Friday, December 27, 2013

... and still more swap gifts

I took part in three Christmas swaps this year and have been very spoilt by my lovely partners.

This was my 4th? 5th? year of taking part in Chookyblue's Secret Santa Christmas Swap; it's always fun. The international swaps are particularly special I think because they seem to make this big wide and often troubled world smaller and friendlier - but then all swaps (and swappers) are special too. I love stalking blogs and choosing patterns and changing my mind umpteen times about what I am going to make and knowing that people who are making things for me will be going through the same process.

This year I made gifts for Dagmar in Germany, who was fun to make for. I can't show what I made her as she hasn't posted yet, but I was tickled pink when she sent me a 'thank you' gift of one of the fabric postcards she makes. We have had some nice emails back and forth too. Dagmar's blog was new to me but now I'm an avid reader; she makes some amazing things and as a keen traveller has been to many amazing places.

I've already shown the Christmas decoration Grethe in Norway made for me - and how about this table runner as my 'under-the-tree' present. I love it and it looks so good on my coffee table. Thank you so much, Grethe.

 .Maria sent me so many goodies in the Santa Sack swap organised by Cheryll. I kept two for under the tree, tucking them away in the giant Christmas stocking she made for me. Don't you love that little red hen - I certainly do. And how nice to have another Christmas table runner. Maria, you were such a great swap partner - thanks heaps.

And these were the lovely handmade pillowcases from Sharni in Maree's 6 items swap - now looking gorgeous on our bed. Sharni sent me lots of lovely things which I have already displayed in a previous post - and it's thanks to her that my collection of handmade Christmas ornaments has increased dramatically.

I've been in touch with all my partners and they know how much I appreciate their kindness. It IS  a small world after all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

More swap gifts

Meet my new friend - he sort of burst out of the parcel Maria sent me in Cheryll's Santa Sack swap (I've already shown the gorgeous stocking she made). Isn't he colourful and cheerful - I do hope he's not too noisy first thing in the morning though!

I love the Christmas tree potholder, which is currently sitting on my kitchen bench looking cute and Christmassy - and would you look at the trim on that tea towel; I know another chook-loving friend will be so jealous.

And that's not all - there are still two more parcels stashed away in that stocking. I wonder what they could be - I'll find out on Wednesday. Thank you so much, Maria. This has been a fun swap. Go to Maria's blog to see what I sent her.

As mentioned in my previous post, Sharni was my partner in Maree's 6 items swap. Here's more of what she sent me - something to read (craft mags and two patterns she designed; how clever is that)  something for the sewing room (a box of  Christmas fabrics) and something that smells nice (lovely bathtime smellies). Thank you, Sharni; the ornaments you made look so lovely on our Christmas tree and there's another parcel left for opening on Christmas day.

I really appreciate the thought and time Maria and Sharni put into making these gifts for a stranger, and  Maree (now tripping overseas, lucky duck) and Cheryll put into  organising these swaps. Thank you all so much.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my place. The tree is up at last, after a mammoth and necessary house clean, and the special table runners and wall quilts I've made over the years are on display.

And just as I was thinking to myself this morning that we could do with a few more tree ornaments, the postie arrived with a big package from Sharni, my partner in Maree's 6 items Christmas swap. And among the many beautifully wrapped parcels were these ornaments - aren't they gorgeous! I can't wait to open the other parcels, but apart from a little bit of shaking and wondering, I'm being good.

This huge stocking stuffed with pressies is from Maria in WA, my partner in Cheryll's Christmas swap. I'm a bit embarrassed because the parcel I sent her was a lot smaller, but it does contain lots of things I hope she'll like.

And this one is from Grethe in Norway, in Chookyblue's annual Secret Santa Christmas Swap, which is always a pleasure to take part in. What a cute little stocking. The parcel came with stamps. not just those boring postal stickers; one of the stamps features the famous Norwegian painting The Scream. Not Christmassy but I'm thrilled to bits with it; you don't see one of those every day!

