Friday, 29 January 2010

Busy busy busy!!!!

I have been so busy the last week or so...
Have had The Beez from Berlin staying with us. They were playing at Newstead Live! festival last weekend but were heere for longer. An absolute delight to have around - and better still! they are returnign whilst on their travels.
They are performing all over the East Coast of Oz, and then some - Adelaide (Spiegeltent) and Darwin, and up to Brissie, Toowoomba etc. Check out the link above for gig dates and get along.
Terribly good - slick and tight performers of everything from very serious (I think) German and Russian songs to farcical skits of all sorts of classics...
AND - they will be on Spicks and Specks some time soon.

I remade a frock of Jula's - it was too cosy under the arms with a way too modest neckline.
So I recut it, and fortunately had more wide dark blue cotton ric-rac in my stash to match the 1960s stuff around the hemline.
This is Jula in her remade 1960's frock. She plays bass in the band, and has a Masters in Theology... (Oooh that sounds like a dating thing - she doesn't need a date!)And here she is on stage:
Check out the boots...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Since I bought this place - the very first home I ever owned - I just delight in being able to hammer nails into walls or paint stuff, or knock out walls. All the things frowned upon by landlords...

Yesterday I had a little painting frenzy. Actually both things I painted are furniture so the grumpy landlord thing wouldn't have applied anyways...

Last year Smellie 3 used to work in a hardware shop in the City. They finally sacked him - FOR BEING TOO HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!! (True).

He got me some super cheap paint before he left.
No wonder they couldn't sell this can - it is CHEERFUL YELLOW! (not it's title, just the colour of it).
I painted the back of the linen closet which faces in to the lounge from the bathroom, and also the back of the book case in the bathroom.

I didn't take a Before pic - but it was bare dark masonite, very gloomy.
Now it exudes light!
I also added a wool blanket in the same acid yellow to the back of the couch (stop looking - it isn't in this shot), and how about that wonderful 1970s Marimekko material? It has the same yellow in it.
So does the little kimono.
Which has a story.
We had a Japanese student stay with us 7 years ago. And the next year he came back, and his family asked if there was anything I really wanted. So I asked for some scraps of silk kimono.
But instead of a scrap bag they sent this. It is from the late 1930s and belonged to Hiroki's grandmother when she was about 8. It is gorgeous. The sleeves have three layers - pale pink and scarlet peeping through.

Next job will be the pantry cupboards - I bought another TV cabinet on eBay the other day. That is it now - just to make shelves and some doors and drag them in to the pantry. Fabulous!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Traveller Returns

One of my nieces went to Denmark 12 months ago as a Rotary Exchange student.
Sunday night we went to Melbourne Airport to wait for her return.
Lew, Floss, Frosty and I waited, leaping every time the doors from Customs and Immigration opened!

Caitlin was 15 when she left, and very nervous and frankly a skinny child...

This woman returned to us!!!!

She has had a fabulous time in Denmark, and is planning to return for her Uni studies...(and she put on 12 kgs and grew a foot taller!)

This is the Travelling Quilt I made for her to take away with her. It is Aussie quilt labels with red or blue triangle edges on each block then gold or green sashing.

Friends and family wrote on lots of the labels, and she says the quilt is now covered with memories of her travels.

Welcome home Caity!!!!

Busy Sunday!

I did so much on Sunday that I am only now getting to the computer...

It was The Sweetheart's Dad's 88th birthday.
He went in to Happy Paddocks Nursing Home* a few months ago after a fall and 6 weeks in the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He is a good old bloke - trotted off to hippydom in his 50s, grew his hair, got into Substances (*possibly*) and became a potter. A wonderful potter.

On a scale of kerosene to ten, Happy Paddocks rates about 12. It is terribly elegant, lovely antique furniture, classy prints, huge arrangements of silk flowers (that from a distance look real, are dusted frequently, and swapped around so the residents believe they have fresh flowers every week...), water features and marble at the entrance, even a concierge.
And terribly expensive.
Dad was a Rat of Tobruk and then fought in New Guinea and consequently has a Veteran's Affairs Gold Card which makes it possibly for him to be in this place.
I made a quilt for him when he moved into Happy Paddocks.

His partner Barbara is a beautiful, elegant woman. She used to be a stewardess in the 60s with Lufthansa, and has a bucketload of German effiency and style. She goes to visit him almost every day (train, two trams and some walking), and on Sunday organised a fabulous afternoon tea (would we have expected anything less????). Her own baked cheesecake, chocolate mud cake, fruit cake (that was all fruit), nibblies, as well as champagne, real coffee, tea. And organised a private room for the event.

