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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

See you next year!

 And so ends another year; time disappears faster than ever. There is something to be said about living every moment consciously - but would it slow down time? It's all relative...
So I enjoy what moments I can, such as watching our wonderful wildlife visiting in the back yard. Here's a mum with her - rather enormous - joey still in the pouch. Not for long though, I'm sure she's sick of him by now. He's all legs and wiggles around, making a nuisance of himself. Quite cute when he plays with her, though.
I saw a rabbit this morning and was quite pleased, haven't seen any here for some time. There's been a hare around the neighbourhood too, and yesterday the apple tree turned into a cocky tree, they were gorging themselves on the apples.
As long as Mr. Fox stays away, I'm happy to see the critters. Sherman goes out in the evenings, and although he does not go far, I wouldn't want the fox to get him.
Our neighbour has slashed the grass on the back paddocks, and we had many bales for him. He's only got three sheep and two horses left, so he does not need that much feed. He'll sell
the rest to cover his costs of slashing and baling, so its a win-win situation for us and him. Here's our neighbour, Heather, taking a moment with a cuppa. She's probably dreaming of another cruise.
We had a lovely day just before Christmas, our friend Edwina celebrated a special birthday, and invited us all to a magnificent high tea at the Gables, in Malvern. What a treat! And what a stunning venue, an old Victorian mansion, beautifully maintained, with lovely gardens. A great place to celebrate. All the ladies looked fabulous and were in party mode, and our gracious hostess, Edwina, her daughter and
 adorable granddaughters made sure we had everything our hearts could desire. The food was delicious, most of it made on the premises. Etagieres with savoury pies and quiches, fluffy sandwiches, and freshly baked scones were followed by a sumptious dessert buffet, with cakes, macaroons, tiramisu, lemon creams, slices and a cheese platter. I can reveal a few of us waddled to the car....
Christmas was at my friend's place, and a fun day it was with lovely turkey and trimmings, followed by key lime pie.  The bubbly was delish, but being the the designated driver, I only had a little. We'll finish the year with friends, with a nice roast pork dinner and a few rounds of Rummikin, before toasting the New Year. I hope the new year is kind to you, stay safe, healthy and happy!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

There and back again (photo heavy)

 We're back! NZ was just divine, and we definitely want to go back and explore more.
The good ship Noordam took us from Auckland to Tauronga, Napier, Wellington, Picton, Akaroa, Port Chalmers, Dunedin, into Fjordlands National Park, and back home via Hobart.
One of my highlights was a visit to Hobbitton, Peter Jackson's film set for "The Hobbit" and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The weather that day was gorgeous, which made the visit even better. Also, there were not that many people around, so I could get some good, people-free photos of hobbit holes, hobbit gardens, etc. I
got quite excited already when the landscape started looking like the Shire! There were about 40 Hobbit holes to inspect, although only a few were actually places you could enter. As in very movie, it's mostly make-believe. Still, everything was just as I remembered it from the movie. Luckily we had a guide whose memory for LOR was phenomenal, so she knew the significance of every location and had many quotes from the books. The gardens were just cute, with lots of props like the cheese stand and jam jars, scarecrow and giant pumpkin. The setting is just amazing, beautiful green hills, big trees and a lovely lake. The
 Green Dragon pub is situated on the lake, just gorgeous, but for some reason or other, I never made it inside before we had to start our journey back to Tauronga! I'll just have to go back one day...
The other highlight was the day we spent in Fjordland National Park, visiting Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, and best of all, Milford Sound. Again, we were so lucky with the weather (our host on board said this was her fourth time in the park and the first time she had a sunny day).
There are no words to describe the beauty of this area, even the photos can't do it justice. It has to be experienced. The wildlife is not exactly abundant, but there are fur seals, penguins, little Hector's dolphins, and the occasional albatross. The waterfalls are stunning, I must have photographed them at least a hundred times! (Blogger is playing up now, so I'll finish this). All in all, we had a lovely time in NZ and one day soon we'll be back. Oh, and I took Sherman along, well, a likeness of Sherman, a bag in which I kept some crocheting. And the cocktail, well,one of many...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Across the Tasman

