Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A bit retro

Number two son had a birthday last week, and one of the things he asked for was an instant camera. Despite the fact that this house already has a digital camera, three phones and four iPads that all take perfectly good photos, there is something about taking a photo and having it print out the back of the camera that appealed to him. And it looks pretty cool too.

It prints out credit card sized photos - and a film pack of 10 costs $30. Yep, three dollars a photo. Boy does that focus the mind, especially when you are 11 years old and have only ever known taking literally hundreds of anything that takes your fancy and then deleting the ones you don't want. I will buy some more film for general family use though, it is like magic when the photo develops! We never had one growing up in the 1970s - it was only the rich families - and I really like it. Good for parties :) Despite the photo being really tiny and not fabulous quality, it has a real charm.

I won't bore you all with a detailed account of my doings again ... there's not much to say! Working completely destroys your day. However the weather is finally warm enough to start dyeing again. I like it when it's all white and full of potential.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Documenting my day

It was a terrifically normal Saturday here in the brick and concrete depths of suburban Canberra. The temperature was an average 23 degrees, with an average amount of rainfall (i.e. zero). My husband dropped number one at baseball at 7.30 am, then came home, had breakfast and went back at 8.30 for the game. We were rostered on duty today, so he brought the after-game snacks - cut up oranges and I made a chocolate cake the night before. Apparently the under 14s are not too old for sprinkles, so it had chocolate icing and sprinkles. During the game my husband manned the fundraising bbq that goes all morning - bacon and egg rolls ($4) and sausage-in-bread ($2.50). Sauces and onions are optional and free, and if they didn't want an egg he gave them another rasher of bacon instead. My son's team lost 9-8 with the winning run scored in the final innings.

I did a load of washing and took number two son into the mall to buy a birthday present (the Four Ingredients cookbook, apparently the birthday boy likes to cook) for an 11th birthday party he went to later that morning. It was four hours of paintball at Delta Force in Tuggeranong and it was full to overflowing. Cars and kids and adults everywhere - apparently the thing to do on the weekend! News to me. I dropped him and ran.

We took the opportunity to go to Costco (along with everyone else in Canberra who wasn't at paintball) where we spent $705.58 on groceries. A lot in one hit, but it's enough meat and dry goods and cleaning products for the next two months for a family of four. And it did includes at least $100 of unnecessary things (boogie board, vodka).  We do love their frozen prawn gyoza, so we had those for lunch and it was delicious.

After lunch we tidied the house. Then I did some sewing, number one son played on the computer and my husband worked on his model for the annual comp next weekend. He is running slightly behind schedule, but expects to finish it in time. He picked up number two son at 3.00 and we cooked dinner for friends who came over. Before dinner we had cheese (brie) and crackers and olives, with a packet of chips for the kids. We also bought prosciutto but forgot to put it out.

Dinner was roast beef with roast vegetables, gravy, mushrooms, asparagus and broad beans. The friends brought dessert - chocolate mousse with strawberries and ice-cream. We had a vodka lemon before dinner, then a bottle of red (tempronilla) and a bottle of white (chardonnay), both Australian. We talked about work, recent holidays, plans for Christmas, gardens, re-painting the cupboards, quilting, politics and mutual friends. They left their cooler bag behind.

The cat slept all day on a cushion in the sun except from about 5 pm when she wanted dinner. She stalked around while our guests were here because they took her evening spot on the sofa. The dog slept most of the day except for two walks and some random barking in the back yard. She loved having guests over and leapt all over them for half an hour, then spent the rest of the time snuffling under the table and kitchen floor for dropped food.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Oh, the humanity

We washed the dog on the weekend. Boy did she need it - grubby little monster.  When I say "we" washed the dog, I actually mean my husband - she adores him so much that she will do anything he wants, even have a bath, even when she really really hates it. And she does ... how is this for a look of long-suffering agony? It is so undignified when really fluffy animals have a bath; they look so diminished.

I made some more selvedge blocks because my plastic bag of strips was filling up. As usual, it surprised me how many strips it takes to make a block, and how long this is going to take me! I used quite a few of the ones that Michelle sent me, which was lovely, because they are different and new it made me happy to find them among my boring ones. So I think I did another eight blocks, which doesn't bring me much closer to enough for a quilt, but it could be a long term project.

The other project was moving the big bookshelf into my son's room, and tidying that complete cesspit including throwing quite a bit of stuff away, and generally make it presentable again. It is very incremental steps around here. We hadn't moved the bookshelf since we arrived here ten years ago and it was disgusting. We found a lot of small flat things (postcards, playing cards, Lego catalogues) that had been poked there over the years.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Five foot high and bouncy

I finished quilting my next one - the medallion with a dresden plate edged in ricrac that I started a while ago. Plain borders, with one half square triangle border and one tumbler border. And then I stopped - I am still a bit put off by big quilts since my giant "If" adventure, and I thought this one was the right sort of size to be a cheerful sofa quilt, or for the kids.

Despite taking forever to do the backtracking quilting on "Sheep Stations", I ended up using another reasonably ornate design, largely of my own invention. You can't really see it clearly because of the piecing, except on the back (dust ruffle!). It's a swirl with pebbles in it and then kind of echo in-fill. Kind of.

