Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010.....

(Sunset Goolwa Beach, 30 December 2010)

As 2010 draws to a close and I reflect on this past year, I'd have to say I'm not unhappy about it ending. Sure, there were lots of highs but there were a few lows too. So I'm putting them behind me, wiping the slate clean and stepping boldly into 2011. Here's to a very happy new year and a successful creative year ahead!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not so complicated...

Around about this time of year there's plenty of cooking (and not quite cooking with royal icing making) that requires egg whites leaving a plethora of egg yolks.
I like to use these egg yolks for homemade ice cream. I call them my 'Christmas Editions' and they include Marmalade and Rum and Raisin which go really well with Christmas Pudding.
R suggested we make Lavendar ice cream. She's been keen to try this ever since we saw the movie, "It's Complicated".
I picked the last of our lavendar buds - most have dried out following our recent hot days and set to making the custard. The smell that filled the kitchen was nothing short of divine.
The custard was then strained and mixed with the egg yolk mixture and left to chill completely overnight....only because it was late and I didn't fancy staying up another two hours for it to cool and churn!

The brew churned this morning.And it's now in the freezer for the taste test after it freezes a little more. The first taste tests (ie. licking the spatula) are not too bad!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a scrappy Christmas.....

It seems an age since my last post.
Not for a lack of activity....more a matter of secrecy.
There's been a bit of crafting that we'd love to brag about but haven't been able to share until the gifts had been gifted.
So now the great reveal.....
R and I made these lovely little purses for her friends. We had a wonderful time matching fabrics for outers, linings and tags and then matching them back to the friends. Lots of fun and most appreciated by the recipients! They're a great size for phones and iPods.
I try to make a Christmas gift for the 'Sew and Sews' out of scrappy left overs. The skinny batting off-cuts were the recycling target this year. Once trimmed from the sides of quilted quilts, I place them in a plastic tub for 'later'. They're perfect for the padding needed for covered coat hangers. And let's face it....there's nothing nicer than a lovely coat hanger for a special garment.
I used mega skinny and long strips of cotton and wool blend batting to wrap the raw wooden hangers, then threaded co-ord coloured plastic tubing onto the hook, stitched and gathered in some magnificent Amy Butler Love (decorator weight) fabric and tied a ribbon to finish and ended up with a dandy little coat hanger. Spectacular!
But that's not all I've been up to! Oh no.....the scrap challenge continues! I recently sorted my offcuts into red, green and brown fabric piles. The aim was to make little Christmas tree blocks that would then make a runner for our chiffonier. These little trees aren't appliqued...they're all stitched into a block bordered in white approximately 7.5" square.
Each of the blocks are different and all are a little quirky, alternating between red and green. Some are made from the very much loved left over triangles cut from binding and these bits ended up as wonky flying geese trees !The runner measures approximately 165mm x 53mm and is bound with a candy cane stripe binding.
Merry Scrappy've gotta love a left-over!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mixing business and pleasure....

I cannot believe that it has been a year since I posted this story! Nor can I believe how lucky we were to be able to do it again this year.
R and I headed off to Sydney this past weekend. Me for work, organising a client's Christmas Party and R for a glorious catch up with her 'oldest and bestest friend in the whole wide world'.
Lucky for me I also had a chance to catch up either side of the work bit and once that was out of the way, I had a whole day to spend with C and her family as well.
We had a spectacular couple of days exploring their beautiful city and acting the total tourist. We weren't short of something to do or look at that's for sure.
Saturday included browsing wonderful local stores including Papaya, Accoutrement, Camargue, Fourth Village Providore and Nordic Fusion. My tongue must have hanging out and I know my neck was sore from looking around at everything, so we headed to Coco Chocolate for a hot chocolate hit like nothing I'd ever had before. I opted for the Rose and Black Pepper (magnificent), whilst the girls chose Lavender (intoxicating in a non toxic way) and there was also a plain which is a COMPLETE understatement of what was presented!
I left R and headed off to work, meeting up again the next morning.
Sunday really made us feel like we were in Sydney. There was a ferry ride or two.
(One for the HP fans!)
Exploring the iconic Sydney Opera House with lunch at Opera Bar. Discovering the remains of historic homes set into the Rocks. Lucking in on the Sydney Theatre Company's Open Day. And generally stopping to snap the best view of their magnificent Bridge which looms large around every corner.
And in every backdrop.
And the girls can also add some quality mall shopping and baking the best chocolate cake ever (thank you Nigella!)Now it's back to reality and to try and come up with another excuse to get back there again sometime soon. Maybe the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bursting with pride....

