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

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 almost over

Christmas was a very relaxed affair - just the way I like it. What I like most about Christmas is getting together with friends and family, either face-to-face or on the phone. This year, There were quite a few of these occasions. On the Wednesday, Sue and Jenny came for lunch, and we had a lovely time. Pity Jenny had to return home to NZ so soon. We're still trying to convince her to move to Oz.
On the 23rd, Kathryn came and celebrated her birthday with some crafting in the Owlery - she had gone completely troppo in the Geelong Kaisercraft store, buying some awesome crafty stuff. We went out for lunch at the Macedon Wine Room, which I can highly recommend. Good food and wine, lovely views, a nice ambience and friendly staff. The afternoon was gain devoted to craft, and we ended up with some nice cards, tags, bookmarks and a small canvas. Tracee also popped in for a quick bubbly, before her well-deserved Christmas break.
 On Christmas Day, I prepared an entree and sweet, and we had lunch at my friend Gudruns, with another friend joining
us. I made a smoked salmon terrine, which turned out very tasty. And I also made a Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon Pie. I'm no baker, and although the pie looked ok, the pastry was too thick and hard. The filling was fine though. Gudrun had made the turkey, which was yummy.
My friends spoiled me rotten. Kathryn had gone above and beyond, showering me with crafty gifts - all individually wrapped. I'm going to have so much fun making cards etc., and hope she joins me to share the fun.
Tracee gave me this adorable owl and box of delicious teas. Her mum
 had knitted the owl, and I believe Tracee sewed on the big eyes. Too cute!
From Susan and Jenny I got a beautiful owl box (very handy!), and some yummy chutney and jam, which is just perfect.
On boxing day, Gudrun came over for a cold dinner and a few rounds of Rummikin, which was very enjoyable.
One the 27th, Wayne's family came down from Mooroopna. Unfortunately, his brother wasn't feeling well and couldn't come. We all went for lunch to the Olive Tree Hotel in Sunbury. They did well catering for vegetarian and gluten-
 free eaters. Tanya made friends with Sherman, who had not been at all fussed about Christmas, ignoring his new mousie, and the wrapping paper and boxes.
The nieces gave us a box of delightful kitty-cookies, which were almost! too pretty to eat. They did taste very nice though.
Since then, not much has happened, except a tropical storm last night, with heaps of rain. The water was nearly up to our front door. But I'm not complaining.
 I wish everybody a great 2017!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December is getting away!

 Christmas is nearly here, and December is rapidly disappearing! Have made a few more cards, completed the Xmas shopping, made my shopping lists for the holidays, procured all the usual German Christmas goodies from Aldi, wrapped presents, organised the family get together - I think I deserve a wee tipple!
All that while still recovering from my knee operation. I can at least walk a little and drive for short distances, but the pain is still present most days. Hopefully it will get better soon.
My usual holiday shopping wasn't possible, so I did most of it online. Not very inspiring, but it might have saved some money, because my usual style is 'one present for XX, one for me' !
The Friday ladies have had a lovely Christmas lunch; everybody brought a plate, and the Kriskringles were gorgeous too. I got this gorgeous hand made purse from Janice, in a special box and with chocolates and little sewing things inside. Gorgeous!
We had all participated in a cushion challenge, and had the unveiling that day, too. The ladies did a fabulous job, I thought.
My pre-Christmas is not too hectic, thank goodness, I don't like all the hype. For me, it's all about getting together with family and friends. So we're seeing some friends next week and
Wayne's family will come visit us after
Christmas. I'm still hoping to get a couple of sewing projects done this week.
I hope everybody has a merry and safe Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza and a fantastic new year!

Friday, November 18, 2016

November happenings

 November started with a little house and dog-sitting for a friend. Tupai the chow and I had a lovely little time together on the Bellarine, enjoying the first warm weather in a while. I couldn't give Tupai a long walk, but we managed a short walk most days. Not sure who was slower, the pooch or I. I was sad to leave him, but he was thrilled to see his mum and dad back from their trip.
Still waiting for a knee operation, so I'm getting a few Xmas cards together for sale. Having lots of fun with that.
On the quilting front, I'm making a cushion for a challenge (to be shown later) and putting together another table runner from the McKenna Ryan hexies. Must find some more of the backing material, I think I bought all of Mary's stock!
The 'supermoon' was a big thing this month, and I took the camera and telezoom lens (100-400mm) out to see if I could catch the moon. I've never been able to capture a good moon photo, but after watching a video and reading a bit about it, I finally managed to get a half-decent shot on Tuesday evening (1/60sec; f5.6; ISO 100). With some post-processing, it turned out ok. The only downside was the cloud of mozzies attacking us relentlessly.

