Sunday, October 15, 2017

Floriade



You know you're back in Canberra when you spend a sunny Sunday morning at Floriade. And it was a beautiful sunny morning this morning; not hot, not windy, just glorious. You can tell it wasn't windy by the lake fountain going straight up. When I went for a run yesterday morning on this same bridge I got drenched with the spray (it was very welcome, I was very hot and sweaty, the Europe adventure involved a lot of food). This is the traditional bridge shot where we spend five minutes walking to avoid fifteen minutes trying to find a carpark.



Today was the last day of Floriade - it goes for four weeks - and the flowers were still amazing. Some beds were past their best but they stagger plant them ... god knows how, it must be ridiculously complicated. Whatever they do it is clearly working because I think it's one of the best I've seen in the twenty odd years I've been tiptoeing through the tulips. Well, not actually through the tulips, that would get me arrested.



Here is an actual photo of me on my actual blog! Can you believe it. Number one son took it (number two chose to stay home in his pyjamas and invite friends over for the afternoon) and I took the traditional number of close-ups of flowers. They were so pretty.



There was also the usual weird art. We all quite liked this spider thingy.


Honey puff donuts were purchased, and possibly an ice-cream. We ran into several people we knew, admired the bat colony and the eastern swamp hens, looked at the pretty flowers and came home. I am still suffering a slight 3 pm energy slump, where my body thinks it's bedtime, and a slight 3 am wakefulness, but nothing too bad. I've done a lot of sewing and a little bit of exercise these past few days and it has been a perfect recovery time. Back to the grind tomorrow.... in the meantime these are double fringed tulips. I thought they were beautiful and very unusual for a tulip.

Friday, October 13, 2017

And home again

When I changed jobs two years ago I knew that I would miss the travel - not the actual flying places because that is exhausting and boring - but the chance to meet different people and talk about things from a non-Australian perspective and to see things that I would never otherwise have seen. I did miss it, but the new job has been so good it's been worth it ... and now the lack of travel has been well and truly made up for by the recent ten-day adventure to the European Parliament. I was in charge of gifts, bags, report writing and general dogsbodying, and it was just wonderful. Non-stop from 8 in the morning to ten at night but still just fantastic.



We transited through Paris - I had an hour and a half of daylight there and I walked about ten miles, looking at as much as I could. I can see why people like it! What a beautiful city, even on a cloudy evening in October.

We had two days in Strasbourg. I got up early one morning and wandered around the old centre of town, and the astonishing cathedral.



We had a day in Brussels, where I didn't get to see anything much except the inside of meeting rooms!  So I took a photo of my dinner - moules of course.



We had a day in Ieper to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate and have a tour of WWI battlefields. We visited the Tyne Kot cemetery ... I knew that the front was a disastrous waste of human life but seeing the landscape, and the cemeteries .... awful.



We had two days in Tallinn (the capital of Estonia) which was amazing - a wonderfully preserved old town. So astonishing. So old. During my average day, none of my built environment is older than I am. I can go months without seeing anything built before 1930, and I can name all the people that have dug in my garden before me. What must it be like to open doors every day that people have opened for five hundred years?



So now I am jet-lagged and still a bit sleepy. Tallinn to Canberra is five flights and takes 37 hours! But so worth it. This was my first time ever in Europe and it was just a taster ... will definitely have to go back.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Beautiful spring morning

October already, and it is a beautiful spring morning here in sunny Canberra - not too hot, gentle breeze, the flowers are out and the birds are singing ... squawking. Australian birds aren't known for their gentle birdsong. It's also the first day of daylight savings so the boys barely stirred before midday - allowing my husband and I to take the dog for a nice educational walk by the lakeside, and through the sculpture garden.



The dog wasn't very impressed but we love the sculpture garden. You're not supposed to touch them but it's pretty hard to avoid running your hands over the surfaces - especially the Henry Moore bronze ones. So goddamn curvy.



