31 Dec 2013

Looking back

Tonight I've been enjoying reading lots of posts on blogs looking back over 2013.  To assist me writing one, I scanned through the photos I've posted on Instagram.  There's lots of pictures of my cat, quite a lot of my children swimming in scenic locations, food, and one or two crafty projects.

This has not been a productive year. {Erases lists of ways I have not been a productive crafter or blogger.} I can be kind to myself and not spell out for the world all my negative thoughts about me.

Instead, I can choose to think about the fun time we spent today at a local river beach celebrating a family birthday.

Tonight we've had a quiet evening at home, but I've made an investment for the new year - a new pattern.  Tomorrow awaits.

27 Dec 2013

Camping Christmas

This year, we spent Christmas camping with my husband's family. Eight adults, six children, two tents and two campers made for a busy campsite. We were lucky with the weather and spent a lot of time swimming in the river.

Solar lights meant we weren't without flashy festive decorations! and I loved using my candle lanterns again.





It's good to be home again.

We haven't had a Christmas at home for about five years now - maybe next year it would be nice. Or an all inclusive tropical resort. Or an African safari. Something like that.

18 Dec 2013

A handmade Christmas

I was aiming for a handmade Christmas this year. Instead, I've completed one present with my hands and most of the rest with my credit card.

In saying that, I'm quite pleased with my finished Milo vest, and will be very pleased when it has arrived safely in England for my niece.

I dyed the wool for this, attempting a gradient effect. I was quite pleased, although the bottom layer seems like a big difference in intensity of colour.





There are many different cable options for this vest, and I chose the XO option - hugs and kisses.

1 Dec 2013

December

Oh, it comes around quickly.


In the last few days, we've
* attended the dress rehearsal and triumphant ballet concerts to watch our eaglet.
* found and bought very cheap Birkenstocks (costco!)
* delighted the cat by putting up the Christmas tree
* felt overwhelmed several times
* started writing lists (to alleviate previous point)
* loved the sunshine.

20 Nov 2013

Living it up on a tropical Queensland island

The last week has been spent in luxury. I was lucky enough to win a Nescafé promotion earlier this year, and won a holiday on beautiful Hayman Island.


It's been on my dream holiday list since the late eighties, when I was still reading fashion magazines, and every swimsuit feature seemed to be shot on Hayman. That pool is spectacular, no wonder the editors liked it.


This was the dreamy view from our room. So, so beautiful.


Underwater was also beautiful. We went on a couple of snorkelling trips, and enjoyed them enormously.


Helicopter sightseeing trips were also included, and I spotted a turtle during my flight. Sadly they avoided us while we were snorkelling.


We also spent heaps of time in the pool.it was so, so nice.


And the food (also included) was lovely.


I took my knitting, for some crafty action, but didn't take it out of my suitcase. I was too busy enjoying myself.

It was so, so nice to relax - thank you Nescafé, and I'll definitely be entering the next promotion I see in Woolies.

17 Oct 2013

School holidays

Once again, the children have enjoyed their school holidays.  The highlight for us was a trip down to see the ships of International Fleet Review gathering in Jervis Bay.

I grew up in Nowra, which has been a Navy town for a long time.  The nearby naval air base of Albatross (where incidentally our wedding reception was held) and the training college at Creswell out on Jervis Bay meant a lot of sailors and their families were part of our town.  In fact, I think all my primary school best friends had fathers in the Navy.  Sadly, this meant they ALL moved away.

It was lovely to be out on the Bay, seeing all the ships.  There were some tall ships anchored in there too - the Young Endeavour, and the Endeavour Replica, amongst others. What struck me was how much room there was - many, many more ships could have easily fitted in our lovely Jervis Bay.
It was a very windy trip, and many people on our boat were quite sick.  Thanks to the power of Kwells, we were fine.

Other highlights of our holiday have included shopping daily at Woolworths (!) to collect animal cards to fill our albums, running into friends at the library, and listening to many, many audiobooks.

It was a low key break, and that was a very nice thing.

We also must have spent a lot of time on the internet, as we've used up all the month's allowance.  I'm in the process of changing providers (after 13 years with one company, it feels like a big deal!) and hope to be back in the land of regular net access next week.


