"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)



Sunday, September 23, 2018

This and that

We're well into spring, but it's still only 10C during the day and the heater is still on at night! The winter woollies won't be packed away just yet. I finished another Sawyer Scarf, which will warm someone as soon as I can sell it. Just love crocheting them; the (Lincraft) wool is just wonderful, both in colour and texture, and to work with.
I'll be switching to a Wordpress blog in the new year, so I wanted to print out my blogs, which I've written since 2010. My friend Susan from Kiwikids gave me a contact, and I have them all now. Quite happy with them, too. Net time round, I might make the photos a bit bigger.

Everyday cooking is always a challenge, most of the time it bores me senseless. Often, I'd be happy with just some toast and eggs, or crackers and cheese. DH is pretty good and will make his own dinner if I'm really not into it. So, when my friend Melva put me on to a new recipe, I thought I'd give it a go. It's a recipe from Borg's Pastry, Chicken and Leek Pie, and also contains Mushrooms and (my version) a little bacon. I was quite impressed with how easy it was and we had three meals each out of it. Here's the link to the recipe (http://www.borgcraft.com.au/pages/recipes/our-recipes/chicken-mushroom-pie.php).
Our Manchurian Pear tree is absolutely magnificent at the moment, with clouds of white flowers providing nourishment for bees and a spectacular focus for the garden. We've got another, small one coming up, but it will take a while until it's as superb as the older one.
We've also had some visitors to the garden. The kangaroo mum with the twin joeys has been here once or twice. The joeys are healthy and bouncing around happily. The big hare had raced across the paddocks a few times, just a streak in the grass, but one day he just sat for a couple of hours under the trees, catching some rays. 
And yesterday a rare visit from our blue tongue lizard. We see him rarely, but fairly regularly. He was also enjoying a few sunny moments, and curled up against the warm bricks. I wonder where he goes to sleep at night. 



Thursday, September 6, 2018

Spring!!

 Well, thank goodness that winter is over! Near enough, anyway. Getting sick of freezing temperatures, wind, grey skies.... Cant say I'm unhappy about rain though. And it has rained, quite a bit. Things are looking green, and soggy.
A couple of sunny days and blue skies have helped getting into a spring mood. My personal gargoyle - a starling is perched every morning on my studio roof, enjoying the warm rays.
Otherwise, things are just clopping along. We enjoyed a Yum Cha lunch in town yesterday, the food at Crystal Jade was delicious as usual. And on the way back we dropped into my fave cafe, Brunetti's, at Myers, for coffee and gelato. Must
 go in on my own one day soon, since DH isn't very mobile, poor thing. Getting old ain't for sissies! Bette Davies had that right!
On Friday, Edwina brought in some books she wanted to recycle, and I put my hand up for some Kaffe Fassett ones. They are beautiful books, with lovely quilts and fabric ideas. Thanks, Edwina! On the quilt front, I'm just about to finish the second last panel of my Kim McLean quilt. That went quicker than I thought. Only started it about a year ago.
I'm still crocheting another Sawyer scarf, and can see the end. Must slow down though, my hands are sore. Went into Lincraft the other day, dropping off Kogo items, and had no intention of buying anything, when I saw they had re-stocked the wool shelves with my favourite wool! AND there was a 30% off sale! AND there were new colour combinations! Well, that was the end of my good intentions... Came home with this luscious bundle, cant wait to start another Sawyer scarf, my favourite crochet pattern atm.
When Chris and I went to the Paperific show,
they had some lovely bags for sale. I managed to walk past them, but then Chris surprised me with this gorgeous owl bag! My new goodies bag for Friday sewing. Chris treated herself to a bag with a whimsical kitty on it.
I've started to collect for a charity, which involves filling a ladies' handbag (can be new or used) with essentials such as shampoo, toothpaste, comb etc. and other useful items. Once completed, the bags can be dropped off at Bunnings in October, and they'll go to the homeless, and other people in need. I think that's a good idea.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Fun, fun, fun...

My friend Chris  was visiting again, and we made sure we had lots of fun while she was here. it started with a visit to the Malmsbury Viaduct, an old railway bridge near the Malmsbury gardens. The structure is quite imposing, and I thought is was a good backdrop for some astro-photography on a clear night. Since the weather was picking up, we planned to go there on Friday evening. We also managed to visit a couple of quilt shops, Mary's Path n Quilt in Gisborne, and Alice in Fabricland in Kyneton. We also had lunch in the re-opened Rupertswood Gatehouse in Sunbury, which was very nice.

