Thursday, September 29, 2016

Holiday week one

I didn't mention last week with all that rushing around that my husband was away with work. He got back from Washington on Sunday morning - I picked him up from the airport, did a quick handover, and packed my bag and headed down the beach on my own for a couple of days to recover. And check on the bamboo of course. Which is thriving - I think it looks bigger. Does it look bigger?

The weather was appalling with lots of rain. I went down the beach on the first night for a walk and had it entirely to myself. How lovely - I wish I was there now. I had a great couple of days pottering about, going for walks, catching up with some friends and doing some sewing. Selvedge blocks again! Still nowhere near the 144 target.

I'm not at work this week, but I don't think it really counts as a holiday in any accepted definition of the word. Mostly dropping number two at performances, and number one at his filming - nothing too exciting, an assignment for his media class that he's doing in a  group. They have borrowed gear from school and spend hours down the local shops lurking in alley ways filming each other. At least I think that's what they do, I really have no idea, I just drop them off and pick them up.

When I get a minute I am sewing the browns and greens and creams into these Delectable Mountains blocks from my scrap hero Bonnie Hunter. I haven't made them before and they are quite fun and very straight forward. I will do 100 then make a ten by ten setting and see what borders it needs.

My goodness number two son has just brought me a ginger / lemon / honey jelly sweet. I wondered what he needed six tablespoons of gelatine for. It is a slightly strange texture but delicious flavour - lovely and lemony. I went up the ladder down the coast and brought back another couple of bags of lemons ... still dozens more just out of my reach. I only go up three rungs, and then I get scared....

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ending and opening

It was the last day of term today - and I have two tired boys who are very ready for some holidays. Although for one of them it is opening night for the latest musical production ... he is very excited even though he's just in the chorus. It's the show the older kids do - teenagers mostly - and it is quite serious and he is enjoying it very much. We'll go along and see it next week; he has mostly two shows a day until next weekend. There have been rehearsals every night this week, so with that and school and just the end of the term we are all a bit frayed around the edges. Nothing a ten-hour sleep and some quality sofa time won't fix.

I haven't had time to do much sewing, just pulled some fabric for the next quilt. For some reason I am going all traditional again - this is why I can't belong to any modern quilt group. I do really like muted prints and old-fashioned colours ... not all the time, but sometimes. I think that colours of the woodland make a comforting quilt. And I found out in the end what the sheep was all about. Jackie Chan. Who would have thought it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


What do you know, I never showed you the new door handles in the hallway cupboards ... you all must have been out of your minds with the anticipation. We took the old ones off because they were ugly fake brass with the brassy bits rubbing off, and ordered new ones on-line that aren't very trendy or fashionable but we like them.

The downstairs coat cupboard got some 1930s-inspired bakelite handles. We like these and they are quite satisfying to use. They fit nicely in the hand .... as we get to our coats, or vacuum cleaner, or shoes.

And the middle level linen cupboards got round glass balls that look kind of like light bulbs. We weren't sure at first but they have grown on us. The best bit is that they look completely different depending on where you are standing and what they are reflecting. Sometimes see-through, and sometimes metallic, and sometimes white like the cupboards. I thought they might get dirty with fingermarks, and they do, but I over-estimated my care factor about the state of our door knobs.

Completely not relevant to anything, I was having a little lunchtime walk from work last week when I saw two cameramen, and a man with a large sheep on a lead up ahead. I thought this might be some quite interesting film project, so took a photo and walked on up. Turns out it was some man with a sheep on a lead arguing with two camera men who just happened to be there. The man was very agitated and the camera men were trying to get away. The sheep was quite calm.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Another weekend, thank goodness

After a busy week at work it was good to have Saturday roll around today. And it's definitely spring ... I did the usual 5km run round the lake and the blossoms were out. In fact the blossoms are almost past - slack off a week or two with the running and the trees march on without you. It's the first weekend of Floriade too, so lots of people out and about.

This is the latest finished baby quilt. It was going to be for the school fiesta but a friend bagged it for a present, which is lovely, and now it's done so I must drop it off. It's a fair swap because she introduced me to Chat 10 Looks 3 podcasts, which is two Australian political journalists, talking about books and movies and tv shows that they enjoy with a little bit of life in general. And they put me on to Malcolm Gladwell's revisionist history podcasts, which are awesome (or the ones I've listened to are, I'm looking forward to the rest). Podcasts are good while you're sewing and trimming and ironing.

I did different types of quilting on each stripe of the baby quilt because I didn't think an allover design would suit it. And it was fun to try out different types of things. I went back to my shape by shape machine quilting book for some ideas. As ever - some more successful than others! I sewed down the binding while watching the Broncos v Cowboys NRL final last night - it went into extra time and was quite gripping. I don't watch footy much during the season but I like the finals.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Weaving on

Weaving has started up again - we're learning twills and things now. Basically we have a set of instructions and an ENORMOUS cupboard full of wool and cotton, and we're at the stage of trying out all sorts of different stitches in different colours and weights. Below there is thin yarn and thick yarn and boucle yarn. It is so much fun, but the possibilities! Even the simplest patterns can be varied a hundred ways, and that's before you start playing with colour, or doing it backwards....