*****  Sadly, none of the companies mentioned in this post provided any kind of sponsorship.  In fact, it cost us to use them! *****

16 Oct 2013

More Christmas Crafting



Well, it's now a mere 70 sleeps until Christmas.  Of course, in terms of Christmas decorating it's probably more like 40 sleeps till decorating time.  When glitter and sparkly lights and Christmas Lego take over the house, and that fabulous cat toy known as the Christmas tree adorns our lounge-room.
My latest Christmas  crafting project has been preprinted bunting.  I've ironed them onto a green damask patterned backing, and cut the diagonals with a pinking blade on my rotary cutter.  Having little confidence in the aged vleisofix, I've stitched along the edges so the triangles will hold properly.  Then I just sewed the triangles into a folded satin ribbon (which has the advantage of finished edges.) 

I'm very pleased with how they look - and have ended up with about 12 metres of bunting from my one panel.


They look great against our trees (which means they should work well for our camping Christmas years) and also look fine inside.

That's another project off the list - excellent!

6 Oct 2013

Planning for Christmas Crafting

Today, it's a mere 80 sleeps till Christmas, as my handy app attests.





I've been working on a little cross stitch ornament. It's done on a perforated wooden base, and I really enjoyed doing it. Probably because it's been several years since I last did any cross stitch, and also because its a very cute design.




Technology fail means this picture is straight from Instagram.

26 Sep 2013

Planning for Christmas Crafting; project one

Today it's 90 days till Christmas, and my first project is complete. This little ornament is very simply sewn together and stuffed.



Luckily, I had some hobby fill in the stash. It's a fibrous material used to stuff toys, and I purchased the bag in 2005 - Spotlight kindly taped the receipt to the bag! Obviously, I don't make many toys.

It's a very simple project, and pretty much all I've been able to do. My cold turned into a big one, and then into a chest infection/sinusitis combo. The misery isn't over yet, but I'm hoping it will be gone SOON.

17 Sep 2013

Planning for Christmas Crafting Stage Two

Planning started by looking through my stash for likely Christmas type projects.

First off the mark was this wooden ornament kit that I bought in January with my sisters.  It came with instructions for cross stitching designs, including an adorable reindeer that I think will be my choice.

Secondly, this little panel by Lisa of The Red Thread is perfect for turning into a little ornament, or as a centrepiece for a quilted thing.


I'd also like to spend time making some photobooth props, like these ones here.  I'm hoping this would encourage the large group of cousins I'm expecting to gather to spend some time in front of the camera.

Next, I have a pre-printed Christmas themed bunting panel. The panel will make up to 40 bunting pennants, and has the advantage of being portable enough to travel with us to wherever we spend Christmas!  I see it as equally at home here, at my parents place or at a campsite by the sea.
A peppermint candle is high on my crafting list, like this one  It looks very straightforward to make, which is a very good thing.

I have eleven of these quilt blocks. (Which makes me wonder a little- surely there should be 12!) They need to be turned into a quilt, so this may take a little longer than it's allocated ten days.


I know I have a set of place mat panels to sew together and quilt (but can't lay my hands on them right now.)

I'd like to make pillowcases for the family along the lines of this one by Rita May of May Days

Ninthly, I need a pickle ornament for my Christmas tree.  I've been looking for one since I first heard about this but haven't found one.  (I know it's at least two years since I remember looking for one at the Disneyworld Christmas shop.)  Abby from While She Naps has a great and free pattern, so this year I'm making one.

And finally, I'd like to spend some time in the kitchen being creative (as opposed to churning out large amounts of food to feed lots of people.)  I'm not yet sure what it will be, but most Christmas recipes I see involve lots of chocolate, peppermint or lollies.  Even if it's just my favourite Donna Hay candy cane biscuits,  I'm planning to spend this time.

Now, to set up reminders on my e-devices to help me keep up to speed.

16 Sep 2013

Planning for Christmas crafting- stage one

So, today I realised it's 100 sleeps till Christmas - confirmed with a handy app;



I love thinking about Christmas, pinning lovely things to make (or not) and crafting to decorate our house.

So, it's time for a Christmas crafting plan. I'm hoping to finish 10 items for Christmas before it starts. Tomorrow, I'll be back with a list. (i hope you're appreciating how I did not say I'd be checking it twice!)

