Thursday, December 5, 2019

And another formal

Number two son went off to his year 10 formal on Tuesday. In the Australian Capital Territory School system you do seven years of primary school, four years of high school and two years of college so there are formals at the end of high school (year 10) and again at the end of college (year 12). It is very exciting for the 15/16 year olds, and they all looked super gorgeous.

Number two decided to rock an H&M grey suit, hawaiian shirt and one of his dad's ties (which he had picked out as a christmas present a year or two ago). We went round for pre-drinks to one of his friends' place (alcohol for the parents, thank you very much) and saw a dozen of the wee glamorous creatures. They don't wear dinner suits or formal gear by and large, just suits, although one young man looked very spiffing in a three piece with waistcoat and pocket chain. The girls were mostly in slimline full-length dresses and looked just lovely. Yes, he is much taller than his dad.

Number two had a great time, danced a lot then had an after party at another friends' house with a heated pool (!fancy!who are these people?) so they all had an unscheduled midnight swim. Today he's going into school to practice their performance for the final assembly tomorrow, which is followed by Pool Day, and then high school is finished except for the graduation next week.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Where is the time going? I have spent the last few months organising a conference that will be in the second week of January, and it is starting to speed up and get a bit serious. It is all perfectly under control (or as much as it can be) but the reality is starting to kick in, and it's only going to get worse.

In the meantime normal end-of-year things go on. Last week was the Year 12 formal for number one son. He wore the same suit as for his Year 10 formal, and a new shirt from the Zara sale rack. He looks super spiffing, and he said he had a great time. Yesterday he went to play Laser Tag and today he's off to his usual dungeons and dragons Tuesday. I am not sure how much of a holiday he gets before he needs to Find a Job, but apparently there are a few things in the pipeline.

Handsome son and daggy fat mum. And we are inching towards kitchen renewal with benchtop and cupboard samples! There are forty shades of white, I should have guessed. We are comparing them over sunlight and natural light and artificial light but honestly? We don't really care and whatever we pick will be uninspired. White, off white, natural white, bright white, arctic white, soft white .... aaaaaargh.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Melilot shirt

On my beach weekend I made two shirts - nothing extraordinary about that except that I went out on a limb and used a pdf pattern. Which I have been firmly resisting, despite all the bloggers and cool people being very dismissive of the big four pattern companies, and raving about indie designers and how much better the fit is, and the ideas, and the rest. Which is all fine, except they mostly do pdf patterns that you have to download and print out yourself, and I do love the tissue paper in the pattern envelope. I know where I stand with a big wodge of Butterick brown paper. However, in the interests of life-long learning, I had a go.

I printed off forty-odd pages of A4 paper, trimmed the edges, and taped them together. I cut out the shapes, taped them some more because I had put the tape in completely the wrong places, and then cut out the fabric as normal and meandered my way through some fairly terse instructions to make a shirt. Two shirts. It is the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt which has been very popular and there were a lot of pictures and hints on the internet, which was very useful.

And it turned out great! As usual these are terrible photos taken at the end of the work day (which is why the rumples) but it was a lovely shirt to wear - a pink checked cotton with a slight amount of stretch that was gifted to me by a work friend, score! This is actually the second shirt, so it has a fit adjustment around my swollen left arm that makes it sit a bit better. The first shirt is also nice but it was a cheapo printed rayon - quite nice and drapey but a curse to sew. Slippery. The first shirt had the full collar, the second one just the mandarin collar.

This is a great pattern, simple to sew, nice shaping and good details. I measured myself and did the size suggested, grading between sizes as needed, and it worked fine apart from the unusually bulging left arm. Taping all those pieces of paper together was a tremendous pain in the arse, and while I was doing it I thought "never again, this is stupid" but then doing the sewing and wearing the finished product it has some significant advantages over the standard big four patterns I usually use. I might be a convert? Maybe?

Thursday, November 21, 2019

It's Thursday again!

How did a week go past so quickly? Admittedly yesterday was a write-off with another of the hideous mini-migraines I now get thanks to evil hormonal drugs of doom. Cancer, the gift that keeps on giving. Four years of these injections, a couple of dozen migraines, ten kilos of additional weight and joint pain too, although I might just be getting old and arthritic. Anyway, yesterday I lay quietly. I did have number one son at home for company - he had his last day of school on Tuesday!!!

Unbelievable. Not sure what's going on with his hair there either. This week and next week are exams so some pressure but it's not too hideous. The exams are only for the final of his six semesters that he's done over the past two years that make up his university entrance score - it's not all or nothing like in my day! Thank heavens, I don't think any of us could cope with the stress of that. And then he will be done with school, my tiny baby. Horrifying.