Then we meandered through the gardens at Old Parliament House and admired the wisteria. Eleven months of the year we are happy we pulled out (chopped, poisoned and still it wouldn't die) our enormous old wisteria that was pulling the eaves off the house but in October we kind of miss it. It's such an amazing colour. Their roses are much further on than mine. I felt bad for giving mine such a big pruning but I think it was the right thing to do - the OPH ones are thriving. Mine are only putting out a few grumpy shoots now.



It's been a good week off - the theatre production is going well, and it's my husband's turn to be on kid patrol this week while I travel with work. I'm quite looking forward to it (other than the actual travelling bit) but it will sadly interfere with my sewing time. I've seized the chance to put my machine in for a service, so I will be already to go when I get back...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

On leave this week

It's the first week of the school holidays and I'm on leave looking after the children. Well, not really looking after, more driving them places. Number one son spent four very long days at a friend's house filming for their media project - not exactly sure what they're filming but he came home covered in dust and blue dye. Apparently most of it is in front of a green screen (sheet over the clothesline I think) and the friend is going to do computer graphics. Maybe. He was very tired by Tuesday night. Number two son has another theatre production - rehearsals every day this week for opening night on Friday. He's not sure if they'll be ready in time ... is anybody ever sure they're ready for opening night? We are going along to watch regardless.



Between the driving around, I've done a bit of grocery shopping, washing, errands and general tidying up. I've been postponing everything for the past month to do in my week off, which is always a foolish strategy. I never get it all done. Mostly because I've been distracted by scraps, which I am making into colour co-ordinated blocks this time.


The sugar bowl blocks were a good scrappy introduction, but then I decided to get real scrappy and make a rainbow quilt, because everything's coming up rainbows in Australia at the moment as we have our "non-binding postal survey" on same sex marriage. Despite every poll for the past two decades showing majority support for gay marriage the government doesn't have the guts to just legislate it, so they're having a postal survey (not a vote, the legislation for a vote didn't get through, long boring story). Waste of time and money but not a complete waste if I can get some quilt inspiration out of it.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sometimes I hate my cat

A week without a post! Not because I've been busy but because life has been quiet and boring, and there's been nothing to talk about. Working, yawn, cooking, yawn, parent-teacher interviews and ordering socks on-line. Hardly the stuff to share with the world ... although there I go. Sharing.



So this is why I hate my cat. Despite being seventeen years old, and deaf, and a bit blind, and creaky in the joints, she can still destroy the back of a brand new sofa in the five minutes we leave it uncovered. Normally there is a carefully draped rug there for just this reason. We used to shout at her and she'd run off (because very early on we shouted then squirted her with a water sprayer, and she remembers that) but now she can't hear us shout. She just scratches until we get up and push her away, and she acts all surprised - why didn't you warn me? and stomps off. Having made the sofa look like crap.



Last night my husband and I went back to the war memorial for the roll of honour projections for a distant relative of my uncle - a 20 year old second lieutenant from Toorak who died in 1917. There was no-one else around on a still night - the war memorial is very atmospheric. I failed to do it justice with my iPhone.



Friday, September 15, 2017

The flowerpots

I've finished my Freddy and Gwen flowerpots - I put them horizontally in the end rather than vertically. I was going to do a border but couldn't quite find the right border fabric, or the right piecing pattern, so just left it without one. We mostly use single-size quilts to be honest - the boys have them on their beds and my husband and I sleep at such different temperatures that we both have our individual pile of quilts on ourselves, no sharing.


It is called "The Thoughts of Others", no reason why. As you can see from the photo below it is raw edge machine applique (using fusible to stick it down, then stitch around the edge) so it is quite likely to fray with repeated washing but I don't really care. It bows dreadfully at the edges too, because the fabric cut from old shirts is so soft and doesn't want to hold its shape. I don't care about that either. I quilted it in big fat feathers because they are fun to do and I could guide the feathers to make sure most of the dodgy applique edges were held down with at least a little bit of quilting.