'Straight off the bat' from R's graduation has been L's last day of school assembly.
Each year at this assembly the school awards a select group of boys from each class with the Edmund Rice Award. Edmund Rice was the founder of the school's philosophy. The award is given to the boys who exemplify the spirit of Edmund Rice showing compassion, friendship and guidance and is the absolute pinnacle of any award the school gives out.
L was lucky enough to be nominated again this year. He also won one last year.
Last year we received a letter to our home and a request not to say anything to L. They like to keep it a surprise. Joe and I quipped a couple of weeks ago that it looked like we wouldn't be at assembly this year!
A few days ago I was in the school front office and the Receptionist asked if L had given us 'the letter'.
"What letter?", I responded.
"The one about assembly and the nomination", she said, and then did a double take as she checked her list in case she got the wrong kid, wrong parent, wrong award!
No, he was definitely on the list.
I said, without any details, "we'd be there".
So L was up there again this year. Taking it all in his stride and giving us the thumbs up at the end. (He obviously hasn't connected the fact that if your parents are at assembly it usually means you're going to win something!)
I commend the school for selecting boys on this basis because we certainly wouldn't be there for academic or sporting achievements.
And I realise that pride is one of life's 7 deadly sins, but I think that particular sin needs a bit of a rethink!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Year 7 Graduation....

I've just come from R's Year 7 Graduation.
The school does a lovely job presenting the girls, thanking them for their achievements during the year and wishing them well for high school.
The highlight of the ceremony is the projection of their first year of school Reception photo as they accept their graduation certificates. I had tears in my eyes as I witnessed the 'befores' and 'afters' and how much these little girls have grown into little ladies in 8 short years. It's the same face however less rounded and certainly more mature.
So from this.....
to this....

Well done R. Let's hope high school is as rewarding as primary school has been.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not enough quilting....

...a little bit of crafting.
Life is pretty hectic at the moment. Work has exploded, I've had one interstate trip a week ago and another coming up for this weekend. It's the last week of school and with that comes the concerts and graduations.
Needless to say my new Bernina hasn't had too many outings however, I did manage to make these market bags for R's teachers. I've used Amy Butler Love in decorator weight and the pattern is Heather Bailey's market bag. I think they turned out rather well. Whilst the pattern was easy to follow it didn't come without challenges what with curves and matching up. There were a few rounds of un-do's and swear words!
I haven't made anything for L's teacher who's a man. I thought about a covered notebook but I didn't have any male fabrics. It'll be nougat for him instead!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some days are diamonds....

Completely made from scrap strips and quilted with my new Bernina Aurora 440 QE. Some days are just better than others, aren't they!
Quilt measures approx 60" square and will go to my other SIL for her birthday.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Exit stage left.....

....but only having entered from stage right! Which was the order of the day at R's end of semester instrumental recital.
I can't believe a year has rolled around so fast. It only seemed a little while ago when I posted about last year's end of semester recital. And yet, here we are again but this time watching R present two instrumental performances.
The first was guitar accommpanied by her teacher Mr K. and sitting in front of the forthcoming 'Prince of Egypt' backdrop which included the hand-made 'do not touch' sign. Rustic....? Or, garage?
R only took guitar up this year so we were immensly proud of her effort.
And the second, albiet hiding behind the music stand, was solo violin which she's been playing since grade one.
This year she admitted to nervousness which she's never mentioned until now.
It didn't show. She was terrific in our eyes.
A great afternoon followed by a late lunch at the pub up the road from her school and R still hiding behind something! At least she's smiling now!

Friday, November 12, 2010

All my Christmas's...

...have come at once!
But what's in there?
It's Bernina QE 440. I'm halfway through reading the instructions and have promised myself a good look through tonight. Maybe even a bit of a play.
I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.....!