12 Sep 2013

Mountains vs beaches

It's not hard to know what i find so wonderful about mountains.
It's the smell. I adore the smell of the mountains; that fresh, clean air.  Snow grass has a special scent all it's own, and I can't get enough of it.  Often it's cool when we visit the mountains, so that freshness  nearly burns, like a nose full of eucalyptus.  We can see the Brindabella mountains around my hometown of Canberra, and my eyes are often drawn to them. Is there snow? Smoke? Maybe a haze.   When we take a trip to the mountains, my kids will be in any stream they can find.  It's all about the water for them, regardless of the temperature.




But beaches? They're wonderful too.
I adore the smell of the beach. Fresh, salty air with accents of coconutty sunblock. It's usually windy when we're at the beach, which means the waves are busy and it's generally invigorating.  There are rock pools to explore, and if we're lucky there'll be some cuttlefish washed up, and maybe a sponge to collect {that can bring invigorating smells if we're unlucky!}. The air is more humid near the sea, which feels like a blessing on your skin after our dry home.  But that wears off.  Then it's just more of that oppressive humidity.  And sand. And sand flies.
The children love it.  There's just so much water, you see.




We'll continue to holiday in both the mountains and at the beach, but for me and my nose, it's got to be the mountains.


This post was written as part of a challenge at the ProBlogger Conference.

11 Sep 2013

Three reasons to be happy spring has arrived

Firstly, the warm weather has started. It's such a treat after a fairly cold and grey winter. Last year, I was lucky enough to be included in the annual bulb dig after Canberra's spring flower festival Floriade. I brought lots of tulips home and planted them in my garden, and gave some away to my inlaws and local sister as well.
They're just about ready to flower, and I'm thrilled.


Secondly, it's warm enough to camp. Not here, but on the coast. We had a lovely weekend by the shores of Jervis Bay.
Thirdly, it means that the Problogger Conference is nearly here. I'm leaving the family behind and heading to the glamorous Gold Coast.

But first, I'm stopping along the way in Brisbane to see the Quilts exhibition.

And cannot wait. To see the quilts anyway..., the conference I'm a leetle nervous about!

7 Sep 2013

Jeans transformation


Quite some time ago, I pinned a tutorial for converting a pair of jeans into a skirt. This seemed like a great idea, not least since it would eliminate the fit problems that low rise jeans give when combined with my figure.
Last week, I finally took the plunge.




The first method involved unpicking the seams along the inner leg. I started with this technique, but it was really slow. I'm impatient, so switched to the rotary cutter and cut the seams off instead.
Next step was to slice more off; specifically, that pointy bit where the seams previously met between the legs.



Trimming the legs off resulted in a couple of rectangular pieces which I used to fill the gaps.
I just tried to fill the front in with flat piece, being a little worried about what would happen to the shape of the skirt.



In contrast, I angled the back ex-leg pieces out which meant I could add more fabric in, thinking it would be a fuller finish. Turns out, it's not that different, and the extra room starts midway down the thighs. As could have been predicted if I'd thought it through. There are no pictures of the back, since its nearly impossible to take a back skirt selfie - this was awkward enough!

Turns out there's no pictures of the front either - it was both abysmal and sideways!

I'm quite happy with this as an addition to my spring wardrobe. Although I could do with a new pair of jeans...

18 Aug 2013

Escape from winter

Winter's been feeling oppressive lately. Long, and without the sunny days that are typical of our Canberra winters.
Our boy has been playing footy on every weekend all season, so we haven't had a chance to get away.      My parents live on the coast, so I rang them and invited myself down for the weekend.  I took my daughter along, while 'the boys' stayed home.
We had such a lovely break - the weather was perfect, and spring had arrived in Mum & Dad's garden.  Freesias, violets, lemons and the start of the jasmine made for a delicious cocktail for the nose. And green, green grass, where we've still got yellow here. Lovely.




Hopeful of spotting some whales, we took a drive out to Point Perpendicular.  No whales, but gorgeous views.








Dropping in on Honeymoon Bay, it seemed warm enough to swim.




And when I got home, I found some miniature daffodils flowering in our garden, and the sun was shining.
We're making plans; spring's on the way.