I took off to the beach again last weekend because it was meant to be hot and sunny ... it was in Canberra but not at the beach. The photo above was on Saturday about 5 pm when I went for a long walk. Quite enjoyable but I had to come back and have a hot shower. The wind was biting. 

Sunday was nicer, with another long walk, but I wasn't tempted to swim. I did a lot of sewing though, made two shirts which I will photograph at some point. It was lovely to have a couple of quiet days pottering about. The kayak hire place has started selling coffee, which means lots of people sitting about happily. Including two police officers with a wagon on Sunday morning - I had hoped they were arresting riotous fisherfolk but no. Just having coffee.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The dreadful kitchen

We got revised plans and quotes back from the kitchen guy, which look pretty good, so it might really be happening! We went with slightly thicker benchtops than original, and more cupboards, and some lights in the pantry ... so it just keeps getting more expensive, but that is the way of the new kitchen I believe. We are not very creative so I can't see us doing any more revisions - it might be time just to book it in and get it done. Not until next year now, but that's fine. I am so sick of the kitchen that doesn't work, especially the oven. It hasn't worked on any setting other than "Pizza Bake" for a couple of years, but in the last few months it's got worse ... you can really only use one rack now - any higher and the food incinerates, and any lower and it stays cold. It's shocking.

Yes, those are scorch marks around the edges of the oven, and a shabby looking piece of paper covering the hole at the bottom where the kickboard fell off. Should we be using paper near such a dodgy oven? Probably not. The cupboard on the right has duct tape on the top edge, to cover the melting.

This is the worst set of solid hot plates in the history of the world. The back right doesn't work at all. The others are OK if you only have one on at a time, but any more and they all go cold. They take about ten minutes to warm up (although to be fair they have always been like that even when we moved in thirteen years ago).

Yes, the cupboards are literally falling off the walls. This set of cupboards has not just the liquor, but the glasses, cups and good bowls. If it fell down it would be quite a disaster, but we figure it's been like this for easily ten years, so probably won't go soon. Sensible? Maybe not.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Baby quilts

I've taken a break from my solids fiesta to make a couple of baby quilts for babies-to-be. This one is based on colours from the blue and red print at lower right - I like blue and red together. And reasonably gender-neutral? I don't know if young parents are still stridently anti-pink for their girls, I remember my mothers' group all tried to be until the girls were about two and started insisting on pink everything. Or some of them did, some of them never cared.

Shoo-fly blocks with a nice red dot on the border. I got sent a photo of new baby on the orange and green baby quilt  - she is a very pretty little girl with a head of dark hair. Gosh my babies were bald. Until the first tinge of carrots came through :) We are off tonight to see number two son in the high school production of "Little Shop of Horrors". He is playing the dentist, which will give him the chance to chew the scenery in complete happiness. Although I shouldn't judge him in advance, it might be a subtle and nuanced performance. I will report back.

Here are the beautiful lilies our house guests gave us two weeks ago. Just tight buds then, and they have exploded into these wonderful pink blooms. You can smell them from the driveway! Absolutely beautiful, I must remember to buy myself flowers more.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Work, beach, work

Obviously work-beach-work is much better than work-work, but still not as good as work-beach-beach-beach. Once again I struggled myself up the hill on Sunday afternoon, dreaming of the days when beach time is all the time. Will I get sick of it? Will I get bored in retirement? Will I think with fondness of Monday mornings? NO I WILL NOT. I will think about those long dull drives back to Canberra and not miss them at all. It's always much longer going to Canberra than it is going to the beach.... Although on Sunday I did have the first time ever of a train crossing! There is one point where you cross the train tracks, and there has never been a train on it in the hundreds of times I've driven that route, until yesterday. Such excitement.

I needed a weekend at the beach to lick my wounds after a truly dreadful job interview on Friday. It was for an internal promotion, and I did far and away the worst interview of my entire life; froze, blanked and just couldn't recover. So hideous, and in front of my current bosses, so super embarrassing. I spent the weekend alternately squirming with horror flashbacks and being so angry and cross with myself. Everyone I have spoken to has tanked one interview in their lives, so I know I'm not alone, but boy did I need a bit of quiet time by the seaside to recover.