Monday, November 8, 2010


...does my brain brim over with quilt ideas? It's enough to leave you sleep deprived!
I'm in the throws of piecing an absolutely gorgeous quilt top....I mean seriously gorgeous. It's fabric that is delightful and the pattern is coming together brilliantly. And then in between all of that, I'm turning the key to the cupboard door and pulling out fabric, lining it up and taking photos!I know I look for excuses in my quilt making and whilst I could go on making lovely little girl quilts for R, I think she would eventually feel less that impressed with yet another quilt. Kind of passe about how involved quilts are to create.
My latest idea is for my 'littlest' brother who lives in Melbourne and has done for a long time. We miss him dreadfully, so when he was in Adelaide a few weekends ago and after spending a great night out at our favourite local Thai restaurant, Tongue Thai'd, followed by late night chats and mega red wine consumption, we got to the subject of favourite colours and fabric selection.
JP loved the green bird fabric from Ikea and a whole bunch of solids in grey, green, brown and muted blue. I think I might have a go at one of these or these.
Well, next at least. After the one I'm working on now, and the one I've got to quilt for someone's birthday at the end of the month and the two I have in the wardrobe......and then study starts again on Monday.....'s no wonder I can't sleep! But in a good way....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

That sinking feeling....

...really hit when I unravelled my much anticipated Jelly Roll yesterday. It wasn't the 'Bliss' I had anticipated. Oh, no....That jelly roll didn't tumble as I'd predicted. It kind of stayed 'Criovac-ed' in a state of frozen animation. I had to push and prod and pull it apart. And then the unthinkable .....a half formed 2 1/2" strip fell from the collection. I plucked it out. I held it up. It was grotesque. Off-skew and in terms of jelly roll quilt construction...unusable.
I gathered my thoughts. After all, these little wonders of superb marketing wrapped in baking terminology are created from off-cuts and ends of (or starts of) new fabric runs, so surely there are slip ups. (None of that reasoning resolves the amount of cutting I'm faced with and what the !#$ am I supposed to do if there's one short....!)
So what do you do before you frame the letter to United Notions that has just run through your head?
You count the strips.
Yes. Count them.
Because that tragic strip that has just sent your world spinning and the quilt top you were planning running down the drain, just might end up being a bonus.
A wonky bonus. But it's extra fabric nonetheless.
Who said there were no thrills and roller coaster rides when you're a quilter?
Thanks 'jelly roll machine'. Send me your wonky strips anytime you want.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Something pretty this way comes.....

A scrummy jelly roll of Moda's Bliss by Bonnie & Camille ordered from the Fabric Shack along with a few other goodies thanks to the fabulous Australian/US dollar exchange rate. Now to pull that little ribbon and let those 40 pieces of fabric tumble free and a day of cutting and hopefully piecing!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I slightly under estimated..... children's desire to have a Halloween celebration this year!
R argued that seeing as the 31st fell on a Sunday we should have a party. Next thing, there's 20 names on a list and invitations created. It would appear that some of my professional event organising skills have rubbed off with R completely taking charge! Yay!So we got to and picked up a couple of pumpkins, handed out the invites, and set about baking.It was a fabulous party and my only regret is that next year Halloween won't be on a weekend!
R was scary phsyco doll and L was Edward Scissorhands. Looks like the Tim Burton exhibiton really left an impression on both of them!
I ended up making 4 table runners of various proportions, fabric cuts and quilting styles and all of out scrap.
Now the cauldron and spider webbing is packed away....which is a good thing because I'm a little over orange and black!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life's lessons.....

I loved it when my dad mowed the lawn.
I don't know....there's something about the smell of fresh mowed grass and bits of grass lying on the path that sends me right back to when I was little and I'm standing on the concrete at the back of my first house.
It's lovely seeing L wanting to give daddy a helping hand this afternoon.
And learning how to manouvre the mower. (Just look at that concentration and tongue placement!)Who knows, we may not have real grass or this kind of mower in the future (I'm sure that thought never even entered my dad's head as he did laps of that yard 40 (arrghemm 50) years ago!) but the time spent today can't be replaced and the lessons learnt last a lifetime!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Orange and black....