15 Aug 2013

Blog Reading without Google Reader

It's been about six weeks now since Google Reader was shut down. Such a useful thing - easy to use and understand, and I loved how it could be part of my I-google homepage. Now, there's much less reason to use google to start every computer trip I take.

I've tried out a few alternatives, and have settled on Feedly. But I forget to visit. Days go by without my reading any blogs. I used to start all computer time by checking for updates. Now, it just slips my mind. Writers who tweet when they've blogged help remind me, as do those who I follow on Instagram.

As a result, I've started to think more about the purpose of a multi stranded social media approach. Previously, I thought it was overkill, and just for overachievers. Now, I'm not so sure.

Logically, I should be tweeting that I've written this.

Oh, and what have I been doing with all the extra free time I've gained google reader left us? Making pictures like this, and other similarly important tasks.




12 Aug 2013

Quilt show

The Canberra Quilters show this year was fabulous! So much colour, so much talent, my brain is still buzzing.

I've no pictures of the quilts to publish but the winning quilts can be seen on the website http://canberraquilters.org.au

This time, I restricted my shopping to just a few magazines (past issues and thus heavily reduced) and a gel printing plate which I'm keen to experiment with.

I'm also more determined to have an exhibition quilt next year.





7 Aug 2013

Pillowcases with crocheted edging


My very patient local sister (I have two very patient sisters) requested some pillowcases with crocheted edging for her Christmas present.



Finally, I've delivered.



Sweet dreams, little sister.

2 Aug 2013

Scrappytripalong!

Just after Christmas, roughly half the quilters on the internet were swept up in the madness of the scrappytripalong. On Instagram, searching with the hashtag  "scrappytripalong" brings up 6644 photos of wonderful quilts.  The Flickr group is a great way to see lots of lovely examples of this quilt too.

The instructions, found at Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site are very clear, but I had trouble visualising the steps.  Fortunately, Michelle demonstrated the technique at a local meeting, and I then understood. 

I used two "Glamping" jelly rolls for this quilt, and it will be used on my daughter's bed.


For the binding, I used leftover pieces from the jelly roll strips, which each measure about 10 inches.  
I quilted it mostly with straight lines, although there is a section through the middle where there are 5 wavy lines.  This was an experiment - but my free motion skills are not great, and  thread breaking issues meant I was happy to revert to just straight lines using the walking foot.  This quilt measures about 60 inches square, and this really is about the limit in size that I can quilt on my machine.

In other good news, this quilt finish means my stash is now 6 metres thinner.... but unfortunately I neutralised that with some lovely fabric from Addicted to Fabric's sale.  Oops!  


29 Jul 2013

Monday means Menu Planning Day

This morning has been busy. Persuading the children to rise and shine, and then actually to go to school. One of them regards school as a perpetual play date, the other doesn't see the point of attending. Sigh.

I've powered through a lot of the items on my list of chores. This is worthy noting, since I'm fairly easily distracted. So part of "Do the washing" was sorting through the tub of backpacks we keep in the laundry. A worthy task, but hardly urgent. Still, it's done now. As well as the washing.

So, the menu.

Monday; stir fried hokkein noodles with minced beef and vegetables.
Tuesday; bulgogi pork with rice and stir fried veg
Wednesday; sausages and creamy pasta ( based on carbonara but with veg)
Thursday; chicken Kiev, potatoes and vegetables
Friday; toasted sandwiches.
Saturday; lasagne and salad
Sunday; leftovers

In addition, I'm baking an orange cake and plan to make some biscuits as well.



The grocery list is delightfully slim; some vegetables, lasagne noodles and some cheese for the lunch boxes.

28 Jul 2013

Sunday night's random thoughts

This isn't a busy time for me, although it probably should be. The children have been back at school for a week now, and we're back in the swing of things.

My parents made a quick trip over during the week to help out my sister, so it was nice spending some time with them.

I've been dreaming of a camping trip, just like the last one.  Sadly, there are months to go before it will be warm enough.

Cleaning, sorting, and organising have continued. I know we've made a lot of progress, but there's still a long way to go. A friend has just gotten rid of all her cheap and nasty yarn.  Maybe I should do the same.  I've been thinking about knitting a new cardigan, but have started to itch around my neck when I wear my hand knits.  It's a worry.
Next year, I want a quilt in the show.  This year would be a good time to get started on that.  Maybe I should make my own kits, parcelling up fabric with a pattern.  Then, when I have that time open to me, there's be a plan waiting, so less dithering... and maybe even some sewing.  Kind of like meal planning for quilting.