And on the back I dragged some very ugly fabric out of my shelves - possibly flower related? Definitely colourful. Strange lady hippies on one side, and something that looks like sad 1980s duvet cover on the other.



Overall this quilt didn't use up a lot of stash, which is a shame, but when the urge comes to make peculiar little flowers in vases you just have to run with it.
 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Another weekend

The weekend came and went quietly. I was a bit unwell on Saturday - just one of those days where the side effects from the drugs all gang up and make me sick. I think I've mentioned this before - I tolerate the drugs pretty well most of the time but every couple of months I have a shocking day of muscle and bone pain, nausea and headaches. It goes away by dinner time so I just take painkillers and lie down, but it's pretty miserable. It started two years ago when I went onto these new injections so there must be something strange they're doing to me!


But Sunday was a lovely day, starting with a book club brunch. A couple of the ladies have been off on overseas postings and are now back, so we had a bit of a reunion and revitalisation over eggs benedict and coffee. I love brunch, I think it's my favourite meal. We've set up a new facebook group and we are going to be regular and focussed in our literary efforts from now on. Honestly. The photo is the fountain outside the National Library, where we brunched. There is an extremely popular cafe in the foyer.



And Sunday afternoon I went for the usual run around the lake, admiring the spring blossoms and everyone out and about. I used fancy filters on these photos - can you tell? I kind of think filters are for twelve year old girls and people with no life but it is fun to do. I might branch out into noir-esque black and white numbers.
 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sugar bowls

I was thinking of something scrappy next up - but not sure what to do - I was thinking maybe pinks? And then, just when I needed it, Bonnie Hunter pops up with sugar bowl blocks. I'm making mine bigger than hers, nine-inch finished instead of six-inch finished. It means I only need 64 blocks for a decent size quilt instead of 144! Bugger that.
 
 

I am going with pinks, or close to pinks, whatever I have in the scrap strips and yardage. They are fun to make and should be a lovely friendly quilt in the end.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Two different runs

On Saturday I was full of the joys of spring - a nice fresh morning with the blossoms just starting out - a gentle breeze, a blue sky and a nice 7 km run around the lake to start the weekend.
 

 

And little adorable fluffballs of cygnets! They are so cute, and their parents are so fierce that I couldn't get any closer and just had to use the crappy iphone zoom. But trust me, they were tiny and cute and so grey and fluffy that I just wanted to give them a cuddle. But I didn't because mama swan would have literally bitten my hands off, it has been known to happen. They are mean birds.


But this spring loveliness lasted about two hours and since then it has been windy and showery and cold. Snow again on the hills. I thought I would go for a lunchtime run yesterday, even though the apparent temperature (taking into account windchill) never got above zero, because I don't mind the cold usually ... but it was HORRIBLE. Wind nearly knocked me off my feet, the ear infection was screaming at the cold air and then I turned onto my usual lake side path and there were waves across it! That doesn't ever happen, and I wasn't too enthusiastic about swallowing lake water with my run. So I pathetically gave up and went back to work. Yuck.

 

Monday, September 4, 2017

The baby cheeses

Remember the murky mid-creams and browns I was working on a few months ago? With some red corner stones they became this scrap quilt. I called it "The baby cheeses" because I am watching the new series of "Cheese Slices" which is a wonderful show about cheese hosted by a man who takes love of cheese to the crazy extreme. Number one son and I were watching a show a couple of weeks ago that had monks carefully turning the new cheeses which was just beyond bonkers. Praise the baby cheeses.



It is an indoor shot today because it is windy and showery and sunny all coming two minutes after each other and I didn't like my chances of getting a good shot outdoors. And the washing line was full, although I keep taking it in and putting it out again ... well, until I got sick of it and shoved it all in the dryer. Bugger the planet, it was getting too difficult. And I've got an ear infection which is painful! I've never had one before and it sucks - I went to the doctor on Thursday and got antibiotics and drops, so fingers crossed it will improve soon. Here is a shot of the quilting ... kind of loops. Kind of.