Friday was a highlight, we visited the annual papercraft show, Paperific, at the Royal Showgrounds. Oh, we were in 7th heaven! It's not a huge show (about 40 stall holders), but one can spend ages just looking at exhibits, doing classes, and watching demonstrations. Not to mention the shopping! Oh, we were baaaad! We made a card, playing with different products such as waxes, shiny acrylics, beads, embossing powders. I renewed my interest and skill with stencils, which I hadn't used very successfully and was about to give up on.
Had a little haul of goodies, some craftboard items, stickers, wax and stamps, and some of Marlene's Art whimsical papers. A most satisfying day! But we weren't done yet - after dinner we packed up our camera gear and headed back to the viaduct. It was only 4C outside, so we were well wrapped up for our adventure. Chris helped me set up my camera, and the stars twinkled brightly for us. The moon was nearly full, so we didn't see all that many stars, but I'll go back another time when there's no moon. I learned a lot, and was rewarded with some ok photos, but it made me realise that my camera isn't the best for night photography. Better get the next lotto ticket...
On Saturday, a few of us (Chris, Jean, Christine, Sue, Tracee, Jill and Alleyne) headed to Bacchus March, where the BM Quilters had their annual Quilt-In. It was a fun day, and the speaker was Margaret Mew, who showed her many reproduction style quilts, which were exquisite. Bought some gorgeous wool and a few bibs and bobs. Morning and afternoon tea was provided, and the organising ladies had four different and yummy soups on offer
for lunch. I really enjoyed the day, and didn't have to cook in the evening, as we went to the Riddells Creek pub for dinner. Afterwards, Chris showed me how to edit my night photos in Lightroom, which inspired me to use this program more often.
Sunday we had a slow start, and spent the day in the Owlery, having fun making cards. Chris showed me how to make a complex folding card, which I was quite chuffed about. Then I showed her how to make a star card, and we made some Christmas cards using a sweet little snowman stamp. We broke for lunch up at the Trading Post on Mt. Macedon. We tried out some of our purchases, with Chris making more cards while I worked on a new project involving puzzle pieces (more to follow) and continued crocheting my second shawl.
Sadly, Chris had to leave us again this morning, but I figure she'll be back in the not too distant future and look forward already to another catch-up!









Saturday, August 18, 2018

Goings-on

Lots of fun things happening this week,  starting with a needle felting session on Thursday with some of the Friday ladies.  Some of us had a class on needle felting last month and we thought we'd dedicate an afternoon to this relaxing pastime.
Julie and Paula came to cheer us on and work on their own work. Julie was working on a new Christmas quilt, and Paula was stitching a tree, most intriguing!
Ann made some tiny little woolly things, which eventually merged into the most adorable little teddy!
I had started to work on a small (4x6") felted
image of Emu Bottom, Victoria's oldest homestead in Sunbury. It's an interesting process, and it taught me to use less wool than expected!
Melva was interested in learning to needle felt, and with a little help, made a sweet little bird, as a basis of a brooch perhaps.
Helen had started a large landscape felt, with a sky background and a field full of flowers. Can't wait to see it finished.
Today was Guild day in Geelong. and Sue and I gave a brief talk about our visit to Quilt Canada. Cheeky Tracee kindly made some photos. It was nice to remember all the amazing places and good times we had on our trip.
The portrait is a quilt made by Mary, a fabulous
machine embroiderer.






Thursday, August 9, 2018

Moving right along....

...in August! In wet, cold, windy August, to boot! Brrr, what I'd give for a week in some balmy northern climate. I guess the weather is giving the winter woollies an airing. Which kinda inspired me to attempt making my very first beanie from some leftover wool. Not a bad effort, if I may say so. But I need to learn how to make a neater seam when sewing them together. Anyway, one for KoGo, and may it warm some homeless person's head. And I enjoyed using the heavenly Cleckheaton 8ply and bamboo knitting needles.
The Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair has come and gone. It was marginally better than last year, and it seems that fewer stands are a continuing trend.