So we're going to keep learning for another week or two then spend the second half of the course on our own projects. I will make a scarf (a common choice) but I haven't made any decisions on colour or pattern yet. I'll talk to the tutor and try and resist the urge to cram everything in. So pretty. So much fun.

Here's the pink baby quilt all finished. I quilted it in a kind of clam shell variation that I call "clam shell variation".

We had parent teacher interviews this evening for number one son. He is such a good kid - likeable and smart - and his teachers were all very positive. Although his maths teacher did say that he is not quite at full potential (which is what every teacher I ever had said, I think it's what they do). But this teacher was smart enough to add (I'm paraphrasing) that if he wants to work in aerospace (which he does) then his maths can't just be OK, it has to be amazing, and now would be a good time to start.  Good one maths teacher ....

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The bamboo hedge

I think I've mentioned that the new neighbours over the back at the beach are rebuilding  and clearing out the foliage ... yes, I did mention it because they burnt the ivy and the trees caught fire. Anyway there is no danger of that any more because they have absolutely stripped the block - it's just a big square of dirt. Originally they'd intended just to renovate the house, but it turned out to be structurally unsound, and they had to knock it down. Given they paid $600,000 for the place, it seems a bit rough, but probably better in the end. Because almost all of our green outlook was borrowed, we have gone from having a nice green leafy back yard to nothing at all. Although we did take the opportunity to take out some of the crappy weeds and shrubs we were ignoring ... had to be done but makes it even barer.

This is the best "before" shot I could find. Who takes a photo from their back door? Not me apparently. I only took this one because there was a king parrot on the washing line.

And this was yesterday morning. Not a great deal of anything. Although we can see into their Portaloo.

We continued in our life-long problem-solving strategy of throwing money at it until it goes away, and ordered 20 pots of 3m high bamboo delivered on Thursday, and we planted it on Saturday. We have high hopes of a tall thick 5 metre high hedge in a year or two. We even put it a watering system ... it should be fine. Cross fingers.  My husband had dug the holes two weeks ago, so with the four of us working it ended up not taking very long at all.

Saturday morning was beautiful - almost hot! The water was cold but some good big waves and lots of surfers. It started to rain later in the afternoon, but not enough to stop us planting. It definitely feels like summer is on the way....

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Weekends are very short

We had a lovely weekend, but two days just isn't enough to get done what needs to get done AND do the things you enjoy doing. Six weeks off shouldn't have ruined me for working life but somehow it has. On Saturday we had a friend's birthday party out at his brother's place in the country - about half an hour out of Canberra. This was their front yard.

Needless to say their vegie patch is very well fenced. Apparently all the neighbours have dogs - and they don't - so the kangaroos like to come and hang at their house. We had terrible country-life envy, and got lots of ideas for what we're going to do with our retirement acreage. Nothing too fancy, but definitely an orchard. You can see their orchard below on the left - bare trees at the moment, but no doubt beautiful in spring and summer.

It still looks like bare and grim countryside to my New Zealand eyes, but I'm slowly coming around to it. It was a windy and rainy spring day but the biting cold has definitely gone. I packed the heavy duvet away which might be a bit optimistic.

I finished quilting the orange circles (with orange circles! how original) and given that I had orange thread in the machine I pulled out the orange and purple and yellow double cross quilt from ages back, and did some orange peapods. I will do purple and yellow peapods now....

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pinning up

I have a few too many quilt tops lurking around at the moment ... time to get pinning and quilting. First up are these orange and grey circles that I was working on back in May. I don't think I posted any photos after the original big pieced circles. I ended up chopping them on the diagonal and sewing them back together in opposing colours, then putting them together in a kind of straight-furrows arrangement to make diagonals across the whole quilt. And a border of orange triangles and black polka dots to tie it together.

It makes a bit more sense when you see the whole thing. This is only a quarter of the quilt - I was going to unfold it and take a proper photo but I got stopped in my tracks by the evil eye of doom.

Actually it wasn't very evil, it was really quite sweet, and she looked very comfortable and I didn't want to disturb her. Because she is 16 now, and that's quite an old lady for a cat. She is not turning into a gentle old lady though, she is one of the cantankerous ones who no longer give a crap about anything and will let you know it. In the past twelve months she's developed all sorts of bad behaviour that we thought we had discouraged out of her when she was a kitten; jumping up on the benches and the table to get to food, howling when she doesn't get her way, digging her claws into you when you pick her up. She is in fine health as well, so we probably have another few years of it...