Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Farewell 2013

It's been a long, tough year for our family. There have been times that I've felt absolutely, totally broken. But there have also been times when my heart has seemed mended and whole - I'm pretty lucky to share my life with some incredibly special people who help make the ride worthwhile.

Here's to a new year - one with hope and joy and connection . . .

In 2013 I committed to taking a picture a day - a Project 365. There were some days that I could not have cared less about taking a picture. And others where I had too many to choose from. But in the midst of my chaos, I just kept clicking.

Every. Single. Day.

This is my 2013 in pictures . . .

App: Project 365 Pro

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Day Tripping

We took a day trip - our first road trip in a while - to the Japanese Gardens at Cowra. In anticipation of a forecast hot day we set off early.

It was an easy 2 and a bit hour drive through country NSW, and we were rewarded with a great big summer sky and glorious vistas . . .

With construction started 35 years ago in 1978, the Japanese Gardens are set on 12.5 acres and are really beautiful. The feel like they've always been there. The overwhelming sense while there was one of tranquility and peace.

We came away with our heads filled with ideas we'd like to incorporate into our own garden. While we've already got some Japanese Maple trees to get started with, we're going to have to get creative in our thinking, though, since our block of land is like the size of a postage stamp in comparison to the Japanese Garden!!

We're looking forward to going back in the autumn to see the stunning Japanese Maples as they change colour . . . and then again in spring to see the Cherry Blossoms . . .

And to creating a little piece of that tranquility of our very own!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

From our home to yours . . .

Wishing you a wonderful, happy and safe Christmas . . . whether it's with family, friends or in your own company . . . may you find peace and joy and contentment.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Build your own dessert

We usually find some tasty little treat for dessert after our family dinners. In the spirit of the festive season, this time it was "build your own . . . Santa".

Take a strawberry . . . add some cream . . . chocolate and vanilla fudge in a tube . . . mixed with a bit of imagination. And what do you get???

Strawberry Santas, of course . . .

Or birds.

Or wierd little guys.

Or smiley faces.

In the midst of all the laughter we did manage to eat a few strawberries - and they were so sweet and tasty. There's nothing quite like a bit of "interactive dessert" to ensure that much laughter and fun is had by all!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Wally-Woo turns One

He's all grown up. He's hairy and loveable. He's scared by sneezes.

And when he's happy his whole body wags!

He loves chasing a ball or playing tug-o-war. And playing chasings around the house or the yard his him in raptures.

He's a totally slightly pampered pooch (Gary may deny it, but it's all true!!!) - think Mrs Pumphrey and Tricky Woo in the James Herriot stories!

But most of all he loves the boys in our house who love him in return just as much! He's brought a whole new dimension to our home . . . in a good way.

Happy 1st Birthday Walter xx

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Plum Pudding anyone?

I know, I know . . . it's too early for Christmas.

Or is it?

I made a couple of these cute little Plum Pudding decorations quite a few years ago, and I thought I'd add a couple more to my collection.

Just out of curiosity, when does it stop being a collection and how many does it take before collection becomes obsession??

If you fancy making one of these yourself, here's a simple "how to" . . .

  • 1 polystyrene ball - I've used a couple of different sizes, but prefer the ones that are just about 1 1/2"
  • Pins - Lills Pins (Short) - one container will make a few puddings, plus 1 longer pin for the hanging loop
  • Sequins - 2 colours, darker for the "pudding" and lighter for the "custard/cream"
  • Beads - little ones to suit the lighter sequins, plus 1 slightly larger red one for the berry
  • Holly - Either metallic ones found in the bead section of your local craft store, or my preferred option, Holly cake picks