 Lots blooming in the garden, including this 'Blue Moon' rose. Wayne had chopped it back severely, so I'm glad it survived that. After admiring my friend's garden in St. Leonards, I felt like a little colour in my garden too, so I planted some petunias and geraniums. Hopefully the snails won't get them.
Most of my Christmas shopping is done, either bought locally or ordered online. I miss going to shops for some pre-Xmas retail therapy, but I guess on the plus side, I've saved money. My next challenge is to write all my cards by the end of the month.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

More cards

 My knee is still giving me grief, so I'm not venturing far from home at the moment. Instead, I make good use of the Owlery, and keep myself occupied by making Christmas cards, and a few others.
I'm only a beginner to card making, and learn along the way. It's quite an addictive hobby (and an expensive one), but I hope to be able to sell them at some stage.
I've learned about embossing and using dies, cutting papers, using adhesives for different purposes, and find it's a very creative and engrossing pastime.
I've made a birthday card and one for my sister for Halloween, using the Tim Holtz dies, which I love. When I'm resting my knee, I tend to look at multi media and card making YouTube videos - there's so much to learn.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

October things

 October is half way gone already, and it sure doesn't feel like spring. Lots of rain and wind and cold weather, with the occasional rainbow thrown in. October, November and December always confuse me slightly, having grown up in northern climes, when this time of the year would be filled with balmy autumn days, Halloween and Thanksgiving things, and reminders that Christmas is not that far off. So waiting for summer is just a bit ... odd.
Still, Sherman seems to be comfortable looking out from under the air vent, among the Halloween decos. He's lost much of his winter coat, and is a much more streamlined kitty.
Various trees have been blossoming here, lately the apple trees are a good source of pollen for the bees. I tried to get some bees in my photos of the apple tree, but it was so windy the poor bees got blown off course.
I've torn the meniscus in my knee, which has restricted me quite a bit, in terms of going out and walking far. So I've spent a bit more time in the Owlery (which is no hardship!). At the moment, I'm

making Christmas cards, which is a lot of fun. I will see if I can sell them before Christmas, and then start again in the new year. Yesterday, I was with some of my quilty friends in Geelong, and found the Kaisercraft store on the way home. OMG, it's HUGE, and so awesome! They have a staggering amount of papers,  and lots of bargain papers, stamps and other goodies. I shall be happily crafting away with all the yummy things I discovered there.

Monday, September 26, 2016

September - almost gone

 It's been a few weeks since I last blogged. DH has been back for 4 weeks from his Canada/USA trip (which he enjoyed a lot). Sherman the Birman has settled into our household really well. He's become less of an outdoor cat, more of a lap cat, which is lovely. He's got us well trained by now, except when Wayne want's to sit in his favourite chair. Sherman thinks it's his chair now, and uses every opportunity to claim it.
We met friends at a restaurant in town, 'Gazi'. It's next to the Press Club and also belongs to George Columbaris. The food was good, the service excellent, but it was noisy enough to give me a headache. The upturned flower pots had no acoustic effect. I rarely order sweets, but couldn't go past these Loukomades. Don't they look wicked?! Tasted wicked too.
 It's been so wet and cold, still need the heater on most days, at least for a while. A few things are blooming, including this pretty red flowering gum tree with its tiny blossoms. Good to see a little colour in the garden. There is hope yet for spring.
I hurt my knee last week, and seem to have injured the cartilage between the bones. That has slowed me down in terms of walking and driving, which is annoying. It would be quite bearable though if it wasn't for the pain. Thank goodness for chemistry... Because of that, I have been busy in the studio.
 Have been working on tags and a bookmark. The tags are for Xmas, and I also want to get some cards done soon.I wasn't going to get into cardmaking, but what the heck. I got some good bagains in terms of dies and embossing folders, so I can play with my Sizzix cutter. I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. I'm in love with all the Tim Holtz products, especially my trees dies. Now I just need to make sure I get wifi in the studio.
I also received a layer cake from Keepsake Quilting with McKenna Ryan's 'Sugar Plum' range. I cut the layer cake into 4 pieces, and used the Accuquilt Go to cut them into hexagons. The Accuquilt Go was also used to cut the Pellon wadding, which worked very well. These
 hexies will be used to make table toppers for Xmas.
OMG, only 2 1/2 months until Christmas! Better get crackin'!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August musings

