the reflective letters.

The tulips might look the same every year but my kids don't .... starting with last year and back into the mists of history...

Sunday, September 20, 2015


It's been a bit of a chaotic week around here - both at home and at work. My new job is not political, but it is up at Parliament House working closely with politicians; so when there was a leadership spill on Monday that resulted in a new Prime Minister for Australia it was all high drama and chaos and lots of being glued to the television - with quick dashes into the corridor - and not doing much work. I wasn't involved at all, and it shouldn't result in any changes to my job, but the atmosphere of the building gets quite feverish when something like this is going on, and it's quite hard to settle to what you should be doing. I should have been more careful when I wished for a job that was a bit new and exciting...

And there's chaos at home as we slowly near the end of the cupboard re-painting. I've moved the books (photo albums) back onto the shelves and now we just have to get some new hinges for the doors and put those back on and re-arrange everything. I'm taking the opportunity to get rid of the big dark pine bookcase on the right - it has been a wonderful piece of furniture but the room will be much lighter and clearer with it gone.

The flow-on from that has meant getting rid of a lot of books; it is just ludicrous how many books we have. The fiction only just fits into the hallway shelves, and both the boy's bookcases are overflowing, and both my husband and I have shelves in our hobby rooms for books ... it cannot be necessary to keep them all! And now I've stopped cooking I don't need any cookbooks (and we use the internet anyway, if we ever do want a recipe) but my husband will only let me throw out a select few. Same with the gardening books, and the aviation books, and the bushwalking books; but even a couple of bags has made a big difference and I am very much looking forward to the new revamped room. Maybe by Christmas...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A quieter weekend

We had a much-needed quiet weekend - not exactly peaceful, but lots of chores that needed doing and a bit of time just to sit. We bought another freezer and filled it up from Costco; now that I'm working full-time it's much easier to do a  big shop once in a while and not rely on just picking things up when we need them. And Costco is always an adventure! I didn't buy any strange american food this time, just lots of things in bulk. My husband bought a huge jar of olives which I think is a bit high risk, but mostly we were very sensible. And stayed away from the industrial-size chocolates, despite temptation.

Number one son tolerates Costco and will push the trolley round stoically, but number two son just loves it. He vanishes, and cruises the food samples, then reappears from time to time to tell us what we should go and buy. We say no, we don't need half a kilo of feta, or spinach ice-cream, or garlic and parmesan fries, or singapore noodles, or raw almonds, or organic energy juice. And off he goes again.

In complete contrast to this gluttony of consumption, I have just finished Walden, which I've been slowly reading for a few weeks now. It's not exactly something you rush through to the end, but I've enjoyed it and should probably re-read, in a bit. And it is had the effect of coalescing my plan to retire early, in ten years' time, and get some acreage down the coast, and grow veggies and have chickens. I've always wanted to do this but have been too lazy - it's hard with school and work and social lives to be out of the city - but we can tree-change in our 50s and live slower for a while. This is my plan now, life could get in the way but I am enjoying thinking about it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Noughts and crosses

I did circles around the cross blocks - inadvertently creating a whole noughts and crosses thing. Entirely unintentional. I used Michelle's excellent tutorial again to create the circles - except I machine appliqu├ęd them on for reasons of speed. I'm quilting it now with a design from one of my never-ending craftsy classes - they're not really never-ending it's just that I get about ten minutes in and I think that I'd rather be actually quilting and now I've got all these ideas ... so off I go for about two weeks and then come back for another ten minutes. There are eight half hour classes, so you see what I mean about never-ending.

I managed to take the photo quickly, because someone was hovering, and in she came about thirty seconds after I put the quilt down. This is our first spring with Mishka, and she is shedding like a bastard. There's a whole different kind of winter fox fur that comes off her and gathers in giant tumbleweeds that roll down the corridor.

I've kept on at the big housetop blocks, using up a small fraction of the strips. The centre square are my crumb blocks, of which I still have badillions. The blocks is kind of cool in a very random way. I will quilt them with something equally random and overall.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

And a busy weekend

It's been quite a social weekend - I think the warmer weather is bringing Canberrans out of their hibernation. Like bears. It certainly brought out the teenagers across the road who decided to have a party on Friday night - at about 11.30 I stormed over and did my best "I am from next door and you need to SHUT THE FUCK UP RIGHT NOW". Which worked, as it tends to do.

I had actually just got home because number two son and I had been on the other side of town to a production of "Into the Woods".  It was a great show - much better than I thought it would be - with some very talented performers. Probably a better cast than Grease last month, but it wasn't the same kind of toe-tapping experience, being a completely different kind of musical. Both number two and I enjoyed the movie and were very familiar with the songs, so good fun all round. Although by the time it reached the end at 11ish we were both exhausted.

Saturday I ran the usual 8km route but in short sleeves! I start down by the Chinese garden and the magnolia are out, and the blossoms. It was a beautiful morning. Sunday was the annual Canberra fun run which I chose not to participate in because the Mother's Day run was so ghastly ... too many people.

And Saturday night and Sunday lunch we caught up with friends we haven't seen for ages, so all very social and a little bit tiring. I will go back to work for a rest.... number two decided to make garlic and rosemary flavoured paneer for our guests - he thought rosemary flowers were better than leaves (who knows, he may be right) so boiled them up with the milk before making the cheese. It tasted really quite nice, much to everyone's surprise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The middle of the week

Not much else to say about today - working, school, rain on the way and sausages for dinner. Number one son has had a bad cold and been home for a couple of days - we were cross with him for being all lethargic and teenagerish on the weekend but turns out he was coming down with a whopper cold. Bad mother for shouting and making him go for a walk.

Here we have my bags of different size strips.  I was going to do some more cutting and make more strips but my bags were full ... and with reading that Unexpected Quilts I had the urge to make some random utility quilts. So I'm using the strips for large squares of sorts, and it's rather fun. But not making the slightest dent in the strips unfortunately. I might have about forty quilts worth in those bags!