  1. Use a pen or fine marker to draw a line around the ball to mark the "custard" line. There's no right or wrong - just whatever is pleasing to your eye.
  2. Starting at the bottom, in the centre, pin dark sequins, cupped side DOWN, to the ball until the entire "pudding" is filled up to the "custard" line. Ensure that the sequins slightly overlap each other so no polystyrene is visible
  3. Load your pin with one little bead, then a lighter sequin, cupped side UP.
  4. Starting at the "custard" line, working your way around and then up to the centre top, pin bead/sequins in place. As with the bottom sequins, ensure the sequins slightly overlap each other so no polystyrene is visible. Leave a small area at the top to add the holly.
  5. Trim the stem of the holly to somewhere between 3/4 & 1" (long enough to poke into the ball, but not so long that it pokes out the other end!) 
  6. Using a small amount of glue (suitable for polystyrene) on the stem of the holly, poke the stem into the ball.
  7. Tie a knot in the end of a looped length of metallic thread for the hanger.
  8. Load a small clear bead and then the red bead onto the larger pin (if you've got a larger head on your pin and it doesn't fall through the bead, then don't worry about the clear bead). Poke the pin through the knot of the hanger thread.
  9. Again, using a small amount of glue on the pin, poke the pin into the ball, in front of the holly. I then adjusted the hanger thread so that it wrapped around to the back of the holly leaves (it seemed to hang a bit neater that way). If your holly cake pick comes with a couple of berries attached, you're done. If not, add a couple more red beads on longer pins in front of the holly to make a cluster of berries.
  10. Let the glue dry thoroughly before hanging your "Pudding". Trust me on this - the pins will eventually come out if you don't glue, or don't let the glue dry thoroughly. And no-one wants their pudding falling off the tree prematurely!!
  11. All that's left to do is enjoy these little puddings hanging on your tree (and they sparkle quite nicely if you have lights on your tree, too).

These sequined Plum Puddings make great decorations and great little gifts. They are delightful and calorie-free! Will you stop at just one??

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

It's a matter of perspective

Sometimes you need to get up close to see the detail . . .

Sometimes you need to be further away . . .

To get a different perspective.

We've been to Floriade many times over the 26 years that it's been running. The flowers are always beautiful, colourful and plentiful. But this is the first time we've been up on the Ferris Wheel to see the view from above.

I guess it's the same for gardens . . . or craft . . . or life. Sometimes you need to see and focus on the detail and sometimes you need to take a step back and take in the bigger picture from another perspective.

There's no right or wrong, no better or worse. Both have their own unique purpose and beauty.  I'm so glad I got to be reminded of that. And to see both perspectives of Floriade this year . . .

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Paper Roses

Do you pin?

I do.

But usually that's about as far as the creative process goes.

Well, inspired by Liz Lamoreux's "Pinned it. Did it." posts, I finally did more than pin, browse and pin some more . . .

Stacy Cohen's tutorial for making Paper Roses caught my eye and thought I'd give it a try.

I already had the flower punch. The ink. The paper. And no excuses.

The result was a quick to make, cute paper rose. I'm not sure quite what I'm going to do with it. But what I can say is that I finally did more than just pin it . . .  I pinned it. And I did it!

Pattern: Paper Rose
Designer: Stacey Cohen
Publication: http://stacycohen.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/prima-layout-and-paper-rose-flower.html

Sunday, 8 September 2013

There's change in the air

It's been a tough year . . . with some very grey and bleak moments.

But there's hope and brightness creeping back in . . .

And this picture taken today in our front garden represents that hope and light.

How beautiful is that blue sky? Clear and strong and vibrant.

And the glorious pink blossoms . . . beautiful and fragile. Their presence fleeting but the memory lasting much longer.

The new leaves, the new life of the tree - hardly visible but there none the less - about to explode into life. The hope and promise of renewal.

I suppose that's how life is, isn't it? Fleeting and precious. And filled with the promise of greatness . . .

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Civil War Shoofly Blocks

It seemed about time I did some stitching. And this poor Civil War quilt has been in progress for so long now, that I want to see it pieced and bound!

I've had the fabrics for these Shoofly blocks cut, just waiting for time, energy and inspiration to collide.

Finally, when all the stars were aligned, I stitched . . .

and I stitched . . .

and I stitched!

Now I have all the "filler" blocks done I need to give serious thought to the sashings between the blocks. I'm pretty sure I'm going to arrange all the blocks on point, which I've never done before!

Now to consider what colour for the sashings. And corner stones, too . . .

Decisions, decisions.

Pattern: Civil War Quilts
Designer: Barbara Brackman
Publication: http://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com/

Friday, 21 June 2013

Chaos, your name is Walter

Let's get a puppy he said.

I don't think so I said.

Let's just look he said.

There are rules I said.

He must be well mannered.

No digging in the back garden.

No jumping on people.

Not on the lounge.