The back of this quilt is more of the ugly mid-browns in an attempt to use them all up. I haven't got close, but on the other hand I haven't bought any quilting fabric at all since the couple of metres in California in January, so I must be shrinking my stash a tiny bit? Yes?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The yellow shirt

Here's a dodgy selfie of me wearing my new yellow shirt. See what I mean about the pleats? Very pretty. The binding on the neckline is actually a bit neater than it looks in this photo honestly. The angle of the photo is a bit peculiar but I wanted to get the top bit in, because the rest is very boring.


I think my yellow shirt was the most exciting thing that happened this week. I sent my uni assignment in, two days early after realising I was just picking at it and making it worse. Now I'm worried about the research paper - I had quite a good idea, or so I thought, but the preliminary work is making me think that it's not going to be very good after all. I might have to come up with something else... never mind. That is a problem for another day.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Wierdo weather

After all that lovely sun during the week it goes and SNOWS on Sunday! A bit strange to happen this late in the winter, although Canberra always loves snow - we only get it maybe once a year and it's very exciting. I went down the coast for the weekend so I was driving back through a couple of little flurries. Nothing to worry about, except that I wanted to watch it and not concentrate on the driving.



The coast was beautiful on Saturday - lovely sunny weather - as I did my footnotes and bibliography until the charge on my laptop ran out. I forgot to pack the charger so I put the brightness on so low I could hardly see and it lasted a few hours. Nearly done. Given the gap this created in my weekend productivity schedule (hahahaha) I put together the new Ikea tv stand we bought to replace the ancient plastic veneer one the previous owners had left for us. With an ancient video player too. It might work - who would know? Who has videos?





This is the after photo, which looks quite good,  but the halfway through photo is a bit of a shocker. I was turning it over after attaching the legs and caught the cord of the lamp that sits on the high shelf and pulled it off ... smashing everywhere. The lampshade, and the fitting, and the bulb, spreading about six feet in every direction. Took me an hour to clean it up, cursing the whole while. I never really did like the lamp though, so that's OK. My first reaction was to get my phone to take a picture ... what have I become?





I was at the beach on my own - I did offer to take children but no-one was free or interested. I also made a shirt which I am wearing at the moment so I will take a photo when I get home to show you! Nice and bright, and possibly on the loose and flowing end of the shirt spectrum, rather than the tailored end, but that's good sometimes when you're feeling a bit plump. I quite like the pleats on the neckline so might use the pattern again.





Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sick day today

I felt so dreadful yesterday that I thought I must be coming down with full influenza (minimum - probably typhoid or dengue, not that I'm hypochondriac at all) but after some catch up sleep and a quiet day I feel fine again ... so probably not typhoid. We shall call it a virus, but I might just have been a bit tired and cranky. And if that's not an illness it should be. On the plus side, I had a sofa buddy.



We are at that time of the year when the sun buckets into the living room. Just six weeks in spring and autumn luckily - it would kill us dead in summer - but it is beautiful while it lasts. And yes, it is spring, the daffodils are up, the wattle is blooming and the baby magpies have been kicked out of the nest. They tap on the kitchen window if you're at the sink and eye you off until you give them cheese. Or meat. It must be working because we haven't been swooped in our yard yet.... It's a bit easier now the cat is officially deaf and, we think, a bit blind as well. She can still feel the sun though.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Boooooring

Well here's a boring picture of my sewing desk today - covered in papers. I am still trying to knock off this essay - and it's only the little one! We have to do a big research paper as well, god knows how that's going to go. I don't find it particularly difficult to do or think about once I get going, but my attention span is so tiny that the main problem is keeping my head down and doing it! I'm sure I used to be able to study all day. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, maybe I always wandered around doing other stuff and failed to focus in more than ten-minute bursts ... It is agonising. But probably quite good for me.