With A$2,000 a pop for the smallest stall, exhibitors really need to think about whether participating is an option for them. I for one am grateful for every exhibitor attending. I attended a workshop about needle felting, which was useful, and a class with Natalie May, making a couple of cards using Lindy's Stamp Gang pigments. These are beautiful colours, and the names are all German-inspired - Bratwurst Brown, Yodelling Yellow, Polka Purple, Oompapah Pink and so on. You sprinkle the pigments on paper (heavy watercolour paper works well), then spritz them. Once they dry, you get a lovely soft shimmer to the surface. Natalie
gave us the materials, including stamped flowers and leaves, and I finished the cards at home, using stamps and glitter pens to embellish them more.
Yesterday was a culinary experience, with lunch at Houdini's - including the gorgeous affogato! Followed by afternoon tea to farewell Pat, who will be leaving us soon for a stint in Hamburg with her family. Paula, one of our Friday group members, had the brilliant idea of making a quilted card for Pat, with little handmade mementos from all of us. I think Pat enjoyed that, the ladies had made some lovely little mementos. Paula thought Pat might need some
extra warmth in the cold German winter months, and gave her a lovely hand knitted blanket.
Late July and early August were busy with visitors, e.g. Wayne's cousin from San Diego and her family came to visit. We enjoyed a nice lunch with them and the other cousins in Williamstown. My friend Susan visited, then accompanied me to the Craft Show. A friend of Wayne's dropped in and they worked on a photo book. And the Owlery was popular as usual, with different quilters groups visiting and stitching away.
This week, we headed to the South Melbourne Town Hall, for a book launch by Multicultural
 Arts Victoria. Wayne wrote a chapter about his great grandparents and their family travelling to Australia in the 1800s. Some of the stories were quite sad, but in the end, everybody was grateful for their ancestors coming to Australia and making a good life here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Presents, purchases and a finish!

Time to review what made my suitcase so heavy coming home from Canada and Alaska! The credit card got a good airing, but that was far outweighed by the fun exploring the wonderful quilt shops up north!
Many of these goodies come from 4 quilt shops - The Rushin' Tailor in Skagway, Changing Tides in Juneau, Whale's Tail in Ketchikan, and the Sugar Pine Quilt Shop in Canmore.
Others were given to me by friends, such as the Cantik Batiks picture quilt designed by Shania Sunga. We met the lady at Quilt Canada, and Audrey surprised us with this lovely "Canadian Mystery" kit.
Audrey also made us a couple of lovely mug rugs, always welcome in the Owlery, and spoiled me with the beautiful owl batik. Will have to come up with something special for that.
Some northern wildlife-themed batiks found their way home, and several wildlife fusible cutouts, a big whale and some bears of course. They will go well with another 'Quilt Alaska' batik given to me by Susan (Kiwikid) for my birthday. I'm a lucky
one! The animal panel just had to find a spot in the suitcase too, as did a panel depicting 1930s style destination posters from all over Canada. It depicts places I've been to and some that are still on my bucket list, such as Churchill and its polar bears.
Oh, the mind is ticking, ticking....
And yay! I had a finish - completed the so-called Sawyer Scarf, a warm and woolly wrap just perfect for the winter months. It was fun to crochet, and if I find the wool again, I might just make another one for sale.



Monday, July 2, 2018

North to Alaska! (more photos)

Some more shots from our trip, this time from Alaska. Unfortunately, Blogger won't let me upload more - getting rather annoyed with this site!
Alaska was great, as always. The weather wasn't the best, cool and rainy most days, but the low cloud added a little mystery to some of the photos. This is my third time up here, and I love the wilderness, the wildlife, and landscapes.  As soon as I got home, I had a look at some more trips to Alaska, I'd really like to go to Denali and Kodiak.
We still encountered snow and ice on the White Rail Pass, and layers of winter woollies were a must. In Glacier Bay, we saw a few bergs, but they were small. The most thrilling part was seeing a grizzly walk along the beach! Other wildlife included seals, eagles, dolphins, and whales. A  mother and baby whale surfaced right next to our window on the ship, and the baby breached a couple of times!
Our ship, the HAL 'Volendam' was a medium-sized one, but with most of the features of the bigger ships. We enjoyed out Lanai, which opened onto Promenade Deck, so we could duck in and out easily for sightseeing. It was hard to leave the ship and fend for ourselves again...
Cruising up and down the Inside Passage, we saw stunning landscapes, with numerous waterfalls, sheer cliffs and endless forests. Modern civilisation up here has only a small foothold, thankfully. The First Nations peoples' culture has a strong presence, in stories and art.
We were lucky to hear a tribal woman tell us stories of her people.
There is also a living history of the gold rush here in Alaska, none more so than in Skagway, a frontier town at the foot of the Chilkoot Pass. Gold miners had to bring approx. 1 ton of equipment and supplies with them to survive on the goldfields, and lift them on the steep pass.
Stories abound, such as the one about "Soapy" Smith, a notorious conman during the gold rush. He was eventually shot by Frank Reid, and lies just outside the Goldrush Cemetery, while Reid, who also died, has a large grave marker.  And not far behind the graves is a beautiful waterfall!