Saturday was hot so I went in for the first swim of the season and the water was ICY. I had a wetsuit on, and stayed in for the best part of an hour, so it can't have been that cold I suppose, but the first dip was a shock. There was a big swell though, and I caught a few waves. So very very lovely to be in the ocean again. I'm going to be very busy with work this summer (even in my so-not-promoted role, hah) so I don't know how much time I'll get at the beach, but it will still be there for the summer after. And after that. Until retirement....

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A social weekend

Much socialising happened over the weekend - we had friends up from Melbourne with their six-year old son to stay , which was lovely! Hadn't seen them for ages. They came up for a mutual friend's 50th birthday which brought together people we hadn't seen for literally decades. Such a blast - lots of staring at people who I didn't-quite-remember but we sorted it out in the end. It was at a small vineyard just on the edge of town and was a super blowy windy day ... but the food was great and the wine was flowing.

Not a great photo, but you get the idea. Lunch finished at 4 which gave enough time to make a salad before heading off at 5 for another friend's 50th birthday bbq! Lots of other people to chat to, and delicious food, before struggling fatly home again. Sunday morning I slept in but my husband and the visitors went to the markets for hot chocolate and croissants.

After they left for the airport we all sat very quietly ... or I did. The boys had babysat the six year old while we were at lunch so the K'nex and the trainset and the lego were all hauled out from the shed or under the bed. But the biggest hit? Nerf guns of course. The not-quite-so-grownup teenagers spent the rest of Sunday shooting foam bullets at each other.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A kimono jacket

I made this ages ago but this is the first time I've worn it - waiting for a day at work that didn't involve any serious meetings or other events that would not suit a bright green kimono-style cotton top. I am very pleased with this jacket, it is completely different to the normal thing I wear but it is comfortable and (despite the terrible photos) quite pretty.

The pattern is Simplicity 8610  and it looks extremely unappealing, I think it was a desperation pick for one of those "4 for $20" deals. But it was lovely to sew and the cut is reasonably flattering. I think I'll make it again, but I might make the sleeves a bit narrower. They verge into cartoonish, and it's a lot of fabric to have billowing around your elbows.

The material is a cotton that I bought in my three and half minute spare time shopping spree in New Delhi. Lovely weight and delightful to sew. The pattern went together easily - sensible band arrangement and no fastenings or anything. I made it a straight size, with no adjustments, and the length is fine. All in all two thumbs up from me...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

And it's Tuesday again

Another week has whooshed past, but in my defence it was a busy one. Parliament's sitting again, it was the first week of the school term and my husband was in Jakarta with work so I had to pay attention and do some proper adulting. Mostly it went fine, although he pointed out this morning that the milk I'd just made my coffee with expired eight days ago ... I'd been using it the whole time he was away, and survived.  The week actually went quite smoothly because number one son could have a car to himself! How easy it made everything. If he ends up going to uni in Canberra next year we might have to help him to buy a little something to get around in  - at the very least it will make our lives a lot easier.

My work took me out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on Friday (perfectly legitimately, we weren't bludging) and we got to see koalas. With koala babies - you can't really see them in this photo but the koala mums moved around a couple of times and you could see the babies clinging on. Very cute.

Saturday we went to friends' Oktoberfest-themed drinks - it was "German costume encouraged" so we pulled on Ampelmann t-shirts! that I painted myself with poster paint. It was certainly unique ... most people dressed up but generally in variations of lederhosen and buxom bavarian barmaid. There were a surprising number of actual lederhosen worn! Who knows what people have in their wardrobes. We had a lovely time, and ate a lot of wurst.

Number two son went off to a Halloween party. He is dressed as "blue". He "doesn't like to overthink my costumes". He had fun too - we dropped him off on the way to our party and picked him up on the way home!!! So grown-up.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Scorned by the gods

I pieced this last year before the weaving took over and I was clearly in a very colourful mood. I did notice in the last few weeks when I've been using solids again that I didn't seem to have very much yellow or pink, and this might be why.

Free form wedge-type things, or possibly tumblers, and random borders too. I quilted it with allover baptist fans which is safe and boring but still one of my favourites. I like doing an allover on the solids, it gives it texture. I don't know why I called it "Scorned by the gods" but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I took the photos in the last minutes between when the sun goes down and it gets dark. I tried five minutes earlier but just got photos of my own shadow in the setting sun - see below -  the washing line faces due west this time of year and I had to wait until the last trickle of sun had gone before taking my photos ... and even then the colours are a bit peculiar. It is super bright though.

We had a quiet at-home weekend, with just a short outing for brunch with friends that we hadn't seen for at least ten years! They were down from Brisbane and it was a great catch-up.