On a much brighter note, this is what I bought at the craft fair last week. Some beautiful variegated pink merino/mohair blend from New Zealand, and the yellow is recycled sari silk made into yarn! Isn't that cool? It's a beautiful golden yellow and not strong enough for anything other than perhaps a couple of stripes on a weft. But it is sitting in a bag waiting for me ... once I've done some footnoting and stuff. I don't think I'll be doing my masters any time soon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Flowers in little pots

I have been making flower pot blocks. These are inspired by Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again - although they use yo-yos for the flowers and I have gone with raw edge appliqué. I don't know why that suddenly decided to inspire me while I was flicking through the quilting books, but it did, and the blocks are rather fun.


The quilt in the book has the flowers in vertical rows, but I quite like the idea of horizontal rows, so they look like they are on a shelf. I will see what to do with them when they're done - of course I didn't think of putting them together horizontally while I was cutting them so they're all different heights, but nothing some random bits of fabric added on can't fix. For now I'm just enjoying cutting different flowers out of bright colours and sewing them together.

I did spend a solid few hours on my uni assignment on the weekend, so I thought I could indulge with some guilt free sewing. As opposed to procrastisewing, which is laden with guilt. In the past weeks I have done procrastibaking, procrasticleaning, procrastiwashing and I even went for a 5km run rather than work on my assignment. This is why I haven't been back to uni for 25 years.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The food

It's been all about the food this week - even more than a usual week - eating is one of the main pleasures of my life, which is why I am so fat. Oh well. It was my birthday, so we started off with dinner out at a Malaysian restaurant. We were going to go for dessert at a chocolate shop nearby, but it was closed, so we got chocolate from the supermarket and ate it on the sofa. Delicious. And this is the birthday cake my husband made me - fudge from the fudge shop interspersed with chocolate brownie he'd made. Isn't it pretty? And delicious. It took all week to eat.



My work also had afternoon tea for my birthday - I made a lemon drizzle cake because we have SO MANY lemons. And this weekend we went round to friends' last night for dinner and hear about their six weeks in Europe (looked gorgeous, very jealous), and brunch with friends this morning. I think breakfast out is my favourite meal. Bacon.

I went to the Canberra Quilters Exhibition this afternoon which was lovely as always. Lots of very beautiful quilts, and the one that won is stunning. There is definitely a trend towards very elaborate and detailed quilting, which looks fabulous but it's not something that speaks to my heart. Or that I would ever really be interested in doing. But show quilts are always a breed apart. I poked around the vendors and bought some wool for weaving - not that I have been doing much weaving lately. I must find something good to watch on foxtel and then I will no doubt get right back into it...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The geese that fly



Another finished quilt! I do not know what inspired this, other than an urge to make something simple, in not many colours, and light and bright. It is all flying geese, which are easy to make in bulk. I didn't plan the placement, just put them together in strips that seemed to make sense at the time - some are groups of four, and some are groups of eight, and they go in various directions.



It's quilted with a flower-type swirl that was very swooshy and fun to do.



And the backing fabric even matches! How weird is that, I had it there, enough for a backing, and it is the same colours as the front. The quilt is called "This is all a result of your own life choices" because it usually is.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A burst water main

It's back to work, and no free time, and dark winter days ... and the most exciting thing that happened this week was a burst water main up on the street. And it wasn't even that exciting because it burst about three feet from the drain and just happily flooded into it. Which is just as well, because if it had gone the other way it would have done some damage to our front garden, and possibly the house, given our feeble our drainage is.



We reported it to the water company, who came in an hour or two and chopped two large gum trees down. Well that was unexpected, we thought to ourselves, you would think they would have asked. We are assuming that the trees weren't on our property (it's quite hard to tell where our property line ends and the nature strip starts). But we still quite liked them - there's a little grove of gums with pretty pink blossoms up on the road. Or there was a little grove, there's only two trees left and I don't think you can call that a grove.