August saw the arrival of a new kitty in our household. Sherman the Birman came to live with us, a gorgeous 12 year old boy, big and fluffy and playful. The top photo was him as a kitten, and wasn't he the cutest kitten ever?! (yes, I'm a proud cat mama).
Wayne didn't want an older cat or two kittens, so he had to choose between Sherman and 2 kittens. So we got  Shermy. And Mr. B. was instantly smitten. He only got to enjoy him for a couple of days before the boys gallivanted off to the USA and Canada. So Sherman and I spent the last two weeks getting to know each other.
At the moment he's keeping me company in the study, close up to the little heater, which he loves. He also likes to sit in front of the computer screen, angling for head rubs and attention. He also likes to be picked up and carried around, purrs his head off. But he's definitely a 2-arm cat. Sherman likes to go out, but only when the weather isn't too awful. He comes back pretty quickly when the wind or rain picks up.
We're trying our different diet items, too. He LOVES steak, so I indulge him with a few morsels. I bought some chicken hearts yesterday, but they're not too tempting, apparently. He likes fish, and fish broths. Roast turkey was ok, just, and I'll try him on some roast chicken next. Gotta keep the little fella happy, and healthy. I want him to chew a little more, keep those teeth healthy.
I guess I've bored you sufficiently with my cat tales, so a quick mention of quilty things might be just the thing.
A few months ago, I proposed a couple of quilt challenges - the first one was a country quilt challenge, whereby people picked a country out of a bag and had to make a quilt interpreting that country. The second challenge was to make a quilt depicting a sunset. (If you're on Facebook, check out "Gisborne Quilt Challenges 2016" to see some of the quilts).
I was fortunate to get Lebanon as my country. Fortunate because I doubt many people would know much about Lebanon, whereas I had the opportunity to visit there when I was younger and worked for Middle East Airlines, the Lebanese airline.
I wanted the quilt to depict the country as well as the history of this place, so I made a row-by-row quilt, with the first row interpreting the national flag with its Lebanese cedars. The second row is about the country's history, showing a Phoenician ship. The Phoenicians were excellent shipbuilders and had a trading empire across the Mediterranean. Then there are the Roman ruins of Baalbek, in the Bekaa Valley, a massive temple complex. The third row shows the varied landscape of Lebanon, where you can ski in the mountains in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon. It depicts the capital, Beirut, and Jounieh Bay, not far from Beirut, with interesting caves and beautiful beaches. Finally, the little circles depict the national dish of Lebanon, the Mezze. It consists of many individual little dishes with delicacies such as olives, hommus, pickled vegetables, kofteh, stuffed vine leaves, and many more.
I was thinking of giving the quilt either to a Lebanese friend or, if I can find one, a Lebanese aged care place. If you know of one, please let me know.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mixed media tags

Recently, I've started to make some mixed media tags. Took me a while to get my creativity gene going, but the more you play, the more you create.
The top photo shows an afternoon's work, the pink one is mine, and the green one is that of a friend, Kathryn. The lower photo shows the tags I've made so far. I thought I'd explain a bit how I went about making them. First off, I have a nice little collection of flowers, buttons, embellishments, tapes, acrylics, glitter, papers, stickers and stamps. I picked them up from ebay, etsy, Lincraft, craftonline.com.au, Dusty Attic, Kaisercraft etc. Warning: this is not a cheap hobby!
I had a number of different tags to experiment with, but found that some are too flimsy, or too small. I quite like the small ones I'm using. They're about 12cm long, and made of solid cardboard. I found them at Lincraft. One reason I like them, apart from their size, is that they won't curl very much. The larger tag (dark steampunky one) is also a good size, but they will curl and need to be flattened. I actually ended up glueing two together once I'd finished painting them. I want to try one of the Ranger tags next, to see how they behave.
The first thing I did with these was to cover them in Gesso. Gesso acts as a primer for other paints and sprays you want to add. Once dry, I added acrylic paints. I had some of Finnabair's opalescent acrylics. and really love them. They give a beautiful shine to the background. Then I went wild with embellishments. The pink card just needed this OTT flower, and lots of bling. I added the white dots to match those in the feather. The steampunk tag was a bit challenging, and it was also the first one I attempted. I quite like the end product, but I had to glue it together a couple of times, because heating/drying appears to lift the glue off the double sided adhesive tape. One lives and learns. For the butterfly tag, I used Tim Holtz washi tape at the bottom, and a bit of tinted hessian , plus the flowers. I tried using Bobunny's paints with a stencil, but was not too happy with the result, although it gave a nice brightness to the card. I'll have to play a little more with those.
The card on the right, with the bird, was again done with Finnabair's acrylic, plus a darker one with glitter, that I blended in. I used some Kaisercraft ephemera and a postal sticker from a box of goodies. The little dots on the side are Pearls, a kind of opalescent texture paint.
So, what do I do with these? Well, they can be used to tie to presents, or to give as presents, e.g. for Kriskringle. Next, I want to do some Christmas tags.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Good bye, Pretzel!