Spending a few days in Auckland before embarking on the "Noordam" for a cruise around NZ, then Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. We're staying just off Queen Street, in a small apartment. I wasn't aware that Auckland was so hilly (we were here last 25 years ago!). I think Auckland's steepest street is just across the road (Liverpool Street), and you sure need brakes -or hang on to the husband for dear life! A couple of lovely ladies took us on a tour yesterday, they showed us some lovely spots, black beaches, rock formations on the coast, covered in nesting gannets, parks and reserves with kauri trees and pohutukawas with lovely red flowers, cabbage trees and many others. We saw pukeku birds with young ones, and ducks. We stopped at an ice cream and cheese factory for refreshments, and a very old pub in the historic village of Puhoi. Puhoi was settled by immigrants from Bohemia, and the church of St. Peter and St. Paul still shows the old German names in the lead light windows. The basket of knitted garments to ward off cold was a nice touch! Although it rained most of the time, it was a lovely drive and we saw lots of things tourists rarely see. In the evening, we dined at an Italian restaurant, "Da Vinci's". I felt transported to Rome, a lovely space with terracotta walls, checkered tablecloths, and fabulous food. And they had a very passable Limoncello too.
Today we started late, as we both couldn't sleep for some reason. It's a pretty noisy area. We took the bus to the ferry terminal, then Wayne trundled off to the Maritime Museum and I found a few interesting shops in Queen's arcade. I took the ferry over to Devonport and enjoyed a small late lunch and the sunshine. Sadly, the two shops I wanted to check out, Cushla's fabrics and a French interiors shop, were both closed. Still, I had fun exploring this pretty part of Auckland and got back to the hotel around 5:30. In the evening, we found another great eaterie, Le Garde-manger, a French bistrot with fabulous food and French staff. The crepe Suzette was sublime! I can't make up my mind which of the two restaurants I like better, but Auckland sure has something to offer the foodies! Off to the ship tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing the Noordam again. Photos to follow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Out and about

Last week started with a visit to Carlton - Little Italy. The weather was spectacular, warm and sunny. The perfect day for visiting a cafe in Lygon Street and sampling some yummy Italian food. Afterwards, a browse in the French food store, and no visit to Carlton would be complete without spending time at Brunetti's, for coffee and ice cream. People watching is fun here, too, and there were some interesting characters to be seen, such as the two ladies decked out in vintage fashion, right down to the hair style and hand bag.
Of course, I couldn't go past the Amarena and limone flavours for
 my gelato, yum! And a few Italian biscotti just had to come home with me too....
Spent some time in the Owlery, and put together the little quilt the Friday ladies and I are working on, to be raffled at a later date. Needed three more hexies, which were quickly added, and now we'e sewing the rows together. I think it will work well as a table topper or a lap quilt.
Meanwhile, I'm on panel No. 6 of my Kim McLean quilt, and it's getting to be quite an addictive process. My current panel is more complex, with lots of stems and leaves. I'll see if I can incorporate some of the advice given by Hany, the Tentmaker of Cairo.
I also finished a gift, a small tabletopper for
 Halloween, with Casper the ghost motifs. Gifted to a friend in NZ.

Really enjoyed this cuppa the other day, it came out all frothy, the way I like it. In fact, I might just go and make myself another one!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This and that

 Don't know where last week got to! I'm sure I didn't do much, but it seemed to have filled my time. Still, a couple of highlights feature, such as the amazing Tentmakers of Cairo exhibition a friend and I visited on Saturday.
This was a one-man show, featuring Hany Mahmoud and his works. There were also pieces by other tentmakers, and other artworks of Egyptian artists. The 'quilts' were the highlight, however. I say 'quilts' with reservations, because the pieces the tentmakers craft are not quilted, only backed. Traditionally, the needleturn applique is sewn onto (tent) canvas, but these days, different background
fabrics are also used. There are about 40 shops in the Tentmakers' street in Cairo, and boy! would I like to see that! Hany said he usually sits on a cushion with his legs tucked underneath him, and he can sew for hours in this position. A typical quilt will take approx. 6 weeks to make, and at the speed these guys work, I can believe it! The applique fabric is usually a cotton homespun in solid colours, although some people also work with silk and organza. The traditional Islamic patterns do not contain flowers or creatures, and are made up with geometric shapes and Arabic writing, e.g. sayings from the Koran.
Others use floral or animal motifs, such as the lotus flower, and birds are also a favourite.
The design is drawn unto the background with a white pencil, and the top fabric is held on top of the design and then fastened with needle and thread to the background. I asked Hany how he works his points, which is something I find tricky. He showed me a way to make points, which I will try in my next applique quilt. We were certainly deeply impressed with the exhibition, and I wish I had the ready to buy one of the quilts. Instead, I came home with an Egyptian cookbook, which has some yummy recipes.

And it will soon be Halloween! I made a few Halloween cards, only one of which loaded here for whatever reason. And I'm making a small Halloween quilt for a friend. Will post a photo when it's gifted.

I look forward to having the Wednesday night group here this evening. Always nice to catch up with the ladies.

And we've booked all our flights and accommodation for our Canada trip next year, yay! quilt Canada, here we come!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

More cards

 I'm having the Friday ladies around a few times at the moment, so I thought I'd expand the working space in the Owlery a little. Added a new fold-out table and folded down the cutting table. Thirteen of us fitted around the table - cosy!
Spent a few mornings making cards, using the new Kaisercraft range in delicate silver and lilac/purple.
Then I discovered a goodie bag with Tim Holtz embellishments and played with those too.
My friend Mary put me on to these glitter foam pages, which are wonderful to use in the Sizzix. They work really well with dies, because the foam squishes down and is easily cut by the die. The only problem is sticking the cut outs down on paper, because sometimes
 they are very delicate. Haven't yet found a good adhesive for these.
Have started a Christmas table runner and the fourth block of my Kim McLean quilt. Photos next time.
Had a lonesome Ibis in the paddock the other day; usually they arrive in large flocks, but this one was all alone. Hope he'll find a flock again.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fun in the Owlery