Of course I can't show you what I made for my partner Dagmar in Germany, but I can show you the ornament I sent her. Yep, it's a moose - she's a fan of these animals so I was pretty lucky to find this drawing to stitch, knobbly knees and all (the moose's not mine, just in case you were wondering).

We've all been in touch with each other - it's lovely to get to 'know' other people; even if we never meet we can still be friends - that's the beauty of this bloggy world.

So a huge 'thank you' to swap organisers Maree, Cheryll and Chooky, and to my generous, wonderful partners.

And now I'll show you what I've been making lately. These two bags are on their way to my young niece and nephew in NZ. The strawberry bag is a Joanna Figueroa pattern and was nice and easy to make (although I did groan my way through stitching the 12 leaves)  and the toy bag was easy too - and I love that fabric (from Spotlight).


Friday, November 22, 2013

All the way from Norway

My SSCS gift has arrived all the way from Norway. The lovely lady who is my partner (there's no name on the parcel) included a   gorgeous felt stocking ornament   and two little gift cards. So thank you very much,  whoever you are! I was so good that I made my husband open the parcel and have hidden the rest of it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SSCS parcel posted

My SSCS parcel is now making its way to somebody somewhere - hooray! Now to finish more secret sewing - I'm in 3 Christmas swaps - how mad is that!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Good times

The Mr and I have been on a little motoring holiday to NSW. Being the first of many trips (I hope) of our retirement, it was quite special.
But what made it even more special (for me, and the Mr didn't mind a bit) was being able to attend a bloggers' get-together in Bathurst, organised by the legendary Chookyblue.
And what a gathering it was. People had come a LONG way to be there and it was lovely to meet longtime friends like Chooky and Peg for the first time, reconnect with stitching buddies in the on-line group I belonged to for several years and meet people who were new to me (and of course now I have a lot more blogs to read!) There were swaps and some truly amazing show-and-tells and lots of laughs and friendship. Oh, and shopping - visiting Anni Downs' Hatched and Patched store for the first time was a great treat and yes, some lovely fabrics and such came home with me.
While  I was socialising, the Mr was hanging out with the old school friend we were staying with so he didn't miss me a bit.

Before Bathurst we'd had a night in Beechworth at a gorgeous B and B (Barnsley House); we'd stayed there before and it was just as good as we remembered. I spent a lot of time sitting out on the verandah off our room, admiring the garden and listening to the birds.

In Benalla we stopped to smell the roses (literally, the rose garden is gorgeous) and admire the statue of Weary Dunlop.

After Bathurst was Mudgee (such a friendly town) and Orange, which is a pretty city with good shops and lovely parks. And some rain, too, which I know many of the blogging girls would have loved to see in their home patches - most of the countryside we passed through was alarmingly dry.

Then came Corowa on the Murray, where we stayed in a comfy cabin in a holiday park. It's not  the sort of place we'd stay in during the holiday season but at a  quiet time it was just fine. The river was just behind us and a kookaburra joined us at teatime. And lunch in a winery café and tasting at another winery just across the river was pretty good too.

Lunch on the way home was a picnic beside the lagoon in Wagga Wagga, where we lived for a while way back when. It's a really busy town, with some fine old buildings and a good art gallery.

And somewhere along the way we fitted in a stop in Cowra. Cowra is probably best known for the break-out of Japanese prisoners from its POW camp. We'd been there before, and had limited time, so we opted to visit the newish Japanese garden nearby. As a place of reflection, and symbolising friendship between Australia and Japan, it was an attractive, thought-provoking place to visit (and feeding the fish was fun too.)

Oh, and a visit to Hill End, the famous former mining town, was fascinating, not so much because of  what's there, more because of what's no longer there. At the height of the roaring days of the goldrushes, Hill End was thriving, with pubs, schools, flash emporiums, a hospital and all manner of entertainments and opportunities. These days, it's very quiet, with a small population.

And I nearly forgot Gulgong - such a pretty little town and its Henry Lawson centre is well worth a visit.

Eight days away from home and it was back to reality - and a mountain of washing. I'm still patting my fabric purchases and reading more blogs and hoping we'll be back on the road again soon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


We've had some very grey, wet days in my neck of the woods (Ballarat, Vic) and some lovely sunny days too. This is some of the colour I've been enjoying in my garden and beyond.