This quilt is called "Five foot high and bouncy". It's slightly more than five feet square, and not particularly bouncy, but it seemed like an apt name for a cheerful wee quilt.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rotating my snails

I have made 36 snail trail blocks out of eighteen different fabrics, which I think is quite enough for a quilt - I trimmed them back to 12" so that will be a 70ish inch square quilt, or more if I add borders. I can't decide how to arrange them though. This is more traditional - it make a big pattern like wavy arm starfishes.

Or this is the other option - lots of waves.

I think I like the first one better, but I will ponder for a little while and then sew them together, and then think about a border. No rush.

In other news, I got attacked by a duck when I was out for my run on Sunday. Lots of flapping wings and I definitely felt a beak on the back of my legs, although there was no actual injury. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to get a photo, but the little bundles of fluff were so cute... see that one eyeing me off? It was the Assault Duck.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The end of the holidays

So it's back to school tomorrow - number two son finished his theatre production on Friday after a full eight days of two shows a day! Dropped him off at 9.30 then picked him up at 5.00 and in between he'd done two full musical shows to proper paying audiences to an astonishingly high standard. I ushered the two shows on Wednesday and it was really good, with some seriously talented teenagers. It is hard to be objective about your own child (I thought he was AMAZING) but I can cross my heart and say he was focussed and professional all week ... although exhausted by the end. They had a party after the last show and he even made chocolate chip cookies and gluten-free raspberry cheesecake :)

So number one has been left slightly at a loose end but we tried to get out and about and do things he wanted to do. He nominated the arboretum so we went and walked through it for a couple of hours to see how much the trees and grown. Quite a bit, it turns out, but still you have to use your imagination for the full effect. We looked back over Canberra on a gorgeous late spring day.

This is the "wide brown land" sculpture from the back. It doesn't look like much from this angle, but we like it because you can sit on it and climb through it. We like an interactive piece of art.

And on Friday he nominated Parliament House as a place to visit, so we went up and popped in to say hi to my work mates, and I got to show him behind the scenes, as well as all the public areas that I never go to. There was nothing official on at all, so we could go into the Great Hall and both Houses of Parliament and wander round looking at the art and the building all quite undisturbed.

And we went up to the roof, which I've been meaning to go to since I started working there but never quite managed. A good idea to be a tourist in your own place sometimes.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Unseasonably warm

This last long weekend has been ridiculously warm for early October - 37 degrees today down the coast - so number one and I spent it at the beach. And we went swimming, even though the water is still freezing. It was a wonderful taste of summer just weeks after winter and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

Number one had been down with his dad the week before and they bought him a bike! Which is quite a big deal in our world, neither of the boys own bikes or have ridden them in the past. My husband never rode a bike as a kid, just walked or took the bus everywhere. He knows how to ride one but didn't see the need for our kids to learn. I spent my entire childhood on my bike - to and from school from the ages of 7 to 17 - and everything else I wanted to do between times like visiting friends. No helmets back in the day either, and I took some massive spills. But all good and I would have made sure the boys had this useful skill except that we live in a very bike unfriendly location - on a blind corner in a narrow road at the top of a steep hill. There is really nowhere around here to learn ... even our driveway is on a 30 degree tilt.

So I didn't insist (I'm a bit lazy too) and then before you know it we have a great gangly teenager wobbling around on his first bike. But he did wonderfully, and this weekend I extracted my old bike from the shed after ten years and took it down to the awesome bike guy at the beach for a service - and off we went, son and me, around the flat, gentle, traffic-free streets of our small beachside town. Very enjoyable, and you genuinely never forget how. It's not really exercise though, not the way I do it. My thighs were fine, but jeez my bum hurts.

I insist on wearing helmets, even though no-one else does. The typical bike rider at the beach is wearing a single item of clothing (board shorts) and is riding a 70s dragster one handed with a surfboard under the other arm. I'm afraid I am a bit more cautious, at least in the beginning. But we had some great rides - I go along behind shouting "hand signals! watch out for that toddler! car coming!!!" with this view.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Coral, grey, sheep

After a flurry of quilting and a frenzy of binding I finished my pinky orange and grey cross and circle thing ... now called "Sheep Stations". There is an Australian expression (possibly New Zealand as well, I get it all confused) where if people are getting a bit excited or serious about something ultimately trivial you say "we're not playing for sheep stations" ... also very useful for children's sport. Just a way of saying the stakes are low. Anyway, I had cause to use the expression on a few occasions over the past weeks and it seemed like a good name for a quilt.

I like it - it's a soft and friendly quilt. I ran out of fabric for the last border but decided not to fret and just put a different spotted neutral in for the last bit (see top right in the photo above). That grey chevron is printed wildly off the grain of the fabric so it looks a bit lopsided but I think it gives "character". Or possibly "movement".

The quilting is another craftsy class inspiration - a spiral with leaves coming off it. It's nice and open, with about the right density for this quilt, but there is a lot of backtracking - where you go over your quilting before you start again at a different spot. I liked doing it and it wasn't too time-consuming, but I am not particularly accurate with the backtracking and the worst bits are of course at the pink spots where the grey thread shows up terribly. Never mind ... sheep stations.