Had a fun time quilting with friends this week. Thursday we were in Ballan, where many of the Friday group sat and sewed and had lunch and a lovely time. Friday was the usual get together, and on Saturday my other friendship group had a good time sewing and having afternoon tea.
I'd started on my Kim McLean quilt and finished the first block (see below). It took some re-learning and trial and error, but it was good practice. Hopefully the next few block will look more professional.  One of the challenges was finding the right thread for the needleturn, but eventually I settled on Aurifil 100wt, dark grey for the dark bits and Superior thread silver for the lighter pieces. The second block is already in production, and I'm already happier with it. Marking pens also constituted a learning curve. I used the blue Flexion pen to trace shapes, but unfortunately, the markings turned white when ironed. Then I changed to thin pencil, which was fine for lighter pieces, and bought a white Sewline pen for darker ones. Love the combination of KF and batiks, they really do compliment each other.

My friend Gabbie gave me a bundle of Kaffe Fassett precuts from Tania, which are just gorgeous. We thought Tania might have wanted to use them for a Kaffe Fassett design challenge we held a few years back, however, looking at the book, it didn't quite add up. So I played with the pieces the other day and sorted some of them into different fabric ways, and had a bit more of an idea about what to do with them. Stay tuned!

Finally, I made this Anniversary card for DH, seeing it was our 35th Anniversary yesterday. He liked the two owls, as did I. I was very spoilt, with a mushy card, chocolates, lunch at Langham's, and another little Pandora for my ever-increasing collection.
Yesterday I made two tags (or bookmarks). In the first one I used a new stamp, the moggy reading a book and sitting on a stack of books. Enjoyed using my new ink pads, a stencil, and Tim Holtz washi tape (mainly to cover up a couple of stamping ooopsies).

 The other tag was one I'd seen in Pinterest, just loved it. I got the India stamps and a flourish stamp and got going, using various backgrounds (pearls, ink pads), and a silver gel pen for highlights. The stamping is pretty iffy, and it has a couple of ooopsies, but that just adds to a weathered look. Or so I tell myself. It's quite tricky using those stamps, because they are not backed and are basically floppy. Still, I quite liked the overall effect. I just wished I could have used the Finnabair opalescent acrylics, but irritatingly, I can't for the life of me re-open the tubs! Even DH couldn't open them. They might need to re-think their packaging.

 On to the NEXT BIG THING!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A bit of this, a bit of that...

Mixed weather this week, from balmy 18C with lots of blue sky and sunshine, to cold, wet and blustery. Thought I'd make the most of a sunny day and drove to Emu Bottom, an old homestead just out of Sunbury. Got some nice shots, both in colour and b&w. It's a lovely property, and brought back memories from the 1980s, when we spent many a Sunday here, having spit roast lunch in the barn, and dancing to bushband music. Fun days with my airline colleagues and friends.
As I mentioned in the last blog,  my friends Marie and Ron gave me this beautiful cymbidium orchid. I finally got a shot of it, with all the flowers open. Just gorgeous. I hope the flowers keep going for a while, they brighten up the place.
And YAY! - it's a red-letter day, or better a redwork day, since I finally completed all 14 blocks of my Scandinavian Rose quilt. It only took about 5 1/2 years....  Now comes the serious business of cutting the sashings and borders. Feeling rather daunted by that. Still, it means I can now start working on my new Kim McLean quilt on Fridays (see below). That should keep me going for another 5 years. Mind you, I won't be doing the border as shown, will simplify things a little.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Arty-farty stuff

 Bit of a mixed week. The Macedon Ranges Photographic Society is having an exhibition/sale at MAD Gallery in Lancefield in August (do go and check out the entries! And the caf makes a very nice coffee). I submitted two pictures, both taken on our last holiday, in Hawaii. All the entries are for sale. The Society had a "get to know your camera" night last evening, and I went along, taking my new Canon SX720HS. I haven't had a chance yet to really explore the settings, so I managed to find the manual ones (with some help) and play with some of the subjects. I quite like the way the roses photo turned out.
 Here's another photo of the little quilt I finished recently, using up what Liberty fabrics I had. At the moment, it covers my comfy chair in the Owlery.
I've made a few more cards, two of them for friends who turn 70 later in the month. I must say, I do like the Graphics45 papers; I just need to learn some techniques for using them in a more versatile way. Hopefully, I can do a few classes at Paperific later this month, and learn some new tricks!
The thank-you card is for a friend who is extremely generous and presented me with a beautiful pot of Cymbidium orchids. They're just coming into bloom and are a wonderful dark
pink. I'll need some advice on how to keep them blooming, although I'm told they're very hardy. Well, I've killed ivy, so we shall see.... The little owl stamp was from another friend, and is just so sweet. Hoot!
Finally, there's my crochet scarf, which I might turn into a cowl. It has quite a few mistakes, so it will probably go to the Op shop. I'm not too god on concentrating these days...
Haven't decided yet whether to tuck in the ends or have a fringe. I just loved the pattern, so easy and quick to crochet. It would make a lovely
 baby blanket in 'baby' colours.