Our two little darlings Katie and Gus - if they look sleepy it's because they are - I woke them up so I could take this photo (and forgot to give them a treat afterwards; no wonder they are looking a bit disgruntled).

My Angel Face (I think) rose with philadelphus in the background - both so pretty and fragrant.

Our front garden - the photo doesn't show the real lime green colour of the gleditsia trees - they are looking spectacular right now.

The back yard - wallflowers, quince tree, purple thing that I forget the name of and miniature pink tea-tree, which looks better in the pic than in real life because it is infested with spiders' webs and I keep threatening to dig it up.

And the quilt-covered car parked outside the Mining Exchange- where miners once swapped their gold finds for cash and which is now used for all sorts of events - pointing out the way to the Ballaarat Quilters' exhibition last weekend.

Tomorrow Mr LRH and I are leaving it all behind and going on a little road trip to NSW. We can't wait to visit pastures new (or at least different) and I am feeling very excited, and very lucky, to be joining lots of bloggers for a day out in Bathurst. Hooray!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Life is usually pretty quiet at my place but  it's been eventful these last few months.

Event 1:  I retired three months ago - hooray! I have time to do stuff - or not to do stuff - or just think about doing stuff - loving that. Today I went to the library where I used to work and took part in a watercolour painting workshop. I produced a slightly lopsided cupcake which I am nevertheless awfully proud of. It's so nice to do something different.

Event 2: Crafty Hijinks in Ballarat - what a great event that was. Catching up with old friends, meeting blogging friends for real, eating, chatting, buying stuff, doing a little bit of sewing - what larks. Thanks to Jodie Ric-Rac and Gillian ( - from Adelaide, no less; that girl does like a road trip!) for having a little idea for a little get-together that grew - from little things big things grow, and all that.

Event 3: My lovely aunt and uncle from NZ came to stay for a few days following a visit to their daughter in Adelaide. My family is Scottish and my uncle David and his brother Alan in Glasgow are the only survivors of  a family of eight children, who included my dad. He's the fine young chap on the right; this was taken when he was with the RAF Wireless Unit in the Middle East Forces during the war (all duly and neatly noted on the back of the pic).  My aunt and uncle also brought me some beautiful crocheted doilies made by my Auntie Molly, who died a few years ago. I feel so lucky to have all these special family things.
The weather was kind to us and we spent a great day at Sovereign Hill and the next day enjoyed a wander by the lake and the Botanical Gardens near home.

Event 4: My husband retired last week - hooray! and we finally bought a record player - hooray! again. Mind you, these two events are purely coincidental. We're having fun relaxing together, pottering around home and delving into the record box for gems not heard for many years. We still remember all the words of our favourite songs though!

Event 5: TBA - a road trip to my husband's old home town of Forbes in the central west of NSW. It will be a happy trip this time; the last visit there was earlier this year for his sister's funeral. It was, of course, a very sad occasion, but good all the same to catch up with friends and other family members. Oh, and I went to visit a blogger - Simone who lives in the town and was lovely to meet. On the way to Forbes we are detouring to Bathurst for a bloggers' get-together (I know - two in one year - yep, I'm spoilt!) It's organised by the wonderful Chookyblue who I am dying to meet. What fun!

That's it so far for this year - who knows what other fun stuff is around the corner?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Making more than just a mess

Thanks, girls, for the feedback on my last post - good to know that I'm not alone! I'm sorry to have to tell you, though, that my sewing room is even messier now than in the photo - I decided to tackle the over-stuffed wardrobe as well (that's over-stuffed as in full of stuff I haven't seen/used/remembered for ages.) The plus side of that exercise is that now I know I won't have to buy any cushion inserts for a long, long time. The minus side is taking up even more floor space than in the previous photo.

And I probably won't have time/energy to do much about it today. The sun is shining (hooray! rain was forecast but the sky is still blue) and I'm on duty at one of the local polling booths for a couple of hours.