Anyway they chopped the trees up and left them on the front garden of the people across the road, which they probably weren't expecting either. And then a digger came and dug the ground and fixed the water, which was good, and that was the most exciting thing that happened this week! Other than our POSITIVELY LAST trip to Ikea yesterday morning when we bought more that could fit in the car, so had to leave number one son with the overflow boxes and $5 (all the change we could skerrick up) in the cafe by the checkouts for an hour while we went home and came back. We didn't think $5 was much help but he said it was five hot dogs, or ten soft serves, or two cans of cider. So he did quite well.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

And that was my holiday

Unbelievably, my three weeks leave is now over, and I haven't done half the things on the list. I haven't done the tax returns, or put all the photos in the album, or cleaned out the cupboard under the stairs. I did clear out the "random documents" drawer beside the computer, and organised a thermal assessment of the house, which was depressing. A guy spent a few hours crawling into the roof and and checking the insulation (not much) and doing thermal imaging of skylights and doors and windows to check the gaps (massive). The big room has no roof insulation at all and there's no room for any to go in, and the whole house has far too much glass in proportion to the house - which is lovely, but thermally hopeless, and it will cost about $50k to double glaze it all. Which is quite a lot of money. We don't know what we'll do but I think it might involve thermal underwear .... which is where our furry snuggly blanket on the couch comes in - yes Pam, we do have quilts as well, but cotton quilts cannot compare to the delight of four square metres of fake fur. It is awesome.


I went down to the beach on Tuesday following the moving men with our old sofa and armchair - we realised it was only slightly more expensive to get them to take it to the coast than to take it to the tip ... so the sofa and chair are down there now and we will retire some of the old recliners we got with the house. I then stayed down for four glorious days on my own. Didn't get lonely, didn't get bored, just did a lot of my uni assignment, ate what I wanted, went for lots of walks and did some sewing as well. It was lovely.


Very hard to come back, but I did, and went for a cold windy run around the lake this morning. Which was considerably livened up by the Santa Speedo Shuffle. Nothing like fit looking young men in budgie smugglers and santa hats to take your mind off your own athletic pain.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hipster vintage retro cushions

When I was in Hobart I had a look through some pretty cool shops that sold all sorts of groovy homeware things. Way groovier than I could ever be, but I like to look. So when the new couch needed some new cushions I let the boys pick some covers, and I picked some covers, and then I remembered that I'd seen cushions in one of the Hobart shops made out of old commemorative tea towels. Hang about! I thought to myself. I have crap tons of old commemorative tea towels ... because Nana Joan did a lot of travelling and was partial to a nice linen tea towel, and I have them now for some reason that is not altogether clear to me.



Anyway this is the purchased cushion section of the sofa. I chose the fur one, number one son chose the plain one and number two son chose the stripy one. We already had the herringbone fur throw. It is in constant use, between me, the children, and the pets.



This is the hipster vintage retro section of the sofa. There is one rectangular New Zealand Birds cushion, and two square "Australian 1976" commemorative cushion. I am fairly confident Nana Joan went to Australian in 1976 - probably with her church, they did a lot of group trips - and this is from then. They are backed in a natural linen, so as not to detract from the awesomeness of the tea towels. I did fully intend to do piping around the edge like the ones in the shop I saw but I don't have a zipper or piping foot for this machine, and it was just too difficult without one. But I think they hold their own.



Should I do more? I have Australian Birds, Lake Windemere, two from Papua New Guinea, another New Zealand Birds, one with all the flags of the Country Women's Institute countries, Australian Flowers, Norfolk Island and Birds of the Countryside, which includes a wren and a pied flycatcher, so I'm thinking England again. They are all marked "pure linen" or "Irish linen" - I don't even know if you can get linen tea towels any more. I can't imagine using them to actually do the dishes.