Halloween is not really celebrated extensively in Australia but the commercialism has taken hold as part of the retail calendar so there is ample evidence of its existence.
A few years ago my kids begged me to carve a pumpkin so they could have a little Halloween party. We only had Jap pumpkins available so our Jack o' Lantern was little greenish and squat but they thought it impressive enough for us to do it a few times since then.
Last year Alison of Cluck Cluck Sew made a fabulous quilt and table runner for her festivities and she's pulled them out again. It got me thinking about all my black and orange fabrics so I thought I'd have a go at a little runner like hers. I'm obviously attracted to black and orange as evidenced by my scissors and glasses!
This is last night's spur of the moment, I'll give it a go. I'ved used 2 1/2" squares, cutting around 60 of each colour and all out of scrap and offcuts. I should have enough for a long table runner and a small mat for the cake stand. The kids haven't said anything about a pumpkin as yet, so we'll see if it ends up being used!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Told you so....

Yes indeed. There was a quilt in that bag and bin of scraps. It's a mega scrappy paper pieced strip quilt.
It uses offcuts from backs, sides and every other time there's a bit left over that you just can't throw away. Even though my taste in fabrics has completely changed over time, I still couldn't bear to get rid of them.
I've used three different solid anchor strips - Kona celery green (centre and outer), a Moda duck egg blue and Kona coal that forms the large diamond. I'm sure it will become clearer when the top is pieced. This is it just laid out on the floor. It's funny how you look at the photo and realise that, "that block can't go there and that one shouldn't sit next to that one".
There are 36 8" blocks and I'll probably add a border or two....remembering that the goal is to not buy any new fabric and use from the scrap bin. I think I can still manage that!
The funny thing is that even though I've managed to extract this much scrap to make the blocks, the scrap bin is still pretty full! It must be air!

Monday, October 11, 2010

There's a quilt in there.....

I'm pretty sure there's a quilt worth of strips in this pile. Let's just see if I'm right! The challenge is to not cut anything unless it's absolutely necessary and even then, out of scraps. Game on!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ticked off.....

No, not my demeanor.
I'm ticking off achievements as my short break during the children's school holidays draws to a close.
Yesterday was a magnificent Spring day. But instead of heading out somewhere to lap up the sunshine, I spent the day doing the washing and that included stripping the beds of all the quilts, putting them through the wash and line drying. They're now all cuddly and smell like fresh air. I opted to keep them off the beds last night as it's getting warmer...although we do have some rain forecast for later in the week, so they may make it back on the beds before too long!
I also made a new cover for the ironing board. The old one was a disaster! With all the ironing that goes with making quilt tops I burn through covers like crazy. I had read a tutorial that involved cutting off the pull cord from the old one and attaching that to the new fabric. It worked like a charm. I've used some doubled over fabric from Ikea.
In between various activities, I managed to finish quilting R's Choc Cherry Milkshake quilt and last night I finished the threads and binding. It's bound in Kona Chocolate and I really love how it frames the quilt. I still dislike the cutting of the large polka dot but overall, I'm really happy with this quilt and R loves it so that's perfect.The back is Amy Butler's honeycomb and there's a strip of coins made up from all the fabric in the quilt running down the side.Choc Cherry Milkshake is roughly square measuring 64"x66". It was a big quilt to quilt. Lots of concentration, manipulation and maneuvering in the machine. After my first session of stippling, I headed out to the hairdresser and as I was turning corners in the car I felt like I should free motion the turns a little. My brain must have been firmly in free motion gear!
It was also Joe's birthday during the week. He's a particularly difficult person to buy presents for as he tends to buy what he needs. I even asked what he wanted and didn't get a response.
However, Joe loves his coffee. So the solution? An espresso machine. He loves it.....and even though I'm not a big coffee drinker, I'm a little partial to what this machine can produce. Joe has even perfected a pretty decent Chai Latte. Yum!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The coffee, cake and culture tour....