My crafting mojo went AWOL for a while but has returned and I'm delighting in making little things - like these little bags and baby shoes. There's been an influx of babies among my friends and acquaintances and I'm thrilled to bits to be making little gifts. I've made so many of these bags - they're from a tutorial from the lovely Spoonful of Sugar blog and are a great scrap project. With the addition of some nice smellies, they'll be off to new homes in Ballarat, WA and France (I have a lovely piece of Leesa Chandler's wildflower fabric picked out for that one) soon.

Many years ago, I used to knit socks for my three younger brothers to wear. We called them 'gummy socks' as they were worn with their gumboots. I haven't made socks since then (and that was at least 50 years ago) because the idea of knitting 'proper' socks wrestling with four needs scares the pants off me. These little cuties are a two-needle job from a Debbie Bliss book and are for Marius in France. Marius' mum Anne-Laure is very special to us; we'd kept in touch since she stayed with our family in Tasmania as a 17-year-old French exchange student and we were so excited when she and her boyfriend, Marius's dad, visited us in Ballarat a few years ago. We've got to know Anne's  parents, too, and have stayed with them several times. We've all had some happy times together and feel like part of each other's families.

The little shoes are from a lovely book called Vintage Knits for Modern Babies; they're for a new arrival in WA whose mum and my daughter Rosy started primary school together. Marina's family and mine were great friends in the early days then they moved from Sydney to WA and we lost touch until a few years ago. It was lovely  to visit them in WA and catch up on each other's lives and reminisce about old times. My niece in Townsville is expecting her second baby soon and I'm hoping for a little girl this time so I can make another pair of these shoes - they're so cute.

Must go and get ready for the day and enjoy the sun while it's still shining.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sorting out

 Why do I never learn that trying to sort out my sewing room is always a horrible, messy process? On the plus side, I found some linen  and some pretty fabrics and other stuff I'd forgotten about. The minus side is too long a list. Wish me luck (I'll need it). I think I'll just shut the door and forget about it for a while.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's June already!!

I haven't posted for a few months - where did April and May go? I can't believe we're nearly halfway through the year.

And I can't believe I didn't make anything last month - a few starts, yes, but no finishes. One of the starts  was May's bag project in Chookyblue's SAL. I really like this bag, which is designed by Anni Downs, so why haven't I finished it? No excuses.

And here's another start, which is progressing nicely. It's for my daughter Rosy, who lives in China and has been too far away for too long. She'll love the sentiment, and the pink thread too. Mentioning her name reminds me of a lovely find in Bendigo a few weeks back. The prettiness and the price of this coffee pot ( $9 - what a bargain) were both a big attraction but what really sold it was the wording on the base. And I still feel all warm and fuzzy whenever I look at it.

Last month's main attraction was Launceston blogger Cathy's visit to Ballarat. Cathy blogs as Highland Quilter; we have a shared interest in all things quilty (and kilty) and for several years were both members of  an online stitching group. We've read and commented on each other's blogs over the years but hadn't met previously - but when we met it's as if we've known each other for years. We had a wonderful day - she didn't actually get to see much of Ballarat (which is in Victoria's Central Highlands, by the way) as we spent most of our time at wonderful Mill Rose in Ballan. And we talked all the time - except when perusing fabric and enjoying our delicious lunches; such activities demand serious attention! We had a little birthday gift swap and as I forgot to take my camera, I've pinched these from Cathy's blog.
This is what I gave Cathy - a little drawstring bag in Liberty's "Catherine" print; scissor fob from Marg Low's new book, dress-shape bookmark and my favourite soap.

And Cathy gave me these  gorgeous things. "Nothing warms the heart like an old friend" - such a lovely sentiment.

Lovely Lizzie at Mill Rose took our photos; she's such a good photographer you'd think she'd know how to make me look taller and younger, wouldn't you! (Not showing you the one where it I look as short as I really am!)
I hope June is just as much fun - and that I have more finishes than starts.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I spent last night in the company of my lovely husband, this man and thousands of other music fans against the picturesque background of Hanging Rock in country Victoria.
It was the last night of Bruce Springsteen's tour of Australia and let me tell you - he rocks! He's dynamic, energetic and boy did he put on a great show - a bit over three hours of Bruce singing, dancing and giving everything he's got (which is a lot).
My bloke and I have been fans for years so this was a dream come true; we couldn't quite believe we were seeing and hearing the Boss in real life (although for most of the time he was just this little figure on stage, with big screens bringing the show closer to the audience. Can you see him in the bottom right corner of this photo?)