I made a quilt for Barbara. It was going to be a Christmas present but with everything else I just didn't get it finished even though I started it in November. Far more sewing than I expected actually, even though it was quilt As You Go. Those 1" strips... And I also hand stitched all the strips on the back over the raw edges. (Excuses, excuses...).

Here is the quilt:

And here is Barbara after she finished being overwhelmed (she teared up!). That is Dad in the foreground with one of my handsome step-boys:

And she HUGGED me! Isn't she gorgeous? She was born in 1932, I hope I look as beautiful when I am heading towards 80. Tho I know enough about genetics to realise that there isn't much chance of having any of the genes of a step-mother. And a double de facto one at that...

* Not it's real name...

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Socks for Thailand...

My Next Sister Down, Elspeth, and her DD the Youngest just spent three weeks volunteering in an orphanage in northern Thailand (she is a super nurse who did health tests on the kids etc).
She has a request.
If you have an Aldi near you and can help out, please give her a shout. Her email is
(Elspeth is in Buderim, some of you have met her along the way!).
Thanks heaps!

Date: 2010/1/16
Subject: Socks for Thai orphanage

Hi.. just doing a quick check around the you happen to have an Aldi store near you...? If so, are you able drop in and see if there are any of their grey school socks (pack of 7 for $6.99)..preferably med (size 13-3)and large(size 2-8) are the ones we need the most of..( some small will be ok too).
They have bright coloured toes and heels and are on page 6 of current catalogue...
I am trying to find 180 pairs for 90 children!!!
They are on special this week....started on Thurs..let me know if you can ...just buy them on the spot as they will disappear quickly.. I can reimburse you
and the Head Office of Mercy International is helping me too.
Caloundra only had 6 packs so I bought those and Qld Aldi is trying to get some more but are not linked to other states.
Hope you can find some or maybe you have a contact who can.. let me know if you have any success

Love Elspeth xx

PS I am not going to worry about reimbursement, it is a small contribution to helping the world be a better place.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Friday Flaunt

I got my sewing mojo back!!!

Because it has been so lovely and cool (only about 30*) I have been sewing.
I made a quilt top on the last two afternoons.
I had some Mary Engelbright Jelly Rolls from Miss Vikki Frou Frou when she was having her clean-out.
I used this pattern from Piece N Quilt. She only used one Jelly Roll, and I had TWO. HOORAY!!!!
My quilt therefore is much larger, 66" x 80", it will come down a bit with quilting. Or may go up a bit if I add another border...
(If you are unaware of just what a Jelly Roll is here is an explanation).

Last night, when it was hanging from the Design Balcony I saw that I should have got anal about the stripes. Because I had two JRs I could have extended the colours in the border so they matched up with the centre panel. In the bottom row I fluked a blue, pink and green, and a red, green and pink in the top row.
Last night I thought about unpicking and resewing it so it all matched up.
But I had had a few Bloody Marys - now that I have sobered up I realise it would be a really silly thing to do...
This is a detail of the flowers. Yet to sew them on, and there are also leaves to add, but I ran out of vliesofix. The flowers are raw edge, but I made the stem the same way as the pattern said.

I got immensely clever with the mitred corners.
They aren't mitred at all, but striped panels cut in half diagonally, swapped around and sewn back together.

Five strips are 10.5" wide (close enough to 10" which is what the border panel widths are). Make four of these, same colours in the same places. (But better if they are diff materials tho for that scrappy look).
Cut two of the panels from top left to bottom right and the other two from top right to bottom left. Swap 'em around and sew the centre seam.

Join them to the ends of the side panels and then on to the quilt. I sewed the top and bottom panels on first.
Because the top is made from Jelly Rolls then the measurements are easy. It is just multiples of 2.5".
There is a fraz of fudging on the half square triangles which are the corner units - because you lose a bit in the centre seams. But nothing a bit of steam and some judicious stretching whilst sewing wont fix...

And this is how clever the corners look:

I saved all the white background strips for the binding, and there are a couple of bits of side border, two lengths of red and some scraps from the flowers and trimmings to add to the backing.

The JRs are Baskets of Flowers by Mary Engelbreit for Moda.
The backing is going to be Pantone 3005U which is a lovely 1940s era blue.

(BTW, I borrowed The Sweetheart's Pantone Guide. It is a wonderful tool. And you could spend hours playing with their website...)