Maybe other people already do things like that; it might be one of those organisational things I don't know about.

My children have been spending lots of time playing Zoo Tycoon on the PC.  It's been a long, long time since I played but I remember how absorbing it was.

This week, I'll be

  • attempting to menu plan out of the resources we have here - striving for only one trip to the supermarket, with minimal spending.
  • organising yarn
  • taking photos on the camera, not using the lazy option and just using my phone. (Hmmm, will also be locating the camera!)
  • Sewing!  Something, anything.  Hopefully quilting my scrappy tripalong. That would be a good thing.
  • Adding creative tasks on my To Do list.
  • Blogging three times.

19 Jul 2013

Knitting with the Ashes

My all time favourite sport to watch on the tv is cricket. I think it's because the commentators speak, rather than yell. Quietly spoken men, recounting strange anecdotes and complaining about the scorching conditions (up to 27 degrees today!) It's the soundtrack for a good deal of my childhood, and as such, I find it soothing.
Particularly when my husband's away for work, as he's not tempted to flick around the channels in the ad breaks. I guess the reason my Dad didn't flick around like that was that we didn't have a remote. Ancient history.
Knitting is the perfect accompaniment to an evening of cricket, especially now my cat is no longer quite so inclined to eat the wool. I've got quite a bit done this evening, although have noticed my shaky hand is trembling quite badly. Next time, I think I'll have to take my doctors advice and have some wine with my knitting & cricket. (Apparently the alcohol can ease my shakiness {obviously, consult your own doctor!})





18 Jul 2013

Modes; Creative vs Survival

Lately, all I blog about is how hard it is to find time to make. And that's still my theme, really. I've been letting other things take precedence. My husband's been working hard, long hours and quite a lot of travel. The kids haven't been 100%. Lots of reasons, or excuses, depending on how bad I'm feeling.

We're nearing the end of school holidays, and have had a pretty busy time.


We've made glass tiles, visited the Mint and seen robots making our money, we've had lunch with Daddy.




We've played in the new Pod playground at Canberra's Arboretum (along with every other child in town these holidays), been swimming and been to Sydney to see Disney on Ice. We've caught up with two sets of cousins, and been to see two kids movies (Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University.) the girl's been horse riding, the boy's been to an AFL clinic. And a play date each.

The kids have played surprisingly little Minecraft, due to worries about some of the scary characters encountered. Even choosing creative, instead of survival mode apparently doesn't remove these problems.

Myself, I'm stuck firmly in survival mode. And reading this list over, it's not that surprising.

Meanwhile, tonight I'm planning to knit. Watch some tv, put the tablet down, and knit. It sounds good.

26 Jun 2013

Ups and downs

Points from the week

* I made a delicious pie. Chicken and bacon in a creamy mustard sauce, encased in a shell of cream cheese pastry. Just as good as I remembered. Except I've become lactose intolerant since the last time I made it. Which was a bit of a dampener.


* I made a Hot water bottle cover


* My children went to school camp. Both of them. Overnight. While my husband was away in Melbourne. It was the first night I've spent alone in our house, and was quite, quite strange. I didn't quite know what to do with myself. The kids had a wonderful time.

* We went to the Lifeline Book Fair, and stocked up. There was a tent out the front offering free face painting, and my daughter was shortly adorned with an enormous butterfly. My son said he didn't want to be painted. He's growing up.

* I've thought about sewing, and knitted a few rounds. That's it for creativity - all energies are focused on the upcoming birthday party, for which I've done virtually nothing. Oh well - I bought a huge bag of cheezels and a watermelon for the husband to transform into a turtle. That's all I need, right?

14 Jun 2013

Popping back

The last three weeks have been full of heroic endeavours of organisation and labour. Now my block of work is over, I'm returning to spend quality time with the laundry, the vacuum and the cat. I can tell they've all missed me.


There's also some party planning to do, and I really, really want to do some sewing. In the meantime, here's some of the early artwork for the party project


I think they're great! Of course, a Canberra winter is a great time to be thinking about mermaids...