So you can see how well that worked out!

Is the problem the dog? Walter? No, I mean, he's cute as a button . . .

Is the problem his human? You betcha!!! You see what I'm dealing with . . .

This boy and his dog are definitely good for each other. But as a duo are they good for me?

The jury's still out . . .

And while it's deliberating, I'm trying to overlook the chaos, the hairy . . . everything, the muddy paw prints.

And remembering to enjoy the funny way he has to run and grab a toy to show when he sees us first thing in the morning. And being able to comfort him when he hides behind my legs when someone sneezes or coughs. And remind myself that he's still just a puppy . . . with a lot of learning yet to do. 

And that he's lovely!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Chateau Hexagon - Birdhouse Corner

I've signed up for Lynette Anderson's (Mystery) Button Club - Chateau Hexagon. It started this month and runs for 9 months.  I'm using the fabrics suggested by Lynette, which have the most wonderful, muted and muddy palette. At the end of it I'll have a 26" x 37" quilt to hang on my wall.

The first block is "Birdhouse Corner".

And I've finished stitching it!


It's a lovely block to start off with . . . and has the cutest little bumble bees!!! Now I'm into the swing of it, bring on month 2, I say . . .

Pattern: Chateau Hexagon - Month 1 - Birdhouse Corner
Designer: Lynette Anderson
Publication: http://lynetteandersondesigns.typepad.com/lynette_anderson_designs/

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Pear for June

When I saw Marly's original Pear Sampler (now Pear Sampler 1) back in the middle of last year, I knew it was a project I wanted to do. So I stitched it up and then did another one of my own design with a number sampler.

Marly's posted patterns for quite a few pear samplers since that first one. While most of them really appeal to me, I haven't quite gotten around to stitching any others . . . but her pattern for June really grabbed me! So out came the needle, threads and fabric . . .

Once I'd finished stitching I decided I didn't really need another "ornamental" pear, and instead appliqued it onto a journal cover.

While it was . . . nice . . . it seemed . . . hmm . . . not quite right.

So I unpicked the applique and did what I should have done in the first place - I made it up into a "pear". And I'm really glad I did, because I'm so happy with how it's turned out!

I've filled the pear with a mix of fibre fill (at the top around the stalk) and then crushed walnut shells and silica sand. This gives it a nice, heavy, substantial feeling, which I really like. Now I've got the bug again, the big question is . . . which one will I stitch next???

Pattern: Pear X
Designer: Marly - Samplers and Santas
Publication: http://samplers-and-santas.blogspot.com.au/p/pears.html

Fabric: 27 count linen
Threads: DMC 3041, 3042, 611, 3023, 3053, 3820

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Badger Cottage

A little while ago I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a full day workshop with Lynette Anderson . . . and these two projects from the Badger Cottage pattern are what we worked on for the day . . .

A journal cover with the cutest little yo-yos (Suffolk Puffs) and a pencil case with lots of little hexies.

The main fabric for the journal cover is a beautiful brushed cotton (found while scouring the store for fabric with Lynette for the "Stitched By Me" quilt I plan to make).

I really enjoyed working on both of these projects and thoroughly enjoyed having Lynette as a tutor . . . her style really suited me and she was great fun!

I was really in need of a bit of stitching companionship and I'd have to say that this workshop came at just the right time for me. To make the day complete I shared a table with a great group of ladies . . . and we even managed a stitch or two amid all the chatting and eating . . .

Pattern: Badger Cottage
Designer: Lynette Anderson
Publication: http://lynetteandersondesigns.typepad.com/lynette_anderson_designs/

Friday, 5 April 2013

Rabbit & Chicks Fabric Basket

With the cross stitch worked for this last Easter, this lovely little piece has languished long enough . . . I thought it was time to do something with it.

But what?

Well, this Easter I decided to make a larger version of the fabric basket I made back in about 2009 . . .

This one stands about 9" tall and about 8" wide, so should make a good little project bag! I absolutely love the French Blue linen and the custard coloured stitching - a colour combination I've wanted to work with for a while now.

And what's more, I'm really pleased to have finally put this little cross stitch to good use. Not much point just having it sit in a box any longer . . .

I find there's something quite satisfying about making something with purpose. And this is one bag that I'm sure will serve it's purpose well!