This quilt reminds me of Mum's aprons.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Global Heating....

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere and having to pile quilts on your bed and thaw icecream before eating it, and you can't get out your front door, then you probably envy our weather.

Cos I sure as hell envy yours!

I reckon you can always add another layer when it is cold but there is a legal - and aesthetic - limit to what one can remove when it is hot.

It was 45* here on Monday, and then didn't go below 34* overnight. (That is about 110*F and 94*F). Actually, 34* seemed so cool by comparison that I slept quite well...!

There were Country Fire Authority warnings of Catastrophic Fire Days, telling people to leave early if they didn't have a fire plan or if their homes were not defendable. And this house is still full of gaps, and would be impossible to save if there was a fire and ember attack.

On Black Saturday, February 7 when 173 people were killed and a thousand homes burned, I was here with my overalls and boots all ready, and metal buckets and mops and the bath filled with water.
I now realise that if there had been a fire I would be dead.
This is a map (thank you Wikipedia) of bushfires in Victoria this decade.

The green area is the fires of 2003 when my brother and sister in law at Mitta Mitta had fire around them for two weeks, burning right to their garden fence.

The blue area is '06-'07 when all the High Country burned. The Alpine Fires were the biggest fires in Victoria's history, and burnt for 2 months.

This is a satellite photo of the enormous drift of smoke.

And this is what it looked like from the ground at Tarrawingee in the North East.

Red is Black Saturday. There is a scary big gap between Ballarat and the little red blobs of Black Saturday at Bendigo. Which is where I am. And that is also mostly bush - lots of State Forest, and Crown Land, and just lovely bush blocks (like mine) all tinder dry (like mine).

I hope this isn't where the next big fires are. Sometimes ice and snow and freezing cold looks like SUCH a great alternative!

I actually left here at the weekend and went south to The Sweetheart's. He has air conditioning and that made life bearable.
Came back here last night in a light drizzling rain, and a 20* drop in temperature. The garden is all crispy and frizzled. But it would have been like this if I had stayed so I don't feel too guilty. The tomatoes are still battling along, hooray!

OzJane has summed up most succinctly the weather of the last couple of days. Check out what she had to say.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Pantry Upcycling...

My pantry was appalling when I moved in. The previous owner seems to have closed the door on it about 1990 and hoped it would all go away.
There were exploded and rusted jars and tins that had dripped all over what were once rather nice WIDE pine shelving. It didn't smell too bad (!?) but was all blackened and sticky - like molasses over every shelf.
So we just hauled it all out and burned the lot.
There was also a great pit in the centre of the floor with a mud brick wall beside it and a hole in the wall to outside. The idea being that the hole was filled with water, air rushed in through the hole from outside and cooled the pantry. All I could see where teams of snakes, bush rats and spiders marching in...
So the Smellies and I filled it all in.

Since then the pantry has had a mish mash of shelves made from planks and besser bricks, and old pine dressers. The dressers are lovely, but impractial really.
The room isn't at all antechinus proof. Nor mouse proof...though the antechinuses mostly keep the mickey mice down totally cos they are such lovely carnivorous little marsupials.

So this is what it all looks like when you open the door:

It now has a bricked floor but is very messy. There isn't enough storage. It needs seriously sorting.

Am also VERY inspired by Poppytalk! Check that lovely pantry with it's baskets and golden shelves. (Country Living, Photo: Keith Scott Morton)

The other week I had a brilliant idea for cupboards.
I am upcycling old timber TV cabinets.
This sort of thing on eBay.
(If that link has expired think about those pine uglies with a big gap in the centre for the tv, and with glass doors either side, a shelf or two for DVD player and VCR, and some cupboards or drawers at the bottom for vids, cables that belong to nothing, old dvd covers without their contents
Everyone (else, ha ha) has WIIIIIDE screen tvs now.
Consequently, they are flogging off their monstrosities for peanuts.
Incredibly cheap cupboards and shelving!!!
I bought one yesterday for $110. It is 2400 long and the pantry is 2400 square. So that is one wall taken care of!

Off to pick it up today.

That is my Friday Flaunt - my brilliant greeny idea!!!!

Saturday, 2 January 2010


This is Hans Heysen's painting of his wife Sally at her sewing machine. There is a Hans Heysen exhibition at the Hobart Museum and Art Gallery at the moment.

I wonder what she is sewing?

Happy New Year, too. 2010 is going to be a ripper. There will be some more give-aways here too. I also have my Pay It Forward to do.