Thursday, August 16, 2018

Getting away

Following the great results of my latest CT scan last week, which showed that my lung cancer is stable, my husband and I felt brave enough at last to run away from home for four weeks.

Today marks the end of our first week away - the time has gone so quickly! We've been to Rutherglen (Vic), Forbes, Dubbo and Narrabri (NSW) and Toowoomba in Queensland and are now comfortably ensconced in an AirBnB apartment at Peregian Beach for a week. When I was so ill earlier this year, the thing I most wanted, apart from not being ill, was a holiday in the sun. The further away we got from chilly Ballarat, the warmer the weather. It's been delightful to throw off the layers and I'm planning a sandal-shopping expedition tomorrow.

Not so delightful has been the state of the countryside. While northern Victoria and just over the border was green, the further we travelled into NSW the more drought-stricken the country appeared. It wasn't diffiult to understand why farmers are having such a dreadful time.

We've seen such interesting sights and had some lovely (and some very ordinary! ) meals - the best was at All Saints winery at Wahgunyah, Vic.  Expensive but worth it - what a treat. Visiting the Dish at Parkes was great, Dubbo's open range zoo was interesting  and we enjoyed stopping at Goondiwindi and staying in Toowoomba but the highlight of the trip so far was being able to spend some time with the gorgeous Chooky.  We made a big detour to take her out for lunch in Coonamble and we were all delighted to see each other. Chooky is one of my very favourite people and despite the hard time on her farm she still has that beautiful smile.

Tomorrow is for mundanities such as settling in to our accommodation, doing the washing (and buying sandals) and planning for the rest of our time here. Can't wait to see what this region has to offer.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Friday night with friends

I signed up for last week's FNFW and actually remembered to take part this time!
Nothing really interesting to show but I'm pleased to have made so much progress on the cardigan I've been knitting for a while that it should be finished before  we go away next Sunday for a few days. We're heading down to Torquay on the Victorian coast - it won't be much warmer there than it is here in Ballarat - where the temperature is stuck on BRRRRRRR degrees - but the change of scene will be very welcome. What did everyone else  get up to?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hello again ... at last

Hello, little neglected blog. Hello, bloggy friends. I'm not the most frequent blogger at the best of times but it's been an eventful year. In February, after several hospital admissions to have fluid drained from my right lung, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. As a life-long non-smoker,  it was the biggest shock for me and all my family and friends and such a struggle to come to terms with - especially as my dad died of the same disease 30 years ago at the age I am now (66).

 The first months after the diagnosis were pretty awful - killer fatigue, emotional melt-downs , aches and pains ... but now I'm feeling well ... and without being all Pollyanna-ish, I'm feeling pretty lucky.  I still get tired but can now walk around without struggling for every breath or needing to lie down after climbing the stairs. All the medical services I need are 10 minutes down the road, my oncologist is my hero and my treatment is simple - just one pill every day for the foreseeable future. That pill has already shrunk the tumour and the secondaries - see what I mean about feeling lucky?

Now that I'm stronger and pretty much back to normal, my husband is more able to enjoy doing his own thing (he's a keen golfer) instead of spending all his time  being my carer and keeping everything running at home. He's my hero, too. We've had some enjoyable outings recently in our local goldfields area - to Bendigo for the fabulous, marvellous, wonderful (can you tell I enjoyed it?) Marimekko exhibition, to Craig's (Ballarat's poshest hotel) overnight for our 42nd wedding anniversary, to tiny towns we'd never before visited for an arts trail that showed creativity is everywhere (the photo shows international quilt judge and art quilter Jenny Bacon's work hanging outdoors as part of her exhibition at Adelaide Lead school.)

So far this year there has been little crafting. Simple knitting is fine though - last month I made two cute little mice, flowers and leaves for a brooch and am making good headway with a cardigan for myself. My usual fabric crafting loves would require too much concentration than I'm up for at present but that will come.

 One of the things I have discovered in this steep-learning-curve of a year is how tremendously kind people can be. In hospital, nurses busy on their rounds would hold my hand when I was upset. There have been lots of messages, phone calls and visits (my daughter's visit from China in February and my brothers' visits  from NZ were highlights.) At night I snuggle under a beautiful quilt covered in a rainbow of  hearts - the epitome of kindness and a fine example of social media's power for good. My  Instagram post about the diagnosis was greeted with a flood of good wishes - and my lovely friend Abbe's (that's her on the right) hush-hush campaign of collecting squares contributed  by  these very same people  for a quilt. So many squares were sent - mainly from Australia but from NZ, England and Germany too -  that the quilt she made is huge, with hearts on the front and back. It was such a heartwarming gesture and the quilt is such a comfort.