We had been planning a visit to Melbourne to see the Tim Burton exhibition which has been on tour from the MOMA. The long weekend seemed the perfect opportunity as it was also within the school holidays. What we didn't anticipate was that the AFL grand final that was a drawn game on the last weekend in September was to be replayed the weekend we were travelling to Melbourne. We're not fans of either team particularly, although Joe subscribes to the A.B.C. principle.....Anything But Collingwood which then meant we had a leaning towards the Saints for the duration. However, our support wasn't enough for the poor old Sainters.
Things started out OK, we left home only 1/2 an hour after we'd planned. Joe commented that the car was driving really well after its service. I wish he hadn't!
Three hours into the trip we pulled into the bakery at Bordertown when an alarm sounded on the dash, telling us to check the alternator. OMG! Even I know that's not good! I called our local Holden dealer and they gave us the number for the dealer in Bordertown, the Farmers Centre. What champions. They were happy to look at the car straight away. (We were thanking our lucky stars that it was a Friday and not the following public holiday Monday!) The mechanic confirmed that the alternator was putting out a massive charge to the battery....even though we had our lights on, were running the air conditioner and the iPod! We needed a new regulator and thankfully they had one in stock. If they hadn't, the alternative would have been to drive an hour and a 1/2 to the next major centre at Horsham with the dash alarm beeping the whole way and everything on!
They had it fixed in an hour which gave L the chance to have a sit on the quad bike on display which he lovingly referred to as his 'baby'!
The enforced layover in Bordertown put us about 2 hours behind schedule and this meant I didn't have a chance to pop into Ballarat Patchwork. Oh well, things could have been worse, like not even making it to Ballarat!
It also put us well behind and had us arriving in Melbourne in peak hour traffic, the night before a grand final! We made it just in time to check into our apartment 5 minutes before reception closed at 7pm. All good.
This is a section of tiled floor at the Tribeca apartments just up the road from where we stayed. It's in the old Victoria Brewery that's been converted to restaurants, shops and apartments. It reminds me of a quilt!
Our tickets to the Tim Burton exhibition were pre-paid and for a scheduled entry so we had just enough time the next morning to visit the Victoria Markets.
The first of the Melbourne coffee and cake stops! The kids got into the grand final spirit and had a Saints cup cake.
Onto the exhibition and marvel at Tim Burton's cleverness and quirkiness. L was particularly impressed with the Batmobil in the foyer.
Heading out through Federation Square and the crowd was starting to build to watch the game on the big screen.After lunch we dropped Joe off at some random hotel broadcasting the game in Richmond whilst we hit the shops on Bridge Road which I must say was a little underwhelming. I really think there are more bargains and variety to be had in the 'regular' shops rather than the so called outlet shops. But I also know that I get bored trawling through racks of disperate garments. I like a range. Give me a tidy department store with a fashion story any day!
We picked up Joe and he decided he needed a coffee. So we headed back into town for Little Cupcakes in Degraves. But alas, they are football fans and had closed up shop early. So we made our way to Laurent. Heaven in a french patisserie!

We'd actually purchased a combined gallery ticket which also gave us entry into the European Masters from the Stadel Gallery, Germany which was on at the NGV. So the plan was to head out early, morning tea at Little Cupcakes and then the gallery. I can't show you the cakes from Little Cupcakes because they put up such a fuss when I tried to take a photo. Serious dummy spit stuff. I felt like telling them to shove their cake....but the family would have been less than impressed with me. And to think, we go there every visit to Melbourne and were making a return visit seeing as they had closed the day before. Haven't they heard of negative word of mouth! I'll be thinking twice about visiting the next time!
After the exhibition and a play in the water that forms the main entrance to the NGV a tram ride down to Lygon Street for lunch at Brunettis.
Another tram ride followed out to Fitzroy for a wander down the eclectic Brunswick St and afternoon tea and a refreshing ale at Little Creatures. This is a great stop for a boutique beer, a glass of wine and reasonably priced food.It was the first day of daylight saving, so even though we'd lost an hour of our day, the day was beautiful and sunny even into the early evening so L made a shadow bird on the wall.Home again the next day. First stop Ballarat Patchwork.
Guess what?
They're not open on Monday's. The fabric gods were really conspiring against me!
Oh about some coffee and cake?