Our little friend went across the Rainbow Bridge the other day. He'd been sleeping in his favourite chair, all covered up against the cold, when I noticed him having a fit. Afterwards, he was disoriented and dragged his rear leg, so he may have had a stroke. Given his age and poor health due to kidney disease, we decided it was time to send him to kitty heaven. A little later, he passed away while I was cuddling him.
Pretzel had been with us for just over five years. I was heading to our Sunday market to buy a couple of pretzels for my dinner, when I saw something creeping around the bushes next to the road into town. Curious, I stopped and called. There he was, coming running towards me, complaining loudly about being hungry, lonely, and probably cold. Of course, I had to take him home, much to the disgust of our other cat, Mitzi. I took him to the vet, who declared him a girl (I hadn't looked, just a bit too intrusive on first acquaintance, I thought), and I called her Pretzel. We waited anxiously for a week to see if anyone claimed her, and then he was ours! I took Pretzel to our usual vet to have 'her' checked out, where it turned out that our Miss Pretzel was actually a Mr. Pretzel! He had settled in quite well with us, we both loved him to bits. He wasn't too impressed with Mitzi, or with any other cats for that matter. He tolerated Claude, who did his best to keep them from fighting, but occasionally, there was a hissy fit going on. He was very vocal, too, with a very distinctive, plaintive Siamese-type voice. We re-christened him Pretzel Pavarotti at one stage, whereby he would wander up to the bathroom, and start 'singing', loudly and for quite some time, before ending his 'performance' with a brief "meow". Not sure if he was lamenting his lost freedom, or how hard done by he was, but it sure amused us. Once Mitzi was no longer with us, the singing suddenly stopped.
I felt sorry for him not being an outdoor cat anymore, but we took him out on a lead several times a day (and night...), which he seemed to be used to and tolerated well. He loved wandering around the trees and shrubs, and I enjoyed letting him take me for a walk. He also had a large crate outside, where he could snooze in summer. In winter, he preferred to stay inside, even though he had a very swish velvet coat to go out in. He followed the sun, sleeping in one of his sun lounges, which we obligingly moved into the sun when it had moved. Pretzel loved nothing more than being cuddled, and sleeping on my legs. I had many episodes of "COLP" syndrome (Cat on Lap Paralysis). He had quite a few visiting cats look in, but snubbed them consistently. Even during his last days, he would greet the stalker cat with a halfhearted sniff and spit. While in good health, he had the appetite of a horse. That cat could EAT! But he was always on the lean side, for such a large cat. He took very good care of himself, cleaning himself all the time, and never really smelled 'catty'. He was very friendly to visitors, coming along to greet them and graciously let them pet him. Pretzel was also the best study buddy, helping me write my PhD while he gave some insightful comments from under the desk.
Pretzel was diagnosed with kidney disease earlier this year. He was pretty old, frail and arthritic by then, so when he didn't eat the special kidney diet, we decided not to push it, and let him enjoy his final months as much as possible. We gave him all his favourite foods, and pampered him as much as we could. He had a close call a couple of weeks ago, when he stopped eating, but he must have heard the vet talking about euthanasia, because once we were home, he rallied - ate, drank, and wanted to go outside! Sadly, it didn't last, but it gave us a little more time together.
Now I hope he's chasing clouds with all the other dogs and cats. Vale, Pretzel!