We also spent a couple of hours picking out appliances for our MUCH overdue kitchen renovation. I'll take some photos of our appalling kitchen, it's beyond a joke. The oven won't heat up above 180, and only on the top third of the oven, and only three of the four hot plates work, and the cupboards are beyond disgraceful. So we've got a quote for the cabinetry, and chosen some appliances, now we just have to talk to the flooring people and make the final decisions about what goes where. So many choices! So much MONEY to spend .... but it has to be done. I think our kitchen is actually dangerous.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Scarf selling .... again

We went down the beach last weekend for the long weekend - for a break and also because it was the local "art on the path" craft market and I had booked myself a spot to have another go at scarf selling. This time I was slightly pre-prepared and ordered myself a vinyl banner. Isn't it fancy? There was no cost for the stall space so I splashed out $40 on a lynley banner.

In the end it went quite well. I don't know exactly how many scarves I sold because I kept giving discounts but I left with $210 more than I arrived with, which more than covered my banner cost. It went for five hours and was very laid back - lots of chatty people, lots of people who knew each other, lots of families and generally more about the community than the buying and selling. Which suits me fine. Husband and number one son assisted me, which was lovely, and we sat, and chatted, and went back to the house for toilet breaks. I still have SO MANY scarves though. I don't think selling them is really a viable option given the mental effort and physical time it takes.

The rest of the weekend was rainy, but given I wasn't up for long walks that was fine. A bit of sewing, a lot of reading and sadly watching the Canberra Raiders lose the NRL grand final ... robbed I tell you, robbed. I must have been feeling the lack of exercise because I cleaned various things that needed cleaning. On the left, a sink I have scrubbed. On the right, a sink still to be done. It was very satisfying.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hobbling and wobbling

Today am I at work, without a walking stick and with shoes on! Limping and not happy with stairs, but so much better... We had a long weekend here which I made extra long by taking a day off on Tuesday, but I needed it after the vigorous conferencing of last week. Here I am setting twitter alight! Five little heart things, I don't know what they are, but I suspect that five isn't very many.

The nicest bit of this conference was being invited to the Governor-General's for drinks beforehand. Government House is a cool building that, funnily enough, I had never been in before. Not usually my circles.

The GG invited us to take a stroll around the ground floor rooms, which of course I did (well, I took a hobble, but that's OK, it gave me an excuse to pause at interesting bits or flop elegantly into a sofa if I felt the need to goggle a bit longer). I don't know much about Australian political history but I know a fair bit of it took place in the study, and of course he has the best art on the walls.

And here I am enjoying a glass of bubbly. Trying to forget that I have yet to give my presentation (I don't like public speaking. Does anyone? But it went fine.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


My ankle's definitely improving, but I'm still hobbling around. Most of the bruising is starting to go yellow, but I still can't put a shoe on, which is a bit disheartening. Such a stupid thing to do... we have spare mobility scooters at work that I could borrow (and which I've been offered, several times, as people watch me lurching about) but I feel that would be Giving Up. Once you get in a scooter - do you ever get out? I will stick to lurching.

Luckily I can still sew. I've been thinking I would like to do more fabric dyeing over the summer, which makes me look at my three full shelves of dyed fabric and wonder if I need any more, which I don't, so I will have to sew it up and then I can dye with a clear conscience! I'm making 200 flying geese in different solids. I don't quite know how I'll put them together but I can make that decision when I have the geese in hand.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bloody feet

It's been eighteen months since I broke my toe by dropping an ipad on it, so I was probably due for more feet-related disasters. So Wednesday morning, as I was running late for a physio appointment, I didn't see a slightly lowered brick in the pavement and rolled my ankle a beauty. Honestly I thought I'd broken it, it was that painful, so let rip with some scorching profanities and dropped elegantly into the gutter. Such a STUPID thing to do, and it always happens when you're racing around with your mind somewhere else, not when you're running 10km or anything you can boast about. Anyway the construction guys across the road gathered my stuff, got me a chair and an ice pack, then I rang the physio and she came down and helped me hobble across the road, then strapped my ankle and we got on with the lymphoedema in my arm, which is what I was actually there for.