So ... that's my year so far. I'm crossing my fingers that the second half of 2018 will be kind  and that there will be some crafty fabricy things made. Meanwhile, the sun is shining and we're off to Clunes (a lovely little goldfields town about half an hour away) for a craft market and coffee. If you've managed to make it this far without nodding off - thanks for your company.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Oh Christmas tree

My Christmas trees are up, the house is decorated and the Christmas baking is done and in the freezer, away from prying eyes/fingers (but  not completely successfully - I have to admit to sneaking a couple of mince pies) .

And although we really don't need any more decorations, I just had to make this little one last night for FNFW. It was part of a kit and was so easy as every piece was pre-cut. It's joined all the other hand-made lovelies on my main tree  - some purchased, some made by me, others given to me by friends or  in previous swaps hosted by Chookyblue . So many lovely memories there. 

We also have a little tree, which features my collection of bird decorations. They're mainly in glass or wood and include some Huon pine beauties purchased at Salamanca Market in Hobart years ago. There are also two delicate little gold  Danish birds given to us by Majken, our exchange student from Greenland who lived with us for a year when she was 18. More special memories.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Popped in to FNSI tonight - first time for ages. Last week I knitted some little mittens for a Christmas decorations swap so tonight's task was making another set for home. They're so quick and easy that I had time to do some additional stitching on a pincushion project designed by Kathy Schmitz.

Thanks to  Wendy for getting us all together tonight and for my first blog post for far too long.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Where did July go?

I have no idea where July went. It's been a bit of a blur - a bit of stitching, happy times with my husband and friends, a surprise wedding (not mine!)  and lots of thinking.

The  wedding was that of a dear friend and her partner. We were invited to a venue by the lake to celebrate her birthday and after a while the real reason for the gathering was revealed. It was such fun , just the loveliest surprise.

The thinking - well, my husband and I have agreed that our 2-storey house is too big for just the two of us and we're ready to downsize. We'll have to get rid of a lot of stuff and I am REALLY not looking forward to sorting out my sewing room. We live in a suburb close to the lake and gardens and we really want to stay in the neighbourhood if possible. Stay tuned.

The stitching - a strawberry pincushion for my friend's  birthday - note to self: make a wedding present! -  some hexies to put together for the clock in Sharon's lovely book and clamshells for the dilly bag in the same book. I've joined a stitchalong for this project - it's fun getting to know the Canadian and English ladies in the group and see what everyone's doing. I'm the slowest - too many distractions. I met the organiser, Cathy,  in London last year and my Tassie friend Leanne is another member. What fun!

I'm taking part in fewer swaps these days but couldn't resist Cheryll's Christmas in July swap.  Anthea was my partner and these were my gifts - aren't they great.

 I sent to Illene but forgot to take a photo. Anyway, she likes the gifts I sent -  a Christmas stocking, a keepsakes pouch with an angel appliquéd on the front and an appliquéd holly decoration-   which is always a relief because with swaps there are so many unknowns.

What with all this, plus a visit to the craft and quilt fair in Melbourne  with my dear friend Jeni and meeting lovely Ros from in my equally lovely friend Annie's beautiful garden, it's been quite a month.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


This weekend - or today at least - I'm being a couch potato, treating my suddenly sore back with my homemade heat pack and watching Scotland beating  the Wallabies in rugby.  24-19, in case you're interested. I was born in Scotland and raised in NZ so that's where my allegiances lie. Rugby is the only sport I follow - when you grow up in NZ you just can't get away from it. Must say I was impressed when my Aussie husband sang "Flower of Scotland" with me and the Scots in the crowd - and I have to say we were a whole lot more tuneful than the kilted singer.

Last weekend I was less of a lazybones. We're fortunate to have a small and beautiful fabric shop, Cotton Factory here in Ballarat and owner Alison organises some fun activities such as the weekend retreat I attended along with 70-something other craft enthusiasts and presenters from near and far.  It was two days of  hugging, chatting, laughing, eating and - oh yes, doing some stitching too. Not that I finished anything. No matter.
There was just so much talent in the room. One of the ladies at my table was working on the most magnificent fussy-cut EPP stars. The swap was a great hit on the first day. We'd all been sent some rather unpromising geography- themed fabrics and there was such a variety of amazing makes. I scored this bag, which I really really love (seen here with a few extras that were in our box of goodies plus a couple of things I won).

And this is what I made with my world map fabric (which I ended up liking - my swap partner was pretty pleased too.)

The presenters were all super-talented too. There was toymaker and fabric designer (and my favourite rude person) Jodie Carleton, quilters Kate Henderson from WA and Peta Peace from Queensland, EPP queen Sharon Burgess, longarm quilter Wendy Gleeson, Andi Herman, who produces patterns for pixellated quilts from photos and spent some time at my house finishing  her fabric mosaic mini featuring Anh Do - what a brilliant technique! - and international quilt judge Jenny Bacon.  Each was so lovely and so  generous with telling their personal stories and providing beautiful, inspirational displays. It was a weekend none of us will forget in a hurry.