Springsteen and the E Street Band were supported by the Rubens (a young band, hadn't heard of them before, they were great) and Jimmy Barnes (very loud and oh so good too). Adding to the atmosphere were the kangaroos , which were racing around as we made our way through the reserve to our seats, the starry night and Hanging Rock, which was intermittently lit up by the stage lights. What a great night out!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last-minute February finish

 I don't have much to show for February - this is it. And I love it. The pattern is from Natalie Bird's gorgeous book Red Home and was this month's project in Chookyblue's Stitch-a-Long. Finished just a little while (make that half an hour) ago - phew, just made it, this Little Red Hen didn't want to get a telling off from the Blue Chook! Gotta love a deadline - and someone who makes you want to meet it.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

At the zoo

Yesterday we went to Melbourne Zoo to visit a very special (and very cute) new baby.

Being a public holiday, hundreds of people had the same idea, so there were loooooong queues for what turned out to be a five-minute viewing time of the latest addition to the zoo's growing elephant family.

His mum and big sister Mali, who was born at the zoo in 2010, were so protective it was a little difficult to get a good view of this endearing little chap - so small and so precious. Meanwhile, his dad, who is enormous, wallowed in the pool, away from his family.

Seeing the as-yet-unnamed little elephant was definitely worth the drive and the queues. I loved seeing the giraffes, too - they are so stately and so inquisitive - but wasn't impressed with the dusty enclosure they shared with a couple of zebras. In fact, most of the enclosures seemed to me to be too small for the large, majestic (and snoozy; it was a warm day) animals they housed.

Now I'm interested in visiting the open range zoos at Werribee or Dubbo - much more doable than seeing animals in the wild in Africa, which I imagine would be an incredible experience (or maybe I'll just have to watch more David Attenborough programmes on telly).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The year is up and running...

January is nearly over - that was quick, where did it go? - and unlike previous years, I have a few things to show off. You see, after the big rush of making things for Christmas (and don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it) the urge to craft usually has a big sleep in January. But not this year, thanks to the super-organised Chookyblue and her latest Stitch-A-Long. I joined up because I needed something to kick-start my stitching year and because I liked the projects and because I already had all three of the books involved (Red Home and Tis the Season, both by Natalie Bird, and Anni Downs' Some Kind of Wonderful). January's projects - Anni's shoe bag, with its quirky applique, and Natalie's easy and fabulously useful thread catcher, were completed a few weeks ago and I've made a start on the stitchery for the bag which is the next project.
Two simple drawstring bags were made in response to an appeal from the ladies at the Quilted Crow in Tasmania for library bags to be filled with books donated by a local bookshop and given to children affected by the awful fires in that State. What a lovely thought, and since books and reading are dear to my heart, and I once lived not far from the area worst affected, I was happy to take part. Unfortunately, only one of the bags was posted; I lost the other one in the local shopping centre carpark on the way to the post office and only found it after it had been run over many times and was covered in oily tyre-tracks. Note to self: be more careful in future.
The highlight of my year so far was last week's meeting with Teresa from All Things Vintage. Teresa is from Queensland and we have 'known' each other in Blogland for several years now and for a time belonged to an online stitching group. She was in Melbourne for the tennis and last Sunday she, her brother and partner had a road trip to Ballarat and beyond. It was so good to meet her at last; she's every bit as lovely as I knew she would be. We had a delicious breakfast in a quirky little cafe in the main street, chatted non-stop about all sorts of things and afterwards stood in the sunshine while my husband Peter took a photo of us. I hate having my photo taken because I usually look smirky or sullen, but it turned out so well I've pinched it from Teresa's blog (I'm the short one). So that's January - come on, February, I'm ready for you.