This is it yesterday - two days afterwards. Not a bad sprain (I know sprains, thank you thirty years of netball, I think I did an ankle every second year) but sore and swollen and going an interesting shade of purple. Thank heavens for a teenager with driver's license! I still can't drive so he helped my husband with the car shuffle on Wednesday, and has been running himself around ever since. I went to work on Thursday on crutches but it was such a pain I took my laptop home on Friday and worked from the kitchen table. Which was fine, but kind of boring.... the little three-person team I'm in are all in one set of rooms so we just shout at each other when we want something (there's no-one else around) and it's tedious having to email. So this weekend is going to be very quiet, no run, no shopping, no driving ... luckily it's footy finals!!! Beers are in the fridge - how's that for a silver lining.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Apple Bottom Jeans

Another medallion! There is something very enjoyable and soothing about picking out eight - twelve different fabrics that look good together, putting them in a pile and then going around and around with borders until you're done. This time I decided not to do any triangles; just squares and rectangles. Which I think has made it quite boring, although that could be the slightly subdued colour palette.

It's a bit smaller than the last one because I wasn't finding it very interesting, so stopped. It's quilted in a rectangular meander - I haven't done it before but might use it again. Good coverage and a reasonable amount of visual interest but not difficult to do.

The name is yet another ear worm that I couldn't get rid of! Such a catchy song, and vaguely relevant because of the apple-green .... maybe? They are not apples in the middle square, they are tomatoes. Green tomatoes.

I had a lot of trouble trying to focus a photo on this quilt. I think my phone is getting a bit old ... but I refuse to upgrade dammit, new phones are way too expensive. Here is a blurry distance shot.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Busy busy week

I've spent the week working and not doing much else, sadly. Both this week and last were quite busy so I took the opportunity to go down the coast on the weekend and do absolutely nothing. In the end I did even more nothing than I'd planned - I've been waking up in the night so got some over-the-counter sleeping pills and took one Friday night. The chemist said the packet says two but just take one if you haven't had them before, so I only had one and not only did I sleep well Friday night but wandered around like a zombie all day Saturday as well. God only knows what two pills would have done to me! Kept me unconscious until dinner time probably.

So it was a very relaxing weekend but not a great deal of housework and/or gardening got done. I did a little bit of sewing, and went for a run on Sunday when I felt a bit more myself. It was really warm - 26 degrees when I left to drive back to Canberra - and then Monday the cold change came through and it SNOWED in the night. Nothing at our house in the morning but the hills all around were covered in snow and very beautiful. Such strange weather. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Domestic Conversation

This is what the pink and yellow medallion I was working on turned into. I like it a lot - it is cheerful and pretty and was fun to make. I thought when I started it it would turn into more of a purple quilt, picking up the purple and pink in the middle, but it ended up quite yellow. Which my quilts are prone to do.

We've been having some serious spring winds lately! There's only one photo of the whole quilt because every other one I took was like the photo below. Great weather for drying the washing, but not for quilt photography. You can see the drifts of blossoms blown up against the stairs.

I quilted it in a random swirl type thing.  You can't really tell from the front so I wasn't going to put too much effort in. And it is called "A Domestic Conversation" - I meant domestic as opposed to international, rather than domestic as opposed to outside the home ... but it doesn't really mean anything so I don't think it matters.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Grey silk jacket thing

I sewed myself a grey jacket / cardy thingy. These are not very good photos, but trust me, it is actually quite a nice garment to wear to work, when you want something a bit nicer than a knitted cardigan, but can't be bothered with a proper jacket.

This is at the end of the day so it's showing a few wrinkles at the back. The pointy bits float nicely and don't look too strange. It was an easy thing to sew - I might have made it slightly too big in the arms but I worry about my fat arm (lymphodoema) and tend to overcompensate. The fabric looks like a hessian sack in these photos!!! But it is honestly a lovely medium weight silk, with a bit of a sheen, and the slubs look much better in real life.

This is the pattern - Kwik Sew 3181 - this time I did google before I sewed, but there was NOTHING!!! This pattern is so daggy that no-one who reviews patterns on the internet (i.e. hipster cool people, like me) had ever made it. It is an old lady pattern.

I bought this fabric when we were in Melbourne in September 1995 for a friend's wedding. I remember being struck by the colour, and buying four metres for a suit, which I never made. But I didn't ditch it because it was lovely, and so the last weekend at the beach I thought for crying out loud, just sew something with it. So I did.

But thinking about the weekend in Melbourne made me go to the photo albums and find evidence of my younger, fresher, less wrinkly self. Here I am with  my husband.

And this is with another friend we shared accommodation with - look at us all dolled up in our wedding hats. The wedding was quite posh; inner city big stone church and fancy hotel and we had a very good time. The marriage didn't last ... which frankly blind freddy could have seen at the time, but what can you do. Other people's relationships are ALWAYS weird.