Cross Stitch Pattern: Rabbit & Chicks
Designer: Luli
Publication: http://ioluli.blogspot.com.au/

Fabric Basket Pattern: Inspired by Pink Penguin's Fabric Basket Tutorial
Publication: http://ayumills.blogspot.com.au/2008/05/tutorial-fabric-basket.html

Fabric: 32 count Belfast Linen, French Blue
Thread: DMC 676, 2 strands 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Project 365 - March 2013

I've been taking a photo of a day for my Project 365 - 2013. Some days I've looked at the pictures I've taken and thought how "ordinary" they were. But on reflection, next year or the year after that, or maybe even the decade after that, when I look back it's probably the "ordinary" that will bring back some of the most "extra-ordinary" memories.

This is my March 2013 . . .

Click here to see a bit more about the month of March in my world.

And while you're there why not check out how January and February looked through the lens of my camera?

App: http://www.iphoneproject365.com

Friday, 29 March 2013

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Hexagons - A new life

I started making these little 1/2" hexagon flowers a long time ago and then just stopped. But now I'm giving them a new lease of life . . .

I am adding a hexagon at each end and changing them from flowers to diamonds!

I've had to re-purpose some suffolk puffs (or yo-yos) from another pile of unfinished pieces for a couple of them, since I'd used every last scrap of a couple of fabrics. Some of these fabrics were used in a quilt or two. Then the scraps became circles to be stitched into yo-yos. Then these little hexies were cut from the scraps from between the circles!

This will probably end up being a table runner, not the queen sized quilt I once imagined! Still, better something than nothing, right?

Pattern: Hexagons - 1/2"

Friday, 22 February 2013

Civil War Quilt . . . Re-visited

It's been a very long time since I've done any sort of patchwork. And my Civil War Quilt has languished in the project box - half done, incomplete.

Well I've been inspired by seeing more of the finished quilts of others who started this project way back in January 2011. Inspired enough to start stitching!

I'm going to make some "filler" blocks and decided on the "Shoofly" block. I like its simplicity and that it can really show off the fabrics and blocks of colour.

It was lovely playing with the fabrics again.

Making choices.



My plan is to do some preparation by cutting the pieces as the urge takes me. And then they will be ready when I have some spare moments to stitch. No deadlines, just stitching for pleasure.

And I've made 5 blocks already.

Who knows, I may even finish this quilt this year . . .

Pattern: Civil War Quilts
Designer: Barbara Brackman
Publication: http://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com/

Friday, 1 February 2013


This week we had to say goodbye to Cadbury - our big brown dog, the best kind of chocolate (Labrador). She's been our companion for 11½ years. Now she's gone. And we will miss her every day.

Even though her health had been failing of late, she still had moments where the puppy in her (we thought long since gone) showed itself unexpectedly. Like her sneaky escape through the open garage door, seizing the opportunity for a trip to the park at the end of our street - unaccompanied - and eventually returning home happier for her brazen adventure!

She, who was spending most of her days snoozing in the sun, resting her weary bones.

She, who seemed more and more like a frail, grand old lady.

She, who would never come when she was called. Right from the start. That was our downfall - causing us to fail puppy classes!

We're feeling her absence deeply, but remembering her spirit, her gorgeous velvet ears and her antics make us smile. And we'll always be grateful for the gift of having her as part of our family . . .

"... what we have enjoyed, we can never lose ... all that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

Helen Keller

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Books and Photos

I love digital photography. I love that it's quick, easy and instant.

But . . . so many of our photos never make it out of the computer and into real life.

So I decided to change that.

I made a book. Of 2012. The photos I love . . . and want to remember . . . and share.

I'm really pleased with this book. It's linen covered and a little bit special. It was fun to put together and arrived on our doorstep in next to no time. This is a Bespoke Book from MILK Books (I used the Memories Landscape template). I'm already thinking about making the next one . . .

And I also decided a little while ago to have a book printed of my blog. I'd seen the Blog2Print books being talked about on a couple of other blogs and thought I'd check them out.

I'm really happy with this book, too. It's pretty cool to have this reminder of my blog to look back on (without having to sit in front of a computer). As our family historian, I record other peoples' stories, so it's good to have my story (or at least part of it) recorded for posterity too. After all, aren't all of our stories important?

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